On this sunny Sunday, Nathan and I joined some friends (as well as the entire city of San Francisco, it seemed) in Golden Gate Park for some free live music, courtesy of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Really, how can we turn down a line-up of Bonnie Prince Billy, Iron & Wine, and Gogol Bordello? And of course, you must know by now that I would never even think of setting out for a day in the park without packing some rations. Due to lack of time, though, we decided to just walk through the Sunset and buy some Vietnamese sandwiches to snack on. Which then reminded me that I have delayed blogging about Banh Mi for far too long.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t discover the glories of Banh Mi until I started living on a grad student budget. Until I tasted my first Banh Mi, I would never have believed that a hearty, delicious lunch can be had for $3-$3.50 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now that my eyes have been opened, I’m totally obsessed and can seriously eat one of these every day and be happy as a kitty.

You might wonder with Banh Mi already so cheap, why would you even want to make your own? Well, because this cruel, cruel world has decided not to put Vietnamese sandwich shops anywhere near my school! So until the school’s cafe wises up, I either have to trek downtown every afternoon or to take more drastic measures and make Banh Mi at home.

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I’ve been meaning to write this entry for a long time, but until now, I’ve avoided trying to figure out how to embed a video into a post. Apparently, it’s way easier than I thought, so now it seems silly I waited so long.

If you know me, you probably know that I absolutely love dumplings and have been known to spend hours wrapping them by myself without complaints. When I was growing up in Hong Kong, I was recruited to help wrap wontons every time we made them at home and I prided myself on being fast and efficient. Once I got good enough at wontons – which let’s face it, it’s not that hard because you just sort of bunch the wrapper all together around the meat – I wanted something a little more challenging. So I sat down and tried to figure out how to make pot stickers.

It took me a few tries but finally, I figured out how to shape pot stickers that looked like the kind you get at restaurants. I then started looking around for different fillings and of course, the possibilities there are endless. Some of my current favorites are a pork and super-gingery filling and a green curry chicken with thai basil filling. But finding a good all-vegetarian filling has always stumped me… until now.

Ming Tsai dubbed these the “Best Vegetarian Pot Stickers” and before you scoff like I did when I first read it, you really should give it a try. They definitely are the best vegetarian potstickers I’ve ever had.

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delicata.jpg

Winter has definitely arrived in San Francisco. I conclude this not from any sudden changes in weather, but from the millions of holiday sale signs and the constant barrage of holiday jingles everywhere you go. My conclusion is also supported by the appearance of winter veggies in our farm box – winter squashes, sweet potatoes, leeks, etc. What? No kale?? That’s right – no kale yet! This makes me sad (I’ve been wanting to make a big pot of caldo verde for a while now) but probably makes numerous other subscribers happy.

In any case, with my kale soup visions as yet unrealized, I have to resort to other soup options. Roasted butternut squash soup is always a popular item, but since we haven’t received any butternut squashes, I figured any winter squash should work (I was right). The squash we got was a ‘delicata’ squash (also called sweet potato squash), which is pretty much like a pumpkin but sweeter and creamier. A quick roast in the oven, toss in plenty of ginger and spices, and you’ve got a soup that’ll warm you right up – perfect for those cold and foggy winter nights when one’s stuck at home working on one’s thesis (and by ‘one’, I really mean Nathan).

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corny risotto

Last Friday, Nathan and I randomly decided to treat ourselves to a dinner at Incanto, one of our favorite restaurants in the city. I remember the first time we tried this place out was on a Sunday night after a strenuous and stressful weekend of moving (note to self: never try to move with just a pickup truck again). We of course had no idea it was the sort of place you should make a reservation for nor that the chef is famous for his offal-ness (ha ha), so we just stuck to the more “normal” sounding stuff on the menu.

This time around, having done our research, we went all out. House-cured meats? Oh yes please. Spicy pork offal with mint and arugula? Don’t mind if I do. Head cheese? Never thought I’d say this, but yum! This is one Italian restaurant I will gladly go to again and again, since I don’t foresee myself wanting to deal with pork hearts and kidneys at home.

What can I make at home? Simple stuff like this risotto. Especially when I’m trying to use up the last bit of corn and red peppers from last week’s veggie box. That’s right – my life is always about not letting things rot.

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