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!

* * *


  •  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! 


  1. Turned 44, and went to a little Korean restaurant for birthday lunch. My first time eating Korean food, and I loved it so much. Already looking forward to the next visit. :)


    1. Belated happy birthday, Lakshmi! 44 is a great milestone! It is wonderful to discover a new cuisine. All I've eaten of Korean food is gimbap (which we make at home and love) and kimchi.

    2. Thank you. 😊 We got silken tofu soup, Jap cheh (stir-fried sweet potato noodles with veggies), hot stone bibimbop, and a variety of banchan dishes. So flavorful and fresh, and a bunch of lovely textures. 😍

  2. Currently reading "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" by Joan Didion. It's collection of essays she wrote in the early 60's. I'm enjoying a look back at this time of transition in my home state. Listening to "Have You Eaten Yet?" by by Cheuk Kwan. It's a fascinating journey around the world visiting Chinese restaurants. Through stories of the owners, food, and families Kwan explores the Chinese diaspora. I think food is an interesting and fun way to learn about people and culture so this book really appealed to me.
    A plug for my local library and the Libby app. I use it all the time to access free books for my Kindle and audio books. I think libraries everywhere us this app or something similar. Find out if it's available in your area! #supportyourlocallibrary ;-)

    1. Both books sound fascinating, Angela! Food is definitely my preferred way to learn about people and culture. And food plus books- what could be better? :)

      Yes, we have the libby app at our local library! I just don't use audio books or digital books yet, so I haven't had a chance to use it.

  3. Good to hear that Duncan is getting better!

    I don't cook the dumplings at all. The residual heat from instant pot is enough to cook them. Make the soup, immediately release pressure manually, throw the dumplings in, put the lid back on and leave aside. Since the pressure is force-released, the pot is hot enough to reseal on its own (the metal thingy goes up). You're basically intervening to add dumplings before the pressure is released naturally. You'll find the dumplings cooked to perfection.

    The Maid was funny and innocent and the grandma character was so sweet.
    The abusive and hedonistic lifestyles of Hollywood are too dark for me to enjoy but I found The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo an easy read.

    House of Gucci was an interesting watch. This Mountain Life documentary had breathtaking views of BC/PNW mountains.

    I made your Cowboy Candy and loved it. We've been stirring the jalapeno achar into barley soup for an added kick.

    1. Thank you for that amazing dumpling soup tip! I will try it!

      I'll have to watch This Mountain Life- sounds fascinating.

      And I am glad cowboy candy worked for you :) I am looking forward to making another batch when peppers are back in season.

  4. I've been shopping at Costco for a long time and have never noticed the dried mushrooms. I'll go look for those. I have watched numerous videos of making dumplings with all the veggies you've used in your soup - cabbage, mushrooms, carrots etc. Id love to venture into making those some day. I couldnt watch Glass Onion past the first 15 mins - I just couldnt catch its drift. I havent been cooking much lately but a friend of mine made a sambar by pureeing zucchinis in, I thought that was such a smart way of adding veggies to the sambar and cutting back on the quantity of lentils, I recreated her recipe immediately. Now I've been having sambar everyday to get through the large batch!
    I watched You People on Netflix , its a pretty standard story line, but I liked how to tried to tackle racist undertones in society by calling it out. I've been wanting to watch La La Land since it won an Oscar and its finally available on Netflix. Its a great movie if you see it as a creative outlet for the director. Its unsual to see a musical and a love story that doesnt end with the traditional happily ever after..


    1. Archana- I've made dumplings once and it was a really fun project, best done with a group of friends or family over a lazy afternoon.

      I love your friend's idea of pureeing zucchini into sambar! Will have to try that.

      I did watch La La Land and while it is a good love story (OK musical), I did not get the Oscar hype. I'll have to watch You People. Have been in a watching funk where I only ever want to watch familar shows like Midsomer Murders.

  5. Love a dumpling soup! I often see frozen dumplings at the supermarket and wonder what I would do with them - I now want to buy some for a soup! I love your birthday cake - I really love fresh cake but it is easier to work with after a day.

    I can't believe how little I have read lately so these book sound like fun. I tried to watch The Glass Onion but fell asleep - I don't blame the movie! And I really love Spirited Away - such a beautiful movie - it is great to watch over and over - I have watched it many times and still love it

    1. Johanna- The dumpling soup was so good that I have been making it often. I can't wait to watch more of the studio Ghibli movies, they are eye candy.


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