What is it about the humble little wonton that is so darn irresistible? Whether boiled and served in a broth, steamed and accompanied by chili sauce, or deep fried and loaded on a dim sum cart, this dumpling really knows how to get around.
Even in China, where the wonton originated, each region has a different take on this traditional food. In Guangdong, from where Cantonese food hails, wontons are most often served in a soup with noodles. Their name — wàhn tān — literally translates as “swallowing clouds.” In the Sichuan province, spicy red oil wontons make the most of the regions’ little chāo shǒu — or crossed hands — dumplings. In Shanghai, the size of the wonton is especially important, with larger wontons served for main meals and smaller wontons served at breakfast or as a light lunch.
Once upon a time I thought that good parenting meant protecting my Sprouts from harm. Bumpers around the hearth, child-proof outlet covers and those infuriating two-handed tether locks on bathroom cabinets.
All good ideas, but sometimes our girls have as much to teach me as I have to teach them. Like, good parents also know when to let their kids test their limits. Take, for instance, Daughter 1’s growing enthusiasm for helping prepare meals. For a long time I’ve selected the “safe” kitchen tasks for her and her sister…getting out the ingredients, measuring (great for building math skills!), mixing, etc. Any steps that required the use of flame or sharp implements I reserved for myself. But every self-respecting six-year-old wants the opportunity to prove themselves, to feel a little grown-up and tackle tasks which they previously were not allowed to tackle.
This is a recipe for the little artists in your life. At daycare pick-up on Tuesday I found Daughter 2 sitting at a table with a paintbrush and cup of water, happily “painting” on her face while the other kids played with Legos and dress-up. I seized the opportunity:
Me: “Honey, what are you doing.”
Daughter 2: “Painting myself.”
Me: “I see. (Pause.) If you hurry up and put on your coat you can help me paint something in the kitchen.”
Daughter 2: “Paint? What is it”
Me: “Something for dinner.”
Daughter 2: “Paint for dinner?”
Me: “Um, yup. (Pause. Shake head.) Except it’s not paint. It’s molasses. And you can help me paint it on some lamb.”
And voilà, we had a record fast exit from the classroom. I may have to come up with additional ways to bring art into the kitchen so that pick up goes as smoothly every night.
The wonderful food and lifestyle site The Kitchn just announced open nominations for their Sixth Annual Homies Awards — celebrating, as they put it, great food and home design blogs.
It’s a two-step process, with the top five nominated blogs in each category, plus five editor-selected favorites, moving on to the voting stage. And time is of the essence!
This President’s Day, exercise your democratic right to nominate, and vote, for your favorite blogs. Personally, I hope that The Stout Sprout will be among them. We’re currently nominated in the Family-Friendly Cooking Blogs category and would be honored to have your nomination, and then your vote if we’re lucky enough to make it that far!
It’s Valentine’s Day The Stout Sprout style. Those of you who have been following us for a bit know that this winter has been one for the history books. We had another record snowfall event this week, which meant another snow day, which meant we had two lovely little ladies kicking around the house ready to wreak havoc.
We channeled that energy into cooking something special for Valentine’s Day: our own homemade fruit leather, aka fruit roll-ups. This is definitely one of those recipes you should try on a day when you’ve got extra and abundant time, though it is incredibly easy and kid-friendly. The ingredient list is short, the participation factor is high, and the results are delicious. It does take quite a few hours in a low-temperature oven so be warned: best to start this project in the morning if you want to be nibbling fruit roll-ups for dessert.
“I give this one hundred thumbs up” Daughter 1 told me over our sesame noodle dinner this week. It probably helped a bit that I billed it as “peanutty noodles with chicken and vegetables” when I gave her the choice of having this versus something else. But it made me realize what a long way we have come since we started this blog.
Not long before our first post back in July 2013 I prepared this very dish for a meal at which you would have thought I was trying to poison my children. With both girls crying at the dinner table, Daughter 1 grabbed Daughter 2’s arm mid-bite (and mid-tears) and reassured her that “everything was going to be alright.”
I imagine that the conversation on Mount Olympus went something like this the first time the twelve Olympians dined on ambrosia:
Zeus: “So, Hera, what’s for dinner tonight?”
Hera: “Oh, you know. The usual. Poseidon and Artemus are whipping up a little surf and turf.”
Zeus: “Again? Oh, Hera, you know that I enjoy the bounty of sea and land as much as the next god, but don’t you think we can mix it up every now and again? With something, you know, a little fruity.”
Hera: “Fruity? Seriously, Zeus, you picked today to get all vegetarian on us?”
Zeus: “Well, how about something sweet. You know how I like sweet little things….”
Aphrodite: “Did someone say sweet? Have I got a dish for you. I call it ambrosia, the nectar of the gods.”
Hera: “Nectar, huh? Well, that does sound kind-of tasty. I’ll ask Hermes if he can just run down to Macedonia and pick up a couple of ingredients.”
Aphrodite: “And while he’s at it, can he ask Dionysus to bring a bottle or two of a nice Beaujolais?”
Hera: “Beaujolais? Sounds lovely, but that sure is a funny name for a Greek wine.”