CHINESE EGG ROLLS

I found this little vintage dish (soap dish? pin tray?) with its charming dove family on ebay.  It’s made by Erphila Germany.

Look how tender the momma bird is with her two babies.  Kinda reminds me (in my ongoing fantasy) of me and my kids.

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We have doves all over the place here.  Big fat grey ones (pigeons, as my husband calls them), that wake me up with their soulful cooing nearly every morning.  In the spring, they seem to favor the tree under which I park my car, which means — you guessed it — that often times my car is sporting a fair amount of bird poop.

When my kids were younger, I drove a minivan.  It helps to have a self-deprecating sense of humor if you want to drive one of these with your head held high. Personally, I appreciated the remote-controlled sliding doors, and how my kids could scramble into the van without waiting for me to open the doors for them.  Most men are unaware of this, but a minivan is actually quite a chick magnet, for when women realize the ease with which you can safely transport 6 kids, they are on you like flies on honey. Trust me on this one.

There was one occasion, however, when my van-driving sense of humor failed me.  I was sent at the last minute to fill in for someone at a continuing legal education luncheon for antitrust lawyers.  This particular species of chest-thumping lawyers, in my opinion, operates under the false notion that they are really, really important, despite the fact that as best I can tell, there’s not a whole lot going on in the world of antitrust (at least that was my take-away from the luncheon).  I did my best to stay awake at the stuffy event in a suit-filled room, but was relieved when it was over.  Standing outside the restaurant with the suits waiting for the valets to bring our vehicles, I cringed when they brought my poop-covered van around.  And then I did something that I have never done before–I pretended it wasn’t mine.  I refused to own it.  I turned and went back into the restaurant, and acted as though I had to use the ladies’ room.  When the coast was sufficiently clear, I went back out and claimed my crap-covered kid-hauler, joking with the valet (as I overtipped him), “Geez, did you have to park it under a tree?”  I was deeply ashamed.

When the doves are not pooping, it seems they are nesting.  We have a tree outside our bedroom window with a nest in it that the doves have reused over and over.  It’s really neat watching the momma bird sit on the nest for what seems like weeks, and I always gasp with delight the first time I see one of the baby dove’s heads poking up out of the nest.  The babies grow fast, and in a very short time, the momma bird is pushing them out of the nest, encouraging them to fly off on their own.

It makes me smile when the baby doves come back to visit.

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One of my own “baby doves” is getting ready to leave the nest this fall.  My daughter is heading off to college in August, and although I think she’s ready to go, I’m not sure I’m ready for her to go.  Sure, I’m excited for her.  But geez, I’m gonna miss her.  We’ve been having fun this summer getting ready for college, having lunch together, and playing in the kitchen.  We made a trip recently to Super H Mart, a gigantic Asian grocery chain store, and came home with all kinds of stuff to play with.

One of the items we scored were some egg roll wrappers.  We’d been talking about making egg rolls forever, and we were excited to finally give it a try.  The recipe we used is adapted from this one from PBS.  Although they weren’t too difficult, they were a bit of work, and were definitely more fun to make with two people.  Once you get the hang of rolling them, they’re really pretty easy.  You’ll notice there’s no picture of one cut open so you can see the filling, which should give you an idea of how good they were — they were devoured in no time at all.

CHINESE EGG ROLLS
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Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ pound lean ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers
  • 3-4 cups peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
Instructions
  1. Place pork, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, garlic. and ginger in a medium bowl, and mix until well combined.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Cook the pork mixture until meat is no longer pink, stirring frequently.
  3. Add shredded cabbage and carrots and cook for 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place one egg roll wrapper on a clean surface rotating it as a diamond shape. Spoon ⅓ cup of the pork mixture in the center of the wrapper from left to right, leaving a 1" margin on either side. Fold the bottom corner up and over the mixture, tucking it in under the mixture. Fold the sides in and roll the egg roll until there is no more wrapper. Dab the top corner of the egg roll wrapper with water and press to adhere to the roll. Continue to make as many rolls as there is filling.
  5. Heat oil on medium high. When oil is hot, fry egg rolls in batches, being careful not to crowd pan, until egg rolls are golden brown. Remove to a paper tower-lined plate to drain. Serve hot.

