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Monday, March 29, 2021

Scouting Tobyhanna Creek

The first day of Trout Season in Pennsylvania arrives this weekend!  Kathy spent some of her cold winter days researching the best trout streams in our area, and it turns out that Tobyhanna Creek, which is only an 8 minute drive from our cottage in the Poconos, is one of our better options.  It's a Class A trout stream, and the closest stretch is just below where the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stock Tobyhanna Creek.  Hopefully, the section of the stream we are looking at will still have some trout left after the decimation that will occur this weekend on the opening of Trout Fishing Season.

Today was cold and windy, but sunny, so we decided it would be a good day to scout the section of Tobyhanna Creek we want to fish.

Here was the parking area and the trail we want to use to reach streamside:

We reached the banks of Tobyhanna Creek in short order, and Kathy hurried out to the stream to check for pools and runs:

The stream is beautiful, in a fetching mountain setting.  All that is lacking is Spring:

Our side of the stream seems to offer the most channels and pools for casting our little artificial flies.  We will check access to the opposite bank, but we believe this side will be ours:

We reached the confluence of Hummler Run with Tobyhanna Creek, which will be a great place to fish for trout, because the food will come streaming down Hummler Run and be gobbled up by the trouties as they wait at their feeding station in Tobyhanna Creek. 

Here is a view of the junction of Hummler Run with Tobyhanna Creek:

This was the end of the trail for us on this leg of our scouting expedition.  We turned up Hummler Run back toward Highway 423, where we would walk the road back to our Jeep.   Here is a section of Hummler Run we saw as we approached back to Highway 423:

Overall, Hummler Run, as is the case with Cross Keys Run and Frame Cabin Run -- two streams designated as "Wilderness" class by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- do not look attractive for us to fish, because, if they bear any fish, it will be very small brook trout.  We'd like to catch a few fish closer to a foot in length, if you please.

We walked the road to our Jeep, hopped back in, and drove further down Tobyhanna Creek to where it crossed back under the highway.  Here, we parked and continued our scouting hike along the Eastern bank of the stream.  We reached Cross Keys Run, in order to check how it might drop food for the fishies into Tobyhanna Creek:

Unexpectedly and interestingly, the confluence of Cross Keys Run with Tobyhanna Creek show evidence of a constructed millrace:

We walked along the millrace to where it dumped the waters of Cross Keys Run into Tobyhanna Creek and scouted the opportunities for trout to find food (and, hence, for us to find trout):

Just beyond the old millrace, the trail made obvious that it was continuing along an old railroad grade.  There was evidence that a siding had been built as well near the millrace and presumptive site of a former lumber mill.  Both the main rail line and the siding had been built up above the ground level with extensive stone work.

We followed the trail along the old rail bed a little further until we came to a large bend in Tobyhanna Creek.  This was all riffle, and there was no evidence of a fruitful pool further downstream, so we decided to make this the turnaround point for our scouting expedition.  Coincidentally, we spotted a spectacular campsite, with informal fire ring, on the opposite bank, just where we turned around:

We hiked back to the Jeep and felt we had found two fishing days' worth of stream.  We were happy to get home and warmed up after that windy, cold hike.

Tomorrow we plan to meet some friends for a more classic hiking experience.  We'll tell you that story in the next blog entry.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Smoky Sockeye Memories

 Back in 2019, we had the adventure of our lives, fishing for Sockey Salmon on the Kenai River in Alaska.  We feasted on those six salmon for the next few weeks -- and additional canned salmon, that we bought from the processor who froze our fish for us, for months beyond that.  Over the last two years, the closest we've come to those memories is to have cold-smoked Nova Lox for Sunday breakfasts.  Somehow, that just didn't quite bring back all the memories.

Our son Matt has made a study of smoking meats and fish over the last several years, and it occurred to us to see if we could get a smoker small enough to carry with us on our full-time RV travels.  It didn't take us long to find Smokehouse Products' Mini-Chief Electric Smoker, which comes in a compact 12"x12"x14" size -- just small enough to fit in the available space in our camping compartment in the RV.  We did a little research and decided that it would fit our needs.


