not quite ruined for life...

i was talking to mom on Sunday.

mom: what are you doing?
me: nothing much. just sitting here, watching the falling snow.
mom: it's snowing again? every time i talk to you it's snowing. 
me: oh, it's even better than that. we went from rain to freezing rain to hail to snow, then briefly back to freezing rain, and now back to snow... and that was all in the past hour alone.
mom: wow!
me: indeed.

to give you a sense of just how crazy this Winter has been, the city of Montreal exceeded their snow-removal budget... several weeks ago! meanwhile, we have another month (or two) of deep-Winter weather to look forward to.

so... yeh... i am officially done with all the cold.

i had planned on wrapping up my week of daily posts with a meal of homemade pork-and-vegetable dumplings on Saturday. then we changed our plan for the day, and we ended up being out-and-about until late into the evening—which sounds far more exciting that it actually was, trust me.

so, homemade dumplings became our main meal on a meteorologically mixed-up Sunday afternoon.

we do a lot of dumpling eating around here. they sell a wide variety of frozen (uncooked) dumplings at our local Asian grocery store, and we usually have a bag or two of them in the freezer ready for a quick and tasty meal.

it is still nice to make a batch from scratch every now and then (although i did cheat a bit this time around, which will become evident shortly).

how i we make lazy homemade pork-vegetable dumplings:

1. charge the camera battery.

2. gather an assortment of veggies.

3. chop/grate them as needed.

4. place the ground pork in a mixing bowl.

5. add the assorted veggies. we also added a splash of flavoring (soy sauce, ground black pepper, etc) at this point.

6. combine thoroughly.

here comes the cheating bit...

7. grab the frozen dumpling wrappers you purchased at the Asian market. these particular wrappers contain a bit of pumpkin, hence the color.

8 and 9. dip your fingers into water, then apply a daub of water around the edge of the wrapper to aid sealing. add a small portion of the meat mixture to the middle of the wrapper.

10. begin sealing at one end, using a pleating technique (if that is part of your culinary skill set).

ta da!!! congratulations. you just made a dumpling.

now repeat that as many times as is needed. this was the first half of our batch. they went into the freezer on a lined cookie sheet and were left to freeze completely. they were then placed into a ziploc bag and returned to the freezer for some future lazy-day dumpling eating.

the second half of the batch became our meal.

we filled both layers of the larger bamboo steamer, but there were still two leftover dumplings, so he went digging in the back of the Cupboard of Requirement (which is a standard feature in most kitchens) to find the mini bamboo steamers. so intensely cute.

all that was left to do was to place the steamers over pans of boiling water.. and wait. i used a wok for the larger steamer and a small frying pan for the smaller one, and i added a splash of hot water from the kettle when either one was in danger of running dry.

i also made a dipping sauce while the dumplings cooked.

i really like the flavor the bits of ginger and green onions add to the sauce.

finally the dumplings were done. so steamy. i love it.

we designated these two as our sampling dumplings.

this was my first time using the pumpkin wrapper. i did not detect a pumpkin flavor, but i like the color, which became even more pumpkiny after cooking.

we then placed the double-stacked steamer onto a plate, grabbed some chopsticks and the bowl of dipping sauce, and went off to enjoy our meal.

i should point out that we had the same conversation we usually having when cooking most things these days. what if it turns out to be even more delicious than the dumplings we get from the market or from any of the restaurants in the area? then we will be ruined for life, because we could never go back to eating dumplings that we did not make ourselves.

it sounds a bit crazy (and borderline obnoxious), i know, but we have already had that happen regarding quite a few of our favorite takeout food items. and it usually leads to the same conversation. take, for example, the tom yum soup which he has absolutely perfected over the course of the past year or so.

me: wow. that is amazing. it is better than the soup at [our go-to Thai restaurant].
him: i know.
me: so now i can never order that again because i know you can make even better tom yum soup.
him: i know. we are ruined for life.
me: i almost want to take a bowl of it over there to make them taste it, but they will probably ban us from ever ordering food again.
him: i know.

so, just how good were those dumplings? let me put it this way. we are not quite ruined for life. not just yet. the key to making that happen would be to make the wrapper dough from scratch next time around. i like the convenience of purchasing frozen wrappers, but they have nothing on freshly-made dumpling wrappers.

problem is, that tends to be a bit time consuming, which is why dumpling making is something i do once every couple-few years. kneading dough, then rolling out many little wrappers, then making the filling, then stuffing all those bits of dough is a bit much for me. however, i did make a recent discovery that should make it a bit easier the next time around.

turns out, he is actually quite useful when it comes to filling and sealing dumplings. i did have to give him a crash-course on how to make those little pleats, but he got the hang of it soon enough. i am not going to point out who made which dumplings (but if you squint a bit, you may see some subtle difference between them).

the best part of the thing was that we had a whole lot of fun... and the weather had undergone a few more changes and was back to snowing (again) by the time we were done. not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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