Spring Rolls & Doing What You Love

Posted by in art, food, life, recipe | 26 comments

 

I love to cook.
I also love to eat.
Luckily for me, the two go hand in hand.
And that’s pretty epic.

But you know what’s even more epic? When I get to do what I love and share that with other people. Like what I’m doing here, right now on my blog with all of you. Whoever you are, I have no idea since likely only one percent of people who read these posts actually say something on my blog. But, that’s OK. I get it. I understand. We’re busy. I’m busy. I read lots of blogs – 55 to be exact. I just counted. That’s a hell of a lot of blogs to be reading, every day. But I do it, because I like to.

They provide me with inspiration and ideas and insight and wonder. And every once in a while I read something starkly compelling or discover something so delicious my eye mouth waters, or come across a photograph so beautiful I have to linger on it for a few minutes before moving on. Only then do I leave my measly little comment; my humble attempt to esteem the artist who put forth the excellent work at which I’m now oogling. And who knows if they read it. I don’t. But I leave it because I feel compelled to.

And speaking of being compelled to do something, I felt compelled to write this post.

 

 

This post is about spring rolls. Because spring rolls are freakin’ delicious. (censored for Jesus, my sorry) But it’s also about a lot more.

It’s about telling you what I love to do and that’s COOKING and EATING and LICKING ON ICE CREAM CONES and TAKING PICTURES and FINDING SALES AT THE GROCERY STORE and STARING DOWN RIDICULOUS PEOPLE LIKE MY EYES ARE PUNISHING THEM and EDITING PHOTOS UNTIL THEY LOOK AWESOME and INSTAGRAMMING WHATEVER I FEEL LIKE and SKIPPING LIKE A CHILD WHILE I RUN and DANCING TO TECHNO and FOLDING FRESH LAUNDRY and SCRATCHING MY BUTT JUST TO MAKE SURE IT’S STILL THERE AND NOT DOUBLED IN SIZE and LISTENING TO PREDICTABLE MUSIC and SPRINTING THE LAST HALF MILE and WRITING WITHOUT FILTERS and STARING AT THE SUNRISE LIKE IT’S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FREAKIN’ THING I’VE EVER SEEN.

And BLOGGING. Yes, I LOVE BLOGGING. But you know this.

 

 

But back to cooking.

This week, my friends Ben and Laura got engaged. Isn’t that great? I helped out in a small way by cooking them dinner. (Awesome, I made dinner. What’s the point of this story? I’m getting there.) The catch is, Laura was diagnosed with a whole slew of food allergies recently and now she can’t eat half the foods she used to because they’re making her sick and weak and tired.

Her days are drastically different now that she has to worry about everything she puts in her mouth, read every label at the grocery store, and 20-question every waitress in a restaurant about what’s in the food. Because if she eats something that’s on ‘the list,’ it can leave her feeling like death. And I think that sucks. I honestly can’t even imagine.

So what did her charming fiance do? He emailed me a list of all of the things she couldn’t have and asked me to create a meal for them that was completely safe for her to consume. So I dreamt up a menu so creative even I was impressed.

 

 

Homemade spring rolls with thai dipping sauce. Steamed broccoli with snow peas. Sauteed ginger chicken. Chocolate avocado pudding. Coconut vanilla ice cream. And stevia-sweetened mojitos. Not to brag or anything but everything was damn delicious. At least that’s what they told me. I just hovered over it for the hour it took me to prepare before jetting out of the house as they walked through the door.

And you know what’s awesome, besides the fact that she said ‘yes’? Laura cried. She cried because she was surprised, because she was happy, and because she was so overjoyed that she didn’t have to worry about what she couldn’t eat somewhere for the first time in months. She cried in relief. And that, made me cry (OK, not in front of anyone but more like in private at home a.k.a. while I’m writing this sappy post.).

I know she cried because I went to their engagement BBQ last night and got to hear the whole story from their eyes. And way more than the ‘thank yous’ and the momentary praise and recognition for being the group’s pseudo master chef, I was floored because they loved what I made.

That’s what this post is all about. It’s about telling you how exciting it is when you do something that you think you’re good at, that you love. And even if you perceive yourself as not being that great; when other people – or even one person – tells you they like what you’re doing it makes your freaking day. Nay, your month.

So here I am, riding my creative wave and telling you I don’t want to stop and I’m going to try my hardest not to. I’m going to try my honest best to keep making myself to do what I really love to do, because it matters. Even if it only matters to one out of 100 people, or one out of 1,000 people, or no one and just me – I’m going to keep doing it.

 

 

OK, now the recipe. Bravo if you made it through this entire post. And if you did, I’m giving you an internet hug because you deserve it. As well as a spring roll dipped in the best peanut butter sauce you’ll ever lay Asian-food-loving mouth on.

