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Love in the new year, and learning to make Vietnamese spring rolls

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What if I listened patiently every time my dad complained about a new ache or pain, or expressed concern that his memory wasn’t as sharp as it used to be (aging has nothing to do with it, of course!). Instead, these could have been happy dad-and-daughter moments spent over a cup of coffee, especially if the topic at hand could be diverted.

If I had chosen love in these circumstances, perhaps I wouldn’t have expended superfluous time and energy getting worked up, upset, frustrated, etc., etc., you know what I mean. Thankfully, it’s never too late. We are just a few steps in the new year but I’ve already savored the power of choosing love.

The other day, the cashier at Target had a face so sullen it rivaled Posh Spice’s – aka Victoria Beckham’s – perpetual pout (am I dating myself with this analogy?). Instead of condemning her off-putting attitude silently in my mind, I complimented her on her gorgeous red top out loud. That coaxed a smile out of both her and me.

When my toddler asks for one more book, yet another sip of water, anything he can think of, to put off going to bed, I take a deep breath, tuck his blanket under his chin and hold him till he falls fast asleep. This phase won’t last forever (I hope, gulp …). I’m off to a good start, don’t you think?

Starting with this new year 2013, whatever the season, whatever the mood, always choose love.

Vietnamese fresh spring rolls (Gỏi Cuốn)
Time: 45 minutes prep
Makes: 4 servings 

I’m going to start a new column about trying dishes I didn’t think I could or would make at home. I’ve been told many times how easy it is to make these fresh rolls but I’ve always been intimidated by the rice paper wrappers. Most sources say to dip the dry rice paper rounds in water until soft but it seems impossible to get just right.

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