When life gives you lemons….

The saying goes: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade with them!”
Well, life has given me many “lemons” over the years (I probably carry a few too many in my purse on a daily basis, but we won’t go there), but I do not want to make lemonade! Plus it isn’t actually citrus season, so it would be very costly to make lemonade in July, in Montreal. We don’t even grow citrus here.

What do I do instead? I spend quality time in my kitchen. I cook. I bake. I eat (sometimes I even eat straight out of the pan on the stove).

This week-end, I spent a lot of time in my kitchen. I started by testing out Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s The Bread Bible for the first time: I made her “Basic Hearth Bread.” I needed to make bread to go with my homemade strawberry, lemon and ginger jam. The bread recipe worked out really well, except for one small issue. I forgot to remove the top rack from my oven, and, much to my dismay (mixed with a sentiment of joy because my first bread was baking up really beautifully), the baking bread rose up to the top rack which left a dent on the top of it. Sadness. I guess that the mark gives my loaf charm?

I spent the rest of the week-end toying with local Quebec strawberries in the kitchen. I baked and ate an entire 9×9 pan of strawberry-studded brownies (nope, I’m not exaggerating, and yes, I know that a 9×9 pan of brownies should not be consumed by one person over the course of 24 hours, and yes, I really should watch what I eat). The recipe was pretty simple, and the brownies were best if you left them to sit at room temperature for about 24 hours before gobbling them up. If eaten earlier, the berries will be slightly watery and the brownies will therefore suffer from wet patches (yuck!). If left for 24 hours, the brownies are given a chance to soak up the fruit juice and you are left with a densely pleasant brownie. Here’s the recipe.

Since it is strawberry season in Quebec, I continued using the berry in some “not so conventional” ways. I made some rice paper spring rolls with them (significantly healthier than the brownies and also pleasurable, well not in the I-can’t-stop-shoving-brownies-in-my-mouth kind of way, but pleasurable nonetheless). I filled them with a strawberry and peanut salad, and some shiitake mushrooms. I love rice paper rolls, but if you are feeling lazy just eat the salad without rolling them up in rice paper. Equally satisfying.


Strawberry, shrimp and shitake rice paper spring rolls

Course Appetiser
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8
Author Janice


  • 2 cups strawberries chopped
  • 1/3 cup peanuts chopped
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 English cucumber chopped
  • 2-3 oz rice stick noodles optional, softened in hot water and rinsed under cold water
  • 24 baby shrimp size: 90/110 count, poached until just cooked through and rinsed under cold water
  • 200 grams shiitake mushrooms sliced and sautéed in some canola oil and cooled to room temperature
  • 8 rice papers


  1. Combine the chopped strawberries, peanuts and jalapeno.
  2. Set up your rice paper “rolling station: place a clean kitchen towel on your counter.
  3. Set out all your fillings in separate bowls, around your “rolling station”: you will have 6 fillings to roll into each rice paper.
  4. Fill a shallow pan with hot tap water.
  5. Dip one rice paper in the hot water and swoosh it around, gently, to soften it.
  6. When it feels softened, remove it from the water and set it on the towel (try not to fold it or wrinkle it because that will be problematic).
  7. Top with your fillings: shredded lettuce, strawberry salad, rice stick noodles—if you have decided to included them, 4 baby shrimp, shiitake mushrooms.
  8. Roll it like you would roll a cabbage roll or a stuffed vine leaf. Watch this video of Jacques Pépin to see how to roll them.
  9. Serve with some <a href="" rel="nofollow">vietnamese sauce</a> and enjoy!



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5 Responses to When life gives you lemons….

  1. Anonymous July 8, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    what happened to the strawberry, ginger lemon jam?

  2. Katherine July 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm #

    Fantastic post! Your writing is so much fun, just saying 🙂
    And your strawberry brownies look so delicious. I could eat them from the picture (and the pan). So yummy! so good! I’m drooling here…

  3. Magic of Spice July 9, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    Great post and recipes…Love those spring rolls:)

  4. baking.serendipity July 12, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    Strawberry studded brownies are genius! I love this idea 🙂

  5. Dionne Baldwin July 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    I never thought to use strawberries in a spring roll!! What a good idea! I’ve done the entire pan thing too. After all, we can’t share a recipe not worth eating, right?. 🙂

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