When I was 11, my mom took me to Thailand for the first time. We explored temples with shiny, golden Buddhas of all sizes, saw an eye-opening cabaret show where I struggled to tell ladies from ladyboys, and shopped till we dropped all over Bangkok. It was pretty awesome.

IMG_6499.JPG

However, being 11, I was still the world’s pickiest eater and instead of diving into the luscious coconut curries, fragrant rice dishes and savoring the addictingly sweet Thai coffees, I opted for soy chicken and rice practically every night. Seriously. In fact, my favorite food memory was finding a vendor who made the most divine chocolate crepes (all nutella and crispy edges as I recall), but come on, a crepe?!

I’m happy to report that I’ve come quite far since then and enjoy Thai food on the regular now. Need proof? Well, while perusing Bon Appetit for some new dishes to try I happened upon this Thai Beef with Basil recipe that instantly made my mouthwater.

IMG_6498.JPG

IMG_6497.JPG

Reading the comments that people left on the recipe, I spotted one suggestion to make this dish healthier by using ground turkey instead of beef. Done and done. I also added red peppers to this since I had some kicking around in the fridge.

IMG_6500.JPG

What’s especially awesome is that this dish is insanely easy and quick to make. I probably spent about 10 minutes prepping everything and 10 minutes cooking it all. Plating it for this post probably took the longest amount of time haha. This also includes the time it took to cook some brown rice to go with everything.

I recommend saving ½ cup of basil and putting it on top of the finished dish to add an extra punch. Don’t worry, the residual heat will end up wilting it a bit so it’s not so jarring. I also found that the fish sauce dressing goes a long way – I only needed about one teaspoon over my food to provide enough of the salty flavor that ties this whole thing together.

IMG_6489.JPG

Thai Turkey with Basil and Peppers
Adapted from Bon Apetit

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 red chiles, thinly sliced, seeded for less heat if desired, divided

11/2 pound ground free-run turkey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup low-sodium chicken broth

3 cups fresh basil leaves, divided

2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely grated

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided

Dressing

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)

1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and one of the chilis and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add turkey, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon and pressing down firmly to help brown, until cooked through and nicely crisped in spots, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add broth and 2 cups basil and cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.
  4. To make the dressing, toss carrots, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, and remaining chili, 1/2 cup basil leaves, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.
  5. In another bowl, mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice until sugar dissolves.
  6. Top brown rice with beef and carrot slaw and drizzle with dressing.

Makes 4 servings

IMG_6492.JPG

More Stories By Karra:


When we arrived in Paris, we had about an hour to appreciate the city before our train ride to Bayeux, but by the time we got off the train from Charles De Gaulle, we were so exhausted from all the air travel that we just stayed within Paris St. Lazare station. We were hungry, so we took a walk around the station in search of food. It was hard to sway the bf from grabbing some Burger King, but we went to a small sandwich shop instead that sold French baguettes, and some salads.

We did manage to go up to street level to snap one picture though to commemorate the bf’s first steps in the City of Lights. I’m also going to take this opportunity to say that the bf is camera shy so I’m going to respect his privacy and try not to include shots of him in any photos that go up, but I swear that’s his hand in the photo, not some handsome French man that I ran away with as soon as we landed!

First steps in Paris

We took one train straight to Bayeux and it was uneventful, which was nice given that we just wanted to relax for a bit. While the bf snoozed I caught up on reading The Goldfinch.

As I mentioned before, Bayeux is the small town that the bf chose as our jumping off point for our D-Day tour. I really had no idea what to expect as we trucked (trained?) closer and closer to it. All I knew from the pictures I saw online was that Bayeux looked a lot like what Belle’s town, from Beauty and the Beast, would look like if it was real – she did live in a French town after all!

I did know that Bayeux was one of the few coastal towns in the area that was virtually untouched during World War II, so it retains a lot of its old world charm. There weren’t a lot of modern-looking buildings, unlike Caen, which is a town twenty minutes away and suffered a lot of destruction during the war. Bayeux was also the first city to be liberated during the Battle of Normandy.

IMG_8485

When we finally stepped off the train and into the Bayeux, it suddenly dawned on me that it was Sunday and it was 9pm, which meant that there would be virtually no chance that anything was open in town. Oh and yeah, we were starving. Uh oh.

We quickly hiked ten minutes or so to our “premium hotel,” The Premiere Classe Bayeux. It had a machine outside for late night check-in’s, which I thought was pretty cool despite the fact that it was housed in a small wooden structure with giant spiders living in the eaves of the roof. We soon discovered that our hotel was more of cleaner, fancier (and I use that word very loosely) hostel with a bunk bed, which we used to hold our stuff and free up the very limited floor space, and two single beds that we had to push together to form a decent sized queen (it actually ended up being the biggest bed we slept in the whole trip!).

