I can take caged-up, crazy boys outside to run out their energy during the witching hour and catch up with my neighbors!
It takes less than an hour to get everyone out of the house since we can forgo the coats, socks, gloves and hats!
I can wake up 10 minutes later to run since I don't have to bundle up in 25 layers like a snowman!
I'm done with soup, casseroles and comfort food. I'm over it. Bring on the crisp cold salads, dinner on the grill, fresh salsas, and margaritas!!
The nice weather last week got me fixated on making Green Papaya Salad (Tom Sum). I'm usually a curry-girl when it comes to ordering Thai food, but my girlfriend introduced me to this salad a few months ago and I haven't stopped thinking about recreating it. It's incredibly light and refreshing, with the perfect mix of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. It just screams summer time. And its like one calorie. Not that I really get hung up on calories, but if its one calorie and I love it, it's a win-win.
So I looked up a couple different recipes and it seemed simple enough. Except for that one main ingredient... Green Papaya. No ordinary papaya will do the trick here. Not a ripe one. Not a red one. I needed an unripe Green one so I could get that crunch.
So this weekend Superman ventured to the Asian store with me to scope out that Green Papaya. I had never been to Lotte, the huge ginormous Asian store about 10 minutes from my house. It was insane. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I walked in. Huge packs of basil for a dollar! Mangoes for 59 cents! Green papayas aplenty! I was throwing EVERYTHING into my cart.
Just like every other store on the weekend, this place was packed. It took a long time to navigate my way around (especially since I was pushing the obnoxious cart for kids with the race car in the front, banging Superman into a product display at least once every 2 minutes). By the time I got up to the register to pay there was a very long line waiting behind me. The cashier rang everything through, including the Cheetos Superman had already finished and the water he half drank. I reached in my purse to grab my wallet and felt... nothing. No wallet. In a panic, I asked the cashier if she could put the whole transaction on hold so I could run to my car and she could check out the long line of disgruntled customers behind me. She didn't quite understand and responded, No, I will wait. I told her to just void the whole transaction and I ran Superman out to the car praying my wallet was sitting in the glove compartment.
Let me paint this picture for you - this place is PACKED, there are gusts of 60 mph winds outside, I parked in the back corner of the parking lot, and I'm hitting every other customer in the ankles with my race car shopping cart trying to get to my car. I throw open the car door, lunge inside and find... no wallet. I told myself that the cashier understood that I wasn't coming back, and I left. I FELT SO TERRIBLE!! I really hope they gave up on me quickly, and I'm cringing at the thought of the poor soul who had to put back every single item that I threw in my cart in a fury of excitement.
But I wasn't giving up on Green Papaya Salad. I'm just over finding a Green Papaya. Besides, I want to share recipes with you all that are easy to throw together, and easy to shop for. So after browsing the internet a bit I found a good-enough substitute... Broccoli Slaw!
So Over You, Green Papaya Salad
1 package of broccoli slaw
2 tablespoons of Agave, palm sugar, honey or raw white sugar
juice from 1 lime
couple cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon salt
Thai basil (regular basil is fine, but if you can get your hands on Thai basil, its money. oh and its $1 at Lotte, just remember your wallet)
1 or 2 Thai red chiles (they do sell these at Harris teeter, wegmans, and bloom)
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
Halve the red chili and remove the seeds if you want it less spicy. I was making this for guests so I took the seeds out.
I have this fancy shmancy pestle and mortar I've never used so I decided to give it a whirl, but you can totally just rough chop all these things! Besides, I actually didn't really like the peanuts ground up, and next time I would just throw them in the salad whole.
The ingredients I ground up (or rough chop under a food chopper or in a food processor) were the red chili, salt, peanuts, garlic, and sugar
This was fun
Then mix in the juice from one lime, and the soy and fish sauce. I added a little more agave because it didn't taste sweet enough to me. Then throw in the bag of broccoli slaw!