Carrots

Winter fresh rolls with edamame paste & chile carrots

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As I write I am listening to the mixed sound of soft thud & sharp pops that comes from the wintery mix beating down on the skylight above my head. Last night, I kept waking up in the early morning and doing a quick peak outside, hoping for snow, and disappointedly I would snuggle back into bed. I really wanted to see my dogs' paws and noses happily buried into the fluffy snow, I wanted to make oatmeal cookies and hot cocoa and I wanted to curl up by the fire and read fairy tales. Alas, the sleet and ice is here, snow will have to wait until next week. While a good portion of the country is under snow and ice right now, you think I'd have something like hearty warm soups, or a cassoulet, or perhaps a veggie packed shepherd's pie. Nope, I have for you spring rolls.... well, winter rolls. 

After Thanksgiving marathon eating and the patchwork of holiday parties and gatherings that come over these next 3 weeks... some lighter food is needed in between the decadence! Don't worry, the ample amount of ginger and the addition of spicy chile carrots make these fresh rolls satisfying on a winter's day. Unfortunately I did't get many in-process photos... winter's darkness creeps up on us quite quickly. So I'm providing some photos of-late via my iphone :). Don't worry, one of the next posts I have in mind will be extremely winter-appropriate and warming to boot. 

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*Also if you don't want to make these all at once, store the carrots & edamame past in separate container in the fridge and then just assemble to order. :)

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Winter rolls (Makes 15)

Spring roll wrappers - I got a packet of 15

Edamame - 16 ounce bag of frozen/shelled edamame

Scallions - 3 scallions, chopped

Light coconut milk - do not shake it - 1 can - use just the top 1/3 portion - the thick, white part

Garlic - 4 cloves - grated on a microplane or minced really fine

Ginger - 1-2 TB (depending on taste) I used closer to 2TB -grated on a microplane or minced really fine

Greens - a small handful or two of dark greens (I used baby kale)

Carrots - 1lb bag - peeled & julienned

Sesame oil - 1Tb

Rice vinegar - 3Tb

Soy sauce - 1Tb plus extra for dipping (I use tamari)

Mirin - 1-2 tsp

Sesame seeds - 1TB, I used black sesame seeds

Dried arbol chiles - chopped fine, plus a few extra seeds or substitute dried chile flakes

Salt - to taste

Hot water

* This would be extra yummy if you let the chili carrots sit in the fridge overnight, or a few hours, to get extra spicy, but it is an optional step.

Peel & julienne the carrots and place into a bowl. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, rice vinegar, tamari, mirin, sesame seeds, & dried chile. Pour the sauce over the carrots and stir together with your hands, massaging in the sauce as you go. Set the carrots aside. 

Set on a medium pot of water over high heat to boil. Meanwhile chop up your scallions, grate or mince your garlic & ginger and add these into a blender or food processor. Once the water is boiling, dump in your bag of edamame. Let the edamame cook a few minutes until they are not longer frozen and they are soft and bright green. Drain the edamame really well and then add it to your blender or food processor. Add in the coconut milk to the edamame mixture and a good pinch of salt. Process the mixture until it is well combined and smooth, stopping and scraping as needed. Taste and adjust for salt. Dump the mixture into a bowl and set it aside with your carrots.

Heat up enough hot water to fill a large bowl halfway, so you can dip the rice papers in easily. Prepare a clean work surface for rolling your spring rolls and set out your rice wrappers, bowl for hot water, bowl of edamame paste with a spoon, greens, bowl of carrots, and a clean platter. Once the water is done heating, pour it into your prepared bowl. Now you are ready to assemble. Dip one of the rice wrapper into the bowl of water until it starts to "melt" and get really soft and translucent. Takes about 20 seconds or so (If the water if too hot to handle, throw in an ice cube or two). Pull the rice wrapper out and lay flat on your prepared surface. Smear on a spoonful or two of the edamame paste across the center of the rice wrapper... stopping and inch or so from the edges. Add in a little pinch of fresh greens and a small handful of carrots, all the while stopping about and inch from the edges. Fold in the side edges of the spring roll and then grab the end closet to you and fold it over the center ingredients, tucking and rolling it over on itself until it becomes a roll! Yay! Place on the clean platter and then repeat with the other 14 rice wrappers. Serve with a bowl of tamari for dipping.

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Vermicelli + coriander carrots, edamame, & a lime-tamari sauce.

This and that. 

