Sometimes on Sunday’s I shop. I confess, this Sunday is a little bigger spree than normal.

Tatjana RhodesTatjana and friend in Thailand, 1994

I am planning (shhhhhhh, don’t tell her – I want it to be a surprise) to book a trip to celebrate Tatjana’s upcoming birthday in August. Twenty-five is a major one after all, and we have a tradition of exploring different parts of the world whenever either of us hits a milestone.

Tatjana and Julie Anne RhodesThe Serengeti, Tanzania – 2004

Ahhhh, memories that make it hard to forget where you were, and what you were doing at a certain time in your life. Fond memories that last forever, although her eighteenth in Africa almost didn’t end too well. Those viper bites did give me a lot of dinner small talk and blog mileage though, and the rest of the trip was one of the most exciting adventures of my life.

Mexico, 2007

Tatjana’s twenty-first wasn’t without incident either – first I made it to the finals of Ultimate Recipe Showdown, forcing us to postpone our celebratory trip, and then we watched Hurricane Dean hit the Yucatan on the news in the studio. Let’s hope this birthday trip is a little less life threatening. We did finally go to Mexico the following New Years Eve.

Jewels in Venice, 1982

Will it be rafting down the Amazon? I’ve always wanted to take Taj to see the Taj Mahal and we could do a tiger safari, or maybe we should see the Great Wall of China? Tatjana has never been to Venice and I haven’t been to Italy in eons (I swear the stork dropped me in the wrong country by mistake – I love everything Italian). Decisions, decisions! You will just have to wait to see where I take her, but I will share my flavor memories of Thailand (we spent my thirty-fifth birthday there).

Chicken Satay (beef, pork, shrimp)

Don’t let all the ingredients scare you. It is very easy to make. The great thing about this recipe is that you can taste as you go along, and alter slightly to suit your specific taste. If you don’t care for spicy? Cut back on the Srirracha sauce. Prefer a less sweet flavor? Use less coconut sugar. If you can’t find an ingredient, others are easily substituted, or you can omit some of the spices without losing the complete integrity of the dish – just a little of the complexity.

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

CHICKEN

1 pound chicken tenders
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh Thai basil or cilantro
2 lemon grass stalks, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 Kafir lime leaves or 2 teaspoons lime zest
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Thai chiles, membrane and seeds removed, optional
20 wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes

PEANUT SAUCE

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon coconut sugar or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, mince
1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce or 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, plus more if a spicier sauce is desired1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

CHICKEN

1). Whisk together all marinade ingredients. Add chicken tenders, toss well to coat, cover, and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours to overnight.

2). Prepare a hot grill or preheat broiler. Remove chicken tenders, shake off excess marinade and thread each tender onto individual soaked wooden skewers.

3). Grill or broil chicken skewers for 2-3 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature drizzled with peanut sauce and more for dipping.

PEANUT SAUCE

1). Add all ingredients to a food processor, and process until well combined.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

This is usually eaten on its own, straight off of the skewer, but here I served it with the Thai cucumber salad from my Jewels Turkey Jasmine Burgers. The flavors go great together.

VARIATIONS:

Try making this recipe with sliced flank steak, pork, or shrimp instead of (or in addition to) the chicken.

Tatjana and Julie Anne RhodesCroatia, 2009

Where do you think we should go on our latest journey? Is there someplace you have been recently that you would recommend?

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  • June 12, 2011
    10:14 am

    I have never really travelled, but I love the idea of Italy. So much to see, so many wonderful restaurants I suspect. France would be another wonderful trip, sitting at a sidewalk cafe sipping coffee and enjoying a croissant. Yum! Wherever you both go, you’ll make memories and have a blast. It’s so nice to see a mum and daughter be best friends and enjoy travelling together. You are so blessed to have a relationship like that. Have a wonderful week Jewels!

    • June 12, 2011
      11:12 am

      You especially would love Paris, Ruthee. Wonderful museums full of incredible art. We lived there off and on for about five years. I hope you make it there one day soon.

  • June 12, 2011
    11:03 am

    Costa Rica is lovely, we went to a beautiful resort called Tabacon. SOMEDAY I hope to return there, so extremely peaceful and tranquil. Maui is also nice..the entire island is stunning. Loved it. Would LOVE to go to Italy someday, and Greece…

    Eager to hear about where you two lovelies end up! Happy Birthday Tatjana!

