When you’re in your 20s, you feel like you need to have goals and that there are so many other things you should be doing. But the more I’ve grown my business and my career, the more I’ve come to believe that goals aren’t always helpful—at least not for me. Instead of trying to plot out specifically where I want to go, I’ve always just done the best job I can on what’s in front of me and let the universe reveal itself. – Ina Garten
When I read this interview with Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, aka one of my personal heroes (thanks Laura!) I literally yelled “YES!” out loud. Ina’s reflections on her successes in her career spoke to me in a very real way. I’m so tired of reading think pieces about how the most successful people are goal oriented – they have a 10 year plan, a 5 year plan, heck, they have a plan for next month! The problem is, I’m so focused on trying to figure out what that next step should be, I’m starting to lose track of the right now. And as Ina so wisely notes, if you’re so goal-oriented, constantly striving towards a specific end game, “you keep yourself from really interesting sidetracks.” So instead of setting too many personal and professional goals, I’m trying to configure myself to just be more present and open, and simply letting myself naturally move in the way of happiness, pleasure, beauty, and that which inspires and challenges me.
The whole ‘being present’ thing is actually one of the reasons I love making summer rolls/fresh rolls. I find the process of delicately dipping the rice paper in water, layering all the toppings one by one, rolling up the little package, and repeat, extremely meditative. It feels very ‘in the moment’, but in a straight forward, not overly fussy way I think Ina would appreciate. How easy is that?
Vegetable summer rolls & peanut dipping sauce
Makes 12 full rolls, a good size appetizer for 6 people. Note: the amazing thing about summer rolls is you can fill them with anything! To make these more of a meal, add some shrimp or tofu. If you’re taking these to a party, I recommend wrapping the rolls in damp paper towel, and slicing them on site.
Cooking soundtrack: Basia Bulat – Good Advice
- 12 rice papers (available in the “Asian” aisle at most grocery stores)
- 12 lettuce leaves (I used a local hydroponic boston lettuce)
- half of an english cucumber, julienned
- 3 carrots, julienned
- 1 red/orange/yellow pepper, julienned
- handful of mint, chopped finely
- handful of basil leaves, torn off their stems but kept whole
- 4 green onions, the dark green and light green part thinly sliced
peanut dipping sauce
(barely adapted from Sprouted Kitchen’s first cookbook, one of my all time favourites!)
- 1/3 cup smooth natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons agave or honey
- the juice of a lime
- 2-3 teaspoons of Sriracha
- Chop and prepare all your fillings and lay them out on the table next to you. Lie a damp dishtowel on the table – this is where you’ll build the rolls.
- Fill a large bowl with warm tap water. Dip the rice paper into the water. Leave in the water for 30 seconds, or until it’s completely soft and pliable.
- Add the fillings: start with the lettuce, then the basil leaves, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers, laying each in the centre of the circle, with some space on each side. Sprinkle some green onions and mint. Roll it like a burrito, folding over one side, left to right, then folding the top and bottom, then continuing to roll until its sealed.
- Set the finished roll to the side on the damp dishtowel, or on a plate, and repeat.
- Make the dipping sauce: whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Add some warm water, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the consistency you prefer (I like it thick but runny).
- Slice the rolls in half, and serve!