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Friday, September 28, 2012

Rwanda Path to Peace Woven Basket

Did you think you had lost me?  I'm still here, but busier than ever!  The college I work for is hosting the Vice Presidential Debate in a couple of weeks, my daughter is playing soccer and taking dance lessons, and frankly, whenever I get home, I'm just ready to plop myself down on the couch!  I'm hoping that October will give me a little more time to photograph and write about food, but in the meantime, I want to introduce you to this awesome gift idea that gives back to the global community.  (Are you starting to think about Christmas gifts like I am already?!  I know I'm working way ahead of schedule, but I love to start thinking about the perfect gifts for my family and friends early!)

Back in July, I was in touch with a representative from Macy's, and they offered to send me one of these handmade baskets from their Rwanda Path to Peace program.  Rwanda has always had a place in my heart--ever since one of my good friends spent some time there after college working with a group of people on reconciliation.  Rwanda has experienced some tough times, including a very gruesome genocide in 1994 that left a large majority of women as its survivors, but from what I've heard from friends who have been there, it is a beautiful place full of beautiful people.  And Macy's has stepped in to help bridge the economic gap that exists there by selling these extraordinary one-of-a-kind baskets to provide sustainable income to the Rwandan women who create them.

If you're like me, you may be looking for a great alternative gift for the hard-to-shop-for friend or relative.  These baskets would be the perfect opportunity to give a beautiful gift, but also support women from across the globe in a craft that has been handed down from generation to generation.  Mine is sturdy and beautifully crafted.  It currently sits in my office as I've started a small collection of international items, but it can hang easily on your wall or could be used as a fruit basket on your table.  Macy's offers several designs at moderate prices, so when you start your holiday gift list, keep these amazing baskets in mind!

Disclosure: A basket from Rwanda Path to Peace was sent to me free of charge from Macy's. I was not required to post about it and received no compensation for doing so.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

I love Pinterest.  It keeps me organized (in an otherwise very unorganized life) with ideas that I'd like to implement someday.  Many of them will remain that way: someday.  But you know you have to act on a recipe when you've pinned it more than once--that's what happened with this soup.  I saw it a few months ago, made it, and liked it, but thought it needed more depth and more flavor.  I then promptly forgot all about it until a couple of weeks ago when I pinned it...and then realized that it was the same soup!  This time I got it right, though.  My daughter loved it, and although it could have been a tad spicier for me, it was just right for the kiddos.  It's an easy soup and comes together easily.  Make a double batch if you want leftovers because my family finished the whole pot in one sitting!

Thai Coconut Curry Soup
Adapted from Chef Michael Smith
Serves 4-6

2 14-ounce cans coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons green curry paste
1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/2 serrano chile, minced
1/2-3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 tablespoon lemongrass (from the tube--this is the only way I can get it!  If you want to use fresh lemongrass, check out the original recipe for the amount and how to use it.)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Zest of 3 limes
Juice of 2 limes
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, packed
1 inch fresh ginger, grated on a microplane or minced finely
1 cup snow peas, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced into 1" pieces
1 1/2 cups bok choi, chopped
3 green onions, sliced, a handful of green parts reserved for garnish
4 ounces rice noodles
1 bunch cilantro, chopped, a small handful reserved for garnish
Soy sauce, to taste

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  Open the cans of coconut milk and scoop the heavy cream-like part off into the pot.  Add the curry pastes and serrano chile, cooking until the curry paste is incorporated and the mixture starts to sizzle.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is cooked through.

Add the rest of the coconut milk, chicken broth, carrot, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime zest and juice, brown sugar and ginger.  Simmer on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes.  Add the snow peas, bell pepper, bok choi, and green onions and cook for a couple of minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the noodles, submersing them gently under the liquid.  Let sit for about 5 minutes.  (Rice noodles do not need to cook like pasta; they just need to rehydrate.)

Add the cilantro and soy sauce to taste.  Serve hot, sprinkled with green onion and cilantro.

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