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Pad Thai and Karen

It's a foggy, foggy day at the farmette. Eerie looking, like the atmosphere around everything now that Covid-19 has us in its grip.

In trying to avoid/deal with the current pandemic, I decided it was time for pad thai. Kind of like Victoria Day is the official opening of the gin season, somewhere around the first of April is when I crack out the rice noodles and whip up a whole big mess of that lovely, peanuty, spicy, shrimpy dish.

Every time I make the recipe, I think of my friend and travelling companion Karen Heiber. She and I lived on the dish when we were in Thailand 30 years ago, and she gave me the recipe as a gift when we got home.

It's been used quite a bit over the ensuing years, as you can see.

Karen was one of a kind - I say was, because she died six years ago - waaaayyyy too young in her early 50s. It was that rotten, disgusting horrible disease: breast cancer.

We worked together at the Ministry of Natural Resources. She was a bit older than me (not much). She was kind and stroppy and organized and had many other qualities that made her a great friend. She also LOVED to travel.

We had planned the great adventure for a year before. Mere months from when we left, I was a silly bugger and fell in love. Poor Karen - she fretted that I wouldn't go to India, Nepal and Thailand with her because I'd be besotted. But we talked it over and Rob and I agreed it would be ridiculous to NOT go.

Anyhow, pad thai was cheap (we didn't have a lot of baht, which is the Thai currency). In every restaurant, they served it with pirated cassettes blaring out old rock and roll tunes. At the end of the recipe, Karen's recommendation was to 'Serve immediately with the Eagles.'

It's a tricky dish. You have to soak the rice noodles in cold water for two to three hours ahead of time.

There's a LOT of prep, and it's a stir fry, so the cooking takes only about five minutes. The noodles have to be heated up perfectly - they can taste like rubber bands or complete mush if you get it wrong. And I've gotten it wrong a few (hundred) times.

But last night, it was perfect. You can tell by Rob's Groucho Marx eyebrows. We only make half the recipe for the two of us - and we're always stuffed!

It's amazing how a recipe, a song or even a piece furniture make you recall a certain time, place or person. For me, pad thai will always, always be Karen. Rest in peace sweetie...

Until next week.


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