Category Archives: Recipes,Lifestyle

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

The health benefits of Mustard seeds.

You are what you eat…The benefits of Mustard Seeds.

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Those tiny little seeds belong to the Brassica family and do they contain a bounty of benefits to your health and beauty.

I am loving what I am discovering about all these seeds and herbs we have so much at our fingers tips or growing naturally in our environment which benefit us for little or no money…Some effort? Yes, but some of that is minimal.

How long does it take to mix some mustard seeds with lavender or rose oil and you have a completely natural scrub and skin exfoliator?

Mix mustard powder with Aloe Vera and it is a natural skin hydrator…I am lucky that I have some growing in my garden…Do you or could you grow some?

I do think that more and more of us are becoming aware of just what we can make or grow and that is good…

Better for our health and easier on our pockets…

Mustard seeds have been found to have been mentioned in the ancient Sanskrit writings which go back 5,000years. They have been mentioned at least 5 times in the Bible and in the New Testament, The Kingdom of Heaven is compared to a grain of mustard seed.

There are about 40 varieties of Mustard seed but generally, they are divided into  3 principal categories of black, white and brown.

Black is the most pungent and is found growing in the Middle East.

White mustard seeds are actually yellow in colour and come from the Mediterranean region, the mildest in flavour and American yellow mustard is made from these.

Brown mustard seeds are actually dark yellow and grown in the foothills of the Himalayas and are what Dijon mustard is made from.

There have and are currently many studies in the health benefits of mustard seeds and they are known to contain plentiful amounts of phytonutrients called Glucosinolates. They are also an excellent source of Selenium and Magnesium which is proven to help reduce inflammation in this case particularly beneficial in the gastrointestinal tract and colectoral cancers.

They have also been found to be an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, copper and Vit B1.

The powder can be used as an effective muscle soak.

Also due to containing sulphur mustard has excellent antifungal properties.

It can be used in your diet in many ways, it can be used to baste meat or fish, a dip for vegetables or add the seeds to cabbage at the end of cooking.

Once my new blog is up and running I will be giving you recipes to help you integrate some of these seeds and herbs into your daily diet.

In the meantime, you can always message me and ask …I am happy to help.

Have fun and enjoy!

Here is my recipe for homemade mustard

Until next time enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salt of the earth…

 

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Salt seems to be a topic of conversation around here at the moment so I have decided to resurrect this post from aunt juju which I reblogged over a year ago.

Since then I have purchased a salt block as a present for my daughter and am awaiting feedback as she has had it for a good few months now.

This article by aunt juju is a very good comprehensive view of salt block cooking backed up by some wonderful recipes. So please take a look you will love it as much as I do… I just know you will.

Once I self-host this blog I will be offering these amongst other things for sale…..I will not have loads of ads all over the place but the sale items will be relevant to my posts. Which means folks you will still get recipes and hopefully some good advice to get you thinking about your health alongside them.

Young Sally also penned a very good post on salt and our health and I discovered salt farming as some of you know on my proverbial doorstep.   So much to do and discover in this little corner of Thailand.

Salt is definitely being featured in our corner of the world of WP and is worth a look as that and so many other things which we were advised to steer clear of consuming don’t seem to be really as bad for us….What are your thoughts on all this backtracking?

A short post to read as you drink your morning coffee…well depending on where you live…ha ha ….coupled with some interesting links for when you put feet up later.

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I hope you enjoy all of this and it links everything together for you….Do you have any What are your thoughts on Salt and your health?

We would love to know so please comment and if you have used salt blocks ..tell me your experience did you love it or hate it?….Good or bad…. I would love to know.

Thank you for reading I hope it gave you food for thought? Stay safe and laugh a lot..it’s free and it releases all those good endorphins which are responsible for our feeling of wellbeing…. it is the biochemical of the substrate aka ” The Spice of Life”

Until next time……..

 

 

 

 

Salt Farming in Northern Thailand.

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Driving to Nong Khai towards the Mekong we suddenly started to see lots of roadside stalls selling salt and then I remembered nothing grew here because the land was so salty …No rice…Nothing!

Proud of their salt producing heritage there is now a 3 day Salt Festival with talks, educational displays and the most beautiful sculptures crafted from salt.

Before I show and tell you about the salt I will show you how I use salt …Which produces the most succulent fish you have every tasted and eaten with Som Tam Green Papaya) Salad and Sticky Rice ( Kow Neow) is one of the most amazing meals you could wish to eat.

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Just take 3/4 stems of lemon grass and tie in a knot, stuff it in the cavity of the fish and then roll the fish in sea salt do not descale the fish as it will not stick. Put on a BBQ and cook until fish is just cooked, nice and juicy turning the fish a few times this takes about 30/40 mins and you will have the most succulent fish you have ever tasted.

