Game Night and Homemade Pot-Stickers
I'm not really sure how it happened but board games have become a huge part of our relationship. It may have started around Tim's first Thanksgiving with my family. You see, after dinner we return to my parent's kitchen table and pull out our dominoes. This is no ordinary after-dinner-dominoes-game--we play Mexican Train dominoes all the way from double blanks to double twelves.
This game can take some time, and usually a long time, but my family is committed to seeing it through to the end. The usual suspects always play: my dear grandma, who like any loving grandparent loves to set up plays that will destroy everyone else's gameplan; my mother, who pretends not to be competitive but delights in winning (and wins often); my father, who acts like he's not interested in playing but plays anyway; my brother, who used to beat us all when he was 10 years old; and there is still my sister, her husband; and now Tim, my stepdaughter Melissa, and me.
I like to think that this enthusiasm for board games was one of the first things that Tim and I had in common (besides an affinity for good red wine and good music). Tim has learned that I am competitive when it comes to games, and lucky for me, he is my perfect match.
Now, Tim can lay claim to being the better of us at trivia games. I have never met anyone in my life who knows more trivia than him. My friend Meg has said that her husband is the same way, and that meeting of the minds that we've been planning needs to happen soon (and we'll need to start penciling in an inevitable rematch).
But Scrabble--that is my specialty. I'm not fancy, and I don't always draw the best tiles, but I always have a strategy. If I put the tile here, will that maximize my points? Can I save a Q until I pull a U so I can use that for a triple letter score or double word score?
On some game nights we just grab a couple of good blocks of cheese from Murray's Cheese Shop in Kroger. Other times we sip on Brandy Alexanders while we play. This past Saturday, I opted to make home made pot-stickers and Tim picked out some Tom Waits on vinyl.
The pot-stickers were relatively easy to make. The filling was a simple mixture of Asian staples that most people who cook stir fry on a recurring basis would probably have around and the amount of pot-stickers one batch made was enormous. As a bonus, we finally got to use the meat grinder attachment for our Kitchenaid to turn some boring boneless pork chops into ground pork.
I know that you can just grab a bag of ready-made pot-stickers from TJ's or Whole Foods any day of the week, but it was pretty satisfying to assemble these myself, and the recipe is so simple, it could be adapted any time to fit your mood or craving.
Whatever we are eating or drinking, I like to imagine that we are going to end up as that couple, stooped over the kitchen table, quietly putting together puzzles or playing cards, and enjoying that comfort of just sitting near one another. In many ways, we already are that couple, and that's nice to think about.
recipe from The New York Times
makes 45-50 pot-stickers
Dumpling wrappers can be a little hard to find in the grocery store. Tim found them with the refrigerated organics and natural foods at our grocery store. The kind we bought came as a pack of 50. Also, these could easily be made vegetarian (or even vegan, I suppose, depending on the dumpling wrapper) by upping the cabbage and perhaps adding some carrot or mushroom. The water is not necessary in the filling if you go the veggie route.
3/4 lb ground pork or other ground meat
1 cup minced cabbage
2 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
6 scallions, minced, white and green parts separated
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp soy sauce, separated
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup of water, divided
Combine meat, cabbage, ginger, garlic, scallion whites, 2 tbsp soy sauce, and 1/4 cup room temp water. Using your finger or a small brush, spread a bit of egg around half of the circumference of the dumpling wrapper. Spoon about a teaspoon of filling into the center of the wrapper and fold over, pressing down to seal the edges together. Place dumplings on a parchment lined baking sheet. Do not stack dumplings.
You can freeze part or all of the batch at this step if you just put the baking sheet into the freezer for about 2 hours or until the dumplings are frozen, and then pack the dumplings into zip lock bags or air tight containers. Store up to 2 weeks.
To cook (fresh or frozen), add oil to a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add dumplings in a single layer. Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly browned on one side. Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover. Let simmer about 3 minutes.
Uncover dumplings and cook another minute or two, flipping dumplings if you desire both sides to be cripsy, but it's not necessary. Serve hot.
For dipping sauce, combine remaining green scallions, soy sauce, and vinegar.