I’ve learned a lot since moving to China, but I think one of the best things I’ve learned is how to cook from scratch. I was a decent cook before we moved to China, but like many of my generation “cooking” for me including boxes of pasta, jars of sauce, and cans of soup.
Then I moved to China, and I had to REALLY learn to cook.
Those boxes, jars, and cans I was used to just aren’t so easily found around here. Before you get too scared let me clarify, you CAN find them. It’s just not easy. And when you do, they are NOT cheap. Plus, remember you have to carry all the groceries that you buy. Cans and jars are heavy.
At first, I think it was just the challenge. I can buy the fresh ingredients SO CHEAP here. And they are so much better for your health. And I really just wanted to learn how to use them well.
So now, when one of my favorite recipes calls for a “can of” or a “jar of”, then I just head over to allrecipes.com and find a “from scratch” recipe for it instead. And I have to say, it really doesn’t take that long to just make it from scratch. I was amazed. I think we’ve all been sold a lie. That it’s so much easier and so much faster to use the ready-made stuff. Well, from my experience, it’s so much better and in most cases, just as quick (quicker actually, if I factor in the extra time it takes to hunt for the stuff at the grocery store) to make it from scratch. And did I mention, tastes so. much. better.
Here’s one of my recent concoctions using fresh dumpling wrappers, ground beef, and a basic bechamel sauce. It was inspired by this post at Pioneer Woman Cooks although I made my own filling recipe using what I had on hand.
At this point you can either drop them into boiling water for about 3 minutes to enjoy right away…
OR you can pop them in the freezer (still on the cutting mat) for about 2 hours until they get hard, then dump them all in a ziploc bag to save until later!
Top it off with the extra cheese sauce or just some olive oil and cracked pepper. Yum!