Just after New Year's Day, Facebook usually has a number of people posting this "Pay It Forward" message:
"I promise to send (or deliver) something handmade to the 1st 5 people who leave a comment. They must in turn post this and send something they made to the 1st 5 people who comment on their status. The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime this year. You don't get to specify what I send you."
I posted this a few years ago, had five friends sign up, and then completely forgot about it. I tried it again this year and had a number of friends sign up for it. Since I've never been the exclusive type and love to give presents, I was looking forward to the challenge of making handmade item for friends. To make sure that I didn't blow it off again this year, I put a list with everyone's names on my door, so I had to look at it constantly. Slowly I've been crossing off name, usually by handing over a bowl or mug that I've made. It's getting close to the end of the year and I've only got a few names left to cross off. I still need to figure out what I can send to Marie that will make it all the way to France without breaking...
Since both April and Shea signed up, I thought it would be more fun to make them dinner. With everybody's busy lives, it's difficult to schedule in a Girls Night now and then. We originally tried to schedule this back in February and March, but here it is November, and we finally found a night when all three of us are free. Like many new moms, April has had to cut a number of things out of her diet since her daughter Khloé was born, so I was tasked with preparing a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and soy-free meal. So, I thought Thai food... fresh rolls, red curry with chicken, stir-fried vegetables, and jasmine rice.
In order to find some of the ingredients such as the Kaffir lime leaves for the curry, I had to head to the Asian food market in town. It's always a fun adventure to browse all the interesting things you find there. But then sometimes I buy things on a whim and am never really quite sure what to do with them...
It seems a bit random, but for a fairly small and somewhat isolated town that has an extensively long and cold winter, Fairbanks has a decent size Thai community. We probably have at least 10 Thai restaurants when the whole Fairbanks North Star Borough (approximately the size of Rhode Island) only has around 100,000 residents.
rice spring roll wrappers
mung bean noodles
bell pepper-- yellow, red, or orange, sliced into sticks
(I usually also throw cucumbers into these as well, but forgot to pick one up at the store)
Drop the mung bean noodles into boiling water for a minute or so. They soften up quite quickly!
Arrange all the chopped, diced, and grated ingredients before beginning to roll the fresh rolls.
Heat water until just below boiling and place one of the wrappers in the water to soften it. It only takes a few seconds and if you leave the wrapper in too long, it starts to get a bit mushy and tears super easily. I like to have the water in a pan so when it cools, I just heat it back up on the stove.
After pulling the wrapper out of the water, add a small amount of noodles and all the different veggies to the middle of the wrapper. Be careful not to add to much otherwise they'll be hard to roll.
Roll by folding in one side, then the two ends, and finally rolling to close.
Place the fresh rolls on a plate and serve with sweet chili sauce with chopped peanuts.
Red curry with chicken
can of coconut milk
~1 tbsp red curry paste
1/2 cup of water
1 chicken breast
1/2 tsp salt
Kaffir lime leaves
Empty the can of coconut milk into a pot over, and heat over medium high heat on the stove. Depending on how spicy you want your curry, add 1-2 tbsp of red curry paste to the coconut milk and stir. When the curry paste is dissolved in the coconut milk, add in the 1/2 cup of water. Add the chicken and simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
Add the salt.
Tear up a few Kaffir lime leaves and add to the pot.
Add a few shredded basil leaves. Just before serving, top with a few thin slices of bell pepper.
ginger, 3-5 cloves, minced
garlic, a thumb-sized chunk, minced
zucchini, broccoli, sweet onions, carrots, green onion, red bell pepper, and mushrooms
Heat ~ 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add minced garlic and ginger. When the garlic starts to get crunchy, drizzle ~ 1 tbsp of sesame oil over the garlic and ginger. Add all of the veggies, stir, and cook until they're browned but still has some crispness to them.
Serve the vegetable and curry with some jasmine rice.
A good night with friends! And since everything was gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and soy-free, April could eat the whole meal.
I thought about making a mango sorbet for desert but then decided to leave that up to Häagen-Dazs.