So, here's my week:
Made Valentines Day treats with Lucy's pre-k class. We made chocolate covered strawberries, which we then, quite redundantly, decorated with more chocolate.
This was a simple cooking challenge compared to "The Great Chocolate Kumquat Fried Wonton Experiment of 2010", of the week before, where the frozen chocolate kumquat cream that we were going to wrap in wontons and fry in oil never actually froze, even after three days in the classroom's rat trap of a freezer compartment. So I had 20 four year olds trying to wrap melting, liquified Kumquat-flavored chocolate into wonton wrappers, which is, like, impossible.
And basically they got their clothes covered in chocolate and tried to eat the chocolate off of their shirt sleeves. I caught this one kid licking himself up to his elbow.
That cooking week could also be be called "Don't Rely on Public School Appliances When Trying to Cook Something in the Classroom Because, well, They Often Suck."
So, the chocolate-covered strawberries...Well, all I can say is, you turn your back for one minute and a table full of kids are sucking chocolate out of the pastry bags. It was like watching an alley full of tiny crack addicts. They did a nice job, but they did it whacked out on sugar, so I'm not sure it counts.
Next time, we mercifully go back to savory foods...
Cooked Vegetable Dumplings in Edie's class for Chinese New Year. Well, they weren't Vegetable Dumplings because I put pork in my vegetable dumplings. These were Vegetarian and as such, not nearly as tasty in my opinion. This did not seem to be a problem for the kids who seemed to love making the dumplings, rolling out the dough, filling, crimping, but felt that actually eating the dumplings was like eating feet. One kid ate them. And Tonio, the gymnastics teacher, he ate 10.
Snow Day. Big blizzard. Wet snow, good for snow forts and snow ball fights. Not good for sneaking off to Toys R Us to buy presents for Lucy's birthday - she's nearly 5 - I am the mother of a nearly 5 year old. God, give me a drink.
Anyway, snow day was fun. We had a snow ball fight, made a snow sculpture, bought Valentines at Duane Reade and we read the book, Charlotte's Web. And then, we watched the movie and Lucy and I sobbed and had to hold onto each other when Charlotte dies and Wilbur vows to take care of her children, all 514 of them. And then, we had to read the last half of the book over again. And then, we sobbed again. She begged me to promise I would never cry again, but I'm too big a wimp to keep that promise.
Realized I hadn't taken a proper shower since the weekend and am promptly grossed out by myself.
I remember we are going to Australia on Sunday. For two weeks.
I also remember, as reality crashes around me, that we have invited 11 of Lucy's best friends to come with us as our guests on Saturday to "Pinkalicious: The Musical". This requires a very specific Pinkalicious cupcake, goody bags, pizza, gallons of juice and oh I don't know, gifts for my daughter who is counting the hours until this important milestone event. The big 5. My girl is gonna be 5.
Then, there's an in-school Birthday celebration on Friday that requires a sweet treat that will not disappoint, but cannot upstage the Pinkalicious cupcake on Saturday, because all the girls who who are at the class party on Friday will also be at the Pinkalicious party on Saturday. It's the same reason you can't wear your Golden Globes dress at the Oscars. Got that.
And there's, you know, three meals a day, snacks, a book proposal I'm writing that needs to be finished soon and requires my attention and unencumbered head, this blog, the magazine editors waiting for my pitches, I owe someone an invoice for Pete's sake so I can be paid, there's at least 3 friends I haven't called in like weeks who probably think I hate them, there's hugs and kisses and moments of undivided attention that need to be doled out, and there's that shower. I need that shower.
Did I mention we are traveling to the other side of the planet? Like in a few days?...oh yeah, right.
Okay, so I'm not complaining. I'm not fitting chemo treatments in between appointments with a funeral director. I'm happy, but I don't have much time this week to savor that with an iced tea and a pedicure, although I really should get a pedicure before going to Australia where it's summer and I'll be in flip flops everyday. Sigh. I'll rest on the 20 hour plane trip with David and the kids...uh, well, guess not.
So, if you didn't get enough of the the Pork Dumplings from my last post and you are looking to lengthen your Chinese New Year celebration, I suggest you make these crunchy, delicious egg rolls. I got the recipe from Jaden Hair at Steamy Kitchen. They are her mom's famous egg rolls and because of that I didn't alter the recipe a bit. Never mess with a mom. I will say this - these are hands down the BEST egg rolls I've ever had in my life, home-made or from a restaurant. Just make them.
Jaden does a great job showing the step by step of wrapping the egg rolls, if you need a tutorial or a brush-up. I made them on the spur of the moment after dark in our NYC apartment and the light was too dim to get the shots of the rolling. I had to hide these two little beauties away so I could shoot them the next day. It wasn't easy. I dare you to eat just one.
Jaden's Mom’s Famous Chinese Crispy Egg Rolls
1 1/4 pounds ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 head of small cabbage (about 10 ounces)
8 fresh shitake mushrooms (or dried Chinese mushrooms soaked overnight), stems discarded
1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
The Egg Rolls
50 Spring Roll/Egg Roll Wrappers, defrosted unopened at room temperature for 45 minutes or in refrigerator overnight (about 2 packages)
Cornstarch slurry: 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or flour) mixed with 1/4 cup of cool water
Oil, for frying
Make the Filling
Marinate the ground pork with the soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and sesame oil for at least 10 minutes at room temperature.
In the meantime, shred the cabbage and the carrots using your food processor or by hand. Slice the mushrooms into very thin strips.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic, ginger and fry until fragrant, 15-30 seconds. Add the pork and stir fry until no longer pink. Add the cabbage, carrots and the mushrooms and stir fry for 1 minute, until the vegetables are softened. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil Chinese black vinegar, salt and black pepper. Continue to stir fry for another minute. Remove the filling to a baking sheet and spread out to cool. Prop up one end of the baking sheet so that it tilts and will allow all the moisture to drain to one end. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Discard all of the accumulated juices. Use paper towels to blot the filling to rid of extra oil or juice. Now, you're ready to wrap. Go to Steamy Kitchen for the wrapping tutorial, if you want it.
Keep the rolled egg rolls in neat, single layer and covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying. If you want to stack the egg rolls, make sure you have layer of parchment paper in between the layers to prevent sticking.
Refrigerate up to 4 hours until ready to fry or freeze.
To fry the egg rolls, fill a wok or pot with 2 inches of high-heat cooking oil. Heat the oil to 350F or until a cube of bread will fry to golden brown within 10 seconds. Gently slide in or lower the egg rolls, frying 4-6 at a time, turning occassionaly until golden brown about 1 1/2 minutes. Place on wire rack to drain and cool.
To fry frozen egg rolls, do not defrost the egg rolls – just add them to the oil frozen, frying 4-6 at a time. Add an additional 1 1/2 minutes to the frying time since they are frozen.
I could tell you to make a dipping sauce but you won't need it, you'll eat them as they come out of the wok. I threw a little chopped cilantro over them, but that was just over kill. Enjoy!