{How to stay sane}

We are now in the countdown phase. 8 weeks before we leave for our 6 months trip around Europe.

While I would love to get really excited about leaving, there is this underlying trepidation and anxiety. There is still so much to do, so many boxes to tick before we can kick back and settle into holiday mode. There is of course the house that needs to be finished before we can hand it over to our tenants. Nothing like a deadline to get those pesky jobs done.

Then there are the passport applications, vaccinations, packing the house up and sorting out clothes to take or pack away.

Then there is  life that is still happening. You know, the usual stuff…like my boy falling off a tree and breaking his wrist…yes, that happened last week. So the boy now sports a cast for the next 6 weeks!! I guess we are lucky the cast comes off just before take off…Nothing like a bit extra pressure.

But amongst this I am trying to keep sane and a semi organised house and cook. And maybe a bit of dreaming of all the yummy things we will be eating and cooking whilst on the road.

So, while the house is turned upside down by painting and packing furniture, I have made a couple of meals that were absolute winners and have kept me grounded in the NOW. Like the Vietnamese Noodle soup the other night, that I finally nailed.

So here it is, my version of Pho, which is not only super nutritious, but also super easy and yummy.

Vietnamese Noodle soup (pho)

First of all, get your hands on a really fresh chicken. Free Range or even better Organic.

Take off the 2 breasts and keep them aside for later. Cut the breast bone and open the bird. You want to expose the bigger leg bones so that you can smash them open. I know, sounds a bit gross, but I promise, by breaking the bones, you’ll expose the marrow, which then gives you a richer, more nourishing broth.

Pop the chicken in a big pot of cold water. To this, you’ll add following aromatics:

  • 1 Lemongrass
  • 1 tbs white pepper corns
  • 1tbs coriander seeds
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • a big knob of ginger
  • and several large garlic cloves.
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • If you have some old carrots lying around, pop them in too. You can also add an onion and some celery or leek if you have them. But that is not necessary if you don’t have them
  • Also optional but awesome if you have them, are chicken legs (I got some from a butcher and keep them in the freezer), some marrow bones or brisket.

Bring the water to the boil and skim of the scum that rises up. Let the broth simmer for 1 hour, then add following:

  • about 1/3 cup of fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs of sugar

Now let your soup boil for as long as you like. Mine sometimes gets cooked on and off for 24h.

Once you are ready, check the soup for seasoning and add fish sauce or salt if necessary.Then I add the reserved chicken breast into the hot soup and let it cook for 15min or so, until its cooked. I then fish the breasts out and shred them to then add to the bowls, along with the noodles. At the table, I have bowls with fresh coriander, pack choy, sprouts, finely sliced snow peas, finely sliced chilly and mint.

Ladle the broth into your bowls with the noodles and then top the soup with the fresh ingredients. I also add a squirt of Oyster Sauce or Ketchap Manis or extra Chilli Sauce.

And there you go. A healing broth which takes me back to my backpacking years in South-East Asia….

 

IMG_1859

Now I can go back to searching for sox and undies, fill out yet another form and maybe, a few minutes on Pintrest to imagine myself on the French Riviera.

 

Hope you are keeping well

 

Alex

 

 

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