Hello Fun Seekers

The Passionate Pursuit of Delight

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

Thai food lovers rejoice! If you love Green Papaya Salad (sometimes called Som Tum on Thai menus) you will be excited to learn that it is very easy make at home. Green Papaya salad is light, healthy, and so fresh tasting. It is one of my favorite Thai dishes whether I am dining at a Thai restaurant or cooking Thai food at home.

If you live near an Asian market, you can make this Thai restaurant favorite quickly and easily. If you haven’t ever ventured into an Asian market or any ethnic market for that matter, here is an article I wrote about why you should.

Green Papaya Salad overhead shot

First, go to the produce section. Asian markets have incredible produce, much of it may be new to you. Typically, there are an amazing array of greens, mushrooms, and potatoes. But, today you will want to look for a green papaya which looks like a dark green football. Green papayas are unripe papaya, so, instead of sweet orange flesh the unripe flesh is crisp. If you cannot find green papayas locally, you can substitute cucumbers which are similar in texture albeit more watery.

Another important part of this recipe is the serrated peeler. Using this peeler will result in thin strips of vegetable similar to julienne slices. Serrated peelers can be found on Amazon and at Asian markets. You will use the serrated peeler on the green papaya and carrots. If you have a mandonline slicer you can also use the julienne blade to slice the veggies.

Once the veggies are sliced, you just need to combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or Mason jar. Thai food always focuses on the balance of flavors between sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. This dressing combines all those flavors for a nicely balanced dressing.

Pour the dressing over the veggies and toss to combine. Garnish with chopped peanuts and fresh herbs before serving.

Green Papaya Salad aka Som Tum

Carrot Scallion Coriander Salad

3/4 shot of carrot scallion coriander salad

Have you seen the beautiful colorful carrots in the market lately? I have been seeing bags of full-sized colorful carrots for a while now in grocery stores. But, just recently I have seen bags of colorful baby carrots too. So, recently I picked up a few bags of those colorful babies and wanted to figure out a way to showcase their bright colors in a crisp carrot salad.

In case you were wondering, the colorful carrots while a bit bling-y taste just like orange carrots but the range of colors are best showcased in raw carrots. Cooking or roasting the carrots will mute their vibrancy a little. Fortunately, no cooking is necessary for this recipe. All you need to do is a little slicing and chopping.

Overhead shot of two plates of carrot scallion coriander salad

You know that I am a mandoline slicer evangelist. I use this kitchen tool ALL THE TIME! For example, here are a few recipes which are a breeze to make when you use a mandolin: Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad, Maple Walnut Crostini and Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts.

How to Make Carrot Scallion Coriander Salad

But, back to this deliciously crisp and colorful carrot scallion salad. You can make the dressing ahead of time if you like. I toasted raw walnut pieces for a few a few minutes in a small pan on the stove top. Toasting the nuts brings out the flavor so don’t skip this step. I used my mandoline to slice the radishes and carrots. Instead of slicing the carrots into rounds, I held the carrots on the side and sliced them into ribbons. Don’t you think they look pretty?

Once your veggies are sliced, place them on a platter. You can also make four individual plates of salad if you prefer. Next drizzle the dressing evenly over the veggies and then top with walnuts. If you are a walnut fan you could substitute a different nut. I think pistachios would be very nice too.

Carrot Scallion Coriander Salad

Good Woman Playlist

Good Woman Spotify Playlist Graphic

Here at Hello Fun Seekers we take music seriously. But, the playlist we share today is more serious than most of what we have shared on this site.

Today’s playlist is dedicated to all the women who have stood up and told the truth about what happened to them. Truths that they have kept to themselves for a long time.

I want to commend my friend Courtney for compiling this playlist called Good Woman. She honors the rage and hope we feel as more instances of sexual misconduct come forward. To women, we hear you, we believe you, and we are here for you.

If you haven’t heard, this week, former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar is in court listening to impact testimony during criminal sentencing.  One hundred women who he abused over the last two decades are expected to testify. The CNN article following today’s proceedings can be found here.

Here are Courtney’s words and songs.

