I haven't done a lot of research on the history or background of this soup. A friend of mine suggested I make turkey pho with my turkey leftovers one year, and I haven't looked back.
This recipe helped return us to more healthy meals after the over-indulgence of Christmas, and was the perfect comfort food when my husband caught the flu. It provides plenty of fluid, lots of vegetables, and is gentle to digest.
Like many recipes, I think this one leaves a lot of room open for individualization. It reminded me of the Sunday soup I used to make in college, where I'd open the fridge and use up whatever I had ready to cook.
I cooked the noodles in my soup rather than separately not only to help flavour them, but also because I didn't want to add more dishes then necessary to my washing up pile.
My recipe may not be exactly traditional, but I enjoyed making it and we enjoyed eating it.
8 c good quality chicken stock
6 c assorted chopped fresh vegetables
4 garlic cloves. minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp anise seeds
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1-2 c sliced chicken or turkey
handful of rice noodles
1 onion, sliced
1 tbsp coconut oil
Lime slices, garnish
Bean sprouts, garnish
Fresh cilantro, mint, and green onions
Fresh ginger, garnish (optional)
Melt coconut oil and add onions. Saute until translucent. Add garlic and stir in spices. When beginning to brown, add fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. Mix well, and add warmed stock. Bring to a boil. Add noodles and vegetables, and bring back to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender crisp. Add turkey, stir to combine, and remove from heat.
Before serving, stir in chopped handfuls of fresh cilantro, mint, and green onions, or sprinkle over each serving. Add bean sprouts and lime slices.
Serve with freshly grated ginger, freshly ground salt and pepper if desired.
After breakfast at our air bnb we joined in a Historical Food Tour (with samples!), starting at Victoria Public Market. It was so great! There will be more details about this in a future blog post. Suffice it to say if you enjoy sampling local food and hearing stories from the purveyors, this is an activity you want to take in.
For lunch we wandered up to the Irish Times Pub. I ordered a lamb burger with a side house salad while Mike ordered the Times Cheese Burger with an Irish Flight of beer. We sat outside under a big red umbrella and enjoyed the activity going on all around us. For dessert we shared a Guinness Chocolate Brownie.
The lamb burger was delicious. I wasn’t sure if the apple chutney would be too sweet for the burger but it was, in fact, a perfect complement, even though it was a bit messy and "slidey"- it kept sliding out of the bun. And I highly recommend their house salad. If you’re going for beer, the Smithwick’s Red Ale was the right pairing with the lamb burger out of those 4 beers.
Mike enjoyed his Cheese Burger but it was the different kinds of beer that he enjoyed sampling the most.
Dessert was another story, however. We were rather disappointed and didn’t even finish it. The brownie was good, absolutely, but the whiskey toffee sauce was so granular it felt like we were biting into chopped up sugar cubes, and there was so much of it (the sauce) there was no real way to avoid it. It could have been amazing, but it wasn’t.
This was our actual 20th anniversary, and we enjoyed some time walking along Willows Beach. I think I could stay there forever- in fact, I found my next house- just $2.5M! It’s going to take a little time to save for that, right? I would love to live right there on the beach and have that kind of day every day. Who’s with me?
For our anniversary dinner we enjoyed dinner at “Lure”, the Delta Ocean Pointe hotel in-house restaurant. The view from the windows was amazing, the staff attentive, and the tables large enough that none of us felt crowded in. We were able to watch the float planes fly in and see Victoria from an angle we don’t normally see it from.
We shared a starter of mussels with my brother and his family and I ordered the Columbia River Steelhead. What caught my attention (besides the fact that steelhead trout is my favourite fish) was the bacon jam and duck-fat roasted potatoes it came with. Mike ordered (halibut) fish and chips. For dessert we shared an ice-cream sandwich.
The mussels were delicious and the broth spicy. There wasn’t enough bread to soak it all up with though, and they happily provided more so that none of that goodness went to waste. It’s definitely a starter dish meant to be shared as there was a lot served.
Yes to the Steelhead! It came with corn succotash which was ok, and the duck-fat potatoes were nothing to write home about (I like my roasted potatoes way more, in fact). But the trout was cooked perfectly, a lovely crispy crust even, and the dollop of bacon jam was to die for. I actually put it on my list (well, my husband’s) to learn how to make.
Mike thought the fish and chips were good. They would satisfy anyone who doesn’t like a “fishy” fish because Halibut is nice and mild. It was cooked beautifully, not overdone and dry, and the fries were good as well.
