tom kha gai: thai coconut soup served, sipped, slurped on a sunday.

There is something magical about Sundays. The tradition of attending church and enjoying a lunch after brings a kind of calm throughout the day. It is paced, mandated by a strict service time, yet almost leisurely - the last day of the week is one full of comfortable contradictions.

Stelna, the loveliest of the lovelies, stayed the night and we took our time waking up before heading to church. After, we decided to embark on a drive to the Local, a lovely little industrial-feeling eatery in Kit, with a few friends.
 After eating great food, chatting, and drinking caesars, it was 3:30 in the afternoon (!!). Oh the curse of the lazy Sunday -- no concept of time.
The sun may have been shining outside, but the air was crisp and cool. Stel and I built a fire and holed up in my cozy apartment, with the crackling and faint sweet smell of burning wood protecting us from the October cold.
While Stelna studied, I meditated.With a pencil. There is something calming about the slow scratch of a pencil catching on the grain of the paper, slowly building up the graphite to create a shape, giving it lines of life.

She studied, I drew, and soup simmered on the stove. A slightly spicy yet filling soup -- tom kha gai, or spicy Thai coconut soup. Though its more popular brother soup, tom yum talay, is the one generally known and served in restaurants, tom kha gai is a mellower, more refined version of the spicy soup. It has an earthiness not found in the other soup, and is a dish that appeals to almost any palette due to the coconut milk offsetting any sudden sharp flavors. 
Tom Kha Gai: Creamy Thai Coconut Soup

2 cups chicken stock
1 stalk lemongrass, only the tender middle, minced, and every other part sliced into two inch pieces
1 small thumb of ginger, sliced
2 kaffir lime leaves, broken
1 tsp. sugar
1 can coconut milk
2 birds eye chilies (I like to use 3 or 4, but this can be much too spicy for most)
2 tbs. fish sauce
1/2 a lime, juiced
1/4 c. cilantro
1 cup chicken breast, sliced, or 1 cup fish and seafood, sliced (I used squid in this one)
1/2 c. white mushrooms, sliced
veggies, sliced, of your choice

1. Simmer the lemongrass, sugar, stock, ginger and lime leaves for five minutes (your house will smell phenomenal after this step).

2. Add the coconut milk, chilies, and fish sauce and cook for another five minutes.

3. Place the mushrooms and meat used in the pot, whether chicken or seafood, and simmer until cooked through.

4. Add any other veggies you feel like at this point as well, letting them simmer until tender when pierced by a fork.

5. Right before serving, sprinkle on cilantro and add lime juice (you want the sour flavor to be fresh, rather than mellowed by the cooking process, hence why it is added at the end).

6. Pray. Eat. Enjoy. Find a church that moves you, and give thanks for the day of rest that follows.