As we researched technique, we found that there are more types of smoked salmon than we realized.  Here are the main types:

Lox - is a cured salmon preparation ideally made with the belly of the fish (called belly lox) which has a higher fat content. Lox is salt-cured, using a combination of salt, sugar, spices, herbs, and citrus zest.  After curing, the salmon is often fully cooked with heated wood smoke. The fish will take on the salty flavor of the cure or wood smoke and is used to top bagels with a combination of cream cheese and capers.

Gravlax - is cured only in a mix of salt, sugar, and dill. It is generally served whole, sliced, with dill and mustard sauce and crackers. Additional spices such as citrus, coriander, juniper berries, or fennel are sometimes added to the cure mixture as well as spirits like vodka.

Nova - is cold smoked. This means that it is smoked over a very low heat which gives it its smoky flavor. As the low smoking temperature does not cook the salmon but only imparts flavor, the fish has to be cured or brined before smoking.  Nova and other smoked salmons are generally served on platters, sliced thin, with a spread including capers, hard-boiled eggs, cucumbers, red onions, soft cheeses, and crackers.

Hot-smoked Salmon - is what we aim to produce.  It refers to salmon smoked at high temperatures which cook the fish as well as imparting a smoky flavor. When ordering smoked salmon at your favorite restaurant this is most likely the type you will be served.


We set the smoker up outside on the barbeque grill and got ready to plug it in!  Other than the smoker, all you need are pellets, chips or flakes of your favorite species of hardwood.  We picked alder:

To smoke salmon, many people recommend a salty brine.  It really is not necessary unless you are curing the fish to preserve it, but many people recommend the brine as a medium to carry the other flavors you want to add to the smoked fish -- such as maple, brown sugar, garlic-dill, or some other spicy or herby thing you prefer.  In addition, we understand that the chloride in sodium chloride caused the meat proteins to take up more water, which, in turn, make the meat more moist and tender when smoked. It is also possible to brine the salmon with generic salt brine (or not), and then dry-rub the other flavors on it before smoking.  We may try that approach next time.

At this point, we knew that we needed to consult with some experienced meat smokers, so we tapped some good friends from Out West:  Jim Nachtsheim, from Wyoming, and Dee Dee Sparks, from Nomadland.  We also picked the brain of our son Matt, from Arlington, to give us the scientific and technical details.  We finally decided that, for this first smoking effort, we would try five different flavors of brine.  We are concerned about sodium intake, but it really is not possible to brine without any salt, so we chose to use half the amount of recommended salt in our brine.  We learned from several low-sodium research sources that cutting the salt by half does not affect the flavor result.  An alternative is to use potassium chloride rather than salt, but we read reports that many people felt the result added a bitter taste to what was smoked.  So, we chose half-portions of salt.  

And so, fare forward, salmon adventurers!

Here are the recipes we used (in each case to brine two 4-oz. portions) (we found the special spice mixes at our local supermarket):


1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon kosher salt


1 cup cold water
1/2 cup Lee Kum Kee Triple Citrus Brine


1 cup cold water
3/4 cup Tsang Szechuan Spicy Sauce


1 cup cold water
34 grams of Spice Hut Maple Apple Spice Mix


1 cup cold water
1 tbsp kosher (i.e., non-iodized, non-table) salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika

We brined the salmon portions overnight.  Here they are, rinsed and patted down and ready to dry in the refrigerator for 4 hours to form the pellicle:

As the time approached to bring the dried salmon out to start the smoking process, Kathy readied our tools, including a meat thermometer (the salmon must reach 140F-145F to be cooked) and oven mitts:

A smoker is no good without the smoke, so, 15 minutes before putting the salmon in the smoker, we readied a pan full of Alder chips --

-- and inserted them into the bottom of the smoker, on top of the electrical element:

After 15 minutes, smoke was billowing out of the smoker, so we brought out the triple rack of salmon and lowered into the smoker from the top:

After four to five hours -- and three panfuls of alder chips at about 45-60 minutes each -- we removed the smoked salmon to test its doneness:

We decided to actively smoke the fish for almost three hours, and then finish for a little over another hour, because we read that the salmon will not really absorb any more smoke flavor after about 2 hours.

