Thursday, November 29, 2007

My November 2007 Reading List

I love to read! I've read a few good ones this past month that I thought I would mention:

1. George Mueller: Guardian to Bristol's Orphans
George Mueller is always an encouragement. His life of faith just blows me away, as does the legacy he has left. I've been reading this out loud to the kids.

2. Ich bin ihm begegnet by Hans-Joachim and Ruth Heil
I am so sorry that this one is in German and not English (I read at least a few books a year in German, in addition to my German Bible, to keep my German up). It is an excellent book written by the parents of 11 children, living in Germany, including stories about their life, their walk of faith, and encountering God in the every day. The stories of God's provision and protection always leave me encouraged, and Ruth Heil's humor makes me smile. Reading the book makes me feel as though we are two friends sitting together talking over coffee. If only it were in English so I could share it with others outside of my limited German-speaking acquaintances! I've thought about looking into translating and publishing it, if only that wasn't so expensive.;)

3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
One of my favorites in the Chronicles of Narnia, especially because you just love to hate Eustace Scrubb. We also read this one aloud.

4. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
I love Jack London. His books make me want to buy a dog sled and take a long vacation. LOL

5. What Smart Students Know by Adam Robinson
this was a recommendation by my Librarian. I had asked her if she knew of any good resources to help my children learn to take notes. That has been a goal this school year--better note taking/study skills. I take notes without even thinking--it's just something my hand does whenever I am sitting in a lecture, church service, or whatever. I couldn't figure out how to teach that skill because I myself am unsure of how it is that *I* do it! LOL This book, thus far, has enabled me to have a greater understanding of the steps. It makes me smile, as much of this stuff I do automatically anyway, but it is helpful not because it is a "new thing" but because it completely explains HOW and WHY not just WHAT.

6. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
I'm rereading this one. I find it to be highly practical and very useful, even for a stay at home mom (most of his examples are however related to the workforce/business). The habits can be applied no matter your every day setting. Years ago, as a new mom, I found the book helped me to focus myself during the day, and get more done without neglecting that which was most important (the Lord, my hubby, and my children). The habit relating to acting and not reaction was especially important to me.

7. Cartooning by Polly Keener
this one is not so much about drawing cartoons as it is about being a cartoonist and writing for cartoons and developing ideas. My version of it (purchased when still in college!) talks about how some radicals are even using computers to make some "computer art" it's a little dated. But, I wanted to review some things as I prepare to teach part two of my co-op class next semester, on Cartoon Creations 2: Writing for Cartoons. And, one of these days I am going to start uploading some semi-regular cartoons for the blog. I've been drawing a cartoon strip called Joyful Momma, but it is still in the beginning stages.

Chess Resources for all

As I have stated in the past, I teach a class at our homeschool co-op called "Adventures in Chess" in which we explore chess at the novice level. I have about 10 kids in my class, and everyone is learning really fast. :-) Im always on the lookout for some good chess teaching resources, though Ive made some on my computer in the past when I couldnt find anything. I just found a neat resource, full of chess worksheets, on a website called You can find the worksheets at (slash) instructional (sorry, for some reason my keyboard is also malfunctioning, not allowing me to do apostrophes or slashes LOL).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Homemade Granola

I love homemade granola!! The best part about it is that you can make it with pretty much any ingredients you want to. It's one of those foods you can personalize to your tastes, and based on what you have on hand.

After my trip up to Country View, I assembled some dry ingredients. For every 10 cups of dry ingredients, you will need 1 cup (approx.) of wet ingredients, including some oil. I use a mild vegetable oil or coconut oil.

For dry ingredients, you can use oats, rolled wheat, rolled barley, some wheat flour, coconut, nuts, nut meal, and so forth, as you see here. I've also made it with just oats, though we definitely like coconut in it. Don't add any dried fruits until it is done roasting, and has cooled.

Mix those together well in a large bowl:

Pour on your wet ingredients (in my case, that included molasses, oil, and honey), then put a thin (1" or so) layer in a lightly greased pan.

