Sunday, February 05, 2023

Vegetable Dumpling Soup and a Layer Cake

Yet another bout of cough and cold ran through the family in January, in what seems like an endless stream of respiratory infections that started in Fall. Last weekend, as we hacked away, this soup felt like the perfect remedy. We have a new Costco in town- my first introduction to bulk shopping- and I bought a big box of dried mushrooms and used them for the first time here. They added great umami flavor and texture to the soup. 

Dumpling Soup

  1. Rehydrated a handful of mixed dried mushrooms and save the soaking liquid. 
  2. Chop a bunch of veggies and set them aside. I shredded 1/3 head of green cabbage and 1 carrot. And sliced/diced half a onion and half a green pepper.
  3. Make a stock by whisking together the mushroom soaking liquid, 1-2 tbsp. white miso, 1-2 cups water, soy sauce. I also added some sweet and sour spice mix that I had on hand. 
  4. Set Instant Pot to saute mode. Heat 1 tsp. oil and add 1/2 tbsp. ginger garlic paste. 
  5. Add the veggies and saute for a few seconds. 
  6. Turn off saute mode. Stir in the stock and chopped mushrooms.
  7. Add 1 packet frozen vegetable dumplings.
  8. Pressure cook on HIGH for 3 minutes. Wait for 5 minutes, then release pressure
  9. Serve hot! 
The dumplings ended up a bit overcooked. Next time, I might cook them separately and add them to the soup. I added some salt and pepper tofu as a topping for the soup to make it a hearty meal. Add a dollop of chili crisp to clear those sinuses!

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King Arthur Flour is one of my trusted sources for baking recipes. They came out with a cookbook a few months ago called Baking School. I can't remember the last time I bought a cookbook, but I bought two copies of this one, for my sister and for myself. I bake a fair bit, but I feel like this book has a wealth of tips and technical information that I miss when I scan online baking recipes.

Someone close to us was celebrating an 80th birthday- what a milestone! I decided to make a layer cake and practice frosting it properly. The cake itself was a simple dark chocolate cake from this baking book, one made using the blending method- the easiest cake making method of them all. You mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another, and stir them together by hand. 

I made the cake the day before, following a tip from the book to make cakes a day or more ahead of time when they are to be decorated. This allows the starches to set and the cake to be less fragile. The morning of the birthday celebration, I cut the domes off of the two cakes (and put them together with frosting to make a snacking sandwich cake, see pic below). Then I drizzled the cakes with a soaking liquid- 50:50 orange juice and simple syrup- and frosted it with orange buttercream frosting. Finally, some sprinkles finished the simple yet tasty cake. 

Snacking cake with lopped-off tops!

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  •  The Maid by Nita Prose. Molly is a quirky but hardworking maid in an upscale hotel and somehow ends up as a murder suspect. I could list several flaws in the plotting, the characterization...but in the end, this is a light-hearted and uplifting read, and if you're looking for something of that sort, I recommend this book.
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is a juicy read- what I would describe as chick-lit meets historical fiction. A retired and reclusive actress tells her life story in her own words- and narrates how she came to have the seven marriages she is famous for. This book gives a glimpse into Old Hollywood and the studios of the era and the stars they spawned. A fun read! 
  • This parenting anti-advice thread from Twitter. I love where she says, "...there are a million different ways to be human & they're all valid".

  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery on Netflix. The movie started off with a lot of things that grate on my nerves- billionaires and disruptors- but on the whole it was an entertaining movie.
  • Spirited Away, the gorgeous Studio Ghibli animated fantasy film directed by Miyazaki. It is over 20 years old at this time but this is the first chance I had to watch it. It is strange and so fantastic. 
  • A live performance by the Martha Graham Dance Company- it fed my soul. The program included ballets choreographed decades ago that still feel fresh and relevant- Steps in the Street (1936) was a response to the rise of fascism in Europe, Appalachian Spring, a ballet created in 1944, and Canticle for Innocent Comedians, dance vignettes that are an ode to nature.


  • A spin class for the first time. It was fun but I don't know if I will go back regularly. 
Duncan is healing well from his bite injuries. We started calling him Doggy Potter because of the scar on his forehead but even that's almost disappeared now (this pic is from 10 days ago). 

Tell me your highlights from the month of January!