“…He didn’t account for the fact that the scared little girls would become brave, fearless women who would turn the tables and see him rot in jail.” Jacob Denhollander via Twitter (husband of gymnast Rachael Denhollander)

 

This playlist is a good one when you are feeling that combination of rage and pride and hope and more rage when you hear woman after woman coming forward to tell their stories of abuse by men in positions of power and the structures that kept them silent, and empowered their abusers for so long.

My current source of rage/pride/hope/rage centers around the biggest crime currently in sports history. Over 150 women and girls including Olympic and world champion athletes are coming forward with stories of decades long abuse that has been hidden and enabled within USA gymnastics and Michigan State University.

The Songs

The playlist starts out with the classic “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves, followed up by empowering anthems by Alicia Keys and Nicki Minaj, Sia, Janelle Monae, and Erykah Badu.

In addition to the anthems, there are songs that celebrate being tender, vulnerable, and sometimes broken like “Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley, “Tenderhearted” by Sara Watkins, “Jenny Lynn” by Katie Herzig, and “Good Woman” by Cat Power. These traits are often mistaken for weakness, but without which, there can be no real strength.

The playlist concludes with Brandi Carlile’s new song “The Joke” in which she tells us she’s seen how this ends, and the joke’s on them, and Kesha’s “Praying” which was inspired by her experience being abused by her producer at Sony.

This playlist helps me to remember there are far more heroes than villains in this story: Aly and Lynn Raisman, Rachael Denhollander, Maggie Nichols, McKayla Maroney, Lindsey Lemke, Kaylee Lorincz, Marcia Frederick, Gabby Douglas, Sarah Jantzi, etc.

It also reminds me of how grateful I am for all of the strong women in my life.

#timesup

 

 

Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad

Two plates of golden beet and cucumber salad

Sometimes the simplest food is the best food. I certainly think that this is the case with this Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad. I am an advocate for menu planning and grocery lists. But, sometimes you have to go to the market and buy what looks fresh and amazing. This was the case last weekend when I spied the most beautiful golden beets. The beets were small and their greens were incredibly lush and vibrant. I knew I had to build a salad recipe where the beets were the star.

So, the first thing that I did when I got home was removed the beet greens, ran them through the salad spinner, then separated the stems from the leaves. I sautéed the stems with onion and garlic until tender, added the thinly sliced leaves until wilted, and finished the greens with red pepper flakes, and a splash of red wine vinegar. I enjoyed the greens with some mashed potatoes. So good!

Overhead shot of golden beet and cucumber salad

But, enough about the beet greens, let’s get to the Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad. Trim both ends of the beets and peel to remove skin. I always use care when peeling the beets because I want to keep the round shape and avoid angular edges.

I like to use Persian cucumbers for this salad. They are small, sweet, and tender. If you can’t find Persian cucumbers you can substitute English (aka hothouse) cucumbers. If you must use regular cucumbers be sure to peel them and consider removing the seeds.

Thinly sliced radishes add a little heat and peppery crunch to the salad. If you hate radishes, then feel free to omit them from the dish. But, I like the contrast of flavor and color.

Golden Beet and cucumber salad

This Golden Beet and Cucumber Salad comes together so quickly if you use a mandoline. I use these mandoline from OXO several times per week. I ordered here from Amazon (affiliate link) It slices vegetables so thin that it is ridiculous. Most humans couldn’t achieve that thin slice with a knife.

Here are few other beet recipes that you may enjoy:

Golden Beet and Cucumber long vertical image for Pinterest

Chili Lime Salmon Tacos

Plate with three chili lime salmon tacos

It doesn’t need to be a Tuesday for me put tacos on the menus. Every single day is a perfect day for tacos in my book. Currently, I am crushing so hard on these Chili Lime Salmon Tacos.

Did you hear the news? US News & World Reports released their 2018 assessment of diets. Any guesses on what diet came in first? The Mediterranean diet tied for first among a panel of nutritionists, dietary consultants and physicians specializing in diabetes, heart health and weight loss. Tied for first with the Mediterranean diet is the DASH diet which is a diet recommended by many doctors to help control blood pressure.

