Visions of White

Never in my life in the deep South did I imagine we would look out of our back door across the field and seen a white, powdery blanket. The novelty kept us cozied up to  the windows with the dogs for hours, watching it sprinkle down in all its quiet glory. When I think of slow living, the idea of a snowy day certainly comes to mind, drinking tea by a fire and reading a good book, and the smell of a warm, spicy chicken recipe wafting through the house because there is nothing else to do but enjoy the moment. 

I made this snow-day chicken in my new crockpot. Now, I am a bit late to the crock-pot craze mainly because it is one extra appliance that takes up space in a kitchen, and I have a few too many kitchen appliances. Do I really need an ice cream maker, a George foreman grill, a waffle maker, a dehydrator and a meat grinder?  Questionable.  But if we ever enter World War III, you know who will be ready to feed the neighborhood.

I love the crockpot because it requires so little time to prepare healthy, whole foods. You don’t even need a recipe. Throw in a protein, a healthy fat, liquid(in the form of water or broth), spices, plenty of vegetables and voila! dinner is waiting on you.

This is a simple chicken tikka masala recipe that packs quite a nutritional punch. I used chicken thighs for more flavor, but I think it would also work with cubed chicken breast and  a generous pour of olive or coconut oil. The one non-negotiable item you must have to make this recipe is garam masala . This spice is the backbone of most Indian dishes, warming to your body and therefore ideal to eat  in cold weather and also to stave off sickness.

Stay warm , friends!

By the way, my intention this year is to come back to my roots and post more valuable content here, so I have opened my blog up to comments and would love to hear from you. What would you like to see more on my blog?

Chicken Tikka Masala in the Crockpot

Serves 6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 6 hours
Total time 6 hours, 15 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region Indian
Try this immunity-boosting and warming crockpot chicken tikka masala on a chilly night.

Ingredients

  • 2lb chicken thighs
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • seeds from 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 cups dried basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger or 1 T grated fresh
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 turmeric

Note

You could replace the chicken thighs with canned chickpeas to make this a vegetarian meal.

Directions

Step 1
Put the chopped onion, garlic and carrot into the crock pot and stir in all the dried spices with a wooden spoon.
Step 2
Lay the chicken thighs on top and pour in can of tomatoes.
Step 3
Cook in the crockpot for 6-8 hours on low.
Step 4
Pour in the can of coconut milk and let warm. Meanwhile bring 4 cups water to a boil and pour in the 2 cups dried basmati rice. Let it come to a boil, then lower the heat to low and cover for 12-18 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.
Step 5
Serve the tikka masala over the rice and top with fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.

In love and light,

Lydia

 

Christmas Thoughts

When I was a kid, I could never understand people who were not crazy about Christmas.  Holiday baking! Eggnog! Tree-decorating! Driving across the country to Louisiana! Presents! Santa’s surprises! Spending all day Christmas playing with your stuff with not a care in the world!

Fast forward to being a bona-fide adult,  (Can I call myself that yet since I am almost 30? ) and it’s difficult to pinpoint what I feel about Christmas . It’s a time for reflection on the past when you have lost someone, and the Holidays will never be quite the same.  A time when you feel like you will never get everything done. When decorating the tree/house becomes kind of a pain in the ass . When there is all this pressure to buy more stuff for people that is just going to end up in a landfill. When you feel obligated to spend time with certain people who drive you bat-sh** crazy?!(I am obviously not talking about my family.)  BUT it’s also a time you can appreciate everything in your life. A time to slow down and enjoy experiences with people. A time to cook delicious food and savor it. A time to give to families in need. A time to create new traditions and celebrate the old ones. A time for self reflection over the last year and hope for the next. A time to celebrate your existence and religious beliefs.

