Spring Rolls + Dip

IMG_3023

Some people seem to have endless amounts of creative energy. My supply is finite; I only have so much. When I use it up on writing, I don’t seem to have any left over for thinking about food, which is strange for a person who usually doesn’t think of anything else. M. says that when I’m writing, I turn into a zombie. The 1% of my brain that is not engaged in my fictional world is the part that responds to his questions (the answer is always ‘OK’: where did you put the scissors? OK! What do you want for dinner? OK!), and the part that leads my barely conscious self into the kitchen where I suddenly come to with a half eaten block of cheese in my hand — who put that there?

Anticipating a crisis, I’ve tried to get a little smarter about it. Now I have a food day. I don’t write, and I get out my cookbooks and just bake and chop and stir and mix. I make enough food for the week so that instead of living off bags of raisins and blocks of cheese, I eat something that is actually half nutritious. The trick, I’ve learned, is to think of myself as two people: the person who makes the food, and the person that will eat it. The person who makes the food is the one who makes sure the person who eats it will have something very delicious, nutritious and most of all easy peasy to eat. The person who eats the food is the one who will wonder into the kitchen every hour or so and grab the easiest and most delicious looking thing at hand. Suffice it to say, the person who makes the food has been making a lot of spring rolls, and the person who eats them has been very happy.

IMG_3022

In just over a month, we will be coming back to the States. I will have more to say on that soon. Now is the game of remaining present in a place that I know I will miss terribly, while the temptation to worry and plan the future looms high. Most of the time my thoughts feel like a disconnected group of molecules barely held in orbit. There are days where I actually say out loud, I think I might be going insane. Is this normal? If the track record of most writers is anything to go by, I am assured it is. Anyhow, here I am just one person with her limited supply of creativity and focus occasionally eating a spring roll and saying, OK! OK! OK!

Spring Rolls

Ingredients

    For the tofu:
  • 1 packet firm tofu (14 oz, 400g)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • For the dip:
  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • For the rolls:
  • 1 large or 2 smaller carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 avocado, sliced and sprinkled with salt
  • 1 cucumber, seeds removed and cut into matchsticks
  • a few sprigs of mint, stems removed
  • handful of toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • 1 package spring roll wrappers

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/ 230 degrees C.
  2. Slice the tofu into finger sized strips. Place them in a large baking dish. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and then pour over the tofu. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Flip the pieces over and cook another 15 minutes, or until browned and slightly crispy on the outside.
  3. While the tofu is cooking, prepare the dip by placing all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture is smooth and pour into a small bowl.
  4. Set up your spring roll making station. I like to put all the ingredients out in an assembly line fashion: carrots, cukes, avocado, tofu, mint and seeds all in their own pile so that they are to hand right in front of me. For the spring roll wrappers you will need a shallow tray filled with water (I use a baking tray). I also put out a piece of parchment paper to assemble the actual rolls on and have a plate ready for the finished product. Things will go much easier if you take a moment to organize your space.
  5. To assemble: place a spring roll wrapper into the water, submerging it under. After about 30 seconds or so the wrapper will begin to soften and become pliable. As soon as it does, remove the wrapper carefully from the water and move it to your parchment paper. (Note: it might take a few rolls before you get a feel for the right level of pliableness. Don't be discouraged if your first wrapper rips or sticks to itself in the transfer). Add 2-3 pieces of tofu, a handful of carrots and cucumber, 2 slices of avocado, a few mint leaves and a sprinkling of seeds. Fold the two ends in, fold over the right side of the wrapper, and then roll (just like making a burrito). If the wrapper rips while rolling, just wrap it in another wrapper. Stack the finished product on your readied plate or tray and then repeat the process until you run out of ingredients.
  6. Serve with the dip and enjoy!

P.S. I’ve been doing a series of articles for the Wish Garden blog on cooking with medicinal herbs. Check the first one out here. Chocolate rose truffles is up next!

Comments

  1. Cathy says:

    The dip especially sounds delicious. I’ll take a look at the Wish Garden blog too. Enjoy your last few weeks in England!

  2. Goodness I can relate! I often wonder how much of the classic literature was purely fueled by cups of tea, bread and butter. Although also potentially why they call contracted TB and died young with all those fabulous ideas! I think your Sunday cooking sessions are a far wiser idea and you’ll probably have a much longer career. Looking forward to reading more of your posts on the Wish Garden…a perfect marriage! xo

  3. ellie says:

    love your blog. wishing you a promising transition from your time in a special place and time that you have had.

  4. Lucinda says:

    “The person who makes the food is the one who makes sure the person who eats it will have something very delicious, nutritious and most of all easy peasy to eat. The person who eats the food is the one who will wonder into the kitchen every hour or so and grab the easiest and most delicious looking thing at hand.”
    This is genius! I love it! You may have just transformed my post baby eating habits for the better. :)
    The spring rolls look beautiful too, my person who eats the food would like the person who makes it to have been organised enough to have got some of these ready earlier. :)
    xxxx

  5. This zombie feeling you describe. I understand. I just ate leftover peach crisp for breakfast. Mounding plain Greek yogurt on top of dessert makes it breakfast, right? I bet I know your answer. (OK?) ; )

  6. Random Lincs says:

    I’m feeling very inspired to make this: can you substitute chicken (or other meat) for tofu? I understand the ‘insane’ feeling’ – it’s like your body’s there but your mind isn’t…now to stew some apples! xx