Well, fine. December is over, the house full of delightful young guests is now empty, and it is the season of sucking-in: repentance for all of the fat and sugar in we which we just indulged:
Enchiladas! Stir-fry! Home-made pasta! Asian-style short ribs with garlic Yukon-gold mashed potatoes! Samosas! Roasted chicken! Jambalaya with grilled chicken , shrimp, and sausage! (OK, to be honest, this last thing was made by my youngest son, a self-taught chef.)
And then, of course there were the multiple cookies that I produced, one-a-day, before Christmas: rosettes (a deep-fried treat from my Scandinavian ancestors), spritz (for which I bought a hilariously stupid electric cookie gun), ginger cut-outs (adorable and decorated by my daughter and my son's girl friend).
One by one our holiday guests left. But my youngest son remained, and one evening I wondered if I should fill the pepper grinder with some pepper from China which I mysteriously found in the pantry.
Anyway. I am not well-made for serious repentance. I dislike how every January there are ads for cut-rate memberships to gyms. I have not signed up for the "Biggest Loser" competition which is happening at my work place right now (put money into the kitty, lose weight, win money). I cook and bake like crazy in December, but only sparingly partake of it all, the pleasure being in the process of it, and the hope that others might like it. In January there is not a whole lot for which to repent.
Exactly 2 days after putting the Chinese pepper back in the pantry I read a post from Laoch, a professional gambler whose blog is succinct, smart, dryly witty, and from time to time features something amazing that he has eaten in a Chicago restaurant: Szechuan dumplings, for which he kindly gave me a link:
I loved the way Kelly showed how to make dumplings (potstickers), using chopsticks to pluck the filling out of the bowl. I decided to do the same. Who wants to measure a 1/2 teaspoon of anything? Why not just grab a likely amount with chopsticks? It was fun.
It used the crazy Sichuan pepper in the dipping sauce and my mouth wasn't numb at all. The potstickers called for 6 ounces of "ground pork" (that's one lean boneless pork shop thrown into the food processor). It made enough filling to load a couple dozen dumplings, and the rest went into the freezer. This means that John and I stuffed ourselves on approximately 1/2 of a lean pork chop.
Three ounces of lean pork for two people? You would think that we were on some kind of January diet regimen. Nahhh. Just cooking something fun. Wish somebody else were here to enjoy it with us.