Tag Archives: Life style

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… Thai Potatoes…

Thai potatoes which in Thai are called Man sam Palang but are also known as Cassava, Yuca or Tapioca root. It is widely grown throughout the east and north-east Thailand as cattle food  and also for starch and Tapioca flour.

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It is a very drought resistant vegetable and there are two main sorts sweet or bitter with a hard brown outer shell and yellow or white flesh. It is the bitter one which contains more of the chemical bound cyanide.

The smaller sweet rooted varieties which are used for desserts here in Thailand like the famous Khanom man sampalang where cooking is deemed to be enough to break down the cyanide.

There are a lot of warnings about eating raw roots and how they should be prepared carefully before eating as it can cause death.

Modern thinking is that it is not as dangerous as it was originally thought to be  however it is always wise to err on the side of caution.

This root should NOT be eaten raw.

Cooking is said to cause the cells to break down and the cyanide to be broken down which renders it safe to eat.

Thailand is the worlds largest importer of dried Cassava.

Down here on the farm it is grown for animal feed and to make flour. The potato is harvested when it is around 3-4months and the roots 30-45cm, harvested by hand although now some farmers use mechanical means generally the lower part of the stem is raised and the roots pulled from the ground.

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It is then cut into approx 15cm pieces and sun-dried for 2 days. As cattle feed it is high  in proteins and contains tannins and is  valued as  a good source of roughage for cattle food.

The cassava root which is going to be used for next seasons crop is soaked and treated for termites before planting prior to the next wet season.

The remainder of the outer shell from which the flesh is extracted is sometimes used for wood or just burnt as it has no further use. The picture below is the empty root with the flesh extracted.

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Other uses for the root  are:

To make starch for clothing.

To make tapioca, the tapioca beads are balls of Cassava. When fermented it is called garri.

Crackers for frying as in a previous post can be made from Tapioca flour. Thai pancakes

It is used in the making of MSG ..Monosodium glutamate.

Boiled as a vegetable it is similar to British potatoes.

Now for a recipe:

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Khanom  man sampalang is cross between a cake and a dessert and is very popular here in Thailand. It is thick, hearty, smooth and sticky. A steamed tapioca cake.

You will need:

2   cups of grated Cassava

6 tbsp of tapioca flour

1 tbsp of mung bean starch

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of coconut milk

1 cup of shredded coconut.

Food colouring

Let’s Cook!

 

Put all ingredients except salt and shredded coconut in a bowl. Mix well for 5 minutes get your hands in there and work it until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the colour and mix well to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the shredded coconut and salt and mix together. Set to one side.

Put small cups into a steamer and pour some mixture into each cup. Steam for 15 minutes then either stir in the remainder of the shredded coconut or spread over the top of the cake. before serving. If you spread over the top then it is lovely toasted before spreading over the top of the cake.

Enjoy!

It was also time to plant some more banana trees as the land has been built up and there are lots of bananas for frying and making Somtam..A thai salad where banana is used instead of green papaya. These ones are for eating and the trees don’t grow as tall as the other banana trees the bananas are lovely eating ones and a nice sized banana.The rice has just been planted also and it is fingers crossed that this last down pour didn’t wash all the rice away…Time will tell.

I hope that you enjoyed this trip down on the farm. Some more posts on life in rural Thailand can be found on  my Niume posts.

I do hope that you enjoy my tales of life on the farm. This weeks post was going to be about our new baby turkeys which we went to collect on Saturday . Unfortunately there was very high winds and very heavy torrentail rains during this last week and the chicks got too cold and died. I was so sad as we were looking forward to getting them and settling them in their new home. The plus side was we got to see the baby calves one which had only just been born which will be our next acquisition. He was so very cute and beautiful.

Down on the farm..Star Apple

Down on the farm Snake Gourd Raita

Down on the farm our 1st Passion Fruit

Until next time stay safe and laugh a lot …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to make your own Coconut Oil.

