Beef Pho

Since I’ve moved to St. Maarten, I find myself with an incessant craving for pho—a staple in my household and my mom’s favorite food.   It’s one of those things that you don’t miss til it’s gone and boy, did I.  I ALWAYS requested pho when I arrived back in Arkansas or when I was leaving.  It is necessary.


Not only is pho one of every Southeast Asian kids favorite comfort food, but it’s a social food too.  You ALWAYS have to make a huge pot to share with friends and family…there is no such thing as a single serving recipe for a pot of pho.  I suppose that unconsciously, my request for my mom’s pho is an easy invitation to see my family when I get home and when I’m leaving.  People trickle in and out throughout the day, but no one ever turns down pho.


So, after about 5 semesters on the island, I finally decided that I, a person nearing 30, should finally tackle making pho from scratch.  Had I not grown up so Americanized, I might’ve had 10 years of experience by now…but, unfortunately, I don’t.  My mom and I are similar, in that we firmly believe that if anything is to be done right, you must do it yourself.  Hence, why I do not know how to cook anything Asian.


The first time I made pho on the island, it was just…really lackluster.  First of all (and don’t judge me, I live on an island), I didn’t have any beef bones.  Secondly, I enhanced the flavor with pho seasoning cubes.  Blasphemy! I know… but I totally redeemed myself this time.  I found oxtails and didn’t use ANY seasoning cubes.  I cross-referenced various blogs with thorough recipes (here, here, and here) to determine what I needed to produce a genuine, aromatic, and flavorful broth.  The result was a hit!  Much better than the first go-around.


As you can see, I support the utilization of condiments.  Generally, when it comes to pho, there are two camps:  those who prefer a pure, unadulterated broth and those who like to spice things up with flavors!  There is nothing wrong with either parties.  I have had it both ways and each have their own attributes.  I was just raised the right way to spice up any and all of my food.  My preferred additions include sugar, spicy ground chili in oil, beef paste flavoring, lime juice, green onions, thinly sliced onions, and copious amounts of cilantro.  Other favorite accoutrements:  Chinese long beans and Romaine lettuce.  It is a special treat when my mom makes her famous Lao-style Sukiyaki sauce, I like to dip the long beans in it or even add it to my soup!


These Shoes Are Made For Walkin’

I’m heading to Boston in June to graduate, finally.  The Boyfriend and I may even take a short trip to D.C. in April to visit his cousin, a US Senator.  I foresee a lot of walking being done on these two trips.  Alas, one thing I do not have is cute and comfy walking shoes.  New clothes? Got em’.  A graduation dress? Done.  I even have a cute cross-body bag picked out.  BUT. Cute AND comfortable walking shoes?  That seems to be asking too much.  I considered the options available to me:  Chuck Taylors?  NOT comfortable.  Flip flops? No support.  Running shoes?… are for running, plus I don’t want to be THAT tourist.  I would love to be able to wear the plethora of booties I’ve acquired (this one, in particular), but I can’t see that being feasible.  I’ve been perusing the interwebs and below are some of the shoes I’m considering.  I chose leopard print and grey, as they are versatile and will pair beautifully with any color palette.  Any suggestions? Let me know!



Lemon-Glazed Madeleines

What do you know about Madeleines? 
Apparently, you need to know a lot to pull these off.


I’ve never actually consumed Madeleines while I was living in the States.  They didn’t seem to be in the repertoire of anyone I knew.  My first Madeleine came from a bag I purchased at this tiny little bodega-type market down the street from my house in St. Maarten.  They were delicious, even from a bag!  I could eat a large bag in one sitting and would even choke myself, as I tried to inhale those delicious little devil cakes!  I never thought about baking them myself, as they were so delicious straight from the bag, until….


One day I was perusing Amazon, as I do, and saw the “What Others Bought” section.  I saw the Madeleine pan and impulsively bought it.  Why not?  It’s just a little seashell shaped cake, how hard could it be?  Little did I know, it was actually one of those finicky things that the French love so dearly.  Why must they complicate my life with such delicious, complex, unhealthy food products?!?!  Okay, well, these weren’t all that complicated, but there were lots of things I needed to remember…which I’m not good at…. remembering things? What? Why? Ugh.


Anyhow, I used this recipe for lemon-glazed Madeleines and they worked like a charm.  I buttered and floured one batch, then left out the flour on the next and they worked fine, because, duh, I have a nonstick pan.  I was extremely giddy because I ACHIEVED the infamous Madeleine HUMP…WITHOUT baking powder.  I don’t even know what this hump business is all about, but I totally get it.  Everyone wants bigger humps, humps, lovely cakey humps?


I would probably say it’s best to make the batter the night before, so then you don’t have to get antsy about them whilst they sit in the fridge/freezer.  I like the non-glazed variety with coffee.  I inhale the lemon-glazed variety solo!  Enjoy!


Things to Remember [about baking Madeleines]

  1. Room temperature eggs, ugh.
  2. Have patience and let the melted butter come to room temp, unlike me.  I stuck mine in the freezer for 5-ish minutes.
  3. MUST. FREEZE. PREPARED.  PAN.  That is, with butter already brushed on.
  4. Refrigerate batter for at least 1 hour.  I mopped and made salsa, in the meantime 🙂
  5. Wash pan after first use.  Re-butter.  Re-freeze.
  6. Don’t spread batter after spooning into molds.
  7. USE really good French butter, if you have it.  I LOVE and use President.