Posted by Kim Schoelen
KP Produce sets up at the very end of Kern Street, just before N Street and right in front of Starbucks. This is key, as I’m first and foremost, a Chai addict so my autopilot points me directly toward KP on a weekly basis. And then I’m hooked. I love Armenian cucumbers and they’re always ready and waiting for me at the KP stand.
I also grab an avocado most weeks because I think it’s dumb that Subway charges so much to add their avocado to sandwiches (uh, especially veggie delite sandwiches, which are totally just lettuce and tomatoes and onions!) so I’ll buy my five-dollar-five-dollar-footloooong and smear my own on. Also intriguing is the cactus they have for sale. I have no clue how to make nopales but someday I’m gonna make that happen.
At market on Wednesday I grabbed two Armenian Cukes from KP, and then hopped over to GT Florists and Herbs and picked up a few bunches of rainbow carrots. There were some lovely red bell peppers at Thao’s so I bought a few of those based on color alone. Impulse buys at the farmer’s market never lead to buyers remorse.
Here’s my dilemma. I have the pickiest kids ever. My oldest has an approved food list that I can count off on my fingers. White rice, plain pasta, cantaloupe, cucumbers, carrots, chicken nuggets, cheese pizza and quesadillas. Anything that isn’t on that list is met with a look of disgust and disbelief that I would be so uncaring as a mother as to force him to try it.
My youngest is better about it but as a rule, she refuses to like any of the things that he likes. “Cantaloupe? EW!” Carrots are about our only middle ground. She refuses to even look at cucumbers.
I’ve been trying more hands-on no-cooking-required recipes with them lately in hope that they’ll be more excited about food if they’re the ones making it. Some things have really bombed (the were not into that whole “bananas masquerading as soft serve” fad), but others are fast favorites. That’s when the idea of spring rolls popped into my head. Cucumber, carrots and a few other things that I could beg them to “just try, for the love of all that is good, just try one bite.”
They’re insanely easy. Even when you’re frazzled and at your wits end and you’ve just stepped on a lego and as you were hopping up and down in pain, stepped with the other foot on a barbie shoe, this meal is simple enough. You’ll need rice paper wraps. Now be cautioned- I went to Trader Joe’s and Save Mart and couldn’t find the darned things so I ended up at R-N Market. You could totally get them at Central Fish Co. downtown, too.
Here’s what to do:
Chop up all of your fillings. Do them in long matchsticks. If you have a mandoline use it. Otherwise you’ll be like me and almost lose your fingers a few times. I had Armenian cucumber, red bell peppers, carrots, cold teriyaki baked tofu, sprouts and cilantro.
Have a big bowl of hot water handy. You’ll take your rice paper and immerse it in the water for a few seconds to get it flexible and then lay it flat. (You can see ours on the yellow plate.)
Line all of your fillings up along the bottom third of the rice paper. Load it up. My son went for all cucumber and carrot and, predictably turned up his nose at everything, even though he took the world’s smallest bite of a sprout. My daughter has a deep abiding love for all things soy so she filled hers with tofu and carrots. Mine was, by default, all of the leftovers. Then you roll it. Make sure you roll it tightly, grabbing the short end near where you lined your fillings up and tucking it tightly under. This is tricky because the rice paper wrap is so sticky but trust me, it makes all the difference. Then proceed to roll the rest up, folding over the ends.
You can make a peanut dipping sauce if you want to. My kids both looked at me like I was making a booger soup so I knew not to press the issue.
The rolls were a huge hit. The choose-your-own adventure format made it customizable enough that they were proud of their creations and ate them with great gusto. We all survived another mealtime- courtesy of Market on Kern fresh deliciousness.