I think we’d both say “no” to the ice cream sandwich again. I fully appreciated the level of imagination that went into creating it, but the cookie was so rock hard it was difficult to actually get a piece of cookie to eat with the ice cream, and I didn’t fall in love with the flavour or texture. I actually think I would have preferred the cookies my nephew and niece got to enjoy after their dinners instead.
Our last day of Island Life was spent wandering the beach in Gonzales Bay. We even got to see a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish that had washed up on shore. My absolute favourite thing about Vancouver Island is hanging out with the ocean. There is something magical about how the water pulls away anything negative and just replaces it with calm. I will always love the ocean- I'm pretty sure it's in my blood.
For lunch we returned to Bin 4. This time I ordered the “Chicken of the Sea” with house potato chips and Mike ordered the Pre-Season Favourite and fries. We ate at the location that’s right in Victoria. Same great service and food as the other we visited our first night.
Oh, for all that is wonderful and good, eat the Ahi tuna burger. It was so fresh, flavourful, and satisfying. I think I will probably go back to eat that burger every time we go to Victoria: it was that good.
My husband knew exactly what he’d order because he tasted my leftovers our first night there, and he was just as impressed with the Pre-Season Favourite hot and fresh as he was when it was day 2 leftovers.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my food adventures as much as I enjoyed eating and experiencing them myself. If you head to the Island, be sure to drop me a line and let me know where you ate and what you ate- and what you thought about it!
Next time I post I will tell you about some of the fun stuff you can do in Victoria. Until then, ciao, friends.
Why use Herbs and Spices?
Strictly from a food lover’s perspective, herbs and spices add life and flavour to food. You can cook a chicken breast using the same oil and the same method, but changing up the herbs and spices used creates a different meal each time. It’s a way to travel the world without even leaving your home! It keeps food exciting and new which helps us to feel satisfied.
Creating your spice blends in your own kitchen allows you to control the ingredients, right down to the last grain of salt. As you adjust the blends you’ll find different combinations that become your signature flavour. In this way you can start your family recipe traditions and/or be the best cook you know.
From an economic perspective it’s cheaper to make your own spice blends than to buy ready-made ones, from chili or burrito seasoning by Old El Paso™ to a shaker of Old Bay® seafood seasoning. And because you made them yourself you’ll never run out or worry that your child’s favourite meat sauce and pasta will taste “funny” one day when the company you buy from decides to adjust its blends.
There are a plethora of health reasons too. Herbs and spices used to be the only medicines we had to keep fever down or recover from illness. Here’s an interesting article about the health benefits.
It can seem overwhelming to start creating your own blends. But start small, taste as you go along, and experiment. Most spices are fairly inexpensive, and the end result will make you proud. You can do it!
If you want a little bit of help starting with fresh recipes and spice blends, each of my coaching clients receive 14 custom-developed recipes as part of our coaching program- you can take those spice blends as a starting base and reconfigure them to make them your own. I look forward to helping YOU find the magic in your kitchen!
Have a great day, friends.
This is my passion, and I’m so grateful I get to share it with you!
“How are you doing that?” my oldest son asked, leaning against the counter and watching me. I was grabbing random jars of spices and herbs from the pantry, taking their lids off, sniffing them, and keeping some out while putting others back.
He’d been watching me for a couple of minutes while I measured random amounts of spices, adding them to my prep bowl and tasting or smelling as I went along. It was a test-kitchen day, and I was working on a new recipe.
“I don’t know,” I answered after considering for a minute. “I just do it. I was born to do this”. And it’s true, I realized.
Before I cooked, and long before it was trendy, I played with essential oils. I used to blend perfumes and massage oils, bath salts and bath bombs. I devoured books and studied everything I could about beneficial properties of different oils, the best oils that worked together, and the different ways to use them.
I remember just “knowing” what scents would work well together, which ones would help when I had a chest cold, which ones would soothe sadness or a headache, which ones would wake me up during a mid-day slump at my boring office job.
Spices and herbs contain essential oils, and recipe development comes naturally to me. I truly was born with this ability, and it’s all I want to do. There are days where I’m desperate to start working on a project that’s been growing in the back of my mind, but I can’t because I don’t have the time. Those days frustrate me because all I really want to do is cook. Then there are the days where I get to spend the whole day in my kitchen, and those are the days that light me up.
This is my passion, and I’m so grateful I get to share it with you!
Please follow me Facebook and share me with your friends! Imagine what a world we could live in if we gave ourselves the gift of real food and greater health and joy.
If you need a hand figuring out how to make food and nutrition work for you, give me a call. We can chat for a few minutes to see if I can help. Sometimes you can't figure it out on your own, but I love that you are trying. If you're at the point where you know you've tried everything you can, hiring me might be your next step.
