Grilled Asparagus and Chili-Orange Quinoa Spring Rolls.

Grilled Asparagus and Chili-Orange Quinoa Spring Rolls.

Grilled Asparagus and Chili-Orange Quinoa Spring Rolls.

Grilled Asparagus and Chili-Orange Quinoa Spring Rolls.

Grilled Asparagus and Chili-Orange Quinoa Spring Rolls.

I wrote a quick post on the Wooden Spoons Blog about perfection and with an example from this recipe. No, this recipe and photos are not perfect, far from. I feel that occasionally I fall into this rational where I begin to sink into a, “if only I had this” mentality. If only I had that camera, if only I had that kitchen, if only, if only, if only. I say it all the time when I’m on pinterest.

I began to ask myself why: Why was I in this mentality? Considering I’m a trained musician, I think the answer is a fairly obvious one. The rational is engrained. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve heard, “practice makes perfect” because we are always striving for a perfect performance. When that doesn’t happen, the “if only” statements come out: “If only I practiced more or if only my reed didn’t suck.”

As mentioned above, I’ve carried that mentality over to everything I do. My photography is a constant stream of “not good enough” and “if only” statements and while perfection in photography is a little more personal, it still feels like it’s there.

Why am I writing this? I made these spring rolls from odds and ends that were left over in my apartment. They were so pretty, that I knew I wanted to share but I realized that my photography space had been converted to a makeshift desk, all of my dishes were packed, and my apartment looked like a big gust of wind came through and displaced everything (and if I’m being honest, even without moving my living spaces occasionally look like this).

I managed to scoot my computer equipment out of the way enough to put a background up and had one cutting board left out. I started snapping photos and looked at my screen to see photos I rather liked. Then I pulled back, saw the scene around the photo,  and started to laugh. Here I was staring at good photo that is surrounded by utter mess and chaos.

I think in way, perfection needs to be thrown out and replaced with growth. I’ve always liked the term growth because it implies that there will always be room and always be movement while perfection implies that there is a level at which one has achieved the ability to stop growing. With photography, it’s always trying something new whether it be a different angle or different light source.

This also works with cooking. My friend asked me the other day how I come up with recipes and it’s something I’ve thought a lot about because I didn’t grow up cooking. In fact, when M and I started dating, I was horrible (there use to be evidence of that on this blog but I’ve since pulled those post into drafts for my own personal reminder). But, I continued to learn, follow recipes, and experiment. I never settled and continued to grow in my ability to cook and be more comfortable in the kitchen.

Life happens, sometimes in crazy ways. I may never have any of the kitchens on pinterest I’ve lusted after or the fancy new camera that is a bit out of my price range, but that doesn’t mean I should stop trying to grow. In fact, I take my current haves and make them a challenge to do the most growing. There should never be an end goal, just a journey of growth.


Grilled Asparagus and Chili-Orange Quinoa Spring Rolls.

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 2-4


  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Dressing*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • pinch red chili flakes
  • 3-4 handfuls spinach, lettuce, or Asian greens
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 6-10 rice paper wrappers


  1. Light grill. Toss asparagus with olive oil and place on grill. Cook until lightly charring and soft. Remove from grill and let cool slightly. Slice asparagus into strips and slice strips in half, horizontally, to fit into spring rolls.
  2. Combine orange juice, walnut oil, honey, and pinch of red chili flakes in a mason jar or other container that has a lid. Shake well and test for chilis- add more if desired.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together greens and cooked quinoa. Drizzle dressing over and toss until mixture is coated.
  4. Set up a rolling station with grilled asparagus, quinoa mixture, rice papers, a dish of hot water larger enough to hold the spring rolls, and a cutting board.
  5. Soak the rice paper for 10-15 seconds (you don’t want it too soft when taking it out of the water but pliable enough to roll.) Place rice paper on a cutting board and load with quinoa mixture and grilled asparagus. Roll, tuck, and fold in sides as you go. Continue with remaining ingredients.


*I made an extra large portion of dressing and kept it to use with this salad.


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