A wise man once said....

A wise man once said
"When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new."
Dalai Lama

Monday, 26 October 2009

Very Relaxing Weekend

It was a great weekend. Made the more so as I did so little. First off Friday was a National Holiday. Chulalongkorn day. He was a King of Thailand Rama 5. Present King is Rama 9 so hes about 5 back. So about 100b years ago. He is important to Thailand as he introduced many 'European' ideas and opened up the place. Electricity, trains etc. And of course an improved army and some democracy. All in all a good chap who every one wants to remember so fortunately it gives us a day off!!! The King.
Well we went to Topcom and finally bought that new computer we had been promising ourselves, this was followed by some more mundane shopping for meat and veg etc.
Decided the spend the rest of the day relaxing, but as usual we seemed to be inundated with visitors. Cannot complain about this can I.
Made pasta, lasagna, bread, quiche and Wanna knocked up a 1st class Indian Curry. Add in a few cold beers and a every complete weekend.
We did find time to have a quick trip round the lake and noticed there is a big long boat competition due on 23rd November along with Buffalo racing. I saw some buffalo racing a few years back. Great afternoon entertainment. Last night I was called to our back kitchen. "Look". There on the wall was a beautiful lizard. And big. Probably as big as you'll find in a house. Hence the photo.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Gardening

Having this week managed to make an eatable bread loaf and survive several days of constant rain and heavy down pour it was with relief that the weekend turned out to be sunny and dry. It was a good chance to relax and do nothing. By nothing I mean relax and just sit around the pool reading a book and drinking coffee. Yes coffee. I'm into espresso these days. Got the machine so might as well enjoy. So that was Saturday with nothing to show for it. I've got to stop always trying to find reasons and the need to measure production even if all it comprises is making and drinking coffee. Somehow just relax in the true sense of the word. So Sunday was in comparison a big event. Spent a few hours at the local garden market. There are hundreds of these markets scattered around the locality. But one in particular I had been planning on visiting for sometime. Its situated in north Pattaya on the main Surkumvit road.


It sells a wide range of trees, yes fully grown trees, ranging from Orange to bread fruit to numerous palms. You can having bought a new property come here and buy all you need to make an established garden. No need to plant young plants and wait till they grow. Here you have instant 5 - 10 year old trees read for planting. The sellers will generally replace there for free it they die with in the first 3 months. Not a bad deal.
The colourful array of orchids in stunning. As are the numerous fish tanks with brightly coloured fish if every size and type. Need less to say it is the sort of place you go and with out doubt spend some money. We did. Bought some plastic pots and compost soil. I should mention that Owen had posted us some vegetable seeds which arrived Saturday morning. So we decided to try them out. No doubt the local varieties are more suited to Thailand than the ones from UK but so what. Its all a bit of fun. So having spend several hours walking around I decided it was time to go home and back to practicing the art of relaxing.
The top photo is one I played around with. Not to produce anything particularly special but to let you see the contrast of colours. Amazing.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Rain

Been a strange week with us here in Thailand receiving the tail end of the Typhoons sweeping across to us from the Philippines. All very sad for them over there and just plain miserable for us here. On going home today we had to pass through some big ponds of water left over from the rains. Its been raining hard for the last few weeks and the ground is saturated. Suffice to say driving through it can be fun or a bit daunting. I've added a short few seconds clip of the trip home...

video

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cooking Update

After my recent disaster with my baking experiments it is with great pleasure and some excitement that lets me report my recent successful bread making morning. they say a picture tells a thousand words. Well I'll say no more.

video

Monday, 12 October 2009

Brown Butter Pound Cake

Saturday was an interesting day for me. I was on my own and no appointments or other activities planned. So cooking was the name of the game for the day. I had earlier in the week been reading up on a few recipes for bread and cakes. All sounding straight forward and simple enough to do. Just follow the recipes...
It was my Saturday and I decided it would be a cake day. First step go and buy all the ingredients and a small hand held food mixer. Can you believe it I do not even own a small mixer or a bread tin. And I still want to cook. So off I went to Index and to several other shops in search for the ideal machine.... Well given the fact that it was my first such machine and taking into account my limited ('non existent') skills as a pastry chef I decided to be prudent and go initially for a cheap thing that could one day be replaced once I had reached a level of producing something that resembled a cake. Only then could I justify the higher spending on such equipment.
The choice at the low end of the market was very limited but I did end up with something that worked satisfactorily. Prices varied from Baht 590 to 4,000, that's about US$ 20 to 130. I settled for the 20US$...
Deciding on which cake was also an issue. I have for some time when on the Internet logged onto Cooking and have followed a few of the recipes. Their recipe of the week for this week was Brown butter Pound Cake. I took this as a sign... And the photo shown here is off the web site. Looks good.Looked very good to me and reading the recipe it looked simple enough even for me to make.
So this was it, Saturday to myself and all the time in the world to try some baking. Put all this academic research from reading recipes on the Internet into practice. Clear the work top I'm coming through!!!!
I should tell you I do not own a 'proper' oven but a full combination microwave with a grill and convection oven all combined. I plan to use oven. So in case things don't work out as planned this oven will be first excuse, second excuse ... this is my initial attempt, so beginners luck maybe but... and the third excuse... I don't even want to think about it. A bad workman always blames his tools.
I checked all the ingredients and set out the cooking gear. Even had remembered to buy a baking tin.... All check out 100% OK.
Into the recipe and made the mix. and it tasted good as I tried a finger dip of the mix. Defiantly I could sense this was my calling. Lots of talent. Might even go for Master Chief on the BBC. I'll check out how to apply for the competition. Imagine me on TV showing others how to cook. 1 hour later things had changed. My esteem had dropped over the period as I had spent an hour trying to sort out the difference between Centigrade and Fahrenheit adn checking which one was displayed on the over. Then after all that I realised I had the grill o,n in the microwave oven instead of the convection. Not the result I had planned.
I think BBC will have to wait till next year.....I'll just put it down to experience and I'm sure to do better next time.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

