We had a full, fun- and food-filled weekend. I don’t even remember what we did on Friday, but I think it was something to the tune of “unpack a box here, rearrange a bookshelf there . . .” The rest of the weekend was far more entertaining.
We made our weekly run to the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market. Had to capture Calvin in his cute khaki hat that he may non fit much longer. It was our quickest trip to the market to date. We were on site less than 40 minutes because we had an appointment to view an office space at 10am.
Since Steve wasn’t going to work for the first Saturday since he began his job at Wolf Creek (because the weed whacking equipment was all in the shop for repair), we decided to do something fun as a family. We went to Carter Mountain Orchard for some breathtaking views.
Beautiful vineyards and apple groves abound. There are hayrides for the young’uns or young at heart. Also, purchase Virginia-grown hand-picked peaches and apples, or snag a bucket and pick your own. Or, just stroll the lovely trails and take in the splendid vistas.
We sipped muscadine cider and tasted a fresh home-baked peach donut (my inflammation splurge for the month). Then, we headed home to nap do relaxing weekend things. This is our top pick (no pun intended) for where we’d like to celebrate Calvin’s First Birthday–picnic style.
We tried some new schedule tactics to roll with the punches of the new schedule in effect at church. I let Calvin sleep in until the last possible minute, then I nursed and changed him and off to church we went for the new 0830 early service. Calvin fared so much better than in the past when it was apparent that he was so ready for a nap.
When the worship service was over, I fed him his breakfast of sweet potatoes, then let him play in the nursery while Steve & I went to Sunday School. As soon as we got home, Calvin took a good long nap. The rest of the day’s schedule was pretty much on track and Calvin did so well. Sundays normally really rattle his schedule and make napping a nightmare, but that wasn’t the case this time! I think in the future we’ll keep him with us during the worship service, and let him play in the nursery during Sunday School. It worked out brilliantly!
Our friend, Daniel, joined us for lunch. Afterward, he taught me how to make one of our favorite traditional Chinese dishes–jiao zi (pronounced “jee-ow dzuh”. Also known in America as a “won ton” or a dumpling. They can be eaten with a brothy soup, boiled and then dipped in sauces, or pan-fried.
Every culture’s cuisine, it seems, has a similar version of this dish. For American: it’s dumplings; Italian: ravioli; Slovakian: pierogi; Mexican: tamale, and so on.
Create the mixture with ground pork, beef, chicken, or a combination. Add finely chopped Chinese chives (different than North American chives) OR add finely chopped green beans. Season with some sea salt, pepper, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Stir with chopsticks and get ready to stuff some dumpling skins!
These pre-cut skins come frozen, in a pack of about 50. They’re made from rice flour. Thaw ’em out. Moisten 2/3 of the circumference with your fingers dipped in a bowl of water. Use chopsticks to add a glob of the mixture and pat it down to make it compact.
You can just flap ’em in half and seal ’em by pinching the edges together. But, this is Chinese food. So, presentation is a huge part of the experience. Traditionally, they’re served with “ruffles”. It took me at least 20 really messed up dumplings before I got the hang of how to stuff ’em and crimp the sides so they looked beautiful.
These photos are more to jog my memory the next time I set out to create this enormous cooking endeavor. But, feel free to try making ’em yourself.
All in all, I’d crimp the edges about 5 times for a finished dumpling.
The finished product. I think we made 150, from start to finish it was about a 3 1/2 hour process–and we didn’t even have to make the dumpling skins from scratch (that would have taken another DAY!).
Dip. Eat. Enjoy.
We had a great weekend. How was yours?