Thursday Thoughts – 9/10/15

  1. I know it’s been a good one and a half weeks since the MTV VMA’s, but Tori Kelly’s “Should’ve Been Us” performance is STILL giving me chills. Have followed her on Youtube since 2010; so happy she’s such a star now.
  2. When J.K. Rowling says it’s so, you KNOW it’s so… it’s officially the dawn of the Age of Hufflepuffs. I’ve never been a prouder Hufflepuff!!
  3. There’s a jazzy street performer on the Main St block by the lofty, and the other day he was sax-ing up a jazzy version of Blank Space and it was COOL. I love street performers, and it made me think of all my favorites in Chicago (tap dancer at Monroe red line, super soulful singer at Grand red line, British magician on the Michigan Ave bridge).
  4. I don’t understand DSLR cameras, can someone please teach me how to use them. Kelly and I went to Detroit on Labor Day and I thought, oh why not take this nice camera (it’s my mom’s), but then half the pictures turned out blurry/dark. Help.
  5. I am really bad at yoga. I would really, really love to love it (it’s so good for you! yoga bodies are so bomb!) but I’m so bad at it.
  6. I’m going to Charleston this weekend!! Very excited. I don’t know ANYTHING about it, but one night, about a year and a half ago, I had a dream that I moved to Charleston and was so very happy there… and ever since, I’ve really, really wanted to visit. Since then, I’ve learned that it’s one of the top wedding destinations in the states because it’s so charming and beautiful. I’ve also learned that it’s a major foodie hot spot. And I love food. And I’ve made reservations at Husk and Magnolia’s. Can’t wait to get my southern comfort food fix and share it with you guys!
  7. Speaking of trips, my mom and I are thinking about eschewing all Thanksgiving tradition this year, and road tripping it down to Nashville for the extra long holiday weekend! She’s really excited about it, and texted me a (Chinese) article about all the things we can do in Tennessee together. Like visit Elvis Presley’s home (lol).
  8. I’ve been re-reading the 101 Zen Stories from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones and am reminded of why I loved it so much the first time around. I sometimes summarize my overall thought perspective by saying “I strive to carry my treasure house with me, and find all the strawberries along the way.” And here are the two stories from where this comes from –

    Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Base asked: “What do you seek?”
    “Enlightenment,” replied Daiju.
    “You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Base asked.
    Daiju inquired: “Where is my treasure house?”
    Baso answered: “What you are asking is your treasure house.”
    Daiju was enlightened! Ever after he urged his friends: “Open your own treasure house and use those treasures.”

    […]

    Buddha told a parable in a sutra:
    A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
    Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

  9. This video of men trying out what labor pains feel like… is amazing and hilarious and everyone should watch it.

Made in Detroit

DO: walk the Riverwalk, shop at Eastern Market, Woodward Dream Cruise (annual)
SEE: ART (Detroit Institute of Art, Heidelberg Street, street art), “The Spirit of Detroit” statue, fist sculpture
EAT: Slow’s Bar BQ, Sala Thai, Fishbones, Mexicantown Mexican food

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PERI PERI CHICKEN (I miss Nando’s)

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to Nando’s, my fave
a haiku dedication
please send me some sauce?

The first time I ever tried Nando’s was while on vacation in London and I immediately fell in love. The spicy Portuguese style chicken is so tender and flavorful in a huge, make-your-eyes-water-and-your-tongue-tingle kind of way. In a GOOD way. I was hooked. I made sure to go back to Nando’s for a second chicken platter before my flight out. That was two years ago, and I’ve missed this chicken terribly, BUT THEN(!) – Nando’s decided to open restaurant locations in Chicago this summer! Best news ever. I subscribed to the emails, eagerly followed the golden cockerel hunt (for free Nando’s for a year!), and made sure to visit several times before…

I moved to Ann Arbor, MI last month. There is no Nando’s location anywhere in this state. And then, one day I saw a tweet by Nando’s and it totally derailed me. Definitely spent a good half an hour reading about and salivating (longingly) over each of their sauces on their website. Decided right then that I NEEDED my Peri Peri chicken fix immediately, AND SO here we have it… my attempt at making homemade Peri Peri chicken!

