Gyoza. Always and forever.

By popular demand! The Sasano gyoza recipe! It’s easier than it sounds. The hardest part is creating the little pleats, but as long as you seal the meat into the wrapper in some way, it doesn’t matter how it looks. We (my big sister, my twin sister, and I) were making these with my mom since we were little, and maybe we had unusually good fine motor skills for our age (which we did, according to my kindergarten report card), but it’s not an exact thing.

You need:
FILLING:
half pound ground pork (or you can use veggie ground!)
half pound cabbage (I use the crinkly Savoy type, or Japanese hakusai), chopped fine
One or two cloves of garlic, minced
Two stalks of green onion, chopped small
One tablespoon soy sauce
One tablespoon sesame oil

About 40-50 dumpling/wonton wrappers (get the ROUND ones). If they are frozen, thaw them. Don’t let them dry out! Throw a slightly damp cloth or paper towel over top while you’re working.

Soy sauce + rice vinegar + chili oil for dipping.

What you do:
Mix all the filling ingredients together. Take a small spoonful of filling, deposit it in the centre of the wrapper. Dip a finger into some water and draw a line around half the circumference of the wrapper and fold the gyoza in half to seal the edges, making around 6 pleats one side of it if you feel up to it.

Place the finished ones on a plate dusted with corn starch and if you feel like they’re drying out, damp cloth/paper towel on top.

You should have around 40-50 gyoza made. To cook them, heat up a bit of oil in a pan, place your gyozas in and let one side of them brown a bit. Then take a little water, throw it in, and cover to finish them in steam. Depending on the size of the pan, it’s probably a couple tablespoons to a quarter cup. Check to see if the meat is cooked, and eat it as a sacrifice. If it is cooked, take them out of the pan and eat them with hot fresh white rice, dipping them in a soy sauce/vinegar (or lemon) and/or chili oil.

If you’re not up to eating all 40 at once (I usually eat about 10 at a sitting), you can freeze the uncooked ones for lazier days.

Sorry for no photo. They were slightly burnt, and then I ate them.

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All the worst photos I see on Tinder

Aside from the obvious blurry/bad facial expressions/not the person in the profile, I have seen these:

1. Selfie taken from what appears to be under the dash of your car. Your seatbelt is still done up.

2. Your car/motorcycle/quad, but not you.

3. Your child/pet, but not you.

4. Only your abs.

5. You doing yoga in the wilderness.

6. You giving the finger to the camera (?!)

7. You with a northern pike/white tail deer.

8.You wearing shiny sunglasses.

9. You with a bride (hopefully not yours?)

10. You holding a musical instrument (surprisingly unsexy!).

 

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Mile Zero Dance: Without Borders

I was invited to produce a piece of writing for this event! I talked about it here. I think I sound pretty smart; thanks to Fawnda for making it so!

This is what I came up with. Let me know if the link works. What you see is the front and back of a folded document. It was pretty cute.

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YOU MUST MAKE THIS SMOOTHIE

1 C frozen dark cherries/strawberries
1 C soy milk or whatever
Bloop of yogurt
A handful of spinach (for your health)

AND … A SPOONFUL OF NUTELLA.
Drinkable chocolate-covered cherries/strawberries.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

Oh yeah. Put it in a blender and blend it, doi.

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Texting the wrong number: a morality tale

ACTUAL EVENTS DEPICTED:

Me: Hi! It’s Mari! The address is XXXXX XX Street!

Shorty after, I get a phone call and I explain to the dude that sorry, I texted the wrong number. A few minutes later, he starts texting me back.

Dude: Are you available

Me: How so?

Dude: To go out

Me: Uh, with a complete stranger? Why would you want that? I might be really horrible.

Dude: Do you work

Me: Of course I do.

Dude: Are you working now

Me: I’m not interested, if that’s what you’re getting at. I don’t even know you!

Dude: Me neither but someone else had my phone and wondering how you got this number

Me: By typing in the wrong number! I wasn’t looking for you!

DUDES ARE CONFUSING.

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Conflict resolution breakthrough

TRIGGER WARNING: corny moment of self-reflection

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about conflict and how to deal with aggression. Part of it is just reflecting on my behaviour in past relationships and what I’ve learned through that. But I also recently wrote an It Happened to Me for xoJane that hit a nerve with some commenters. I thought it was important to respond to them (and also I am contractually required to).

These comments were only borderline snarky and not really looking for a fight, but it still stung to be criticized, whether I deserved it or not. But I went through each comment and clarified what they didn’t understand, or gently suggest that they read the entire article (because COME ON).

It was really validating to read the (many more! Thank you!) positive responses to my writing — nice for the ego! —  but what really moved me were the comments that mentioned how impressed they were of how I was conducting myself in the conversation. I guess I’m pretty good at keeping the peace. Middle child thing, maybe?

I’ve figured out that the best way to handle anger/hostility/aggression is in a way that allows both parties to walk away unscathed, with dignities intact. It’s sort of like emotional aikido. I’m not counting physical aggression — I haven’t had to deal with that ever, and I hope I never have to. But when someone comes after me verbally with rage or aggression, I want to stop it. It’s not good if I just do whatever it takes to appease someone (LIFE LESSON), but I’ve learned to redirect those feelings towards the problem, not a person (and especially not me. Unless it’s my fault. Then sorry.). It’s usually anger masking fear or hurt. Dig for the real reasons and deal with those needs.

I’m also pretty lucky that I’ve been able to create a life for myself that gives me room for a lot of self-care so I can have the energy to cope with stress. When I’m stressed (like when I was teaching), I’m a disaster. It’s way easier to deal with conflict calmly and patiently if you’re actually calm and patient. Life is hard, and everyone struggles. We need to ask the question: how do we find the strength and generosity to let each other co-exist?