I have truly enjoyed this Holiday Season because my husband and I made a focused effort to pare down our gift buying, make more homemade gifts, and get it all done way in advance. So we have actually had time to enjoy the season and embody the idea of slow living. We harvested about 30 pounds of honey from the beehives this weekend and paired it with some baked goods as gifts. We watched our favorite Christmas movie with his family, I baked with my Mom and sister (a yearly tradition), had some friends over for drinks and treats, had a few gift exchanges, and now we are ready to celebrate this weekend! ( I also have a 12 miler planned for Saturday to get ready for my half marathon in January in Charleston.)

filtering then jarring our honey harvest

Between the baking we have been enjoying fresh bok choy and carrots from the garden and turmeric latte’s to keep our immunity up. So I’m sharing this immunity boosting stir- fry recipe inspired by my garden today. What I like about this recipe is that you can be flexible and include whatever vegetables you have on hand in your  fridge.

my 2 carrots picked straight from the ground

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my readers all over the world. I hope it is full of joy and love and great food and experiences.

Coconut Veggie Stir Fry

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Try this immunity boosting veggie-filled stir fry!

Ingredients

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 bunch bok choy or other greens, chopped into strips
  • 3 broccoli heads, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 1 inch knob ginger, grated
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms
  • 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
  • sriracha to taste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1lb tofu(pressed and cubed) or ground pork, chicken, or beef

Directions

Step 1
Heat coconut oil in wok or pan. Saute onion, carrot, garlic, ginger , red pepper for 7-8 minutes on medium high heat.
Step 2
Mix in the meat/ tofu and mushrooms and saute another 5 -8 minutes.
Step 3
Stir in 2 Tablespoons of chili garlic sauce, 3 T of soy sauce, 1 can coconut milk. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
Step 4
Mix in the bok choy and broccoli and let simmer 5 minutes on medium high heat. Add more soy sauce or chili garlic sauce to taste and squeeze in the juice of one lime. Add a bit of water to the broth if you want it to be more like a curry.
Step 5
Serve with fresh chopped cilantro on top and sliced avocado or even radish.

 

Simplicity

I feel fantastic when we are in Europe and able to remain in one place to establish a routine. We walk everywhere, and I cannot get enough of that crisp, cold, Alpine air, fresh, vibrant food at the daily markets, a quick workout, and a sauna visit . I love the slow-ness in the small towns, the lingering over long meals and simplicity of life there.  I try to recreate that at home as much as possible, but everything here seems rushed and hurried. Maybe the American culture is to blame…parents rushing their kids from activity to activity, worker bees rushing to go work, then rushing to go home, living for the weekends, trying desperately to create more hours in a day to get all the things done.

less = more

When was the last time you actually sat in silent meditation in nature and slowed down to notice the details,  I mean the bees buzzing, the birds singing, the sunshine on your face?

Yeah, I cannot recall either! I know I am guilty of not doing that enough …

But I am learning that you don’t have to travel too far to find that simplicity and relaxation. It can be  something you create.

Cassis, France

Bonnieux, France

Gruyeres, Switzerland

Bad Tolz, Germany

 

 

 

Black Winter Truffles

Displaying our truffles with Mirabelle the mutt and Jean Marc

We set out in Southern France to experience a  hunt for winter truffles with Johan, and his friend, Jean Marc, who keeps two truffle hunting dogs and trains them specifically for this purpose. I had been looking forward to it, but it turned out to be the highlight of our trip for several reasons. First of all , Johan is very passionate about farming and sustainability, so he is like us! Secondly, truffles are totally fascinating, and so is hunting for them. Third, he served us an array of truffle appetizers and champagne after the hunt!

We learned a great deal about these little fungi, which really are not mushrooms at all. Who knew?

What we learned:

The most revered and expensive truffle in the world is the black winter truffle from France. The white summer truffle is more ubiquitous and often used more in truffle oils found here.

Truffles are darn near impossible to farm because they require strict conditions, plenty of sunlight, consistent watering, winter temperatures above 26 degrees and warm summers with low humidity and loamy soil that drains well. They are not native to many areas, so you won’t find them growing naturally in the US. But these condition all come together perfectly in certain areas of Provence, especially in vineyards.

Truffles rely on oak trees and hazelnut trees to grow, so you will only find them growing below these types of trees, where their spores cling to the root and eventually may produce a truffle if conditions are perfect.

To find a tree that may have truffles growing underneath, look for a circle around the base of the tree where zero grass is growing. If there is grass there will not be a truffle, as they emit an oil or substance that kills that grass below the tree.

