Week 47: Life on the Mekong

Spring '07 227

10 years ago this week Travis and I went on our first date:) 

Today an old friend of mine is coming to visit us for a few days. We met 11 years ago on my semester abroad in Vietnam. She was the host sister to one of my good friends and we quickly became friends too. One of my favorite weekends that semester was a Sunday excursion four of us took to visit another local friend’s family in the country. We biked there like you do in Vietnam, around 20 km, stopping along the way to rest in hammocks in the shade and cool off with a drinks since as usual, it was hot. Our two local friends wore long sleeves or long gloves, long pants, and hats to shade their skin from the sun while we two Westerners wore t-shirts and helmets to be stay cool and protect our heads if we got hit. Different priorities and cultures for sure. Our journey wouldn’t have been complete without a flat tire, so with that out of the way we continued onto the market to buy ingredients for lunch. We decided to make sweet and sour soup, a classic and very delicious soup I ate often. We bough tomatoes, sprouts, pineapple, greens, chilies, okra and a fish that was alive when we chose it and very shortly afterwards not. Can’t get anymore fresh than that. Despite the heat, eating hot foods both spicy and temperature, is what you do in hot places to sweat and “cool” off. This of course wouldn’t be our only lunch. Every relatives house we went to we were fed more fresh mango, fried bananas, a sweet coconut soup with thick tapioca noodles, and more fruit, hence the 20 lbs I gained that semester. Yikes! We spent the afternoon talking with her relatives, picking and eating fruit from their trees, feeding their pigs, and enjoying our little slice of normal everyday life in Vietnam. Everywhere we went with our group we were a bit of a spectacle and it would quickly change the atmosphere as soon as we walked into a room. People would literally wake up their sleeping children to point at us walking by. So spending the day with a friend’s family “blending” in, cooking food, eating of course, and just enjoying the day with our new friends made this a very memorable day. I will spare you the pictures of me during my chunky phase abroad and instead give you a picture from when Travis and I had muscles and were young pups back in our rowing days.

 

I’m not going to lie. I’m pretty pleased with myself for this week’s menu. Each meal was super delicious on its own, but all of the leftovers were really tasty together, which was a stroke of genius luck. All these meals would have been far more appropriate had it not been in the 70s all week, but I can’t say it bothered me that much. Good food is always welcome. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Chicken and Waffles with Kicky Syrup

  • I actually don’t think I’ve ever had chicken and waffles, so I figured it was high time.
  • We used leftover buttermilk waffles from Sunday breakfast instead of frozen waffles.
  • This is at least the second time I’ve made this mistake in recent history, so shame on me, but I keep buying chicken breast instead of a thinner cut like cutlets or tenders. I’ve tried pounding them flat and failed miserably each time. I think the best solution would be to cut them in half instead. Next time! Chicken breast just take a lot longer to cook and are an uneven thickness of course, but fortunately the outside breading didn’t burn so no harm done.
  • Although I am sure adding Sriracha and soy sauce to my syrup would have been delicious, I am a purist and love my Vermont maple syrup as is.

Tuesday: Four-Bean and Pumpkin Chili

  • Since I still had some frozen chopped butternut squash this was a pretty quick meal. The squash also didn’t take the whole 30 minutes of cooking time the recipe suggests which helped speed things along.
  • I loved the cinnamon in the chili and as usual the flavors were better leftover the next day.
  • We used pepitas, cilantro, sour cream, avocado and cheddar cheese to garnish it.

Wednesday: BBQ Stuffed Potatoes and Green Salad

  • Our roast was a 2.5 lb arm roast instead of a smaller chuck roast. I used the same amount of spice rub and although there wasn’t a ton of sauce at the end it had plenty of flavor.
  • I also love the idea that the potatoes would cook in the crockpot so it truly was a dump and go meal ready to eat anytime. And unlike a lot of baked potatoes it was not at all dry.
  • This was killer left over with the extra chili by the way! Super tasty combo.

Thursday: Swiss-Fondue Mac and Cheese with Peas and Broccoli

  • No surprise here, but this was of course amazing. Enough good cheese could probably make a hotdog taste amazing, but it really did remind me of fondue.
  • While the pasta was cooking I chopped and steamed two small crowns of broccoli. I added them in at the end and tossed in half a bag of frozen peas (thawed) as well. One pot meal.
  • I didn’t have dry vermouth so I used dry sherry instead. I think white wine works too.
  • I couldn’t find Raclette so I added more Gruyere which was not a problem at all.
  • The leftover breaded chicken, chili and meat were all really good with this the next day for lunch.

Friday: Spicy Fish Taco Bowl with Cilantro Lime Slaw

  • Travis gets full credit for this meal. I usually make most of or a lot of dinner while Stella is napping but she had a shorter than anticipated nap this day so I got nothing done. And since we always get out and do something in the afternoon so we don’t go stir crazy, we didn’t get home until late. I think Tazzie was the most disappointed by this. She moped the whole time Travis cooked, devastated that her playmate was neglecting her. She is very emotional.
  • And of course dinner was super good! I’ve been on a bowl kick recently since there are so many new ideas to try and this made eating fish tacos so much easier! I love to pile on so much slaw that I can’t even pick up my taco. Problem solved!
  • Travis hand chopped the cabbage which I prefer since it gives it more texture than shredding.
  • I can’t say much of this was good mixed with other leftovers, but I did enjoy the extra slaw and quinoa the next day with some avocado for lunch.
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