Category Archives: Udon Thani

Thailand…Down on the farm…. making charcoal…

Every day is BBQ day here…In fact, an open fire is how many people here still cook… When you pick up a bag or two of charcoal when you do your weekly or monthly shop? Do you know how charcoal is made? or maybe you don’t even use charcoal you have an electric or gas BBQ.

Come with me and I will show you how charcoal is made in the villages here…

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 is 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.

SAM_8713

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.

carbon-592598_1920 charcoal

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.

SAM_8461

Cooking the steak

This is a time-consuming and backbreaking 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 … 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.

The last time I was here I ate the softest tenderest piece of steak with the hottest chilli sauce(ever) I declined the Mek Hong it was too early for me ..although it is known as Thai Whisky it is actually a spiced rum…Still very potent and too many and you wouldn’t be standing you would be Mau(drunk)

Back to BBQ, I won’t be cooking over a small charcoal fire unless it is a proper 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!

Thank you for reading about my life in Thailand I do hope you enjoy it 🙂

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there will be more on this on my blog this year

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have had a creative week and enjoy the weekend xx

Khao Soi and my favourite restaurants in Udon Thani

Travel Thailand Udon Thani

Khao Soi is a lovely rich coconut curry noodle soup… And is one of my all-time favourite Thai dishes.

Khao Soi originated from here in the North and holds almost iconic status..said to originate from the Chiang Mai area the name means ” cut rice” in Thai although it is thought the word originates from the Burmese word for noodles and is a corruption of the word Khao swe.

Khow Soi

 

My quest for Khao Soi began when I lived In Phuket myself and my friend Annie made a sort of pact to find the best Khao Soi… Only found in a handful of restaurants there we quickly found our favourite made by a woman who originated from Chiang Mai and only served in her restaurant on a Friday and Saturday lunchtime…

Since moving up to the  North of Thailand I have continued my quest to find the best Khao Soi…

This little restaurant was the first place we came across in my quest to find and sample this iconic coconut soup…

Khao Soi- Udon-

A slight difference in the look of the two but both tasted awesome the second beig more rustic.Made using not only chicken but pork or beef this Khao Soi did not disappoint…Not as creamy as my favourite coconut soup as coconut milk is not used as much in the curries here in the North of Thailand it is also made using chicken on the bone which makes a soup more tasty I think…in the South being more of a tourist destination the food is what I call a little more refined…westernised in fact.

khow soi sign udon

Taste wise this certainly did not disappoint and they didn’t hold back on the chilli…

It was certainly a hot, spicy bowl of delicious coconut curry soup. Topped with crispy fried noodles it now holds the top spot jointly with my favourite from the South of Thailand… Served with a side of Thai pickled cabbage ( Pak Dong) and chopped shallots, lime and a very hot spicy fried chilli paste which is only for the brave… the flavours have a party in your mouth.

The food here in the North of Thailand is definitely hotter and what I describe as real Thai food…Often the food here has no frills but is just good tasty food…I generally stick to roadside stalls or small Thai restaurants frequented by the locals as this is where the best Thai food can be found.

Beautiful Picture of Steamed Fish 25 rest I think

Another of my favourites ” The Spice House” Is located inside Central Festival a modern shopping centre with mostly large chains of fast food shops…This little gem is tucked away on the 3rd floor, frequented mainly by Thais it serves authentic very tasty Thai food…always very nicely presented and as the name infers ” spicy” in fact, it is Thai spicy and certainly packs a punch… The fish fried with ginger and garlic is a must to try as is their duck larb.

Nong Prajak lake Udon Thani is home to some great little food places.

Salt-fish-Thai

BBQ Salt Fish

They mainly offering BBQ salted fish served with Som Tam and sticky rice with a generous plate of fresh herbs and vegetables. Situated on Tasa Road it is lovely sitting here overlooking the lake and watching the world go by…

The fish is always lovely, fresh and very tasty… There will also sometimes be BBQ chicken livers on skewers and banana wrapped parcels of either fish or sticky rice with red beans…

Early evening at the lake you will find aerobics classes held in the open air just join in or hop on one of the gym machines situated around the lake and pedal away whilst watching the world go by then you can treat yourself to a lovely Thai massage to ease those aching limbs again all situated around this lovely lake so you can enjoy the view and dream…

I find here in the North there are not very many places which sell western food unless you go to the shopping malls and the Thai food is cooked the local Thai way and that is that… But it is how I like it…Real Thai food not westernised …

