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Cambodian Spring Rolls (Vegan)

September 18, 2011

Can you tell the school year started?

18 days with no posts.

No new cooking. We have been chowing down on lots of pasta, pizza, burritos, and take out in this house. This year, I have a new position at my school, 11th Grade Dean. It involves getting to know the Juniors outside the classroom as a mentor, organizer, disciplinarian, and a shoulder to lean on, which I love. However, it means more duties at the start of the year, and lots of confronting things that scare me: like speaking to large groups and taking 61 teenagers to NYC. Back from NYC, with all students accounted for, I am just loving all the new responsibilities and relationship building with the students.

Serafina moved over from the daycare side of her school to the preschool. Now a full fledged “Penguin,” she has a busy day of learning, and her word acquisition has flourished. However, she learned the word “mine,” and seems to employ it with every object she meets. With the bad comes the good, she is playing on her own, able to understand everything we say to her, and she has developed a deep passion for drawing, which she lets us know through the tantrum that occurs when art supplies are put away (apparently the penguin teachers are graced with the same behavior in class, and they do art projects twice a day).  In other news, with a bag packed for a potential ER visit,  we gave her peanuts. Luckily, she is in the clear, which is such a relief, especially since vegetarians eat so many nuts. She went through an eating strike last week, probably because of new teeth. When babies go through their picky stages, it can be so frustrating. Finally, I gave her some Dr. Praegers Spinach Littles with ketchup, which worked miracles, and her voracious appetite is back. So, its time to try some new foods.

This recipe is from the Cambodian cooking course I took at Immigrant Kitchens in Maine. I loved the recipe so much, that AAM and I made them with our niece, ARB, for her birthday dinner. The three of us had a blast making them, and it was wonderful watching ARB prepare our meal with such love and care; she created beautiful spring rolls. This is the perfect recipe to make with kids, since it is mostly assembly. Be sure you give age appropriate tasks, since ARB is in second grade, she did a wonderful job peeling the vegetables. Then, I demonstrated how to make the rolls, and she followed suit. ARB remained focused throughout the prep, and she was wonderfully helpful. Empowered in the kitchen, she was able to make a delicious meal for eight people, and that is a huge accomplishment for a child her age.  Because these are not fried, spring rolls are also a great vehicle for healthy food, even the babies were excited by the dish. We modified the recipe from Lindsay’s, but I am so thankful that she made me feel comfortable with the ingredients in her cooking class. This went well with a veggie fried rice, consisting of mostly veggies.

Note on Ingredietns: The rice paper needed for spring rolls is a flat hard plastic like sheet. It can be found in the Asian food section; we used the Three Ladies brand found here. To prepare it, place one sheet in a large bowl, then cover with hot water. Hot enough to melt it, cool enough that you can move it around the bowl.

When it is soft and melted, you are ready to make your roll.

Lay carefully on your workspace and assemble immediately. Then, start the process over and place another sheet in the bowl.

Cambodian Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls:

  • Rice Paper Wrappers
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and shaved
  • 2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup of spinach, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of basil, chopped
  • vegetable oil
  • water, steamed

Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 tb vinegar
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar.

1. Chop up your veggies. Create an assembly line on your cutting board. Heat up some water on the stove.

2. In a saucepan, melt the sugar in the water, turn off the heat, then add the vinegar and red pepper. Let the flavors sit and meld together.

3. Take your rice paper sheets and melt them in water. Place two, slightly overlapping, on the workspace.

Then layer in your veggies, evenly and towards the bottom. Then, take your roll and fold it over the veggies, take the ends and fold in, then continue rolling. When you are done, brush vegetable oil over your roll very lightly. Just enough so they won’t stick to each other.

4. Serve cold with the dipping sauce.

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