Roast your granola until it is dry-ish in a low oven (about 250F). Because it will be hot, it may still feel moist, but it should be toasty brown, and feel drier than it was when you put it in. :-). Stir it every few minutes, to keep from burning. Towards the end, it helps to prop open the oven door to let moisture escape.

If you do burn some as I just did (oops), just pick out the burned parts. Unless it was completely scorched, it should be fine.

Once your granola has cooled off completely, put it into a container for storage, and mix your dried fruits into it then. :-) I use large bakery buckets like this one, and for short term storage, I have a smaller screw-top lid container which I refill as needed.

You can then stir in any dried fruits, like these bananas!

Lucia Buns for Breakfast in Bed

My middle child is a whopping 11 today! whenever there is a birthday, that means breakfast in bed for the birthday child (or parent!).

I'm not sure how we started this little tradition or how it came to be the breakfast in bed is usually Lucia Buns, but somehow we've been doing this most of the years we've been in this house (about 9 years now).

I make the Lucia Buns, which are a Swedish sweet roll, the night before, since it is a yeast bread, and I am not waking up to bake LOL. Because my mom is coming over this afternoon, and we have a fellowship tonight, I made a double batch of them.

I started with warm milk, and I dissolved the yeast into it.

While the yeast was dissolving, I pulverized some Saffron and a small amount of sugar together. I have a mortar and pestle (gotta love garage sales!!!!!) but you can also use a flat bottomed mug in a bowl. Saffron looks like little dark orange hairs, in a small, square, plastic box. You only need a pinch of them. When shopping for saffron, you can usually find it on a card and hanging up along the aisle where the spices are.

I dump the sugar and saffron mixture into the yeast and milk mix and stir.

Next, I start adding more and more flour, as well as melted butter, to make a bread-like dough, which I then knead well on a floured board.

Let it rise about 45 minutes, then punch down and shape into "s" shapes (or any other shape you want.)

I start by grabbing some of the dough, and forming a rope

I roll out the rope until it is as wide as the surface I'm working on (about 2.5 feet),

Then I cut it in half

and cut the pieces in half again.

Next, taking one of those pieces, I roll it out and then coil up the one side half way

And then the other. They will look like the letter "s" or like sea horses (According to my daughter).

Place them on a baking sheet or stone, and let them rise about 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 350F and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Powder with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Merry Tossmas!

Merry Tossmas? Yes indeed.

Watch the video below from Focus on the Family's Citizenlink to find out more. It gave me a smile. ;)

Watch the video "Merry Tossmas"


Monday, November 26, 2007

Daughter's comment on Large Families

My daughter was reading over my shoulder and saw a recent post where I used the phrase "large families". She said,

BUT MOM, we aren't a large family! We ONLY have five kids!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bulk Food Shopping 101

This week Saturday, I went to my bulk food store, and got some great deals, including this amazing box of apples for just $5. They are red delicious, emphasis on the DELICIOUS.

Someone emailed me recently with a question about bulk shopping, and I guessed it would be useful to post my response to her here:

Pardon my stupidity, but what's a bulk food store? Not like Sam's Club obviously because nothing is that cheap there. Where do you find something
like that?!

Well, I found ours through some other home schoolers in our area who were
always talking about it. I actually had to be led to it, as it is located
inside of what appears to be a private farm at first glance, and it is down
a few dirt roads in the middle of nowhere. They now have a sign, but you still feel almost like you are going on private property until you get closer. It is 45 minutes' drive, but we only
go every other month or more. The prices make it worth my while, even with
$4 a gallon gas.

This particular store is owned and operated by a Mennonite family, and it is
located in one of the pole barns on their farm. When I lived in the city,
there was another similar store located in one of the out-buildings of a
large Seventh Day Adventist church. This Mennonite Run store (called
Country View Bulk Foods, and located in Snover, Michigan, north of Marlette
off of M-46 for any of you Michganders out there--I can give you more
specific info if you need it!) buys local vegetables and fruits, most of it
is seasonal (In other words, you don't always find bushels of apples sitting outside), and most of the dry goods are packaged in smaller bags, by weight. I ask for larger bags. Since I am driving almost an hour, I am not going to buy a wee
bag of wheat--I'm going for the big one (50 pounds for just $18.25, or $0.37 per pound).

