Tag Archives: Balsamic Vinegar

This week in my kitchen…Store cupboard basics…Vinegar, Sauces, and Condiments…

This week in store cupboard basics I will be covering items which are perfect for serving with dishes at the table but also great for adding flavour and bite to our cooking…


vinegars bottle-589_640

As a child, I only recall ever having malt vinegar with our fish and chips on our winkles and cockles and used for my mum’s homemade pickles... it was only as we started to travel and taste other cuisines that it opened up the world of vinegar and now I don’t just have malt vinegar but white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, white or red wine vinegar even fruit vinegar…

On the subject of vinegar, it is worth buying a good quality vinegar as it has a longer shelf life. Here in Thailand, there are many kinds of vinegar and most of the labels are in Thai, however, the one word which stood in my search for the kinds of vinegar I use was artificial…That sent me scuttling home for a chat with Mr Google…I mean those of you who know me expect no less…

What did I discover?…

Artificial vinegar” is acetic acid that is made by a chemical process.

Natural vinegar” is acetic acid that is made in a biological process using the Acetobacter aceti bacteria. If the “natural vinegar” is distilled, it is very difficult to tell the difference between it and the “artificial vinegar.”

No great shakes then it seems but suspicious Annie here believes…Not much…lol… So I will not be buying it…You get what you pay for…


Since living here the world of sauces has opened up for me…I always buy the best I can and read the labels…

Soy Sauce... Often used as a dipping sauce for sushi…

sushi soy-933550_640

It is made from fermented soybeans, soy sauce is salty and adds a rich rounded flavour to Asian style stir-fries, glazes and sauces. One of the best-known soy products it originated in China and has been used in cooking for over 1,000 years.

Traditional soy sauce is made by soaking soybeans in water and roasting and crushing the wheat. Then the soybeans and wheat are mixed with a culturing mould, most commonly Aspergillus, and left for two to three days to develop.

Next, water and salt are added, and the entire mixture is left in a fermenting tank for five to eight months, though some types may age longer.

High-quality soy sauce uses only natural fermentation. These varieties are often labelled “naturally brewed.” The ingredients list will usually only contain water, wheat, soy and salt.

Like the vinegar, we now get to the chemically produced soy sauces …Chemical production is a much faster and cheaper method of making soy sauce. This method is known as acid hydrolysis, and it can produce soy sauce in a few days instead of many months. The taste is also inferior and in Japan soy produced this way cannot be labelled as soy.

In my cooking here I use either soy, light soy, black soy or mushroom soy…I always spend more and buy naturally fermented soy sauces a little goes a long way particularly with the black soy as you use just a tiny dash not even half a tsp per dish.

Tomato Ketchup…

If you see and add for burger or fries it will invariably have ketchup in the picture and I know many people who have tomato ketchup with everything…

jacket potato and ketchup

I keep a small bottle in the fridge ...as it is not something even the grandkids eat now we live here…maligned for the amount of added sugars it contains all I will say is moderate your intake or make your own…Not something I do often as I only use it if I make a seafood sauce or sweet and sour sauce which isn’t often…

Worcestershire Sauce…

A thin brown some say very spicy sauce which brings a piquant flavour to casseroles, stews and soups…

Oyster Sauce…

Oyster sauce describes a number of sauces made by cooking oysters. The most common in modern use is a viscous dark brown condiment made from oyster extracts, sugar, salt and water thickened with corn starch. Some versions may be darkened with caramel, though the high-quality oyster sauce is naturally dark. It is commonly used in Cantonese, Thai, Malay, Vietnamese and Khmer cuisines.

On my daughter-in-law’s advice, I buy a premium Oyster sauce made here in Thailand…It has no Msg, added colours, artificial flavours and is gluten-free.

