This morning we were getting ready for school and I asked Lucy if she would like to wear her "rainbow shoes" and she looked at them, and as if she was not saying something completely preposterous, said, "Yes, those...They're sexy."
Um, okay...what? Hey, you're not even five years old. You don't even know sexy. Hey, people who are 20 don't know sexy. Sexy is a lifetime, baby. Sexy is really red Victoria Secrets lingerie that makes you look like a really big maraschino cherry, four inch heels that give you corns, bikini waxes that do nothing but make you have scratch yourself at inappropriate times, and thongs that rub the inside of your ass cheeks until a rash forms. Puh-leese. You, my child, do not know sexy.
It seems that Lucy's new BFF in school, a lovely, yet inappropriately sophisticated child, has taught my daughter about "the sexy". Lucy now uses it to describe various clothing items. Those pants are not sexy. I want a sexy shirt. Your hair is sexy, Mama...okay, that one is fine.
Truth is,The BFF and Lucy really love each and call each other sister and hug each other whenever the opportunity allows. When I leave the ice skating rink after watching the kids skate and Lucy is sad, it is the BFF who wraps her arms around Lucy and comforts her as I walk away. That's the lovely side of the friendship. The BFF also likes to kiss the boys and be "sexy". Lord help me.
The BFF has also created opportunities that we have used to help Lucy, like when the girl has on two separate occasions vowed to withhold her friendship if Lucy didn't do what she wanted. The first time, Lucy caved, unhappily. So, we talked her through it. The next time, she held her ground and found out the BFF would still be her friend even if she held her ground. Wow. That was a great lesson for her to have learned in pre-k.
Took me nearly 40 years. That's my girl.
So, we have no desire to do anything but encourage Lucy to decide who she wants to be friends with, who she loves, as long as she looks out for herself. So this is a good friendship. Except for the sexy thing. That needs to end, like yesterday, before Lucy starts asking for crotchless panties and inquiring about bootie calls.
It's all starting. The way she talks to me about her day. How she tells me about the argument she had with this girl and what she did and how she feels. God, how do I have a teenager already? She goes to school and her life is an episode of Days of Our Lives. She is such a big girl.
And friendships are complicated.
But she is not too big for dumplings! Chinese New Year is coming up after all and Lucy and the BFF both love pork dumplings. We made these in Lucy's class with pork, shrimp and tofu fillings and we'll make vegetarian ones in Edie's class this week because her school is very politically correct about their food choices. I hate that, of course, but what are ya gonna do?
I only give you the pork filling here because, well, pork rocks and everything else pales in comparison. Don't buy the dough. It's easy to make and the kids will enjoy making it with you. It is very forgiving, so extra kneading won't bother it a bit.
"Sexy" Pork Dumplings
Adapted from recipes from Epicurious and Use Real Butter
2 cups all-purpose flour (you'll also need more for dusting your board)
1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
3/4 lb ground pork (from shoulder; not lean)
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
A few drops of sesame oil
Minced ginger (optional)
Minced scallion green (optional)
Make the Pork Filling
Halve ginger, then finely chop 1 half and cut remaining half into very thin matchsticks (less than 1/8 inch thick).Combine 5 tablespoons soy sauce with ginger matchsticks in a small bowl.Reserve 2 tablespoons scallions for garnish, then finely chop remainder and put in a bowl along with pork, finely chopped ginger, and remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce. Gently knead with your hands in bowl until just combined. Chill, covered, 10 minutes.
Make The Dough
The dough is easy. You can make it ahead or after you make the filling. It is two cups of flour to a half cup of water. Put flour in a bowl, add water slowly and mix everything together until it starts to ball together into a sticky clump. (This happens more quickly if you pulse it a few times in a food processor, but I went old school)
Transfer the mound onto a board or counter dusted with flour. Knead the dough, as if you were making pizza dough or bread, until it becomes firm and silky to the touch.
Then, you can set it aside in the refrigerator wrapped in cellophane or freeze the dough. I've done both and the dough is perfect. If you feel the dough is hardening quickly, you can put a damp dishtowel over whatever portions of dough you haven't starting working with yet.
But if you want to fill the dough immediately, slice the dough into four separate pieces and roll each slice into a dough into a cylinder, like a long knock wurst (1 1/4 inches). Then, slice discs off the cylinder.
Each disk will be a dumpling. Press the disk down with the palm of your hand so that it flattens into a fat little circle. This will make it easier to roll out with a rolling pin.
Next, take your rolling pin. Think of the disk as a clock, 12 at the top, 6 at the bottom. Start in the middle of the disk roll out to the edge to 12. Turn your rolling pin. Go back to the middle and roll out to 3. Turn, go back to the middle and roll out to 6, keep going until you have a think circle. The more circular it is, the easier time you'll have filling it.
As you can see, some of ours are perfect circles, others are just mushed together. Once you have the disks you are going to fill them with your pork filling.
Fill & Fold the Dumplings
There are a couple standard ways to fold the dumplings. My favorite way is a little less fussy than the conventional and little hands can do it quite easily. It also looks just like it came out of a Chinese restaurant, which is satisfying for the kids.
I could explain how I do it, but take a look at this YouTube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NdskgjZMgM It shows everything you need. You'll notice these people who are having a dumpling-making party (great party concept) really know how to roll out dough and fold dumplings. They are rolling out the dumplings the Chinese way. The clock method I gave you is apparently a French way. I especially like the chillin' music that accompanies. It makes me want to sleep. But in a good way.
Cook the Dumplings
Gently drop all dumplings into a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling water, stir a little to prevent them sticking to the bottom, and cook 6 minutes. (Dumplings will float to top while cooking.) Transfer dumplings with a slotted spoon to a serving dish and sprinkle with reserved scallions and a little chopped cilantro. Serve with dipping sauce.
Make Ginger Dipping Sauce
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. You can make this ahead or on the fly as your dumplings are cooking. It's all pretty easy.