I also annually buy 100 pounds of Oatmeal (for $9.00) ,and that lasts me the year (usually). They special order 50 pound bags of Rye Berries for me too upon request. The spices though---good golly, it's so cheap! :-)) I especially love the idea of buying mostly locally grown fruits and veggies, and local milk, eggs, and cheese.

You can also start a bulk foods coop by looking up the different places that
sell whole grains, flours, and so forth in bulk (the name escapes me right
now of the main company--but I know you can buy wheat directly from Wheat Montana, for example). Co-ops I've belonged to had everyone place an order with the main
person in charge, that way they made the minimum amount the company required
(I think it was $200-300 in goods??) and they shipped it to the house of the
main person in charge in a large 18 wheeler!

With some co-ops, everyone gets together to package things up into smaller packs (for example, if 5 families
went in on a 50 pound bag of wheat berries--they would work together
packaging it into smaller amounts). Sometimes other co-ops, like the one I
belonged to in college, have a small storefront too that is open to the
public, though members get the best prices.

If you google your city (or the largest city near you) and the words "Bulk
Food Co-op" or "Bulk Foods Stores" you may find something there.

When I went to college in Marquette, Michigan, we had two bulk food natural
foods stores that were small, on either side of town. They bagged up the
brown rice and wheat and all of that in individually packaged smaller bags,
but you could also buy them in the huge bags as they came at the store
(because this was a smaller store, they wanted you to give them notice if
you wanted a huge bag, and as I was just a college student, that was unneeded). For the one, it was a bulk foods co-op, and each
person who joined (for an annual fee of something like $25), also had to
work a little bit each month, either packaging the foods, or helping unload
the truck, or working in the store. The store was open to the public, but
had a markup of 40% (typical retail), which co-op members did not have to
pay, just by showing their cards. The store was located in a building that
one of the members owned, and it was just a small wee office, with so many
shelves you could hardly walk. It was a good thing for me, a poor college
student who was a vegetarian at the time. For just a few hours of work
each month, and $25 a year, I got rice for 30 cents a pound. Local
farmers and gardeners in the Marquette area also sold their goods via the co-op,
and so we got farm fresh eggs and things like that too.

The sad part is that because these little gems are usually family run, and not big conglomerates, it is very much dependant on the area in which you live. Also, most low-cost bulk food places don't pay for advertising, or for the best storefronts, because people usually go out of their way to find them, therefore you need to do some hard looking. They won't be found at the local mall or shopping center! Ask others around you, especially anyone with a large family who is on a tight budget. Most Seasoned Moms of Many in your area, unless they are unusually wealthy, have the bead on the good deals in town.

Homemade Advent Calendars for Large Families!

Well, it's that time of year again. We are getting our Christmas decor up and out. I am not sure why we seem to do it right after Thanksgiving now, other than the kids deciding that it is better to have the Advent Calendar start the weekend of Thanksgiving.

Unlike small, flat advent calendars which one finds at a store, with one little piece of chocolate behind the numbered doors, our advent calendar is designed for a family of seven :-). I begin by finding items to put in it: usually small items such as little craft kits (like what you may find at Oriental Trading), as well as sweets. This year we also added a small box of colored pencils for each child, which I picked up for just a quarter a piece at a sale this summer. I also found some nice little pencil boxes, and erasers. My kids are all into drawing so these things are always in demand!

Next, I grabbed 30 paper lunch sacks (it used to be 25 when we started, as normal people do, on the first of December!), and numbered them 1-30, and set them out, open, on the dining room table.

I filled each one with five items for the day, such as five pencils, five craft kits, or five little chocolates.