Spring Rolls & Peanut Dipping Sauce

Ingredients
rice papers
1 cucumber, sliced in skinny strips
2 carrots, matchstick sliced
large bundle fresh basil
1 cup rice noodles, cooked
shrimp, cooked (optional)

Peanut Sauce
2 big spoonfuls (creamy or crunchy) peanut butter
one healthy splash soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1-3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1-3 Tablespoons hot water

Method | I find Erin’s video tutorial for preparing spring rolls to be most helpful. As for the peanut sauce, whisk all the ingredients together until you get the consistency you desire. I prefer slightly thick but a little drippy. Everyone has their own preference on sweetness and spice – I like a good balance of both – so play with it until you get the flavor you like.

Eat. Pray. Love.
Ironic, but true.

xo, dana

26 Comments

  1. I love your things you section! Too cute with caps and all!

  2. What a sweet thing to do for your friend! I am exactly like your friend Laura, I can’t eat at restaurants, I have to read every single ingredient label before I can eat something and I tend to only eat food I cook because I know exactly what’s gone in it and that no cross-contamination occurs. I wish I had a friend to do that for me!

    My fiance and I have resorted to picnics, packed lunches and eating whatever we can find that we both like and I can eat – it sounds lame, but when you have so many foods you can’t eat, it’s special when you can enjoy something everyone else does!

    Never stop doing what you love – ever! :)

  3. What a delightful post! In the words of Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss.”

  4. That. Was. Beautiful. :) And as someone with several food allergies, I can say that I’ve cried with gratitude and excitement when people have gone out of their way to allow me to eat. You’re an awesome friend for doing that!

    • internet hugs!

  5. I’m totally trying these spring rolls this week! They look delicious!

  6. I want to eat that peanut sauce straight out of the bowl. Mmm

  7. Looks great! I really want to try it. I LOVE spring rolls and peanut sauce, and if I make them myself, I’ll get to eat more of them and it will be cheaper. Yay!! David said I’d love your blog, and I do indeed.

    • Glad you love it Kay! David is so sweet to say that.

  8. you are amazing! and this little story totally made my day!

    • you. are. so. sweet. Hugs!

  9. Hi! I just wanted to say that I’m still reading! You’re right. Life is busy busy. But I still love reading your corner of the internet. Also, what a thoughtful thing to do for your friends! I also have food allergies, and every once in a while someone does go out of their way to prepare food you can eat, and it is seriously like Christmas. You are so sweet to have done that for them.

    • I can’t even imagine what that’s like, but I hope there are lots of people in your life that bless you in that way.

  10. Aww, what a sweet story. Nicely done, Dana!

    • Thanks for the encouragement the post! Glad you enjoyed it : )

  11. I love reading your blog. It is my favorite one. I think I never comment because I have always felt people are too busy to even read them. But knowing you do makes me happy. You inspire me. To be healthy and happy.

  12. This is a great post, Dana! I always love reading your honest, witty dialogue and drooling over your beautiful photos. I don’t always comment but today’s blog post reminded me that it really only takes a second to do it, and it means so much. What a great story :-)

  13. What a sweet friend you are! So nice of you to come up with a menu your friend can eat! These look so yummy!

  14. This made me almost tear up while reading it! You’re an amazing friend Dana!
    That peanut sauce looks amazing, too. It’s so thick!

  15. I read your blog lots but have only commented once. I love your photos, recipes and I love that you love what you do! Looking forward to trying these rolls and sauce out :)

    I have suffered with food allergies all of my life but am in the process of improving. I am currently going for Bioset treatments and I can eat raw veggies for the first time in 32 years without my mouth and throat itching horribly! I don’t know the severity of your friend’s allergies, but I DO know that I had no hope of beating mine and this worked for me. Just something to look up on the wonderful internets if she is interested! What I love is that it totally made sense to me, is completely noninvasive and involves no drugs. Happy cooking :)

    • Thanks for sharing about your condition, Leia. I’ll have to ask my friend if she’s heard of bioset before. Sounds awesome!

  16. Dana! That is so sweet and awesome. I am so glad you were able to serve Laura and Ben in that way. I know she has been having such a hard time with that new diet/lifestyle change. This just made my day. :) I haven’t heard the whole story yet but it sounds like it was a good one. ;) Next time you see her, can you give her a great big hug for me?!
    Gracia

    • absolutely! Laura deserves all the hugs we can give her – such a sweet friend. Thanks for saying hello, Gracia!

  17. This is so awesome. I’m happy for you and Sarah!

  18. umm i mean Laura… don’t know where Sarah came from but I hope she’s happy too. haha.

    • haha, thanks Lauren. You’re sweet.

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