Footwork…Thai Style

I didn’t think my first blog of my Rotary Wife’s Journey would be a week and a half post of returning home from Indochina.  My vision had always been to blog throughout our trip to Phuket, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap, Duon On and Bangkok.

Little did I know that this journey would be defined by something other than the Southeast Asian countries we experienced.  It’s defined by my foot.  My right foot to be exact.

I’ve never had great feet. They are as tiny as can be…ladies size 5.  That’s a 3 in kids and a 35 in non-American sizes.  Back in the day, I was able to buy sample sizes.  But not anymore.  Even Nordstrom carries far less of my size than they used to.  So you can only imagine how excited I was to be in the land of petite feet!  My shopping goal:  NEW SHOES!!!

But shopping for shoes had to wait. I made sure of that.

Let’s start at the very beginning, from my right foot’s perspective. Day 1 – Hanging out by the beautiful pool at our resort on Phuket. (That’s an island of Thailand…get your globe and go find it.) Day 2 – Boat tour to Phi Phi Island and Khai Island.  Great memories, all of which I’ll talk about in another post, Joker Team, monkeys, The Beach, Snorkeling, Motor Scooters, Singha, Wires and Rebuilding, the Smell, Sawatdee ka.

But let’s just say…my right foot took center stage just after snorkeling and just before lunch.

The middle of the boat had an 8” (sized by Mike) deep step down and then back up.  I somehow got excited about a photo I wanted to take. I picked up my camera and ran to the front of the boat, from the back.  Oops…Just plain forgot about that 8” dip. Step down on the outside of my foot. Went into shock I think.

The good news…we had an orthopedic surgeon in our group, Dr. Hal and two nurses and another medical professional.  Much better care than a hospital emergency room in a third world country.  Wouldn’t you agree?

So my foot got perfectly wrapped up each day.  Found a walking stick.  Wore my nun-like Munro orthopedically correct shoes. Elevated at every opportunity.  Iced my foot when it was understood, by the very nice hotel staff,  I needed ice for my foot…not drink…plastic bag please?  Took some strong anti-inflammatory drug that we would need a prescription for in the US…but not Thailand!!  Refused Vicodin.  I wanted a clear head. and created a journey that I never expected on my first big International trip.

Let me show where my foot went!

Riding an Elephant in the jungle outside of Chiang Mai (northern Thailand)

The mountain top of Doi Suthep, above Chiang Mai, to receiving Theravada Buddhist blessings from the monks at Wat Phrathat.

Duon On, Cambodia….a story where my foot just didn’t matter…..

Angkor Tom and Angkor Wat….over 7 miles…Over 14,000 steps up and down.

Rotary International Convention in Bangkok

We’re back home now. A week later. I’ve been to the hospital for an x-ray, received a cane and a boot.  I just heard from my specialist this past Friday.  It’s not good.  Bunch of broken, smashed bones.  Tendon issues.

Damn.  As Mike says, “You really jacked up your foot.”  Yep I did.  And it’s so tough for me to stay down.  I have a household to keep under control!!!  But I’m starting to get it.

So the moral of my first post is…..Yes, I was a stud.  I can’t believe I made this incredible journey, foot and all!  But I’m not a stud anymore.  Time to take care of myself.  I see a hard cast in my future…..I’ll keep you posted!

Sawatdee ka

Southeast Asia…here we come!

I’ve had a few travels in my life that took me outside of the United States.  Mom, Dad and I travelled to Canada when I was 21. Dad took the family and Bill and I to Barbados a year after we were married in 1987. Mike took me to Cabo on a friend’s 40th birthday in 1999.  Otherwise, I’ve just travelled happily throughout the U.S.  I always imagined my first “big foreign visit” to be Europe.  Food, Art, Tradition…. all the stuff we dream of.  So you can only imagine that when Mike got that call asking if he’d accept the Presidency of PWR for 2012/13 how excited I was!!!!   Quick..where’s that International Convention?….Look…2013….Portugal….I am going to get to Europe.  I pick up my phone…call Mike….and he SLAMS THE BRAKES ON ME!!!

“Honey, we go the year before I become President”.  How could that be?  I had no desire to go to Southeast Asia.  But what a difference a year makes.  I’ve studied, studied, studied everything…..politics, architecture, history, art, religion, the people, the people, the people. I’m in love with Thailand and Cambodia.  I can’t wait to smell, hear, see, and touch it. I can’t wait TO TAKE PICTURES OF IT!!!!

Here’s our schedule if you’d like to follow along….

Phuket – Phi Phi Island, Elephant Trek across the island

Chiang Mai – Doi Suthep Temple, Tribal Villages, Dinner at TahNam

Cambodia – Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Sacramento Rotary Water Well Project (more info to blow your mind on this one!)

Bangkok – Rotary International Conference, SHOPPING!!!, MASSAGE!!!!!,  Temple and Palace Tour, Lots of Hospitality Suites, Night Markets, Canal Markets, Dinner Cruise with my honey…..My King!

Stay Tuned as we Travel the Royal Country of Thailand and experience the good of our local Rotary in Cambodia!


Karen (FLE…..first lady elect!)

Warm Baked Bread from the Oven…

There’s nothing better to eat than a home baked loaf of french bread.  From the start of our marriage, Mike asked me to learn how to make a really crusty bread.  So I bought a bread machine. Sure the bread tasted good.  But where was the hard crust? So a few years ago, I contacted the master bread maker in our family, Judy.  She has so many different types of flour in her pantry.  She emailed three recipes to me.  I’ve still only made one.  But I continue to make it over and over again.  This bread is so easy you won’t believe it!