Next, I folded down the tops of the bags, and punched two holes in the top:

Next, I put about 8 inches of string into the holes, with the loose string hanging out of the back side. You can also use some nicer ribbon, or anything of that sort. This year things are a little tight ;) so the twine I found on my dh's work bench is going to suffice.

Next, I need a place to hang them. We are blessed with this gorgeous oak staircase in our of the features that made me want the house in the first place (and cause me to totally miss the other problems with it LOL). I think the old farmer who built the house carved some of it by hand! Anyway, we wrap our bannisters with garland, and tie the bags on the bannisters/garlands from 30 at the top, down to 1 at the bottom.

Each day, the kids open one of the bags, counting down for Christmas. Usually we do Christmas-related memory verses from my Advent Devotional too.

Grain Mills?

On Friday, I posted about my fresh ground Rye bread that I made for Thanksgiving, and Deb had this question:

I very much want a grain mill. My friends all think that I am strange. I am so glad to find someone who uses a grain mill. Does the bread really have a different taste?

I think so! I would have never guessed it years ago, but then I was at a friends house for a weekend, and she had fresh ground wheat bread. I was amazed at the flavor. I guess we just don't realize just how rancid the oils in the flour get when you buy it pre-ground. If it sits too long it gets an off flavor, which is what most people don't like about wheat bread.

White flour was originally marketed because whole grain flour, with the germ and the bran, didn't stay fresh for long, and also for cosmetic reasons. Back then, people didn't realize that just because the fiber/bran was indigestable didn't mean that it wasn't important. We now know that the bran/fiber cleans out the instestines. The germ seemed to cause the flour to get an "off" taste after a few days or weeks of being ground. That is because all of the oils in the kernels are found in the germ of the grain, and it is full of vitamin E and other vitamins. Later, makers of flour created "enriched" flour, with vitamins artifically put back into the flour to correct some of the health issues that seemed to appear after white flour became predominant. Those oils are best when fresh, but old oil tastes pretty yucky.

I tend to see the kernel of wheat as another sign of God's perfect balance in the foods He has provided--lots of fiber, natural oils with the vitamins which those oils help our body to absorb better, and of course the starch portion of the kernel, all working together. When the Bible speaks of our daily bread, they don't mean Wonderbread ;), but rather bread that was made of fresh ingredients, and made fresh daily or nearly daily. If you had bread in Bible times, you had enough. That's why it is so profound for Jesus to declare Himself the BREAD of LIFE...He is enough for daily sustenance!

I can't even describe to you the difference in flavor between a loaf of bread made with store bought flour, vs. a loaf of bread made with fresh ground wheat (especially the Prairie Gold White Wheat, from Wheat Montana). It is sweeter, with a mild, pleasant flavor. I buy my wheat from a bulk food store near us called Country View Bulk Foods. Just yesterday, I bought 50# of wheat for $18.25. That's just $0.37 per pound!

I guess the real proof is the fact that my husband likes it. No, prefers it!
With Rye, I don't see that big of a difference, though I like to grind the rye with the caraway seeds for added flavor. But maybe I don't notice the taste because when I make Rye bread, I usually add flavorings like Caraway, dried minced onions, and dried minced garlic, whereas the wheat bread I prefer sweeter, with honey.

I also think it is easier to work with the flour. Other friends have said the same thing, though most of what I've read about it says it shouldn't make a difference. When I knead the different kinds of bread, fresh ground flour just seems to respond differently to kneading. I find it becomes more elastic with less effort. Understanding the whole science of bread making, I know that the freshness of the flour shouldn't make a difference (it is the gluten, or protein, in the flour that makes bread become elastic through kneading), but it does. Obviously Prairie Gold works best because it is 18% protein (very high gluten), but I notice this in any fresh flour, including the rye.

For the record, though, I do still use white flour somewhat...mostly I like wheat when I make cookies, or when I do different kinds of baking, but white seems to work better for birthday cakes for example, and for biscuits, and that sort of thing. I even make white bread sometimes, or use white flour for pizza, pancakes, French Bread, and so forth...though I've used wheat too.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fresh Ground Rye Bread

We love Rye Bread.

