Not So Healthy Lunch!

2015-04-15_1357_0019  Sometimes I just want comfort food, something simple and yummy. I love warm bread with fresh lemon curd BUT lemons are not easy to get here so my Cambodian twist on it is orange, passion fruit and lime curd. Also the bread really has to be freshly made and not this nasty bought stuff, it is the anticipation when you smell the bread cooking! I had to make do with my gluten free bread but it still tasted nice.

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  • 3/4 c juice
  • 1cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c cooled melted butter
  • 1 TBS zest from oranges or limes
  1. Juice of 1 orange, 2 passion fruit and about 10 limes to make up 3/4 cup juice (make sure you sieve it to remove pulp and seeds)
  2. Whisk the eggs in the juice until they are mixed throughrally
  3. Add sugar, butter and zest and mix
  4. Cook at 1 min intervals on high, stir each time with a metal spoon until the mixture turns thicker and coats the back of a spoon
  5. Put in sterilized jars and put the lids on and allow to cool before eating.

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  • 1/2 tsp yeast mixed with 1TBS sugar and 140mls warm water. Mix and leave to begin to bubble
  • Mix in 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 TBS oil
  • 200 mls water
  1. mix all the ingredients together and knead for about 15 mins until smooth and silky.
  2. Put in a bowl and cover and allow to rise for 45-50mins until double the size
  3. Shape into a loaf and put in a greased pan. Cover and leave about 30-40 mins until double the size.
  4. Cook for 35 mins at 180-200. You will know it is finished if it has a nice golden crust and has a hollow sound when you tap it. Allow to cool for about 20 mins before eating.
  5. Alternatively you can put it in a bread maker and follow the makers instructions.

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Easter 2015 Cambodian Style

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When I think of Easter I dream of blue skies, daffodils, hot cross buns, roast lamb dinner with friends and family, Easter day services at church, walk in the spring sunshine where you are not quite sure if you need to take a coat and of course Easter egg hunt in the garden. In Cambodia, it is important to do things that are significant in our home culture but  this version of Easter is quite difficult to replicate.

First of all the temperature at the moment is about 37 degrees and sometimes 75% humidity, so we have blue skies but no fresh Spring weather or daffodils.When you move you sweat, so definitely no desire to go for a walk.

Then no one here celebrates Easter so there is nothing in the shops unless you know where to go! Easter Eggs are nearly impossible to find however after trawling Phnom Penh I found some very yummy Easter eggs at The Shop on St 240. I managed to smuggle them in and hide them in the fridge for three days and none of my children found them! We did a chocolate coin hunt round the house and ended with the chocolate eggs which had quickly been removed from the fridge!

At school I did an activity where the students found 12 different items which told the Easter story from Good Friday to Easter Sunday based on the idea of Resurrection Eggs activity. We then repeated this on Sunday with our guests. I like it as it is a very visual way of thinking about different parts of Easter.

Hot cross buns have to be hand made and this year Colin and Lucia got to make them and did a great job. I did not make any gluten free ones yet so maybe I will have a go soon.

I bought some duck eggs and we blew them until all the egg white and yolk was outside then we dyed them with food colouring and vinegar. These were put on the table as decoration with sharpie pens so that our guests could decorate them.

On Easter Sunday while the lamb was roasting I went out for a high tea with some friends from church at Sugar and Spice.

As for family they are too far away so this year we decided to invite anyone from church who would appreciate a roast lamb dinner. There ended up being 23 of us from UK, US, France, Scotland/Korea and Cambodia. We managed to find a NZ leg of Lamb which was delicious from Smokey Dah Boar, mint jelly from Thai Huot. It was a lovely meal with lots of fun people who we love doing life with, so Easter Cambodian style was not much different, except with the very hot weather and minus immediate family.

Pchum Ben

We have just had a week off school as Cambodia celebrates Pchum Ben. I have written about it in a previous post so if you want to know more then read here
The celebrations for Pchum Ben start 16 days before the actual holiday with very early chanting from the monks at the nearby wat (sometimes as early as 4.30 depending on who has arrived at the wat and requires the monk to chant) So this month has been somewhat sleep deprived!
As people are leaving offerings at each wat for their deceased relatives inside and outside the wat will be these piles of food with a cut out of a person or skeleton. Normally I don’t see them but this year I noticed them outside a nearby wat.

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As this is one of the holidays where shops could be closed for up to a week, many Cambodians return to their family in the provinces. It is a time where Phnom Penh is super quiet especially on the roads and the roads going out of Phnom Penh can be busy, so we have always stayed at home and just had a quiet week. This year was no exception! After the actual Pchum Ben day on Wednesday the wat fell blissfully silent and a lie in was actually possible!
I finally finished a project I started 6 weeks ago before school started to make a giant family planner for the wall. Giant it is… and also very bright!

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We were also able to get away to a local hotel with a nice quiet pool where they let you swim as a day visitor…well it was quiet until we arrived! We were the only people using it and it was a nice break from the house. We then finished off the day out with a meal at Divine Pizza.

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Great British Bake Off

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We have finally managed to get BBC iplayer here in Cambodia and to my delight have been able to watch the Great British Bake Off each week. We have been watching it with our lovely friend Ha-na, who was a runner up contestant on last years GBBO, which has been really fun.The only trouble is while you are watching it you just have to eat something and afterwards you just want to bake something yummy!! So this week in honour of GBBO I made a gluten free orange and lime drizzle cake. I thought I would share with all my coeliac friends out there or anyone who fancies a slightly different recipe. As you can see from my picture there was not much left!

