two weeks later

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to show you what we’ve been doing lately. You may remember me from such posts as “Up In The Air”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.
The snow has been on the ground for two weeks now. Some of it evaporated when it was windy the other day, and it’s warm enough now for the snow to melt, but it isn’t melting all that much.

I’d rather be out in the garden doing stuff, but, according to the guy I live with, there isn’t all that much to do except fill the bird feeders, and that doesn’t take very long.
So he’s been cooking.
Yes, more dumplings.Β Don’t ask me why all the dumplings. I think it’s just weird. I sure hope we aren’t going to go stand on the street and sell dumplings.

And he made some Sichuan-style chili sauce. The recipe called for something called tsao ko, and, believe it or not, the guy I live with knew exactly what this was, since it’s in the pantry.
It’s black cardamom, kali elaichi in Hindi; the guy I live with cooks a lot of Indian food and this is sometimes called for. It smells like smoky cardamom.

Speaking of food, the guy I live with also cooks a lot of Thai food, and one of his very favorite things is drunken noodles, pad kee mao. It’s too hot for most people he knows.
The recipe, like a lot of other Thai dishes, calls for gaprao basil, which is also called holy basil. (Not the anise-scented “Thai basil”, which is horapah basil.)
He sometimes gets holy basil at the Asian market; the last time he went, he couldn’t find it, so looked it up on his phone and showed the Vietnamese name for it to the person stocking the fresh herb section. He was pointed to a bunch of basil-looking greens, so he took these home, but they turned out to be lemon basil.
He said the lemon basil was good, but not what he wanted.

Well, it turns out that he’s been growing the real thing, holy basil, upstairs. The plants were moved from the patio when it got cold, and transplanted into plastic pots.
The leaves look yellow under the lights, but they’re green.

He used these the last time he made drunken noodles, and said they had the aroma of bubblegum, with a fruity flavor. No wonder Thai people love holy basil.

He stripped off the leaves, and threw away the stems, but then thought that maybe some of those stems would root in water, and they did, really quickly. (You can see the rooted cuttings in the pot behind the two pots.)
It was the first time he’d ever rooted cuttings of anything. Believe it or not.

The seeds came from Adaptive Seeds.

And speaking of seeds, the first seeds of the year were sown. I guess if you can call this sowing seeds.
The guy I live with decided to take “the easy way out” and stratify a bunch of the seeds he got in damp (actually, wet) coffee filters. This method works really well.
Mostly erythronium seeds, and some fritillarias, too. (He told me there are fritillaria seeds which were put in the refrigerator last January and they’ve just begin to form embryos, which is how they do this.)
The information on the seed packets said sixteen weeks of cold treatment. (That means cold at 39F, 4C, not freezing.)
You can see the sweet aromatic soy sauce in the little hermetic jar, too. He made that this morning. (It goes with the chili oil on Sichuan-style wontons.)

The freezer bags, which can be reused over and over again for this process, went into a plastic box, and that went in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
The towel is extra protection against freezing, if the refrigerator decided to get colder than it ought to.
It was a pile of seed packets, but took less than fifteen minutes to fill all the bags.

The bags need to be checked every two weeks or so, just to make sure nothing is drying out.
Sometimes seeds will germinate in the refrigerator, but that’s okay.

And that’s it for today’s post.
I notice this post is a whole lot less about me than I’m sure my readers would liked, but the guy I live with said maybe we could have a post that’s all about me and nothing else, for balance, you know.

Until next time, then.


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42 Responses to two weeks later

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Human people would actually be even more discriminating with flavor and fragrance if we had the gustatory and olfactory capacity of canine people.

  2. I was wondering what you put inside the dumplings. Sorry Mani, food looks great!

    • paridevita says:

      They have ground pork (or turkey), cornstarch, eggs, Shaoxing wine, sugar, soy sauce, green onions, and chicken broth.
      The recipe comes from The Chinese Cookbook by Virginia Lee and Craig Claibourne.
      The dipping sauce, which comes from the same book, is vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger and garlic, sugar, and hot oil.

      • Mark Mazer says:

        There is a wonderful little dumpling cookbook by Helen You called “The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook”. She had a little stall in a Main St. Flushing mall that is now closed. Freddi and I would drive in from CT to eat there. Her current restaurant, Tian Jin Dumpling House, is takeout only.
        We have been cooking Thai dishes from “The Original Thai Cookbook” by Jennifer Brennan since the 1980s but I am looking for a recommendation for another. Do you have a fave? I’m leaning toward “Thailand: The Cookbook”
        by Jean-Pierre Gabriel.
        Our first apartment was in a building that had quite a few Sikhs living there and they used Indian Holy basil extensively for making tea and cooking. Used to grow it but no longer have any seeds.

