Spring (Roll) Recipe: NOW, not January, is the time for eating seasonally.

Okay, maybe not now-now, as people here often say when they mean “at this very moment,” but spring is surely the time for taking up the practice of eating (at least some things) that are local and seasonal. Now’s the time to find a CSA (some of them even deliver, which can be so convenient) or plant an itty-bitty garden, if you can spare the space and effort. Even if all you’re able and willing to grow is a pot of herbs on a windowsill, by all means, do it. 

Do it for this recipe alone. You may be thinking that it is weird to eat a bunch of herbs all together, but once you taste the cilantro, basil, and mint in these rolls, you’ll see it’s not weird at all. The peanut dipping sauce is pretty much all-season; it’s equally good with spring rolls as with rice and cooked veggies and strips of grilled meat, chicken, or fish (and even with tofu, if you like tofu. I do, especially with peanut sauce.)

You know those fancy food blogs where the house is so perfect and there's no crumpled up napkins lying around, or, if they are, they're lying around artfully, somehow? This isn't one of those blogs.
You know those fancy food blogs where the house is so perfect and the table is so retro-fabulously beautiful and things are out of focus, but in a good way, and there’s no crumpled up napkins lying around, or, if they are, they’re lying around artfully, somehow? This isn’t one of those blogs.

Spring/Summer Rolls and Peanut Sauce
For the Rolls:
8 sheets rice paper
8 soft lettuce leaves
4 ounces thin rice noodles, soaked until tender (but not mushy)

A quantity of vegetables:

  • Grated or julienned carrots, cucumber, avocado, radishes—be creative!
  • ½ cup each fresh mint, cilantro and basil leaves torn into pieces. (If you lack one of these, feel free to omit one or the other, but it’s really best with all of them; see above!)

Soak 1 sheet of rice paper in warm water for 10 seconds or so, then lay out on a kitchen cloth. Place a lettuce leaf in the middle, and fill it with a finger size portion of noodles, a bit of each vegetable and some of the fresh leaves. Roll up the rice paper wrapper like a burrito, closing in both sides. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, making sure not to allow rolls to touch, or they will stick together. You can wrap them in a damp towel and plastic wrap and serve within an hour, with peanut sauce (my favorite) or go easy-lazy style with a simple dipping sauce of equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar with a couple tablespoons of sesame oil stirred in.

For the Peanut Sauce:

Chop finely and sauté together in 2-3 tablespoons of neutral oil
(like corn or grapeseed) until tender and fragrant:

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch piece ginger
  • 1-2 stalks lemongrass (optional)

Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon turmeric and stir to coat, 1 minute.
Then add:

  • 1 can (organic is best, if you can!) coconut milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown or turbinado sugar (you can also use maple syrup; or substitute 1/4 cup hoisin sauce and reduce soysauce to 1-2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½-1 cup non-hydrogenated peanut butter
  • Ground cayenne pepper to taste

Simmer, stirring constantly to keep from sticking and adding water to achieve the desired dipping consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve liberally over everything.

{Shameless plug: adapted from a recipe in my new book, where you’ll find more non-guilty, joyful reasons to eat seasonally as well as fun, tasty recipes that are healthy and fresh without being nutso about the whole thing}

How weirdly long and thin does the Stone Doctor's arm look in this photo? Feed that man!
How weirdly long and thin does the Stone Doctor’s arm look in this photo? Feed that man!

Explaining Food Choices Without Sounding Sanctimonious

Grateful to D.L. Mayfield for this lovely review of my book at Renew & Sustain:

…how do I explain to my friends and neighbors why I shop at the co-op? Why I spend $5-7 dollars a pound on meat now (and subsequently, eat a lot less meat than before). How do I explain that I am doing this out of love for God, our world, and for them? That I feel like every dollar invested in local agriculture and economy will help my low-income neighbors in a myriad of ways? That I feel, almost to the point of desperation, that the way modern consumers live their lives is terribly destructive, unhealthy, and due to the ever-higher price of oil, destined to end soon?

