Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cafe con leche Thai Style

When I was very young and spent most of my days with my aunties (on my father's side) - one was a house-wife and that's why she could look after me when my mother dropped me at her place in the morning before going to work. I was too young to remember many things but what I do vividly is the cafe scene in the narrow road where my aunt's marital home was on. Cafe might sound a bit too fancy - I don't know- but their main business was selling coffee. It was very old style coffee with big boiling kettle, coffee filter in a form of muslin bag that looked  like a wind sock with handle. Boiling water was pour into ground coffee in the filter - if you wanted strong coffee - your coffee would be pour back into this windsock  lookalike filter a couple times or more.

They sold all kinds of coffee (and tea), black, white, iced and so on. In the morning you could order Chinese style Beignets and very, very soft boiled eggs with your coffee for breakfast and in the afternoon you could have your coffee with caramel peanut and sesame crisps or even donuts. Coffee was served in thick glass (very chic!) If it was white coffee - they would pour a big amount of sweetened condense milk into the glass and it would sit at the bottom creating two contrasting layers.

Nowadays you can hardly find this sort of coffee in Thailand - maybe a few left mostly in the country where Cappuccino culture has not yet reached or become a norm. Never mind, I can do it myself at home - white coffee is quite delicious with the condense milk. Do try.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Yellow Cotton Flower (ดอกฝ้ายคำ หรือสุพรรณิการ์)

When I was Chiang Mai in February - I saw a lot of Yellow Cotton Trees with some flowers left on them and they were beautiful. I was told they are in their most glorious stage in January when in full bloom. You might have seen this tree in my post Nasi Jumpru a couple of weeks ago.  Yellow Cotton Tree is its common name and the botanical name is Cochlospermum regium. Its origin is in South America.

Along the route from Bangkok to Nakorn-nayok, North East of the Capital, there are miles and miles of Yellow Cotton Trees lining the road (closer to Nakorn-nayok than Bangkok) and in late January they say the road looks like it's paved with gold with the golden petals fallen from the trees. I will have to go to Thailand in January next year to witness the beauty of these flowers and walk on the path of gold.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stray Minestrone

The weather is now cooling down a bit but it's still quite nice and warm-ish for late April. Soup seems to be OK again for Sunday night when we do not want to eat anything too filling or heavy. My Minestrone soup is not traditional but it's not too bad.

For 2 you'll need:
1/2 cup Small Macaroni, cooked to al dente
1 Medium Potato, cubed
1 Medium Carrot, cubed
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 clove of Garlic, chopped
100 grams Bacon, chopped
750 mil. Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Cooked Chicken, shredded
1/1 can Dice Tomatoes in Juice
Salt & Pepper to taste
A big pinch of Sugar
A big splash of Dry Sherry
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
A bit of butter or oil for frying
Fresh Coriander or Parsley or Basil, chopped, to garnish

Fry chopped bacon in a heavy bottom pot until a bit brown - add onion and garlic and fry until soft. Add potato and carrot and fry further for about 2 minutes - add stock and chicken (I freeze cooked chicken in stock in plastic tubs - they will become handy when you make chicken based soup) bring to boil - cover with lid and simmer for about half an hour or so.

When the vegetables are well cooked and soft add half a can of diced tomato and macaroni. Add salt and pepper to taste.You can let it boil a bit further if you like your pasta a bit soft like I do. Add a pinch of sugar and a splash of sherry just before switching off the heat.

Garnish with Parmesan and chopped coriander. Serve hot with garlic bread.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Poppy Day

It will be our Poppy Day this Friday. I've got my Poppy last week. Have you got yours?

I went to the local bakery to buy bread and a lone old ex-serviceman was selling poppies in front of it. He might be old but still handsome with ramrod straight back. I saw him on the way in and intended to buy a poppy on the way back to the car.

I had paid for my bread with card and then realised I did not have any small notes in my wallet so I asked the girl at the till if I could change some. She was reluctant for 2 seconds but I went on to tell her that I needed some small notes so I could buy my poppy from the gentleman outside her shop - she just nodded and smiled and gave me the notes I asked for. ANZAC spirit is still alive and well for us all.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tree Cat

They say there are 2 kinds of cats - tree cats and bush cats. Pipi and Spike were bush cats. They liked lounging under the bush and shrubs  The highest they would go was on our fence. Stan, the cool cat, is a tree cat. He loves his trees, and he has his favorite one by the park where he can see humans that he likes (or tolerates) and maybe his pet mice are kept under the this tree as well. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chocolate Chip Biscuits

125 grams butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Sift flour and salt - set aside. Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add egg and vanilla extract, beat a few minutes further. Fold in flour mixture and mix to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough about a teaspoon each and roll into a ball. Place them on the paper lined baking sheet and flatten them with the back of a fork. Bake for approximately 14 minutes. Leave until cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Make about 45.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Chiang Mai Pt. 4: City Arts & Cultural Centre

If you visit Chiang Mai and have a couple of hours to spare you should pay Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre a visit. Here you can learn the history of the region 'Lanna'. 

The buildings themselves are 90 years old and used to be a city hall and home of Chiang Mai Province Authority until 15 years ago. When the authority and the offices moved out, the buildings have been turned into Arts & Cultural Centre. After walking through the exhibits for an hour or, you may choose to sit down to rest your feet at their coffee shop and have a cuppa or a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. My friend, Khan, opted for the latter but I had a glass of water - on the house. One thing that I will always remember here in Chiang Mai is the people's kindness and generosity - no doubt.

On Fridays they also have market in the square in front of the centre. If you come here on Friday you will be tempted to part with your money for some knick knacks and food. All week you can browse in the Centre's souvenir shop - the prices are reasonable. No price hackling here please, save that for the market:)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Thai Butterflies

One of my school friends is very keen photographer and her favourite subjects are insects and flowers. She often posts her photographs on our group chat forum. These two are my favourites.

The butterflies are different but the flowers are Zinnia flowers - very common and easy to grow in Thailand. Zinnias are colourful and all that but they lack charm and look like paper flowers most of the time. However, my dear friend seems to capture their hidden charm quite well.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Yesterday Once More

This is Bonnie when she was only 6 months old. Her ex-owner called her Monster - maybe because she was too pesky then. She is still pesky now - don't get me wrong!

It's a shame we didn't have a chance to see her when she was really, really little - blind and deaf and couldn't walk because we got her when she was 5 months old and weighed only 2 kgs. She is now almost 6 years old and 10 kgs heavier - still like a puppy to us but a well trained one.

Happy Easter to you all - travel safely if you are going away for the long weekend.