Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Amourat's Thai Eggroll recipe

Lorelei has become quite the chef this summer. She loves to cook up meals and sometimes even surprises us with things she's made - breakfast, smoothies, desserts, etc.. I love how confident she's becoming in the kitchen.

One thing this girl has really mastered is the art of rolling Thai Eggrolls

Growing up in Colorado, my neighbor Amourat from Thailand made these delicious eggrolls nearly every time I'd come around her house, and nothing in the world could be more delicious or conjure up memories like Amourat's eggrolls! They're still - to this day - my favorite food.

The recipe was always Amourat's secret (she sold these eggrolls from her home - they were that amazing!), and after a lifetime of trying to replicate it, I think we've at least come close. Or... Lorelei has, to be exact. And now Gryffy gets in on the fun, too, and we all cook these together as a family.

Lorelei makes the sauce, Gryffy and I make the filling, the kids roll them up (sometimes Mark helps too) and I fry them.
 Aren't they beautiful?! We devour them.
 Here's the copycat recipe we've perfected over the years. This makes 40 rolls (for a party), but we usually make 20 and split the filling in half, freezing the portion we don't use for another day when an eggroll craving hits.

(Almost) Amourat's Thai Eggrolls
2 pkg. spring roll sheets (from Asian market - I like the easy-peel brand in the picture below)
1 lb. ground pork
2 eggs
4 oz. bean thread vermicelli (= 3 bunches from the Lungkow brand pack of 8--see photo below)
1 c. shredded carrot
1 c. shredded cabbage
8 shiitake mushrooms, chopped small
salt & pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. peanut oil

Soak noodles in hot water until soft; cut in thirds.

In a separate bowl, mix pork, egg, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, pepper, soy sauce and garlic. Fry pork mixture in 3 T oil until pork is cooked through. Add noodles; cool. Taste and add more salt or soy sauce if desired. (I also spoon in some of the dipping sauce--recipe below--for a spicy-sweet kick.)

The roll is tricky and Lorelei's mastered this: Place 2 Tbsp. filling in a corner and roll up halfway, keeping the roll tight. Fold in both sides, then finish rolling it up. Seal the end with a paste of flour and water. Repeat until all sheets are filled and rolled.

Deep fry in oil over low heat until crisp and dark golden brown, turning midway through cooking. Makes approximately 40 rolls.

Sweet & Spicy Dipping Sauce
1/2 c. white vinegar
1 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tsp. tapioca flour
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in saucepan. Boil a few minutes until slightly thick but still runny; remove from heat and serve at room temperature. The sauce will thicken quite a bit more as it cools.

Note: The spring roll sheets are very important. These are not the brand you find at the local supermarket. A trip to the Asian market for the right ingredients is a must. I also prefer this brand of bean thread vermicelli from the Asian market.
And that, my friends, is our family's favorite meal and a throwback to my childhood.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Salzburg, Austria

Ever since I was a young girl, I've loved the Sound of Music. Indeed when I was about three years old, my mom made me dress up as a nun and sing the entire soundtrack at a church potluck. Which I didn't entirely love. But watching that movie over and over as a child left its impression on me, so naturally I love the city of Salzburg! This is our second trip here, but a first for the kids.

Our music video of Austria/Czechia is HERE.

What's not to love about the birthplace of Mozart with all its glittering fountains...
Gorgeous horses...
Looming Hohensalzburg fortress...
And baroque, pastel buildings.
This city is stunning!

When we first spotted the famous horse bath statue we had to splash a bit in the fountains like Fraulein Maria!

 Then we strolled past these beauties...
 ... and tucked just behind Mozart's birthplace into this cozy spot full of flowers and trinkets, and sat down at a cafe for a bite to eat.
Lorelei meanwhile took over the camera and started snapping away. See her reflection in the silver hearts?
We were enamored by the lovely lanes full of wrought iron hangers and signs.

Gryffin discovered Mozart balls, and went crazy for these chocolates!
His cheeks are stuffed.

There's an old tale about how the people from Salzburg painted the same herd of cows with different spots and daily paraded them around during a siege to fool their attackers into thinking they had anendless supply of cattle. Their aggressors retreated, and Salzburg has been painting cows ever since.
Before our trip to Salzburg, we shopped for a lock to add to the love locks bridge as a symbol of our family bond of love, never broken.
Here are the kids at Makartsteg Bridge, attaching our lock decorated from home. (Gryffy chose a green one.)

Love these little traditions!
Next we wound our way to the gorgeous Mirabellplatz to meet up with...

 ... our Fraulein Maria Sound of Music Bike Tour!
When a tour has five stars on TripAdvisor, you know you can't miss it!
We met up for the afternoon (4:30) tour. Here's our group, led by Claudio, just as we set off. This 3.5 hour bike tour was the PERFECT way to see Salzburg and the countryside. Mark got a tandem bike so the kids could take turns having a break from the kid's bike they shared, which turned out to be a great idea. They were great sports for peddling 8 miles!
And despite a forecast of thunderclouds, we managed to avoid all but a tiny sprinkling (and a few more splashes in that fountain)!
"I have confidence!" -Maria
 The cemetery where the Von Trapp's hid from the Nazis (though another part of it was recreated on a film set).

There's Hohensalzburg castle perched just above us!

This was an interesting work of art in the city center.
 The kids shared a pretzel donut.
This was our only big up-hill climb; most of us walked our bikes.
 The gate at Nonnberg Abbey, where the kids went to see Maria. They had to saw off and later reattach one of the iron bars just behind Gryffin to film one of the scenes in the movie.

Just outside Nonnberg Abbey you find amazing views of the city, also used during the Do-Re-Mi sequence of the film.
Here we are outside the large theater from which the Von Trapp's made their escape.
Two different homes were used in the film; this is the front of the house.

And we all remember scenes of Liesl and Ralph dancing in this gazebo... only Liesl slipped and her leg shattered the glass during the filming.
Ti Doh - OOOOH - OOOOOOOH! Soh Doh!

The rain hit us like a typhoon that night while the kids and I were tucked inside an Italian restaurant, and Mark was in the middle of running back to the car at the hotel to gather our coats. On our walk back to the hotel that night, the streets were all but deserted, and we were making up stories about the zombie apocalypse. Just in the thick of the story, a group of people started following us, and we knew they had to be zombies. Scary fun!
Salzburg, you've love-locked a place in our hearts!