The salmon certainly LOOKED done.  But probes with a meat thermometer revealed two things.  First, during the active smoking, the thickest portions of the salmon only reached about 120F.  Second, after we quit smoking but just used the heating element to cook the salmon, the temperature of the thickest portions fell to just under 110F.  

This was disappointing.  So we took those beautiful pieces of salmon --

-- and finished them in the oven!  No one wants to get sick from undercooked fish.  Everything we read has said that the internal temperature of the salmon should reach at least 145F in the thickest portions.

We had two 5 oz. portions of salmon brined in each of five types of brine.  This let us take little 1 oz. cuts of each type of brined salmon and taste it, for a total of 5 oz. for each cook/diner, leaving us with a full 4 oz. portion of each type.


Surprisingly, our two favorite brines were the plan salt brine (no added flavor) and the Triple Citrus, which had a very pleasant citrus flavor on top of the normal smoky flavor.  The other three did not seem to "pop" with any special flavor.  They were all good, but not much different than the plain brine version.  After some thought, we realized that this shortfall in flavor was probably due to our efforts to reduce sodium.  Each of those other brine mixes was based on a specific commercial sauce.  In order to halve the sodium, we had to halve the entire mixture, which also halved the flavor.  Duh.

So what do we do to reduce the salt but ramp up the flavor?  Our solution, which we'll test next time, will be to brine each portion with the generic salt brine, and then add the favor with homemade rub.  In this way, we can amp up, for example, the spicy Szichuan flavor without adding any salt.  So stay tuned to our next experiment to see how that goes.


Because we did not do a full cure of our salmon, we couldn't just throw it in the refrigerator for some indeterminate time.  Checking on recommendations, we wrapped each portion tightly in its own plastic wrap, and put each pair of portions into a marked zippy bag to keep track of its flavor.

We decided to use the plain brined salmon as the main ingredient of our own homemade nonfat yogurt "cream cheese," complete with olives and/or sundried tomatoes.  We also plan to use a plain portion for Katie's Special Birthday Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese!


. . . the extra secret ingredients.  No outdoor barbeque is complete unless the smoking chef wears a comfy uniform and sips his or her favorite beer!

A votre santé!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Our First Hike of Spring

Today was grocery shopping day, and we weren't sure about the weather, so we hadn't planned a hike.  However, by the time we got our chores and errands done, it was late morning, and the warm, 60F temperatures and unexpectedly sunny skies persuaded us we should not waste the afternoon.  We decided to head out for our first hike of the Spring.  

We chose -- what else? -- a 5.6 mile hike around Tobyhanna Lake.

Why so many hikes around this lake, you ask.  For one, the distance is great for a half-day's outing.  Secondly, the hike is close enough that we don't have to drive far to get to the trailhead.  Finally (and perhaps most importantly) we viewed this stay in the Pennsylvania Poconos as a chance to hike in one area through multiple seasons.  We took several walks around the lake during the Fall to watch the progress of Autumn and the colored leaves.  We had greeted the first big snowfall with a snowshoe around the lake.  A couple weeks ago, we tried a bareboot hike through snow.  Today was our chance to put our feet on the warming, snow-free ground.

That's not to say there wasn't ice still covering the lake --

-- or snow still clinging to the trail:

However, the returning geese seemed to agree with us that this warming weather is a sign to get moving outside and enjoying the sights, sounds and aromas of Spring:

As we circled the lake, Kathy spotted a grove of beaver-gnawed stumps near the lakeshore.  As David moved forward to catch them in this photo, we heard the tell-tale splash of the beaver making a hasty retreat, away from us into the safer waters of the lake:

We reached Ruthie's stream, which sounded fresh and joyous as it carried the run-off of melting snow and recent rains into the lake.  Below, Kathy tested the strength of a tree trunk across the creek, but, wisely, she decided not to cross.