They take 7 years to mature.

You can order oak trees with truffle spores on the roots, which is what they did on their farm. However, truffles were already growing naturally for over 100 years on his family farm under the oaks, so they knew conditions were right for farming. Truffles only like direct sunlight.

The olive groves on the farm

Truffles  are only fresh and ready to eat for a few days up to two weeks and lose their fragrance and water weight very day, so shipping them means each day they are out of the ground they are losing flavor and fragrance. A frozen truffle bears little resemblance to a fresh one.

Johan said that 90% of black winter truffle products found in the United States are fake. You can know for sure if what you have is real by reading the ingredient list:  if it includes the term melanospora, it is actual real black truffle. If the label  says”flavor”, it is using chemicals to fool you, and you are paying triple price for it.

The hunt:

Jean Marc’s dogs sniffed a box of tasty treats and immediately knew it was time to begin sniffing around the farm for truffles.  We took them to trees that had no grass , and Mirabelle would identify if there is truffle, sit and then the other dog would begin to feverishly dig. She is trained to dig it up and take it gently in her mouth, but Jean Marc was careful to watch  her to prevent her from destroying it with her claws.

carefully removing a truffle

All you need to do is sniff the dirt to know a truffle has been there because the aroma is so pungent. The truffle should be hard, not spongy.

 

They are sold for about 1 euro per gram. We discovered about 115 grams about 45 minutes!

weighing the truffles

You haven’t lived until you have eaten a fresh black truffle shaved thinly and eaten simply on a slice of bread with cheese or butter. The explosion of flavor and fragrance is unlike anything I have ever tasted.

Here at the farm, they use older truffles to make their truffle salt and truffle oil. The fragrance is so strong that it taints everything in their refrigerator and freezer. Wow!

The best thing I ate in France, right here:

fresh French cheese with shaved black truffle, truffle oil, and truffle salt

truffle ice cream with truffle honey

He  paired all of our tastings with champagne  and it was all included in the tour.

bread topped with fresh butter and shaved black truffle

Please send me a personal email or Facebook message if you are planning a trip to Frnace and would like a tour with Johan. It was my favorite part of our trip and everything is made right here on the farm. You can even ADOPT  A TRUFFLE TREE AND BE SHIPPED FRESH TRUFFLES! Pretty amazing.

And now Larsen and I want to plant a few up on the farm in Virginia as an experiment. What do you think? Should we try it?

 

In love and light,

Lydia

 

Eating our way through Paris

Hallo von Deutschland!

It’s rather nice to sit down and write a blog post for once.  A cup of coffee in hand and BBC World news on the background. Snow outside. Coldest and snowiest winter here in FIVE years.

We traveled around France and Switzerland for about 8 days, and then bedded down in Bad Tolz, Germany for the week to relax with my mother in law and her friends a bit (she is from Bad Tolz), eat delicious German food, and keep our fitness up by walking everywhere and working out in the it most beautiful gym I have ever seen along the Isar River.

Here are some of my favorite photos from our time in Paris. I was blown away by the architecture and age of everything there, including the 17th century apartment we resided in for 3 nights. I loved every cute detail, even the creaky floors and low ceilings.

My next post will be about Provence and our truffle hunt!

XOXO

Lydia

PARIS:

 

Silver Linings

A natural disaster certainly has a way of blasting into your life and lending a new perspective. When you think about it, every hardship, every event in life really comes down to that one word, “perspective” and how you perceive and approach your situation. Sure ,you can look at it as this hurricane as a terrible, no-good, very bad thing, but on the flip side there is always a silver lining to every situation. The silver lining here, as I perceive it , has been the demonstration of a deep sense of community and friendship and human kindness this past week in Savannah. And chocolate cake, which I will get to soon.

We somehow made it through completely unscathed while the rest of our neighborhood  and other parts of our city looked like a literal war zone as soon as we stepped out of our home, pictured below. We met new neighbors, shared food and drink, witnessed neighbors sharing generators and electricity and hot water and collecting food and other essential items for those in need.

