Spicy garlic kale and strawberry salad

This is a fusion (sort of) of two dishes (or kinds of dishes) I really like: one is spicy garlic cucumber salad, such as the one in Fuchsia Dunlop’s The Food of Sichuan and the other are spicy & sour dressed noodle dishes that have a base flavor profile of chile oil, soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorn and dark Chinese vinegar such as Dan Dan noodles or spicy cold noodles. Dunlop’s cucumber salad recipe uses a sweet aromatic soy sauce called fuzhi jiangyou which I made a batch of late last summer. It’s made by simmering whole spices such as black cardamom, cinnamon, anise, fennel, Sichuan peppercorns and more if you have it in Chinese light soy sauce for third minutes, then adding a lot of sugar. It comes out as a viscous syrup that when chilled in the fridge is quite thick (it could be mistaken for molasses at least visually). In the below recipe I suggest dissolving sugar in soy sauce as a substitute but I haven’t tried that!

Glossy dark green kale pieces and strawberries with a sheen of sauce topped with golden sesame seeds in a black serving bowl with a white geometric pattern.
Spicy kale and strawberry salad
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Cumin tofu recipe

One of my favorite recipe orders at a Sichuan restaurant is some kind of “cumin lamb”. It’s the flavor added to the lamb, not the lamb that I love. I’d been considering trying to figure out how to make something with tofu at home for a while when Mala Market posted a recipe for toothpick lamb which has a similar flavor profile. I decided it was time to try to make a riff on this! The result was very spicy but in that way where I could not stop eating.

A serving bowl of golden fried tofu cubes mixed with dried chiles and tossed in a gleaming oil with visible powdery spice mixture all over and streaks of oil in a few places, sprinkled with scallions.
A bowl of cumin tofu
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Purple sweet potato & black bean garlic dumpling filling

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed that the last couple years I’ve been cooking more Chinese foods which was started by a mapo tofu recipe video from Chinese Cooking Demystified. We now have a number of cooking implements, including an induction wok unit, and stock a range of pantry staples for Chinese recipes. “Fried rice”, a dish that I’d attempted in the past and failed at repeatedly, is now something we do routinely to use up leftovers.

So with that background out of the way, this recipe came up as a riff on various other ideas to try to make a tasty savory dumpling (jiaozi) filling that was vegetarian and would appeal to the kiddo. A few months ago I started trying to make dumplings from scratch. Rolling out wrappers and filling dumplings as a family is fun! Unfortunately, the most common veggie fillings I would see were various combos of minced cabbage, mushroom, carrot, etc. or egg and jiucai (Chinese chives) and the kiddo wasn’t too into them. So we’d been making a chicken & cilantro recipe as one of the fillings. I don’t recall how I got the idea of using purple sweet potato & black bean garlic sauce but likely I had just made some other kind of black bean garlic dish and we had purple sweet potato on hand.

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What if you didn’t have to drive a car?

Even if you don’t drive a car, you know gas prices are high right now in the United States. Some states have already committed to gas tax “relief”, either through temporarily lowering state gas taxes or direct payments to vehicle owners. The federal government has released reserve oil to try to lower prices. Even though retail gas prices aren’t strongly correlated to gas taxes and oil is a global market hard to influence, some kind of relief is seen as politically necessary because driving is seen as unavoidable. Why can’t we ask people to drive less and use transit or walk or bike? Because, as implied in a recent NYT article and claimed commonly elsewhere, it’s supposedly “infeasible” in much of the United States to live without a car.

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(Some) Seattle mayoral campaign websites need improvement

The Seattle mayoral primary is basically over. It’s pretty clear who will advance, even if the vote isn’t certified. So it might seem silly to go look at accessibility of campaign websites now. But some folks look at how much Andrew Grant Houston’s campaign raised and spent for so few votes and are concerned. I think folks should not be surprised or concerned: a relative unknown candidate whose young and not white, running in a crowded field with many big names, is sadly likely to earn a combination of enthusiasm (money! volunteers!) and few votes. Lots of folks told themselves something like “I really like Ace but he isn’t going to be top two, so I voted for <probably González or Echohoawk>”.

One reason AGH for Seattle spent so much money is something they highlighted early on: prioritizing accessibility and inclusion on their website. I didn’t really look earlier in the campaigns as I already had a good idea who was in my top 3-4 pretty early. But lots of voters do look at campaign websites. The AGH campaign’s prioritizing of accessibility and inclusion shows even in a very brief visit using VoiceOver on my iPhone. VoiceOver is a screen reader which in the past I’ve had to use to do most anything on my phone due to vision loss (much of which has been improved with surgeries). I am not the most proficient screen reader user but I can get by and still use it at times when my eyes are too tired or sore (or I’m sitting with a hot pack on my eyes for 10-20 minutes). Anyway, I “looked” at AGH’s website using VoiceOver briefly, and then the two other candidates who were in my top three and then the candidate who currently is leading in votes in the primary.

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