My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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Awesome, Authentic, Vietnamese Egg Rolls!

Remember when I posted about my husband’s favorite childhood dish (here)?  Yes, it took me over 20 years to attempt that one, but this recipe, my mother-in-law’s egg roll recipe), I hopped on that one right away.  I first made it many years ago when we moved away from Maryland, and I was craving her egg rolls.  They really are the best egg rolls I’ve ever tasted.  She was kind enough to share her recipe with me.

 

Awesome egg rolls!

Awesome egg rolls!

 

While mine aren’t quite as good as her’s, they come pretty dang close.  The only problem is that I cannot seem to find the right egg roll wrappers.  The egg roll wrappers sold in the grocery store are more like a pasta than a flaky egg roll wrapper, so if any of my Vietnamese friends know which egg roll wrappers I should be buying, please let me know.  I went to 99 Ranch (here in LA) and thought I bought the right ones, but I didn’t.  I think if I found the right wrappers, these would be as good as John’s mother’s.

 

See how the wrappers are bubbly instead of flaky?  If you know the right kind of wrappers, I would love you forever if you'd tell me what kind I want, especially if you sent me a picture of them!

See how the wrappers are bubbly instead of flaky? If you know the right kind of wrappers, I would love you forever if you’d tell me what kind I want, especially if you sent me a picture of them!

 

The last time I made egg rolls, I made a couple of small changes, so this is not her original recipe.  I wanted my son, Michael, to actually eat them, and he doesn’t love vegetables, so I put fewer in.  He liked them, so I consider them a success.   And I’ll share that success with you right now.

 

Anna’s Vietnamese Egg Rolls

 

1 package egg roll wrappers

1 pound ground pork (not sausage), or use ground turkey or chicken

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc mam)

shredded cabbage and carrots (to taste – sometimes I use a coleslaw mix, without dressing, from the produce department)

Onion, dried or fresh (to taste)

bean thread noodles (to taste)

wood ear mushrooms (to taste)

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup water

Oil for frying

 

Before you begin making egg rolls, soak bean thread noodles and wood ear mushrooms (separately) in water until soft.  When ready,  mix egg and ground pork in a bowl.  Add salt, pepper, and fish sauce and stir well to incorporation.  Add cabbage, carrots, and onion and stir to combine.  Using kitchen shears, cut up softened wood ear mushrooms and stir into meat/vegetable mixture.  Then do the same with the bean thread noodles.

 

Mix flour and water together to form a “glue.”  Roll egg rolls and use the “glue” on the end of the wrapper to seal.  Preheat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, then cook the egg rolls for about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove from oil and place on paper towels.  Serve.

 

 

Here’s my photo step-by-step.

 

Ingredients assembled!

Ingredients assembled!

 

 

Softening the bean thread noodles and wood ear mushrooms.  I used a a couple tablespoons of dried wood ear mushrooms and one "bundle" of bean thread noodles.  Bean thread noodles usually come in a package with a few "bundles."

Softening the bean thread noodles and wood ear mushrooms. I used a a couple tablespoons of dried wood ear mushrooms and one “bundle” of bean thread noodles. Bean thread noodles usually come in a package with a few “bundles.”

 

I put the meat and the egg into a bowl and mixed them together.

I put the meat and the egg into a bowl and mixed them together.

 

Here it is.

Then I added the fish sauce (nuoc mam), salt and pepper and stirred to combine.  Please note that fish sauce is not the same as soy sauce.  They are not interchangeable.

 

Next, I added the shredded cabbage.  I usually add carrots, too, but my son asked me not to this time.  In general, I make the vegetables about 1/2 the mixture (in volume).  I did not this time, but I do like it better with more veggies.

Next, I added the shredded cabbage. I usually add carrots, too, but my son asked me not to this time. In general, I make the vegetables about 1/2 the mixture (in volume). I did not this time, but I do like it better with more veggies.

 

I pulled the wood ear mushrooms and bean thread noodles out of the water and set them on a paper towel to remove the excess water.

I pulled the wood ear mushrooms and bean thread noodles out of the water and set them on a paper towel to remove the excess water.

 

I used my kitchen shears to cut up the wood ear mushrooms.

