Category Archives: Down on the farm

Down on the farm making charcoal.

A mud charcoal making house.

This is the mud charcoal house where the charcoal is made primarily for fuel to cook…no mod cons here at all. Well not yet pretty much everything is done how it has always been done through the generations. The skills passed down and that is what I like here so much tradition still and in the main so much happiness.

But the lifestyle is hard there are some concessions to this and progress is slowly coming but much is still done the old way and by getting your hands dirty.

Making charcoal is an art…me I just said do you just throw the wood in and light it?….The look this crazy English lady got was a look of I suppose bemusement.

Of course you don’t, for a start the charcoal house cannot be built on or close to the water table or where the drainage is poor.

The wood must be properly stacked so that when it burning the air can circulate correctly but the beauty of it being on your land is that you can stack over a period time as you come across the wood.The wood must of course be dry and the time needed to complete the burn does depend on the moisture content of the wood and also the evenness of the stacking of the wood so this is all very important.

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WOOD DRYING PRIOR TO BEING STACKED.

Once it is correctly stacked it must be stacked vertically into the charcoal house then a fire is started or burning coals are put through the air vent at the top of the charcoal house once this has taken then the door must be sealed effectively to ensure proper air circulation.

The initial smoke which comes out through the top air vent and the air holes around the base is dense white smoke  which after a few days turns to a blueish colour finally it becomes practically clear smoke.

Once the burn is complete then the opening at the top of the charcoal house is sealed as are the bottom vents.

This then takes 2-3 days to cool down, when the earth kiln is cool it can be opened but there must be a supply of water available in case there are any  red fires still burning as they need to be extinguished.

carbon-592598_1920 charcoal

Once the charcoal is completely cold then it is bagged or put in baskets for home use or sale.

A typical fire for cooking on.

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Cooking the steak

This is a time-consuming and back-breaking task no one has an easy life here as I am finding out but kudos to them I am often just amazed and it has made me realise what an easy life I have had. With my running water, gas, electric all the mod cons and it has changed me and I hope for the better. When the house is built here yes there will be some luxuries but you know what I am not so bothered anymore.

 

I won’t be cooking over a small charcoal fire unless it is a BBQ but lots of things I used to have no longer hold the same allure for me it is definitely an eye opener and maybe not the life for everyone. Just for  this crazy, whimsical English lady  it is the life I have adopted and I love it!

If you missed my previous posts on Down on the farm I have added the links below. I hope you enjoy these posts please let me have your thoughts.

Down on the farm Jambulan Plum

How to make traditional Thai Pancakes

How to make your own Coconut Oil

Thank you for reading about my life in Thailand I do hope you enjoy it 🙂

 

Down on the Farm…Jambulan Plum.

Down on the farm this Jambulan plum- tree is another tree which is bearing fruits for us and another one which I have not seen or tasted before now …It is so exciting all these wonderful tasting fruits that are coming into season.

Jambulan is a nutritious seasonal fruit found in abundance in Asia. It’s season is April to July. It can be found growing in forests, backyards and along the roadsides. Naturally it has a single seed . The hybrid varieties are seedless.

A purplish black oval- shaped fruit when it is mature has a sweet and sour flavour which can be acidic and astringent. It is rich in the plant pigment anthocyanin and if you eat too much it is likely to leave you with  a purple tongue and you may get the same feeling as I did when as a kid I ate too much of that sour lemon sherbet which made your fingers where you dipped and licked wrinkly and your tongue tingle. Who remembers that??

It can be used to make Jams and jellies but due to the very low pectin levels must be mixed with a fruit with high pectin or a commercial pectin substitute.

It makes a lovely accompaniment for pulao or a rice pilaf. Just mix chopped deseeded Jambulan with fresh yogurt and combine . Add chopped coriander and powdered cumin and stir. Taste and season with salt.

The pulp is used to makes sauces and fermented beverages like shrub, cider and wine. Now if you are wondering what shrub is ( and I was) it is flavoured vinegar. Which makes wonderful drinks with soda and ice or with cocktails…But that is another post for another day.

Jambulan Jelly.

13/4 cups of chopped and seeded Jambulan.

1 1/4 cups of water

1/2 cup of liquid pectin

1/2 cup lemon or lime juice.

7 cups of sugar.

Combine the Pectin,juice and water with the Jumbulan and bring to a fast, rolling boil. Add the sugar and stirring bring to a fast rolling boil for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and skim of any foam. Pour quickly into hot pre sterilised jars and seal.

N.B: If the fruit is too astringent then it can be soaked in salt water before cooking.

 

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The Jambulan plum can also be known as Java plum, black plum and Jambul it is also often eaten just as a healthy snack sometimes with a little salt to taste. It is rich in vitamins,minerals, anti oxidants and flavonoids.

The fruit, seeds, bark and leaves all have medicinal properties and it is believed to have its origins in Neolithic times. In  India it is known as  ” Fruit of the Gods

They can vary in size due to the soil and the weather conditions but can survive and thrive in dry , humid conditions.

The seeds when dried and powdered  are a known effective treatment for diabetes. Bark powder mixed with the juice of the fruit is an effective treatment for coughs and colds. Leaves when they are ground are effective against dysentery and also for healing wounds.

Bark powder is also used as a cure for tapeworm. I am always amazed when I come across fruits like this as to how much they are still relied on in the villages  here as cures for so much.

When I got stung by a jellyfish a couple of years ago one of the ladies in a close by restaurant went and picked some leaves crushed them and mixed them with something and put it on my sting and gave me the rest to take home and apply when needed ….It worked..

At the time I was in so much pain and I didn’t ask the name of what she mixed it with or the name of the leaves she picked  but my point being she knew what to use and it was obviously a remedy which had been passed down.

I am not saying that conventional medicine is not an option at all as sometimes it is a necessity and has saved many lives but there are times when if we know what to use we can find very effective drug free ways to heal and cure ourselves and our families.

I hope you enjoyed learning about this little fruit I hope to bring you a few more I habe at least one more which is ripe and ready to eat so until next time.

Stay safe and laugh a lot 🙂

Down on the farm…… Snake gourd Raita.

snake gourd

Everything in the garden is coming up roses as the saying goes it looks like we will have fruit and vegetables galore.

Some of the fruit and vegetables I am familiar with as you can get them almost everywhere.

Others are very new to me and I am having to do a little research as sometimes there isn’t an English pronunciation for the Thai word.

This one looks quite creepy I think and I was quite expecting to see a snake so I go along quite gingerly watching where I tread.

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Snake Gourd Riata.

2 cups of natural yoghurt.

2 small snake gourds diced.

The snake gourd has a naturally occurring waxy white surface so rub some salt on the surface before cooking or using to remove.

4-5 green chillies

2tbsp grated fresh coconut

10-15 shallots finely chopped.

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp urad dal powder/paste

A handful of coriander leaves chopped

Salt to taste

Oil as required.

Let’s Cook!

Heat some oil on a medium flame and fry the mustard seeds and urad dal for 20 seconds.

Add green chillies and chopped shallots saute for 2 minutes, add diced snake gourd cook 1-2 minutes and add grated coconut and mix well.

Remove from the heat allow to cool slightly, stir in yoghurt and add salt to taste.

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Garnish with coriander and serve.

Here are some more facts about the fascinating Snake gourd.

The snake gourd or Buap nguu, serpent gourd, chichinga or Padwal are some of the other names it is known under.

Native to south-east Asia it is a vine which grows around a tree or trellis and then unfurls its large white frayed flowers. Then fruits which grow straight down towards the ground.

Can grow up to 5 feet in length sometimes a stone is tied to the small gourd to help it grow straight down as it can grow into all sorts of shapes.

Also because of its length, it is used to make the traditional didgeridoo in Australia.

It turns orange when it is fully ripe but this is when it is very bitter so it is usually used in curries and raitas before it ripens fully. When ripened the flesh is sometimes used as a replacement for tomatoes.

The leaves, tendrils and other leafy parts are used as vegetable greens lightly steamed or raw.

It’s strange names and appearance have often caused it to be overlooked for its health benefits. It is proven to be very effective at improving the strength of the body’s immune system, reducing fevers and treating diabetes. Currently there much medical research into other health benefits of the Snake Gourd.

Until next time thank you for reading this.

Update on the farm: There was a slight delay with the building of the enclosure for the Turkey chicks due to the weather but work started today so it should finished by the time we pick the chicks up in 2 weeks.

Exciting times and I will be guaranteed a turkey for the xmas table this year.