…without Nando’s sauces. Or even bird’s eye chili, aka the central ingredient to the magical Peri Peri sauce. Or a grill. But hey! It actually turned out to be a really, really delicious experiment! And SO easy! Doesn’t really taste quite like Nando’s, but the chicken came out tender and so flavorful, and my insatiable craving is satisfied… for now.

But for real, this recipe is actually so easy. The sauce takes less than 10 minutes to make, then the chicken is marinated in it (I’d recommend marinating up to 24 hours – that’s how long Nando’s marinates their chicken!). Then you just pop the chicken in the oven, or throw it on the grill! So. Easy.

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Peri Peri Chicken

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 10 min prep, 25 min cook
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • chicken (I used 8 thighs, other parts should work too!)
  • 8-10 bird’s eye chili (adjusted for spice level, I used serrano peppers as a sub)
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • large pinch salt
  • large pinch pepper
Directions

  1. Prep the peri peri sauce. Put all the ingredients except for the chicken in a blender and blend until smooth. Can adjust the amount of olive oil for a nice consistency.
  2. Use about a third of the sauce to marinate the chicken for a least a couple of hours. I slitted the chicken a little to really allow the marinade to get in there and add its flavor. I marinated for a full 24 hours.
  3. If you have a grill, use it! Otherwise, when you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the chicken on a foiled and (lightly) oiled cooking pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Take the chicken out to baste with more sauce (about half of the remaining amount) and flip over. Let bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is browned and done on the inside.
  5. Drizzle the last bit of sauce on top (or serve on the side if it’s too spicy!) and enjoy!

Holy Kaprao!

kaprao

In August, I visited Thailand for a total of five days, and during that time, I ate kaprao a good three or four times. Fragrant, spicy spoonfuls of juicy ground pork, gooey fried egg and fresh basil. It’s addictive. It inevitably led to kaprao withdrawals back in Ann Arbor. Solution? Homemade kaprao in the lofty!

This dish is so fast and SO easy and SO delicious. Definitely going to be my go-to when I’m in need of a homemade Thai food fix.

Kaprao

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork (chicken would be good too!)
  • large handful basil leaves
  • 5-10 chilli peppers, finely chopped (we used local farmer’s market cayenne peppers)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • large pinch sugar
  • 1 fried egg, cooked rice

*Note – soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar is the base sauce for many, many Thai dishes! Once armed with these ingredients, you’re prepped to be able to keep making yummy Thai food, particularly noodles.

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pan on high heat, then add garlic and chilli peppers (reserve a small amount for garnish) and stir for about 30 seconds.
    Wear an apron! Things get spattery :).
  2. Add ground pork and use a spatula to really smash the pork down into the oil, garlic, chillies. Break it up into small pieces.
  3. When the meat is almost done cooking, add the sauces and sugar (adjust amount to taste).
  4. Add the basil leaves, turn the heat off, and stir, letting the residual heat wilt the basil.
  5. Serve with warm rice (helps absorb some of the extra sauce and oil nom nom). Top with a fried egg and a sprinkle of fresh chillies. Squeeze of lime juice optional.

Thailand – Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Bangkok (August 2015)

DO: stroll the night markets for kitschy souvenirs, listen to chanting monks, get a Thai massage, ride a tuk tuk, pet giraffes/zebras/antelopes on a Chiang Mai night safari, elephant conservation (where they treat elephants MUCH better than those elephant ride places in the city!)
SEE: wats all day (Wat Po and Wat Phra Kaew are my Bangkok favorites, Wat Rong Khun is a must for Chiang Rai), Vinmanek mansion in Bangkok, flower market, lizards and cats everywhere
EAT/DRINK: street food!!! KAPRAO (click for recipe!), khao soi and deep fried whole snapper in northern Thailand (BOTH SO GOOD), green curry, pad kee mao, paenang curry, spicy papaya salad, coconut ice cream, thai iced tea
MISC: pack good bug spray, be prepared to freeze (stand still) every day at 6pm as the king’s song gets played over speakers and literally everyone stops moving

