One glorious evening while watching episodes of Ren & Stimpy (come on, guys, one of the best shows ever...don't back away from the computer now) with Ezra and Chris and sharing a few "What in the...jesus..huh?"-laced laughs, I realized it would be even more fun to revel in the brilliance of the show's exceptionally gross and WTF-inducing humor with a couch full of my friends. And thus REN & STIMPY MARATHON 2009 was born.
While the responses were mostly positive, there were a few non-believers. To better accommodate the Ren & Stimpy haterz, I turned the get-together into REN & STIMPY MARATHON AND DUMPLING-MAKING PARTY 2009 which, over the course of the night, ended up turning into DUMPLING-MAKING PARTY WITH REN & STIMPY PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND 2009. It was probably for the best that no one got to see me guffaw like a psychotic 5-year old in response to Ren and Stimpy's attempts to sell rubber nipples.
I used Michele's recipe for pork and cabbage dumplings and edamame, kale, and cilantro dumplings with good results, if you ignore my incompetence in the kitchen. Michele went to culinary school; if you could see me as I wrestled with two pounds of monstrous, hearty kale leaves, you would know right away that I obviously did not.
Preparing the kale was a pain in the ass—I hadn't really planned how I would manage the massive pile of green ribbons I would inevitably end up with. Some part of me thought it would be less daunting after cooking down a bit, but...no, not really, as they're quite good at retaining intense fibrosity. Of course, doubling the recipe for the benefit of my vegetarian/vegan friends was what made the green matter doubly unmanageable. I ultimately ended up with at least 50 dumplings too many. (The meat and vegetable dumplings combined numbered around 150.)
In her recipe, Michele says you can purée the edamame, but, like her, I prefer the chunky texture of the whole beans. They add another layer of texture to what could otherwise be a standard mush, besides that there's something satisfying about rupturing whole plump, nubby edamame beans with your teeth. You know, the popping sensation. ...Yes. We also mixed in finely chopped mushrooms for extra heft/flavor/texture/etc.
We forgot to put the cabbage into the meat filling, but as they were still mixed with scallions for some sort of vegetable matter to break up the porkiness, they seemed to come out fine.
Seasoned dumpling makers Lee Anne and Diana helped teach the noobs how to wrap the dumplings. Admittedly, the prettiest ones were probably made by Lee Anne and Diana, but they all came out well. I mean, I LOVE EVERY DUMPLING EQUALLY, NO MATTER HOW PRETTY/DEFORMED IT IS.
Greg took the role of dumpling cook. I failed to get a photo of the boiled specimens (too busy making sure nothing was going to hell), but got a nice shot of the dumplings mid-pan-frying-flip. I probably shouldn't tell you that it took more than five tries for me to get this shot, resulting in some dumplings falling by the wayside, resulting in me picking them of the questionably clean floor and eating them, and not even because I was following the five-second rule, but because it's my kitchen and I don't really care and...I'm still alive so it appears that my kitchen floor is not coated in toxic substances.
The dumplings came out nicely browned with patches of crisp. I mentally awarded Greg a shiny gold star.
The party was not all dumplings and mild Ren & Stimpy watching. We also flung sticky fish-shaped goo things at a target featuring an illustration of a shark (provided by Colin)...or the ceiling. WE. KNOW. HOW. TO. PARTY. OK.
But even better than "flinging goo at stuff" was taking group portraits with the help of a tripod and Diana's art direction. The first take was supposed to be the "serious" shot, but I just couldn't do it. You can tell from the expression on my face that I was about 0.3 seconds away from exploding with laughter.
And then there was the "silly" shot. Apparently, silly for Greg is "eat Polar Bear's butt."
The third was the "high school class portrait" shot. It worked out quite nicely with Ken unexpectedly taking the role of "alcoholic teacher who wants to kill himself."
It didn't stop there. There were also these jumping shots:
And these couch shots:
- I should probably identify everyone. Chris is across the top and Diana is in the front. Left to right on the couch: Tristan, Ken, John, Claire, Colin, Lee Anne, my tiny head, Greg, and Amy. Doug had unfortunately left by the time this photo was taken. Also, note the drunk manatee in the top photo. Heeeh.
The rest of the night was occupied by watching YouTube videos on Chris's HD TV.
What will the next food + TV party be? I'm not sure, but I'm open to suggestions.