    ~K

    • June 13, 2011
      8:04 am

      Actuallu Costa Rica has been on my bucket list, and I hear it is unbelievably gorgeous. All my surfer friends love it there.

  • June 12, 2011
    11:10 am

    Hey K – I hadn’t thought of Costa Rica, and I hear it is outstandingly gorgeous. Thank you!

  • June 12, 2011
    11:21 am

    Love those shoulder pads!!! I’m sure wherever you go you’ll have a blast.

    • June 12, 2011
      11:39 am

      Pretty scary, right? Look like I’m ready to play for the Red Sox.

      • June 12, 2011
        11:40 am

        PS. I just noticed how much happier I look in the more recent photos, true.

  • June 12, 2011
    11:37 am

    Hee! Awesome!

    I love Venice. Isn’t it funny how some cities really are just magical?

    • June 13, 2011
      8:02 am

      I do too, and it has been so long, but I’ve always fancied mardi gras there – they do such fabulous masks and costumes. There’s something eery about that city, and it is heightened then. It would be fun.

  • June 12, 2011
    11:46 am

    What’s the phrase?Where ever you go, there you are? However I do agree Taj Mahal & Tigers sounds great! How remote do you want to go? so many choices. I’ve always wanted to take the Orient Express to Istanbul and live out my Agatha Christie/Hercule Poirot fantasies haha.

    • June 13, 2011
      8:06 am

      I love Agatha Christie novels, and that one was one of my favorites. Did you know her last home was in the mews behind Nicks and my house?

  • June 12, 2011
    2:56 pm

    I took my kids on to a jungle lodge about 70 miles outside of Iquitos, Peru. It was amazing. My son celebrated his 8th birthday with village children and played on the banks of the Amazon. He saw pink river dolphin, he hugged a sloth. And the food there, OMG, it was awesome. You’ll want to go, someday, for the food, alone.

    • June 12, 2011
      3:10 pm

      COOL! I’m so happy I posted this before anything is booked. You are all giving me new ideas. I have such a hunger to see every inch of this planet before I depart.

  • June 13, 2011
    6:27 am

    For a completely secluded sort of getaway, I vote for St. John. Incredibly gorgeous. About 3/4 of the Island is a nature preserve. If you get the urge for more people, you can hop a ferry to St. Thomas.

    I LOVE Italy. And Venice is amazing (although I hear it smells in the summer, so you might want to put that one off a few months!)

    • June 13, 2011
      8:00 am

      I’d really like to do Venice in the winter when they do their mardi gras.

  • June 13, 2011
    11:12 am

    Jewels – call me crazy but what about my home country Germany? Sea, mountains, lovely towns, everything packed into one small country in the middle of Europe…;-)

    • June 13, 2011
      7:09 pm

      I’ll be back in Germany one day soon – it’s been many years, but I have very fond memories there – the strongest flavor memory being picking the best wild strawberries I’ve ever had in the Black Forest.

  • June 13, 2011
    11:18 am

    As a Brazilian I’d recommend you come back down here… I know you were in Rio in 1988 as I saw you (oh yes!) and one of my friends even gave you baby clothes for baby Tatjana!! Anyway, you’d have the best culinary experiences here… And guess what? I’m a travel agent so I’d be more than happy to guide you through your choices… The Amazon, Rio and the Northeast are must see… :)

    • June 13, 2011
      7:04 pm

      How cool Paula – I know Tatjana has always wanted to come to Brazil, and quite frankly, as much as I loved coming there in 1988, I didn’t see nearly as much as I wanted to – we just were not there long enough to see Bahia and I wanted go down the Amazon. One day soon if not this trip.

  • June 13, 2011
    11:24 am

    Peru is a must although it’s winter in August. You’ll go gaga in Lima with the bevy of amazing restaurants. Then, fly to Cusco and begin your journey to Machu Picchu via train or hike. The Lines of Nazca are amazing, too. So much to do!

  • June 13, 2011
    6:48 pm

    Well of course I would say come to Australia.
    It may be far, but it is soooo worth it.
    Although I am in Melbourne, way up North in Queensland is incredibly beautiful. I got married there in the Daintree Forest on a beach named Thornton’s beach. It is so idyllic and remote. You will absolutely love it. Oh, how I am itching to get back there. If you ever get there you MUST visit the Daintree Ice Cream Company. They have the most amazing tasting tropical flavours. Of course a stop over in Melbourne for some retail therapy is always a must.

