Monday, September 30, 2013

Rangoon Creeper

I came across these little flowers in Samut-songkram, Thailand when I visited home. They reminded me of my parents’ house old trellis. We used to grow this plant when I was young but had to take it down when it became too big and frequented by the unwanted visitors – snakes. And snakes have never been my mother’s best friends.

The botanical name is Combretum indicum. We call it Lady’s Fingernails in Thai. The flower has a pleasant and gentle fragrance. The ones above are of a pale pink variety – the common ones are more reddish and brighter.

Friday, September 27, 2013

And Friends Just can be Found….

Weather permitted, Bonnie gets her daily walkies in the park twice, one after lunch and the other after dinner. Most afternoons, she comes across one or two of friends like this well behaved Jack Russel…

And this Spaniel…..
Majority of the dog owners are people of like-mind and happy to let the dogs socialise with each other, especially the ones that are obedient enough to be let off the leads.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lime Meringue Pie

Two weeks ago Marcus and Tracey came to dinner at our place. It is now customary that she will bring a pudding – wonderful pudding- when we host dinner. This time it was Lime Meringue Pie – a bit more tart than Lemon Pie but more lively and yumlicious nonetheless.

Here is how she made it:

Lime Meringue Pie
5 limes
3 egg yolks
2 eggs
125 g unsalted butter, and a bit more for pie dish
150 g caster sugar

For the pie pastry dough
215 g plain flour
1 1/Ž2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
90 g cold butter
45 – 60 ml cold water, more if needed

For the Italian meringue
100 g caster sugar
75 ml water
3 egg whites

Make the Pastry Dough
Add cold butter and flour into a food processor and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.  Add caster sugar and salt.  Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse.  When the crumbs are moist enough to stick together, press the dough lightly, form into a ball, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Brush the pie dish with melted butter.  On a floured surface roll the dough into a round, 5cm larger than the pie dish.  Carefully drape the dough over the dish.  Gently lift the edge of the dough with your fingertips, and press it well into the bottom and up the side of the pie dish.

Trim the excess pastry from the edge of the dish.  Prick the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork to prevent air bubbles forming during cooking.  Chill until firm, about 15 minutes.  Place on a baking sheet and bake blind in a 200 degree C oven for about 15 minutes, or until the rim starts to brown.  Remove the baking beans and reduce oven to 190 degrees C and bake 5 – 10 minutes longer until light golden.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack, but leave oven on at 190 degrees C and leave baking sheet in the oven also.

Make the Lime Curd
Finely grate the zest from 2 of the limes and set aside.

Halve the limes.  Squeeze the juice and strain it into a measuring jug.  There should be about 250 ml.

Beat the egg yolks with the whole eggs, using a whisk, until evenly mixed together.  Cut the butter into small pieces.

Put the sugar, lime zest, and butter into a medium heavy-based saucepan.  Add the lime juice.  Whisk over fairly low heat until the sugar has dissolved, 2 – 3 minutes.

Off the heat, whisk in the beaten eggs until evenly combined with the lime mixture.  Return to the heat and cook gently, so the curd thickens slowly and does not curdle, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 4 – 6 minutes.

Sieve the lime curd into a bowl to remove any bits of egg or lime zest, and set aside to cool.

Once cool, spoon the lime curd into the pastry shell. Place on the baking sheet and bake at 190 degrees C until the mixture starts to set, 10 – 12 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then chill until adding the meringue.

Make the Italian Meringue
Heat the sugar in the water until dissolved.  Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches hard ball stage (120 degrees C).
[You can use sugar thermometer for this - but try not to break it:]

Put the egg whites into a metal bowl and whisk with an electric mixer or by hand (yeah right).  Begin whisking slowly, but increase the speed when the egg whites become foamy and white.  Continue whisking the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the beaters are lifted.

Gradually pour the hot sugar syrup into the beaten egg whites, beating constantly.  Continue beating the mixture until the meringue is cool and stiff (about 5 minutes).  The bottom of the bowl should be cool.

Finish it off

With a palette knife, spread half of the meringue over the filling to cover, then pipe the remaining mixture on top.

Torch it or place until the grill until golden brown.

