Exploring California 4: Coyote Hills Regional Park + Coconut Curry Soup-Salad

When we moved to California, I promised myself we would spend as much time outside as possible. We would hike, camp, walk, run, and bike (if I ever re-learn, it’s definitely NOT like riding a bike, you CAN forget) our way across Northern California. Apparently I forgot I was in residency — it’s a slow process my friends. Recently I’ve been spending less and less time outside and more and more time post-call snoozing, or just futzing around the house, or worse…mindlessly watching TV. That’s when I know things have gotten bad, when I just turn on the TV and watch. I’m not a big TV watcher, I have 2-3 shows I actually follow and watch and 1-2 shows I have that I can play in the background without paying attention to when I want noise. But when I’m super tired or just want to shut my brain off, I will sit, like a zombie, in front of my computer and just binge watch TV.

So on a recent walk with the dogs and Tyler, I decided to forcibly limit myself, and replace it with things I know I love to do but take more effort than just going to Netflix and click on the “Friends” icon. I picked up a book, and then another and then another. I switched from making weekly dinners (like one big pot of dinner to eat for the whole week) to actually making my quick meals most nights, blogging, and importantly…exploring. Getting outside of doors. Seeing the sun, and green things, and yellow things, and purple things, and ocean. California is beautiful.

We went across the bridge this time, the Dumbarton Bridge to Coyote Hills Regional Park in the East Bay.

The low down: Dog friendly (on leash), bike friendly, easy-to-moderate hikes, great views of the South Bay and the salt flats, and pretty flowers. Good parking, $5 to park, $2 dog fee. You can park a mile out and walk in if you want to save on the fee.

When we went yesterday, there were lovely orange California poppies, pretty mustard flowers, and purple white flowers in abundance. There was definitely people there but it’s big enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed and you can certainly enjoy some solitude and quiet.

Meanwhile, on the food side of things. This coconut curry soup is from my new favorite blog. I’ve known about Pinch of Yum for a while, but haven’t really checked it out until I was looking for something special for a date night dinner. I was looking for something vegetarian, that wasn’t ridiculously time consuming after coming from a full day of work, and would fill me up without leaving me feeling to overstuffed to hangout with Tyler. Enter, her coconut curry soup. I promise, I make my own recipes…though I often forget to blog them…but the ones I re-blog from other people are because they are AWESOME.

This one is vegan too. Don’t skip the potatoes, it’s what makes the coconut curry creamy.

Coconut Curry  Soup-Salad
Gently modified from PinchofYum

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 nob ginger, grated
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1.5 tablespoons turmeric
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 cans full fat coconut milk (14oz each)
3 cups vegetable broth
5 small red potatoes, washed, and coarsely chopped
1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed so the water is squeezed out, and chopped into cubes
Toppings! What I used was: cilantro, julienned carrots, chopped red cabbage (small), avocado, lime, siracha

Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in the olive oil for a few minutes, making sure to move things around so they don’t burn. Add in the red curry paste, salt, sugar, and soy sauce, saute for a few more minutes until things are fragrant. Then add in the coconut milk, vegetable broth, and potatoes. Stir, cover, and allow to simmer for around ~20 min to allow the potatoes to cook. Then allow to cool a bit.

Hack: Want to shorten the time? Microwave par-cook the potatoes ahead of time, before tossing them into the coconut milk/broth mixture.

Meanwhile, chop up your toppings!

Put in the blender, and blend until smooth.

Then using another tablespoon of olive oil, pan-fry the cubes of pressed tofu. When it is starting to brown, add 3 tablespoons of the coconut curry soup to the pan, to allow the tofu to be colored and slightly caramelized by the flavor.

Then put it all together! Coconut curry soup in a bowl, top with all your crunchy, delicious toppings. I highly recommend squeezing half a lime on top and adding some sriracha for heat. Enjoy!

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