The cure for the fall/winter blues? A steaming bowl of B1.
The cure for the fall/winter blues? A steaming bowl of B1.

Bowled over

Mother Nature may toss a sunny and warm-feeling day or two our way in the next couple of weeks, but I think we're pretty close to exhausting our annual allotment.

I'm OK with that.

Would I rather have the weather be 75 and sunny every day? Absolutely. But, I can deal with fall and have conditioned myself not to complain too much when the icy finger of winter delivers its five-month prostate exam.

At this time of year, I can enjoy the fall colors, put on a sweater or a lighter jacket and enjoy one of my favorite culinary treats -- a good bowl of soup.

I enjoy soup year-round, but fall and winter kicks my fascination up a few notches. I'm always looking for a better bowl. Yesterday, I was hanging out with my cousin, Chris, an amateur gourmet and soup artisan, and he had a craving.

We had to go to Phan's Garden for some Pho Dac Biet (B1). If you've never had this dish, get to National Avenue as quickly as you can. It's full of rice noodles, sliced beef, seafood and other goodies and comes with a heaping side of condiments like bean sprouts, basil, cilantro and jalapeno chilies.

Unless you've been stranded at sea for a week, you'll probably have a hard time finishing the entire bowl. But the stuff is so good -- and the stock so savory with onion, garlic and star anise and the dollops of Sriracha sauce -- that you'll have trouble putting down the spoon and/or chopsticks.

I don't know the nutritional content of this soup. It might not be great in terms of calories, sodium, etc. But it tastes great and, as Chris said, "It clears the sinuses and I feel healthier after eating it."

A great bowl of chicken dumpling can have the same effect, but every time the weather takes a turn toward "damn cold," I feel the need for a B1 shot.

Where do you get your favorite bowl of soup?

You may have remembered to change the clocks. Do you know why?
You may have remembered to change the clocks. Do you know why?

Trying to see the light

In my younger, crazier days, I used to look forward to the end of Daylight Savings Time because it was an excuse to spend an extra hour in bars.

Now, I think of it as an excuse to spend an extra hour in bed.

Like most Americans, I'm pretty sure I don't get as much sleep as I need. There is just too much to do with work, family, work, friends, family, work, exercise, iPods, YouTube, Hulu, the DVR...

Having a "bonus" hour in the day as we fall back seems cool today. It screws up the body clock a little bit and I'm sure a lot of us will feel a bit "off" during the week. As much as i liked the extra hour this morning, I why we still do it. I'm all about the extra daylight, but I wonder why we have to shift back to standard time at all.

Who enjoys driving around in the dark at 4 p.m. on a frigid winter afternoon? Can anyone give a decent reason for it?

While we're at it, can someone explain why we still shut down schools for three months in the summer? And why the Bowl Championship Series exists? And why there is high fructose corn syrup in almost everything at the store? And why they ask for my zip code when i buy something at Radio Shack?

Maybe that's why we get an extra hour -- to wrestle with the important questions in life.