Make sure that you grill the meringue at once so it does not start to separate and become sticky.

All done. Yum!

When you come across complicated recipes on my blog such as this one, you can pretty much guess that they are unlikely mine. I am on a lazy side as a cook so I normally do easy dishes but I still love to impress my readers so I have to have guests' recipes from time to time:) Thanks, Tracy. It's divine!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bangkok’s Terminal 21

Terminal 21 is a new-ish shopping complex on Asoke Road in Bangkok. It is quite famous amongst the tourists for its international airport terminal theme. Each floor is designed and named after world famous cities such as Tokyo, London, San Francisco and etc. Even restrooms are in the same theme as the city names suggest.

This shopping complex features the usual big international branded shops as well as local boutiques. These small boutiques are more interesting and the goods are priced reasonably. Cotton T-shirts with Thai prints sell for Bht200 each, not too bad for NZD8.50. To go there you can either take metro and get off at Sukhumvit Station or skytrain and get off at Asoke Station.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Watcher in the Grasses

We have a border garden of native grasses on the western side of the house so in the afternoon, if it’s sunny, the grasses will soak up the heat. The ones close to the deck have been flattened over the years as Bonnie and Pipi take turns lying on them – nice and soft and warm – puurrrfect!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stir Fried Pork and Basil (หมูผัดพริก)

We, Thais, have known this dish since before weaning off nappies as it is such a common street food and honestly I didn’t think to cook it myself until I watched the re-run of Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey  programme when he visited Asia and cooked this dish whilst in Thailand.

And thanks to Mr. Stein for giving me some inspiration. This dish has become quite a regular on our dining table when I cook Thai and Bob likes this dish pretty much. This is how I cook mine:

You will need:

250 grams pork, sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
½ onion, chopped lengthwise
½ red or yellow capsicum (bell pepper), sliced
1 red chilli, sliced (de-seeded if you don’t like it hot)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce (if you don’t have it, just substitute with a teaspoon of sugar)
1 tablespoon water 

A handful of basil leaves (Italian basil will do fine)
Oil for frying
Ground white pepper

Marinate pork strips in 1 tablespoon soy sauce, pepper and a little bit of oil and set aside.Mix the rest of the sauces together with water or stock in a jug.

Heat oil in a wok on medium high heat, fry garlic until fragrant – add pork and stir fry for a few minutes. Add oinion and capsicum, fry a little bit further then add sauce mixture. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Add chiili and basil, fry briefly and remove from heat. Serve hot with rice.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ayudhya Here I Come – Part 4: Wat Pra Sri Sanpetch

First there was the Royal Palace here in 1350 and then the temple a hundred years or so later. It was not unusual for the Siamese kings to build the temples on the same ground as the palaces – and that the temples had no monks in residence. The monks would be brought in from elsewhere for ceremonies. The other example of this custom is the Grand Palace and the Temple of Sri Rattana Sasdaram in Bangkok.

The pagodas were built to receive the ashes of the then Ayudhya’s king: King Ramathibodi  II (1491-1529 more on Kings of Siam here ) and his family members after their deaths. When the city was sacked in 1760's, both the palace and the temple were set on fire to molten all the gold covering the Buddha images and other decorations. So what we see here is just the ruin of another once grand and elaborated architectural structure.

The whole palace and the temple would look like this model had they not been destroyed during the war. The replica of one of the most beautiful buildings in the palace – Pra Sri Sanpetch Hall was built in the 70's on the ground of the The Ancient City  - from the layout of what was left of the building in Ayudhya and numerous old recorded documents.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ayudhya Dogs

I saw several dogs around the temples we visited in Ayudhya – most of them are quite well fed. Thanks to the hawkers and tourists. This cute girl is living around Wat Chai Wattanaram. Before we entered the historic site – we saw her being fed with hot dogs by a couple of European tourists.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Slow Cooked Chicken Drumsticks

Slow cook (me) cooking this dish slowly in a slow cooker - it is good for any cold, grey and lazy day when you don't want to be a kitchen slave.