Damage 1

 

hurricane 2

 

 

We all  unexpectedly were handed a few days out of the office due to the mandatory evacuations last week. (Note: we did not evacuate for reasons I will not get into here.) Anyway, after the Hurricane left us, I again had a LONG time out of the office. As of today Friday October 14th, I still have been unable to go back to work due to issues related to water damage. I am trying to be grateful for this time and not worry about my clients too much, but in truth I am a working kind of girl and enjoy being productive .

The silver lining in the time off prior to the storm was time to bake my husband a homemade cake for his 35th birthday while we still had power! I cannot remember the last time I baked a cake. This was my first attempt at baking a cake with almond flour and there results were stellar! I had not planned on writing about it, so I did not take “professional” photos. However I feel this recipe is just too delicious not to share. So please enjoy this cake and the candid photo of Larsen about to devour his first slice. We ate on it all week and it was a subtle reminder to us that WE ARE OKAY!

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy

 

Hold your loved ones tight and remember,

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we an acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones”

In love and light,

Lydia

 

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 cups almond flour
  • 2 cups maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (Frosting)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (Frosting)
  • 1/4 cup vegan buttery spread, softened (Frosting)
  • almond milk to taste (Frosting)

Note

This cake is gluten and dairy-free. You can easily make it vegan by replacing the eggs with flax eggs. Also, you should be able to replace the maple syrup with honey if that is all you have on hand.

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients, almond flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
Step 2
Combine maple syrup and coconut oil in a bowl and pour into large bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk mixture until fully combined and whisk in eggs one at a time.
Step 3
Prepare 2 cake pans with parchment paper and oil. Dust in a tiny bit of flour and scoop half of cake mixture into each pan. (it will be thick). Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until the center does not wobble when you shake the pan. You may have to cook longer depending on your oven, humidity levels.
Frosting
Step 4
Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler and let cool to room temperature.
Step 5
Beat together melted chocolate and vegan butter stick with an electric mixer until fluffy and slowly add in powdered sugar. Add in a few drops of almond milk to achieve your desired consistency, wet or drier.
Step 6
Let cakes cool and turn one layer over onto a cake pan. Ice the top of it about 1/4 inch thick. turn the second layer onto of it and ice the top of the second layer thickly, This cake is meant to be iced without doing the sides to reduce the amount of icing. But if you have some leftover you could ice the sides and decorate it however you like.

 

 

2016-No Excuses

A few weeks back I was incredibly touched to hear someone I have never met reads my blog. I originally started this blog for me, but have come to love the ability to connect with other like-minded souls through this online space. That connection is why I continue to keep this up, despite the business of life. For a while I was silent,  but I have come to terms with the fact that no one  is dictating the rules…. that it is  perfectly acceptable to write every few months….that something is better than nothing…that even if only one person is getting something out of this blog then the effort is worth it. Yoga helps me see clearly that life is not about rigidity but fluidity. Even if I only have 15 minutes to come to the mat and do a few sun salutations , something is better than nothing . I am aiming for balance, not rigid rules.

It’s no secret to my close friends and family that I am busy, that I have little time to check in with friends and be proactive.

But that’s not a valid excuse…for anything.

Everyone is busy.

We make time for what matters most.

In 2016 my resolution was to make time for what matters and cut out the noise.

Health matters. Family matters. Marriage matters. Time with friends matters. Keeping a roof over our heads matters. Doing what we love matters. Giving back matters.

Worrying about things…feeling overwhelmed and trying to do everything well all the time….not only is it not possible, but it is a waste of valuable, precious time that could be spent helping myself and others around me grow and learn.

Therefore, I am posting the first recipe of 2016 as a healing, no excuses recipe that anyone can make.

If you have 15 minutes you CAN make this and you CAN take charge of your health. This is a power-packed meal, but also rather decadent and special because of the homemade croutons.

Check out these green ingredients!

gazpacho ingredientsThis soup is best served cold or room temperature and a good  choice for one of those Savannah-winter -70- degree- days.

Cheers to 2016 and a healthier you!

Green gazpacho

Serves 5
Prep time 10 minutes
Allergy Tree Nuts
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Soup
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
This no-cooking-needed green soup can be made in a flash and will leave you feeling refreshed and healthy from the inside out.