We knew we had left the local beaver perhaps a half mile or so behind us, near his personal timber grove, so we did not expect to see him at the bridge over Tobyhanna Creek; but we got a beautiful view of his well-maintained dam and a nearby birdhouse.  The brown shades of winter have not yet yielded to the greens of Spring.

Near the halfway point, Kathy paused to soak up some sun at one of our favorite spots:

Lunch is always a welcome time to rest a bit and refresh ourselves.  Here, David clearly was enjoying a new coconut-flavored seltzer, which he used to wash down his peanut butter and jelly sandwich:

The only Spring colors we noticed were in the streams.  Rocks underwater sprouted moss and boasted other bright colors:

Along the last leg of our hike, we encountered another hiker who pointed out the eagle's nest in the pine tree across the lake, which you can see in the photo below.  We looked for the best vantage point to see if we could spot one of the nesting pair of bald eagles.  While we could not confirm that there were any inhabitants in the nest, we did wonder at this path carved through the softening ice.  It seemed to lead across the frozen lake to a small cove of open water where it appeared there might be the early construction of another beaver lodge -- but we could not be sure.  Was this the well-worn path of an industrious beaver?  The path of a deer or otter swimming across the lake?  The simple coincidental melting-through of the ice in such a linear pattern?  

We had to finish our hike with no answer to this mystery.  It wasn't long before we were distracted by two families at the boat ramp who were encouraging their little ones to look for fish in the ice-free water near the shoreline.  Don't worry, kids, there are trout in there.  This weekend is the first day of trout season for children.  You should come back on Saturday and try your luck.  We intend to do so a little later in April.

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Sunday Circuit of Tobyhanna Lake

 Sunday, March 14, 2021

Hi Blog!

It's been nine years since we retired and hit the road. Our brother-in-law use to get so mad at us when we quoted the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey: "What is a weekend?" However, even after all this time, we still appreciate a mellow, sunny Sunday morning. 

A typical Sunday starts after the cats have assured we are awake and they have been fed their tuna. As David feeds the cats, Kathy dons the traditional white silk gi that she received for Christmas. The DVD starts with soothing flute music as our video Tai Qi instructor walks us through the warm up stretches. We may never master the 24 forms, but it's not about perfection. It's all about calm, soothing movements. Tai Qi is the perfect complement to our exercise routine.

Another favorite of Sunday mornings is Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley. After being bombarded with bad news all week long, it is a relief to watch a few good news stories. We try to kick up our Sunday morning breakfasts with some smoked salmon, bagels and cream cheese. We found a recipe for making homemade cream cheese with nonfat yogurt. It is a little healthier and we can spice it up any way we want. The current favorite is sundried tomato!

Once we hear the final trumpet fanfare, it's time to start our day. This Sunday, we decided to hike the entire loop around Tobyhanna Lake. While it is only 5.4 miles, there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground, making it more challenging. We left the snowshoes at home and went with our micro spikes. As you can see pictured below, where the sun can reach, the snow has started to melt away.

We knew the winds would be high, but we also knew that most of our hike would be in the woods. For those sections along the lakeshore, you can click this link to watch this video showing how windy the day was

The high winds brought high clouds whose shadows skittered across the surface of the lake.

With each view of the lake, the light, clouds and shadows changed dramatically.

When we take our grandpuppy, Ruthie, for walks along the lake shore, she loves to romp and play in a certain stream. We have come to calling it Ruthie's stream. We have monitored its various phases from being covered in leaves in the fall, to freezing solid in the polar vortex, to being buried in 36 inches of snow. If you are curious, click this link to see this video showing how full Ruthie's stream is with the melting snow.

The beaver dam on Tobyhanna Creek seems to be holding up under the increased flow. We can see sections of fresh mud shoring up the top.  We know the beaver has been busy despite the cold, because we've seen her working on other visits.

The creek is beginning to make inroads into the frozen lake. 

After a couple miles, we found a sunny spot for lunch.

The Frank Gantz Trail connects Tobyhanna State Park to Gouldsboro State Park. Earlier in the year, we hiked several miles of this trail from the Gouldsboro side. We are looking forward to hiking the section from Tobyhanna, but that's for another Sunday.