Tray with two chili lime salmon tacos Curious to hear what diets didn’t fare as well? Spoiler alert: Keto and Whole 30 both brought up the rear end of the analysis. So for the love of all things holy, please stop focusing on these diets. In what universe could it possibly make sense that a steak is health food and lentils are bad? It just doesn’t make any sense. For once and all, can we agree that whole grain carbs are not the enemy? Seriously, they are not.

How to Make Chili Lime Salmon Tacos

Alright, stepping off my soapbox now and moving on from the ranting to the recipe for these Chili Lime Salmon Tacos. All you the salmon needs a little seasoning in the form of salt, pepper, and chili powder and a few minutes on the either the grill or skillet. Watch the fish closely while it is on the heat. You don’t want to overcook it.

Overhead shot of plate of chili lime salmon tacos

The fish will change color moving from the bottom which is in contact with the heat moving upward. Once it gets about one-third of the way up the fillet flip it over to the other side. The second side will cook quickly so remove from the heat when the cook line starts moving up. The fish will continue to cook even after it is removed from the heat.

Let the salmon rest while you cut up the veggies and make the spicy cilantro sauce. Once your other ingredients are prepped just break the fillets up into bite-sized chunks and assemble your tacos.

Other salmon recipes you may want to check out:

Long vertical image of chili lime tacos with words overlaid for Pinterest

Best Children’s Books by Age

Holiday Book Guide for Kids

I love giving the gift of books. Curling up with a books has always been my happy place. This is one trait that I am happy to have passed on to my daughter. Now, she is a librarian at New York Public Library (NYPL for those in the know).

I asked her to put together a list of recommended books for kids of all ages. Not only are books a gift that keeps on giving but they are also super easy to wrap. Ha! So, check out this list of NYPL librarian recommended books for kids of all ages on your list.

Ages 0-5

Edible Colors: See, Learn, Eat by Jennifer Vogel Bass
Sometimes broccoli is purple! Sometimes cherries are yellow! Learn about food and colors in this board book with gorgeous pictures of unusually colored foods.

Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jack and Holman Wang
It’s never too early to start reading classics, according to the folks at Cozy Classics. These board books drill the plot of famous works like Pride and Prejudice down to one word per page next to adorable felt characters.

Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Thong
Learn about the delicious ingredients found in Mexican cuisine while also reviewing shapes!

I Want To Be in a Scary Story
Little Monster wants this picture book to be a scary story…but not too scary of course.

Ages 5-13

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
Learn about the importance of standing up for what you believe in while also learning about the childhood of RBG.

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Simi
A little unicorn raised by narwhals discovers that there are more creatures just like him on land. Is he a sea unicorn or a land narwhal?

Lumberjanes Vol 1-5 by Noelle Stevenson
It’s friendship to the max and girl power in this series about a freaky summer camp where things are just a bit odd: three-eyed foxes, yetis, and other mystical creatures roam the woods.

Booked by Kwame Alexander
The soccer enthusiast in your life will love this novel-in-verse about school and family struggles while trying to be the best out on the field.

Ages 13-19+

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This gritty drama has been at the top of the New York Time’s Best Seller list for months for a reason: timely and gut-wrenching it holds nothing back as Starr Carter explores questions about race relations in America today.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
The Breakfast Club meets murder in a thrilling novel of lies and secrets. Five students enter detention, only four are alive by the end. As they take turns telling the aftermath of the murder, it’s clear that each one has a secret to hide. But don’t forget, someone is lying.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
A dark and twisted tale: each generation queen triplets are born, separated, and raised apart to hone their abilities. The queens will re-meet when they are 16: the last one alive gets the throne.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
An unexpected romance blossoms when an Indian family traditional values collide with two teens’ aspirations.

Be sure to check out the Hello Fun Seekers Holiday Gift Guides for:

Holiday Gifts for Coffee Snobs

Holiday Gifts for Coffee Snobs

Hello friends! This post was written by my friend, Chris Millar, who is a coffee lover and was willing to share his expertise to assist us with holiday gift ideas for those hard to buy for coffee snobs. Enjoy!