A few years ago, my husband got me a Whisper Mill for Christmas, and that in it self was a miracle. My husband would normally look at me strangely when I requested a grain mill, and so I did my best to get one at a discount. I got my first grain mill about 8 years ago at a discount at the local health food store, by asking them to let me know when they were putting their demo model in the store up for sale.I got it for under the price of a hand crank one. It was loud, it took forever, but it worked, and it was purchasable with garage sale money. Fast forward several years, and my dh is now hooked on fresh ground wheat and rye bread...and so when the grain mill began to act up, he felt panicked about losing out on fresh ground bread...and found one of my catalogues and bought me a WhisperMill that they had on sale. woo hoo. The key, girls, is to get your man addicted first.

So, I have learned to make all varieties of bread with fresh ground grains.We love fresh rye too. I buy that, as I do my wheat, in 50 lb bags at Country View Bulk Foods in Snover, Michigan, for quite a deal, and I store it in Bakery Buckets (aka "Cannister Sets for Large Families").

In keeping with the theme of "what else can I bake to warm the house up until the Consumers Energy Guy fixes my furnace" I made a few loaves of fresh Rye Bread too. mmm mmm

I began by grinding about 8 cups of rye berries with 2T of caraway seeds thrown in for flavor, and mixing in about 1/3cup of vital gluten into the flour (rye is low in gluten). I also made 4 cups of warm water, with 1 T of yeast mixed well into it. I added 3 cups of flour to this and let it sponge for about 30 minutes while I made my tiramisu (see below).

Next, I mixed in enough flour/gluten mix to form a workable dough, as well as 1/3 c. of oil, and 2T of honey. I also mixed in 2T of onion flakes, and 1t of dried minced garlic for flavor. This is optional but I like the flavor it gives the bread.

I turned the dough out onto a floured board, and kneaded it for about 10 minutes. Because Rye is not high in gluten, it is important to knead it super long to get good gluten formation (even with added gluten). It will still be pretty stiff and dense when you're done.

I let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours sitting over the pilot light of the stove.

I formed two loaves, and slashed the tops for decoration and to help it rise without breaking the loaf apart. I let these rise for about another hour. With rye, all of this rising helps improve the flavor to a more sourdough flavor.

I baked it for about 45 minutes. The following day (Thanksgiving) I sliced it thinly and served at the table.

Tiramisu--my fave Italian Dessert

Tiramisu is one of those dishes that brings with it some sort of memory for me. I think it is funny how sometimes a taste of something can transport one through time and space and suddenly you remember a whole day's worth of memories that surround that simple bite.

Before I became a joyful momma, and before I was ever married, I embarked on the great adventure, post-college, of travelling the world. I only got as far as Europe and parts of North Africa and the Middle East, instead of circumnavigating the globe, but that is because in Prague, Czech Republic, the Lord Jesus Christ found me and filled my heart with such satisfaction in my, my wanderlust was cooled off. I remained in Austria, working as an Au Pair, and later getting a post in a Konditorei (coffee house) where I learned the fine art of being a Barista (someone who operates an Italian Style Espresso Machine), and how to make some coffee house specialties, including Tiramisu.

The first time I had Tiramisu, I was in northern Italy, and had just renewed an impromptu friendship with an Italian Christian named Luka, who I had met earlier in my travels. Anyway, we went to a coffee house, and as usual, the pastry waitress came around with a try full of goodies, and Luka grabbed the plate of Tiramisu, and said, "OH, Kimberly, you MUST try this!" The first bite was not what I was expecting--it was a little bit bitter. But by the third bite I was reminded why I prefer European Desserts--they have far less sugar than what we as Americans are used to, but usually the flavor is far more intense.You aren't just eating sugar flavored like something else--the sugar is not the main flavor.

