Sunday, January 26, 2020

恭禧发财 Year of the Metal Rat

in which our plucky heroine thinks long thoughts and eats pot stickers and wonton...

It is Lunar New Year, the year of the Rat, and I cooked up a panful of gyoza for Saturday dinner, as I had planned... going to make up cooked some five flavor eggplant with the ones I picked up on Friday, and put another tray full of gyoza in the freezer, this time shrimp instead of pork.

Sunday afternoon there was a temporary break in the rain, which made riding over to the local branch library fairly pleasant. Two of my books on hold were waiting for me, but the real reason I was there was the wonton workshop I had signed up for a while back.

The library workshop on Crispy Vegan Wontons sent us home with as many as we each were able to form in the class (14 in my case)... I hadn't been expecting to make things to take home, so wasn't really prepared (I'd have brought a container) - we were sent off with the wontons on a double paper plate, one beneath and one on top to protect them, which would work just fine in a car, but I was on my bike! I carefully wrapped the bundle in my scarf, and wedged it into my bike basket... it was a chilly and somewhat damp ride home as the rains were rolling back in, but the wontons and I both survived without mishap...

It turns out that cooking wonton is a snap! An inch of grapeseed oil in a small frying pan, a pair of chopsticks to turn them, and they cook in a few minutes per batch... I almost never fry things at home, because Acorn Cottage lacks a stove hood and vent, but wanted to try this. These are dry enough on the outside that there is not much in the way of splattering. I think that they would be a fun party treat...


I am really struggling with isolation... some folks were going to come over on Saturday afternoon to do block carving with me. Even though no one else showed up, I spent the afternoon stamp carving anyway... I wanted to try a new soft cut material, and figured that making a valentine stamp was a good plan. I sponsored a valentine sekrit swap this year, and want to make postcards to send to all the participants.
The stamp needs some additional work, as is normal for the first pass. The new material carves very easily, is a bit too soft for really fine details, and will definitely need a wooden backing. (It may be a good option for teaching block carving, particularly for people with less hand strength)

Anni pointed me to the Cascade Print Exchange, which sounds like fun; to get prints from other people, like back in the golden days of blogging, when there were some amazing swaps!

Saturday was alarmingly warm for mid-January (as in people were sitting outside without coats, and I didn't need gloves) which made for pleasant bike riding. There were more citrus tasting demo things happening at the grocery, but I am still waiting on organic blood oranges and maybe seville oranges as well. Am tempted to try tangerine for marmalade. There was another shipment in of organic pommelo, so there will be another small batch of candied peel, all to be put aside for next years fruitcake. It was interesting to sniff the specialty citrus, like bergamot, and makrut lime, but since they weren't organic, there won't be any really odd marmalade this year. They did have organic "finger limes", which I have never seen before, but they are more for use as a garnish than an ingredient, and at almost 20$/lb, I left them there

have almost finished cutting out the pieces for the flannel shirt... there was not really quite enough fabic, but I am going to try to eke out as much as I can manage, and then do things like the inner cuffs, the undercollar, and the inside yoke panel in a different but hopefully coordinating fabric. The shirt fabric is a lovely soft grey and black tiny "rectangular gingham" flannel, and I found enough scraps of some black with grey polkadots quilt cotton to use as accents.

If I only had another quarter yard of flannel all would have been enough, or if I had not decided to give it a hint of "shirt" detailing. But one of the things about having only a few basic TNT patterns is that it becomes irresistible to add small changes for variety sake, and also to learn new skills. While I am not going full on with a collar and stand, simply an open camp shirt type collar, I do want to try making a tower placket. (I have never made one in all my years of sewing).

January SMART goals (x=extra)
1 card for Bera better light in workroombag to Goodwill
2 Awesome Sauceimprove dotted necklinepaper recycling
3 horses blousebutton replaced bag to Goodwill
4 Wanda ring
attach bench pin bag to Goodwill
5 charter #1new turtleneck neckline -
6 Barbara mitts x
7 wool capelet x
8 wontons x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - I am grateful to live in a place that has an assortment of specialty markets including asian markets both large and small, that allows me to indulge myself in the small luxury of cooking various kinds of foods that would otherwise be rare treats indeed


  1. Am so sorry about you feeling a little lonely and isolated, just wanted you to know that you inspire me, I love reading your blog. I should comment more often I realise. I thought your twist t shirt neck treatment was brilliant, another of your ideas I can copy! You are lucky that you have many speciality markets, I considered having a go at gyoza, but once I researched both what they were (!) and then how to make the wrappers from scratch because I would have to wait till my next holiday to buy ready made, have decided my new to me recipe this week is candied peel! Take care, Angela

    1. Thanks for your comment Angela! I am glad that you find value in my writing. The ingredients for candied peel are more accessible for sure than various asian treats. I have made the wrappers for Mu Shu from scratch once or twice, but even those were a lot of work. If I had to make 50 or 60 gyoza (aka "pot stickers") wrappers each time I wanted to put some in my freezer, I probably wouldn't! That said, it sure is handy having various things in the freezer for the times when I don't feel up to cooking, and making my own means that I know what the filling is made from

  2. I also want to let you know that you have people wishing you the best from afar - you provide joy to others through your blog. Thank you.

  3. Those wontons are amazing! Long ago, I made them with the premade wrappers but I just folded them in the shape of a triangle with the corners pinched together. Yours are so fancy!

    1. These were premade wrappers as well, and it was a Really Fast Easy way to fold them, you make them into a triangle, and then just fold the "wings" of the triangle back and forth in a kind of accordion fold towards the center on each side. I was surprised at how easy they were! Much faster than my beloved pot stickers...