 Bayeux Cathedral

A quick check on Yelp showed us that we were in luck – there was one restaurant in town open until 11pm! We quickly headed towards L’Conquerant, which was about twenty minutes walking distance from the hotel. In our haste, we almost missed the back of the striking Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux. We literally turned a corner and there it was. I mean look at it!

Unfortunately, when we finally got to the restaurant, there was a sign on the door that said this was the only Sunday night they would be closed. D’oh! We had passed a few other places on the way that were starting to close up, and I prayed that one would still be open, but when we returned to each one, they had finally closed down for the night as well. Lesson learned, should’ve gotten the Burger King. Just kidding. Luckily, we had some granola bars and dried fruit back at the hotel, so we munched on that and tucked in for the night, ready for a whole day of exploring Bayeux.

More Stories By Karra:


On October 26, I ran my last half marathon of the year. I hadn’t planned on running the Rock and Roll Vancouver. My October running event was supposed to be the Victoria Marathon, which I had been training for up until I bought my tickets for Europe with an air of finality. With the push of a button, I was no longer going to achieve my goal of running a marathon this year.
IMG_6409.JPG

(And honestly, it was fine. As much as I hate not accomplishing a goal, I also want my first marathon to be really special. I’m one of those girls who believes the first-time for everything is sacred, so you want to do it right. And that’s why I’m saving my marathon cherry for the one race I always thought would take it – the BMO Vancouver Marathon. 2015, watch out!)

But back to the Rock and Roll. The reason I signed up for it was largely because (and this is going to sound so silly) the medal said “inaugural” on it and I thought to myself, “Huh, how often am I going to get to do the inaugural of anything?” And then, all of a sudden, I was signed up and a few days later, I was in Europe doing not one single bit of running (except after trains I was about to miss).

So needless to say, I didn’t feel very prepared to do my best in this race. My goal since the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in D.C. last April has been to get sub-2, but as my SeaWheeze recap can attest, this has been a hard goal to achieve. I decided that with little training, I would just enjoy running the Rock and Roll and see what happens.

IMG_6408.JPG

My fave running buddy, MisoNani, was running this on to. She’d had a bad case of food poisoning a few days before so we both decided to take it easy. We consistently ran a pace of 5:45-5:55/km for pretty much all of the race, which by the way, is the nicest course I’ve done in Vancouver in awhile. I enjoyed the change of pace (pun intended) of running around the downtown core and the Stanley Park sea wall. Instead, this course went from the heart of our financial district on Hasting and Thurlow to the Railtown warehouse district over to East Vancouver, before heading back downtown to Yaletown and through Stanley Park across to the Coal Harbour side where the finish was located. Aside from lots of short, rolling hills in Stanley Park (oy vey), it was a great course with just the right amount of challenge for someone like me (the girl who lacks hill training).

It was around 18km that I noticed my time was 1:34 and I really believed in my heart of hearts that I could run the last 3.1km fast enough to get a Sub-2 time. MisoNani was very understanding and so I set off. I was fine at first, but I had to constantly remind myself not to keep going faster. I tried to maintain a steady 5:00-5:15 pace as much as possible, but then there was a hill and then, another one, this time without a downhill to help make up my time. By 19km, I was pushing it and I knew it. My knees were starting to ache, my IT band was throbbing and my hips were feeling tighter than a cork in a champagne bottle. I was hoping I wouldn’t pop before I reached the finish line. The 20km sign appeared and I told myself, “You can do this. Come on!”

Did I mention I hadn’t looked at my watch once to see what my run time was? I had it set to just show pace. I was afraid if I saw how behind I actually was, I’d just lose all heart and slow down. I wanted to know that I could push myself when I really needed to, so i didn’t look. Not once. Even when the 21km sign never appeared and I was running at 5:00/km and I was getting a little desperate. And then, the finish line loomed in the distance. The crowds cheers grew louder. My legs started moving like a machine, like the wheels on an old school train. Just chugging forward as fast I could. I think I can, I think I can. There’s brother and bf cheering me on. “Push it, Karra!” he shouts. I push. I push so hard, I’m almost crying.

And then, boom. It’s done. I’m done. I somehow manage to remember to smile pretty for the cameras as I go over the finish line. A pretty volunteer smiles and congratulates me as she puts my awesome medal over my head and around my neck.

IMG_6410.JPG

So what did I clock in at? 2:04:24.

Not a PB. Not an improvement over the SeaWheeze. But it was a time I was proud of. It was proof that once again, I could push through pretty much anything and end up with something decent.

Thanks for a great race Rock & Roll! Congrats to MisoNani on her spectacular 2:07 time and to all the other runners.

More Stories By Karra: