Chef Ezra's Shu Mai (aka Reasons To Have Children #159,045,730)

I am in the work weeds right now, the entirely predictable result of daring to take TWO WHOLE DAYS off and then spending the rest of the week ping-ponging around 17 different deadlines in a panic while completing exactly zero of them. So you know what that means, blobs? Time to post a recipe that maybe like three people asked for on social media last week and pretend like OH MY GOD SOOOOOO MANY PEOPLE ARE BEGGING FOR THIS RECIPE I MUST INDULGE THE WILL OF THE MANY, MANY PEOPLE. (But seriously, it's a good recipe. Teach it to your children well and let them make you dinner.) Chef Zah's Shu Mai (Steamed Pork, Shrimp & Mushroom Dumplings) (Adapted from dumplings we made at the Baltimore Chef Shop, with a few tweaks courtesy of Ezra) Ingredients: ¾ lbs. ground pork ¼ lb. shelled raw shrimp 1/2 cup fresh mushrooms (we use Shiitake, stems removed) 4 scallions 4 sprigs cilantro 1 small chunk of fresh ginger 1 ½ tsp. fish sauce 1 ½ tsp. salt 1 ½ tsp. cornstarch 1 large egg 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil Wonton wrappers Napa cabbage leaves (or parchment paper) Soy sauce (optional) Instructions: MISE EN... Read more →


Better Now

I've been procrastinating on a Brain Update (among many, many other things, thanks for that lovely bit of self-sabotage, anxiety, you bitch), but hey, here goes nothing. The medication is definitely helping, although it also makes me: 1) Throw up 2) Gain weight (HOW CAN BOTH OF THOSE THINGS HAPPEN WHAT IS HAPPENING) 3) Ask you to repeat everything you say, a bit louder this time, so I can hear you better over the goddamn ringing in my goddamn ears. Antidepressants are weird. I don't particularly enjoy the side effects, obviously, but when I think back a few months, to the unmedicated alternative...well. I'll just buy some bigger pants and drink some ginger tea. Hey, it's like being pregnant! Only without the baby part, or the urge to clean things. Ugh, this house. Since I wasn't exactly live-blogging the worst of it, I'll just say, in the understatement of the decade, that things were not very good. Things were very, very bad. Everything else I've tried to type here instead sounds super dark and would probably scare my mother too much, so I'll just leave it at that. Please don't let things get that bad, dear people. It's hard to... Read more →


Kung Fu Ezra

Ezra and his magic glasses attended his first for-real, serious cooking class. It was everything he dreamed of and more. It was taught by a for-real, serious chef, who complimented his knife skills as "perfect." It took place in a for-real, serious chef's kitchen, stocked to the rafters with every spice and kitchen tool imaginable. He was allowed to explore and touch and taste whatever he wanted. He chose the Dim Sum class because it sounded the "most hardest." (Also because of Kung Fu Panda, I'm pretty sure.) We made a variety of dumplings and spring rolls, with different fillings and folding/rolling styles. He and I were tasked with making the shrimp dumpling filling for the class, and he admirably did almost all the chopping and measuring and even dug into peeling and de-veining the shrimp, which neither of us had ever done before. (He did ask me what the black stuff was and I told him that it was shrimp poop, which embarrassed him. "You didn't really need to say that," he told me, but then carried on bravely with his de-pooping duties.) (Turns out I don't have an actual shellfish allergy after all, but more of a "sensitivity."... Read more →


Will It Instant Pot? Blue Apron Edition

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. The first 100 people will receive $40 off their first two weeks of meals here! My husband finally caved to the Internet Multi-Cooker Hype and bought us an Instant Pot. He bought it just a couple weeks before Valentine's Day, which is when I planned to buy him an Instant Pot, because he loves to blow up my gifting spot every. Single. Holiday. (He got socks for V-day.) He is MORE THAN A LITTLE OBSESSED WITH IT. Him: (looks at phone, eyes widen, gasps) Me: OMG WHAT'S HAPPENING IS HE GETTING IMPEACHED Him: (shows me yet another Instant Pot recipe) — amalah (@amalah) February 9, 2018 (After I finish this post I've been tasked with taking his precious Instant Pot full of his precious pork chili verde to his office to enter a cook-off on his behalf because he's stuck in meetings elsewhere. It's cute that he thinks I know how to turn the thing on, let alone how to not burn the building down.) (UPDATE: He won first place. I graciously accepted the award on his behalf. If he asks, just tell him about the spoon.) Anyway. What? Oh right. Our lives... Read more →


This Is Your Brain on Friendsgiving

9 a.m.: I wonder how long I can stay in bed and pretend this isn't happening. 9:15: GET UP GET UP GET UP 10:00: Time To Fuss Over Flower Arrangements! 10:30: It's probably too early to put out chips and stuff, right? 10:35: (Realizes Jason bought Cheetos) 10:40 - noon: (Stress-eats Cheetos) 12:01 p.m.: Rearrange All The Flower Arrangements! 12:30: Ike has announced his intention to take a rolling Friendsgiving attendance/headcount on Post-It Notes. It's good to have a purpose. 1:00: OMG no one is coming 1:45: OMG everyone is coming 1:47: Ike has re-made the Friendsgiving banner. 2:00 - who even can remember: HI HI HI HI HI HI I LIKE EVERYBODY HERE SO MUCH 2:05: Where is my wine glass? 2:30: Oh, there it is. 2:35: We aren't going to have enough food. 3:00: Holy shit there is so much food. 3:02: WTF lost my wine glass again. 3:15: One turkey down, two more to go. 3:45: I should not have filled up on Cheetos. 4:00: Ike has redecorated the bar area. 4:15: Guess I'll just get a new wine glass? Is that allowed? 4:16: Oh right. This is my house. 4:30: Deep-fried turkey is the best turkey,... Read more →


