Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hey, I made good spring rolls!

You know those times when you want a snack but aren't sure what so you wander around the kitchen, looking repeatedly in cupboards and fridge hoping something pops up that wasn't there the last time you looked? I had one of those a few nights ago, the first in months.

I was watching an episode of the series, "The Guardian" on Netflix (that Simon Baker is something else!) and wanted something to snack on but didn't have a clue what. A brief search of my kitchen cupboard and refrigerator contents turned up nothing that appealed to me so I tried to give up and go back to the show. Unfortunately, the desire for something to munch on wouldn't leave and I found myself wandering into the kitchen again to see if something had magically appeared. Nope, still nothing.

Finally, I saw the package of Frieda's won ton wrappers (17 grams of carbs in 4 wrappers) I'd bought a few days before and I toyed with the idea of making some kind of gooey, cream cheese-y, sweet treat but my taste buds didn't seem too enthused. I kept digging in the fridge and saw the bag of broccoli slaw mix I'd bought at the same time as the egg roll wrappers and remembered that I wanted to try my hand at vegetable spring rolls. Hmmm, my mouth started watering a bit and I realized my taste buds were in overdrive. Eureka!

Someone had very recently sent me the URL of the site containing her favorite egg roll recipe so I went to the site and read it but although the tips and hints that prefaced the recipe were awesome sounding the recipe itself seemed a little more complicated than what I wanted to undertake while watching television. I read the tips a couple of times to cement them in my mind and headed back into the kitchen, prepared to wow myself with whatever results I came up with. Okay, let me say that I'd attempted spring rolls before but due to lack of knowledge ended up with a mess in my skillet. The site I'd just read focused on using a small amount of filling and very tightly rolling the wrappers to prevent said skillet disaster and that appealed to me. I decided to work on mastering the rolling part rather than the filling.

Into my wok, I put a bit of olive oil. When it was hot but not smoking I added the broccoli slaw, some finely chopped red onion, and a bit of finely shredded cabbage. I didn't measure any of it so use discretion here. I threw in a spoon or so of chopped garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. Pushing the mess around a bit, I tasted and it was bland so I added a few drops of sesame oil and a splash of soy sauce. I cooked it a bit more and tasted. It seemed good to me so I dumped it all into a glass bowl and moved it to my work counter. Since I don't have a deep fryer, I rinsed the wok a bit and added more olive oil, setting the wok on a low heat burner.

I proceeded with putting a very small amount of the filling in one corner of a wrapper then tightly rolling, folding the side edges in and ending with the top corner tucked under. I had enough filling for 4 rolls and when they were stuffed and neatly rolled I turned up the heat on the wok and put them into the oil. As one side browned, I carefully maneuvered the roll to another side until they were browned pretty much all over. When all of them were a pretty golden color I removed them and set them on a thick towel to drain and cool a bit.

It didn't take long before they were cool enough to eat. I took the first bite and thought, "Hey, this is pretty darn good!" I took another bite and confirmed the first thought. And with a bit of soy sauce to dip them in, they were actually quite good. Yes, I'd finally made spring rolls without destroying the wrappers and making a sloppy mess in my skillet! The filling was still a bit bland so I'll have to work on that but I'm very happy with the results overall. Now I just need to perfect the filling.

And no, mine aren't as pretty as the ones at the site linked above. I didn't follow all her rules but they're good enough for me. 

Do you make spring rolls or egg rolls? If so, how do you make the filling? I'd love to know your recipe or even suggestions on how to spice the filling a bit. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Faux vegetarianism & a hearty soup for it

Faux vegetarianism. That kind of describes my diet now.

Back in March, my sons came from Austin to visit and while they were here, the youngest told me he'd been vegetarian for months. He told me that since he'd given up eating "anything with a face" his blood sugar was great. I prepared and ate vegetarian meals while he was at my apartment and lo and behold, my blood sugar was great, too. I played with eating meat and not eating meat for a few weeks and it became clear to me that just about any meat, other than seafoods, spiked my blood sugar. That was enough for me.

I embarked on a regimen of eating a ton of vegetables with a few bites of meat now and then and have lost about 12 pounds. My last A1c was under 7 and my physician was thrilled. So was I.