If you’re considering a coffee gift for someone, they likely fall into one of two categories; coffee appreciator or coffee snob. In each case, the trick is to learn about the recipient and their coffee habits. Why do they like coffee? Is it the caffeine? Is it the taste? Is it the ritual? How do they drink coffee? Keurig? Starbucks? Third wave café?

The coffee appreciator could benefit from almost everything on this list, while the coffee snob can be a much more challenging recipient of coffee-related gifts. The clearest path to success is to help augment their existing brewing process at home with good gear that works everywhere… at the office, traveling, camping, etc.

The Brewer

Everyone knows a French press will brew a better cup than Mr. Coffee. That’s fine, but most French presses are prone to breakage (I’m looking at you Bodum) and awful to clean up. Vacuum sealed water containers are all the rage these days, but this concept hasn’t filtered down to most coffee gadgets.

French Press

Thermos Vacuum Insulated Coffee Press

The best pure French press money can buy. It stays warm and won’t break due to its vacuum sealed construction.

Ideal recipient: Anyone with a glass French press, no press, or want an amazing secondary / travel brewer.
Size: 34oz
Price: $32

Press Plus

Espro Press

All the advantages of French press, and none of the dis-advantages. This will produce a cleaner cup than French press. It has a smaller serving size and upgraded looks.

Ideal recipient: The person who likes the idea of French press, but doesn’t like the downsides.
Size: 18oz
Price: $100

Quirky Press

AeroPress

The AeroPress is a little quirky, but can produce an incredible cup of coffee. It excels at making bad coffee taste decent due to its low brewing temperature.

Note: This advertises itself as an espresso maker. Without getting into the science, it is not.
Ideal recipient: Someone who wants a no-frills great cup of coffee and despises the clean-up of French press.
Size: 8oz
Price: $30

Siphon

Hario Technica 5-Cup Coffee Syphon

The absolute fussiest way to make coffee. This will bring out the very best from a coffee.

Ideal recipient: The snob who has everything (but not this).
Size: 20oz
Price: $70

The Grinder

Grinding just before brewing is a critical step in great coffee making. This can be compared to buying pre-ground black pepper vs fresh ground black pepper. Most grinders are actually choppers, and they pulverize coffee to create a bitter cup. A good ceramic burr grinder produces an even grind and can be found at shockingly affordable prices.

Manual

Manual Ceramic Burr Grinder

If it plugs into a wall, it won’t be better than this until you get into the $150 range. This is not only one of the best grinders around, but it’s also hand powered so it’s amazing for camping. I love the idea of getting this for someone who may have a lesser electric grinder at home, but may want that really good cup on the weekend with just a little bit more work.

Ideal recipient: Someone who never wants to compromise even while on the go. Someone who needs a second good grinder. Someone who loves the ritual of making coffee.

Price: $14.99

Plug In

Baratza Encore

The Encore is consistently ranked the best value in high-end grinders. It’s got everything one would need, and nothing they don’t; ceramic burrs, timer, and proven longevity.

Ideal recipient: Someone who’s starting to flirt with the idea of coffee better than bulk Costco coffee.

Price: $140.00

Espresso

Baratza Vario

The Vario is the gold standard of home grinders. Even the Encore above will struggle with producing a grind fine enough for espresso. This can do it all.

Ideal recipient: Someone who plans on going off the deep end into the high end coffee world.

Price: $480.00

The Coffee

Buying coffee for a coffee snob should be done with extreme caution. It’s like trying to pick out knives for a cook. It’s well-intentioned, but can end up being thrown away or never used. If you’re thinking of grinding before giving, skip this section completely. No one wants (or should want) pre-ground coffee.

Entry Level

Winco Single Origin Organic Light Roast

Hello Fun Seekers Coffee

If you’re lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, you can get it locally. You can order online if you’re not. Make your own container (think Mason jar + label), and throw this stuff out like candy to your closest friends and family.