It’s hard to communicate all this, without sounding sanctimonious, paranoid, or decidedly middle class. And it’s also hard to explain why I believe other people should care about their food choices, as we are all impacted by the same system.

{read it all here.}

Eat With Joy at Blessed Earth

Thankful to the good folks at Blessed Earth–an educational nonprofit that inspires and equips people of faith to become better stewards of the earth–for this warm recommendation of my book:

God’s gift of food, professed in Genesis, is in need of redemption for many people. Busy schedules have reduced the number of meals we eat together, and confusing advertisements can make it difficult to choose a healthy meal option. Many of us have complicated relationships with food, feeling guilty when we indulge in anything less-than-healthy. In Eat With Joy, Rachel Marie Stone examines the current, complex issues in the food industry. More importantly, she discusses the spiritual side of food: What did God intend for us to feel about food? How can we use food to better relate to Him? Prayers and recipes are included to illustrate the points of each chapter. Those who seek an improved relationship with their daily bread will rejoice in Eat With Joy. Highly recommended!

Leave A Comment For Your Free Copy of ‘Eat With Joy’

I have a guest post at Amy Julia Becker‘s lovely blog, Thin Places. Amy Julia is also graciously hosting a giveaway, so if you head over to her blog and leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win a free copy of Eat With Joythe kind made out of paper!

Amy Julia asked me to write on something related to eating with joy with children–and that’s just what I did, starting with my first pregnancy with my now seven-year-old son, Aidan:

Since my early teens I’d viewed food as a dangerous temptation: fresh bread with butter, plates of pasta marinara, and squares of quality chocolate conspired to make me fat and unhealthy. For years I thought of myself as “healthy” for getting by on apples and Diet Coke much of the time. If food was delicious, it could only be a trap. If I craved something, or overate, I berated myself for my selfishness. In my warped way of thinking, this “discipline” pleased God.

[…]

Our culture, so radical in its individualism, had taught me, implicitly and explicitly, that my body was my own; that no one had a claim on it but me, and, also, that it was infinitely malleable. The discourse around pregnancy had other claims: not only should I be eating a perfect diet to optimize my child’s health and intelligence, I should be taking prenatal vitamins and practicing prenatal yoga. At the same time, in the pregnancy magazines at the doctor’s office, I was seeing advertisements for “getting my body back” once the pregnancy was over and for nursing tank tops that promised to conceal my “baby belly” after delivery. I felt I was receiving conflicting messages: the first being that my baby’s well-being was entirely dependent upon my eating and exercise; the second, that my body was mine, and that I should take measures to keep it that way, or at least, to conceal its pregnancy-inflicted flaws.

It goes on to talk about how I learned to accept food as God’s good gift, and how, imperfectly, of course, I try to teach my children to accept food similarly.

Go to Amy Julia’s blog, read the rest of the post, and leave a comment for your free copy of Eat With Joy: Redeeming God’s Gift of Food.

In the Flesh

There’s something about holding a book in your hands. I may spend a lot of time reading and writing, but I am enchanted by incarnated, physical things. (Like blankets. And casseroles.)

At the Festival of Faith and Writing this year, when I was tired of listening to people talk about books, I wandered around in the little bookstalls set up by various vendors, just touching the books.

It’s so nice just to be able to touch the books, I told the man at one of the stalls. And then I think I blushed because it sounded sort of silly. But the man didn’t think so.

That’s right, he affirmed, with utter seriousness. We believe books are meant to be touched.

Yesterday, I got to touch my book. It took about a month, but it got here. It looks nice, and feels nice. It was printed in the USA, and the paper has that good partially-recycled-paper texture. And the cover just makes me smile.

Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 9.49.14 AM

{If you’d like to put your hands on a copy, please consider ordering from Hearts & Minds books, one of those rare places where you can actually touch the books before you buy, and where the people selling the books love books as much or more than you do. But if you’re not the book buying type, please consider asking your local library to stock it. Thanks!}