wat phra kaew

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Super Superfood Smoothies

superfood smoothies

Living in Ann Arbor has definitely had its (good) influence on Hunter (boyfriend, roommate). These days, he practices yoga, bikes everywhere, brews his own beer… and makes these superfood smoothies! Like, SUPER superfood. Beyond the normal protein powder, flax, chia seeds… Maca powder? Hemp powder? Spirulina…? He spends about half an hour whipping these up for four days’ worth of easy weekday lunches, pairing a green smoothie with one of the protein-rich smoothies each day. Easy to make, easy to pack, easy to drink between his classes. And this week, I decided to give them a try myself!

Verdict – surprisingly tasty, extremely filling (kept me full until dinnertime). The Chocolate Banana Maca might as well be a dessert. Berry Power is more similar to the smoothies I used to make (basically the berry taste and color is most prevalent) and the tiny bite of ginger is refreshing. Lean & Green isn’t so bad either, for a green smoothie! The avocados weren’t quite ripe enough for my batch, but Hunter assures me that the texture is usually quite creamy.

And the mason jars are cute.

(Note – these are not meant to be low calorie foods!)

Chocolate Banana Maca

  • Servings: 2 mason jars
  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients

combine in blender

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain or greek)
  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 tbsp maca powder
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp flax
  • 2 bananas
  • 1tbsp coconut oil

Berry Power

  • Servings: 2 mason jars
  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

combine in blender

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain or greek)
  • 1/4 cup hemp powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 piece ginger (sliced)
  • 1 pound berries (I like using frozen blueberries)
  • optional: goji berries, camu camu powder

Lean & Green

  • Servings: 2 mason jars
  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

combine in blender

  • 2 cups green tea (steeped)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp spirulina
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 bunch kale/spinach
  • bit of extra water (as needed)

Monthly “Make it Happen” List – September 2015

  1. Tune guitar and learn a few songs. I now have an acoustic guitar (Yamaha F310 for anyone who knows anything about guitars aka not me) snugly sitting in a black case in the corner of my living room. It belonged to my dad and I don’t think it’s been touched in several years, but it has a new home here now! And I mean, if 14 year old Justin Bieber can do this with a guitar, I should totally be able to learn a few chords/songs, right?
  2. Make an art trip to Detroit. I love Detroit. I hugely believe in its roots, stories, arts, and am a supporter of its revival! Saw this article on 35 must-see pieces of street art in Detroit, and definitely need to make a trip out to see how many I can find.
  3. Check out Literati events. Literati is the bookstore right across the street from the new lofty, and it’s so charming, and it has a monthly calendar of events that it hosts! I first heard of it last year when a couple of my friends went to a British books and cheese event that it hosted. British books and cheese! I’m considering joining the book club.
  4. RUN (before half-marathon in Oct…) Yep. I’m running my first half-marathon in October. How’s my training going? Don’t really want to talk about it.
  5. Learn how to belly dance. My friend Kelly has actually convinced me to sign up for belly dancing classes with her at Leilah Dances. They start next week. I’m not convinced that I’ll be very successful at it (that region of my body just doesn’t move that way!) but hey, we’ll see what happens.
  6. Obtain Indian chai. And practice making it until satisfactory. I miss the stuff, and the friend who used to make it for me all the time.
  7. Compile a list of apple recipes (in prep for apple orchard season!). I LOVE APPLE ORCHARD SEASON. In the years that I lived in Chicago, apple orchards and cider mills are what I missed the most about Michigan. Fun fact – did you know that the nearest “apple picking” experience around Chicago is a drive super far west to pick apples out of crates? Crates that are IMPORTED FROM MICHIGAN.

Cook: PERI PERI CHICKEN. (Stay tuned for a post!)
Read: Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson), All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)