And you know what? I need to do this for my self-loathing — I can be so cruel to myself. For a few years now I’ve been living in reaction to my feelings instead of listening to what they really have to say and figuring out what I actually need. So instead of risking angering someone, I diminished myself and became a boiling volcano of resentment. I’ve been so scared of opening up discussions because I knew that the outcome might/will hurt a little in the short term, but would be wise in the long term.

AND IT FUCKING SUCKS.

Doing the right thing feels like shit. Tell me I’m going to be OK.

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I AM THE QUEEN OF WAFFLES

Tonight I was supposed to go to Lily Tsui’s house for breakfast-for-dinner, but she got last-minute Oilers tickets and who am I to prevent a woman from going to see her true love? I have somehow accumulated way too many eggs, though, so I went ahead with breakfast-for-dinner for one.

I felt a bit like a fancy lady, so I put in a bit of effort and made waffles FOR THE FIRST TIME. I’ve had a waffle iron since forever, but never used it — it was kind of a hand-me-down, and it was my ex’s, and he didn’t want it, so there it is.

Waffles. Exalted waffles. Icon of shouty women. I made them my friend.

Here is the recipe. They’re easy (and I realize that Mari-easy is different from normal-easy, but here’s something I’m good at and don’t take it away from me).

The dry ingredients are mixed together (flour, sugar, baking soda). Then a couple egg yolks, a cup (!!) of melted butter, milk, vanilla, and egg whites beaten to meringue. Maybe I added too much sweetness; I used vanilla soy milk instead of bovine milk. Will adjust next time, as I will the melted butter because OH MY GOD BUTTERY.

Then I scooped up a bit of the batter and cooked it in my waffle iron. MAGICAL. It smells so good when it’s cooking, people. And since I was dining solo, I just ate them with my hands as they came out of the iron.

There it is. Great waffles, the first time. BEHOLD.

photo-5

 

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Chocolate cream pie

The other night I was determined to make a beautiful dinner and a mind-blowing dessert to, uh, blow minds. I’d been waiting for an occasion to make a French Silk Pie, so I found a recipe from Martha Stewart that didn’t look too hard.

Failure. TWICE a failure. Thanks for nothing, Martha. (the rest of the meal was good — phew!) Although it may also have been the fault of the chocolate. For some reason, I had a giant Costco bag of chocolate chips in the pantry and I figured I would use those. Anyhow, bad chocolate melts into a gross clump and I gave up.

This was a couple of days before Xmas at Sasano HQ, and this year I was assigned dessert for my contribution. NO PROBLEM. But I figure failing three times would break my heart, so I found another recipe, this one from Epicurious.

Being me, I forget to get ingredients until Xmas DAY. It’s hard to get groceries that day, but I didn’t need much. I found some nice bars of Lindt Madagascar dark chocolate, vanilla extract, and a half litre of whipping cream at the Shopper’s Drug Mart. Oh yeah, and a box of graham crumbs for the crust. Oldest nephew has a nut allergy, so I had to improvise.

It is SO EASY, people. Crumbs, melted butter =  crust. Didn’t even bother baking it. Done. Then make a sort of custard with eggs and sugar and milk. I melted the chocolate in a double boiler (really, it was a little pot of boiling water in which I immersed a little bowl. I am not that fancy).

You get what you pay for with chocolate. You want chocolate that actually melts, and that only happens with the good stuff. Something about cocoa butter, I figure. Anyhow, if it’s not good enough to eat, it’s not good enough to bake with. Now we know. The melted chocolate goes into the custard, the custard goes into the crust, refrigerate. I whipped the full 500mL of cream for the cream part right before serving, grated some chocolate sprinkles and WOW.

photo-4

See what I mean? It was a hit. My 8-year old nephew gave it a 5/5! I need to make this again. So should you.

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I’M BACK: and more OK than ever!

So it’s been a while and this year has been crazy like whoa. Long story short: broke up with BF over the summer (gentlemen: the line forms to the left — get at me before my looks go!) and worked at a totally bonkers TV job, then quit it.

I’m now working with a clean slate and after feeling terrible for several months, I am now feeling surprisingly not-lost.

As some of you may know, I’ve really been struggling with my identity as a writer for the past several years. I had a really good beginning to my career (which I kinda just stumbled into, really). It was really fun and challenging to write for ed magazine (rest in peace, you sweet young thing). It fed my soul, to use a totally gross cliche.

I think a lot of mid-career people in creative fields who are not unstoppable robots hit a plateau or slump. I hit it, hard. Tried a few things, succeeded and failed, but never really felt like I had the same kind of home that I used to. There was nothing to post here because nothing was really happening.

But since returning to full-time freelancing, I’ve had some tremendous support from my writing colleagues and have slowly been making some effort into pitching the kind of writing I actually want to do. Money be damned! (and damn, it’s terrible)

I’ve had two pieces published on XOJane and one in the pipes. Honestly, I don’t know why I was so scared to approach them before. Maybe because JANE PRATT OMG, right? And I’ve started pitching at other places too. But this feels like home. The Toast and The Butter and The Frisky and all the other places beginning with “the” are other places I’m looking at. If I can do a few a month, I will be happy.

I’ll be posting links to the articles I’ve written here (I made a little “writing” tab up there), and even if I get no traffic, I’ll be content because my blog is on my business cards and someone might actually look at it once in a while.

Thank you, anonymous universe! I will be worthy of your treasures!

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Oops!

Sorry I haven’t blogged! I promise I will soon!

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