Another rainbow week in October

Not just the leaves, which are gorgeous, but my calendar. Oh, what would I do without you?

Less, maybe?  :P

It makes me look crazy, but I color-code my calendars so I can look forward or backward and understand at a glance whether I’m actually spending my time the way I want to be spending my time. There’s a whole separate spreadsheet with quarterly goals and approximate hours/week in each area. Notice the light blue: “be well” and red “my loves.” I’m lucky; these colors are actually underrepresented since they tend to overlap with a lot of the rest of my life. I work with people I love and do what I can to treat myself and my body kindly even while working.

It’s kind of like these two juicy bits, via the ever-inspiring Maria P.:

How to live. How to get the most life… . How to extract its honey from the flower of the world. That is my every-day business. I am as busy as a bee about it. I ramble all over the fields on that errand, and am never so happy as when I feel myself heavy with honey and wax.

– Thoreau

and this:

Dividing the day between “work” and “leisure” and then measuring how many hours is spent at each activity doesn’t provide us a reliable guide to what we really care about, which is how much of our time we get to spend doing things we find rewarding and fulfilling. It turns out that many people have only a limited appetite for “leisure” in the sense of spending their days at the beach or on the golf course. Rather, they’re interested in pursuing creative or philanthropic activities that, when pursued in earnest wind up looking a lot like having a job.

Timothy Lee

I’m thankful for my privilege.

October 21, 2012   No Comments

Daily Logs: July 8, 2012

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Daily Logs: July 7, 2012

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Daily Logs: June 12, 2012

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Top Ten Khmer Foods: #4 Kway Tieov Beef Noodles

4) Kway Tieov beef noodles
Rice noodle soup’s a staple in many Asian cuisines — the Vietnamese have their Pho, the Malay have Assam Laksa, there’s Burmese Mohinga and Indonesian Soto Ayam. But there’s something special going on with the beef Kway Tieov at a small roadside restaurant across from the Tbong Khmum district hospital 30 km outside of Kampong Cham Town. Unlike traditional Khmer Kway Tieov broth, which is generally a clear broth with a pork or beef + fish base, this broth is a dark red, rich soya beef bonanza, very similar to Taiwanese hong shao style beef noodle soup. The noodles come seeped in this miracle broth, topped with greens and falling-apart-tender chunks of beef and are served with a side of bean sprouts and fresh limes. The shameless Cambodians like to add MSG, but I skip that and go for some crunchy dried onions. I’ll also daintily dip my beef chunks in chili before placing them gently on my tongue to melt. These are for early-rises only because people come for miles and the noodles run out by 8am or so.

October 18, 2008   No Comments

Top Ten Khmer Foods: #5 Kampot Pepper Beef

5) Kampot Pepper Beef
According to my oh-so-trusty Lonely Planet Guide, top French chefs still pay homage to the key ingredient in this dish. Kampot pepper is prized not only by Cambodians, but also by its former-colonizers for its unique, fruity, oh-so-peppery taste. When Jaime and I ordered “green pepper beef” at the best restaurant in Sihanoukville (M’loop Mien!), we expected a green pepper like this:

But what we got was a lot better. This dish uses the fresh green, uncured peppercorns straight from the tree.

Slices of beef are fried with a lot of oil and other juicy delights (soy, fish sauce, and what other wonders?), shallots, and stems of shiny lime-green pepper pods. You pull the tiny green balls off the stem with your teeth and they pop open in your mouth in a delicious, spicy medley that complements the meaty beef. I found myself tilting the dish to spoon up the last dregs of the pepper-infused sauce to eat over plain rice.

October 18, 2008   No Comments

Top Ten Khmer Foods: #6 Omlette with Minced Pork and Cured Fish and Fresh Veggies

6) Omlette with Cured Fish and fresh Veggies
Faint-of-heart travelers miss out on some of the best dishes in Cambodia because of their reluctance to eat fresh veggies. This dish is particularly scary because the accoutrements — fresh cabbage, green beans, cucumbers, and carrots, are often served on ice (oh no!) in order to keep them cool and fresh while you partake. The omelette itself is unassuming, but its simplicity is decieving. The taste of the famous Cambodian sun-dried fish (Trei Ngiet or Trei Prama) and minced pork transforms a familiar eggy friend into a deep flavourful experience, sweetly complemented by the mini-bowl of chopped bird chilis and fish sauce that’s meant to be rationed out over each bite. This fish sauce concoction is a regular accompaniment to Khmer dishes and is also used as a terrific dipping sauce for the fresh veggies.

Smoked fish, ready for action.
from Flickr, ndnbrunei

October 17, 2008   1 Comment

Top Ten Khmer Foods: #7 Ginger Fish

7) Ginger Fish
This is a super-simple dish that I’ve seen done deliciously with eel, fish, chicken, and wild boar. I like fish the best because the flaky white flesh of the Cambodian river fish seems to go perfectly with the deep fried ginger and scallions. It’s a simple stir fry that throws all its eggs into one basket — into the ginger basket, to be precise. The best versions include some fresh chopped bird chilis and have enough sauce to spoon over your piping hot white rice.

October 16, 2008   No Comments

Top Ten Khmer Foods: #8 Fish Amok

8) Fish Amok
The guidebooks call Fish Amok the national dish of Cambodia, but an informal survey of 10 Cambodian (female) colleagues confirms that only 2 know how to cook Amok, and even they are a bit iffy. The variations of amok are as varied as the species of fish in Cambodia (which is to say, very varied) — thin sauce to gelatinous; red, white, to slightly green; wrapped in banana, or placed on a bed of greens — but the general idea remains the same, boneless fish chunks steamed in a light coconut curry. The essential aromatic ingredients of Amok are lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves which give it a citrusy, fresh flavor which complements the fish better than your traditional Khmer curry sauce. I tend to like the deep red variations because they’re spicier and thicker seems better because generally the cook has used the richest part of the coconut milk. I give extra points for the banana leaves, but only because of the presentation.

Bargaining for Amok ingredients.

October 16, 2008   No Comments

Top Ten Khmer Foods: #9 Beef Lok Lak

9) Beef Lok Lak
This is a dish of Vietnamese origin (see the comments below!) but I first experienced it in Cambodia and didn’t realize where it came from until much later…

The Brits must share my love for this dish because most Khmer restaurant menus have a special entry for Lok Lak English style — with a fried eggs and chips instead of plain old rice. The fried beef cubes are served with tomato and onion slices, generally atop a bed of fresh lettuce. Like with so many dishes here, the make-or-break component of amazing Lok Lak is the dipping sauce, a salt-and-peppery lime-based sauce that makes even the toughest Cambodian cow taste good. I’ve never ordered English style because as much as I love a fried egg, I don’t think chips could come close to the experience of a piece of beef dunked in Lok Lak sauce atop a spoon of white rice.

Unsuspecting cows, pre Lok Lak

October 15, 2008   4 Comments