I used my kitchen shears to cut up the wood ear mushrooms.

 

I realized that I forgot to add the dried onion, so I added it at the same time as the mushrooms.

I realized that I forgot to add the dried onion, so I added it at the same time as the mushrooms.

 

After mixing everything together, I was ready to proceed.

After mixing everything together, I was ready to proceed.

 

Using my kitchen scissors, I cut up the bean thread noodles.  You can use a knife, but scissors are so much easier!

Using my kitchen scissors, I cut up the bean thread noodles. You can use a knife, but scissors are so much easier!  Don’t skip the bean thread noodles.  They add a nice texture, but they also absorb the excess fat from the meat and prevent soggy egg rolls.

 

I mixed everything together and was ready to roll my egg rolls!

I mixed everything together and was ready to roll my egg rolls!

 

So, I set up my rolling station and mixed my "glue" mixture of flour and water.

So, I set up my rolling station and mixed my “glue” mixture of flour and water.

 

To roll an egg roll, I prefer to have the wrapper set on the diagonal.  Then I put the meat mixture a little below the center of the diamond.

To roll an egg roll, I prefer to have the wrapper set on the diagonal forming a diamond shape. Then I put the meat mixture a little below the center of the diamond.

 

I fold up the bottom corner and "tuck" it around the meat mixture to remove air holes.

I fold up the bottom corner and “tuck” it around the meat mixture to remove air holes.

 

I fold over one side...

I fold over one side…

 

Then the other.  Don't worry if it's not perfect.  Mine aren't.  See?  I tore the wrapper just a bit on the left hand side.  But that will be rolled inside and no one will ever know!

Then the other. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Mine aren’t. See? I tore the wrapper just a bit on the left hand side. But that will be rolled inside and no one will ever know!

 

I roll the egg roll like one would roll up a carpet or a towel.  Then I put a little bit of "glue" on the tip of the wrapper to form a good seal.

I roll the egg roll like one would roll up a carpet or a towel. Then I put a little bit of “glue” on the tip of the wrapper to form a good seal.

 

Then I finish rolling it up, and it looks beautiful!

Then I finish rolling it up, and it looks beautiful!

 

And here are the egg rolls, ready to fry.  I preheated my oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

And here are the egg rolls, ready to fry. I preheated my oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

When my oil reached the proper temperature, I placed the egg rolls gently into the oil using chop stick.  I like using chop sticks, because they are less likely to break the wrapper before it goes into the oil.  Please use whatever tool works best for you, but take care, because the oil is very hot!

When my oil reached the proper temperature, I placed the egg rolls gently into the oil using chop stick. I like using chop sticks, because they are less likely to break the wrapper before it goes into the oil. Please use whatever tool works best for you, but take care, because the oil is very hot!

 

After about 2 minutes, I turned the egg rolls over and continued cooking them.

After about 2 minutes, I turned the egg rolls over and continued cooking them.

 

 

When they were cooked through, I removed them from the oil to a paper towel lined plate to let them drain.

When they were cooked through, I removed them from the oil to a paper towel lined plate to let them drain.

 

Shortly thereafter, dinner was served! I had a lovely Kale salad with my egg roll. Dinner was so good!

Shortly thereafter, dinner was served! I had a lovely Kale salad with my egg roll. Dinner was so good!

 

 

You can make these super simple egg rolls, too. 

Simply select the meat you prefer, follow these simple instructions, and enjoy!

 

 


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Pork Chops Reborn or Vietnamese Pan Fried Pork Chops, Part Two

This is blog has a food storage emphasis, so why am I including so many recipes?  I never intended for this to be a recipe blog.  Yet, the more I post, the more I realize that cooking is an important part of food storage.  At least for me, learning to use my resources wisely is a key part of building and maintaining food storage.  Avoiding waste saves money which can be used elsewhere.  In my case, when I save money, I use the excess funds in my grocery budget to stock up on a food item, or I buy a gadget that will help me save money in the future (like my pressure canner, which I showed you here and here).

 

Yummy Pork Chops re-born as fried rice!

Yummy Pork Chops re-born as fried rice!

