Garden Leftovers, Meal Memories

Friday, October 17, 2014

Garden Fresh Sweet Bell Peppers
It's that special time of year when the summer garden, which I've nearly torn out and replaced with fall greens, yields a surprise tasty treat or two. This is especially true with the three varieties of eggplant that Venus grew from seed last winter. We were blessed with purple, white and yellow eggplants all summer long.

As I picked the last of this tasty treat plus a smattering of still-sweet and crunchy red and green garden peppers, a thought crossed my mind. I had the makings of one of the best Thai dishes I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. And it was that singular thought that brought on the memories of Tom Hudson and our famous lunches of scrumptious Thai dishes.

Tom Hudson
I had the good fortune of working with Tom while serving in the Office of Senator Rico Oller, who represented the 1st Senate District in California. One of the largest and most rural of districts, we had a lot of territory to cover. A lot of it was old gold rush territory -- where I would come to discover an ancient and massive pear tree that was and still is very productive. But that's another story for another day.

Tom was a jovial fellow -- easy to get along with -- very intelligent and as I would come to learn, we shared a common passion for all things Thai food. We also had something else in common: famous appetites. And on those days when we left the office on Friday for a nice lunch somewhere downtown, we always gravitated in the direction of our favorite Thai restaurant.

Gai Pad Prig Khing
Not only did we share a love for all things Thai food -- on those days we both professed a desire for the same dish: Gai Pad Prig Khing. Translated? That's a mix of green beans, bell peppers and a spicy chili paste that was to DIE for. We could chow down on that delicacy all day long and never get tired of it. A condemned inmate on Death Row had a better shot at redemption than any bowl of Gai Pad Prig Khing set down in front of Tom and I.

Ah -- but it was more than just a special dish, you understand. It also had to be prepared a special way. There are three particular versions of spicy Thai dishes: Medium heat, hot and THAI HOT. Thai hot dishes were normally reserved for people of southeast asian descent. It was deemed to be too hot for us white guys -- or so the waitress believed. But as we insisted on unlimited amounts of THAI HOT Pad Prig Khing, our pretty Vietnamese server opened her eyes so wide that her eyeballs nearly popped from their sockets.

Garden Fresh Eggplant from the Bird Back 40
As she ran to the kitchen, chattering in her native language about these two crazy, rotund white guys who were insisting upon a dish prepared in the traditional Thai hot method, both the owner and the cook leaned out to take a look. They smiled. They waved. They knew us from previous visits. They knew exactly what we wanted. And they would deliver a dish of Gai Pad Prig Khing that was so hot, it burst into flames the moment anyone dared touch it.

There was nary a green bean or sliver of sweet pepper left when we were finally finished. While Gai Pad Prik Khing wasn't the only dish that we would order -- it was clearly our favorite and it was always prepared in our special way.

Pad Prig Khing Prepared at Home
Time has a way of passing. Life changes. Tom would leave the Capitol some years later for a better opportunity at the Board of Equalization. I would switch over to another legislative office after Rico's term in office ended thanks to term limits. The Thai restaurant that we frequented would later close. Times change. People move on. But I never forgot those memories.

Not too long ago I stumbled across a recipe for this dish from a blogger who not only visited Thailand frequently, but had married a man of Thai descent. The recipe, which you can find here appeared to be an exact copy of the dish that Tom and I had enjoyed all those years ago. Not only that -- but this recipe contained the secret of how to make this dish just the way Tom and I liked it: THAI HOT.

A Late Season Garden Treat: Eggplant
I was not disappointed. Not only was the recipe an exact duplicate of what Tom and I enjoyed, I could make it better with fresher ingredients. I could play around with the seasonings, reduce the sugar or increase the amount of red curry or thai hot peppers. In short, I could make it better than any restaurant -- and I had fresh summer vegetables from the backyard to boot.

This is a meal that even Tom Hudson would approve of.

Please visit Sherri's Thai-Foodie blog here. It's filled with incredible recipes -- food that is so good that you'll never feel the need to step into a Thai restaurant again. Simply put, you can make it better in your own kitchen. And that's all that counts.

1 comment:


Man oh man. This post has it all! Thanks for sharing.