Tiramisu, when I make it back home, is usually a little bit sweeter only because I have had people stop at the first bite and not eat any I sweeten it slightly more but I still use the cream cheese, the unsweetened whipping cream, and the unsweetened baker's cocoa powder, and of course some strong espresso. I leave out that other flavoring Europeans seem to use in most baked goods (Rum) because this is not baked and therefore it doesn't cook off. It takes fine without it.

I change two more ingredients slightly. Normally Marscapone cheese is used, but that is hard to find here, and when I find it, it's usually expensive. Instead, I blend 1 pint of whipping cream with 8 oz of softened cream cheese to the same effect. Note, I said whippING cream not whippED cream. there's a difference. WhippED is on the left, whippING is on the right. :-)

Secondly, instead of using "Ladyfingers" cookies, I find that vanilla wafers are basically the same thing (different shape) and much less expensive ($1 a box, vs. $3.69 for a small package). Because the cookies will be dipped in Espresso, and will fall apart anyway, the shape, I feel, is irrelevant.

Begin by not only softening your cream cheese, but also brewing about 3-4 cups of espresso or other strong coffee. Don't use instant as the flavor doesn't come out right. Let the coffee cool to the point where you can put your hand in it without burns ;).

Beat the cream cheese until it is fluffy, and add about 1/2c. of powdered sugar (optional). Beat some more, and slowly add whipping cream while beating, until you have soft peaks. A friend of mine said to note that she uses Cheese cake instant pudding instead, and thinks it also works (this is quite a bit sweeter though).

Take a baking pan (glass works well), and carefully dip, one at a time, the vanilla wafers into the Espresso, and then line the baking dish with them. They will stay hard long enough for you to move them around, but work fast anyway.

Next, take your cream-cheese mixture, and spread a layer over the top of the cookies carefully, about 1/2 inch.

Take your powedered baking cocoa, and spread it with a sieve or shaker evenly over the cream cheese mixture.

Repeat the process for a few more layers, until you run out of cream cheese mix (number of layers depends on how big of a pan you are using).

Refrigerate overnight or for several hours. The dessert will firm up by then. Serve with coffee.

Gingerbread Houses

This year, we not only made gingerbread men (and women) as I noted in a previous post, but we also made some gingerbread houses. Normally I don't do quite so much baking but the furnace was broken again (it needed a new circuit board) and the we were waiting on the right part. Actually our repair person ordered the part only to have it shipped wrong a few times now. They finally came on Wednesday. In the meanwhile, I was baking my little heart out to warm up the house, and thanking God for good friends who graciously lent space heaters.

This summer while garage saling, I found this cool little gem: A pampered chef stoneware gingerbread house mold.

I've made gingerbread houses without one too--just cut your dough to the right size, bake on parchment paper, and trim it so the sides are square--but this made it that much easier. Usually I'd wind up with sides that didn't match up the other way. Just following my previously given Gingerbread recipe!

I baked these on Monday (all day monday, to be exact). I made enough to make 5 gingerbread houses. I just let them sit on racks and cool until Tuesday, when I began to make the icing cement.

The icing cement is made by first frothing up 2 egg whites, 1/8tsp of Cream of Tartar (available in the spice section), and 2T of water. There's another recipe I've seen that uses Meringue powder, if you are overly concerned about raw egg whites. I've not had it dry as hard, though.

Next, I added 3C. of powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and blended it on high for five minutes. I actually set a timer to make sure I did it long enough. You want the icing to be stiff.

I filled my pastry bag with frosting, and began to pipe on a Right Angle onto my plate.

I also piped the sides of my pieces where the sides would meet, with a little help from my daughter, Esther.

I gently stood up one front, and one side, and then did the other front and side, while piping on another right angle.

The roof is the trickiest. Be GENEROUS with the icing cement. Pipe it all around the top edges of the sides and front/back of the house. Then I placed one side, then the other onto the house, and piped another generous glob of icing in between the two roof parts.