Fish Sauce…

Is a liquid condiment made from fish or krill that have been coated in salt and fermented for up to two years…It is also a sauce I have come to love…Due to its ability to impart a savoury umami flavour to dishes, it has been embraced globally by chefs and home cooks. The umami flavour in fish sauce is due to its glutamate content. Soy sauce is regarded by some in the West as a vegetarian alternative to fish sauce though they are very different in flavour.

Fish sauce is not only added to dishes as a seasoning but also used as a base in dipping sauces. for both fish, meat, vegetables and fruit…Our little Lily puts it on her passionfruit…

Curry pastes and powders…

As all the curry pastes I have come across where I live are made locally…For example, Massaman Curry paste is more of a Southern Thai dish so not so many available pastes here…Because I can buy fresh pastes I buy as I need it and also ship it around the world as my friends and family love them so much and are always requesting more…

We also eat Indian at least once a week for that I make my own spices usually enough for 4/6 curries it also means I have a good rotation of dried spices which in the humidity here do not have such a long shelf life…

This is my recipe for Chettinad Masala Powder…


  • 16 dried red chillies
  • 4 tsp of black pepper
  • 3 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp dried unsweetened coconut
  • 4 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-star anise
  • 8 cloves
  • 4 x 1-inch sticks of cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 20 fresh/dried curry leaves

Dry roast all the ingredients you may have to do this in a couple of batches depending on your pan but be careful not to burn the spices.

Transfer to a plate or dish and allow to cool down before grinding to a powder.

Store in a sealed container in a  cool dry place and use as required.

For the complete Masala, curry recipe click here


I grew up eating Colemans English mustard  …in a ham sandwich, with cold meats, added to a cheese sauce or cheese scones now, of course, there are so many different varieties of mustard…

I generally except for Dijon mustard make my own as mustard if available here is very expensive and for the smallest of pots…

wholegrain mustard 1

I did not realise how easy it was to make and the difference in the taste…How does that look not bad for a beginner…It took a few goes until I got it just right for our tastes but it pretty good and so easy to do just 5 ingredients one of which is water…Homemade Mustard…

Tomato Puree…

Tomato purée is a thick liquid made by cooking and straining tomatoes. The difference between tomato paste, tomato purée, and tomato sauce is consistency; tomato puree has a thicker consistency and a deeper flavour than sauce.

I use it when I am making meat sauces, spag bol, chilli or pizza bases…although I always blitz my own tomatoes for sauces and never buy tinned I always keep a spare tin of puree to get that intensity of flavour to me it is not worth making due to the amount and frequency that I use…Once the can is opened it freezes well.

By now you should have a pretty well-stocked cupboard of store cupboard basics…

I hope you are finding these posts on store cupboard basics helpful…It does take time (and) money to build up a store cupboard which is why I am breaking it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who are not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Until next week when in my store cupboard basics it will be dried spices…

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 well being.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there are now regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…

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 a relaxing weekend xx

Halloween Recipes….Will you dare to try??

Halloween…not something really celebrated here in sunny Thailand but I know my American family celebrate Halloween big time…..So I have put on my researcher’s cap and found an interesting recipe for black burger buns and black burgers which are made from black beans so this one is for all my veggie friends…

A lovely pumpkin soup with which no Halloween table should be without and not forgetting the kiddiwinks some lovely little ghost cakes…all in all, something for everyone from the wacky ( I will try ) anything to my little fairy friends who love a cake or two….



Makes 12 cakes.

8 oz butter plus extra for greasing
8 oz castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs
8 oz self-raising flour
Icing sugar for dusting
12 cake cases for baking and a muffin tin

1 x 24 oz box white rolled fondant icing
1 tube of black Writing Icing

Orange and green gel colouring if doing the pumpkin cakes.

Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time adding a tbsp of flour with each egg. Beat well and fold in the remaining flour gently. If your mix is a little thick add some milk.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spoon the batter into the cake cases and fill each cake case until just over half full. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Dust your work surface with the icing sugar and roll out the fondant icing. Cut out circles to drape over the cakes. You can use a saucer as a guide. Drape these over the sponge cakes to form ghosts. From the trimmings either use a mini cutter to cut out some tiny white oval shapes or roll out some tiny balls of white icing into oval shapes. Dampen them with a little water and stick them onto the front of the ghost. Use a blob of black writing icing for the pupils of the eyes.