    Aussie Mum

  • June 14, 2011
    11:10 am

    What a great tradition!

    I have a milestone bday on its way very shortly – however, the closest I’ll get to exotic travel at the moment is EPCOT! LoL But my mom hasn’t been in 15 years, so it’s bound to be a good time regardless.

    Wherever you and Tatjana end up celebrating her 25th, I’m sure the experience will last a lifetime.

    Safe & happy travels!

  • June 14, 2011
    10:31 am

    Hey Jools,

    It’s Karen from Twitter :)

    I’m sure I mentioned to you I was Australian (I live in the UK though) so I think you should take Tatjana to Australia. You guys love to shop so definitely go to Sydney and Melbourne and if you go now it’s Winter there in August and you could go Skiing too.

    Other than that I suggest London but Tatjana lives here so it’s nothing special to her, how about a mini-trip around Italy or soak up the Sunshine in Cannes.

    Depends on how far you want to go but I’m sure it’s not the destination she’ll be too concerned about it’s having a very lovely, thoughtful and kindhearted Mum to take her on holiday :)

    Karen

  • June 14, 2011
    10:56 am

    Even though I just went on my third trip to Venice* (I obviously love it and Italy) in April, I would suggest for you to think about Japan.
    I’m not sure how much time you are allowing for this trip but a two-week trip in the country will offer many delights. Now is the time to go to Japan. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan is crying out for tourists to come and visit. I’m sure you might have visited Japan before in your past, but try it again! Especially Kyoto. I have contacts in Kyoto of places to stay and even an opportunity to meet geisha if you wish. It is quite easy for English-speakers to get around the country these days. Buy a Japan Rail pass and go all kinds of places. Tokyo, Nikko, Osaka, etc. It’s such a magical country. I have many wonderful memories of my trips to this country.

    *Venice smells like any other canal city. I found Amsterdam and even Birmingham, England where I live, has that smell. It isn’t just in the summer. In fact I notice the smell more in November! It is something you can adjust to without too much trouble.

  • June 14, 2011
    6:08 pm

    I would go to Kenya. My niece went last summer and had a wonderful time. Then, in December she climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro..

  • June 15, 2011
    10:37 am

    I loved Venice, so quiet and relaxing there! Denmark was amazing as well and even in August it’s not terribly hot.
    I’d love to go to Australia, Japan or China. And since my family is all Irish, I’m hoping one day to make it to Ireland.

  • June 16, 2011
    1:00 pm

    I think any place you go will be special because you are spending it together! Italy does sound great-love italian food! Never been there though. I don’t get to travel due to financial reasons. I have always wanted to take my kids to Disney, but the are already 16 and 12! Too old for that maybe. :) No matter where you go, I hope you have a wonderful time!

    • June 17, 2011
      12:12 pm

      Hey Kari!

      You are never too old for Disney! Your kids will still enjoy themselves at that age. :) If you can go, do it.

  • June 17, 2011
    3:47 am

    We just got back from hiking in the alps in Switzerland. Cow poo is your only enemy. No vipers. You can stay outside of Zurich so you can mix urban fun with all the outdoorsy stuff. And eat your weight in cheese. Highly recommend Rapperswil for lakeside meals with a castle backdrop, high-end boutiques, and quick jaunts to everywhere in Switzerland, but without any tourist crowds!

  • June 23, 2011
    11:04 pm

    Oh, that decision would always lead me straight to Venice (“Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect £200″). The only think my Nana ever told me to do in my life was to “visit Venice before it sinks”. I think she spotted my hedonistic tendancies even in early childhood.

    My mother eventually took me when I was 21 and even treated me to a speedboat ride to the hotel rather than travelling with all the other tourists. She promptly threw an absoloute fit at me on arrival that I felt the need to sit down and write fifteen pages in my diary just detailing the journey from the airport to the hotel. Well, it was like arriving in heaven, I didn’t want to ever forget a single thing. I recall being most astonished that the lagoon air seemed to smell of madeira cake.

    We stayed at the Hotel Monaco, the view from my window was of the Santa Maria della Salute, and the food in the hotel restaurant was so divine that I had trouble not making obscene noises while eating and I went up a whole dress size by the time I got home. Seriously.

    So if you choose Venice I recommend the Asparagus Risotto at the Hotel Monaco, but if you eat on the terrace, don’t put your handbag on the floor beside your seat. The tide came in over lunch one day and I nearly lost mine to the Grand Canal.

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