Meditations on a Spring Roll

Yesterday Todd and I were having a friend over for dinner. THAT is always a good excuse to try a new recipe. (okay, it always sounds like that to me all the way up until I’m getting ready to serve something new. THEN I think to myself, “WHAT were you thinking?) Apparently I never learn. . .

Okay, let’s get a few things straight from the start.
1) I would LOVE to be one of those people who plans ahead. I PLAN to plan ahead, but the fact is, I don’t really have that whole concept down too well. . . so as much as I plan NOT to be figuring out what I’m going to be cooking on the morning I’m cooking. . . It’s just not how I work. (This applies to almost everything else in my life too. . . )

well, that’s the main thing we need to have straighten out.

So, Monday morning I sit down in front of my favorite website. and set out searching so something fun, something summery, something “light”. . .I immediately find a Chicken Satay Recipe that’s got 5 Stars. . and looks easy enough. What’s great about FoodTV is all the recipes are from shows, that have good complimentary dishes. . so the complimentary dish was “Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce” . . I love a good Spring Roll (or summer roll). I’ve never made Spring Rolls before. . . eh, Why Not? So after a morning of working, and lunch with a friend I head to the grocery store with my list in hand. . .I got the bean sprouts, the beet, the carrots, sesame oil, only the Rice Flour wrappers weren’t at this grocery. .. not to fear, there is another grocery on the way home.. . not there. . .Let’s just make a LONG story short. .. SIX grocery stores later I finally found the wrapper. . . I was determined to make my spring rolls, (to say the least)
I had all the ingredients, and it was 4:30 by the time I finally found them. . I didn’t have time to think of something else. . .Again, the advantages of planning ahead could be argued at this point.

It’s so much fun to make a good meal. . to mix a cup of yogurt and curry together with thinly cut slices of chicken, and set to marinating with the knowledge of flavors seeping into the meat over the next few hours.

To julienne a beet into thin little slices. . . . Beets are not my favorite veggie, but they are beautiful! Not much to look at from the outside, just a lump of purplish something. . but as soon as I started peeling, to uncover the BRIGHT purple/fuchsia underneath with views of darker and lighter coloring running through. . . Who says worship is reserved for Sunday morning singing “Amazing Grace”. .. savoring the simple and transcend beauty of a beet counts for something sacred to me!

Into my bowl went the bean sprouts, the beautiful beet, the farmers market carrot, 2 handfuls of hand-torn cilantro, chopped peanuts, a drizzle of dark sesame oil, juice from a lime and salt. I added some Vietnamese cellophane noodles. . tossed together, it was a work of art. A meditation of ordinary into something extraordinary! When that was mixed I poured hot, not boiling water into my bright red pie dish and soaked for 10-15 seconds my round rice papers (the ones I went to SIX stores to find). I carefully removed them from the water, places on a wet rag on my counter and carefully put a single spoonful of my beet mixture. . . carefully folded up the end, the right side, the left side, placed two fresh mint leaves and rolled to the end. . It was art. . the perfect green outline of the mint leaf under the cool opaque rice paper skin.

We savored our spring rolls with a Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce. . .a masterpiece of Vietnamese flavor, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, fresh lime juice, garlic and some red chili past for a kick. The mint, the garlic the chili, with the crunch of the carrot, the brightness of the beet. . each on it’s own, not bad. . . but together, it was a symphony. I guess that’s the beauty of our world, our communities, our relationships. . we need each other to bring out the best in each one, to release our “flavor” to the world! (all this from a Spring Roll)

I served the chicken on Jasmine rice I’d cooked in coconut milk. . (yummy) with a Peanut Dipping Sauce. . . peanut butter, soy sauce, red chili paste, lime juice. . . as Todd would say, “It sure didn’t suck!”

I don’t cook like that all the time, I seem to convince myself I need a reason. Today I’m thinking maybe cooking good food, for the sake of cooking good food is good enough? Something to consider.

You can check out the recipes at: Search for Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce and Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce. . both from Tyler Florence.


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