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with’s favorite Thai cookbook is Real Thai by Nancie McDermott. The recipes are exactly the same as the two Thai restaurants that the guy I live wth has been to numerous times. (There are other Thai restaurants here.)
        He complains about cookbooks that have the chef’s “take” on a recipe, rather than what he might he might get at one of those restaurants here. Except that they usually use Thai rather than holy basil.
        There’s a dim sum place not too far away from here. The guy I live with went with his friend, once. He tried not to behave like a Dim Sum Pig.
        Then one day he asked his neighbors if they wanted to go. His neighbor’s wife didn’t want to or couldn’t go, so just the two of them went. As he describes it, two Dim Sum Pigs.

  3. Paddy Tobin says:

    Those spicy foods don’t attract me greatly though I did make Sichuan Prawns during the week.

    • paridevita says:

      That sounds good.
      The guy I live with says he’d really like to go to a place that serves baskets of shrimp (breaded and fried) and French fries, but his friend is wary of a lot of fried food, so he might have to go by himself.

  4. ceci says:

    The dumplings look wonderful! I’ve had good luck getting basil cuttings to root, but less success with then potting the rooted cuttings up. I will be interested to see how this process evolves.

    Its too bad about dogs and spicy foods – there is a lot of sadness here on Thai carryout nights because its just too spicy for dogs.


    • paridevita says:

      I don’t get any People Food at all. But that’s okay because I really like the food I get.
      It was kind of peculiar, trying cuttings, because every time the guy I live with had tried to root anything, the cuttings just rotted. But the basil formed roots, in water, in a week. When he potted the cuttings, the roots were already a couple of inches long.
      So now he can use the leaves in cooking, and then root the stems which have been stripped of almost all their leaves. (Some tiny ones are left because there’s no point using those in a stir fry.)

  5. Mee-yow Guy you sure have been busy! An you are so tallented at growin herbss an stuff. An you cook two??? Mee-yow yore Speck-taculur!
    You must have a Green Thumm πŸ˜‰
    Mani yore 2 fotoss are lovelee just like YOU!
    ***nose rubss*** BellaDharma an (((hugss))) BellaSita Mum

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; the guy I live with’s wife was a really good cook, but he took over most of the cooking (except for roasting the turkey on Thanksgiving) many years ago after he found out he was good at it. And baking, too.
      I guess it’s not very much fun to cook for just one person, though.

      • Mee-yow Mani you woofed that rite! Cookin fore one iss tee-dee-uss accordin to BellaSita.
        Shee used to cook butt not much now.
        Thanx to Sky Cat/Sky Dog fore yummy foodabullss fore us 4-leggedss! πŸ˜‰

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with likes cooking, but sometimes he gets very unhappy not knowing what to plan for dinner a few days ahead. Fortunately we have plenty of stores close to us.

  6. Wow the guy you’re living with sounds like quite the cook. And yes, your dad should do a post strictly about YOUR adventures but we realize it can be hard when there’s all this snow and ice from the melting. Have a good weekend!

    • paridevita says:

      It’s just something he does. Sometimes there are challenges, which he works on, like making spring rolls from rice paper sheets, or circles. He got so good at it that one time his friend, who had trouble making them, came over and he showed her how to do this and she was making perfect spring rolls in no time at all. (He hasn’t tried making the ones you fry, though.)
      The paths in the garden and in the field are hard-packed snow and ice, so the Yaktrax are getting a lot of use.
      He says it’s hard to convey to people who don’t live here how unusual it is to have snow on the ground for more thsn a few days.

  7. Mark Mazer says:

    Dim Sum: Several times a year, on Sunday mornings, Freddi and I would go to a large Flushing sit-down restaurant just down the block from Joe’s Shanghai, famous for their soup dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) and turnip cakes. It was communal seating, large round tables that seated ten. We were always some of the few non-Asians there. One time, about a half-hour into the service, a murmur spread across the room, and many people choose and grew excited about a dish that had just come out of the kitchen on the rolling carts. Fred had to have it but I don’t believe she understood what the server had called it. I waited until she ate a few crispy bites and whispered into her ear: “chicken feet, Fred, she said chicken feet”. Our tablemates were quite amused, and Fred passed them over to our new Asian friends. I taught our African Grey parrot to say “Fred, chicken feet”, it took about a month. Fond memories.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with said he used to know people who lived on a farm in the Midwest, and chicken feet were often consumed there. Fried, I guess.
      The guy I live with makes stock with chicken feet (he used to hang one or two over the edge of the pot, just to annoy his wife); it makes a kind of chicken Jell-o, which might be good for making xiao long bao.
      Normally he just uses Better than Bouillon, but he makes the special Chinese stock with chicken parts. Feet, wings, whatever.
      The guy I live with is very ambivalent about eating meat, and actually doesn’t eat much compared to most people, which is why he likes so much Asian food, where it’s generally not the main ingredient.

      • Mark Mazer says:

        Yup. We sometimes add chicken feet to the stockpot. We eat vegetarian/vegan dinners once or twice every week. Tonight it’s red lentil, kale, and mushroom “meatballs” with a peanut/tomato sauce. Baked, not fried. When we built this house we tried to have a commercial single-station “wok burner” installed, the one that sounds like a jet engine, but the building inspector, fire marshall, and insurance underwriter made that untenable.