3 slices of ginger
3 cloves garlic, bruised
7-8 chicken drumsticks
½ cup soy sauce
1 red chilli or ¼ teaspoon of chilli flakes
2 teaspoons of shaved palm sugar
2 tablespoons of tomato sauce for colour
A couple rounds of freshly ground black pepper
½ cup of water
A teaspoon of canola oil
1 spring onion, thinly sliced for garnish
1-2 teaspoons of corn flour, mixed with ¼ cup of of water

Line a crock-pot with ginger, garlic and chilli and place the drumsticks on top. Mix the rest of the ingredients except the last two (spring onion and corn flour mixture) in a jug and pour over the chicken. Cook on low for 4 hours.

When the drumstick are cooked and tender after 4 hours, shift them to one side and transfer half of the liquid to a saucepan. Taste at this point and add more soy sauce and sugar if needed. Add corn flour mixture to the sauce pan and bring to the boil over medium high heat for several minutes. Stir frequently until the flour is well cooked and the liquid is thickened. Lift the drumsticks and place them in serving dish – return the thickened liquid to the crock-pot and stir with the rest cooking liquid to combine. Pour the liquid over the chicken and sprinkle with spring onion. Serve hot with rice.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Made with Love


I bought my first jewellery making kit almost 10 years ago – just to repair my old necklaces and that was the initial intention. However, I also bought some craft books and magazine and leaned from them how to make small jewellery pieces like ear rings and bracelets for friends. I have got into making these things– on and off, that is. Sometimes it is soothing and theraputic and a lot of time it is pretty fiddly and frustrating.

Early last month, I forgot one of my friends’ birthday until I checked with my list and it was only a day to go. I just came back from Bangkok and had been busy with catching up with paper work so didn’t have time to do other things much. The night before Dee’s birthday, I sat down with my collection of beads and my tool kit stringing the beads together into a bracelet.

This has got my creative juices flowing again – I am stocking up for special occasions for friends. Should it be their birthdays or Christmas, I will have little something for them. When I started way back when, the Internet resources were not as good and readily available like they are today - so I am also able to learn new designs and technique from YouTube, Pinterest and etc. With every piece that I made I would imagine what colour and what style would suit them so I put my thought into every bead that I put on to the wire.
They might not be swish or flash but they are made with love.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bonnie on Tree

Bonnie climbed up this tree in the park by herself so it’s not high or difficult. She might not look as graceful as Maddie on Things  but she cannot help it – her legs are too short and her bravery is next to zilch.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ayudhya Food – Fish Cakes @ Pae Krung Kao: The real McCoy

When we were in Ayudhya, we had lunch Pae Krung Kao, an old Thai restaurant by Pasak River, south eastern side of town. Pasak is one of the main rivers surrounding the Ayudhya Island. The restaurant is quite famous in Ayudhya and can be crowded with tourists on weekends and bank holidays. The food was good  – my favourite was this dish of fish cakes and cucumber relish. They were real McCoy. However, I have posted my own easy version here – if you are interested, that is. Not as good as theirs of course but you do not have to travel to Ayudhya – so I save you some money here!

We had a river view from our table. We saw tug boat with a long train of sand barges and directly across the river, there is this big white hotel. Have to say that I much prefer the look of Iudia.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ayudhya Here I Come – Part 3: Wat Chai Wattanaram

This temple is magnificent. If you are in Ayudhya, visit to this temple is a ‘must’ – spare at least an hour here. Admission is nominal about NZD4. The area was flooded back in 2011 but the Department of Fine Arts has worked hard to conserve and maintain it – but as with most historical structures, it will be an on-going work.


The temple of Chai Wattaram is on the western bank of Chao Praya River. It is one of the most impressive temples in Ayudhya built in King Prasat Thong’s reign in early 17th century in commemoration of his mother. However, Prince Damrong, one of Thailand’s most influential historians in the last century, also noted that it might be built to replicate some of the structural design of Ankor Wat in cerebration of the conquest of Longvek (Cambodia’s old capital).Wat Chai Wattaram is believed to be used as venue for royal religious ceremonies and funeral rites in its time. When the Burmese army invaded Ayudhya in 1767, the temple was sack and destroyed along with the others. The restoration of the temple commenced in 1987 and the site has been open to public in 1992.