Our last long weekend trip of the year was going to be Amsterdam. We ordered our guide book, imagined a day trip to Bruges, and considered booking accommodations at a B&B run by an opera singer. Oh it was all very exciting. The only thing we never actually discussed was when we were going.
I assumed the end of October.
Dan assumed the end of November.
And neither one of us told the other of our assumptions until mid-October when I realized it was time to sit down and book our flight and room since we were leaving in a mere two weeks!
Dan: "Two weeks? Aren't we going in over a month?"
Caitie: "What? Why would we go to Amsterdam at the end of November? It will be dreary and cold. Like Venice, only Amsterdam. Ick, November."
Dan: "But I didn't book holidays for October."
Caitie: "But...I don't want to take time off in November."
Oh yes, we really do win at travelling. I really wish we were more OCD about planning because I've said it once and I'll say it again, we know we're going somewhere, we don't really have a clear idea of when, and then one day we just...show up. But alas, our poor planning has finally caught up with us and I really did not want to go to Amsterdam in November.
So we decided to repurpose some of our travel funds to a staycation and one of things we decided to do was take a Thai cooking class.
Seriously, I can't recommend it enough.
Our class met on two Thursday evenings for four hours each night, and each night we prepared a full three course meal that included sitting down together in the school's dining room. The first night our instructor brought champagne to enjoy with dinner, and the last night one of our classmates brought some Thai beer to wash down on our spicy Gaang Ped Daang with.
It was such a warm temporary community and the food we made was absolutely delicious. It was also a really good chance for Dan and I to behave like grown-ups and prove we are capable of working alongside each other in a kitchen environment, because at home? I assure you we're not.
Dan: Why are you doing it like that? It makes more of a mess. Do it my way.
Caitie: I'm cooking dinner, and this is how I do it.
Dan: It makes no sense.
Caitie: Maybe some of us can't comprehend efficiency.
Dan: It's not efficient if you have a huge mess to deal with.
Caitie: Do you like eating the food I make?
Dan: Is this a trap? It feels like a trap. But you're....it's not....
Caitie: WE'RE ORDERING PIZZA.
Whenever we encounter couples who bond in the kitchen, Dan and I look at each other with sadness because that is not our reality. We bond over the dinner table, but the kitchen is an every-man-for-himself war zone. However, we cooked in harmony those past two Thursdays and it was really nice and we now have some great memories from that time shared in the kitchen.
Like how I wasn't convinced that the chili pepper was that hot so I ate a generous pinch of chopped chili and then spent the next thirty minutes quietly dabbing my weeping eyes whilst trying not to breathe fire all over my classmates.
And also, how good Dan looks in one of those long chef aprons that tie around the waist.
Anyhow, if there's a person in your life who loves to cook I would really recommend tying up a little gift certificate for a cooking class and placing it between baubles of their tree.
And since I can't obviously go on and on about how great the food was without sharing the love, here's a recipe we are both crazy about. Fact: we've made this twice since class ended last week. It's good.
Chicken Satay with Coconut Peanut Dipping Sauce
10 wooden satay skewers - soak in water about ten minutes
600 g chicken breast (lay your chicken on your cutting board. Put your palm flat down over the top of the breast and run a sharp knife horizontally through the breast, splitting it in two. Now take your two pieces of breast meat and cut those into long, thick strips. Clear as mud?)
1 garlic clove
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp (EL) heaping, of honey
2 tbsp (EL) fish sauce
4 tbsp (EL) peanut oil
* put all ingredients in a food processor and blitz. Put your chicken strips in a bowl, pour marinade over top and let everyone hang out and get to know each other for about thirty minutes.
Coconut Peanut Sauce:
1 tbsp (EL) heaped of brown sugar
70 g of peanut butter (just under a 1/3 cup)
200 ml of coconut cream
2 tbsp (EL) sweet-sour chilisauce
1/2 a stick of lemon grass (slice your lemon grass down the middle and using the back of your knife quickly tap the lemon grass a few times to release the flavour)
* put all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat and let simmer away.
* Put your oven's broiler on
* Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and remove skewers from water.
* Thread your marinated chicken over the skewers folding up each chicken piece like it's a caterpillar, skewering the folds, then stretching the meat over the skewer (does that make sense?)
* Put your chicken under the broiler for seven minutes, then flip the skewers and give them another four to five minutes under the broiler.
* Put the skewers on a plate and sprinkle with fresh coriander (cilantro) and serve with the peanut dipping sauce.
* Remove the lemon grass from the peanut sauce before serving.