      • paridevita says:

        You can get one of those wok burners for outdoors, like Kenji Lopez-Alt has on his videos. Since I don’t eat stir fry, and the guy I live with just cooks for himself, that sort of thing isn’t very practical here.
        He has one of those little butane stoves, which he uses outdoors, and they’ll get a wok so hot so fast that you have to have all the ingredients right there by the stove. One time he went inside to get something and when he went back outside a minute later everything in the wok was black.

      • Mark Mazer says:

        “Normally he just uses Better than Bouillon” We find that even the low-sodium versions are way too salty for our taste, and blood pressure, but we do keep a jar in the fridge.
        There is a “banjo cooker” outside that we modified for use with the wok but it’s a pain to use. About 95000 BTU. A real wok burner would be well North of 250,000 BTU.

      • paridevita says:

        The stove here works just fine. The guy I live with read an article on how to get true “wok breath” on a stove, so he does that. Pouring the soy sauce on the rim of the wok, rather than on the food.

  8. Joanie in NorCal says:

    OOhhhh Mani – dim sum, Thai food, any stir fry – all my favorite foods. I like Kao Soi the best but just about everything else is a close second! I wish I had someone to teach me how to roll the rice paper fresh rolls – mine are NOT pretty.

    Since you can’t have greenie bones or spicy food what is your favorite treat?

    • paridevita says:

      My favorite treats right now are Whole Paws biscuits and the chewy salmon treats. I also get Newman’s Own biscuits.
      I hear it takes a little practice to know how to get the rice paper sheets just damp enough to be able to roll. He has an old skillet that he fills with hot water and soaks the sheet in that, for just the right time. Then lays it out on (I think) waxed paper on the cutting board, fills the roll, and then rolls it up, folding the ends in as he rolls it.
      He’s made kao soi, and says it’s good.
      The Burmese version, oh no kyauk swe (oh no cow sway) is maybe even better. A chicken curry with chicken-broth-chickpea-flour coconut-milk gravy garnished with chopped onions, hardboiled eggs, and crispy chow mein noodles. Quite a bit of work to make.
      When the guy I live with and his wife stayed in New York City in January 1999, they were taken to a Burmese restaurant (one of the many hold-in-the wall type restaurants there).
      He had “night market noodles” and said it was the best food he’d ever eaten.

  9. Wee only have 2 Corner Storess close bye. So BellaSita shopss once a month. It nevurr iss enuff food an sumtimess shee not want what shee bott…..
    Mee thinkss Turkey wuud bee guud πŸ˜‰

    • paridevita says:

      That’s common here, too. The guy I live with gets very sad, sometimes, thinking about what to have for dinner.
      But there are all kinds of stores one main street over from us.

      • BellaSita Mum made Beefy Stew yesterday… smelled Okay an iss tasty butt not as guud as shee usuallee makess!
        Shee sayss bettur than nothin at all…..

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with makes beef stew maybe once or twice a year. His wife loved the stew he made.
        Couple pounds of chuck roast (a cheap cut, but with fat, to give flavor), cubed.
        One onion chopped; two or three carrots, scraped, and chopped; two or three stalks of celery, chopped; three or four potatoes, peeled and cubed. Maybe a turnip or rutabaga, too, chopped.
        Cook the beef in a little bit of oil, then add the onions and cook until transparent, then pour in boiling water to cover, and add the carrots and celery. Then add the potatoes.
        If you plan to freeze any, then the potatoes should be left out, and added when the stew is thawed and reheated.

  10. Jerry says:

    Cardamom, my favorite spice. Underutilized in American cooking. I’ll have to try your seed sowing technique. I always plant mine in pots outside this time of year and then wait 2 years for them to germinate. Your method is more space efficient.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with sows seeds in pots outdoors, too, but since it looks like we’re going to have snow on the ground for at least a month, which used to be unheard-of, here, just stratifying the seeds in the refrigerator is good enough.
      You kind of have to know how long it takes, though. And remember to check the bags.
      He uses a lot of cardamom from white or green pods in Indian cooking, but not very much black cardamom. Maybe one pod in a particular kind of curry. Too much will spoil a dish; making it taste overwhelmingly cardamom-y and smoky. .

  11. Mark Mazer says:

    Wok hei: have you seen this paper?
    One of the authors recently received an Ig Noble Award for research on cube-shaped wombat poop.

  12. MMMM Mistur Guy yore stew soundss DEE-LISHUSS!!!
    BellaSita wrote recipe down….shee furgot celery which shee lovess…
    An sum Sweet ‘Tato makess Stew come to life!
    An shee furgot that ‘tatoess due not due well inn freezer! Thanx fore THE tip….an THE recipe!!! πŸ˜‰

    • paridevita says:

      You’re welcome. Regular potatoes, though. If they’re in the stew and that gets frozen, they can turn to mush when the stew is thawed.
      It’s snowing here, again.

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