How is the salt produced:

Thailand’s unique cuisine with its sweet, sour, bitter, spicy and salty tastes which combined make a Thai meal so memorable. Salty eggs, fish, salt are used in many dishes and the almost iconic Thai fish sauce takes pride of place on every table. A meal would not be complete without salt or fish sauce being used in every dish or as a condiment.

Do not try to put salt in a traditional western salt grinder or shaker as due to the humidity here it will just clog or cause the grinders cogs to rust.

Used firstly as a preservative before there were fridges salt has become as essential as breathing.

Here in Thailand it is not only used in food but in the spa industry. Now, who hasn’t been to Thailand and hasn’t had a traditional Thai massage?

From popular skin exfoliating, scrub massages it has great anti-bacterial properties and helps to prevent itching and provides relief from insect bites and stings.

Add lemon grass to your salt and a massage will let all your stress and jet lag just fade away.

How is salt made? 

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The ponds are flooded with salt water and left for about 10 days until the sun has evaporated the water leaving the salt, which is then collected and carried away in shoulder baskets to be bagged ready for sale.

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There is very little if any shade on these salt flats to protect the workers from the sun and it is hard heavy work.

 

Health Benefits of Salt.

For years  I have been warned about the use of too much salt whereas here because of the heat and humidity I have used more salt in my cooking and diet.

I have changed the salt I use and either use Pink Himalayan Salt or more recently as we live close to the above salt flats I use the mineral salt fresh from there.

The taste is vastly different from the salt I used to buy and I use less as it is saltier but since living here my Blood pressure is now normal…and for those who know me I have never been normal…lol..but it is.

Asians have for many years believed that we have an energy body as well as a physical body. All of our glands, organs, blood and skin consist of cells. They believe that our health depends on the health of those cells. Different cells require more or less of cell salts e.g nerve cells require larger amounts of cell salts but blood cells carry a higher amount of certain cell salts.

Hence salt plays a larger role in the diet in  Asian countries as they believe cell salts provide a rebalancing of the body to enable its natural disease function which controls the bodies mechanism to function fully.

I am finding northern Thailand such a lovely place to live the people are friendly and I am discovering so many fruits, vegetables and ancient crafts which are still being used and passed down to generation after generation.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share or reblog.

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All images are from my own private photo collection I have no problem if anyone uses them as long as you just ask my permission.

 

 

Wat Baan Waeng or Heaven and Hell.

50 km’s north of Udon Thani where we now live is Wat Baan Waeng or Pho Chai Sri as it is also known.

It is home to larger than life statues and sculptures which depict the heaven and hell side of Buddhism. So in other words if you stray from the path of the five precepts of Buddhism then “Hell” is what awaits you.

It shows the fate or karma of these individuals and the gory fates that await them for their sins.

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Initially when we pulled into the temple we were met with the scene of monks sitting, children playing and stalls selling trinkets, spiritual items and a well. The water level of which is always very high so if you do want to peer down into the blackness then first remove your shoes before you step onto the plinth. The well according to local folktales just appeared!

Such tranquility that we  thought we had chanced upon the wrong temple(wat).

But no, if you follow the path lined with Buddhas statues you will be led through beautiful gardens, music playing, good food and drink everything that heaven is meant to be.

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Happy smiles and music playing.

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All plaques and writing are in Thai so it will enhance your visit if you have someone with you who can read Thai.

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The tree of life depicting the man or king at the top surrounded by ladies. Showing as flowers hanging from the tree of life.

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Do not be fooled!

You are now entering hell.

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You will then come upon statues showing the horrific torture that you would suffer if you went to hell. Depending on your sin your punishment would fit the crime. A liar would have his tongue removed and a thief his hands.

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Forced to climb the thorny tree or be eaten by the waiting dogs. It looks like he wasn’t quite quick enough.

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A liar…Off with your tongue!

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Boiling liquid!

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Cruelty to animals will not be tolerated.

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Karma reigns!  What goes around comes around as the saying goes.

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A fruitless gesture, begging for mercy I don’t think any mercy was going to be granted here.

I hope you enjoyed this trip through heaven and hell, it will be on my to visit again list as there is a temple being built in the middle of the lake there which promises to be a lovely tranquil place to sit and read or write.

If you enjoy my travels around Thailand I can also be found on Niume and Mytrendingstories where I share my travels and recipes, fruits of Thailand and much more.

Toddy Palm    https://niume.com/post/313107

Takhop Tree https://niume.com/post/308167

  https://mytrendingstories.com/article/authentic-thai-herbal-soup/

I hope you enjoy!

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.