It's hard to maintain this, though. Now and then I crave meat and when that happens, I buy some, prepare it and enjoy it. So, while I'm not a vegetarian I'm almost one. ;)

Yeah, faux vegetarianism seems to work for me. For now. I don't know if it's a permanent thing or if, in the future, it too will cease to help keep the blood sugar under control but for now I'm enjoying it.

I wish I could say my grocery spending has decreased a lot but though it's gone down a little it hasn't gone down by much.

So what do I eat? I'm glad you asked.

Breakfast is usually stir fried vegetables of some sort (broccoli slaw with bell peppers is my favorite) with a scrambled egg, all rolled into a low carb tortilla with plenty of cilantro salsa. Sometimes I get crazy and fry a slice of vegetarian 'bacon', crumble, and add that. Sometimes I eat soup for breakfast. My favorite is just a simple vegetable broth loaded with zucchini, onions, and celery that I've stir fried a bit and added to the broth. I add plenty of fresh garlic and a bit of ginger and it's filling and delicious.

Lunch is generally salad with some steamed vegetables or a crustless vegetable quiche. Sometimes I just lightly steam a few vegetables and top them with a bit of homemade white sauce, spiced up.

Dinner is often a repeat of breakfast or lunch with a bit of fruit or yogurt on the side.

I've learned to occasionally enjoy Gardein or Morningstar Farms products but I try to keep those down to a dull roar. They're expensive, even on sale, and I really prefer to eat fresh food. The Gardein Crispy Tenders make a tasty addition to salad (my co-workers tried them and thought they were eating chicken) and their Beefless Tips are delicious served with a bit of wild rice. The Spicy Black Bean Burger from Morningstar Farms is one of my favorite treats. I fry it and put it on a whole wheat thin bun with a bit of onion dressing and it makes for a very portable lunch. A friend recently gave me a recipe for homemade black bean burgers and I'm going to make that one day this week.

So yeah, I'm a faux vegetarian...if you have some good vegetable recipes, I'd love it if you shared.

I'll head out to work in a couple of hours but I started a slow cooker soup awhile ago that should be ready when I get home. It's just a basic barley & vegetable soup but I stir fried the barley, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and bell peppers in a bit of coconut oil before adding them to the crock with vegetable broth. Stir frying or roasting the vegetables a bit just brings out the delicious flavors and makes the soup tastier. When I get home this evening, it will be a nice welcome.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Has it really been 8 months since I posted an entry?

Yes, it has been. Wow. I'm not sure why it's been so long except I've been busy with work and life in general. I've been at my current job for almost five years and although I really like it most of the time, sometimes I look for for a new job. I've even been on a few interviews and have had job offers but something keeps me where I am. Fear of change, perhaps. After all, I'm comfortable with what I do now. I think I could do it in my sleep. But I'm starting to think I'm too comfortable with it. I'm beginning to feel stagnant with it, bored, and a bit restless. Yet the thought of leaving is too intimidating for me to seriously consider. Maybe soon.

I've been on a few dates, too. For the most part, the men have been good people. We meet for coffee or dinner and talk, getting to know one another. It doesn't progress, though. Truthfully, they don't interest me. They seem nice enough, perhaps too nice. I know, that probably doesn't make sense unless you're a woman who likes the bad boys! If you are, you know exactly what I mean. But those bad boys, while exciting, aren't really what's best for me and I know that so I avoid them and now and then date a good one,  hoping I'll click with one of them. It hasn't happened yet but it might. In the meantime, I just live my quiet life.

I'm content. I'm happier now than I've been in many years and that's a wonderful thing. Someone asked me recently if I get lonely. Of course I do. Not often but now and then I miss certain things about having a mate. I miss eating dinner with another person, having someone to talk about the day's doings with, having someone to go sightseeing with, and yes, I miss loving someone. I have friends I invite over for dinner and a movie and sometimes we go out stomping around local towns or festivals and that's fun. But it isn't the same as doing it with someone you love. That said, I'll take my quiet and sometimes lonely life over one filled with strife, fear, or resentment. Peace is a valuable commodity and I value and protect mine.

So, yeah...I've not posted in months but I want to try to be better about it. The problem is that I don't have much of interest to say. I mean really, how many pictures of Sammy can y'all enjoy? ;)