The Prized Uzbeki Dumplings I’d Bike Across the Country For

Every summer in New York, I bike to Beach 92nd Street in Far Rockaway and rush to lock up my bike in front of a large wood sign with bright primary letters spelling out “Uma’s.” Inside, under a bright tin ceiling, my eyes devour the Uzbeki specials on …

Every summer in New York, I bike to Beach 92nd Street in Far Rockaway and rush to lock up my bike in front of a large wood sign with bright primary letters spelling out “Uma’s.” Inside, under a bright tin ceiling, my eyes devour the Uzbeki specials on the board and follow each dish bustling out of the kitchen, my veggie-loving and meat-loving sides tug-of-warring over my order.

But the veggie-loving side of me wins every time. A round blue-rimmed plate clatters onto my table bearing the sweet, savory fruits of Uma’s labor: squash manti. These little purses of steamed dough from heaven, their edges gathered around sweet, tender cubes of squash, drizzled with oil and sprinkled with onions, are worth biking 20 treacherous miles over bumpy foot bridges and bike lane-less Brooklyn boulevards.

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The Very Best Thing to Do With Your Watermelon Rinds

Shortly after I turned 20, my family moved from central Illinois to Southern California, swapping snow boots for sandals; we also traded in two apple trees for a grove of lemons, avocados, pomegranates, figs, and jujubes. A few years ago, I started my …

Shortly after I turned 20, my family moved from central Illinois to Southern California, swapping snow boots for sandals; we also traded in two apple trees for a grove of lemons, avocados, pomegranates, figs, and jujubes. A few years ago, I started my quest to grow heirloom vegetables, which frustrated and rewarded me in seemingly equal quantities—only a few hinona kabu turnips came up the first year, but the dan hobak (known as kabocha to most folks) immediately blanketed the backyard, flowering with dozens of sweet squashes-to-be.

My mother, who grew up on a farm in South Korea, was overjoyed that she could be outside all year round —even after she fell from the top of her fig tree and broke her little toe. “Look at all these figs I picked!” she exclaimed, sitting on the ground with her toe swelling up. “Make sure you take all the figs inside and wash them right away, or their juice will attract bugs,” she instructed my father when he deposited her on her bed, shaking his head and going to call the doctor.

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