 

This recipe was born of my desire to use my resources wisely.  My boys love the pork chops pictured above, but they don’t like to eat them for more than one meal.  They do not “do” leftovers.  In exasperation one day, I threw them into fried rice and a tradition was born.  Pork chops one day; fried rice the next.  They like it so much that they request I make these knowing they get two great meals out of them.

 

If you want to make fried rice at home, you can use almost any leftover meat and/or veggies you want.  You can also cook fresh meat and veggies.  Just keep in mind that you will need to add more seasoning if your protein is not already seasoned.

 

Without further ado, here is my photo step-by-step.

 

I made jasmine rice in my rice cooker.

I made jasmine rice in my rice cooker.

 

Assembled the ingredients:  veggies, salt, soy sauce (I prefer La Choy), granulated onion, and pepper.

I assembled the ingredients: veggies, salt, soy sauce (I prefer La Choy), granulated onion, and pepper.

 

I usually use frozen broccoli florets, but I didn't have any today, so I used carrots (which I'm blanching in this pic)...

I usually use frozen broccoli florets, but I didn’t have any today, so I used carrots (which I’m blanching in this pic)…

 

And I used frozen peas.

And I used frozen peas.

 

I had 2 1/2 pork chops left, so I chopped them up.  And I was ready to start!

I had 2 1/2 pork chops left, so I chopped them up. And I was ready to begin!

 

I preheated some oil on the stove.  To keep the rice from sticking, you will need more oil than you're used to using.  Then, I added the pork to the pan and cooked it for a minute.  Next, I added the peas and let them heat through.

I preheated some oil on the stove over medium-high heat. To keep the rice from sticking, you will need more oil than you’re used to using. Then, I added the pork to the pan and cooked it for a minute. Next, I added the peas and let them heat through.

 

I added the drained, blanched carrots and let the ingredients cook for a minute or two.  I added salt (a few shakes of a shaker), some pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon), and several shakes of soy sauce.  This is a subjective thing.  Don't add too much now, because you will need to adjust the seasoning later.

I added the drained, blanched carrots and let the ingredients cook for a minute or two. I added salt (a few shakes of a shaker), some pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon), 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder, and several shakes of soy sauce. If I was using unseasoned meat, I would also add garlic salt.  This is a subjective thing. Don’t add too much now, because you will add more seasoning later.

Next, add the rice to the meat/veggie mixture. Stir gently to combine. Add more soy sauce, salt, and pepper, to taste.  Then create a well in the middle of the pan and add the eggs (well beaten).  Let the eggs cook for a minute or so, then begin to stir and incorporate the egg into the rice.  If it is not cooked all the way, don't worry.  Keep stirring with the heat on medium.  The egg will cook.

Next, add the rice to the meat/veggie mixture. Stir gently to combine. Add more soy sauce, onion powder, salt, and pepper, to taste. Once you’re happy with the seasoning, create a well in the middle of the pan by pushing the rice to the edges of the pan.  Add some well beaten eggs and let them cook for a minute or so.  Then begin to stir and incorporate the egg into the rice. If it is not cooked all the way, don’t worry. Keep stirring with the heat on medium. The egg will cook.

 

Next, add the rice to the meat/veggie mixture.  Stir gently to combine.  Add more soy sauce, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Stir the rice, so the egg is evenly distributed.  And when the egg is cooked, it’s ready to serve!

 

It's ready!  Enjoy!

Looks yummy, huh? Enjoy!

 

How do you re-purpose leftovers? 

What basic skills do you think are important in building and maintaining food storage?


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Vietnamese Pan Fried Pork Chops – Part One

One of my family’s favorite dishes is based on a recipe my hubby found in a Vietnamese cookbook we picked up at Costco many years ago.  You know it’s an authentic cookbook when it’s been translated to English after the initial publication.  I’ve adapted the recipe slightly and prepare it regularly, and, although I’ve never tried it, every one of my boys and my husband LOVE it!  Even my oldest son who doesn’t like at least half of my cooking.  (He hates Indian which is one of my favs!)

 

Yummy Pork Chops!

Yummy Pork Chops!

 

Why don’t I eat it?  I have some funny rules about food.  If something doesn’t appeal to me, and it’s not particularly healthy, I choose not to try it, because then there will be another food I want that I shouldn’t have.  Strange.  I know.  But we all have our little quirks, don’t we?

