We finally caved and re-installed our AC unit. Ever since we did, I have been finding it harder and harder to get out of bed in the mornings, the room is so cool and the blankets so cozy. There are a lot of misconceptions about life in NYC, and one of them I find people forget is that central AC or heat is not very common in apartments. It's kind of like Europe in that way. There also are no screens on the windows, which I remember thinking as odd when we first arrived. Coming from Texas, where a thousand mosquitoes or flies or daddy long legs or scorpions might come inside if you left the door open, living here the only things I see through the windows are the group of pigeons that huddle near the opposite apartment. Oh, and the couple times I saw a cockroach. But let's forget about that.
In our Harlem apartment we often leave the windows cracked throughout the day and at night, letting in a fresh spring breeze. The kitchen doesn't have an AC unit so when we cook the windows are wide open, where music and people talking and street noise can be heard clearly. Its a nice change, because the city comes alive again with the arrival of spring. It also allows cool fresh air into our apartment, which forces me to wear a sweater and slippers around the living room (it's much preferable to sweating!).
But don't misread this into thinking life in NYC is a perfect quiet little setting with a fresh breeze and flowers in the windows and Central Park views. Lol. It gets VERY loud as the weather gets warmer, all day and sometimes late into the night, and a lot more crowded, but it's all about having an adventure and an experience!
This is kind of a cheater pho. While doing some research, I saw that real pho broth has things like star anise, cinnamon sticks, and cloves or something. I don't have those normally in my pantry, so they aren't included here. This is just a simple version, but one thing you definitely shouldn't skimp out on is the toppings. The more toppings, the fresher, more flavorful pho!!!
Easy Vegetarian Mushroom Pho (serves 4)
- 32 oz chicken or vegetable broth (homemade is best, but we can't always be Ina Garten)
- 1 package pho noodles (rice noodles or similar)
- 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 2 handfuls of Enoki mushrooms
- 1-2 bok choy, rinsed thoroughly and stalks separated
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 2-3 medium shallots (or 1/2 large onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbl. freshly diced ginger
- 1/2 tsp. fish sauce
- 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbl. soy sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbl olive oil
- Lime wedges
- Bean sprouts
- Soy sauce
Directions: Arrange prepared toppings on a large plate. Set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium high heat with olive oil. Add minced garlic, onions, and ginger to the pan, cooking until onions are mostly clear. Add sliced mushrooms, and sauté for about a minute.
Add chicken/vegetable broth to same pot, and turn heat up to high. Once boiling, turn heat down to a simmer. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and fish oil, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add bok choy and let cook for a few minutes until soft, around 5-7 minutes. Add chopped scallions halfway through.
In a medium sized pot, heat water until just before boiling. Add noodles and let soak for 10-15 seconds. Drain immediately once noodles are soft,
Prepare two large bowls by filling halfway with cooked noodles. Fill with soup broth, making sure to add enough mushrooms and bok choy to each bowl.
Serve with toppings, and season with salt and pepper or sauces according to taste!