The white blanket that covered the woods for the past couple months is slowly receding. 

Streams that were frozen solid are burbling again.

As the clouds thicken, the lake takes on a foreboding appearance.

As quickly as the clouds come, they break apart and we are blinded by sunlight and battered by strong winds.

Looking out across the frozen surface of the lake, it is hard to imagine that trout season is just a few short weeks away.

Just as we were finishing our hike, a huge gust of wind pushed us across the parking lot. The poor guy walking his corgi was almost blown over!  I guess there are advantages to being very short, because the corgi was steady as a rock.

We got a brief taste of spring last week, but old man winter isn't done with us yet. If the cold temperatures hold for a day or two, we might get one for ski day. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Around the World in Seven Dishes

In this Age of Covid, we have had to get creative for our hobbies, activities and use of time.  This month, we decided to recreate -- in a culinary manner -- a trip around the world that we made in 2018.

Our son Matt and his family had moved to Myanmar and we wanted to fly to see them for the winter holidays.  Coincidentally, our niece Chelsea got married in New Zealand and we wanted to attend in November.  We explored the various options for air flights and tickets, and found that we would spend the least money if we bought around-the-world tickets permitting us to circumnavigate the globe -- provided that we continued to fly the same direction all the way around the world.

This seemed to work!  So we plotted our itinerary.  We flew from Houston, where we left our RV, to Auckland, New Zealand for Chelsea's wedding; then on to Perth, Australia for a two week tour of the Outback and the Nullabour; then to Bangkok, Thailand and on to Yangon, Myanmar for the holidays with our son, daughter-in-law and grandson; then back to Hong Kong; then to Paris, France for New Year's; and finally, back to Houston:

This month, our re-creation of that trip would be culinary!  We chose dishes representative of each stop along the way, and Kathy undertook the mammoth task of creating them each night in succession!

If you're interested in joining us on our round-the-world trip, fasten your seat belt and continue below.

NEW ZEALAND - Leg of Lamb Slow Cooker Stew


1 (3 pound) bone-in leg of lamb, or more to taste 
1⁄2 cup red wine 
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons raw honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper


Step 1 - Bring leg of lamb to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Step 2 - Pour wine into a slow cooker. Mix lemon juice, honey, mustard, garlic, vinegar, rosemary, thyme, sea salt, and pepper together in a bowl until a thick paste forms. Massage paste into the lamb using your hands; gently place into the slow cooker.

Step 3 - Cook on Low, without removing the cover, for 5 hours. A thermometer inserted near the bone should read 145 degrees F (65 degrees C). 

Let lamb rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

Here are all the ingredients, assembled for the making of the stew --

-- and here is the final result!



500g minced beef
1 onion, chopped
1 cup water, divided
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
pinch nutmeg
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 puff pastry sheets


Pre-heat oven at 220 degrees Celsius.
Brown meat and onion.
Add 3/4 cup of the water, bouillon cubes, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, pepper, oregano, and nutmeg.
Boil and cover for 15 minutes.
Blend flour with the remaining 1/4 cup water until it becomes a smooth paste; add to the meat mix.
Let cool.
Grease a pie dish and line with puff pastry.
Add the cooled filling mixture; brush edges of pastry with milk or beaten egg; put the pastry top on; press edges down with a fork.
Trim edges and glaze top with milk or beaten egg.
Bake in a very hot oven, 220 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 25 more minutes, or until golden brown.

Here is everything browned and combined in the pan --

-- and here was our scrumptious meat pie!

THAILAND - Thai Red Curry


1-1/4 cups brown jasmine rice or long-grain brown rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
Pinch of salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (about a 1-inch nub of ginger)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin 2-inch long strips
1 yellow, orange or green bell pepper, sliced into thin 2-inch long strips
3 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into 1⁄4-inch thick rounds (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 can (14 ounces) regular coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups packed thinly sliced kale (tough ribs removed first), preferably the Tuscan/lacinato/dinosaur variety
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut sugar or turbinado (raw) sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar or fresh lime juice

Garnishes/sides: handful of chopped fresh basil or cilantro, optional red pepper flakes, optional sriracha or chili garlic sauce


1. To cook the rice, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the rinsed rice and continue boiling for 30 minutes, reducing heat as necessary to prevent overflow. Remove from heat, drain the rice and return the rice to pot. Cover and let the rice rest for 10 minutes or longer, until you’re ready to serve. Just before serving, season the rice to taste with salt and fluff it with a fork.