Ingredients

  • 3 Cucumbers , peeled, medium
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1/2 baguette(split into 2 parts)
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 6 cups fresh spinach (or 1, 16 oz bag frozen)
  • 1 cup basil(or cilantro)
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 cups olive oil
  • greek yogurt
  • 2-3 cups cold water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Note

This soup can easily be made gluten free by substituting the bread with a peeled baked potato and leaving out the croutons.

Directions

Step 1
Lightly toast the walnuts on a sheet pan and let cool.
Step 2
Roughly chop the peppers and cucumbers and garlic so that they are easier to drop into the blender.
Croutons:
Step 3
Chop 1/4 of a baguette into cubes. Toss with 2 T of olive oil, 1/4 t of salt and 1/4 t pepper in a plastic bag. Roast cubes at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until toasted. Let cool and store for up to 1 week in pantry.
Step 4
Blend all vegetables and walnuts , 1/4 baguette, vinegar and honey until smooth. Add in yogurt , olive oil and and cold water and salt and pepper. Add cold water to desired consistency.
Step 5
Serve cool with toasted croutons on top.

 

 

 

 

 

Moonstone Salad

Happy Fall, friends!!
I am kicking off the cold weather with a fantastic spinach salad inspired by my recent trip to California with my mom & sister. We spent some time in San Fran, drove down the coast through Big Sur, and visited with my cousins in Santa Monica. The California coast is breathtaking, and apparently September is the time to go because it felt rather deserted. Everyone kept warning me  to expect throngs of cars and tourists on Highway One, but we saw very few other people.

If I had to pick ONE favorite place, it would be Cambria. It’s a quiet little town right on Moonstone Beach south of Big Sur. We stayed in a cute seaside apartment with a porch and view of the ocean.  I woke up before dawn to run along Moonstone Beach, but I kept stopping to pick up & examine stones and stuff them down my shorts, which made running difficult… Can you blame me? Look at the colors of these stones!

moonstones
One night we picked up some gorgeous fresh salads from a local restaurant and picnicked on the balcony while watching whales spouting far off in the distance. My first whale sightings ever!Thus the Moonstone salad was born. I tried to guess all the ingredients, so this is my take on it. I have made this salad 5 times now and am still not tired of it, so trust me, this is a keeper….

The grapefruit and pumpkin seeds make it kind of Fall-ish, and a perfect Thanksgiving dish to  balance out all that buttery goodness and turkey! I am feeling extra grateful for so many simple things this year: my health, my family’s health, plentiful food, a roof over my head and being able to spend time together and break bread. These are all things we easily take for granted until they are taken away from us…

May your Thanksgiving be full of gratitude, family time, and delicious food.

In love and health,

Lydia

 

Moonstone Salad

Serves 5
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Misc Serve Cold
This colorful salad is a nice compliment to the Thanksgiving table.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1 small red onion (sliced in thin rings)
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (roasted and salted)
  • 6oz salty feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 1/2 grapefruit (peeled and sectioned)
  • 1 avocado (peeled and sliced thinly)
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • salt and pepper to taste

Citrus Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot (chopped finely)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Step 1
Slice the red onion thinly and saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until caramelized and dark. Set aside to cool.
Step 2
Assemble the spinach on plates and top with the caramelized onions, feta cheese, sliced grapefruit, and avocado.
Step 3
Combine the orange juice and other vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve drizzled over the salad.
Step 4
Sprinkle pomegranate arils and pumpkin seeds over the salad and serve with the vinaigrette.

Green Bean Tomato Salad

Garden Summer 2015

 

The garden has been exploding with tiny wild cherry tomatoes and jade green beans this year. If I sit quietly, I can see so much activity going on:tiny baby anoles climbing the hop vines, wasps buzzing about the bolting basil, honeybees on the squash flowers, earthworms in the soil.   The single most important thing we have learned gardening each year is to create an environment that attracts beneficial insects like wasps and ladybugs that will ward off pests. So we keep flowers and flowering herbs like salvia, dill, mint, thyme, cilantro and basil mixed in with the vegetable plants to attract the beneficial insects . This year, so far, we have had no aphids or caterpillars. Additionally, we use a copper powder once every two weeks to ward off fungus and blight due to wet conditions.

