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Monday, March 28, 2011

If Martha made Vietnamese-- Bò Lá Lốt (Grilled Beef wrapped in Grape Leaves)

It's been a long time since I've added a recipe to If Martha made Vietnamese.  And truth be told, with Papa so busy these days, I've haven't been cooking fun stuff as often.  So I thought I'd resume with one of my very very favorites of all times!  Just the thought of this one makes my mouth water!
Way back when I was pregnant with Sunny, when I was in my 20's... back before the invention of the cell phone and the wheel and fire, we had a little Vietnamese restaurant down the street from our first tiny house.  This was well before adopting little ones from VietNam was even a possibility, actually it was even 10+ years before adopting anyone was even a thought!  Heck, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have even been able to point to VietNam on a map way back then!  Before I ever had phở or bò khoand before I even knew what a bánh mì was, there was bò lá lốt.  It opened up my taste buds to the world of Vietnamese cuisine.  And I've never been quite the same.  

Later, we when had moved away from our little house and the little Vietnamese restaurant down the street, when I was pregnant with Boo, I would crave bò lá lốt, and sweet Papa would drive 45 minutes one way, to get them for me. It's just that good.

It's taken me several attempts to get the recipe just right.  And truth be told, there are recipes all across the internet for bò lá lốt.  But I had trouble getting it right.  So here's a combination of several recipes that just seem to work for me.  
Bò means beef.  And lá lốt are the specific type of leaves that are used to wrap the beef for grilling.  Now, see here's the thing.  I tried lá lốt... a couple different times and a couple different types.  And as much as I'd like to think that I have an exotic pallet, I just can't "appreciate" the very unique flavors of lá lốt.  And you see, lá lốt can also be hard to find and expensive, so many recipes substitute grape leaves for lá lốt.  And BINGO!  My mouth watering little piece of heaven was back!
Ya ready???
1 lb ground beef
1/4 c minced shallot (ok to substitute onions)
2 T lemon grass- minced finely
1 t curry powder (optional)
2 t fish sauce
2 cloves garlic-minced finely
2 t oyster sauce (optional)
1 t sugar

1 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1 t corn starch
24-36 fresh grape leaves (or frozen or jarred)

Preparation Instructions---

Rinse fresh grape leaves and remove stems, or rinse jarred leaves.  Sweet Boo was my helper with this part.
Mix lemon grass, curry powder, scallions, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, salt and pepper, and corn starch.  Add ground beef and mix together well. 
Place leaf matte-side up.  

Shape approximately 1-2T of beef mixture into a sausage shape.  Place meat on center of top 1/3 of leaf.  
Fold top of leaf over meat and sides in towards the center.  
Roll up.
Place a wooden skewer through middle of wrapped beef, and when skewer has 4-5 rolls on it, put on foil lined baking sheet.  {or Silpat a remnant of when-the-economy-was-THAT-good days.}
Brush leaf-wrapped rolls with a bit of oil.
Broil in the oven, (I prefer this method of cooking, although there are many different ways to cook) about 4 minutes each side, until outsides are slightly shriveled and a bit charred on the outside.  (You can also grill or sautee, approximately 4 minutes each side, or until meat is cooked through.)
Transfer to a platter and serve warm with traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce, nước chấm, (super easy and fast to throw together!)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweet Liv

My sweet Livy
14 going on 35.  She came out of the womb 35.  Some souls are just like that.
We got our hair cut a couple days ago, and I heard her giving our stylist parenting advice... and she was dead on.

This is the child that used to be afraid of her own skin.  Now she's nearly fearless.
She's the one that demanded at age 3 to know where babies came from so she could assure herself that she would never get any.  Now she wants to adopt orphans.

After having 2 preemies in our family and spending time volunteering at the NICU, she's still committed to becoming a neo-natal intensive care nurse.  And I keep thinking, wow, what fortunate families and what fortunate babies.
Livy is the one who steps on my toes most often when I'm parenting.  Her feelings get hurt when I have to ask her to step back and please not parent the younger children.  She means well.

She's the one who is quickest to point out my faults... and again she's usually dead on.
She's faithful to a fault.

She's the one I butt head's with most often, but also the one I envision wiping spittle from the corner of my mouth when I'm no longer able to do it for myself.
She can dig her own hole faster than any other of my kiddos.

Lucky mama.
Thank you God for blessing me so and letting me be this child's mama.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Griffith Observatory

Y'all know that one of the primary objectives of this blog is to minimize my guilt for not scrap-booking in over 5 years, right?  'Cause the guilt that comes from not documenting our children's lives on archival papers, and not affixing various stickers, and not trimming with various edged scissors can be humongous!  You know what I mean?  The guilt is HUGE, and I totally missed out on the super-mom award.  And thus a blog was born!

So you are just gonna have to bare with me while a document the next installment of CraZy-family-does-SoCal.

This trip was all about budget.
Crashing at cousin Catie's
An afternoon at Venice
Lunch at Muscle Beach of sliders and French fries.........................$15
Fuel for a gas-guzzling SUV from AZ to CA and back...................let's just not talk about this part.
Griffith Observatory at sunset and looking at the skyline &
The skyline of Hollywood below.
Everyone was a little "sun kissed" from our time at Venice.
{I read an article about photography at night.  I'm so excited to get out there and try a couple new things! The photo above with the last part of the "telescope" sign was taken by Patch.  The photo below was my first "night" attempt with some new techniques.  Can't wait to try some more!}

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Venice & Muscle Beach

It's far too late for me to be up.  I'm finally getting an opportunity to sift through our vacation pictures.  
We spent our first beach day at Venice Beach.  I remember my parents bringing me here as a child.  I must have had eyes the size of saucers!  My littles stared wide-eyed at the "sights," and the street performers, and there certainly were many!

Then we spread our blanket and spent a few hours getting crispy in the sun and playing in the water.  It was a perfect day.  

The children must have come up to me more than 10 times and said thank you.  

Sunny is pretty sure she wants to live in Venice, CA... soon.  She was looking for apartments.  I explained the cost of living was very high... unlike her bedroom at home.  

It was really just a perfect wonderful day... the best!  
I really could not have had asked for it to go better.  
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