Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Modern Technology- only a dream

Rich, poor.....famous and not so famous, there are always plenty of smiles in areas like this on the river. It breaks my heart to know there are children in the world today who struggle to survive. But, this is life.......
Thrashing the grain from the stocks can be quite a challenge, especially on windy days. Notice the woman in the bottom photo is beating the rice stock with a stick. This goes on for hours a day. I loved the little girl's flip - flops! The next picture is a man standing beside a thrashing machine. How does he ever breath?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tonle Sap ~ Fresh Water River in Cambodia

Getting off the beaten path while traveling is something I think many of us really enjoy. Wish I could do it more often. There are endless surprises along the roads!
The body of water where I
photographed is actually a combined lake and river. It is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia. During the monsoon season, the river water is pushed up from the Mekong River into the lake. There is so much water that the nearby fields flood, along with many of the forests and farm lands. Hence, a flood plain which provides a perfect breeding ground for fish. Everyone fishes. After the fish are caught, they are dried and sold at the local markets ~ notice the person squatting on the makeshift drying platform. The fish are rotated several times a day to complete the natural drying process.
Life on the river continues with no interruptions when the flooding occurs. The school are floating as well as the grocery stores. Peddlers selling their wares go up and down the river all day long. Even the restaurants are floating~ cooking takes place right there on the drifting boats. Sometimes there is even a little time to play~

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Floating Islands ~ Iles Flottantes

Had one of those moments this afternoon wondering what could we have for dessert.....not that we really needed any tonight. Always some eggs, sugar and milk around, so off to the library!

5 large egg yolks.
1 t. vanilla.
2 1/4 cups of milk.
1/2 cup of turbinado sugar.

For the meringues
3 large egg whites.
1/3 cup of superfine sugar, plus 2 T. more.

Toasted, sliced almonds for garnish.
1/2 cup of turbinado sugar for the caramel.

I heated the milk in the microwave to give it a head start. Whisk the yolks in a bowl that can be placed in water. Fill a pan with at least one inch of water, place bowl in water and heat the egg mixture until a custard consistency. Keep whisking. This will take about seven to ten minutes. After the egg mixture has thickened, pour and cool in individual bowls and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool.

For the meringues, I was not to sure how all of this was going to shake out, but it did! Line a cookie sheet with a dish towel. Fill a skillet with water and bring water to a light boil. While the water is getting ready, beat the egg whites until soft peaks have formed, gradually adding the sugar. Take large spoons and gather up the egg whites and then drop into the simmering water. Simmer for thirty seconds on each side. Remove meringues with slotted spoon and place on the towel lined tray. Repeat until you have about ten to twelve meringues. You have just made the islands!

Place two meringues in each bowl and add the almonds. Heat up a small pan and add the sugar. Heat until it melts and turns golden in color. Drizzle the caramel on top of the meringues. Server warm or chilled.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Risotto pea soup with mint~

There is always a bag of peas in the freezer, right? My kids needed bags of frozen peas to place on injuries when they were playing sports in school. The formation of the bag on a knee or ankle seemed to do the trick. Now days, the peas just exist, tucked away waiting for some useful purpose.
Well, today they are being put to use~not the same peas......

Ingredients for soup:

1 onion, chopped finely.
3 T. butter.
1 cup of risotto.
1 1/2 quarts of chicken broth.
2 T. of olive oil.
6 oz. of chopped pancetta.
2 T. of chopped fresh mint.
Salt and pepper to taste.
grated parmesan cheese for topping.
1 12oz. bag of peas, thawed or fresh.

Melt butter in pan and add onion and ham. Cook over medium heat for five minutes or until the onions are translucent. Place half of the peas in a food processor with the olive oil until pureed. Add the rice to the onion mixture. Pour in the broth and the pureed pea mixture. Simmer for fifteen minutes, uncovered. Keep mixture stirred. Add the rest of the peas, salt and pepper and cook for another eight to ten minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir in the chopped mint. You can add a bit more broth is you feel the soup is too thick. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese. Serves four~ just a nice Spring soup!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let-us be creative!

Not only do the French have a gusto for food, presentation is right there next in line! Deciding on a centerpiece, according to Susan Loomis, should consist of no pressure and be fresh and enticing ~ how is this for enticement?
Susan concentrated on what was at hand and went from there. At an outdoor market located not too far from where we were cooking, Susan picked out some fresh herbs and tossed them along side this beautiful head of lettuce.To add a bit of color, she popped a few sweet grapes for contrast. Susan was able to turn something so simple into something spectacular with the wink of an eye ~ she constantly entertains a la Francaise. Now, my version was not as extensive, but I gave it a whirl and tried my hand with the raw ingredients at hand. My lettuce creation is the picture on the top. Try one yourself this Spring with all those beautiful green leaves from your garden.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nutmeg ~ topping off the rice pudding

To help celebrate the arrival of Spring, I splurged this afternoon by making one of my favorite desserts, rice pudding. I poured all of the whipping cream into the mixture leaving none for that little dab on the top. Then I remembered that special little jar tucked away in the spice drawer. As soon as the top was twisted off, I could tell this was indeed going to be a treat.
I started buying whole nutmeg a while ago. Now it is difficult to use anything else. I love the color that is exposed as it slowly shrinks in size. There is such a difference in the taste by grating it yourself. I was in Whole Foods in January and they were selling (giving) plastic containers filled with the nuts for 25 cents. I grabbed up as many as I could and passed them out to all my friends. Never knew so much excitement could be created by such a little nut~

A few of you may be aware that I opened a store sometime ago. I have dedicated all my time to that business and my family and have not had the time to keep up with posting. I have missed
reading so many of your posts and
looking at the great photos of your creations ~ things are slowing down and I have a bit of free time which I have not had in months! Hopefully, I can now do some catching up!