Enjoy your week, friends!
I had the pleasure of sitting next to an author at Staples on #IWD2017 and we spent some time talking about what goes into publishing a book, because I've got a cookbook going in the back of my mind. It's going to take some time and dedication. I think there's a pretty steep learning curve, too. But I'm excited to take that step down the road.
These pictured cookbooks are two of my favourites, most loved, and well-used out of all my books. But to tell you the truth, I have only used a few recipes out of each of them. Most of the recipes don't suit my family- in either taste or preparation- or I just can't be bothered to try a new recipe when we have the ones we love already, or when recipe development is such a large part of the food my family eats.
Recipe Development is the kind of work that cookbook authors put into publishing their cookbooks. It's taking raw ingredients in their basic form and creating a dish around them. It's deciding to put together certain foods with certain spices or herbs and cooking them a certain way. It's testing the recipe, altering or changing it, and testing again. It's writing everything you did from start to finish, then reading and rereading to make sure you didn't skip any steps, that people can recreate your recipe even if they've never done it before. It's starting from scratch.
I met with someone last week who was a little shocked at the price I currently charge for personalized recipe development. But I stand by my pricing- if anything, I think I still undercharge. When my clients fill out their survey, I take their likes, dislikes, nutritional needs, medication profile, the kind of time they have to work with, how likely they are to try new foods, and so on into consideration. Each recipe I develop for them starts with those basic questions. I purchase the food, come up with an idea, mix random spices or herbs together with ingredients I think will pair well, and cook them in a way they are able to recreate in their home on their schedule.
Purchasing custom-tailored recipes from me is sort of like buying a cookbook full of your favourite foods. You may not know if you like the recipes yet, but there's a better chance you will like them much more than a random cookbook purchase- because it's built specifically for you.
For a list of all my services beyond nutritional coaching, look here.
All the best today, friends. I will you a wonderful first day of spring!
Leftovers get a bad reputation. I don't know if it's because so many people just put out the same food as the night before and get bored, or because they get left in the fridge and forgotten about until they go bad, but let me encourage you to reclaim your leftovers. Add a little flair to your leftovers to help your food budget flow a little more smoothly.
This morning I made my first ever food video (I promise, I'll get better!) after trying to decide what to do with our leftover pizza ingredients from dinner last night.
As you can (sort of) see, there's not a lot left. A little pizza sauce, a few slices of meat, a few chopped peppers and onions. And no mozzarella. My usual go-to meal when I only have a little bit of this and that left is soup, so that was an option. I could always cut up another pepper, add a can of tomato sauce with loads of garlic and oregano, and have a reasonable facsimile of pizza in soup form. I also considered loaded pizza baked or roasted potatoes, and a casserole of sorts was taking shape in my mind. In the end, though, I decided to send my oldest to school with a pizza grilled cheese sandwich, which is what you see in my video. I made sure to cool it to send it to school with a freezer pack, so maybe not quite as tasty as hot, but still a delicious lunch. I'll probably eat one for lunch too, actually.
When you've got a pile of leftovers, consider how you can change them up to make something else. Dinner tonight is again leftover-based. A month ago or so I cooked a pork loin, sliced the leftovers, and froze them in meal sized portions- these are my meal starters. To a baggie of pork loin slices I am adding leftover brown rice from dinner a couple of nights ago and creating a yellow pepper, spinach, and yellow curry cream sauce. It's going to be delicious! And quick. I like quick. Quicker than sitting in the drive-through window and ordering dinner, then driving home to eat it. Definitely tastier and better for you, too. I will have dinner on the table tonight in about 15 minutes, because the rice and pork are already cooked.
Varying your foods exposes your family to different flavours in a nutritious way. You've probably heard "Variety is the Spice of Life", and it's true even when related specifically to food. We need a variety of foods in our diets to achieve the most nutrition naturally, and many spices have their own specific health-supporting properties. We definitely need as many supporting players as possible this time of year when flu and cold season starts up in full swing.
If you'd like to experiment with building your own spice blend for Garam Masala (what we in the west mostly call curry), I found this delicious-sounding recipe online this morning during my search for internet treasure. I have created in-house blends for many of my favourite spice mixtures, and sometime in the next while this will be something I experiment with. In the meantime, though, I have a brand new package of store-bought to use up, and we all enjoy eating it.
Happy Friday to you, friends! What's for dinner at your house tonight?
