Buchman action adventure thriller romance writer's recipes

“Chinook” Pork Dumplings

Recipe (printable PDF)
Miranda Chase #6


Probably the great-granddaughter of one of the comfort women from the Japanese Army’s occupation during World War II.

Yes, he could work with that. She would have been ostracized by many of her peers for her obvious mixed blood and her clear reversion to her great-grandfather’s Japanese features. Probably even passed over for promotions.

His guess proved accurate over a simple, late-night dinner of noodles with soybean paste and pork dumplings: just turned twenty-seven, she’d been given an undeserved poor review rather than a promotion.

It took only a phone call to fix that, which he made while at the table. Her commanding officer would be transferred to the Tibetan wilderness, and her promotion to master sergeant would be signed by tomorrow. Over a dessert of aiwowo—sticky rice cone cake with a sweet bean paste center and a red fleck of sugar jelly perched like a nipple atop the perfect white ball—a quick e-mail fixed the trivial matter of the advanced health care needed by her ill mother.

Note: I love pork dumplings. And this scene is from a “very bad” Chinese general’s point of view. So, I decided to redeem the pork dumpling from his evil clutches and learn how to make them.

Note 2: I made these with wonton wrappers, which is fine if they’re fried. If you prefer to steam your dumplings, track down or make dumpling wrappers (our stores don’t have them).

Prep Time 20 minutes: / Cook Time: 10 minutes / Total time: 30 minutes

Makes about 25 dumplings

Filling Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger root (you really want the fresh over the powdered)
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarse chopped
  • 1 scallion, coarse chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. cabbage, chopped (Note: If you use napa cabbage, sprinkle heavily with salt and set aside in a colander for 20 minutes, squeeze hard, and towel dry. We just use white or red head cabbage.)
  • 1 lb. ground pork

Other Ingredients

  • Wonton wrappers (Dumpling wrappers are better but harder to find.)
  • Hoisin sauce, hot mustard sauce, and/or sweet sauce for dipping. (I just use hoisin on my dumplings.)


  1. In a food processor, combine all filling ingredients except pork. Process until minced, but not a past or a puree (10-15 seconds).
  2. Add pork, process until well blended and relatively smooth. (5-10 1 second pulses) (Note: if you don’t have a food processor, it only takes a few minutes to mince everything fine, stir in the liquids, and then combine with the ground pork.)
  3. Make a fingerbowl of water. Rub a damp finger along two adjacent edges of the wonton wrapper.
  4. Place a rounded (but not mounded) teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Compact it with fingers or another teaspoon to drive out as much air as possible.
  5. Fold over diagonally and press the two points together. Hold up by the points in one hand.
  6. Start at the outer tip, pinching together tight against the mixture, and work up the side toward the point leaving as few air pockets as possible. Be careful to not squeeze the mixture out the other side.
  7. Repeat from the other edge. (There are lots of videos on how to make pretty folds, I never remember to look them up until my fingers are covered in pork mixture, so I make a few graceless folds and it still tasted great. If you do it right, taking two pleats up each side, it will curve in slightly on itself to make a love seat form when plopped down on its middle.)
  8. Set on a plate dusted lightly with flour. (Literally, stick your dry hand in the flour, dust it off over the plate, and that should do it.)
  9. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  10. Cook in batches so that they aren’t touching (with more oil as needed for each batch). Cook until interior over 160°F (about 3 minutes). (With tongs, I tip them onto either side for an additional 20-30 seconds a side to fully cook the wonton dough and I love the crunchy finish.)
  11. Serve with sauce(s). Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! Happy! Happy! Happy!

Don’t overfill or they blow out while cooking. This is about right, showing the two wetted edges. Fold dry corner to wet corner.

 Matt’s poorly folded pork dumplings.
Yep, I can eat a plateful in a heartbeat.

Recipe (printable PDF)

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NerdGuy Fridays: Dispatches from a Writer's Brain - M. L. Buchman

NerdGuy #39: Osprey (Cover #2) – Menwith Hill

Miranda Chase #13 launches 9/26
action adventure technothriller buchman

Last week we delved into the Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. A very strange bird indeed.

This week I thought I’d nerd out a bit on those white “golf balls” in the background.

These are radomes (radar domes) that are transparent to radio waves but protect the radar dish from the weather and, far more importantly for this particular site, where they’re pointing.

Yeah, that’s a real “Huh” moment, isn’t it? They’re aimed at the sky, right? If you drive by your local cable company’s office, you’re likely to spot dozens of radio dishes aimed upward. They’re doing the same thing that a small rooftop Dish network antenna is doing, receiving satellite broadcast television signals to feed out over your Xfinity or whoever’s cable to your home.

These are a little different.

The Three Sites

There are three stations that are very different. The NSA (National Security Administration), one of the USA’s most clandestine intelligence agencies, has three special listening posts around the world, each with dozens (as in thirty or more) satellite dishes aimed at the sky.