I use an old cast iron pan that my mom got as a wedding gift. I never wash it out.  Nothing but my bread is cooked in it.

Speedy No-Knead Bread

3 cups bread flour

1 packet rapid rise yeast

1 1/2 cups Water

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

Oil as needed

1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1-1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.

3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide the dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 10 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: 1 loaf

Tortilla Soup with Chicken and Avocado

Each Sunday night,after a nonstop weekend of cooking by Mike, I ask the boys, “What should we have for dinner this week?”  I ALWAYS get the answer, “Tortilla Soup”.  Of course, this scrumptious recipe started off as Mike’s.  Well to be honest, he just made the recipe right out of the Williams-Sonoma Soup Cookbook.  This is the BEST SOUP COOKBOOK!!!!

Somewhere along the way I took over the making of this dish and made it into my own.  Last week, I posted on Facebook that I was making it for the family.  I got so many requests for the recipe that…well…here it is!

I head over to Raley’s and pick up a roasted rotisserie chicken instead of using raw chicken breasts. 

The secret ingredient I use is Chicken Stock made by Mike.  Nothing beats homemade stock.  This past week he had created an awesome Turkey Stock…so it got used with great success!

Of course, you can never add too much garlic.  After the onion, garlic, and cilantro are browned, I throw them into my food processor.  I like to keep the onions a little chunky. Then add some cumin and toss the mixture into a frying pan for about 5 minutes.  It will get a bit darkened.

Now you’re ready to add the broth and simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, fry up the tortillas strips until they’re brown.

Soups on!

Here is the original recipe from Williams-Sonoma (page 97)

Tortilla Soup with Chicken and Avocado

Makes 4 servings and takes about an hour start to finish.

½ c. plus 2 T. vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic (I use more)

¼ c. plus 2 t. chopped fresh cilantro

1 c. drained canned plum tomatoes (doesn’t matter if they’re whole or chopped)

½ t. ground cumin

4 c. chicken stock or broth

1 skinless boneless whole chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces (I use a store roasted chicken)

Salt & Pepper

4 corn tortillas

1 dried chile

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced (I like strips)

¼ c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 t. fresh lime juice

In a frying pan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Add the onion, garlic and the 2 teaspoons cilantro and sauté just until golden brown about 10 minutes.

In a blender or food processor, combine the sautéed mixture and the tomatoes and process until smooth.

In the same frying pan over medium-high heat, warm another 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Add the tomato mixture and cumin.  Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and darkened, 5-6 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add the stock.  Cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the soup is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.  Add the chicken and simmer until they are just opaque throughout, 2-3 minutes longer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

While the soup is cooking, cut the tortillas in half and slice each half into thin strips.  In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the ½ cup vegetable oil.  Drop a tortilla strip in the oil, and if it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready.  Drop handfuls of the tortilla strips into the oil and fry, turning with tongs, until crisp and browned, about 3 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

In a small, dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the chile until fragrant, about 7 minutes.  Shake the pan often; do not let the chile burn.  Let cool, then crumble and set aside.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls.  Divide the tortilla strips, crumbled chile, the ¼ cup cilantro, the avocado, cheese, and lime juice evenly among the bowls and serve immediately.

Service Before Self = Fun & Yum

I’m not a Rotarian.  I’m married to a Rotarian.

I’ve surrounded myself with Rotarians.  I’m raising a future Rotarian.

The only meetings I’ve ever attended have been at my husband’s club…Point West Rotary.  I’ve been told that their meetings are the best and most fun.  Today is PWR’s 26th Birthday.

I have enjoyed the beer, food, music and sun at the Brewfest.

I’ve placed myriad bids on items at Festa da Vina.  My family and I have picked up garbage on the American River Parkway.  We’ve also been athletic….softball and bowling.

So why do I love my husband’s adventure in Rotary so much?  Rotary has defined the value of Service Before Self that is lived in our home.  It’s not lip service here.  It’s addictive.  It’s fulfilling.  It’s so much fun!

Last Friday, my twelve year old went “Off Track”.  That means he’s not going to school for four weeks.  The reality is…this is his last “Off Track”  forever.  So we’re going to cram as much in as possible without going anywhere!  I love this time with him.  I get to reinforce our values upon him 24/7 for four weeks!  I have savored everyone of these “Off Track” times!  I get to be the teacher for a few weeks.

Today, Kevin and I ventured into the big city of Sacramento and had a Service Before Self experience.  We’re not doing Rotary.  But the Rotary spirit was with us!  How cool was it that by chance we sat right near Lori Curry, a Point West Rotarian. She’ll even be on PWR’s Directors when Mike’s President!

We attended the River City Food Bank’s 8th Annual Empty Bowls.

We each got to select a bowl made by a local student.  I’m not sure where mine is from.

But Kevin’s was made by a Christian Brothers High School student.  Our bowls were wrapped up by one of the many volunteers working the event.

We then headed to the “Soup Line”.

I had a VERY FILLING Tuscan White Bean Soup and Kevin had a Tortilla Soup.

We had to admit…it was better than the one I make!  Local restaurants, such as Cafe Bernardo, Lucca, and Michelangelo’s cooked up and served their soups!

Did I mention the local school kids that helped serve and clean up?

This coming Saturday, the Elk Grove Food Bank is holding their 3rd Annual Empty Bowls.  They are serving from 11:00 to 1:30 at the First Baptist Church on East Stockton Blvd.

We have our tickets.  Hope to see you there after baseball practice!


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