We go through a lot of apples in our house. It's the one fruit my second son will eat every day without a fight, and the rest of us enjoy them too. The photo above shows on the left what's left when I'm done with my apple. If I slice them for the kids or myself, I'll cut out the seed bits and the core. If I eat it whole, the core and stem are left behind. My husband, however, eats an apple down to the stem, as shown on the right.
He's challenged me this week to find a use for the bits of fruit we throw away. I can't imagine eating an apple until only the stem remains, but I agree there is some usable fruit left behind when I'm done with it. What I'm going to try to do is cook down these bits in a little water and strain it after. I'm hoping some version of fruit juice will be left behind- maybe not as strong as commercially prepared fruit juice, but enough flavour that I can freeze it and use it as a base for punch, fruit based desserts, marinade for pork and chicken, or apple cider.
I've got some ideas in mind for the daily grapefruit peel my husband leaves behind. The zest from it, anyway. I have a recipe idea percolating!
Today's challenge for you is to think about the remnants of fruit that is often thrown away. How can you squeeze just a little bit more out of it? It is deferred waste, but I think that is ok. Until garbage disposal units that create electricity are invented on a large enough scale to affordably keep in every household, we are going to have garbage. The challenge lies in focusing on the 3-R's- reduce, reuse, recycle. #wastereductionweek2016
Enjoy your day, friends!
Did you know? On Facebook each Wednesday I post a new recipe based on the #testkitchen dinner we ate the night before. It's part of my #tuesdaysoupseries! It is weather dependent, of course, based on what it's doing outside in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta...it's mostly been soups, but as spring and summer inch closer I'll move along into sandwiches or salads too.
To get the recipe in beautiful pdf format, the only thing you have to do is show up, like the post, comment your answer to my question, and share it to your timeline or group, and I'll pm you the recipe.
If you haven't already "liked" my Facebook page, please head over there now to "like" it- then you shouldn't miss any updates! And, my weekly recipe is available right now- this is #7! To receive the others, just let me know you want them too.
Enjoy your Wednesday, friends!
Lately I've been spending a day a week playing in the kitchen. It may not sound that exciting to you, but it's my favourite day of the week! Because I meal plan for clients, and each client is a new person or family that I get to work with, I like to spend my time creating meals that challenge the status quo in taste-bud land, or in real world prep-and-cook ville. I completely understand that it's challenging to put together meals on busy and/or hot and/or exhausted days, and that is why I do what I do.
Today I played around with a slow cooker sweet-and-sour chicken skewer, pan fried mahi-mahi, and created a chicken and pepper quesadilla. I used some new-to-me flavour combinations on the fish, and some tried and true stir fry favourites in the quesadilla. The chicken skewers taste good- but not as good as my amazing fish, and not an improvement on my original recipe, so that test is out the window. I used smaller portions to test this week and really regretted that decision when the fish was ready to sample.
I've been asked how recipe development works, and it's hard to explain. Some people find their creativity in painting or decorating. Some find a great deal of pleasure in gardening, crocheting, or quilting. Recipe development, for me, takes comfortable spices and herbs and combines them in a way that is new, or puts them to use in unusual or different food pairings.
Spice blends are a large part of my recipes. I always mix the spices separately, tasting as I add each one. If the food is still raw, adding spices before you know how they taste together can be a dicey situation- most herbs and spices taste better when given the chance to cook with the meal. If we wait to see how it tastes after the meat is already cooked, adding more herbs and spices at the end doesn't give the food enough time to absorb the flavour, and the spice or herb enough time to mellow into the meal.
Tasters are important to me, too. It's actually the third day of recipe development this week, as I can only make so many foods in a day when the rest of life is happening as well. I get challenged by ingredients just as anyone else, so when I challenge myself to create an amazing meal with a less comfortable ingredient, I rely on my testers to confirm my taste buds aren't biased in my favour. Sometimes the meal works, and sometimes it doesn't, but it's never wasted effort- just an opportunity to grow my repertoire and expertise. I usually have my meals tasted by a few different people. My husband, always, because he's got very sensitive taste-buds. I have a few friends that I call when I need someone to taste something new. And my kids, often. My youngest isn't the most tactful person, so I often get a really love-it or hate-it specific response from him- anything from "That's the worst thing I've ever tasted" to "Mom, thank you for this amazingly delicious meal! You're the best cooker ever!"
I'll fill my fridge with containers labeled with scribbled notes to remind me what I'm doing. Ingredients, or things like what time I started marinading, and so on. I'll work through those ingredients and keep what works, and toss what doesn't.
Today, as I was noshing down a bowl of amazing salad I created, my husband asked me how work was going. "Great!" I said, "This is part of my job!"
Best. Job. Ever.
Enjoy your day, friends!