It’s Little Sister’s birthday today.
Here she is, gathering wood for our fire back in the olden days…
It’s also my Momma’s.
And here she is, when we were nothing but a twinkle in her eye…
They are two stubborn, competitive, well spoken and beautiful women who love to eat and who turn another year older today.
And I’m happy about that. Because without them my world would be missing the kind of tear-streaming laughter that only a momma and a sister can elicit.
We have a big party in the works for tomorrow to celebrate them properly. There will be sledding, there will be dips and chips and wine and cocktails and neighbors. And there will be cake. I will make it. It will be from scratch. And it will be chocolate.
I’m not going to make any promises about it being delicious, but that’s what I’m going to aim for.
Anyway, I’ll tell you one thing that all Veeder women have in common, when it comes to our birthdays we like to stretch the party out over a few days (or in my case, at least the entire month of August).
And so it began for Little Sister yesterday when she arrived at our place after work with a bag full of ingredients and a mission to teach Husband and I how to make egg rolls.
Now, Little Sister is notorious for calling me or Momma during an impromptu trip to the grocery store hundreds of miles away and demanding that, no matter where we are in the world, we retrieve from thin air that recipe she enjoyed so much once during her childhood…and then she proceeds to call us every ten minutes during the multiple hour process to walk her through it.
So when my dear, sweet, squishy cheeked Little Sister informed me that she was going to make us egg rolls I was excited and intrigued and knew it probably had something to do with the man in her life.
And now we introduce: The Boyfriend.
He’s a pretty good guy I tell you. Funny and patient and brought up by a family who makes cooking a competition.
Which is actually perfect because Little Sister happens to be competitive, and, well, if you turn cooking into a sport where beer drinking and eating is encouraged, I guess she can get right on board with that.
And so this is where the egg rolls come in, the whole process a tradition in The Boyfriend’s family complete with friendly rivalry and snide remarks about who makes the best roll.
I decided we needed aprons.
Husband decided to put on his hat, roll up his sleeves, turn on some Johnny Cash, pour himself some whiskey, and sharpen his knives for forty five minutes.
I decided to document.
And so I present to you a long overdue installment of “Cowboy in the Kitchen”…with a twist.
Cowboy’s Kitchen Invasion: Egg Rollin’ with Little Sister and The Boyfriend
I promise this is easy, no matter how complicated we make it look.
I promise I’ve never had 90% of these ingredients in my kitchen before.
I promise you I will now stock up.
I promise you’re gonna love them.
Let’s get, umm, rollin…
Step One: Essential Ingredients
Ok, first things first (because you know the rules). Pour yourself a drink while you sing along to “Ring of Fire,” because, well, this is Cowboy’s Kitchen.
Apparently when Little Sister cooks, she likes to drink out of giant mason jars. She doesn’t mess around people.
Now gather the ingredients.
- 2 lbs ground pork
- 2 packages cole slaw (you can also shred your own cabbage, but we figured this was homemade enough for Little Sister’s debut)
- 1 cup shredded carrots (not pictured)
- 12 oz package of tofu. Cowboys, don’t be scared, here’s what it looks like in case you’ve never seen it:
- 1/2 package cellophane noodles (we used Malifun Rice Sticks)
- 2 packages (30) egg roll skins
- 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
- 2 T seasoning salt (Lowry’s)
- 1 T ginger
- 3 T Chinese 5 Spice
- Dash of pepper to taste
- Sweet and Sour sauce for dipping
Step Two: Prep
Alrighty, got it all? Good. Now heat a good amount of oil up in a fryer, enough to get those egg rolls frying.
This is Cowboy’s favorite part. He loves his fryer. He guards it with his life and has given me specific directions not to touch it. Now that it’s out of storage, I have a feeling we’ll be having fried suppers for a good week or so. So much for New Year’s Resolutions.
Anyway, while the oil’s heating up, brown the pork in a pan on the stove. You can add a little salt and pepper here for taste if you’d like.
Now, soak those thin cellophane noodles in water (for about 10 to 15 minutes) to get them softened up.
If you feel like it, you can sing the old “Chicago” hit “Cellophane” in your best Broadway voice while waving your jazz hands about the kitchen. Your Little Sister will love that.
Step 3: Chop and Mix
Ok, now chop up those green onions. Don’t worry, Cowboy’s spent the last 20 minutes sharpening that knife so it should get the job done.
In a big mixing bowl add the coleslaw, carrots and onions and mix it all up.
Add the cooked (and drained) pork and the tofu. No need to cut up the tofu, it’s in this recipe to help the ingredients stick together.
Now add the seasoning and watch as Little Sister and The Boyfriend argue about the correct amount.
“If you screw something up, no big deal, it’s only like $12,” says the easy going boyfriend.
“Yeah, that’s what irks me. If we screw this up, we’re out $12!” exclaims the frugal little sister.
Silently hope the whole opposites attracting thing works out for them as you move onto my favorite part, cutting up the thin noodles with a kitchen scissors.
That’s Cowboy’s hopeful wondering face…
Add those noodles to the rest of the ingredients, mix it all up and get ready to roll!
Step 4: Roll ‘em up
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Time to roll ‘em.
- Grab yourself a small bowl of water and wet your counter before placing one egg roll skin flat and at an angle before you.
- Place about a 2 T of the egg roll mix at the center of one egg roll skin
- Fold the edge closest you you over the mix,
then fold in the left and right side of the skin
and roll it up in a nice and tight little wrap.
The egg roll skins should be flexible and easy to work with and when you wrap them up the corners should seal up really nice. To get this to happen, just keep your fingers wet and add water to the edges and seams of the egg roll wrapper.
Step 5: Fry ‘em
This is where egg roll making becomes a team sport, so put your differences aside and work together!
- Place the wrapped egg rolls on a cookie sheet and ask The Boyfriend to begin frying them up while you work on wrapping them. You don’t want the little guys to sit too long before you cook them because they dry up and get sticky.
- Cook each roll 3 or 4 at a time in the fryer (or in a deep frying pan with oil) for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and place on a plate and marvel at how much more delicious they look than those professional egg rolls you’ve seen at the bottom of your Chinese take-out when you used to live in town.
- Wonder how much it would cost to get Chicken Lo-Mein delivered to the ranch.
- Think maybe your life could be complete if someone would come over to show you how to make cream cheese and crab wontons to go with them.
Because this recipe makes a large batch, you can feed your guests as you go, or place them in a pan and keep them warm in the oven until supper time. You may also freeze them in plastic baggies and warm them up in the oven for another day.Or, if you’re The Boyfriend, you can sneak three or four in your girlfriend’s purse for lunch the next day.Step 5: Sit down and eat and tell the story about the cold winter day when Little Sister was born 24 years ago
Happy Birthday Little Sister and Momma!
Love you and love these egg rolls!
And you’re gonna love my cake.
See ya on the sledding hill tomorrow.