I knew it would be a scorcher of a day even before my morning weather briefing from “Alexa.” Heading out the door with The Poodle just before seven a.m. was a certain clue; a blast of moist, warm air greeted me before I had taken two steps. A quick look at my weather app confirmed; temps were already in the eighties and would reach 98 today with a 104 heat index. I kept the walk brief, more for The Poodle than for me.
For the most part we’ve had a manageable summer, weather-wise. We’ve been fortunate that nothing too dramatic has occurred in our neck of the woods. And though the dog days of summer doesn’t seem to be waning on this Hades-hot and muggy day I am not complaining. In fact, through eyes burning with salty sweat– just from a walk around the block– I am almost energized.
Bring on another dog day, and another one after that, I say as I head back down my driveway with a panting Poodle. I’m sure at least one of my dear “seven” readers is scratching their head over my wishful thinking. But here’s the thing…
I’m already thinking of bone-chilling cold winter and Uggs. And while I love Uggs, I’d honestly prefer not to have to wear them
So yes…I’d venture to say that…..
Some like it hot.
Which leads me to purposefully digress….altogether off-track…to last night.
Dinner at my sister’s house.
So….Sis and family returned a week ago from an excellent adventure in Bangkok Thailand. My bro-in-law had to attend a work-related conference which naturally presented a lovely opportunity for the family. While they all enjoyed their exciting and exotic adventure–which included, among many things, python petting and lemur love as well as a Thai cooking class, we kept the home fires burning–so to speak–providing their pooch, Nica with her own home -away-from-home doggie-vacation (playing with The Poodle aside, this also meant she enjoyed gourmet delights that aren’t the usual fare at her house.)
Sufficiently recovered from a particularly unpleasant jet-lag, Sis felt like showing off her newfound Thai cooking skills. “Come on over when you’re done with your pool-time. I’m cooking Thai tonight…libations at 5:30,” she texted.
My sis is a terrific cook and she is often more adventurous in her approach than me. So, naturally we were all in.
Arriving just a tad late from the pool we were welcomed with ice-cold libations: beer for the hubby and gin and tonic for me. Normally I don’t imbibe in anything other than wine but every once in a while –particularly on a hot day–my brother-in-law suggests I enjoy something different and I’m always happy to comply.
On the chopping block in my sister’s kitchen there was colorful array of tiny dishes as well as a platter of tiny bright-red peppers that made my heart sing just looking at them.
“Wow…what a production,” I say as I survey the food prep. There was expertly chopped fresh cilantro in one bowl, and lime wedges in another. There were little bowls of sliced red onions, green onions, and fresh mint leaves. A large fresh ginger root was at the ready too.
“What’s in this bowl,” I asked, as I sipped on my gin and tonic.
“Kaffir Lime Leaves,” she replies. “And that…” pointing to what I had just picked up, “… is Lemon Grass,” she says.
“Really?! Wow… I have never used Lemon Grass in a recipe,” I say. She then tells me about making her own rice powder for the Chicken Larb dish.
“Wowza! You really went all out! This all had to have taken hours!”
“Not really,” smiles sis as she takes a moment to relax with her drink. “It just took a little time to find the right ingredients.” We’re fortunate to live in an area that makes that fairly easy. “Anyway,” she continues, “these recipes are all pretty easy. Here, take a look at this.” She hands me a book by Chef Kris Yenbamroong entitled, Night + Market.
I flip through it as sis continues with her meal prep. I’m amazed that the guy has had no formal culinary training and yet he opened a Thai restaurant in L.A. to rave reviews and has authored a cookbook.
“Hmm…there are some really interesting recipes in here. “And you’re right, they look fairly easy.” I also note, as I looked at the chef/author’s photo, that he is heavily tattooed. “He’s heavily inked in black and white,” I add.
“Yes…and it’s quite prevalent to see in Thailand too. So many people with beautiful and interesting tattoos.”
About an hour later with libations finished and a last minute scurry to complete the final touches, we all sat down for our Thai meal experience. For our first course, sis had prepared a soup with red chilies and shrimp that had us sweating bullets at the first slurp.
“Holy Hades…. this is spicy hot!” I said in surprise. In hindsight, I should have known since there was a plate of fresh hot red peppers in the kitchen.
“Oh no, is it too spicy?! I’m sorry!” sis said with anxious concern.
“Are you kidding? I love it! The hotter the better,” I said with unbridled zeal. “This is terrific!” And I really meant it.
For the main course she had prepared Chicken Larb, also delightfully spicy, and a thrill to the taste buds. For inquiring minds about Larb, which is essentially a meat salad, check out this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larb. We also enjoyed spring rolls (the only non-Thai item on the table) as well as citrus, spice-infused jasmine rice and a delightful papaya and mango salad.
So peeps, we ate ourselves silly that night and enjoyed every hot and spicy morsel of it. For a nano-second I think of purchasing the book. After all, I should spice it up a notch in my own kitchen and expand on my usual repertoire of Italian delights…
Hmm. On second thought, no…for the moment at least. There is fun to be had watching –and being a part of–my sis occasionally stepping outside of our Italian heritage. There’s always something to learn and merriment too, in my sister’s kitchen. Quite simply, it makes life all the more colorful and that’s a bliss I don’t want to miss.