 

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Stir-frying the filling

Rolling ’em up

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Deep-frying to golden crunchiness

Get ’em while they’re hot!

DEVILED HAM SALAD

This Christmas, my Dad sent us a Ready-to-Cook, Bone-In, Corn Cob Smoked Ham from Harrington’s of Vermont:

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This was a special gift for two reasons.  First, gift giving used to be my Mom’s domain.  After she passed away in 2012, Dad took over gift giving.  I was impressed — this was a really thoughtful gift, a holiday treat for the whole family to enjoy.  Second, this was a really great ham.  My Dad commented that my daughter would enjoy watching my husband carve it at the table.  He was remembering a Thanksgiving about a decade ago, when my young daughter could hardly wait for the picture-perfect turkey to be brought out in all its crisp-skinned glory.  My Dad, however, had carved the turkey in the kitchen, and when my daughter saw the pile of sliced turkey, she burst into tears.

The ham baked up nicely, and the tantalizing smoky aroma filled the house:

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As much as we enjoyed the baked ham, I think we were looking forward to the leftovers even more.  My daughter has set some aside for Spaghetti Carbonara.  The meaty bone will be put to good use in bean soup.  And today I made Deviled Ham Salad for lunch on this lazy New Year’s Day.  I was reminded of how good ham salad is when my friend Karen at Savoury Table recently posted her recipe for Ham Salad with Swiss and Rosemary, which we’ll be trying in the very near future.

Whether you’ve got leftover ham, or just start with a package of ham from the deli section, Deviled Ham Salad is easy and tasty, either as an appetizer with crackers, or as a sandwich filling.  I like to finely chop the ham and pickles in a food processor, making sure not to overprocess, so that the ham salad has some texture.

DEVILED HAM SALAD
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Recipe type: Pork, Salads, Appetizers
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups finely chopped ham
  • ¼ cup finely chopped dill pickles
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Serve with crackers, or use a sandwich filling.

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The food processor makes quick work of finely chopping the ham

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The canned stuff ain’t got nothing on this!

SHREDDED SALSA PORK TACOS

I found this family of carved wooden pigs at an estate sale.  They have no markings, but I would guess they were made in Mexico.  Cute little guys, aren’t they?

Naturally, they inspired me to make a pork dish, and I thought it might be fun to set them out on the table when I served it.  Well, the kids thought it was hilarious when they found them standing guard over the Shredded Salsa Pork Tacos I made for dinner.  They cracked themselves up rearranging the pigs.  There was pig stacking:

And the pig train:

You might have predicted that the pigs would end up arranged like this:

And because my kids are, in fact, kids, the pigs eventually wound up like this (most likely influenced either by watching our dogs or Sex in the City):

I don’t know whether the kids liked the Shredded Salsa Pork Tacos, but they were laughing so hard at their pig antics that they were gasping.  It was a fun meal.

This recipe is one of the easiest ones I know.  Although I usually shred my own lettuce, dice my own tomatoes and onions, grate my own cheese, churn my own butter (kidding — just seeing if anyone’s reading), you can just as easily pick these toppings up already prepared, cutting your prep time to about 5 minutes.

SHREDDED SALSA PORK TACOS
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Recipe type: Main course, Pork
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup salsa or picante sauce
  • Flour tortillas
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Assorted toppings, such as grated monterey jack cheese, diced tomatoes, diced onions, pickled jalapenos, and diced avocados
Instructions
  1. Trim tenderloin of any silverskin. Cut tenderloin into 2-inch pieces and place in a medium stock pot. Add salsa and beef broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, until pork is very tender and shreds easily with a fork, approximately 1-½ hours. Using two forks, shred pork. Raise heat to medium high and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, approximately 5 to 10 minutes longer.
  2. To assemble tacos, fold tortillas in half and place shredded lettuce in tortillas. Top with shredded salsa pork, and add toppings as desired.

Lined up at the toppings trough