2. To make the curry, warm a large skillet with deep sides over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the oil. Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, while stirring continuously.

3. Add the bell peppers and carrots. Cook until the bell peppers are fork-tender, 3 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the curry paste and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

4. Add the coconut milk, water, kale and sugar, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the peppers, carrots and kale have softened to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the pot from the heat and season with tamari and rice vinegar. Add salt (I added 1/4 teaspoon for optimal flavor), to taste. If the curry needs a little more punch, add 1/2 teaspoon more tamari, or for more acidity, add 1/2 teaspoon more rice vinegar. Divide rice and curry into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, if you’d like. If you love spicy curries, serve with sriracha or chili garlic sauce on the side.

Here are the luscious ingredients assembled --

-- and this is what the dish looked like as we prepared to put it in our bowls!

MYANMAR - Mohinga


3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
12 small shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and divided
4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and divided
4 3/4 cups water, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
4 (1/2­inch) slices peeled fresh ginger, divided
2 pounds farm­raised catfish fillets
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges


1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle sugar over oil; cook 1 minute or until sugar melts. Add thinly sliced shallots, stirring to coat. Cook 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Set caramelized shallots aside.

2. Crush 3 garlic cloves. Cut 2 lemongrass stalks in half lengthwise. Combine crushed garlic, halved lemongrass stalks, 4 cups water, 1 teaspoon turmeric, anchovy paste, and 2 ginger slices in a large Dutch oven. Add fish; bring to boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until fish flakes when tested with a fork. Remove fish from pan. Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl, reserving 4 cups stock, discarding solids.

3. Coarsely chop white portion of remaining 2 lemongrass stalks; reserve green portion for another use. Place chopped lemongrass, remaining 3 garlic cloves, remaining 2 ginger slices, crushed red pepper, and 7 shallots in a food processor; process until a coarse paste forms.

4. Place garbanzo bean flour in skillet; cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until fragrant and slightly darker in color, stirring constantly with a whisk. Pour flour into a small bowl; set aside.

5. Add 1 tablespoon oil to Dutch oven; swirl to coat. Add shallot paste, and cook 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Return fish to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring gently to coat with paste. Remove fish mixture from pan; set aside.

6. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, reserved fish stock, fish sauce, and paprika to pan; bring to a boil. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup water to garbanzo bean flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture to boiling stock mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return to a boil.
Reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally.  Add remaining 3 halved shallots; simmer 10 minutes or until shallots are tender.  Add fish mixture; simmer just until hot.

7. Cook noodles in boiling water 2 minutes or until tender; drain. Spoon 1/2 cup noodles into each of 6 bowls. Ladle 1 1/3 cups soup into each bowl, ensuring each serving gets a shallot half. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons caramelized shallots, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and about 1 tablespoon green onions. Serve with lime wedges.

Look at all these ingredients!

We agreed that this was the tastiest dish of our world tour.  You should try it!

HONG KONG - Dan Dan Noodles

Well, Dan Dan Noodles might not be traditional Hong Kong fare, but it is Chinese and we thought it would be fun to make, so we used our artistic license to include it here.


3 servings fresh noodles, around 200g
chopped scallion
blanched vegetables
Chicken stock or pork stock
toasted peanuts, roughly crushed

Pork topping:

400 g minced pork, with some fat
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorn
1 star anise
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tbsp. Shaoxing cooking wine
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 cup ya-cai
1 tbsp. low sodium light soy sauce

Mixed Seasonings for each serving:

1 tsp. sesame paste
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. chili oil
1 tsp. black vinegar
chopped scallion
1/4 tsp. Sichuan peppercorn powder


Make the pork topping

1. Heat oil in wok and then fry star anise and Sichuan peppercorn with slowest fire until aromatic. Then remove the spices.
2. Add minced pork and fry for several minutes until slightly browned. Drizzle cooking wine around the edges. Then place sugar and light soy sauce in.
3. Add Ya cai in, continue frying for 3-5 minutes until dry and golden brown.

