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Farewell Winter – Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
– John Steinbeck

The first day of Spring is a classic metaphor for new beginnings. But it’s also the end to the season of heartiness and perseverance. In Winter we huddle around the hearth. We tend to nest inside. We focus inward. And when Spring blossoms forth, we follow. Bursting with the energy pent up the long, cold months.

To pay tribute to this day of transition, I wanted to find a dish that captures the balance of the heartiness of winter with the fresh zest of Spring. I found it in Tom Kha Gai, a traditional Thai soup made from chicken, ginger, coconut milk and mushrooms. Soup by its very nature embodies the wintry sense of comfort, while the ginger and lemon epitomize the bright promise of Spring. I found my inspiration recipe from She Wears Many Hats and got to work.

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I’m still a Thai cooking novice, so I was nervous taking on a traditional dish like this. But, it turned out to be much easier than I thought; and now I’m ready to face the new season by challenging myself to make even more exotic dishes.

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Here’s my Tom Kha Gai recipe, completely Paleo, and fairly effortless…

Thai Chicken Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

Ingredients

1 lb of Cooked chicken, shredded (I used light and dark meat)

  • 3-4 Peeled carrots, sliced into coins
  • 3 T Cilantro, fresh leaves
  • 1 1-inch piece Ginger, fresh
  • 1 T Lemongrass, dried
  • 8 oz Mushrooms
  • 6 c Chicken stock or broth
  • 1 can of Coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 2 T Fish sauce
  • 3 T Lime juice
  • 1/2 t Red pepper flakes
  • 1 T Olive oil
  • Lime wedges
  • 1 c cashews

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Cook carrot coins for about 4 minutes, stirring often. They should still be fairly firm. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In same saucepan, add ginger and lemongrass, stir to toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, lime juice and pepper flakes; bring to a simmer and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add chicken and simmer for about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Whisk in coconut milk, fish sauce, and cilantro; lower heat and allow to mingle for about 10 minutes before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Toast cashews in toaster oven for about 4 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
  7. Top individual soup bowls with cashews. Garnish with cilantro leaves and/or lime wedges.

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Easy, right? Can’t think of a better way to finish out Winter. Enjoy and Happy Spring!

Painting egg stencil

Easter egg stencils

I love celebrating seasons through hand crafts – painting, decoupage, paper crafts, etc. There’s not a craft I won’t try. For this Easter, I settled on a mash-up of two of my favorite crafts: snowflake-making and painting.

My little lady and I love making paper snowflakes in the winter. But who says this lacy, lovely craft can only be made in the colder months?

egg snowflake stencil

So we gave the paper snowflake a Spring makeover, starting with a simple egg shape instead of the traditional snowflake circle or square. Then, we folded the paper to cut out shapes and lines. When we were finished, we had created the perfect egg stencil. Next, we chose the Springiest colors we could find to paint the cut-out patterns onto another paper egg. The result: pastel perfection. Egg-cellent! :)

Materials:

  • Solid card stock or construction paper in lighter colors or white (as many sheets as you want eggs)
  • White printer paper for stencils
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape
  • Pastel craft paints
  • Small craft paint brushes

Directions:

  • Fold colored construction paper in half lengthwise and draw a semi-circle (semi-oval). When you open it back up, this will be your egg shape. I made mine a little wider at the bottom to give it that “egg” look.
  • Cut out “egg”.
  • Fold white printer paper in half lengthwise. Fit your cut-out egg over the white paper so you can trace the same egg shape for the white paper. Then cut out your white egg.

Egg template

  • Fold white egg several times as you would to make a snowflake. Cut desired shapes into the folds of your egg. When done, unfold.

cutting egg stencil

  • Gently tape your egg snowflake stencil over your colored-paper egg. You may need to tape it down in a couple of spots to get it to stay in place.
  • Paint the openings in your stencil. Let dry.
  • Remove stencil. Display as you like!

Happy Easter!

Finished Stencil Egg