Friday, March 29, 2013

what i am eating - Guest Post Crazy Dumplings!

I love cooking and eating, and I especially love looking at pictures of food!  If you love food as much as I do, please add your food pictures/recipes/food related posts to the linky below.  All you have to do is link back to this blog post.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else is eating this week!

I am excited to welcome Amanda Roberts to Townsend House!  Amanda moved to China in 2010 to live out her dream of becoming an English teacher.  Little did she know, the hardest adjustment to life in a new country would be the food!  After three years, Amanda is ready to release her first cookbook, Crazy Dumplings.

Cooking Abroad with Amanda Roberts

Before moving to China 3 years ago, I had lots of concerns. How hard will it be to communicate with people? What will the apartment be like? How will we deal with the limited internet access? One thing I didn’t worry about was the food. I love Chinese food. I was a regular at the Chinese buffet in my college town. People told me that authentic Chinese food wasn’t like Americanized Chinese food, but surely it would still be delicious, right?

While authentic Chinese food can be really good, I ended up in Hunan; the spicy food capital of China. It isn’t that I don’t like spicy food, but Hunan spicy food is far more spicy than anything you might find in America. I quickly found that there were many restaurants that I simply could not eat at because the food was just too spicy (even if I told them to make it bu la, not spicy).

Another problem with the food here is that Chinese food isn’t very diverse. In America we have American food, Chinese food, Italian food, Mexican food, and so on everywhere. In China you pretty much only have Chinese food. That can get old pretty fast. 

Finally, sometimes you just miss a good old home cooked meal. Could you really live the rest of your life without a bowl of cheesy potato soup? I know I couldn’t.

After a couple of months I set my mind to learning how to cook all over again. I started with simply learning to cook local Chinese food so that I could at least make it less spicy. After that, I started trying to find ways to make simple American dishes. I was so proud of myself the first time I made chicken noodle soup (out of a whole chicken!).

My first pot of chicken noodle soup

I began toying with the idea of writing a cookbook just for people living abroad. But every time I got started, it would get a bit overwhelming.  I have hundreds of ideas that all need to be broken down into individual steps and everything measured out exactly. I also didn’t know just how much of a need there was for something like that. Does every expat have the same struggles I did?

I finally decided to start small with just dumplings to help get me into the frame of mind for writing a cookbook and to gauge the interest for a larger, but more targeted, work. Thus, Crazy Dumplings was born.

Crazy Dumplings is a food fusion cookbook. The outside is a traditional Chinese dumpling wrapper, but it is used as an amazing vehicle you can fill with whatever your heart desires. I have come up with ways to make curry dumplings, taco dumplings, cheesecake dumplings, and much more. One of the biggest things I miss back home is Mexican food. So I have decided to include the recipe for burrito dumplings below along with how to make the beans from scratch in case you want to make your dumplings more organic or, if you are like me, live in a country that doesn’t have canned goods.

Dumpling Wrappers

3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup boiling water
Dash of salt
Flour for dusting

1)      Mix flour and salt together in a mixing bowl.
2)      Drizzle in water, mixing with a chopstick or fork.
3)      Leave in bowl, covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.
4)      Gather dough up into a ball and kneed on counter for a minute or two (until the dough is smooth)
5)      Pinch off small portion of dough and roll into a ball (about 1 inch in diameter). Roll out into a flat circle on the counter, dusting with flour to keep dough from sticking.
6)      Put small amount of preferred dumpling stuffing mixture into the middle of the flat dumpling wrapper. Pinch the dumpling closed.
7)      Cook dumplings.
a.       To fry dumpling, preheat oil for 30 second then lower heat. Cook dumpling on each side for only about one minute or until golden brown.
b.      To steam dumplings, place in a steamer or on an elevated plate in a wok over water for about 10 minutes.
c.       To boil dumplings, place in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
8)      Always cut a dumpling open to make sure it cooked through.
9)      Serve!

Burrito Dumplings

12 ounces of refried beans (canned or homemade)
½ cup shredded cheese
2 tablespoons chili seasoning
2 tablespoons ground cumin
½ tablespoon garlic seasoning
Salsa, cheese sauce, guacamole, sour cream (all possible optional dips)
12 dumpling wrappers

1.       Mix beans, cheese, and seasonings together in a bowl.
2.       Spoon mixture into dumpling wrapper.
3.       Fry dumplings in oil for about 1 minute on each side or until golden brown.
4.       Serve with favorite dip.

Refried Beans from Scratch
1 cup dried pinto beans
lots of water

1)      Soak beans overnight (about 8 hours; one cup of dry beans will yield about 3 cups of soaked beans)
2)      Boil beans for about 4 hours on medium heat
3)      The water will boil away, so be sure to add more water to the beans about every hour.
4)      Add 3 cups of beans and ½ cup of water to a blender and blend until smooth.
5)      Pour beans into a pan and fry for about 5 minutes on low heat.

You can find all these recipes and many, many more in Amanda Roberts’ new cookbook Crazy Dumplings, now funding on Kickstarter.  This cookbook will contain 30 original dumpling recipes plus 5 recipes from various backers, and several different sauce and dip recipes.  Amanda is self-publishing this cookbook, and there are some great reward levels for supporting her!  You can also find Amanda on Facebook.

Please link up your food related posts below!


  1. I've never tried to make dumplings before, they always looked difficult. I think I'd enjoy the burrito dumplings though!

  2. Those burrito dumplings look really good!

  3. I adore dumplings. These looks (and sound) delicious.

  4. Thanks for hosting again! This week, I posted a kombucha series: one article separates commonly believed myths from the reality, and the other teaches you how to make your own brew. I hope you had a beautiful holiday.

    Eileen (Phoenix Helix)

  5. Hi everyone, this is Amanda, the writer of Crazy Dumplings. I'm glad you all liked the post. I have so many more recipes in the book, be sure to check it out. This is the last week of funding on Kickstarter so head over there and pledge as a backer (even if we don't meet our goal) to learn how you can buy the book when it comes out.


I love to hear from my readers and try to respond to all comments either here or through e-mail. Thank you for taking the time to comment!