Homemade shumai dumplings

It never fails that when I become infatuated with a food the stores are bound to quit selling them.  My recent letdown has been from Trader Joe’s who stopped doing their vegetarian/edamame shumai.  I loved these little things but all good things must come to an end, even if they continue making their pork and chicken versions!

Well, thanks to Maki over at JustBento, I found an awesome recipe for vegan shumai dumplings.  She made them look so easy to make and all the ingredients were easily found at the asian market, so I decided to give it a go.  You can find the recipe on her site here.

I took her advice and got all my ingredients together and sat in the living room making them on the coffee table.  Forming them took a bit of time to get right, but once I had the technique down it took me no time to make a total of 20 dumplings.

Once I was done forming the dumplings, I opted for the pan fry/steam method of cooking them.  I added oil to the bottom of the frying pan to heat, then added my shumai.  I let them fry on the bottom for about 3 minutes then added boiling water to the pan to cover the dumplings halfway then covered to steam for 10 minutes.  They came out perfectly.

We enjoyed these in bento boxes for dinner along with stir fried noodles and vegetables, inarizushi and dragon fruit grenata (so easy, find my recipe here!)  It was a nice and refreshing dinner and we had plenty of shumai left over for snacking on!

My ‘ickle garden

We rent. So we can’t dig a garden. It sucks! But I came up with a plan a couple of weeks ago to still have my garden and keep the grass in tact. I decided I’d keep everything in pots. Not only will it keep the landlord happy but I can also take the plants with me once we move.

My mom helped me when she was here and we planted 3 different types of tomatoes, green peppers, banana peppers, lettuce and strawberries.

Here is what they looked like when we first re-potted.

1st day of re-potting the seedlings

1st day of re-potting the seedlings

I took new pictures today (2 weeks later) and the difference is amazing. I’ve never had much of a green thumb when we lived in Florida, I think because it was just so damn hot! But I’m having much better luck up here.  I even have a strawberry that is ready to be picked!

Day 23
Day 23 - Strawberry ready for pickin

Day 23 - Strawberry ready for pickin'

Day 23 - Tomato planet

Day 23 - Tomato plant

Things to do today: Bento organization – Done!

Bento boxes and supplies have taken over my life in the last couple of months. Any shop I go to these days I’m looking for accessories. I’ve orders stuff on sites and have a few things coming in from Ebay. I’m officially, without a doubt, 100% addicted. Needless to say, my house has been over run by all of this stuff! Last night I went on a mission to find something small to store all of the gear in. I came up with this little cupboard from Target. This is from their Itso line. I’m pretty happy with it. It’s not going to last forever, but it was a good price and will work for what I need it for right now. Once I out grow it – I can always use it in the office or one of the bedrooms. It was super easy to put together too, I did it all by myself (which if you knew me – you’d know that never works out well!).

Closed, it looks very sleek. You’d never guess it was full of crazy bento gear!

When you open it, I have the boxes on the top shelf. On the bottom, I got two green storage containers for the smaller cups and cutters, etc. Then on top of those I bought a fabric cube that stores bags, chopsticks, etc. Everything is easily accessible. Now I don’t need to look in 2 different cupboards and 4 different drawers to find everything!


Tea Eggs

In today’s bento I decided to try tea eggs.  Very similar to coloring eggs, but you need to make cracks in the hard boiled egg before you let sit in the tea mixture.  Here is where I got the recipe/idea from:  CookingCute.com.  The only bit I didn’t have was the star anise so I just skipped it.  I think they came out really good.. and tasty too!

Tea Eggs

Tea Eggs

First try at onigiri

Last night I tried my hand at Japanese onigiri (rice ball).  These are made using Japanese rice, using a filling or rice sprinkling and wrapping in nori strips.  Mine had one for black olive filling and one with umeboshi (pickled plum).  Pete’s had a spicy tuna mayonnaise filling.  They were really good, except for the one with the umeboshi… I discovered I definitely do not like umeboshi.  lol  Much too salty and sour for me… couldn’t do it!  I also made stewed hijiki seaweed with carrots and fried tofu (a recipe from JustBento.com).  That turned out really nice.

Handmade Onigiri with stewed hijiki seaweed, carrots and fried tofu

Handmade Onigiri with stewed hijiki seaweed, carrots and fried tofu

Sunday night… SUSHI!

So I tried for the first time to make sushi.  I was slightly askerred but I did a bunch of research and just dove in.  Everything turned out brilliantly!  My biggest worry was the sushi rice.  It ended up being perfect.. well as perfect as it could be for someone who didn’t train for ages on just making rice.  Of course, it was all vegetarian.  Pete was going to get tuna to put in his but he didn’t know exactly what type to get so decided to just suffer with only veggies.  Boohoo, Poor thing!

Ingredients and supplies for the sushi:

Ingredients for the miso soup (Pete made this (shocking right?) – it was awesome by the way!)

Rice done and cooled… fanning it was oh so much fun!

Sushi rolled:

Sushi rolled using sesame soy wrapper:

Final dinner.  Had a bit of sake with it too as a treat.. oh yea, we don’t screw around up in here!

The ‘Grand Asia Market’ experience

Hubby and decided yesterday that after our months of passing it on a constant basis we’d stop off at the local asian grocery.  Calling it large would be an understatement.  We felt that from the short walk from the carpark to the store doors we must have hopped a flight straight to China, or what I feel could be as close to China in Southern USA.  Most of the items there listed the ingredients but that was about all that was listed in english.  I found the motherload of all tofu sections and I set up camp picking up anything that looked somewhat decent (though I was somewhat scared by most of it).  Anything that you touch and it moves like jello is probably best left alone!  Here’s the bits that I picked up.  Need to hop online and find some recipes but I’m hoping that my first trip to the shop will not be my last. 

I lol so hard at some of the packaging… it’s awesome!  Makes the trip to Hong Kong on my bucket list all that much worth waiting for!  :)