Lately I've been craving creativity. That sounds pretty pathetic - how is it that I can't manage to find the time to do something even mildly creative enough to avoid a feeling as strong as a craving? And then to underscore the importance of creativity, a dear friend of mine recently sent me a blog post talking about ‘filling your well' which described that innate need to create as being something vital to remaining ourselves. It was interesting to think about. In the hustle and bustle of my life with family and work obligations, there often is less time than I would like for ‘me'. And I've heard it a million times if I've heard it once - taking care of yourself needs to remain a top priority. I find that doing that consistently can be a challenge so taking my cue and using feeding my creative self as another way of accomplishing this sounds like a great idea.

I need to find a way to be creative in my everyday routine so that it still fits into what my schedule realistically looks like. There's always cooking! This time of the year often finds me in need of pulling myself out of a rut in the kitchen and striking out in a new direction or two, so why not spend the time that I am in the kitchen being intentionally creative? I'm not talking about learning how to craft artisan bread or sculpting with marzipan - too much pressure, not enough demand and almost certain to be dropped as frustration set in.


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But why not make family favorites that I've never tried making from scratch before?

With great timing this recipe came to my inbox from Leite's Culinaria, another one of his selections from Mary Kate and Nate Tate's book Feeding the Dragon. Potstickers are a favorite dinner dish in our family and with a side of rice and some steamed broccoli we're good to go. I decided that this was perfect - a never-attempted-by-me before recipe that looked creative and was guaranteed to be eaten for dinner.

Potstickers from Feeding

the Dragon by Mary Kate

and Nate Tate

12 ounces ground pork or beef, not too lean (I used pork and think that next time I might try chicken)

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

3 4 cup minced scallions, light green and white parts only

1 2 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Pinch salt

About 36 3" dumpling wrappers (I could only find wonton wrappers and they worked fine)

Combine meat, soy, cornstarch, ginger, scallions, sugar, sesame oil and salt in a bowl and combine with a light hand. Fill a small bowl with some cold water. Holding a dumpling wrapper in the palm of your hand place 1 heaping teaspoon of meat mixture in the center. Dip a finger into the water and run around the edges of the wrapper. Light fold the wrapper over (corner to corner if using square wonton wrappers) and seal only where the two edges meet in the center. Then, starting at one end, pleat the edge of the side closest to you, sealing against the far wrapper edge (you will get about 3 pleats per side, 6 per potsticker). Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.

Potstickers can be frozen at this point and then heated as described below. Sounds like a great way to involve my family in a project!

To cook: Over medium-high heat 1 2-1 teaspoon mildly flavored oil (I used canola) in a non-stick skillet that has a tight-fitting lid. Place 12 dumpling, pleats up, in the skillet so they are barely touching and cover, cooking for 1 minute. Lower the heat to medium-low and carefully pour 1 4 cup water into the skillet (it will spatter, so watch out). Cover and cook until bottoms are brown and crusty and almost all water is absorbed, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to plate and repeat with the rest of potstickers. Serve with dipping sauce. Dipping sauce

(original recipe calls for Chinese black vinegar which I couldn't find, so I invented this version):

1 4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons sugar

1 scallion, diced

1 4 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Combine all ingredients and allow meld at room temperature while preparing potstickers.

These were delicious and really so simple. And I admit to being surprised at just how much making the potstickers fed that starving creative side of me. Forming the little pleats of the dumplings was reminiscent of working with cloth and I found myself concentrating enough to leave the day behind and focus only on the task at hand. And that the end result were these beautiful little purses scented with ginger and sesame that fed both our family and my soul all at the same time was a beautiful bonus.

Julie Potter is a wife, mother of two, avid gardener and passionate cook who believes good food doesn't have to be complicated. Share your thoughts with her at j2m2glen@comcast.net.