  • Pine Gap, Alice Springs, Australia – right near the center of Australia protected by over a thousand kilometers of Outback in every direction. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Gap)
  • Aerospace Data Facility-Colorado (ADF-C) Buckley Space Force Base, Aurora, CO, USA – right near the center of the US, protected from eavesdropping by ocean-based vessels again by over a thousand miles (we’re the only country still using the English system after all) of continent. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerospace_Data_Facility-Colorado)
  • Royal Air Force Menwith Hill, Harrogate, UK – in a valley in the Yorkshire Dales. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Menwith_Hill)
  • There are also two lesser NRO stations at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, and Fort Belvoir, VA.

Osprey is largely set at Menwith Hill.

Top Secret Happenings

These three stations (with a little help from the two sidekicks) are run by a combination of the NSA, the NRO (the US intelligence agency with the highest budget, as they’re responsible for building, launching, and operating all the spy satellites), and the CIA.

They are the eyes and ears of the USA from space. If a terrorist leader is targeted with a drone strike, there’s a near certainty that one of these three “NSA Listening Posts” was involved in monitoring the target, confirming identification, creating a target package for official approval, and perhaps even action when time is too short.

There’s, of course, almost nothing public about these stations. Even the big Edward Snowden scandal released little more than the name and general purpose of these places. There’s a rather unimpressive tell-all book: Pine Gap: Close to God’s Ear: NSA Eavesdropping Memoirs by David Rosenberg. Sorry, it deserves the three-star rating it has earned from all of ten reviewers (of course, if he wrote anything more clearly he’d probably be in prison now). There is an Australian 2018 television series, Pine Gap. Of course, as it was absolutely lovely, it was cancelled after a single season. Well worth watching just for the show’s sake if you can track it down.

What They Listen To

This is where it gets really interesting.

I say “spy satellites” and most folks will imagine those big cameras in the sky. And yep, we have at least six of these up there (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KH-11_KENNEN). These are basically Hubble Telescopes tuned to look down instead of up. In fact, there’s a rumor that the Hubble is actually a leftover frame for a Kennen that the military gave them and that’s the real reason they changed from the originally planned three-meter mirror to two-point-four meters (because that’s what the Kennens used at the time). There’s another rumor that’s what was wrong with the original mirror of the Hubble, that the focal length was wrong because they didn’t change it from orbit-to-Earth’s surface before launching it to look at the stars.

This is only a tiny portion of what’s up there. Need proof? Count the radomes in the pictures below, but don’t trust your eyes. Pine Gap is said to have 38 radomes and over 800 employees. In 2019, Menwith Hill added three more to have 37 radomes. I didn’t easily find a report on ADF-Colorado. You don’t need that many dishes to track six imaging satellites.

RAF Menwith Hill
Pine Gap

So What Else Is Up There

Think about your cell phone. It radiates a signal out to the nearest cell tower. Ten to fifteen miles with a clear field of view gets you a nice signal. Twenty-five miles can still work if there aren’t a lot of buildings, trees, or mountains springing up like crazed dandelions. It’s all a question of power. A handheld satellite phone is less about all the technology inside and more about getting enough signal aloft for the little Iridium satellites to pick up. The Iridium satellites have a trio of receiving panels about 1m x 2m.

Now let’s look at an NRO monitoring satellite. Here we get off into the land of the rumored or even the bizarre. The diagram below offers a (fuzzy) view of the growth of US monitoring satellites. The one that may be the latest, the Trumpet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trumpet_(satellite)) is believed to have a radio dish about 150m in diameter. That’s roughly 9,000 times more antenna than the sole Iridium antenna aimed in your direction that can easily pick up a handheld satellite phone signal and keep track of it as it swings from horizon to horizon in seven minutes.

Generation of radio satellites with the 1990s-era Trumpet at the right

“And you, Mister Terrorist, think they can’t overhear any type of transmission?” Massive computers at each site chew through all that noise, looking for aggressors, potential aggressors, and who knows what else. You can also bet that they have something aloft to monitor and decode other nation’s satellites as well.

Do I feel threatened or safer because of these sites? Do I wish we didn’t need them? Sure. But personally? They let me sleep a little better at night.

And that’s where Miranda is going this time, we can only hope that she survives.

Order Osprey

Buchman action adventure thriller romance writer's recipes

“Nightwatch” Shepherd’s Pie (2 ways)

Recipe (printable PDF)

Note: you’re getting this one out of order because of a September-long promotional campaign. Don’t worry, more are coming in order.

action adventure thriller buchman
Miranda Chase #12


“Shoot me now, please!” Andi collapsed on the bed of their Gig Harbor team house.

“I don’t have a gun with me.” Miranda wore a long flannel nightgown as she brushed her teeth.