Living in the North Of Thailand is so very different from living in the South of Thailand.. I am learning so much about Thai cultures and traditions which have been passed down through families for centuries and I am loving it.

Coconut oil and its benefits are known throughout the world and it is quite easy to buy a bottle from your local shops now….. But how is it made? it is still made by hand in many local homes here..it takes time but you get a far superior product and you also get the lovely by-product which you can eat.

So come with me ……Over a fire…. a pot is put to heat up when the pot is hot then the coconut milk which is extracted from the white flesh is added, in the villages they grate this and as you need the flesh from 10 coconuts to make a litre of oil …it is time-consuming and hard work by hand….

If you  lucky enough to live close to a local market and they have the machine which extracts the milk then it  is far easier although you still have a long way to go before you get the finished product.

Firstly the Coconut milk is  poured into the ready heated pot and it is now a waiting game where all the exciting stuff happens and you can see the stages and transitions that milk goes through to get your oil.

So you sit and stir and watch and wait while still stirring as the milk changes.

The first sign you see are little oil spots which start to appear on the surface of the milk….you still have to keep stirring.

The oil spots spread as the milk bubbles away and indeed will come right to the top of the pot and almost boil over.

So as the milk is coming to the top is not a good  sign you have to stir and stir  so it is simmering and bubbling after a while it takes a few hours the milk disappears and you are left with oil…

At the bottom of the pan you get a thick crust which looks like crumbled digestive biscuits…this is scooped out and kept as a topping for ice cream.

A very small amount is left in the bottom maybe a teaspoonful and this gives the oil a more vanilla/chocolate smell/taste it is then scooped out and the oil is left to cool down.

You now have your very own hand-made  Coconut Oil.

I think it is lovely to see this tradition of making your own oil in the home as so often we buy a carton or bottle and we don’t where it has come from ..what processes it has gone through..Is it pure ? We all know that labelling can be misleading.

I am sampling so much now of lovely home produced oils, honey, vegetables , herbs some grown some foraged and it is not just the marvelous taste but just the knowledge that I have seen it made or helped make it and that I  know where it has come from..it is a marvelous feeling ..

The photos are from my friend Sonya..Thank you so much Sonya Russell for allowing me to use them. It is very much appreciated…Thank you 🙂

I do hope you enjoyed reading this and please feel free to share this post……

 

 

 

#r2bcheerful1 – Summer

Oh I love a challenge and I think this is surely going to be one…..It’s all Richards fault…..Pass the buck time….ha ha….Not!

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Well the gauntlet has been picked up….You just know you gonna regret this Carol…..You will…….

Okay….

Summer:

A reason to be cheerful for sure……

Some of these boys have very little..apart from their friends , their family but their sunny smiles always cheer me up…..This is certainly the Land of Smiles and it’s summertime virtually all year round…I have one wardrobe of clothes and all summer clothes…no boots, socks, woolly jumpers, vests, thermals, hats, scarves…..just flip flops and t/shirts…..I love summertime……

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Well 1 down…….How many to go Richard ????????????????

#r2bcheerful #r2bcheerful1

But I am still lonely over on Niume…Join me….https://niume.com/?ambassadorID=42183

It’s fun ..for sure…

 

 

I have a plan!

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Oh yes I do! I keep telling myself that…. I have re-written my white board.

I have allocated myself time slots for WordPress, Niume,mytrendingstories, my novel, Research…Now all 5 of these are important ( to me)

I have booked regular Skype meeting with my publisher and she will crack the proverbial whip!  I am in no  doubt about that…Why?….Because I am..she is fierce…well …a pussy cat really!..

I have in the past:-

Shilly-shallayed, hesitated, dithered, dawdled, pondered,lingered, too long on reading blogs, trying to fathom Twitter, Scrivener, You name it….I just do it..no concept of time and before I know it…The day has gone….Disappeared 😦

So the time has come……A new me….an organised me….with time slots…..will it work????

