Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

My favorite cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair, impresses me all the time. The philosophy of the book is cooking with whole foods for the entire family. It's my go-to cookbook for some of our favorite dishes such as whole grain bread, polenta and black bean casserole, steelcut oats and dates, tempeh bacon for sandwiches, and spinach-feta quiche.

This week, I decided to try my hand at making the Fresh Vegetable Spring Rolls. They were so tasty! I've never rolled my own spring rolls before so I wasn't sure if it would be hard to do, but they were surprisingly easy. I made the spring rolls with avocado, thin slices of carrots, fried marinated tofu strips, fresh basil, spinach leaves, and a touch of lime. These little rolls were packed with flavor and a slight crunch from the carrot strips. I dipped the rolls in the Trader Joe's Gyoza Dipping Sauce, since I didn't have time to make my own sauce.

The recipe makes 10 rolls and they won't stay around long! I brought a roll to work for my pregnant friend and she thought it was a filling and delicious snack!

I found the spring roll skins at Meijer in the Asian foods section, but you can also find them at your local Asian market.

Fried Tofu: Slice the block of firm tofu and drizzled tamari over the slices on a pie plate. Preheat a large skillet. Add coconut oil to skillet. Fry the marinated tofu making sure both sides are golden. Let cool. Then cut the slices into thin strips. Use the leftovers for a stir-fry or sandwich.

Fresh Vegetable Spring Rolls (from Feeding the Whole Family)
Makes 10 rolls

  • 1 medium carrot
  • I medium zucchini (I omitted)
  • 2 lettuce leaves (I used spinach leaves)
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 10 rice wrappers
  • 1 lime
  • Optional ingredients: fried marinated tofu, grilled chicken, cooked shrimp, fresh basil, mint, or cilantro leaves.
  • Julienne carrot and zucchini. Set aside washed spinach leaves. Half the avocado and score it in thin slices and remove the pit. Half a lime.
  • Set up a metal cookie sheet upside bottom side up for a flat surface to work.
  • Fill a round pie plate with water. Soak rice wrappers, one at a time, for about 15 seconds until soft but still firm to the touch. Remove from the water and lay it flat on the surface.
  • On the top third of the wrapper, layer: avocado slices, a squeeze of lime juice, carrot, zucchini, tofu strips, basil, and spinach. Try not to over stuff.
  • Working quickly, fold the edge closest to you, then the sides inward as you roll it closed. The finished roll will be about 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Repeat for all 10 rolls.
  • Place in a dish, cover, and refrigerate until you're ready to serve. Don't stack on stop of each other because they will stick.
I served the rolls with a simple stir fry with bok choy and edamame over brown rice. They are also good as a snack or in a lunch box!

Friday, July 15, 2011

San Francisco

I was just out in San Francisco with Ava and my mother-in-law, Michele. We had an awesome time! It was a business trip, but since I'm from the Baby Area, I wanted to bring Ava out to spend time with family and friends. It was my first trip since she was born and with her newly walking, I was a bit nervous. I was thrilled when Michele said she was available to come out with us. She watched Ava during the work week and they ventured out in the city together. Michele flew with all of her kids as young children so I felt confident going with her for our first inaugural flight! It worked out perfectly! We flew out on Saturday and came home on Thursday. I wasn't sure how Ava would adjust to the 3-hour time difference, but she was very flexible. Here's my post on toddler travel tips.

We arrived to the hotel at noon on Saturday and we decided to unpack and let Ava stretch her legs. We walked to Whole Foods to pick up supplies for the week. For dinner, we grabbed Chinese takeout from an excellent place that specializes in Dim Sum (but we didn't get go back the next morning to try it). We Skyped with Aaron so he could say goodnight to Ava. She whimpered when she saw Daddy on Skype, but was very excited to see Bena on the computer! Aaron said that the house was very quiet without us and that Bena was a little off while we were gone.

Sunday was an amazing day! We met up with family and friends at Crissy Field Park, which has gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge. We had sunny weather, though it was a bit cool with the breeze. Ava got to spend the afternoon with all three of her Grandmas! My stepmom (Meme) and my brother, Braden, drove in from Sacramento for the afternoon. They were so excited because they haven't been to visit us in Indiana so they were dying to meet Ava. They picked us up from the hotel and drove us to the park. My mom (Grandma Anna) and her boyfriend, Bernard, drove up to see us. My mom hadn't seen Ava since she was 5-weeks old! Ava fell asleep at the park on a blanket and Meme got to hold her for a bit. James, Kelly, and their son, Ethan came up from San Jose and then Romeo and Jeff drove out from Sacramento too. We had a bring your own picnic lunch and it was so relaxing! I'll never forget it!

I worked in the office Monday through Wednesday, but it was close enough to walk back at lunch to nurse Ava. It was hard to leave her for both of us because she cried for a few seconds when I'd leave. Grandma called herself the "Granny Nanny" on the trip got pretty creative at distracting Ava while I was leaving. They spent a lot of time in the lobby of the hotel walking around. Ava was just learning to walk that week so it was fun to stretch her skills on different surfaces like grass, cement, tile, and rugs. That was a big day for Ava and Grandma because they took a cable car ride up to Nob Hill and then Grandma carried her back in the pack through Chinatown. Michele was exhausted by the end, but they had fun and Ava fell asleep in the carrier. What a surprise! We grabbed dinner together on Monday night after work in the Ferry Building at a burger place. Ava was obsessed with the birds and seagulls! She practically yelled and pointed when she saw them. When we walked around the city, she looked up at the buildings and the people walking around. I could tell she really enjoyed seeing new things.

On Tuesday it rained ALL day! It was chilly too. So Michele took Ava on a stroller ride inside the hotel and they went swimming at the hotel pool. She's very creative. I guess you can tell she's done it before! Grandma let her walk around the empty dining room of the restaurant and Ava had her first taste of Fruit Loops. She wouldn't eat the orange ones.

On our last day in San Francisco, Michele took Ava (in the stroller this time) to the Legion of Art Museum. They had a great time! Even though it was on the other side of the city, Michele got directions with the bus and they spent the afternoon looking at fine art. They saw the Rodin sculptures. I love the pictures that Michele took with Ava walking all around the courtyard and by the art. That evening after I was done with my work meeting, we walked to a Thai restaurant for dinner. Ava was tired from the day, so we had to eat fast. We distracted her by putting an orchid in her hair.

Our flight from SFO was at 7:45am so we woke up very early. We had plenty of time to get to our gate. The airport security let us through faster since we had a baby and we had a bit more time to let her walk around. Ava got a bit antsy on the longer flight to Indy, but we entertained her. She nursed a lot and slept on my lap. Grandma sang and read to her. Aaron picked us up and it felt so great to be home! We missed each other, but it was great to know that Ava is a good little traveler and she enjoyed seeing a new city! What an amazing trip!