These I let set overnight, as the icing cement, as the name implies, dries nice and hard, into something that my son observed looks and feels like bathroom caulk. And yet, it's edible!!!

the next day, knowing that Gingerbread is made to be shared :-)), we invited over our neighbors to help us decorate. We had my mother in law's leftover halloween candy, and some candy I got from the store that was on clearance following last month's holiday. Gummy bears, by far, are the easiest to work with as is "gummi-anything".

I made up some more of the Icing Cement, and gave each child group a small bowl of it...and from there we dipped the candy into the icing and onto the gingerbread houses. We went sort of freestyle with it ;).

Someone I know told me they usually thinly slice half-frozen 3 Muskateer bars using a mandoline slicer to make shingles. We didn't get quite so fancy. We had, as you can see, candy corn, gum drops, and gummy bears, and some banana runts, sweet tarts, and someone ate the licorice. LOL

We each took a Gingerbread house, and we are giving the other three to the pastors at our church.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Better than Takeout 2: Homemade Egg Rolls

Continuing on with our "better than takeout" theme, I made some homemake eggrolls. Now ,before I give you the instructions, I need to say that my kids previously hated egg rolls and though they were gross. My husband loved them, and used to complain if I made stir fry with no egg rolls accompaning it, so I learned how to do this. After learning, though, our family decided that egg rolls are actually quite yummy, and and make a great meal unto themselves.

Because they are deep fried, we don't do this too often. My husband wouldn't mind, but for the sake of his heart health and my ever-shrinking waistline, I am insisting. ;)

I've tried baking them but they are so dry they are inedible (in my opinion anyway). If the oil is hot enough, they do not absorb as much oil, but this is definately not a lo fat dish.

Another note on ingredients: it can be whatever you want. I use just regular old cabbage, a carrot or two, and some onions, along with some leftover meat. You can also add some "worms" (my daughter's word for mung bean sprouts), and whatever else. This is great for leftover meat...especially I dare say, leftover Thanksgiving Turkey. Much more creative than turkey sandwiches ;). The egg roll wrappers are usually in the refridgerated produce section, near the tofu, organic veggies, and strange vegetables, and is usually less than $2 for 20-25 wraps (they are packaged by weight). Often I get it for 99 cents.

Start by cooking your meat if you haven't already, and then shredding it up. You need about 1-2 chicken breasts or whatever you have on hand. This is more art than science. Use what you have.

Finely chop or shred 1 small head of cabbage, 1-2 onions, and 1 carrot. Heat a wok with some sesame oil mingled with olive oil (about 2T total). The sesame oil provides flavor.

Mix in some fresh grated ginger (or dry ginger)--about 1t or so, and add 1/4t of Chinese Five Spices. Mix in your vegetables and the shredded meat. Stir fry to "wilt" the vegetables. It should reduce in size by half or more. Pour 1/4c. of rice vinegar over the vegetables, turn it off, and let it cool.

Prepare your workspace:

Plug in/warm up the deep fryer (or set a dutch oven on the stove with a good thermometer, and let it heat to 360F), and have a dry area for rolling your egg rolls. I usually put a little bit of corn starch down to keep them from sticking (and thus tearing).

Lay your wraps down in a diamond shape.

Add about 2-4T of mixture to the middle, towards the bottom corner

fold up the bottom corner over the mix, and start to roll.

Tuck in the side corners as you go past them.

Wet the top corner and sides by dipping your finger (or a brush--but finger is faster) in water, and rubbing it along the edge, as we did with the wontons.

Pull that corner up and over, and press to seal.

Set aside, and repeat. When you reach your target temp, fry them 3-4 at a time. Even if you can fit more in, don't. It will lower the oil temperature and make them cook improperly. Fry for about 3 minutes, then flip over, and fry for 3-5 more minutes. They should be golden brown.

Lightly salt them after you pull them out, and set them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain off the grease.

Serve with Plum Duck Sauce. this is my own homemade sauce, which I can myself. I'll post the recipe another time. I need to make some new sauce soon, so I'll be sure to document it for the blog! :-)