Tom Kha Kai

December 10th, 2009

This cold and flu season has been murder. But it gave me a chance to finally perfect this soup I love, but never found a good at-home recipe for.

There used to be a small thai/chinese restaurant near my old office, and on cold days we’d get their chicken soup with coconut milk and kafir lime leaves–Tom Kha Kai. It was a light but rich dish, chicken stock with sweet coconut and sour lime, sour but sweet and salty–and a bit spicy–all at the same time. Really warmed you up–and cleared any stuffy noses with its spice. A perfect cold-day, sick-at-home soup.

I’d tried it lots of other places–on travels and at any new Thai restaurants–but none were quite as good as that little strip-mall hole-in-the-wall version. I looked for a good recipe, but could never seem to get all the exotic ingredients–coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, kafir lime leaves–on hand at the same time. Then I stumbled on one over at Tasty Kitchen, tried it, tweaked it and… yum. I’ve been eating it all season. And some of my peeps asked me to share. So here ya go.

Tom Kha Kai (Chicken soup with coconut and lime)

whole chicken or wings/thighs (or whatever parts you like) and the basic ingredients to make chicken stock (water, carrot, onion, sage, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper)
cooked cut up chicken PLUS 5/6 c. chicken stock/broth

2 T butter OR 1T butter, 1T veg oil OR 2T olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
mushrooms, chopped (8 oz can or 1/2 pkg fresh)
water chestnuts, chopped (6-8 oz can or as many as you like)

2 t curry paste (red or green, you can even use curry powder though it’ll taste a bit different)
2 T fish sauce
1/3 c sugar
1 can coconut milk (16 oz.)
3-4 kaffir lime leaves OR a bit of lime zest
1/4 t basil (dried) or a bit of fresh chopped basil or cilantro
1/4 t red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on your heat preference)

wedges of lime (for serving)

1. Make chicken stock, if you’re going that route. Remove the meat and vegs from the stock; cool and pick meat off bones. Reserve vegs in enough stock to cover for another use, strain/de-fat stock (or however you like it prepared) and set it aside. You’ll want about 5-6 cups of liquid; feel free to use stock and chicken broth, just chicken broth, or even bouillion if that’s what you have.

2. Sautee onion in butter/oil. When it’s soft and see-through, add the mushrooms, then the water chestnut, cook till shrooms and onion are done but not brown. (If you’ve only got uncooked chicken–like chicken breast or boneless, you could brown it here, then add the liquid to simmer it till done–so many different ways to make soup!)

3. Add 5-6 c stock/broth and give it a good stir. Add the curry paste or powder, fish sauce, sugar, coconut milk, lime leaves, and pepper flakes. Bring it to a very low simmer and let it cook an hour or two. Add the pre-cooked chicken meat, and let it simmer another :30 or so.

4. Squeeze a wedge of lime into each bowl, or serve with wedges of lime to be added at the table. Another suggestion is to serve this soup with a bowl of hot, cooked rice. Add the rice to the soup and it’s an even more filling meal.

er: the end of an era.

April 2nd, 2009

Wow. I guess I hadn’t realized just how long er had been on as a show, until the retrospective and final episode. I was still a teenager, still in my parents’ house–Thursday nights through high school and college. Episodes that made me laugh my head off or bawl my eyes out.

Just watching the retrospective is enough to make me tear up. When Dr. Greene dies. When Carter gets stabbed and Lucy dies. Doug and Carol. “Love’s Labor Lost” *sniff* And it’s all leading into the last episode ever, and it wouldn’t be er if it didn’t involve tears and tragedy and that sort of… laughing through the crying that rips your lungs right out of your chest cavity.

  • Awww, that’s the first scene from the first episode. They’re re-doing it. Back then it was Anthony Edwards. I bet it will end with a big trauma, scene out.
  • And the credits, they put everybody back in it. or maybe i hadn’t noticed this year. but awww. except Anthony Edwards. who’s still dead.
  • I really didn’t like Archie in the beginning. Like, hated him on the same level I hated Romano. (I totally rewound to watch that helicopter smush him to bits. Several times.)

I had to stop listing, I just … watched. And I made it through, all the way to the end. Laughing at Lizzy and Benton, and rolling my eyes at Kerry, at interns. I caught myself thinking I was going to like Lorelei’s daughter taking up as in intern next season–only there won’t really be a next season. Awww.

But I made it through–even though the distressed babies and the dead birthmother and the reminisces with Carter and his wife (I hate that that plotline wasn’t wrapped up–I so want Carter to find happiness… somehow…). I managed not to go beyond the occasional sniffle and tightness of throat. Until the last line.

And this is based on recollection–I can’t find a scripts archive–but I’m pretty certain. If it wasn’t in the first episode, it was in the first season, a moment I remember, so very clearly.

