Pan-fried Vegetable and Tofu Dumplings

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Once I’d discovered how easy spring rolls were to prepare, vegetable dumplings jumped to the top of my list.  These are a much more significant time investment than the spring rolls, but they freeze beautifully.  I made a batch of about 60 while watching an episode of Bones on my laptop (so 45 minutes, give or take).  My first try with dumplings, I followed this recipe for golden potstickers from 101 Cookbooks.  I always trust Heidi to carry me safely through any new recipe or technique with carefully crafted instructions.  I bought gyoza wrappers at Berkeley Bowl (same aisle as … Continue reading

Eggplant Ragu

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When we planted the garden this year, along with the zucchini plant, the tomatoes, the basil and kale, we had a lone eggplant seedling.  I really didn’t think we’d have much luck with it, but our neighbor thought it would be fun to try.  Last year’s “fun to try” plant for the garden gave us more than 100 serrano peppers, so perhaps I should have been more optimistic about this little eggplant seedling. Our little seedling has given us nearly 12 small eggplants so far this season.  I’ve made eggplant parmesan and eggplant sauce with sweet corn polenta.  When I … Continue reading

Kitchen Disasters: The Worst Thing I Ever Made

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Kitchen failures are common.  Cookies spread out and run together into one giant flat cookie pancake.  The bread doesn’t rise.  You overestimate your spice tolerance and make a stir fry so spicy that just breathing near the pan makes your eyes water.  All of these things have happened to me.  Kitchen disasters are so much simpler than life disasters, though.  A flat cookie pancake might not look pretty enough to take into work, but it still tastes pretty delicious.  Even if you’ve concocted something truly inedible, the worst kitchen disaster can almost always be solved by ordering pizza. At this … Continue reading

A Call for New Vegetarian Sandwiches

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Sometimes I just want a sandwich.  This feeling usually hits on a Saturday afternoon.  When I was swimming regularly on Saturdays, I’d leave the pool exhausted, just trying to figure out where I could pick up a good sandwich.  I’m not normally a sandwich person, but the chlorine in the pool seemed to trigger old memories of summer camp.  Right after a swim workout I’d become fixated on the idea of a grown up version of an old camp lunch.  I wanted a delicious vegetarian sandwich, a bag of Pop chips, and an Izze.  Sometimes I even wanted a peanut … Continue reading

Simple Vegetable Spring Rolls

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Isn’t it nice when something that seems intimidating turns out to be super simple? Turns out that if you can chop vegetables and roll a burrito, you can make spring rolls.  This is actually a “clean out the fridge” recipe in disguise.  That lonely carrot and half a head of cabbage?  They’ll go perfectly here.  Just chop your vegetables into similar sizes (I used the length of my tofu as a marker and went ahead and matched that), and roll them into these spring rolls.  We used some leftover peanut sauce from a spicy peanut noodle recipe earlier in the … Continue reading

A Sunday Letter

My dear friend, I hope your weekend has been wonderful. Mine was a little rocky, but redeemed itself handsomely. I woke up on Sunday with a full case of the Sunday blues.  Usually they don’t set in until after lunch at the earliest, but I woke up hating Sunday simply for being the precursor to Monday.  Although I expected very little from the day, I was pleasantly surprised. I made huevos rancheros for our breakfast.  The boy likes savory breakfasts, and I like any excuse to combine black beans and goat cheese.  (this meal remains a favorite)  So the Sunday … Continue reading

Plum Jam

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When I first read the craigslist ad for our current apartment, I was seduced by all sorts of words and phrases, like “dishwasher,” “washer and drier,” and “backyard,” but the kicker was “fruit trees.”  Oh to live in a house with fruit trees in the backyard!  I was sold.  In reality, it was in our price range, conveniently located, and looked nice online.  But wouldn’t you love to rent a place just for the fruit trees? The plums come in one giant, speedy crop, dropping into our backyard over the course of a week.  That first year we missed the … Continue reading

Polenta from Fresh Corn

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Sometimes a recipe has to be well timed.  I come across dozens of recipes daily.  I pin a handful of them to make later.  If something especially strikes me, I’ll pin it to the “Dinner This Week” board which I consult when writing my grocery list.  This recipe reached out through the Internet and screamed “make me right now” very conveniently on Tuesday morning.  My local farmers’ market is Tuesday afternoon, so I carefully collected corn, tomatoes and eggplant along with my usual haul of eggs, peaches, strawberries and sourdough bread.   Yotam Ottolenghi wrote Plenty, a book which I … Continue reading

Corn Salad with Red Onion, Epazote, and Cotija Cheese

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Summer meals can be delightfully lazy.  Buy pretty ingredients (not hard at all during the California summer), combine them in a bowl and crumble on some cheese or drizzle on some olive oil.  Serve at once, preferably outdoors with good friends. Unfortunately most of our summer meals here in Berkeley are still eaten inside.  Once the sun deserts us the temperature drops with shocking speed.  Where just 5 minutes ago we were blissfully warm clad in shorts and a tank top, suddenly the sun drops below the horizon and we speed into the house in search of sweatshirts and blankets.  … Continue reading

Strawberry Peach Crumble

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I adore summer fruit.  Bring on the berries, the peaches, the apricots and cherries and nectarines.  When each arrives at the market, I buy them in massive amounts.  Twenty dollars disappears into a giant paper bag of blueberries, and the blueberries themselves disappear nearly as quickly as the twenty dollars. Early in every summer, I think that summer fruit is just so delicious raw.  I can’t bring myself to make blueberry pancakes or strawberry shortcake or anything that actually requires heating something that is so sweet and perfect in its natural state.  I read a recipe a month ago that … Continue reading