Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kaput! A Study in Sloth

I am sitting here writing this post wearing a black veil. Yes, gentle readers, we have had a death in the family. An unexpected and violent death. Farewell, my dear and faithful friend. You left us too soon.

Friday morning, I was sitting in the kitchen, scouring my cookbooks for a recipe (an edible one) that would make fast work of the leftover cabbage in the refrigerator. Suddenly, BLAMMO!! My trusty Kitchen Aid diswasher, a mere 4 years old, exploded. In a flash of hot water, foam and smoke, the front of it literally blew open mid-cycle.

Thank goodness Miss M. wasn't anywhere near that thing. It wasn't just the threat of burns I was worried about: the front door to that dishwasher has got to weigh more than 20 pounds. Little Miss Bright Eyes Would have been toast.

So nobody was harmed. That's the good news. The bad news? The service technician cannot come out until Monday, and if a new part is needed, I might not have a dishwasher for a week or so. This is dire news indeed.

Scoff if you like. I know, I know, the demise of a dishwasher is not the end of the world. There are actually mutants on this planet who do not own dishwashers at all. There are also freakazoids on the planet like my mother, who own dishwashers but rarely use them, because they enjoy doing dishes by hand.

However, I am not one of those mutants or freakazoids. I need my dishwasher to function. I hate doing dishes. And I cook a lot. And I have little turdlets in my house who think it's sacrilege to use the same cup twice for a stinking cup of water. This is BAD.

So, what does a girl without a dishwasher do? Well, she breaks down and does dishes by hand, naturally.

But what if, after that first 40 minute ordeal, the girl decides that she is far, far, too lazy for this by-hand crap?

My Mother Planet Earth, I apologize. I know the Recycling Gods have placed me on the highest rung of their shit list. But I was desperate, I tell you. I sheepishly purchased my paper/plastic crutches Friday afternoon and yes, I do feel dirty.

The second level of fallout from the Deceased Dishwasher Ordeal came in the form of meal planning. As in, I had to scrap my original menu plan because no genius has yet to come up with disposable saucepans. This required some ingenuity on my part: How could I feed the troops using as few pots and pans possible?

Bless you, grill. Bless you, panini maker. And bless you Cheater Summer Rolls, which only require the quick boiling of rice noodles.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls are one of my favorite things to make when it's too hot to cook. And they're wicked fun to assemble and eat. I decided to really cheat this time, however, because I couldn't be bothered to marinate and grill meat for the filling. Instead, I remembered seeing a recipe a while back (God knows where) where rare roast beef from the deli replaced the traditional grilled meat in summer rolls.

Viola! Cheater Summer Rolls were born.

Cheater Summer Rolls

-large rice paper rounds*
-butter lettuce or soft red leaf lettuce
-rice noodles, cooked, drained, and tossed with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil (I had chinese noodles on hand, so I cooked and used those)
-rare deli roast beef from the deli, thinly sliced (tofu or cooked shrimp work, too)
-bean sprouts
-any or all of the following: marinated slices of cucumber, radish, carrot**
-Mint leaves and/or Thai basil leaves
-Dipping sauce***

Mound all ingredients except for rice paper rounds on a large platter. In a large bowl of warm water, soak the rice papers, one at a time, until just pliable (about 30 seconds). Place the softened rice paper on the counter and layer with any or all of the options on the platter (just down the middle of the wrapper). It's a good idea to lay down the lettuce first, as it will prevent the wrappers from ripping/ingredients from falling out.

Be careful not to overstuff your rolls. After layering on ingredients, roll the ends and sides of the rice paper up, egg-roll style. Roll them tightly! Use some muscle!

Cover completed rolls with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Or, as we do, just take turns making rolls and immediately eating them, working as you go.

Serve with dipping sauce and Sriracha on the side.

*You can find rice papers in the Asian section of most supermarkets.

**I make a simple marinade of 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and a dash of crushed red pepper. I toss thinly sliced cucumber, radish or carrot with the marinade and put the veggies in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or longer.

***The dipping sauce is a traditional Vietnamese condiment. Don't fear the fish sauce!! I know it sounds scary but when mixed with the other stuff, all you really taste is salt. If you do fear fish sauce, however, you can dip the rolls into hoisin sauce thinned with a little rice vinegar or hot water instead.

Dipping sauce (nuoc cham):
1/4 cup fish sauce (in Asian section of supermarket)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 garlic clove, minced
2 small serrano or red chiles, sliced

These were a hit! It's especially nice because the kiddos can pick and choose what they put in their rolls. Let's just say that radish never makes it to the little ones' lips, and no, they don't use the dipping sauce. However, Awesome Stepkid R. loves the dipping sauce, so you never know!

If you are less slothful than me, and want to do the spring rolls the way they SHOULD be done, I encourage you to check out this post from Jen at userealbutter. Jen is a friend, a terrific cook and a kick-ass photographer. This girl knows her stuff and, unlike me, NEVER does anything half-assed.

Prepare for more half-assed, low-effort dinners from this lame broad until the Saga of the Exploding Dishwasher is over.


  1. I have a nightmare dishwasher repair story! It took two months, many phone calls and 6 visits from the repairman to finally have my dishwasher back.

    I hope your repairs go more smoothly than mine. Surely the recycling gods will understand! ;0)

  2. I feel for you, I'd be hating life if my dishwasher broke. On the bright side, your summer rolls look amazing!

  3. I am so sorry for your loss. There is nothing, NOTHING worse than washing dishes for a family who insists on using more dishes than necessary. Or any at all. Seriously - I'll wash pots, pans and silverware without too much complaining. But plates? Kiss my a**. I hate washing those damn things. Don't get me started...

    Clearly I have issues. Hopefully your dishwasher repair technician person won't.

