Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nothing is So Familiar

photo source
"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”  Bill Bryson

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Indonesia Inspired: Lawar Ayam

Green Bean and Coconut Salad
From the Baliese region, original recipe from Vegetarian Recipes and Cooking

3 cups green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 shallots, minced (I omitted this)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 red Thai chilis, minced (optional)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lime juice
1.5 Tbsp Balinese base be siap (spice paste) OR substitute for Thai red curry paste
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1. Toast coconut in a pan over medium-low heat until lightly browned.

2. Blanch beans in boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes.

3. Drain beans and shock in ice water to cool.

4. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add shallots, garlic, and chili powder.  Cook 4-5 minutes, until lightly browned.

5. Add spice or curry paste and stir to combine, cook 1-2 more minutes.

6. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and lime juice. Combine mixture with green beans and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Explore. Dream. Discover.

National Geographic
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.Mark Twain

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Singapore Inspired: Vegetarian Noodles

Vegetarian Singapore Noodles
Original recipe from Canadian Living

8 oz vermicelli rice noodle
3 tbsp tamari sauce
2 tsp organic sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups shredded cabbage
1-1/2 cups drained and cubed firm tofu
1 sweet red pepper, julienned (I used green pepper because we didn't have red)
4 oz snow peas, julienned (I used carrots because we didn't have snow peas)

2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp curry powder
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped unsalted cashews (optional) 

1. In large bowl, soak vermicelli noodles in warm water until softened and separated, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together tamari sauce, sugar and 3/4 cup water; set aside.

3. In a wok, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Stir-fry the cabbage, tofu, red pepper, snow peas, green onions and garlic for about 2 minutes.

4. Add the curry powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper and stir-fry for another minute.

5. Stir in the tamari mixture and bring to boil.

6. Add the noodles, tossing to combine and stir-fry until tender, about 7 minutes.

7. Sprinkle with peanuts (if using) and serve.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Air, Sleep, Dreams, the Sea, the Sky

image source
"Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” - Cesare Pavese

Oh, it's brutal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Malaysia Inspired: Keripik Tempe

photo source
Though this photo is of keripik tempe, if you click on this link it will take you to a variation of this recipe.

Keripik Tempe (Crispy Fried Tempe)
This recipe from

600g package Tempeh
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp of slaked lime water (or juice from 1/2 a lime instead?)
100g rice flour
25g cornstarch
1 tbsp Vegetable oil

Spice Paste Ingredients
4 candlenuts  (a.k.a macadamia nuts)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. coriander seeds
Salt to taste
1/2 inch fresh ginger

1. Slice the tempeh in thin 3½ x 5 cm squares. Set aside.

2. Mix the spice-paste together with the water and lime juice.

3. Add the rice flour and cornstarch and blend until smooth.

4. Heat oil in a large wok.  Dip the tempeh in the batter and fry until it is golden brown and crisp.  Make sure that the oil is not too hot, otherwise the batter and the tempeh will not be done at the same time.

5. Remove from pan, let sit for about 5-6 minutes before eating.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bottled Water when Traveling: To buy or Not to Buy?

Buying bottled water while traveling is always a dilemma for me.  On the one hand, I would never buy bottled water in my own city or country, and thankfully, I am fortunate enough to live in a country where I don't need to.  As Canadians, we ought to count our blessings because almost all of us are lucky enough to have safe, clean drinking tap water available to us pretty much for free!

On the other hand, when traveling overseas drinking tap water in say Nepal or India is maybe not such a safe idea especially when your body is not accustomed to it. But I am still torn. Besides considering the ludicrous amount of energy and materials that get used up into making bottled water I have to consider the waste I will leave behind while in these countries, which is something I want to keep at the very minimum. So, on the one hand I don't want to buy bottled water while I travel but on the other, I really, really don't want to get sick either. So where do I go from here?
photo source
Well, I went to Mountain Equipment Co-cop actually, and found what I hope will be a great solution. I purchased a water bottle with its own filtration system, which came highly recommended to me by a fellow traveler who lived in Asia for a year.  She suggested I use the pristine microbiological filter water bottle, which even though is made of plastic, it is BPA free and reusable.  So, I am giving it a try.  After reading  mixed reviews on the mec website I made sure to test my bottle.  I wanted to ensure that a) it worked and b) the filter wasn't going to break.

So far, so good.

Although I can't promise myself that I will never buy bottled water during this trip through Asia, I can at the very least reduce the amount of bottles I buy, therefore reducing the waste I produce and know that I at least have an emergency back up filtered water bottle handy.

Cheers to not getting sick! (Fingers crossed)


To learn more about why plastic water bottles are evil, here's a great video by Annie Leonard, creator and founder of The Story of Stuff.

The Story of Bottled Water


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thailand Inspired: Thai Coconut Soup

Thai coconut soup
Original recipe from Cupcakes and Kale blog.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2-3 heaping tbsp thai green curry paste
1.5 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water (I like to water down my vegetable broths but you don't have to)
1 medium size butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 cup coconut milk
1 lime, juiced
2-3 tbsp tamari
Fresh spinach or green onions to garnish

1. In a medium-sized pot heat the oil and add the fresh ginger and garlic.

2. Sauté for about a minute until fragrent.

3. Add in the curry paste and continue to sauté while stirring for another minute or so.

4. Add in the vegetable broth being careful not to spatter as the oil is hot! Add coconut milk and the butternut squash.

5. Cover and simmer for at least 20-25 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

6. Stir in the lime juice and tamari and then season to adjust. 

7. I pureed this soup because my partner and I prefer it that way but you don't have to do the same.  If you do, simply add the soup to a food processor, a few batches at a time and process until desired smoothness achieved.

8. Divide spinach leaves or green onions between bowls and add as garnish or ladle the soup over top to mix it in.


Thursday, May 3, 2012


photo source
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

India Inspired: Yellow Split Pea Daal

Yellow Split Pea Daal
Original recipe from Fork and Beans

1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp ground cumin (or 2 tsp whole cumin seeds)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cup yellow split peas
4 cup water
2 cup vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked Jasmine rice

1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add the onion and garlic.

2. As onion becomes translucent, add cumin and turmeric.

3. When the onions are done browning, add the yellow split peas, water and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until split peas have softened, about 20-30 minutes.

4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve over rice and yogurt (optional if you're vegetarian).

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