Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How to Make Tom Kha Soup When your Mother has Inoperable Stage IV Cancer

This is a recap of an earlier soup recipe for Tom Kha Ghai. But honestly, each time a recipe is created it has a unique situation which calls for individual tweeks. I thought that it might be both educational and useful to document one of these particular situations. 

In this case, I will be making this particular soup while changing the prep and the ingredients to align with a diet recommended by certain holistic practitioners for those battling cancer. That is, I will be creating the recipe without adding any alcohol, sugar,  meat, salt, or chilies. 

Hopefully it does not completely suck. 

This recipe is particularly good when you’ve just prevented your mother from possibly going ballistic on helpful nutrition shop owners who are trying to sell her other options not on her list while she was already sliding past her level of comfortable overwhelm and you are trying to calm yourself down from a future ensuing anxiety attack. 

This recipe will call for drinking more wine, overall, than one would normally. If it isn’t going in the soup, that doesn’t mean it‘s not going to be used. Basically you’re drinking a recipe’s worth. If you don’t drink, be prepared to pour out at least one full bottle of wine onto the ground. Tell yourself that it's for the homies. And by homies I mean that it's to honor people in various homes who also have cancer and can't drink this wine.

This time it's okay for you throw the remaining wine bottle against something hard in order to hear the crash. 

Everything has to be organic and there will be no oil to sauté anything. Also, there will be no chicken. This might be closer to the Martha Stewart recipe I ripped into a few posts back when I initially wrote a blog about this particular soup and highlighted how boring and super New-England-white-person her specific recipe was. But maybe she was writing for her family member who not only had cancer, but also an unusually high ability to process sodium while having said cancer. If so, my apologies Martha. I honestly did not know your sodium deficient mom had cancer when you put that one up. 

Chop the fresh turmeric, onions, ginger, celery, lemon grass, and broccoli into smaller pieces than normal.  I mean seriously small bits. Try to breathe a little more consciously as you do this. Normally I’m all about "health at any size", which includes raggedly mean chunky bits along with some scattered smaller bits and then the occasional small slivers that just happen when I chop. But, since there is no soup base, I’m chopping everything teensy in the hopes that my hand will stop shaking and that it might add more flavor. 

I’m adding one metric fuckton of ginger to see if this will fix the lack of soup base and salt.  Also, because Whole Foods in LA apparently has received a written cease and desist letter from Martha around carrying galangal. It seems that her vicious galangal interaction has caused her to banish all galangal from the area. The woman does need therapy. It's not the galangal's fault. It's the behaviors and habits of those who raise and use galangal who end up causing it to go bad.

After chopping the items, take a slice of frozen pizza recently heated and eat it slowly over a period of 20 minutes while staring out the kitchen window into the yard of your mom’s small condo all while thinking about your sister’s earlier conversation with you where in she tried to talk to you about dividing up your  mom’s stuff and then you hung up on her.

 Continue to chew slowly until you feel sad and vacant

Chop up a larger than normal amount of parsley. It's parsley because partially you're not sure cilantro is on the cancer list of okay to eat items and partially because some people think cilantro tastes like soap. Contemplate if they are just faking this to be assholes and wonder why they have been eating so much soap. Fail to chop it too finely, but throw it in the large bowl of chopped things anyway and then proceed to sit with your head resting in your hands while your elbows rest on the cutting board. Hold this position until you can breathe again or until a relative walks in the room and you have to fake it.

Realize that writing this blog while you are cooking is amplifying your feelings. Try not to cry while chopping the fresh basil. If you fail to prevent this, cry over the sink away from any crucial ingredients. Remember, any added salt is not allowed in this specific diet.

Unlike other times when you put together a recipe for the family and everyone tried to crowd in to either insult you while standing around or pretend to help while not actually helping, no one will actually be in the kitchen. Everyone will just be too overwhelmed with their own shit and will have retreated.

Chop the bok choy and the majority of one of those large containers of basil. 

Nothing can be sautéed because you can't use oil, so nothing needs to be cooked separately. Everything gets thrown into the large bowl once chopped. 

Pour one can of coconut milk and an extra tiny can of coconut cream into a large pot, because you aren't sure how to compensate for the lack of oil and because... Fuck it.

Add more than a reasonably normal amount of garlic cloves which have been finely chopped to the mix. 

 Add the juice of two lemons partially squeezed. Some seeds may have fallen in. Don't worry. When these cook for an hour everyone will think they are some kind of unusual legume.

Heat the coconut milk and add four cups of water in a large pot. When it has reached a rolling boil, turn the heat down to simmer and throw everything you’ve chopped into the water. 

Cover it over and wait since there is really nothing else you can do.

Walk away from it and hope for the best.

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