One of my favourite restaurants is tucked away up a little Soi( side road) quite close to my home on Posri Road and which I discovered quite by chance I am so pleased that I did as the food that comes out of that little open kitchen is just awesome..my favourite is fish with fresh peppercorn sauce..( which) he told me takes him 3 hours to make that amazing sauce…I could eat it every day and never tire of it…That sauce is to die for…In the mornings the chef has his pork drying out in the sunshine for his very tasty sun-dried pork but his braised pork called Khao Ka Moo is another of my all time favourites it just melts in your mouth and explodes with the taste of cloves and cinnamon…I am in foodies heaven when I go there…I am the only European person there and I am greeted with those lovely smiles and an even lovelier plate of food…

If you have ever eaten Khao Ka Moo and enjoyed it then here is the recipe which you can make in your own kitchen at home…Tried and tested by Moi x… The recipe for Khao Ka Moo

I hope you have enjoyed the posts this week as I have taken you to some of my favourite places in and around Udon Thani, Thailand.

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this post please share… Thank you x

If you really want to see even more from me????

I am a crazy English lady with a quirky sense of humour…Still, want to see more from me???

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Until  next time xxx

Papaya Salad…. one of Thailands iconic dishes.

Papaya Salad Som Tam

Papaya Salad or as it is known here, Som Tam.

One of my favorite dishes which is eaten with nearly every meal and sold everywhere on markets, by the roadside with lovely chicken or fish and a dish that I would say every visitor to Thailand will sample and remember.

You will see the trees growing everywhere in gardens, by the roadside and waste land we have at least  6 in our garden alone and not sure how many on the farm and have planted one outside our house so that anyone passing can help themselves.

The papaya tree laden with fruit:

Papaya on tree

 

For those of you who are not lucky enough to be able to buy green Papaya then here is the recipe for you and some alternatives if you can’t buy green papaya.

Ingredients:

A Green Papaya…1 papaya unless you are making a huge dish full will make at least 3 two serving portions. If you keep it covered or put in a plastic bag it keeps very well in the fridge and doesn’t go brown like some fruits and vegetables once peeled.

  • 1 Carrot
  • Handful cherry Tomatoes or 2/3 med sized tomatoes.
  • 2 long green beans.
  • Dried shrimp (optional)
  • 1 Lime
  • 4/5 birds eye chillies
  • Fish Sauce.
  • Sm amount of palm sugar about a half teaspoon.

Method:

Shred green Papaya and Carrot.

Cut tomatoes up roughly in smallish pieces or cherry tomatoes in half.

Put the chilli, sugar and little fish sauce in pestle and mortar and pound away.

Add papaya, carrots, tomatoes and dried shrimps ( a bit at a time) and keep pounding.

Add lime juice and the lime cheeks, peel ..all of it….. a little more pounding, stir and serve.

Tip 1: TASTE, Taste and taste again because it is about balancing those hot, salty, sweet, sour tastes of Thai Food and your personal taste.

I find that in papaya salad the heat of the chilli is more pronounced so if you only like a little heat start with half a chilli or 1….and TASTE……lime juice and fish sauce the same… taste……..Thai food is all about balancing of the sweet, sour, spicy, salty flavours so once again TASTE as it’s very personal and individual…

I love the fish sauce so I am probably..well… nought probable about it… I am….bit free and easy with it…..but that’s my taste and maybe not yours ……I am now becoming in danger of overusing a word…but TASTE…….

Tip 2: If you cannot get Green Papaya where you live then you can use shredded Cucumber or Swede as a substitute. Both are good and particularly with the swede unless you are a connoisseur of Papaya Salad then it would be hard to call.

Another variation on the Papaya is substituting shredded  Green Bananas ..I have not seen it made everywhere… it seems to be more regional but it was good, very good.

I hope you enjoy my little recipes they are not all precisely measured but just how we do it here ….whatever we have goes in the pot or pestle i.e the addition of crab ( in its shell) and yes you do get mucky fingers because again it’s eating with what you were born with.

Som Tam with Phla

Oh, and you serve Papaya Salad with Khao Neow (sticky rice), Chicken or fish..fresh veggies of your choice….

Whatever you fancy and this is one of my favourites and so many variations..but I have found me a little man who makes it just the way I like it… Sometimes I just want to eat and the beauty of Thai street food is it is just like it has come from your own kitchen… How fresh does that  Papaya look? Freshly shredded…

SAM_7497

So when I am on my morning walk …I tell my favourite papaya man I will be 30 mins or however long I think I may be..pick up my fresh coconut juice and then my Som Tam and maybe some freshly cooked chicken on the way back home …

I am so blessed that I have such lovely food on my doorstep.

