baby cranesSaw a couple of Diplomat cabs on the road today. It reminded me of my first cab ride in Florida, coming from the Sarasota airport. The driver, as are all of the Diplomat drivers, was from Haiti. His accent was thick, but beautiful, and I was curious, so I asked him about his home. He told me it was very bad, you know.

Yes, I did know. I have seen the news, and cried over it, and felt helpless and angry. I didn’t want to ask more, because I didn’t want to minimize his pain.

But here’s the thing. If Florida were destroyed in an avalanche of greed and violence, and I had to leave, perhaps, I, too, would just tell people that it was very bad, you know. But I would still remember the best things. I would remember Sandhill cranes, walking sedately with fuzzy chicks in tow. I’d remember alligators, warm ocean water, and sunny days.

That’s what I want to hear about. Don’t tell me what I can find in the news. Give me hope. Tell me about your cranes.

Pad Thai, Kitty style

pad thai 06 sauceI first had Pad Thai at a little Thai place in Portland that no longer exists. The sauce was rich and peanutty. I soon found out, after trying the dish at many other establishments, that this wasn’t exactly traditional. Still, I loved that original Pad Thai, and was determined to figure it out.

The secret is the sauce. Don’t get Pad Thai sauce. Get Satay Sauce. This is my brand, which I get from the local Asian market. Yeah, I could make it myself, but this is better and easier.

pad thai 01 rice stickGet a half pound of medium rice stick soaking in hot water. The package says, warm, but they’re just kidding. Get a large pan heating up over mediumish heat with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

pad thai 02 onionsSlice half an onion and add it to the pan. Stir it frequently until just translucent. Keep in mind, I like to caramelize the heck out of my onions. If you don’t, start throwing in the next ingredients after a few seconds.

pad thai 03 carrots ssAdd hard veggies, like carrots, and a splash of soy sauce. There will be many such splashes, so sorry if you’re monitoring your sodium intake. Stir frequently and cook about three minutes.

pad thai 04 soft veg peanutsAdd the softer stuff. In my case, a small zucchini and a third of a red bell pepper. Also add a clove of diced garlic, and a handful of unsalted peanuts. This is where I normally add a small can of bean sprouts, but I forgot ‘em. Add a splash of soy. Cook, stirring, for about another three minutes.

pad thai 07 eggsBeat two eggs. Move all the veggies over to one side of the pan, and add the eggs and a splash of soy sauce. Stir the eggs until cooked, keeping them mostly separate from the veggies. Skip the eggs if you want to go vegan.

pad thai 08 noodlesDrain and add the noodles, the entire jar of sauce, and (can you guess?) a splash of soy sauce. Use two spoons or spatulas or whatever to toss it all together until it’s a gorgeous mess.

pad thai 09 nomNom your Pad Thai.

Adventure Saturday: Bradenton Farmers’ Market

Bradenton Farmers’ Market is located in downtown Bradenton on Old Main Street. We hadn’t ventured down here yet. It’s a charming vintage business district that reminds me of small towns in Oregon. Very comfy, and less flash than downtown Sarasota. Main Street is lined with restaurants, so there weren’t a whole lot of food booths. Disappointing, as I love farmer market fare.

This week’s event was supplemented by the Art Slam. I think the performance art must start in the evening, as the booths we saw were hands-on demonstrations–great for kids.

We left just as the jazz band started playing, much to our relief. The singer had a great set of pipes, but, eh, jazz.

Adventure Sunday: Dinosaur World

We decided to take a little road trip today, heading east, then north to Lakeland. We didn’t stop much. It was a beautiful day for driving. As we were leaving Lakeland and headed into Plant City, we saw a sign we could not resist: Dinosaur World.

We arrived 45 minutes from closing, so we marched through, snapping photos like mad. We had a blast.