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Vegetable spring rolls

Today I made Spring Rolls. First time ever.

I really like spring rolls, I often buy the boxes of mini ones from the frozen isle in my supermarket to heat up for a quick lunch or dinner. I had never considered making them myself until I looked at the price of them the other day and began mentally slapping myself for spending so much money just for a few quick meals, that and the amount of oil that flowed out of these little snacks while oven baking was crazy! Surely I could make them myself. So I went online and found out about spring roll wrappers, available near the frozen pastry and so much cheaper than the premade rolls. I looked over a few recipes and tried out a pork one first, hated it and realised that I was really after a vegetable spring roll, no meat. So I started to look for good vegetable spring roll recipe. I wasn’t highly enamoured with a lot of the recipes I found so I combined the best of each and then oven baked them, because I hate to deep fry, and came up with the perfect recipe (for me). Just what the doctor ordered. I also made them big, not like the tiny mini ones for cocktail parties, although (if you are patient enough) you could cut the wrappers in 4 and make teeny ones. I am not patient enough.

I put the cabbage and the carrots through the food processor to shred them and hand chopped everything else.

This recipe made 20 spring rolls with a few spoonfuls left over. It could have made 21 but I wasn’t thawing out a full pack for 1 more sheet. I ate the rest of the filling off of a spoon, it was really fresh and light.

Vegetable spring rolls

100g Asian vermicelli noodles
1 Tbls oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 spring onions, chopped finely
½ Chinese cabbage, sliced finely
1 tin bamboo shoots, chopped roughly
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 tin water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 Tbls soy sauce
Black Pepper, to taste (about 1 tsp I think)
1 packet (20) frozen spring roll wrappers, thawed
Sweet chilli sauce to serve

Boil or soak your vermicelli noodles until soft.
Bring a wok or non-stick frying pan to a high heat, and add oil.
Add garlic, cabbage, bamboo shoots, carrot and onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
Stir through noodles, chopping them as you go, and then water chestnuts.
Add soy sauce to taste and a few good grinds of pepper.
Set aside to cool completely.

Lay a spring roll wrapper on the bench and turn it diagonally to make a diamond shape.
Fill with 1½ tablespoons filling slightly higher than the centre of the wrapper.
Roll the top of the wrapper over the mixture and tuck each side inward.
Roll the wrapper downwards and then dampen the end with water then roll the wrapper to close it.
Continue until you have used all the mixture.

Place completed spring rolls on oven trays with the seam side down.
If using immediately spray with spray oil and place in a 180C oven until lightly browned and crisp.
If storing for later use place trays in the freezer to snap freeze and then remove to bags for extended storage.

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Spinach Rice with Cheese

I hate to waste food and rice in particular always seems to be leftover in our house. I often make a quick, stove top rice pudding out of it but sometimes there is that much that I need to make a main meal just to use it all up. Being on my own for a few days again I was able to consider using a few ingredients that wouldn’t have been appreciated by my husband, such as an entire bag of spinach (I used fresh because I had it, even though the recipe called for frozen). I also used up a tin of cream of chicken soup that was lounging in my cupboard doing nothing useful but working its way steadily towards the use by date (I hate canned soup on its own but it makes a handy ingredient for a quick and easy recipe or two so I normally have a can or two in the pantry)

It is not necessarily pretty to look at but this could be a tasty side dish with a steak or sausages. I was happy to have it for dinner on its own and it made enough for several meals if you have company or don’t mind eating the same thing for a few days.

Spinach Rice with Cheese

1 1/2 Tbls butter
2 cups cooked rice
1 tsp crushed garlic
2 chopped green onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
280g package chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Melt butter. Stir fry garlic, rice and onions until onions are tender, stir often , about 4 minutes.
Add soup and simmer until heated through.
Add spinach, simmer until wilted. Remove from heat, add cheese.