“Pretty please.” She’d survived the evening being all-polite with Mother, but it had been touch and go.

Dunagan Irish Pub & Brewery was a team favorite, but clearly not up to Mother’s standard. Andi’s preferred Irish stew was bucking for release as she flopped across the foot of the bed. Miranda’s shepherd’s pie didn’t appear to be bothering her in the slightest.

Miranda approached from the far side of the bed and looked at her upside down. “If I were to shoot you, you would be dead.”

“That’s the point.”

“Am I right that would upset your mother in the morning?”

“Not half as much as it would upset me having to face her tomorrow morning.”

Miranda sank to sit on the bed by Andi’s head. “I don’t understand. I try so hard, but I don’t.”

NOTE: We love the lentil shepherd’s pie, but it takes more time. But when we’re in the mood for a quick but scrumptious meal, the fast option works great!

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie (the slow one)

Active time: 1 hour / Total time: 2 hours total (Serves 6-8 or great leftovers)

The Topping

  • 3-1/2 lbs. potatoes, peel and cut into 2”-ish chunks – drop into large pot of cold water (enough to cover) to keep them from turning brown
  • 1 c. milk or broth (any kind, chicken is particularly good here)
  • 2 tsp. mustard of choice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cheddar cheese, grated (keep separate)

The Filling

  • The Sauté – Part I
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 3 carrots, diced
  • The Sauté – Part II
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced. Or for stronger taste, thin sliced
  • The Sauté – Part III
    • 2 c. lentils, cooked
    • 1 can diced tomatoes. Fire-roasted is good. (14.5 oz.)
    • 1/3 c. broth (any kind)
    • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
    • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (soy sauce can be a substitute)
    • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
    • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano


The Lentils

  1. Simmer lentils 20-30 minutes, don’t let get mushy. Set aside to cool.

The Mashed Potato Topping

  1. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain, put back into pot. Mash with milk or broth, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees when potatoes reach a boil.

Make the Filling

  1. While potatoes are heating and boiling: (Sauté I) sauté onion and carrots in olive oil until soft.
  2. (Sauté II) Add garlic in small open area and sauté for 30-60 seconds.
  3. (Sauté III) Add lentils, tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and herbs. Mix. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes. (Now the potatoes are probably ready to mash.)

Assemble and Bake

  1. Oil a 9 in. x 9 in. cooking dish and put in the filling. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top, and make an even layer with the back of the spoon.
  2. Bake 25 minutes, sprinkle the grated cheese on top, and bake 5-7 more minutes.
  3. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

To spice up the filling:

  • 1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 poblano chili pepper, chopped
  • 1 c. frozen corn, thawed or canned corn, drained
  • 2 Tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. turmeric

To spice up the topping:

  • 3 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
  • Pepper Jack cheese instead of Cheddar

Shepherd’s Baked Potatoes (the fast way < 30 minutes)

Serves 1 person per potato

  • 4 russet potatoes (if gold or sweet potato, simply cook less time)
  • The Sauté – Part I
    • 2 Tbsp. butter
    • 1/2 onion, chopped
    • 1 tsp. dried thyme
    • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • The Sauté – Part II
    • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
    • 12 oz. ground beef
    • salt and pepper to taste
  • The Sauté – Part III
    • 1 c. broth, beef or mushroom
    • 3 Tbsp. ketchup
    • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • The Sauté – Part IV
    • 1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed
    • 1/2 c. frozen carrots, or corn thawed
  • The Finish
    • 2 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
    • 1 c. Cheddar cheese, grated

The Potatoes

  1. Stab the 4 potatoes in several places with small knife (or they make a mess of your microwave) and microwave about 15 minutes on high, until a knife or fork passes easily through them.

The Topping

  1. (Sauté I) Over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter in a large sauté pan. Cook the onion and herbs until the onion is soft.
  2. (Sauté II) Scrape an opening and add the garlic, cook 30 seconds at most. Mix in before it scorches and turns bitter. Then add the beef (breaking into crumbles as you cook it), salt and pepper to taste and cook until pink disappears, 4-5 minutes.
  3. (Sauté III) Stir in the broth, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Cook uncovered, stirring now and again until some of the liquid evaporates and it’s looking saucy (wink, wink) instead of wet. (Sauté IV) Stir in the peas and carrots or corn, and cook 1-2 minutes.

The Finish

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. The potatoes are now cooked. Cut them in half lengthwise, hack up the interiors a bit with a fork to make lots of ridges and valleys without utterly destroying the skin. Spread butter on the potatoes. Put on a baking sheet and top with ground beef mixture. Top with cheese.
  3. Broil until the cheese is melted and golden. 2-3 minutes.

Shepherd’s Pie all golden on top.

Now that’s what comfort food is supposed to look like!

Recipe (printable PDF)

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