Ideal recipient: The Costco bulk coffee lover. The caffeine lover. Someone who could use a change of pace from their normal coffee routine.

Price: $6 / LB

Next Level

Blue Bottle Coffee Subscription

It’s a small investment, but a 3 month coffee subscription shows someone you love them.

Ideal recipient: Someone who will appreciate nice coffee, but isn’t too snobby.

Price: $15 / LB per month

Ultimate

Heart Roaster Coffee Subscription

The pinnacle of coffee subscriptions. Even the most discerning coffee drinker will appreciate this coffee coming into their house regularly.

Ideal recipient: Someone you want to make love to.

Price: $23.50 / LB per month


Thanks so much, Chris! I have added a few of these items to my holiday wish list this year. Coffee lovers, what are your favorite coffee related gifts to give or receive?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. 

Cheddar and Cranberry Chutney Crostini

Cheddar Cranberry Chutney Crostini 9

It isn’t just the alliteration that I love about these Cheddar and Cranberry Chutney Crostini. I also love how you can transform a few simple ingredients into a festive and delicious bite. These crostini would be perfect when you have friends coming over for a drink or to accompany a pot of soup.

Let’s start at the base. For the crostini you can both buy a baguette and make your own by slicing it up, brushing each slice with a little bit of olive oil on both sides, and seasoning with salt. To crisp up the slices, just pop the slices under the broiler or on a grill for a few minutes be sure to flip during cooking so that both sides are crisp.

Another option is to buy sliced, crisped cocktail toasts at the grocery store. These packages are usually found near the deli section. They are great to have in your pantry and can be topped so many different ways for easy appetizers.

Cheddar Cranberry Chutney Crostini-12

Once you’ve decided on your crostini base your next choice will be to consider the cheese.  I know it says cheddar in the title but there are so many things to think about! Firstly, do you like mild, medium, or sharp cheddar? I love sharp cheddar and think it pairs well with the cranberry chutney. But, if you prefer mild then by all means, go with mild cheddar. I used white cheddar when I took these photographs because I thought it would look pretty but yellow cheddar is perfectly fine.

Now to the fun part! Chutney. I am not going to lie. I love chutney. I always have some at the ready to add to a cheese plate or add some zing to grains or rice side dishes. Chutney is easily made by combining your ingredients (typically, fruit, nuts, and spices) into a small saucepan and simmering until the fruit softens and the mixture of flavors comes together. In this case, the cooking time on the chutney is about 15 minutes.

How to Make Cheddar Cranberry Chutney Crostini

Cheddar Cranberry Chutney Crostini-2

The last step is an assembly job. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the crostini on the parchment. Add a slice of your delicious cheddar to the crostini and pop into the oven until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven and add a dollop of chutney to each crostini. You can finish it off with a bit of parsley (you can parsley your crostini a little less aggressively than I did if you wish).

Some other appetizer recipes that you might want to check out:

Cheddar Cranberry Chutney Crostini Pin

Snow Tracks Spotify Playlist

Snow Tracks Spotify PlaylistPhoto by Aaron Burden

My friend Courtney is back with another Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure. I’ve been listening to it nonstop for the last week. She is a musical genius!

Winter in four acts, a playlist

“In all the world there is no desolation more complete than the polar night. It is a return to the Ice Age— no warmth, no life, no movement. Only those who have experienced it can fully appreciate what it means to be without the sun day after day and week after week. Few men unaccustomed to it can fight off its effects altogether, and it has driven some men mad.”

Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

Snow Tracks

Act I: Your own little ice age

The first act features songs full of loneliness and isolation, along with literal ice and snow. Jessica Hoops sets our stage perfectly with the her haunting voice and strange melody singing of Wyoming winter  in her song “Snowglobe.” Radiohead follows with a warning of ice age coming in “Idioteque.” A couple of real gems in this act include Brandi Carlile’s “Josephine” where she longs for a past cold and dark December, and Laura Marling’s “Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)” where she sings of saying goodbye to her love amidst falling snow. The act concludes with “Ice Age” by David Byrne and St. Vincent. I love this song more each time I hear it.