Who knows…..I will set my timer…Oh yes….A Timer!

I have set myself a break…. Time to check mail, FB, etc, etc, etc…………And time to shop, cook and explore my surroundings, (although that could be classed as research) Mmmmmm

Pondering now….What does Vino time come under???????????

Will this turn out to be ” The best laid plans of man and mice” scenario????? Or will it WORK???????

Answers on a postage stamp…Please………

Love you all 🙂

 

26 Week Photo challenge “J”

Love this challenge to see Lori’s pictures for “J’ please Click Here.

My first picture for “J’ has to be

JOY….Just look at the happiness on these boys faces…

 

JUMP… and head first this grandchild of mine..no fear..

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JEEP..another picture of the fun my grandkids have..mostly with dirt and water…

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All my pictures for the letter  “J” depict the Joy in the lives of my grandchildren they enjoy an outside lifestyle and are both happy and healthy. I hope you enjoy my pictures.

Until next time stay safe, laugh a lot and have fun…Love you all 🙂

Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.

Very true, just sitting quietly and freeing your thoughts is remarkably calming. I need calm, having retired, I feel the need for calm and also solitude at times ..not because I am angry, or mad at someone but just because I value time and now I have time to do that…it energises me and gets my thoughts flowing.

Living in Thailand has taught me to meditate and there is no lovelier place to do so….it may be at the beach under the shade of a palm tree,or in my quiet space at home just like Colleen of Silver Threading  click here on her mindful Mondays posts .

In fact meditation is part of daily life here. Most homes and places of business feature a ” Spirit House” just outside the building. In fact if you have a new business Thai’s always get it blessed by monks before it opens and that includes large corporate companies  like Tesco Lotus, Makro they all have an opening ceremony around the Spirit House. A new house or car is always blessed by monks for good luck.

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This picture is typical of a Thai House being blessed. The monks come and food is provided for them, they sit and eat with family and bless the house… this is generally done before any furniture is bought into the house.

My garden also has a spirit house which was here when we moved in..I would have loved to touch the paint up but was advised that I should leave it as it was.

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Now back to the diet, while trying to be mindful of what I eat I am discovering that vegetables are one of the ways to go and being aware. I have thought for a while that grain fed beef was good for you however I am changing my views and in these days of Gm foods etc Grain fed doesn’t hold such an attraction for me. It seems like quick way to fatten the calf so to speak whereas grass  fed obviously take longer to mature without additives so that’s the route I am taking. Seriously looking at where my food is made and raised and eating a diet filled with lots of veggies and raw to boot or very, very lightly steamed in some cases..so I am following the Thai way of eating .

What way of eating are you following? because I do a little Paleo and have found some lovely recipes which I will share at one point and on occassion I love ice cream …..whats your passion?

 

Batu and veggies

The fish is called Batu and is very similar to mackerel for the size of the fish it had quite a big backbone. It is quite an oily fish, this fish is also used for a dip like the one in the middle of the dish it is pounded together with chillies, lime also Pla or crab is sometimes added which is a acquired taste…I am getting to not like but can eat in small amounts…lol

Vegetables are varied and include long beans, white cabbage,cucumber,cauliflower, Thai basil, Grapow,banana flower, these white flowers( like lily heads) I don’t know the proper name and they are collected before the sun comes up, the flowers drop off overnight, lightly streamed after having removed stamen and eaten. They seem to be a little bit of a delicacy as only available at certain times of the year. Various vegetables of which I don’t know the names and when I ask the Thais don’t know the English translation.

This is why Thai’s are always eating as  most although it is on the increase, eat very little diary or carbs except for rice, sweet potato,yams. The diet generally is a healthy one as MS is also not as widely used as it once was.

Well that’s it for now stay safe, laugh a lot and be mindful and it will be Songcram here soon so we will be getting very, very wet….ha ha can’t wait…