Now I am not a huge green bean fan, but these beans are different! They are called “jade beans” and seem to just keep on growing more beans for months on end.

We tend to eat really simply in the summer to let the fresh ingredients shine , and this recipe was born from a surplus of beans and tomatoes one night.

If you get your hands on some fresh green beans, then give this one  a try. It will be on the table in 20 minutes!

Happy Summertime.

 

Green Bean Tomato Salad

Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 3 minutes
Total time 13 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Salad, Side Dish

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh green beans
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Bulgarian feta
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

Step 1
Wash green beans and then bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the beans 2-3 minutes in the hot water and then dunk into a bowl filled with ice cold water.
Step 2
Combine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and mustard in a bowl and whisk until combined.
Step 3
Combine green beans, fresh tomatoes, and feta in a salad bowl and toss with prepared dressing.

 

 

 

 

Our foray into Asia!

Hello!

We are back from 2 weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Where to start?

The  Vietnamese Reunification Day holiday with fireworks?  cooking class on an organic farm? market shopping and hecklers? a harrowing mountain bike ride to a pub  in the middle of the nowhere where you pick out your own live chicken to slaughter? the moment when I thought our driver was taking us to a Vietnamese jail because we got stopped by  scary-looking police and told to turn around? a 2 day trek though the jungle and rivers to the world’s third largest cave in 100+ degree weather?  a biking tour through Angkor’s lesser know areas and temples ? visiting a village in Phong Na Kebang National Park and drinking green tea in the Chief’s hut? eating BUGS?

I didn’t get tired of any of it. I would do it all again. I LOVE ASIA!

Today I am sharing one of the 4 dishes we made with Chef Than on his organic farm outside Ho Chi Minh city, the pork lettuce cups know as San Choi Bao in Vietnamese cooking.

Vietnamese and Khmer food are healthy and fresh, thanks to being so close to the equator and an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables . Lemongrass, ginger, papaya, fresh mint and basil, coconut milk, and fish sauce can be found in many dishes. Freshly squeezed fruit juices are readily available everywhere, which I miss terribly already…

I am sharing a few photos of our favorite places and links below if you are ever planning a trip yourself.

HO CHI MINH COOKING CLASSHo Chi Minh Cooking Class

 

Banana Spring Roll with Coconut Cream
Phong Na Ke Bang National Park

Phong Na

Phong Na

The Pub with Cold Beer(yes, you can pick out your live chicken here and yes, it is a harrowing long bike ride to get here but totally worth it!)

pub with cold beer

Pub with Cold Beer Chicken, Morning Glory, Rice and Peanut Sauce

Pub with Cold Beer Chicken, Morning Glory, Rice and Peanut Sauce

 

Hang En Cave with Oxalis Adventure Tours

Hang En Cave campsite

Hang En Cave campsite

P1030542

Angkor Archeological Park-

guided by Khmer for Kmher on bicycleVietnam 657
Vietnam 625

Riding around Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia in tuk-tuks.

 

P1030652

BUGS CAFE-mixed bug platter

bug platter

 

San Choi Bao

Serves 3
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 5 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Allergy Peanuts
Meal type Appetizer, Main Dish
Misc Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Try these crunchy Vietnamese lettuce wraps for dinner in under 30 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1 cup roughly cut mix of oyster and shittake mushrooms
  • 1/2 finely diced onion
  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1 head of butter lettuce
  • 4 teaspoons Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped red chilies
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons crushed peanuts

Note

You can find fresh oyster mushrooms at Whole Foods.

You can find Vietnamese fish sauce(different than Thai fish sauce) at an Asian market, as well as the oyster sauce and five spice powder!

Directions

Step 1
In a hot wok saute the oil, garlic,chilies and onion about 1-2 minutes until the onion is opaque. Add in pork and stir until cooked.Add in the carrot and mushrooms and all spices and mix well on heat for another minute or two. Serve over lettuce leaves with crushed peanuts sprinkled on top.