I’m torn. Or, I’m of two minds. On the one hand, tradition is a great thing, offering stability in these troubled times (a bit of angsty saga there, eh?). On the other hand, some might consider baking the same cake (yes, we're talking about cake here) as THE birthday cake month after month, year after year is akin to being in a rut.
I think it depends on the cake in question. Some cakes deserve to be consumed on a regular basis. For many years the only birthday cake in our house was an old-fashioned cocoa cake with cocoa frosting. Three layers of OMG this is freaking amazing. (Hubby is a rebel and always wants an apple pie for his birthday “cake”.)
As a youngster quite often my birthday cake was a spice cake with Seven Minute Frosting (cooked egg white frosting = food of the gods). So when I think of that cake, spice cake with the meringue frosting, I’m transported back to the halcyon days of my childhood. And that’s a good thing. That’s what tradition means. Comfort and stability and damn good cake.
So which cake will I bake for the birthday this weekend? I’m torn.
Is there a clear winner? Yes. Me! Because I get to eat more than I should!
I’d be telling an untruth if I said I remember exactly what the pot stickers from last week’s recipe tasted like (way-way back when I actually made them). But I do remember that they were delicious.
This week’s version was equally delicious. (We had friends over and they had no problem eating their fair share.) The filling was moist and tasty and plentiful. And the dipping sauce was a pleasing mix of tart, sweet, and hot. Hubby thought it was a tad too vinegary, but I didn’t think so.
I was unable to find pot sticker wrappers and so used wonton wrappers – square instead of round. Which meant, I think, that there was a bit too much extra dough after crimping which got a little tough during the steaming portion of the preparation. An itsy bitsy tiny flaw in no way the fault of the recipe. But if you can find pot sticker wrappers, the round kind, use those.
Here is the recipe as copied exactly from:
Ultimate Appetizer Ideabook
225 Simple All-occasion Recipes
Kiera and Cole Stipovich
Published by Chronicle Books
Pork Pot Stickers
In a large bowl, combine ½ medium head shredded napa (or savoy) cabbage with 1 tsp kosher salt and toss. Transfer to a colander and let drain for 30 minutes. Over a sink or bowl, press out excess moisture from the cabbage. In a medium mixing bowl, combine 8 oz (230 g) ground pork, 1 Tbsp thinly sliced green onions, ½ tsp ground white pepper, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp mirin, and 2 tsp cornstarch and mix well. Add the drained cabbage and mix until incorporated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour or for up to 1 day. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle it lightly with cornstarch. Place a 3-in (7.5-cm) pot sticker wrapper in your hand and place a rounded 1-tsp scoop of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Wet the inside edge of the wrapper with water and bring the edges together, forming a half-moon shape and pressing firmly with our fingers to seal. (If desired, pleat the edges together or press with a fork.) Place the pot sticker on the baking sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap (to prevent drying out) and form more pot stickers using additional wrappers and the remaining filling. (If making ahead, freeze the pot stickers on the baking sheet for 15 minutes, or until frozen solid. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 week. No thawing is required before cooking.) In a large heavy-bottomed non-stick or cast-iron skillet (keep the lid close by for later use) over medium-high heat, warm ½ tsp vegetable oil and ½ tsp sesame oil. When the oil is hot, place the pot stickers in a single layer with the sealed edges facing up and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add about 1/3 cup (80 ml) hot water to the skillet and cover immediately. (Stand back from the skillet while adding the water to avoid getting splashed.) Continue to cook, covered, until the water evaporates, about 3 minutes (or about 8 minutes if the pot stickers were frozen). Remove the lid and allow the pot stickers to cook uncovered for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bottoms are crisp and golden. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm with Pot Sticker Dipping Sauce.
Pot Sticker Dipping Sauce
In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp water, ¼ tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger, 1 small clove minced garlic, ½ tsp thinly sliced green onion, and 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes. Use right away or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Slowly but surely the new house is coming together. More importantly, my study/office is taking shape. I still need storage units of some sort (for paper type stuff and for yarn type stuff) and a worktable. But I bought a proper chair for typing. Now my butt won’t fall asleep after sitting for more than seventeen minutes. No, I haven’t timed the interval before butt sleep but I think seventeen minutes is a good guess.
I’d hoped to get an all-mesh chair – seat and back – but the only one of that style at the store had a headrest that just got in my way. It could be removed by taking out a few screws, but why pay for something I wasn’t going to use? So the chair I bought has a cloth seat and a mesh back. Quite comfy and with good lumbar support.
For the second addition to my study, let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago – about seven months back – I had a writing cave on the main floor of our former house. But the printer was located in Hubby’s office on the lower floor, connected to my computer via wi-fi. However, sometimes my computer didn’t play nicely with the printer. I’d click “print”, trot downstairs, only to find – nothing.
So, up I’d go, try to figure out what happened (a futile proposition given my Luddite tendencies), press “print” again, and again trot downstairs only to find – you got it – nothing.
So, up I’d go, grab my laptop and take it to the printer, swearing quite colourfully along the way, and finally get the darn thing to print.
Frustrating to say the least.
Well, new house = new rules. I got my own printer right next to my desk (a treasured heirloom) so I need only spin my chair a hair and there it is.
I’m approaching “the end” of the third book, Love & Redemption, in my historical series. Which means it’ll soon be time to print the manuscript for the final edit before sending to my publisher. (I use “final” in the broadest of senses. Final for that week. Final for the time being. Final only until the next round.). I always find typos in the printed manuscript that snuck by me on the screen. And if I need to do a more rigorous edit, I do a better job working with pen and paper. So much more satisfying to slash with a pen than to hit the delete key a few times.
The life of an author ain’t easy. When I’m not actually writing new words, I’m revising or editing already-written words. But that’s only half the job. The other half is trying to get my books into the hands of readers.
The mother of uphill battles.
The good news is that I’m not alone in my travails. The community of romance writers is the nicest group of people ever. Always willing to share advice, experience, ideas, or just a kind word.
I’m so lucky to have wonderful critique partners to provide feedback, bounce ideas off of, and hold the occasional bitch session.
I’m also lucky to have close friends who are also fellow authors. The fact that they live in a different country in a different time zone matters not. We chat online daily. But it’s not just idle chit-chat. We chat with a purpose, which is to be successful as authors, self-published and with traditional publishers.
To that end we took advantage of the new year – with that whole resolution malarkey – and we set goals. Not wishes, not dreams (become the next Nora Roberts AND land a movie deal), but sensible, achievable goals. (I won’t turn down that movie deal should it arise.)
The key to sticking with goals, for me, is to break them down into manageable chunks. Saying I want to have the first draft of a new book written by April 30 does me no good. But with a little math and a little cogitating, I can set the goal of writing two thousand words a day, Monday to Friday. That will get me to my goal of a first draft by the end of April even if I have a sick day, or I take a day off to choose paint colours for all the white walls in this house. I know I can write 2K words in a day because I’ve done it many times.
Another thing about goals, they work better if you’re publicly accountable. Which is where my author friends come in. We “meet” online every Sunday at 8:00 pm AST to report on our progress for the week. Some weeks we applaud and cheer everyone’s success. Some weeks we discuss what went wrong and brainstorm ways to make the coming week better. We are not alone.
This past week I read a fellow writer’s blog (my apologies for not remembering who that was) in which she recommended including a word count widget on one's blog to keep track of writing progress. Another way to be publicly accountable. So I’m going to dig around on this blog thingie and try to come up with a suitable widget. (Heavens, the newfangled words we use nowadays!)
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