Our Blue Apron Anniversary

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. So we've been Blue Apron members for...wow, three full years now, officially. Every Monday, two boxes show up on our doorstep. (We find that two boxes of the 2-person plan feeds our 5-person family perfectly, often with leftovers. Blue Apron also has a 4-person family plan but we found the portions a touch smaller and the meals more kid-friendly than our kids really need. YMMV.) We unload the ingredients, pull out the recipe cards, map out when we'll make what, and bam. Our dinner menu planning and shopping is done for the week, in less than 10 minutes. We have tried other meal delivery services in that time, but have always returned to Blue Apron time and time again. Some are just too expensive and/or the prices advertised don't include the shipping costs (tricksy hobbits). Others consistently sent us rotten ingredients and reaching customer service was a labyrinth of response-less frustration. (BA lets me report missing or damaged ingredients directly from their app, and I always hear back with an account credit within a day. Their customer service is fabulous.) Another one promised super fast, zero-prep meals but relied heavily on processed foods... Read more →


Marrch of the RR Key

The rr key on my keyboarrd is sticking. Not every time, so I keep forgetting about it, and then rrealize a second too late that I've just sent an email or article or blog post into the worrld with a bunch of r-rrelated typos. It's great. Rreally grreat. Luckily this dump doesn't really care for stuff like "editorial standards" or "prroofreading" or "grammarr that doesn't fold and collapse in on itself under the weight of the seventh line of a single run-on sentence" or "CAPS LOCK IS LAZY AND SHOUTY," so I should be okay. rr. r. rrrrrrrrrrrr. (STOP IT, ASSHOLE KEY. ARRRRRGH.) Anyway. How's everybody's week? Mine is boring, although I'm trying to pretend it's not March because March is a very bad, not rreally grreat month for me, historically speaking, what with it being long and cold and grey and oh right, the month where everybody and everything I love dies. Not to be dramatic, but well, March can suck it. Rey was making some vomit/heaving noises this morning and I was like, DON'T YOU EVEN START WITH THAT I CANNOT. (It was a hairrball.) Last night we trried to make falafel pita sandwiches and something went very,... Read more →


Date Night, Every Night

This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. Man, last week was One Of Those Weeks. Jason's work kept him late almost every night, or had him commuting to D.C., while the boys all started different after-school enrichment programs on different nights of the week (naturally!). They'd come home extra crunched for time and INSANELY hungry, having missed their usual after-school snack break. They needed dinner STAT and waiting for Dad to get home wasn't an option. It was One Of Those Weeks where we just had to sacrifice our family dinner ritual. It happens. Kids got an easy, early dinner from the freezer or pasta shelf. All as healthy and homemade-ish as I could manage (I do a lot of big-batch cooking on weekends for nights like that), but certainly nothing too challenging or exciting. Jason and I, on the other hand, didn't have to sacrifice much at all: Every night was Date Night, thanks to Blue Apron. Usually when we have One Of Those Weeks, we end up ordering a lot of takeout or delivery, which is 1) expensive, and 2) too easy to blow through 2,500 calories in one sitting because oh look a two-for-one deal on large... Read more →


Rando Weekend

It's January 17, almost Let's Inaugurate a Lunatic Day, it's cold and grey outside, and I still haven't taken down our Christmas tree, which is dead. Time for a half-assed, hodgepodge post of random, mostly unrelated photos! I made this for dinner and lo, it was good. (We've been mixing it up and trying out a few of the other meal-delivery service options, so this was a Sunbasket recipe.) So good that the kids ate EVERY BITE, declared it their favorite, and then Ezra and Ike made me thank-you necklaces. Which I think went really well with an equally ridiculous dress. The men in my life give me weird things. I also made a lasagna. I was pretty darn proud of it (as evidenced by the multiple photos I took of it for no reason) and the kids ate it just fine, but alas, I was not showered in additional jewelry afterwards. Ingrates. Our weekend was on the touristy side...first Jason took Noah to Fort McHenry in Baltimore while I hosted a playdate for the other two at home.* He had more questions than the park staff were able to answer, but came home full of excitement, along with a... Read more →


Friendsgiving 2016

We hosted our second-ever Friendsgiving potluck on Saturday, and once again, I forgot to take any pictures to prove that it actually happened and people actually showed up, or that the whole thing isn't just a yearly shared delusion of ours, where Jason and I serve multiple turkeys to a collection of brooms and mops we've placed around our dining table. (Traditional roast turkey on the left; deep fried on the right. Possible sighting of a human guest's arm in the background.) But seriously, we had about 25 friends and neighbors this time, which was much, MUCH more reasonable than last year's ALMOST FORTY, most of whom never left the kitchen because we stupidly put all the booze and appetizers in there. This year I was a lot more strategic in food/alcohol placement so we more or less avoided any bottlenecks, although setting up the bar in the lower-level family room meant every time you wanted a refill you were going to have to deal with some stairs. So you know, drink responsibly folks, or you're gonna end up as a party foul anecdote on the Internet. No one fell, but the night before the cat did this: On Friendsgiving... Read more →