Carter, fresh out of med school, full of doubt, has the kind of day that fuels the doubt. He doesn’t see how he’ll have the knowledge or the confidence, and no matter what good thing he does, people die. And it never stops coming. A major trauma rolls in, and everyone jumps into action, a smooth and well-oiled machine, doing what it does best. A long camera shot follows the seeming chaos but really–it is order. Orders are being barked, patients triaged, lives saved. Carter is in a reverie, watching it unfold from the outside, until he is invited in. By Mark Green. “Dr. Carter, are you coming?” He springs into action, sure now. And, credits.

And at the end… Lorelei’s daughter, fresh out of med school. Med students. One of them Rachel Green, Mark’s daughter. The kind of day in the er … it has always been. Life, death, tragedy, finality. And it never stops coming. A major trauma rolls in, and everyone jumps into action, a smooth and well-oiled machine, doing what it does best. A long camera shot follows the seeming chaos, but really–it is order. Orders are being barked, patients triaged, lives saved. Rachel Greene is in a reverie, watching it unfold from the outside, until she is invited in. By John Carter. “Dr. Greene, are you coming?” She springs into action, sure now. And, credits.

Ah, symmetry.

24, Season 7: 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

January 12th, 2009

This season’s theme:

“So, there’s only three of you against the entire federal government? Ok, I’ll play ball.”

The Shield: Series finale.

November 26th, 2008

As usual, the title should have already told you this is a spoiler–if you’re still reading and you don’t want to know what happens to Vic Mackey and his crew… you should stop now.


Ok. Now that I didn’t see coming. I thought for sure when Shane did the coke that he was gearing up to go entirely postal on Vic’s ass… and that was what I did expect. I expected Vic’s finale to be every bit as violent and out-of-control as he’s been all the way, with just a tiny bit extra–just enough to send him and his cart careening off a curve, finally out of control. But, after seeing it all go down, that would have been some version of going out in a blaze of glory…

And, you know, that wouldn’t have exactly been a punishment. That kind of end–to die with his boots on–was what Mackey would have wanted. He would have been spared the agony of the one thing he could not stand: seeing those around him, most especially his family–turn from him. His greatest horror: Noone worships him anymore; he is noone’s hero; they all look at him with revulsion and disgust… he doesn’t even merit fear any longer. The pedestal he was on from the beginning–the hero/villain larger-than-life character he posed as for so many people–had been steadily chipping away with each person he betrayed, each confidence he mined for advantage, each pretend compatriot he threw under the bus. And there were a /lot/ of busses over the years. (The scene last week, when he rolls out the litany of transgressions for the Feds, smirks through the retelling of all his dirty deeds, was less comeuppance and more… the cat, licking his lips after having enjoyed the canary. He thought he was getting away with it.)

And to have him ended at the hands of Shane would have betrayed their pairing–more Oedipal than equals, Shane getting a victory over Mackey would have not been good winning in any way, but evil continuing to breed and breed, as Shane was Mackey’s creation, his finest corruption. The monster destroying the master–that is what was supposed to play out, what would play out, if Mackey had succeeded in truly corrupting Shane the way he intended.

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“Best sushi in the Triangle” title changes hands.

November 26th, 2008

Tokyo Fun
4325 Highway 55th
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 544-9696

Every once in a while an old champion flags and an upstart surges ahead. But sometimes, you get an even better surprise–a newcomer that, for some reason, has got /serious/ game and comes out a smidge ahead, with a venerable old favorite finishing gracefully a step behind, but no worse the wear for it.

Such is the case on the Triangle sushi scene.

Upstart restaurant Tokyo Fun–which has taken over the old China One building off Hwy 55 in Durham (just a bit past the intersection with 54, towards Durham)–has just /barely/ displaced perennial favorite Wasabi as the best sushi in the Triangle.

But why?

In general? Tokyo Fun is just that… /fun/.

The sushi is inventive, creative, and just delightful. The rolls have wry, sly names–the Obama roll, the Foxy Lady… the Italian Stallion. There’s a variety of different types, and textures–a well-rounded menu that includes a healthy offering of appetizers and other noodle and tempura dishes in addition to quite a few unique roll combinations. There are plenty of tempura-based and typical rolls, for those squeamish about the raw deal or set on a particular favorite, and sashimi and sushi standards in various combinations. But it’s when they go a bit off the map that things get really interesting.

We popped over late in the afternoon on a Sunday; We actually arrived a bit before they opened, and loitered in the parking lot till the staff arrived. When they did, the owner/manager ushered us inside quite politely, and had us seated. He gave us a huge platter of edamame to nosh on while the kitchen got started, and seated us in one of the tiny private tatami rooms. The service was truly first-rate from that moment on–granted, we were just about the only people in the place given the hour, but still… nicer servers and staff you couldn’t find.