  4. I lived for 3 months without a dishwasher when we first moved here. I first I thought it was kinda cool and earth motherly of me. By day two I was pissed and we went out to dinner.

  5. I'm so sorry about your dishwasher. It's weird: we've had two die on us, and both times the cost to fix it was way higher than the cost to replace it. I'm hoping that is NOT the case at your house.

    Loving the Cheater Rolls concept!

  6. I've always wanted to make rice rolls so thanks for doing an entry on this - I will be visiting my asian supermarket soon! :) As for the dishwasher -that is oretty bad - you should ring to complain to the company if someone could have got hurt!

    As for dishes and washing up...I guess I'm a freakazoid cause whilst I don't always want to do them, when I do, with the music on in the background it actually can be quite theraputic and relaxing! :) xxx

  7. I just recently started reading your blog and can I say that on a morning filled with temper tantrums i'm not sure I made it to the recipe as I burst into a fit of laughter when I saw all of those paper plates. I salute you!

    And doing the dishes suck. The only thing worse than doing the dishes is.....empting the stupid dishwasher.

    Have a good one!

  8. That's terrible news about your dishwasher. I'm glad no one was hurt and/or a fire wasn't started... Use those paper plates and do environmental penance. Hand washing is like hell on earth.

  9. I am with you on the dishes front! When I cook I typically use just about every spoon, pot and pan I own - it drives my daughter insane!

    I still need to find those wraps - I must not be looking too hard! :D

    Happy Monday!

  10. You poor thing! Nothing is worse than hand washing dishes for a whole family. I would have gone paper/plastic also. Green Gods be damned!

  11. I am so sorry for your loss. I will be thinking of you and Mother Earth this week. These rolls look delicious; I will be trying these once we get moved!!

  12. I am suspicious of dishwashers. I had never had one that works well. We only use ours to rinse the dishes. It won't get dirty dishes clean. Plus, the rinse uses less water.

    Speaking of water, you can alleviate your guilt about using the paper by thinking about the water conservation. Where I live, using too much water is equally bad as stocking landfills. Six one, half-a-dozen the other.

    Can't wait to make rolls!

  13. BTW, I didn't mean my comment as a scolding to dishwasher uses. If my dishwasher actually CLEANED dishes, you can bet your patooty I'd be using the wash cycle.

  14. Good Enough: Didn't take it as a scolding at all. This old buzzard has thick skin :) Thanks for making me feel better about my paper products!

  15. My daughter just came home from school and reported that a friend's whole family is in a hotel because their brand new dishwasher blew up and their kitchen caught on fire! Yeesh...our dishwasher is hanging on by a thread--I just can't bear spending time shopping for stuff like that, arranging for installation, yaddayadda.

  16. EEK! Catherine! I am feeling lucky now! At least we didn't have any flames comin' outta that sucker!

  17. What a bummer! After growing up without a dish washer I'd never want to live without one again! Hope that is fixed in short order!

  18. Yikes! Sorry about the dishwasher. The springrolls are a good development though. They look delicious.

    Also, how can I contact you? Email? write me at radadaisy[*at*]gmail[dot]com.

  19. Oh, Kitch, I'm sorry for your loss. I'm one of the mutants who lives every meal without a dishwasher...we're in a rental for now with an evening bicker over who's doing the dishes. Every freaking night I want paper plates. I fantasize about paper plates.
    i think I would have an affair with paper plates.
    And hoisin thinned with rice vinegar is our favorite dipping sauce. I do fear the fish sauce, for even expertly hidden in a glorious sauce I taste the fermented fish. Also love sriracha mixed into our sauces but not straight. You people are pepper monsters!

  20. I'm like your Mom on this, I have a dishwasher but rarly use it. Since there are now just the three of us instead of the use to be 6 of us, it makes sense to do them by hand. There are not that many as we are all on the go most of the time. The rolls look yummy. Now the icemaker on the other hand is a different matter.

  21. I am sadly one of those mutants that does not own a dishwasher--our current place used to have one, but they took it out because they were tired of paying for the water, and no apartment I've lived in, save for my junior year lair of doom (thanks to a hellish roommate), has had a dishwasher.

    What's really freaky is that my husband has NEVER lived in a house with a dishwasher.

  22. I have never had any other dishwasher than my hands...or hubby's hands, so I don't have an option, LOL!!! But I don't blame you. Paper plates are my downfall... LOL, your cheater rolls sound yummy!

  23. @elizabeth: "junior year lair of doom" totally cracked me up!!

    Girli, Insider, Nap: I love you ladies...but you are freaks. You know that, right? :)

  24. I'm so glad no one got hurt! I did giggle about you wearing a veil for a dishwasher--then again, I name appliances...and have talking stuffed animals!

  25. Regular reader of In Praise of Leftovers here (known as pds), and I finally decided to click on the link. So glad I did. Love your writing and the food. I just bought rice noodles yesterday to make spring rolls; so glad to see them here.

    And I'm so with you about the dishes. I've got teenagers who double as dishwashers, much to their disappointment.

  26. Dishwasher Mayhem! Amen sister, as much as I respect the Recycling Gods, a girl has got to do what a girl has to do! I hear the Gods are pretty forgiving :-)

    Look forward to your next post about your dishwasher technician and the humming of your repaired dishwasher.

  27. I am so sorry for your loss. I'd be, well, lost without my dishwasher.

    Though I admit, we use paper plates a lot. Mainly because it's easier.

  28. I had a flashback to Ghostbusters with your bust-open dishwasher attack. Good thing you didn't get pushed on your recliner into the kitchen to Zuul's lair! Mother pussbucket!

    Ask about energy efficient rebates from Uncle Sam's cash for clunky appliance dealio.