 

Okay, back to the pork chops.  I love these because we get several meals out of them:  dinner for the family, lunch for my hubby, leftovers re-made for dinner, and leftover lunch for my hubby.  It saves us a ton of money, but it doesn’t feel like saving, because everyone loves it so much.

 

Without further ado, here’s the recipe.

 

Pan-Fried Pork Chops

Adapted from a recipe in Vietnamese Cuisine by Muoi Thai Loangkote

 

4 pork chops (1 pound)

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I prefer La Choy)

1 tablespoon fish sauce (similar to soy sauce, but not interchangeable)

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

3 garlic cloves, mashed or put through garlic press

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (can substitute 1 tablespoon fresh coriander stem pieces)

 

Tenderize pork chops (or at 1/8 teaspoon baking soda to marinade).  Mix together all other ingredients.  Coat pork chops in marinade.  Let marinade for at least 1 hour if you have tenderized the chops.  If you have not tenderized the chops, let them marinade overnight.

 

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on high heat.  Cook pork chops until meat is cooked and golden brown (about 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness of chops).  Serve with rice.

 

 

As always, here’s my step-by-step picture tutorial.  (Keep in mind that I doubled the recipe.)

 

Pork chops - And I got them on sale!   SCORE!

Pork chops – And I got them on sale! SCORE!

 

I tenderized the chops with my handy, dandy, heavy-duty meat tenderizer.  You can see the edge of it in the top right hand corner.

I tenderized the chops with my handy, dandy, heavy-duty meat tenderizer.  You can see the edge of it in the top right hand corner.  Do you see how I cut the edges of the pork chops? This keeps the chops from curling while you cook them. You can also see that when I defrosted these in the microwave, they cooked just a tad bit around a couple of the edges.  No matter!  They will still taste great!

 

Here's the soy sauce, fish sauce, and garlic.

Here’s the soy sauce, fish sauce, and garlic.

 

I added the remaining ingredients (sugar, cornstarch, chili powder, and coriander) and whisked them together,

I added the remaining ingredients (sugar, cornstarch, chili powder, and coriander) and whisked them together.

 

Next, I dipped each pork chop into the marinade, making sure to get it on both sides.

Next, I dipped each pork chop into the marinade, making sure to get it on both sides.

 

I stacked them up in my Pyrex bowl, put the lid on, and stuck it in my fridge overnight.

I stacked them up in my Pyrex bowl, put the lid on, and stuck it in my fridge overnight.

 

Here they are the following afternoon.  They marinaded for almost 24 hours, but you don't have to let yours go that long.  I often will marinade these in the afternoon and pull them out of the fridge around dinner time.

Here they are the following afternoon. They marinaded for almost 24 hours, but you don’t have to let yours go that long. I often will marinade these in the afternoon and pull them out of the fridge around dinner time.

 

Next, I put oil into a frying pan and turned the heat on high.  In went the chops.

Next, I put oil into a frying pan and turned the heat on high. In went the chops.

 

See how they're turning a light pink around the edges?  That's how I know they're ready to cook on the other side.

See how they’re turning a light pink around the edges? That’s how I know they’re ready to cook on the other side.

 

And I flipped them over.  Don't they look yummy?

And I flipped them over. Don’t they look yummy?

 

Here's the second set of chops.  They look just as good as the first set.

Here’s the second set of chops. They look just as good as the first set.

 

And here they are!  I forgot to take a picture of the food before everyone started eating.  My son graciously agreed to let me take a picture of his dinner.

And here they are! I forgot to take a picture of the food before everyone started eating. My son graciously agreed to let me take a picture of his dinner.

 

And that’s it!  The most difficult part of this is tenderizing the pork chops.  The total prep time is maybe 10 minutes.   The cook time is less than 10 minutes for four chops.  I doubled the recipe, and they were done in less than 15 minutes.

 

Tomorrow, I will show you how I “re-made” these into a lovely dinner my children actually want to eat, despite the fact that they are leftovers.

 

What’s your favorite quick and hearty dish?  Can you “re-make” it so it doesn’t feel like you’re eating leftovers?