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Second Life: My first (truly) negative experience.

November 23rd, 2008

First things first–if you’re in Second Life, I highly recommend you avoid any land rentals from:

  • Xael Aeon
  • Rainbow Estate Land Sales
  • Communal Waters

Here’s why:

The short version: Xael Aeon is a greedy asshole.

The long version:

  • I paid L$20,000 to rent an Open Space Sim (OSS) from Xael Aeon on Nov 3, 2008 for the period of 29 days.
  • It was understood at the time of this rental that the re-pricing of OSS would change the rental price in January to between L$35-40K/month. It was also understood at the time of rental that the Sim would remain through at least Dec 31 at the current rental price.
  • Xael notified me Nov 15 that the rental would be ending at the end of the first rental period, and that I needed to remove my objects by Dec 1. I spoke with Xael at this time and indicated that this was understood, but that I did expect to continue to reside there until Nov 31.
  • Xael notified me by notecard (NC) on Nov 22 that the rental period was ending immediately. (This is 10 days early, fully 1/3 of the paid-for rental period.) The NC also indicated that he WOULD NOT return his resident’s items, even though the turnover of the sim was imminent, nor offer pro-rated repayment or alternate lodgings for the remaining third of the lease.
  • I immediately vacated the sim, successfully moving my store, residence, building, and SXL/OnRez boxes to a new location.
  • I did–in a moment of anger–change the Parcel name/description to “Xael Aeon is a greedy asshole” (or similar). I felt it was quite wrong to be evicted with no notice, and no recompense–not even an apology. Admittedly, changing the Parcel name was entirely unnecessary and childish. However, it was done knowing that only someone on the land would see that, not as a public bit of ugliness.
  • I replaced the link to my land in my Picks with a description of what had occurred (no profanity or abusive language), as a warning for other renters–a warning I very much wish I had received!
  • I received a series of IMs from Xael stating that he had reported me to LL for abuse, that I was hereby banned from all Rainbow Island sims, and evicting me from the Rainbow Island Land group. I did not contact him after these notices.

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Restaurant review: Sono sushi

March 13th, 2008

For several years now, I’ve had an bunch of friends that get together about once a month to consume vast quantities of raw–and cooked–fishies. Our group’s been going out long enough now that we’ve tried a good number of the sushi places in the area… and we all have our favorites.

When we can’t all get together (or aren’t sure our dozen-plus table will fit in the establishment), we send out a scouting party. This past week, a handful of us took an after-work jaunt to the revitalized downtown area and the newly-opened Sono. We’d heard good things, and we weren’t disappointed.

The decor, for starters, was lovely. Low-lit, glowing red and laquered black with wide, comfortable booths and comfortable chairs. The art was a fun departure from the stock tapestries and dragons motif–instead it leaned more modern, with stands of odd-shaped high-gloss bamboo and large screen-printed photography covering an entire wall. The lost shoe was an odd whimsical touch I loved.

As for the food and service–not a thing was lost. We got a handful of starters–fantastic tempura calimari with their fantastic ‘o’ sauce (an aoli-like mayo-based concoction), some wonton-wrapped shrimp with a sweet-spicy glaze, and panko-coated hot wings with a sticky sweet soy based sauce. Another friend got a tempura-ed tofu salad–she was disappointed that the salad itself was a bit dry, but the tofu was quite tasty.

We love to try the appetizers, but the real test would be the sushi. We picked a handful of rolls from the gorgeous glossy menu (the online version’s just as drool-worthy), and got a few pieces of straight up rice-and-fish. The straight sushi was fantastic–cool buttery fish, perfectly formed rice, evenly distributed schmear of wasabi.

The rolls were inventive–we tried the Crunchy Diablo, and the jalepeno-laced roll was both spicy and flavorful. Not really what you’d think of when you think sushi, but really fun to eat and delightfully presented (split down the center instead of sliced into disks). Sono’s version of ebi maki, with sweet shrimp, crab, avocado, asparagus, and cucumber was light and refreshing. The vegetable roll, with tempura sweet potato and asparagus, was adequate but did not surpass the area’s by-far best veggie roll, the Count Basie (from Sushi Blues). Their version of a Spicy Tempura roll was as good as Wasabi’s I/O Dragon (also an area standard for sushi deliciousness).

We also tried the Lava, the Hard Rock, and the Maryland. Lava was a substantial roll, with cream cheese and crab in the roll, and a baked scallop and seafood mix on top. The flavor was good, and the cream cheese and the smooth baked seafood were complimentary. Hard Rock and Maryland were more typical rolls, both well-executed. It’s worth noting, also, that presentation was as elegant as the decor. Nests of paper-thin vegetable peelings held single blooms on simple plateware. Quite polished. And the silverware was gorgeous, heavy, substantial. No detail left undone.