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I started a new book of short stories while on our last camping trip by Rebecca Lee called bobcat and other stories. There is a certain part of the story where the narrator gets a new perspective of the words 'this' and 'that' while enjoying a cup of coffee. She points across the room and asks if "[she] could have some of this cream." Most people would ask if they could have some of 'that' cream when referring to something across the room. Turns out, it is a philosophy when using the word this or that. It depends on your personal perspective on what you consider close to you or not. This little moment resonated with me quite strongly. One of those moments where you stop and re-read the sentences a few times over.

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Reflecting back I probably only use the word 'this' when I can physically touch an object, obviously, this is my comfort space. I do tend to be somewhat of an introvert, even if it is not immediately evident, but am I really that closed off? I suppose I have been more aloof than usual because I have no idea where my life is headed come August. It is exciting but scary, I am almost paralyzed by the freedom of it. I can dream for hours about what doing 'that' job or moving to 'that' place would be like but nothing has reached the status of 'this.' Nothing feels at home to me. For now my 'this' place has to be the life of a transient voyager and my 'this' place is in food.

I can transcribe this same feeling and personal choice of using the word 'this' or 'that' to choices in food. There are some dished when you see a picture of it or you read the description, this is it. This dish just gets you. I definitely order foods at restaurants this way... and sometimes I miss out because 'that' dish is not close to me. Vermicelli is one of those dishes I typically ignore. Most of the time it is because it is drenched with fish sauce and even if I order it vegetarian I usually end up with a midnight stomach ache and fish poots. Never fear, this fish-free vermicelli is here. 

*You want to prepare the carrots/cucumbers in this recipe several hours beforehand at least, so they can marinate. Preferably overnight.

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Recipe (serves 4) 

Rice noodles - 1 box

Carrots - 3 whole, large carrots, peeled and then cut into thing strips with a peeler.

Cucumber - 1/2 small cucumber, peeled and cut into large matchsticks.

Red cabbage - 1/2 cup, cut into slivers

Mushrooms - 1/2 a small container, cut into slivers (I used baby portabellas) 

Daikon radish - 1/2 small radish, cut into thin half-moons

Edamame - 1/2 frozen bag (just the bean, no pods).

Sunflower sprouts - 1 handful (feel free to use any sprouts) 

Ginger - 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (or finely grated).

Coriander seeds - 1TB

Fennel seeds - 1tsp

Rice vinegar - about 1 1/2 cups

Cilantro - 1TB fresh, minced

Thai Basil - 1-2TB fresh, minced

Honey - 1TB (or agave if vegan)

Tamari - 4TB

Limes - 2, juice only

Sesame oil - 2-3TB

Red chile flakes or sriracha  - to taste

 *Peel and cut the carrots and cucumbers. Place them in a 2 cup mason jar and add in the coriander and fennel seeds. Then cover with rice vinegar mixed with a little water. Let it sit out for several hours at least, overnight it best. The marinating liquid can be kept in the fridge and re-used. 

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Cook the rice noodles according to the package. During the last 3 minutes of the rice noodles cooking add in the frozen edamame so they de-thaw. Once cooked, drain the noodle/edamame mixture in a colander and rinse with cool water until room temperature. 

Slice up all your veggies and have them ready, including the ginger. Add in 1TB of sesame oil into a small skillet on medium low heat. Then add in your ginger and let cook for 1 minute. Add in the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes until soft and slightly brown. Turn off heat and shake in a scant TB of tamari. Set aside.

Mix together the honey, 3TB tamari, 1TB sesame oil, lime juice, fresh herbs, splash of rice vinegar, and a good squeeze of sriracha or large pinch of chile flakes. Place the dressing in a large bowl with the noodles/edamame and toss together until coated. Distribute the noodle mixture into four bowls and top each bowl with a small handful of each vegetable (the carrot/cucumber mixture, fresh red cabbage, fresh daikon radish, gingered mushrooms, and sprouts. Top with some more fresh cilantro, thai basil, and sriracha if desired.   

Enjoy this meal. 

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Carrot, mango smoothie

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I am so happy that it is warm. I'ma celebrate with a smoothie.

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Recipe (Makes one finnnnne smoothie)

arrots - 3 big, whole, chunky ones. 

Mango - 1, peeled and then sliced off the pit

Yogurt - 1/4 cup, Greek or whole milke

Honey - 1tsp, generous

Almond milk (or other) - about 2/3 cups

Ice cubes - a few or a small handfull

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un the carrots through a juicer. Add the carrot juice, mango, yogurt, honey, almond milk, and ice cubes to a blender. Blend until smooth. Admire that beautiful color. Drink. Mmm so smooth, so good. 

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