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A new way to cook potstickers. April 2, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. I was going to make stir-fry the other night, which I enjoy, but it’s not our friend Ben’s favorite. So to up the ante, I decided to serve up “Asian fusian” appetizers first: vegetarian sushi, eggrolls, and potstickers.

Thing is, I’d tried cooking potstickers before. I’d put them in a pan with a little oil, sauteed them a bit, and added a splash of veggie broth to make sure they got good and hot clear through without burning. Okay, they didn’t burn. But they did stick to the pan and fall apart when I tried to serve them. Yuck! Not good. Not good at all.

So this time, I decided to try something different. I had to use our little convection/toaster oven to heat the eggrolls anyway, so why not see what it did for the potstickers? I put the potstickers in an ovenproof glass container, then poured a little veggie broth over them, so they were sitting in about 1/4 inch of broth. Then I drizzled tamari over them, followed by a couple of splashes of Frank’s Red Hot Sweet Chili Sauce. I put the eggrolls and the potsticker container in the oven, turned the heat to 275 degrees F. on the convection mode, and hoped for the best.

After about 15 minutes, I flipped the eggrolls so they could crisp on all sides. And about half an hour after I started, I arranged the sushi and condiments (shoyu, wasabi and pickled sushi ginger), eggrolls and condiments (duck sauce and Chinese hot mustard), and potstickers on plates and served them up.

At this point, the broth, tamari and hot sauce had formed a thick, glossy coating on the potstickers. I could not believe how delicious they were! And not using any oil salved my conscience a bit for the Frank’s hot sauce, which has sugar (but, thank God, no high-fructose corn syrup). OFB was ecstatic, and even went so far as to suggest that perhaps we could have stir-fry and Asian appetizers again this week.

Innovation: It works for me. And, apparently, for the creator of potstickers. As the package of Annie Chun’s Organic Shiitake & Vegetable Potstickers says, “According to Chinese legend, potstickers were created by accident when the chef of a Chinese emperor accidentally left a pot of dumplings over the stove for too long, crisping the bottoms of the dumplings. Fortunately, the dumplings were a hit among members of the Chinese Imperial Court and so a new recipe was born.”

               ‘Til next time,

                           Silence

A really cool terrarium tool. April 1, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Okay, it’s not actually a tool, but it really is cool: It’s a solar-powered canning jar lid light.

Our friend Ben and I had stopped in at a new gardening store in the nearby town of Kutztown, PA, determined to support local businesses, even on our feeble budget. The store, The Companion Plant (www.thecompanionplant.com), turned out to be a surprise. Instead of the usual array of lawn art and high-end pots, it was a very spare, Zen-like space devoted to some of our favorite organic fertilizers (including the classic International House of Guano, also available through Worm’s Way, www.wormsway.com) and halogen lamps for hydroponic growers.

We checked everything out, bought some packets of locally-grown seeds, and noted that they had lectures on Japanese-style natural gardening (which we plan to attend). But the coolest thing they had by far and away were these solar-powered canning jar lids, selling for $10 each. The Companion Plant had them on blue canning jars, with potting medium and moss inside. It was incredibly cool to see these illuminated jars and know that the source of the illumination was the sun.

Sadly, we didn’t have a spare $10 to purchase a solar lid (though I do have some blue canning jars), so we left with just the seeds. But I’ve been thinking about those beautiful, spare terrariums ever since. They were amazingly beautiful. I love terrariums, and someday soon I’ll be heading out there to get one of those lids.

For those of you who love terrariums but don’t live near Kutztown, you can contact The Companion Plant at 610-683-9676 or e-mail at companionplant@gmail.com. Their lid price is way lower than anything else I’ve been able to find online. Enjoy yourselves, and let me know what you plant and how it does!  

           ‘Til next time,

                         Silence