As I discussed in my last post, the trailer park we’re living at is about as far removed as possible from the images of trailer park life commonly depicted in popular culture. Here, rather than raging, booze-sodden parties lasting until the early morning hours, residents gather to play Bridge, sew and participate in Dance-fit classes. K Cars doing burnouts on gravel lawns are replaced with Toyota Camries diligently abiding by the park’s strictly-enforced 10km per hour speed limit. And rather than strains of early Metallica saturating the sonic landscape, there is quiet all day long – a quiet which descends into dead silence after 6pm, even on weekends. The park has a few other idiosyncrasies worth describing as well.
Those who live at the park year round typically own the concrete pad their RV or mobile home sits on. As such, many have taken to personalizing their little piece of property in various ways. Many fifth-wheels and park-model trailers are suped-up with decks and covered seating areas. One even has an outdoor bar set up, although sadly I’ve never seen anyone putting it to its intended purpose. Whimsical lawn ornaments and signs bearing droll phrases (see Figure 1 above) are another common feature. For whatever reason, the majority of these ornaments are in the form – not of pink flamingos as one might guess – but ceramic children holding hands and gazing bashfully at one another. Miniature wooden wishing wells bearing the address of their respective RV pad are also popular. One eccentric resident even has a life-size statue of Michael Jordan (yes, the basketball player) emblazoning his property. But that’s a bit of an anomaly.
Precision-sheared hedges and quirky topiaries also figure prominently at the park. Whoever is in charge of maintaining the greenery personifies the term ‘detail oriented’ because never have I seen hedges pruned to such perfection. They literally look like they’re cloaked in green velvet, so flawlessly are they sheared. Amazing! The crab topiary pictured in Figure 2 (above), while impressive, really has nothing on the other pieces of bush art situated on this particular piece of property – the centrepiece being a massive topiary of a five-fingered hand! Inexplicably scattered amidst these pieces are Chinese-themed lawn ornaments – ceramic pagodas, dragons, and the like. It’s all too conceptual for me to wrap my head around.
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of the trailer park are the ubiquitous golf carts zipping to and fro. Sure, most residents drive cars when they leave the park, but in terms of getting around the park itself, golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation. The vintage gem pictured in Figure 3 (above) is my personal favourite (note the kitschy white fringe along the edge of the canopy). Another standout cart is the more contemporary, burgundy-coloured model that matches both the burgundy sedan and burgundy-sided mobile home it’s often parked alongside. I couldn’t help but stand and stare for a few moments when I spotted this monochromatic masterpiece.
While all this talk of trailer parks might have left you smacking your lips for Kraft Dinner and SPAM, I’m not going to attempt a healthied-up revision of these products. While that might be an interesting exercise – especially where SPAM is concerned – some things are best left on the shelf! Besides, my Mexican Quinoa Casserole, which I thought of as a vegetarian take on another trailer park favourite – Hamburger Helper – was enough to suffice in that vein. Today I’m back to my regularly scheduled programming with this yummy coconut curry recipe.
I’m really loving using coconut milk in my recipes lately. Its mild flavour makes it a very versatile ingredient. It works well in soups, stews and curries, and its velvety texture lends itself nicely to beverages as well, such as hot chocolate and smoothies. I’ve even used it in lieu of almond milk in my coffee, which tastes great, especially when poured over ice. I plan on experimenting with it in dessert recipes as well and see what I can come up with! If you have a favourite recipe that uses coconut milk, please send it my way!
I love the exotic, aromatic flavours of Thai cuisine. But as a vegetarian it frustrates me that many Thai dishes contain fish sauce. So I’m pleased that I was able to come up with a curry recipe that approximates the real thing! I used a touch of Hoisin paste to emulate the tanginess and depth of flavour that fish sauce provides. Sweet basil, cilantro and lime juice, added right before serving, really brighten up the taste of the sauce with their fresh flavours. And the combination of curried coconut sauce, crunch vegetables and fragrant Jasmine rice… well, don’t even get me started. It’s another cloudy day here in Lake Country and this warm, saucy dish was the perfect comfort lunch!
Recipe: Aromatic Green Curry Coconut Sauce with Vegetables and Tempeh
Makes 4 servings
- 1 cup jasmine rice, uncooked
- 1 1/2 cups water (to cook rice)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- About 100g tempeh, cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 cup oyster mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium red pepper, diced
- 1 small carrot, cut into 1″ match sticks
- 20 or so snow peas, ends removed and halved
- 6 sweet basil leaves
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Green Curry Coconut Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup green curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
- 1 tablespoon hoisin paste
- 2 cups lite coconut milk
- 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth or water
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1″ piece fresh lemongrass (scored or crushed slightly using the flat side of a large knife; this will help release flavour)
Prepare Jasmine rice: In a medium saucepan, combine rice and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Set aside. While rice is cooking, prepare tempeh and green curry coconut sauce:
Prepare tempeh: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add tempeh and saute until golden brown and crispy on each side. Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare Green Curry Coconut Sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add green curry paste and hoisin paste and stir until combined. Gradually stir in coconut milk and vegetable broth or water. Add brown sugar and lemongrass and stir. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add carrots, red pepper, mushrooms and snow peas to sauce and cook for a few minutes, just until vegetables are al dente. Stir in tempeh, basil leaves, cilantro and fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust with salt if necessary. Remove lemongrass and disgard. Spoon Jasmine rice into serving bowls and top with curry and chopped cilantro. Eat!