Cook noodles and serve

1. Mix all the seasonings in serving bowls. Combine well.
2. Cook noodles in boiling water according to the instructions on the package and blanch vegetables in the last minutes when the noodles are almost ready. Transfer the noodles to the serving bowl.
3. Top with pork topping, chopped scallion and toasted peanuts. Pour around 1/2 cup hot pork stock or chicken stock along with the edges. Mix well before eating.

A lot of ingredients here, too:

Be sure to eat the finished Dan Dan Noodles with chopsticks.  You might have to finish with a spoon to slurp up all that yummy sauce:

PARIS, FRANCE - Coq au Vin


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 slices bacon diced
8 ounces mushrooms
6 small white onions cut in half or quartered depending upon size
2-3 cloves garlic mashed
2 carrots peeled and rough cut
1/2 bottle of full-body red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces Chicken Stock made with Better Than Bouillon® Premium Roasted Chicken Base
unsalted butter
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
sea salt and black pepper to taste
4 large skin on, bone in chicken thighs


1. Add chicken to a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Pour in one cup red wine and seal bag, pressing out air. Let stand while you prepare the remaining ingredients or overnight for the best results.
2. Preheat oven to 350°
3. In a large Dutch oven or rondeau, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring and reducing heat as necessary to prevent scorching, until browned and fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
4. Remove chicken from zipper-lock bag, discard wine, and pat dry.
5. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Return Dutch oven with rendered bacon fat to medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs skin-side down, and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, about 5 minutes. Don't move the chicken around while cooking, allow it to sear in place. Use a spatula to get under the chicken when turning being careful not to rip the skin.
6. Remove Chicken from pan setting aside until needed.
7. Add mushrooms to pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add onions, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add bacon, the remainder of the wine, tomato paste, chicken stock, thyme and rosemary and bring to a simmer, stirring up any browned bits.
8. Add chicken back to pan, leaving skin side up and not submerged if possible. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.
9. Remove pan from the oven and take the chicken out of the pan.
10. Add in two tablespoons of unsalted butter that has been rolled in flour, getting as much flour into the butter as possible. This is called a beurre manie and will thicken your sauce. Mix the beurre manie in well and allow to simmer over medium heat.
11. Return chicken to pot, spooning sauce on top. Garnish with remaining sprig of thyme or rosemary. Serve with potatoes, pasta, or rice.

Our cute little chicken thighs are ready to dance with the other ingredients below:

Here is everything dancing together:

The final dish danced on our tongues!

HOUSTON, TEXAS - Chicken & Zucchini Tex-Mex

Finally we landed back in the U-S-of-A and settled in to a familiar type of dish.


1 tbsp avocado or coconut oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves minced
2 medium bell peppers chopped
1 lb boneless & skinless chicken breasts cut into 1" pieces
1 cup corn frozen or fresh
2 large zucchini diced
14 oz can low sodium black beans drained & rinsed
14 oz can low sodium diced tomatoes not drained
1 tsp store bought or homemade taco seasoning
1 tbsp cumin divided
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1 cup Tex Mex or Colby Jack cheese shredded
1/2 cup green onions chopped
1/2 cup cilantro chopped


1. Preheat large deep skillet on low - medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper; saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Move vegetables to the side of the skillet and add chicken. Sprinkle with 1 tsp cumin, salt and black pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, taco seasoning and remaining cumin. Stir, cover and cook on low-medium for 10 minutes.
4. Sprinkle with cheese, cover and cook for a few minutes or until cheese has melted. Top with green onion and cilantro. Serve hot, on its own or with brown rice or quinoa.

Here, the chicken and zucchine were ready to dive into the Mex Mix --

-- making a final Tex Mex that we were ready to dive into:

So there you have it.  A culinary trip around the world, right in your own home!  We enjoyed making and eating it, and you will too.