I hope you enjoyed this post if you did please share or reblog as I am sure at least one of your friends would also love the recipe for an authentic Papaya salad and sharing is caring…

It is simple food at it’s best…

Until next time stay safe, have fun AND laugh a lot as laughter is the best medicine and IT’S FREE so please also do me a favour…ASK a question because as you know…I love it when I hear someone question something, please don’t be a follower be a questioner and ask!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

SAM_8713

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.

carbon-592598_1920 charcoal

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.

SAM_8461

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

 

Thank you for reading about my life in Thailand I do hope you enjoy it 🙂

 

Wat Pa Phu Kon, Issan, Northern Thailand

Standing proud on top of a hill in 400 acres of lush green fields and forests  surrounded by other hills  is this beautiful little known temple, unless you have a Thai connection or live in Issan many people are not aware that it even exists. It has a stunning aqua blue roof and literally sparkles in the sunlight and the blue of the roof reflect of the blue sky so there this is shimmering bright blue aura around the temple, it is sight to behold.

It is very popular with Thais and we arrived on one of the busiest of days a holy Buddha day luckily we had left early but even so the queue for the trucks to take us to the top of the hill was fairly long but we were shaded by the trees which surround this lovely temple.

You can drive to the top of the hill but on busy days like this they have trucks to ferry you upwards as the car park at the top is very small for the amount of cars there would be.

The dress code is very strict here. No sleeveless t/shirts or blouses, No shorts or skirts above the knee. Thai style skirts or trousers will be lent to you in the event your dress is unsuitable.

It is quite a new temple and very clean and bright it has spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and although very busy on this holy Buddha day has an aura of peace and calm.

Nga snakes guard the entrance to the main temple and inside is a stunning white marble reclining Buddha which is made out of 43 blocks of exquisite Italian Carrara marble each weighing 15-30 tons each block. The cost of building this  was in excess of 50 million baht and was a generous donation by an elderly Thai lady in honour of the king.This temple also houses  lots of carvings and numerous other Buddha images in gold and marble. The wall painting show a story of ten reincarnations of Buddha. It is beautiful to see.

We were met with the sight of many people holding prayer mats and walking and praying as they circled the reclining Buddha, it is lovely to see people laying bare their faith and love for Buddha it is something which always humbles me here wherever people feel the need to pray  they do…..

If you live in Issan or ever travel to here it is a beautiful temple and worth the visit.The isolation and peaceful natural environment makes this an ideal place for meditation so if you crave solitude and tranquility then this is the place for you.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour around this lovely temple.

Until next time stay safe and laugh a lot and if you want to share this post with your friends I would be honoured.

Wat Tung Tookham, Udon Thani, Thailand.

 

After the normal..you know.. Weekend food shopping etc

We decided to take a trip out and just 15km from Udon Thani Town is Wat Tung Tookham …well we went round the houses a bit and then were pointed to this little, very little soi….Big Red men Working sign across entrance….

So we travelled along a bit and thought nought here… so went back just as said workman was removing his barrier…Ah ha so down this track we went ..just one car wide and now we saw signs …so we followed the signs through a little Thai village and there it was…. Looking a bit in need of some TLC….not a bit like the pics in the tourist brochure…

It is a charming temple ..we were the only visitors and the only human life we saw were 2 lone monks and 5 laughing children… as well as Buffalo grazing in the field..it was lovely!

 

Some of the many Buddhas here are covered in Thai coins, both old and new and with the sun on them they glisten and this is made even lovelier as the temple is among the trees… it was so calm and peaceful.

Beneath the temple is a spirit ball and holy water seeps through the floor..this is a little temple which is only opened during important holy days so people can collect some water…  the water is said to bring good luck.

The roof and walls of this temple are adorned with over 8,400 images of Phra Somdej Wat Rakhang ( Amulets) it is very beautiful.

Close by is also a Thai Silk Village so if you like traditional Thai clothes then it is the place to shop.

By this time we were starving so headed back to Udon Town and joined the hordes who were eating seafood along the front of the shops it was very busy and then I had my first fried ice cream??? No pics I afraid… too hungry… will take them next time as it was all lovely, freshly cooked succulent mussels and ?….That’s just your taster for another time…I am kind to you guys … Ha Ha

 

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