Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Attached, you will find a picture of Haley with a magnificent sunflower. One day, Haley, my daughter, came home from her preschool with a paper cup full of dirt with straggly green sprig of a sunflower plant poking up about 2 inches. At chapel that the week before the director of the school had told the four year olds in my daughter’s class how to plant the seed, water it, provide sunlight and then to have faith.
So, Haley brings this cup home, and I was not impressed this little plant. It was too late to plant it, I thought. You see, I plant sunflowers every year in the sunniest spot of my yard at the end of our driveway, and those were 2 feet tall, or more, already. Haley even wanted to plant it in the shadiest part of the vegetable garden in the middle of the carrots. I tried to talk her out of this plan.

She made a shallow hole and stuck it in. Not deep enough was my judgment. She watered it for the first time and it laid flat on the soil covered with mud. I wondered if she would remember to water regularly. I warned her not to be disappointed if the flower didn't make it. I was so afraid that she would be upset if this little plant didn’t survive. But, Haley said "Ms. Becky told me what to do to take care of it and have faith".

As it grew, my children reminded me of the lesson in the book, The Carrot Seed. In the story a little boy plants a tiny seed and no one in his family believed it would grow, but it did. Did she remember to water it? Sometimes. Was it in the perfect spot, with the right amount of sun? It really doesn't matter....It had a little girl who believed in it! I love that girl!

So, I was concerned about the little bit of disappointment that she would feel, and neglected to see the greater possibility.

Now, as I look at the possibilities of the for the next few months, I am reminded of words quoted by Nelson Mandela below, and I wish for each of you greater possibilities.
“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.” Marrianne Williamson

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

(Tom Kha Gai)

1 quart chicken stock
1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, cracked open with the flat side of a knife
3 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried, hand torn
1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger or galangal peeled and sliced into large chunks
2 small Thai chilies, halved lengthwise (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)*
8-ounces fresh mushrooms, rinsed
8-ounces sugar snap peas
4 limes, juiced
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 Thai or holy basil leaves (I substituted sweet basil leaves.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Bring the stock to the boil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the lemon grass,
kaffir lime leaves, ginger, chilies, peas and garlic. Lower the heat to medium-low,
cover, and gently simmer for 10 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth.
Uncover and stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce*, mushrooms, lime juice, basil
and chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes to heat the chicken thoroughly; season with salt
and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls.
Garnish with cilantro. Be careful to avoid chewing the lemongrass, ginger, or lime

Yield: 4 servings
*You may substitute Soy Sauce for the Fish Sauce, if you do not care for fish.
I serve this with warm cooked brown rice or bean thread noodles. I also offer cracked red pepper, minced Thai chilies or Sriracha sauce for those who like the soup with a kick.
I have also used this soup recipe using shrimp, scallops or left-over turkey.

Simple Sustainable Brunch March 27th

I will be speaking at It’s About Thyme on Manchaca Road. The topic is “A Simple Sustainable Brunch”. Basically, I will be taking local foods from the farmer’s markets and demonstrating the benefits of using fresh and local foods with little, or no, prep time. Come on out. Of course, there will be samples!