Stir fry pumpkin flower (Chaa lapeau)

Pumpkin flowers - it's available in the markets, early in the mornings. In a stir fry dish it has a taste and crunch similar to morning glory. Love this dish! In many articles I've seen online, people pop off various parts of the flower to trash as they process it for cooking. But the Khmers I've seen cook it just cut them up and toss it all into a pot. Taste of Nepal has some great photos and a recipe. And here's a short explainer on pumpkin flowers from Tyrant Farms: No matter how you eat them, you’ll enjoy knowing that a single cup of pumpkin flowers contains: 643 IU Vitamin A 9 mg Vitamin C 57 mg Potassium a host of other essential micronutrients to keep you healthy Remember: only eat the male pumpkin flowers! … [Read more...]

Quick eats in Phnom Penh: Bánh hỏi for lunch

This shop on busy Sihanouk Blvd has been serving fantastic bánh hỏi for years! They serve a set menu that includes sandwiches and meat skewers. It's a picture menu, and easy to point to one of the two big platters of meats and vegetables. Before the food arrives, a small pan of water and slices of lemon is brought to the table for washing hands. Bánh hỏi refers to the rice vermicelli noodle woven into a fine mesh, which looks like gauze. It's paired with foods of different textures and richness - starchy green bananas, sweet pineapples, crunchy cucumbers, meats and fats - all to be wrapped into a fresh spring roll. These fillings are laid out on several platters. One of these platters contains skewered pork meat sliced very thin and … [Read more...]

Escaping a Mekong cityscape for a slice of rural life

Welcome to the March 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Day in the Life This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have given us a special glimpse into their everyday. *** Escaping the heady concrete jungle of Phnom Penh every once in a while is a necessity for sanity's sake. Most people take off for the coast on a day or weekend trip, or relax for a few hours in any one of the resorts that now dot the outer sprawl of the city. Last weekend, we visited a friend across the river. Our oldest has settled into a reasonable sleep cycle (yey!), but our younger one still wakes up at the crack of dawn (groan). Naturally that … [Read more...]

Where apsaras dance .. updated

The origins and symbolism of Khmer weddings, according to the Khmer Institute: Khmer weddings enact Cambodia's greatest legend. The first Khmer prince, Preah Thong, fell in love with the Naga Princess, Neang Neak, while exiled from his homeland. As a marriage gift to the couple, the father of the Naga Princess swallowed part of the ocean, and out of this was formed the land of Cambodia. … [Read more...]

Desperately seeking peace and quiet in Kampot

It was a long-overdue trip to escape the ambient noise of Phnom Penh rapidly industrializing. Check out this house! Our friends moved back to Kampot from the US and built this house. It's a modernized version of the traditional house, complete with the stilts and architectural elements that make this country so unique (even to the very closely related Thai constructions). … [Read more...]

Sunset on the Mekong

Lazy days are ahead.. Floating down the river in a converted old rice boat at sunset is one of the best things about these Mekong capitals. … [Read more...]

Touring Cambodia: Assessment of process quality in health facilities

After 3 years, our quality assessment system was finally endorsed by the Ministry of Health [yey]! Then came the task to collect baseline data in all USAID-supported areas by year's end [gulp]! That's 33 questionnaires to administer, 80 enumerators fresh out of medical, midwifery and nursing schools to train, and over 601(!) public health facilities across 9 provinces to assess. It's an enormous logistical feat, and my team made it happen just in time for tonight's countdown at Angkor Wat! Having a proud professional moment :-) Happy new year indeed! … [Read more...]

Things to do with kids in Phnom Penh

On this last stretch of our time here in Cambodia, we've met a lot of new families with questions on what to do with their kids in the city. "Good luck" pops initially to mind. Activity generally means access to some space and fresh air for a bit of exercise. But to be fair, there are plenty of day trip options: Cambodia Country Club - They have a pool, play tennis and other sports, ride horses etc. Soun Soben Resort, where they have stocked fish ponds, a pool for the kids, caged animals and lots of running space Phnom Tahmao Wildlife Rescue Center - This place is fantastic and I can't recommend a day trip here enough. In the time I've been here the guys there have done incredible work rehabilitating trafficked or injured animals … [Read more...]