Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tom Ka Soup II

To celebrate 100,000 hits on my first Tom Ka soup post, I thought I would do a sequel.

This Tom Ka recipe is vegan but don't be scared!  It's just as delicious as the first version.

I didn't attempt to replace the flavor of the fish sauce with something else--it's just not possible--I've totally reworked the recipe.  I think it still has a very "Thai" flavor profile and is every bit as delicious.  

Tom Ka Vegan

                                   1 carton vegetable stock (4 cups)
                                   1 14 oz. can coconut milk
                                   1 stalk lemongrass
                                   1 4-inch piece fresh ginger
                                   1 bunch cilantro
                                   1/2 large yellow onion
                                   1 lime, juiced
                                   1 tablespoon sriracha or red curry paste (+/- to taste)

Use any combination of your favorite chopped vegetables including:

Pea pods, sweet peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, bean sprouts, cherry tomatoes,
broccoli, carrots, sliced onions, scallions, baby corn, cilantro, basil, fresh ginger, etc.

For more substance you could also add tofu or rice vermicelli. 

I used the lemon grass and ginger...

...the stems of a cilantro bunch and one half an onion to flavor the
vegetable broth as the base for the soup.  I've made this three time using three different vegetable stocks and they're all a little different.  The best version was the Pacific vegetable stock that was heavy on the carrots which made it sweeter.

Peel and slice the ginger, chop the lemon grass, onions, cilantro stems and simmer them in the vegetable stock for about 30 minutes.  Turn off heat and let cool before straining the broth.

When you're ready to serve the soup, return the broth to the pot, heat to a simmer and add coconut milk, sriracha (or chili paste) and lime juice.

While the broth is heating, chop up your vegetables and add them to serving bowls.  Here I've used pea pods, button and oyster mushrooms, sweet yellow papers, baby corn and julienned ginger.  I would guess it's about 1-1/2  cups of vegetables.

This amount of broth will make four good sized bowls of soup (using a little more than one cup of broth per serving).  

To garnish, I mixed some sriracha with some toasted sesame oil and drizzled the red oil on top of the soup and topped with some micro basil.

The broth is really aromatic and feels very restorative.  The spice from the sriracha feels great on the throat if you're feeling a little under the weather.

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Roof

Before getting up on the roof to do the hard work, I spent a few minutes walking around with my camera to find a few pristine bits of snow.  They don't last long in the city so they're precious.  These were two drifts along the fence just off my back porch.  Despite the hassle caused by so much snow in one night, it's nice to stop and see the beauty that nature can create.

At the back end of my attic there's a little trap door that provides access to a flat roof over my bedroom and the bathroom with the claw foot tub.  The door is about 1-1/2 feet above the roof and the opening was almost completely occluded with a snow drift.  So there was about four feet of snow on the roof.

It's always scary getting out there with so much snow already there.  All I can think is that I'm
going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back.  But with rain in forecast, I can't risk letting any additional weight sit up there. 

There's just no graceful way to get out there.  It's usually kind of dive.

Just as a safety measure, I try to stay in the middle and throw the snow into my
yard on both sides.  

As I get within six feet of the edge, I kneel down just push the snow over the edge.

And it's nice to take a few minutes to enjoy a view of the neighborhood
that I otherwise never get to see.

I signed a contract a few weeks ago to replace the roof.  It's an expense I wasn't
anticipating and unfortuantely the bathroom budget is being partially reallocated.
I've known the roof was at the end of its life since I moved in.  It's never leaked until
recently and as you can see there are shingles missing.

I had a few shingles missing but the winds from Hurricane Sandy tore off several
more and I had a leak in the middle bedroom upstairs.

I was hoping to avoid this job because it sets off a chain of events that I just can't tackle 
all at once.  This old chimney that goes through the edge of the roof will eventually come down to make way for new kitchen windows.  But taking down the chimney to do the roof means work on the siding and new kitchen windows.  To add new windows, I need a variance.  The variance also includes plans for a new window outside the new bathroom and new french doors on the back porches.  If I apply for and get a variance, I have one year to complete the work.  So until I have the savings for all that, I've not wanted to do it.  But the roofer and I debated the problem and we agreed that the chimney will be lowered just enough to repair the eave and finish the new roof.  It'll look stupid until I can finish the job but what's wrong with looking a little stupid?

I'm going to be using architectural shingles--the roofer uses
Certainteed--and they dropped off the samples so I could pick a color.

There are several nice grays so it was harder than I thought to pick one.

I chose Colonial Slate that has little bits of both red and green.
I think it'll look nice.

A few weeks ago, I had a second leak during a heavy wind and rainstorm so
I'm glad this is a project that's going to get taken care of in the short term.

I just need the weather to cooperate.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Thanks to everyone for the get-well wishes.  I was down with the flu for about five days.
It wasn't the sickest I've ever been but I guess I was lucky.  I've heard from people who were sick for a few weeks. 

We got about 28 inches of snow literally overnight and I was feeling well enough to get
myself shoveled out today.  I took some before and after photos to share.

This was the first time I've ever seen a front-end loader plowing the streets.

We were lucky compared to many who have no power and others on the waterfront whose
homes were flooded and/or destroyed by astronomically high tides last night and this morning.

We're expecting rain on Monday which will add a lot of additional weight to the snow that's up there so I have to get up my roof tomorrow to shovel it off.

Just another winter day in New England.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Please Excuse Me

It got me.  
The flu hit on Wednesday.  I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
I'm just starting to feel normal again so please excuse me while I convalesce.
  Photo from one of the topairy houses at Snug Harbor Farm in Maine.
I'm pretty sure it's tea tree and it just makes me happy.