Friday, August 15, 2008

News, and cooking for a summer weekend.

Work is crazy right now. My Italian boss is extremely passionate about his work and is really upset about the recent resignation of my immediate supervisor. I can understand why he feels betrayed, but at the same time there are some inconsistencies in his behaviour and actions.

You get to know your boss better after someone has quit, to say the least.

TM and I are working through our issues. Basically neither of us are perfect. We both have needs, and different ways of showing love. Perhaps, we aren't the same people we were before we moved in together.

All this goes to show is that my views of moving in before marriage differs from before this whole experience.

I think I'll encourage my kids to live together with their respective significant others before getting married. Not to downplay the importance of marriage, but to emphasize the importance of getting to know the person that they will potentially spend the rest of their life with.

It is HOT out there man! I'm sure that if the sun were out today, it'd be scorching. But the cloud cover is doing its job of keeping the humidity high. I kind of like it outside right now since the office is cold, thanks to the air conditioner.

The nice weather will continue onto the weekend, with highs of 26-34 degrees celsius. NICE! I'll be at the beach and the Latin Festival enjoying some sun and food.

Here's a nice summer recipe that we'll be enjoying at the beach:

Vietnamese Salad Rolls!

They're nice and cool, and pretty easy to make. All you have to do is cook the noodles, prep the vegetables, then assemble the rolls. It takes a little practice to wrap the rolls, but it is a pretty forgiving snack.

For my rolls, I used "U Brand" rice vermicelli, and "Six Fortune" rice paper wrap. I bought them at Save on Foods, a chain supermarket, but I've seen them in smaller mom n' pop grocery markets too.

For these rolls (I made these a couple weeks ago, during our last "heat wave"), I used shrimp, carrot, cucumber, and mango. The sweetness of the mango pairs really nicely with the saltiness of the shrimp. I've also tried using lychee instead of the mango, or kamaboko, crab, or lobster in place of the shrimp. Again, this is a really simple recipe, feel free to change it up!

The other ingredients you'll need are peanut butter, hoisin sauce, and rice vinegar. These are for the sauce that you dip the rolls in. I prepared mine in a small ramekin, by incorporating 2 parts hoisin sauce, 2 parts peanut butter, and 1 part rice vinegar. Mix them together (you will need to microwave it for about 30 seconds) until the mixture is uniform. Microwave for another 30 seconds if it doesn't come together the first time.

When you have all your ingredients cut up and prepared, you can start assembling the rolls. First, boil a big pot of water. When the water comes to a boil, dunk in the rice paper and quickly remove so that it doesn't wrinkle and stick to itself. Rotate the sheet around so that it is all hydrated.

Since these photos are from one of the first times I made these rolls, I flubbed up and put the fillings on *top* of the noodles instead of underneath. The result is that the bright colours and shrimp are obscured in the finished product by more of the rice paper. For a better looking roll, place the shrimp (coloured side down) onto the rice paper, followed by the mango, julienned cucumber and carrot, and some green onion. Top with some of the rice vermicelli.

Next, you fold over the short ends like a buritto, lift the long end over the fillings, and slowly roll the rice paper over the fillings. You need to slightly stretch the rice paper (practice makes perfect!) while you rotate, so that the roll is tight and compact, and will not fall apart while you are eating it.


Serve with the hoisin-peanut sauce, some crushed roasted peanuts, and cilantro, as needed.

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