Archive | November, 2011

Lumpia anyone?

29 Nov

I have a confession to make:  I secretly wish I was part Filipino.

Fried lumpia

I grew up in Southern New Jersey, and in my old neighborhood my backyard connected to a Filipino family’s backyard.  I had the delight in partaking in traditional foods from the Phillipines as a very small child, until we moved when I was 13.  I have since lost touch with this dear family, but I’ve always felt a connection to those who shared that heritage.

A lot of my memories from childhood revolve around food, which won’t be a surprise to those that know me.  I love food!  I remember playing in my backyard and smelling the roasted meat smells from my neighbor’s wood fired grill.  She would prepare all sorts of goodies that I never had anywhere else and I never knew the names of any of them either.  The one that stood out to me was lumpia.  It was my favorite, and still is!  She would call me over, in her thick accent, and offer me one or two of these delightful meat-filled sticks.  I didn’t know how she made them but I was always so excited when she did!  I was always curious about how food was made, even when I was little and that curiosity has led me down the path I am on now.

Making lumpiaGround beef for lumpia

Ground beef, onions, garlic for lumpia

I can’t remember first name 😦 but her son Dennis was  dear friend of mine, he was still in diapers when we first started to play together.  When it is was time for his nap she would bundle him up in this cloth and rig it to the tree in their backyard and his mom would swing him in it until he fell asleep and he would nap, hanging from the tree.  It’s funny to think about now, but I didn’t think anything of it back then.

Making lumpia

I’ve only had lumpia a few times since becoming an adult. I remembering asking Dennis how to make them, though I never tried too. I came across a blog called Burnt Lumpia a while ago and I was inspired to finally give it a go! I’ve been experimenting with other cultures meat pies like, empanadas and pasties so I figured why not try lumpia next! I came across spring roll skins while at Whole Foods and bought them and I found out that they weren’t the ones I was supposed to use. I think they tasted really good though!

Soaking spring roll skin for lumpiaRolled lumpia, uncooked

Manipulating the skins took some practice, I snapped the first one trying to roll it because I didn’t realize that they needed to be wet before they could be rolled! Rolling them and getting them to stay was tricky but the rest was really easy.

Frying lumpia

I found a youtube video that shows you how to fry the lumpia and that really helped! The oil has to be hot and bubbly in order to cook them quickly. If the oil is not hot enough, then they get to saturated and oily.


I linked to the recipe above at the Burnt Lumpia blog. I only used onions and garlic when I made them. I don’t remember Dennis’ mom using carrots, potatoes, bean sprouts, and green beans. Other than that I stuck with the recipe. I used sustainable beef, no antibiotics and no gmos. I also used expeller pressed canola oil and all other ingredients were organic. Next time I will look for rice or wheat wrappers instead of rice skins…

Have you ever tried to make something that was out of your comfort zone? What do you remember from your childhood?


Canning Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

7 Nov

One thing I’ve been wanting to learn is canning.  My dad has tons of stories about his mom, my grandma, canning all types of things when he was a kid.  He grew up in the deep woods of the South, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Bassett, Virginia.   He has those stories of walking miles to school, in the snow, uphill both ways, fighting off snakes, etc…classic!  Anyway, they didn’t have electricity back then, nor indoor plumbing…which means they used an outhouse even in the dead of winter.  My grandma canned everything that could be canned.   Unfortunately, I never learned the art of canning because we had electricity and refrigerators when I was a kid, back in the 80’s.   My mother tried to learn some of the deep south cooking techniques and she made pickled peaches and strawberry jam, but canning was never necessary so she didn’t do it often.  My mom still makes pickled peaches though, but she doesn’t can them, they are stored in the fridge and are eaten very quickly by my dad and my husband!

In my desire to learn how to do everything from scratch and to store large quantities of food, canning is next on my to-do list.  I was offered the opportunity to join a MOPS group, courtesy of my friend Suzanne, when they did a canning lesson on spicy pepper jelly.  I jumped at the chance and I also was able to talk to the moms about choosing organic, buying fair trade, and how to avoid gmo’s.

Homemade Spicy Pepper Jelly

I don’t have the recipe that we used, but here is a link to another recipe for spicy pepper jelly, I haven’t tried this recipe and it is spicier than the one we made and it is paired with lamb, yum!

Here are instructions on canning pepper jelly.  We used red peppers and Jalepeno peppers when we made this.  Make sure you use fair trade cane sugar in your recipe so you know that you are supporting farmers and farm workers!

Pepper Jelly tastes really good!  I enjoyed it with organic cream cheese and organic wheat crackers…mmm!  Let me know of your experiences with canning or any funny memories from your parents!