To make the little pumpkin ones just add a little gel food colouring to the white fondant icing and mark and decorate as per the picture.

Even the kids would love to help decorate theses as they are so easy to make and it would be such fun for them.

My recipe for Squash/pumpkin soup.

butternut squash soup with bread


1 small squash/pumpkin, peeled and deseeded. Cut into pieces.
1 brown onion, peeled and cut up
1 carrot washed and cut
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
Piece fresh ginger finely chopped
3 Broccoli stalks, peeled and cubed (I always save the broccoli stalks) for when I make soup. Waste not, want not and I think it is ideal for soups for flavour.
1-1½ litres fresh chicken stock or stock cubes.

Let’s Cook!
Heat a glug of olive oil and gently cook garlic ginger and onion to just soften and not colour.
Add other vegetables gradually and cook while stirring for about 5 minutes, then add stock and seasoning.
Simmer gently for about an hour or until vegetables are lovely and soft and remove from heat. I let it cool down a little before I blend.
This makes a lovely vegetable soup but I also use it as a base and freeze in portions.
When I reheat the soup I add little-dried chilli flakes and 1 or 2 tbsp of coconut milk.
It just gives it a creamy flavour.
Sometimes I add crushed lemongrass stalk and a little fish sauce, it depends on how I feel, it is a versatile soup base so play with it, have fun.
Add some curry powder, a squeeze or 2 of lime juice or coriander, whatever you fancy.

For Halloween, this soup would also look very nice served in a hollowed out pumpkin.


Halloween Black Squid ink sauce.

A  dark, spooky looking little sauce to whip up to add to your burgers on Halloween if you dare!


Squid Ink…some places sell just the ink or if you want to get down and messy you can extract your own ink from the squid. I haven’t given quantities as it will vary from person to person as to the taste… Have fun and experiment!

Tomato Ketchup, Balsamic Vinegar and Salt n Pepper to season.

Really easy add all the ingredients together and whisk to combine adjust to taste as necessary…Simples…

Now for the piece de resistance.

Charcoal burger with a black bean burger patty.

black bean burger

Full instructions are given here..yes I chickened out making it myself..The recipe comes complete with warnings about charcoal and the best one to use …It is actually a very good post with some awesome comments and tips as well…I will hand you over to the very capable Purgatory Burger maker

If you do make one please let me know how it turned out… But wouldn’t they look awesome at your Halloween party and no nasty colourings or anything… Are you going to be braver than me????

I hope you enjoy these slightly unusual recipes.Have a lovely weekend, stay safe and laugh a lot as it’s Free and not much in this life is now….



Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Cook From Scratch with Sally and Carol – Asparagus

Wow..Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun, writing, cooking and eating…Oh, Yes! Post Numero 5 of Sally’s and Carol’s collaboration are you enjoying it??? Because we are and the response has been really great so thank you, everyone,, xxxx Lots more to come and so is Christmas so It’s time to start baking that Christmas Pudding and making that mincemeat … Just saying!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to this week’s post where Carol Taylor and I combine forces and share not just the health benefits of foods but some recipes to showcase them in all their glory. I appreciate that these posts are longer than the average but we hope that you feel that you are getting value for your time…

My thanks to Carol for her hard work in the kitchen preparing these wonderful recipes.

Asparagus is a member of the lily family and the spears that we eat are shoots grown underground. The ancient Greeks used the word asparagus to describe any young tender shoots that were picked and eaten. It was cultivated over 2,000 years ago in that part of the Mediterranean and the Romans then picked up a liking for the delicacy eating fresh and dried out of season.

Asparagus became such a delicacy that the Romans went one…

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