The singular stand-out roll of the night was the Piano. Entirely unexpected, but totally yummy. Generally rolls with wasabi /sauce/ pack a bit too much punch, but the avocado wrap and the contrasting sweet sauce evened it all out beautifully.

One member of our party–not a fan of the sushi, generally–ordered a regular entree. She got a scallop and shrimp dish, served over risotto with a halo of frizzly fried scallions. It was equally as well-executed, the scallops and shrimp both properly cooked and the sauce not overpowering. The risotto was creamy and substantially studded with mushrooms.

We lacked any room for dessert but did take a peek at the dessert offerings for posterity. We were disappointed not to see a lot of variety–they seem to specialize in mousse and custard-type finishings, though they did have an extensive after-dinner drink / coffee offering.

The biggest–and best–surprise came at the end of the evening. Our usual sushi outings run in the fairly-expensive range, with an average diner (drinks, appetizers, and two rolls or several a la carte selections) in the $40-50 range. We all got out of Soho for around $30 apiece, which was even more pleasing since there was no corresponding drop in quality or environs. A total win.

Summary: It won’t replace Wasabi as the sushi crowd’s main squeeze (its location , the additional thai menu offerings, and the convenient back room we can take over with our crowd still keep it on top), but it’ll certainly be entertaining us on the sly side. Delicious, surprisingly less expensive than the norm, and gorgeous inside. Definitely recommend.

Not dead? No.

March 10th, 2008

Contrary to the actual appearance of this blog, I am still alive over here in my little corner–medium-sized corner?–of the internets.

What conspires to keep a random blogger down? Mostly, the fact that I spend a good portion of my day at work staring at a similar interface and don’t want to continue looking at it from the flip side. Also significant, the time I used to spend dorking around on the internet in general is now spent dorking around the internet in Second Life.

Constructing essays and editing content happen on a daily basis… I come home to rest and… build things. Buildings. Jewelry. Plants. Graveyards. I spent a recent laughter-filled Saturday afternoon–completely by myself in the real world–constructing a burlesque-themed nightclub (replete with rooftop roller-skating rink) with friends. We hosted a surprise birthday party there a few hours after the last prim was set in place.

It’s fun. And I’m not dead. Far from it.

Though I did jettison some dead weight (in the format of one now-VERY-ex boyfriend). I suppose it is a good sign that it still shocks me that people can reach their 30s… and yet still not be grown ups.

Eight random facts meme

October 23rd, 2007

Tagged by my good friend Paul, I must make with the posting and rejoin the blogging internets once again. I understand from his explanation that I’m to reveal eight random facts about me and then tag 8 people who are asked to do the same. So without further ado or explanation:

  1. I’m deathly afraid of clowns. I don’ t like balloon animals or mimes either.
  2. My boyfriend lives in Texas and his name is John. He’s the most perfect boy in the world. I’m importing him permanently in December.
  3. I’m addicted to Second Life. I jumped in-world in October of last year and have been totally entranced ever since. My friends have WarCrack, I have SL. Though I’m sad at the moment, as I’m homeless. :(
  4. I hate mowing the yard. It’s my least favorite chore, especially when it’s hot, and my yard currently looks like an out-of-control jungle. Or would had I not hired the lawn dudes from B&R. Who totally rock.
  5. I like the smell of gasoline. Weird, but true.
  6. Spiders don’t scare me, even the poisonous kind. But camel crickets? Those things are /creepy/.
  7. I have a halloween party every year. Except this year. This year, I haven’t even unpacked a single halloween item. I’m taking a break.
  8. Placebo is one of my favorite bands of the moment.

And who do I tag? Michael, Kat, Kath, Brian, Colby, Sam, Ruth, and John.

Well, /duh/.

June 18th, 2007

Turned on the TV when I got home, and the local news was on. Fortunate timing, otherwise I would have missed this absolute gem (And the emphasis? Is totally the newscaster’s.):

[ A shot of a fat white dude, shirt doffed, big tattoo clearly visible on his chest. ]

“Police say 45-year-old Tony Finch, a former police officer, who may have ties to the Klu Klux Klan…”

[ Cut to tat close-up: a Confederate flag on a pole, sporting the word “Knights” on the banner just above it. ]

“…pointed a gun at a black couple and screamed racial epitaphs at them.” [NBC-17 7 o’clock news, reliably the worst newscast in the area.]

He might have ties to the Klan. What with the hating black people and the /tattoo/. But just maybe.

Incidentally, the next sentence of the report: “Finch was arrested in the Oxford Police parking lot after allegedly chasing the couple all the way from Vance County.”

Uh, yeah.