March brings us into Autumn down under. It has been a strange summer of rain, floods, bushfires, cyclones and then the Christchurch earthquake. It brings a lot of suffering for one person to comprehend. Thankfully the flip side of this is seeing so many good hearted people and the indomitable human spirit that has got us where we are today.
Closer to home, life seems to bring us many changes. Sylvia, who turned two last week, is no longer a baby. She is full of constant change. At home we are looking forward to some improvements to our kitchen (but more of that later). My workplace is one change after another. We call it transition. This week has brought a change in employer for me, while doing the same job.
I will miss my university that has employed me for the past 7 years. It has been as frustrating as it has been exciting to work there. Yet it was one of my first loves of adulthood. All I wanted after school was to study there and one of my happiest moments was standing in the Old Law Quad being photographed on my graduation day. But onwards and upwards. I am now part of a new institute that I hope will grow up into an important institution.
With so much change, I have been meaning to post a few quicklinks for Chinese New Year from a few weeks back. Last year I was pleased to go to Steph's CNY potluck and learn a little about CNY. This year I have enjoyed learning more through a few interesting blog posts:
- My friend Yaz has recently moved to Hong Kong and started a blog about settling in. It was interesting to see his photos of some of the CNY displays and to read about making Year Cake, aka Nian Gaoyaz.
- K and Steph wrote about their CNY Banquet at the Veggie Kitchen.
- Helen passed on some CNY tips from Ken Hom.
- Anh posted some of her gorgeous photos for the Lunar New Year in Hanoi and reminded us that not only is it year of the rabbit in China but also the year of the cat in Vietnam.
As a homage to PPN I even baked them to spell out the initials. If I had the time and space I would have made it a bit more fancy but this was as much fun as was possible while racing around to get dinner last night.
I first made this baked spring roll recipe years ago and am sorry not to have recorded the source. Fortunately I had seen Lisa's brilliant idea of using rice paper roll wrappers because these are far easier to buy locally than spring roll wrappers. They also make a crispy chewy wrapper that is effortlessly vegan and gluten free. Though it seems like this is just a baked rice paper roll, the baked ingredients blend and thicken slightly in the process of baking them so they taste quite different.
I whipped up a dipping sauce easily after having found a good combination for my rice paper rolls. A side dish was more of a challenge. I found I had bought far too many snow peas and remembered a fantastic Japanese snow pea salad that I have made a few times. I thought it was just right but E said he would like chips with his spring rolls (he also liked vegan queso sauce on his spring rolls and said it made them just like Findus canneloni! huh!). Maybe I will try making fried rice another time as a compromise. No matter how they are served, I think these spring rolls are perfect for the cooler days when it is no problem to turn on the oven.
Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: WHB Potluck pumpkin cheesecake brownies
This time two years ago: Citrus Grape Cake
This time three years ago: Sydney Road – one street, two festivals
Baked Rice Paper Spring Rolls
makes 20 spring rolls
- 50g dried rice vermicelli noodles
- 1 largish carrot, grated (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup shredded Chinese cabbage (I used wombok)
- kernels of 1 corn cob
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 150g firm tofu, crumbled
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove. crushed
- 1 tsp pickled sushi (or fresh) ginger, finely chopped
- 20 spring rolls wrappers (or rice paper roll wrappers)
- oil spray (or 1 beaten egg)
If using spring rolls wrappers, keep covered and use one at a time. If using rice paper rolls wrappers, have a large shallow bowl of water to soak each wrapper in for about 10 seconds before placing flat on a board. Place a dessertspoon of filling on the one side of the wrapper. Fold edge of wrapper over the filling. Fold the sides over and then roll up so the filling is wrapped in the rest of the wrapper.
Preheat oven to 210 C (I did 220 C). Place spring rolls on a tray lined with baking paper or silicone. The recipe said to leave in the fridge for 30 minutes so I left mine at room temperature for 15 minutes. Spray with oil or brush with beaten egg.
Bake spring rolls for about 20-25 minutes or until crispy - it will be hardly brown and will soften slightly if you let it cool for a while but will remain pleasingly chewy. I served mine with a dipping sauce of tamari, chilli paste, umeboshi vinegar and a little water to make it go further.
Japanese Snow Pea Salad
adapted from Vegie Food
serves about 4
- 250g snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1 small red capsicum, thinly sliced
- 1 small spring onion, thinly sliced
- 1-2 handfuls of snow pea sprouts (I used bean sprouts)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp dashi
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tsp finely grated ginger
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
On the stereo:
Have one on me: Joanna Newsom