Act II: Ethereal

The songs in act two move beyond the snow globes to the heavenly, and otherworldly. Katie Herzig begins this act and the connection to the other side with “Lost and Found,” followed by “All This and Heaven too” by Florence + the Machine. Then “Reverie” from season 1 of Westworld by Ramin Djawadi gives you a moment to ponder as you watch the delicate snow falling outside. This act ends with “Otherside” By Perfume Genius.

Act III: Madness

In this act, everyone loses their minds and starts believing they are wolves. There are songs about running through the snow covered forest as a wolf, having wolf mothers, and losing all sense of humanness, changing from skin to fur, and reverting to instinct. Songs in this enjoyable act include Blitzen Trapper’s “Furr”, Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal”, Bon Iver’s “The Wolves (Act I and II)” Sea Wolf’s “Whitewoods” and First Aid Kit’s “Wolf.”

Act IV: Melt

The final act includes three songs that bring us back to earth, back to human, and have us looking forward to the end of winter starting with Freelance Whales’ “Winter Seeds.” Then Sara Bareilles’ and Ingrid Michaelson’s “Winter Song” remind us that winter is temporary, and finally, the act and the playlist conclude Sia’s wonderful remake of “California Dreamin’”

I hope this playlist helps you enjoy the long, cold, and beautiful winter season.

Courtney

CourtZionNP

Be sure to check these playlists from Courtney too!

 

Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers

Gifts For Book lovers

I wanted to share a few of my favorite books from this year. Do you have a book lover on your holiday shopping list? Or, maybe you are looking for books for yourself to read over the holidays. Here is a list of books that touched me in some way during 2017. What could be better than sitting near the Christmas tree, curled up with a cup of tea, and a terrific book? If you said very little then we’d be in agreement!


The Hate U Give

Racial tensions, police not being held accountable, privilege, and when to stay and fight and when to go. The story is told from the viewpoint of an adolescent girl who faces these realities on a daily basis as she moves back and forth from her neighborhood and the private school she attends.


Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

The only thing I knew about Trevor Noah was that he replaced Jon Stewart as host of the Daily Show. I never watched the Daily Show once Stewart left. I didn’t know that Trevor Noah was from South Africa. This book was hysterically funny, poignant, and heart-breaking in parts.


Rabbit Cake

I loved this book and the main character, Elvis, she will steal your heart. It is a beautifully written coming-of-age story about a family dealing with a tragedy and what they do to cope.


The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane got great reviews when it was published earlier this year. I was so engrossed in the story which moved back and forth between the tea-growing mountains in China and suburban life in California. Everyone who I recommended this book to also loved it.


Obama: An Intimate Portrait

Pete Souza has been the designated White House photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. His photos are incredibly beautiful and capture the mood and character of his subjects. His Instagram account @petesouza is well worth a follow whether you are a photographer, a political junkie, or just enjoy the subtlest throwing of shade you’ve seen in a long time.


Moonglow

Michael Chabon’s writing is so good! This novel tells the story of the author’s grandfather as told to him the weeks before his grandfather’s death. It is poignant and funny and you can’t help but fall in love with both the grandson and the grandfather. I loved it.


Kindle Paperwhite E-reader

I was sooooooo resistant to moving over to an eReader.  All the usual sentiments such as ‘I like holding a book….I love the smell of a book.’ I told myself and anyone who recommended a Kindle all those things. The main reason that I held out was that I was (am) an avid library user.

Initially, there was no way to borrow eBooks from the library. But, that issue has been resolved and you can now borrow eBooks from  the library. But, the added benefits that I didn’t expect were how nice it is to have some back-lighting on the page and the ability to increase the font size of the text. Both are super helpful to aging eyes. I enthusiastically encourage you to try a Kindle. It’s a game-changer.


Amazon.com $25 Gift Card

Amazon gift cards are a welcome gift for any book-lover especially if you aren’t sure what they may have already read.


I would love to hear what books you read and loved this year. Drop a comment below.  Also, do you use an eReader or do you prefer books?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. 

Page 1 of 11

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén