Category Archives: Recipes,Lifestyle

This is a general blog charting my life with the addition of a recipe or two.

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.

 

Thai Plum 3

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.

snake gourd 1

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.

Brocolli and Cauliflower Cheese.

Week two in my lonely challenge….but it’s fun!   You could still join me? Oh Yes! you could! Well, I discovered a few things and recipes in my search for anything beginning with A and at the end of this post, I will attach my favorite from last week. Bet you can’t guess what it is and no chillies! But next week….Oh Yes!  is C…. Do you think I could go a week without using a chilli??????brocolli-and-cauliflower-chesse

Source: Brocolli and Cauliflower Cheese.

A-Z Challenge “D”(People Edition) 4th Post.

Oh dear…

I spent a good part of yesterday stalking blogs and lo and behold without trying today this lovely lady appeared https://divyadeepakrao.com/

This blog https://divyadeepakrao.com/ is a dream not only does it have delicious  recipes that are Indian spicy and amazing..it is ad FREE. It is a mixture of travel, food and some amazing art.

Divya is  an artist, teacher and  blogger who at one time had three separate blogs and has now merged them into one. Her photographs are amazing and complement this lovely blog.

Divya is an amateur baker and cake decorator . She experiments as well as  using treasured family recipes from the  South India of her childhood. Her recipes are all vegetarian and egg free unless Divya states in the recipe.

Her blog …A love story of New York… is beautifully written, you must visit this lovely blog to appreciate the work of Divya…..her artistry is also beautiful and I love her table. Lovingly hand painted…

Divya Isn’t it beautiful?

 

so pop along and explore https://divyadeepakrao.com/  you will not be disappointed 🙂

 

While I have been researching blogs my two biggest bugbears have been ads, comments(grrrr) and Gravatar…yes folks it’s that word again! Boy is this list growing… it could be a seperate blog soon….No!

And ” Just Saying” my baby Luffa is doing great…. still growing at an amazing pace 😉

Thank you Divya for agreeing to help me with my blog challenge…..I hope people enjoy your blog as much as I do 🙂

Oh and nearly forget to mention Gary who is the cause of my headaches…lol..but love the challenge   https://gapawa.com/2016/05/24/a-z-challenge-people-edition/

Phew this like doing an Oscar speech…   😉

 

 

Christmas Recipes Part 2.

The grinch

 

Hello everyone and how did your pudding making go have you done it yet?

Today I have some more favorites, Mince Pies now what Christmas be without them, Prawn Cocktail which I have made every year since for ever it’s like a tradition now so whatever new starter I come up with I still have to make that… and a wonderful home-made drink and those who know me well were wondering when I would slip that one in..ha ha…can’t think why…..Who likes Bailey’s? Well this is the closest you will get to it  and if you sip Bailey’s and then this….. hardly any difference whatsoever…..Lets get with it then……

Mince Pie Pastry.

I use half fat to flour so for example 8oz Flour and 4oz fat.

Ice cold water added tbsp at a time( amount depends on flour used)

1 egg beaten for glaze.

I know that fat varies depending on where you live, in the Uk ..well spoilt for choice because we invented pastry…well from as far back as the Romans when it was crude flour and water wrapped around meat and game before cooking and no way would you eat it…it was to retain meat juices.

Over time pastry was enriched with fat and milk and began to vaguely resemble todays shortcrust.But living here in Thailand my choice is restricted…..I have a choice of pastry fat or crispo…sometimes I mix the two when making meat pies but I digress.

For mince pies I use the pastry fat. When making pastry it must be kept cool which here is never easy ..so fat from fridge, iced water from fridge and fan madly whirring to keep the air cool..and me folks…I touch the pastry mix as little as possible , I quickly rub fat in flour to resemble breadcrumbs, add iced water gradually, draw together with your fingers to make a ball, if too dry add more water, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 20 mins in fridge.

When I roll I use heel of my hand to start to flatten pastry and roll gently out to desired thickness…I handle as little as possible to keep cool.

SAM_4080 Using a pastry cutter ,cut circles and line patty tins, add filling and top with pastry lid. Brush tops with beaten egg. Cook in oven on 200c/gas7 for 15-20 mins until golden. Remove from oven , cool slightly and dust with icing sugar.

Note: Some of you may have noticed I don’t add sugar to my short crust pastry…With the sweetness of the filling and the icing dusting  I /we all feel it is sugar overload but personal preference if you like add 1 tbsp sugar to breadcrumbs before adding water.

Irish Cream:

Ingredients:

10 oz Irish Whiskey

1/2 pt whipping cream

1 can condensed milk.

2 eggs.

11/2 tbsp Chocolate syrup.

1/2 tbsp each of, Vanilla Extract, Coconut Extract and Chocolate Extract.Home made Baileys

Blend all ingredients together and refrigerate.

Serve cold and or over Ice.

Now isn’t that easy? and …you can get  about 4 batches from one bottle of  Irish Whiskey so by my reckoning that’s a real saving and lots of Baileys…yay……

Prawn Cocktail:

Ingredients: Serves 4.

500gm of prawns, peel and devein (saving a few to decorate glass)

Iceberg lettuce, 1 tomato, piece cucumber, slices of lemon/Lime.

To Make Sauce:

8tbsp good mayonaise or make your own.

1tbsp Tomato ketchup.

2tsp horseradish sauce.

2tsp lemon juice.

Black pepper for taste.

Paprika.

Method:

Mix all ingredients except black pepper together, season with black pepper.Chill in fridge.

To serve: prawn cocktail 1

Shred iceberg lettuce or lettuce of your choice,thinly slice tomatoes and quarter, and finely dice cucumber.

Put iceberg lettuce in bottom of glass or serving dish,add diced cucumber and 3 pieces of tomato. Top with cocktail sauce , sprinkle with Paprika and garnish with prawn and twist of lemon. Enjoy.

Well that’s it for now I am off to do some ham, it’s finished brining and now to cook…so love home cooked ham…..

 

Until next keep smiling, be happy and stay safe..don’t crushed in the Christmas rush….

 

 

 

Live, Laugh, Love. And don’t forget to breathe!

I just knew there was something I had forgotten to do..good job I didn’t leave it too late.

“Breathe”

Phew what a week, I have been making a concentrated effort to increase traffic to my blog and it’s working so a massive thank you to all those lovely people who have visited my posts and a massive thank from me as I have found some wonderful blogs, well not just that, amazing blogs actually.

” And Breathe”

What I will say though ( as it was pointed out to me) by a kind, caring, fellow blogger…..you know who you are…..Blelinda Crane…. is that when I go to look at some blogs the Gravatar is not showing your blog address so stopping traffic to your blog.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Click on your profile image located next to your WordPress notification bell.
2. Click on Account Settings
3. Scroll down to Web Address and replace the address there with Your WordPress address https:// etc

. Ta da ….. !!!  Done!!

Now for a recipe as we haven’t had one lately have we???

Lemon grass Chicken Skewers.

Ingredients:

1 kg minced chicken

4 – 5 garlic cloves , grated ( adjust to taste )

4 tsp white pepper powder

2 1/2 tsp salt ( to taste )

2 egg yolks

5 tbsp pounded lemongrass , white part only

10 pieces of coriander roots , pounded

2 tbsp coriander leaves , finely chopped

1 carrot , regular size , grated

10 stalks of lemongrass ( maybe more ) , cut the green bit into 10 cm long pieces to make skewers .

Directions :

Mix well all the ingredients above , you may not need all the egg yolk so just add it bit by bit . If the mixture is too sticky you may add a little bit of bread crumb.

Take one dessert spoon of the mixture and shape it on the lemongrass stalk.

Arrange the chicken skewers on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil

Lemon grass skewersThis recipe is from my friend Mamik on https://dapurnyasibohay.wordpress.com/

Bake it in preheated oven at 180 degree C , for 20 – 30 minutes . The baking time may vary . My oven tends to be very hot and it takes only 20 minutes , then I switched the oven off , left the chicken there for while to get the slight brown colour .

And enjoy!

Until next time you all have a lovely weekend, Love you all xxx