7th October and all that

What's so special about today you ask? Well for me it is a very special day. Today is my Mothers Birthday. 84 years old and still going strong. I owe her a massive debt to thanks for everything. Firstly without her I would not even be here!!!! So thanks for that.... Second, third and more reasons onwards and upwards for everything since.
Unfortunately I cannot be there in UK to share the day with her. Not putting family first seems for so many of us a modern answer to so many things these days. However distance does not help. Bangkok is a long way from Norfolk and having checked on flights it still possible but... just not practicable. Better still if she visits us for a month in November and Christmas and has more time for us to enjoy together each others company. She will get the added bonus of some sunshine. Work should not come as a first priority, I know so I need in future to do more forward planning. But it also makes me realize, I to, am getting older. Same rate as everyone else I know but..... So we've arranged to get my Mother out here for a month. I've got Owen onto this and as I write he is buying the ticket. Non stop London Bangkok. Plan is to present her the ticket in front of her friends over lunch. Not to make it seem like a big idea or a show of any kind but only that way can we be certain to avoid any "Oh no, I can't go, I've got so many other things to do". etc etc. As I said earlier Family should come first and this is her chance to be with us... No doubt she will feature in some future postings.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Chill Bar The Dark Side........

Monday night saw celebrations. After several months of competing on the pool circuit the Chill Bar team won top of the league. Chill Bar Had a wonderful celebration and excellent food, along with the team and what made it an even better evening, most of the competition turned up to make it a moment to remember. Simon, the Landlord and Pie his wife put on an excellet spread. The league is hardly of a world shattering standard but it's on every Monday evening and its fun. This present league is now over and we should be up and running again in a new league in a month or so. Need to ensure we win again....

Monday, 5 October 2009

Lazy Weekend.

Had a really lazy weekend. Decided to do nothing. That's right nothing! Did it happen? Well not exactly as planned. The do nothing weekend included shopping (ugh!), making up some pastry and cooking some quiche. Also had a go at making spaghetti, yeah real spaghetti hand made. Tasted 'soooh' much better than shop purchased. All this activity in the kitchen topped of with a Sunday evening Bar B Q where I turned my hand to making some kebabs and baked potatoes. Nothing extravagant but good fun.
When not doing 'nothing', and not cooking I tried to capture the spirit of the house in so far as trying to get on film the serene side of it all. You know the garden, birds and flowers etc. You know the sort of things you don't really see but enjoy being immersed in. Its really an amazing little house set on an estate. But once you 'lock' yourself in and look round there is so much to see. We have a couple of birds nests and loads of visiting 'Minor' birds, a few frogs which gurgle away at night. Add in some lizards, strange bright green caterpillars and the fish going round and round in their bowls and there really is a lot going on. One of the flowers in the fish bowl opens each morning with the sunrise and closes down again in the evening. Beautiful to watch.
Earlier several years back we had planted some travellers palms, which have now matured and several other jasmine trees and bushes have grown. Wanna had also been busy on the orchids and ferns. Yes, a lot going on in a small enclosed estate house.
All I wanted was a cup of coffee, a good book and hide in a corner for a quiet weekend. But I can't complain. Imagine if nobody wanted to come round... What then, would be a sad weekend.
I really would complain of quiet weekends.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Pasta Time


video

Hi, I'd mentioned earlier that I wanted to start doing some cooking videos. It was planned to be around Issan food but up to today no action, just talk. Well today I got off my backside and made up a simple pastry mix and followed this up by making a quiche. Served with some good thick sliced cheese, olives and chunky sliced fresh tomatoes. All covered in a spicy olive oil and vinaigrette dressing. Wonderful. To most people it is no big deal to prepare such a dish but for me it was a great step forward. And I must say, it was easy.