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Easy Pork Bulgogi

Needing something warm and comforting, Asian inspired because I was craving that special blend of spices, a teeny touch of heat because that seemed to be in order also. I did a quick search on the net and came up with the following from Best Recipes. (link to the original here Easy Pork Bulgogi)

Kecap Manis is my newest favourite thing in the world. I spied it on my supermarket shelf and was running low on soy sauce so grabbed it on impulse. I was taken aback by the sweetness of it, it has a strong molasses like flavour and I find it much nicer than traditional soy sauce. I still have both in the cupboard but if a recipe calls for soy sauce and sugar I substitute the Kecap Manis most of the time. It has a depth of flavour that I really enjoy.

Easy Pork Bulgogi

300 g pork belly sliced
5 tsp soy sauce (I used kecap manis and added a bit of salt and ommitted the brown sugar)
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp chilli paste (use sweet chilli sauce if you don’t like the slow burn of straight chilli)
1 spring onion chopped
1 tsp garlic minced
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs rice wine
1 tsp brown sugar (didn’t use it, kecap manis is a molassasy thick soy sauce and quite sweet)

Mix all ingredients, except pork, together, then stir pork slices through.
Marinate in fridge for at least 1 hour.
Cook in frying pan until cooked and lightly blackened on both sides.
(my frying pan didn’t get hot enough to blacken the pork, it was damn tasty though)


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What do you know?

How much do you know about America or England or Australia or any other country than you own for that matter? How much do you even know about your own country?

I see a lot of news stories and videos on the internet of people (primarily Americans) being asked questions about Australia. During these interview the participants good naturedly answer random questions about Australia and almost universally have no idea what they are talking about. They often laugh and blush and blunder their way through making some sort of attempt to explain what they think a word means or who is the current Prime Minister of Australia (always good for a laugh).

We all then merrily conclude that Americans are ridiculously uninformed about world politics and/or anything and everything outside their own country. The question I pose is ‘are we any different?’ Confronted on the street by someone with an accent and a microphone asking pointed questions about a country that we have never visited or barely thought of, would we do any better?

Frankly I would be surprised if we did any better at all. I imagine that if most of us were questioned point blank on the street we would be unable to answer questions about our own country much less anyone else’s. As much as we enjoy watching Americans stumbling over questions about our country I think we need to keep in mind how we might perform in the same circumstances. We know what we need to know, we know what we learned at school, we know what our own media exposes us too. We don’t know anything else unless we make the effort to educate ourselves and there are much more pressing things to educate yourself on than ‘what is a chico roll?’ or ‘who is Ned Kelly?’

Trust me, I enjoy these sessions of good natured ribbing as much as anyone does but when it hits my news feed and is considered a news story, I think it just highlights that fact that it is a slow news day.

Anyway I am off to look up random facts about countries that I don’t live in, just to help me be more informed and as prepared as possible should I be confronted by a camera and a microphone next time I leave the house. In fact, I may look up random facts about my own country, I am sure that things that I don’t know far outweigh the things that I do know.


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Baked Pumpkin and Bacon Risotto

I found this recipe on the net the other day and was immediately taken with it. I don’t have a photograph of my attempt simply because we ate it all before I thought of it. I found it here Baked Pumpkin and Bacon Risotto on Best Recipes (they have pictures).
I love risotto, any which way you cook it, and this was a tasty combination. Of course I changed things, my recipe is below but it is very similar to the original just a few ingredients swapped out for what I had available.

This was readily (and surprisingly) devoured by an incredibly stubborn pumpkin hating 10 year old boy and even given the nod of approval from my 95 year old Grandmother who happily accepted the leftovers when I brought them down for lunch the next day. I’ll be making this again and again, probably swapping out ingredients each time to create something new.

Baked Pumpkin and Bacon Risotto

4 bacon rashers chopped
1 red onion diced
1 1/2 cups rice
2 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
60 g butter
1/2 butternut pumpkin peeled diced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese finely grated
1 pinch salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 190C. Lightly pan fry bacon until crisp, and cook onions in bacon
fat until transparent, about 5 minutes.
Place rice, stock, wine, butter, pumpkin, onion and bacon in an ovenproof dish and stir
gently to combine.
Cover with foil or lid and bake for 30 minutes or until rice is soft (took about 1 hour).
Stir in Parmesan, salt and pepper, then serve.