Coconut Curry Soup

When I feel under the weather, the #1 thing I want is the coconut tofu soup from our favorite local Thai place.  It is velvety and warms you up with just the right amount of back-of-the-throat heat, and I want it in a bad way.  Like a "sip it through straws on my beer helmet" kind of way. Point of interest, however: I have thus far lived my life sans beer helmet.

I've recreated the soup at home, but over time it's transformed into a whole other animal in our kitchen. Instead of a light broth, the changes yield a fairly hearty bowl that, according to my boys, earn it credit as a full meal.

Here we go...

Coconut Curry Soup with Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1-2 tablespoons Chinese five spice powder
olive oil
kosher salt
4 tablespoons curry paste (I tend to use red more often than green for this)
fish sauce
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 pint mushrooms, sliced (I use the "baby bella" ones - I haven't gotten adventurous with mushrooms yet)
3 cans light coconut milk
6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional - we like sweet heat)

Preheat oven to 425. Drop the chicken thighs into a ziplock bag, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a generous pinch of kosher salt, and toss in the Chinese five spice powder. Zip up the bag and smush it around until the chicken is evenly coated. Place the thighs on a sheet pan covered with aluminum foil, and bake until they're golden brown around the edges. Cool, chop into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.  In a large pot, heat a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat. Toss in the green onions, yellow onion, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of kosher salt and cook until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Add in the mushrooms and give them a minute to get tender, then add the curry paste and continue stirring. Add a splash of fish sauce and cook for another minute or so. If you're new to using fish sauce, don't worry - the funky smell of this stuff will cook off and leave some seriously deep flavor behind. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken stock, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat back to medium. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly and to bring all the flavors together. Test for seasoning, and add salt to taste if needed. Ladle into bowls, and serve.

Note: I have also stretched a pot of this into many more meals by spooning it over steamed rice.

Heard Around the House

Our little man turns five soon, and it's kinda freaking me out.  

Five feels big.  

The last night of our Disney trip, I scooped him up as we walked through the Magic Kingdom and choked back a little sob because it struck me that I'd likely be unable to carry him in that same way the next time we walked those streets.

So because 2016 is shaping up to be a barrage of reminders that life is fast and impermanent and unpredictable - and because I know I'm incredibly lucky - I'm hanging on tightly to this season our family is in right now.

And because, quite frankly, I could use a laugh (and maybe you could, too), I've rounded up some of the silliness heard around our house these days. Hope you enjoy!

Me: I heard you made a new friend at Lunch with the Ladies.
Matt: I did!
Me: Who's your new friend?
Matt: I don't have the slightest idea.

Me: Matt, please remove your sword from the table so we can eat dinner.
(May there always be swords cluttering my table. Amen.)

Beard: Matt, what happened to the frost?
Matt (quizzical look): ...
Beard: This morning when we were outside, there was frost on your tricycle. What happened?
Matt (inspecting seat): The frost melted!
Beard: It melted?!?! How'd that happen?
Matt: How'd that happen, you say? (points to the fiery ball in the sky) Thanks to the nice, warm sun! The frost all melted away!

Matt: That game we have plugged in right now is pay-to-play. We all know this, Mama.

Chef Matt: May I take your order?
Erik: I'll have the Peace & Quiet.
Matt: Nope, all out.  We only have the Wild & Loud.

Matt: "Shake It Off" is all over the internet. It's crawling everywhere.

Erik: What are you made of, kid?
Matt (folding himself into a pretzel): Gelatin, silly!

Me: That's a cool lightsaber you've got there, bub.
Matt (very seriously): It's not a lightsaber. It's a training saber. I. Am. A. Padawan.

Word for the Year 2016

New Year's resolutions are not for me, but last year I decided to choose a word for the year to help me focus and prioritize.  My word for 2015 was adventure.  To me, that word represented a desire to get out, explore, and make memories, and I think we did exactly that.

So I'm going for round two in 2016.  My word for this year is content.  When this word first struck me as a contender, I thought, "Nah, where's the potential for growth in that word?"  But the more I considered it, the more I realized that my attempts at growth have far too frequently come from a sense of comparison or competition or "If I work really hard and fix/accomplish/achieve this, things will be right and good."  Approaching it from that direction is unsustainable at best, self-flagellation at worst, and more often than not has led me to do things that don't really make me better and certainly don't make me happy or good for the people I love.

Maybe the biggest adventure of 2015 was letting go of some of the junk that left me feeling used up and empty and giving due attention to the people who matter most and the actions that make me feel like the best version of me.  Maybe things right now are, in fact, right and good, and maybe it's worth saying that out loud while also digging in from a place of kindness and love to make them even better.  So being content in 2016 doesn't mean sitting around and being okay with whatever but rather getting intentional about being comfortable in my own skin and waking up to the best of where I am right now, both geographically and a bit more figuratively.

That feels big and vague, but I've got some concrete ideas on how to start.  I'll be learning how to take a compliment ("Thank you" is allowed.  Deflection is not.).  The Team Hammonds adventuring will continue with a focus on exploring things close to home and learning to love where we live.  And I want to build on the "document and share things better" plan that I began last year, both here on the blog and on Instagram.

Happy 2016!