Gluten Free Orange and Lime Drizzle Cake

  • 6 oz margarine
  • 6 oz white sugar
  • 2 oz rice flour
  • 2 oz buckwheat flour
  • 2 oz potato starch flour
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tsp gf baking powder
  • 1 tsp xantham gum or honey
  • zest of 1 orange and 3 limes
  • juice of 1 orange and 4 limes
  1. Beat the margarine and sugar until fluffy
  2. Add the eggs and beat until smooth
  3. Add all the remaining dry ingredients and fold in until smooth
  4. Pour in 2-3 tsp of orange and lime juice and half of the zest and mix well
  5. Divide evenly between two round cake tins and bake at 180 for about 20-25 mins.
  6. When the cake springs back to the touch, take it out of the oven and prick all over with a fork. Carefully pour nearly all the remaining citrus juice slowly over the cake allowing it to soak in around the middle and edges of the cake. Put back in the oven for about 2-3 minutes to let the glaze set.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining zest over the cake and pour the a tiny bit more citrus juice over the cake. Allow to cool.
  8. Between the cakes you can either put a citrus butter icing, marmalade or lime curd.

We had run out of icing and had no lime curd so ate 1 layer at a time straight out of the oven still warm. Very yummy!!! I know if a gluten free cake is successful….there is never much left over for me to eat later!

Masaman Curry Recipe

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This is a delicious curry I learned how to make while growing up in Thailand. When I was at school, my classroom was next to the kitchen. Maths lessons were just before lunch and I would find the preparations in the kitchen much more stimulating than my maths class. I would watch the lady cooking and see the ingredients she put in. Also my mum is an excellent cook and this is one of the curry’s she is best at making. She know exactly how to adapt and change the flavour to make it just so by tweaking the amounts of tamarind, fish sauce and sugar. Normally we would use a Masaman curry paste but I have discovered that the only difference from a normal red curry paste is the addition of cinnamon and star aniseed. If you use a Masaman curry paste you can omit these two ingredients.
I am still terrible at maths but I love making this curry and I think it tastes good so I must have learnt something!!!

This curry is best made with beef and is mainly popular in the south of Thailand. It is usually quite spicy with a thick creamy sweet, sour and salty flavour. Its secret ingredients are sweet tamarind and cinnamon which give it a unique taste.
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Ingredients:
250 mls coconut cream (thicker than coconut milk)
2 TBS oil
1 garlic clove
1 small onion sliced
2-3 TBS Thai Red Curry Paste
1 tsp cinnamon
250g lean beef
1-2 TBS sweet tamarind sauce
1 tsp sugar
3 TBS fish sauce
250 mls coconut milk
2 small potatoes peeled and cubed
2 TBS roast peanuts
1-2 star aniseed
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1. Fry the garlic and add the curry paste. Stir for a few minutes then add half the coconut cream.
2. Stir fry until the oil starts coming to the surface then add the remaining coconut cream.
3. Add the beef and stir until outside of beef is cooked.
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4. Add tamarind. sugar, fish sauce and cinnamon. Cook for 15 mins
5. Add the coconut milk, potatoes, peanuts, star aniseed and onions.
6. allow to simmer for about 30-50 mins until potatoes are tender.
7. Serve with jasmine rice.

Note: This curry tastes even better the day after it has been made as the flavours have time to mature.

Birthdays, AEON Mall and Ice-cream

One thing we decided when we arrived in Cambodia to help us adjust to life here was to set up some new traditions or family events. One of our favourite traditions is on someones birthday they get to choose somewhere to go to eat ice-cream. Over the last five years we have alternated between Swenson’s, Blue Pumpkin and Snow Yogurt.
This weekend it was my birthday and I chose to go to the new AEON Mall which has a nice ice-cream shop called TOTO. Very chilled out and girly!

TOTO

TOTO


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Blue Sky Signature Smoothie

Blue Sky Signature Smoothie

Mocha

Mocha


The new mall is the first one in Cambodia that has outside brand names as well as well known quality brands in Cambodia. It was strange walking around a mall that made you feel like you were in Bangkok or even England. It is new, shiny and clean! There are brands like Costa Coffee, Burger King, Mango, Toni&Guy which I know from England. There are also lots of well known Korean, Thai and Japanese brands. It also has a Cinema, Bowling, and Ice Park as well as a nice World Food restaurant section.
It is nice to see opportunities opening up in Cambodia but the reality is at the moment many of the Cambodians I know could only window shop. (Looking at the prices in some shops think I will also be window shopping most of the time!) However it is lovely to have a sparkling, clean air-con mall to wander round in and remind me of home!
I’m not sure if Colin enjoyed the nearly 3 hours of shopping to explore the new mall but he said the ice-cream was good!

Outside AEON Mall

Outside AEON Mall


Lucia in front of Papa Beard

Lucia in front of Papa Beard


At home I got to eat a lovely gluten free carrot cake which Lucia had made for me!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Fun Learning Language

One of the things we have always tried to make a priority is to learn Khmer. Ideally this should be done full time for about 18 months for someone to be fluent….with my job that will never happen. The temptation is to give up or not bother but for me talking to someone in their heart language is so important even if I can only communicate a little. So I keep plodding on little by little.Image

Normally I have my lesson during the school day but today is a holiday so I decided to have my lesson with my teacher at the market, much to the amusement of my local market sellers!!! I found out what the names of some of the more strange vegetables were and realized I did know quite a few already.

Some foreigners are a little wary of the market as it is a little crazy, noisy, smelly and looks dirty (underfoot) but I have found the produce to be extremely fresh and most of all I have to practice my Khmer. The sellers are very patient and helpful and sometimes I find really interesting and lovely tasting food.

Yesterday I found a seller who had these deep fried breads which tasted very similar to Indian piri piri bread and they went well with the pork Dansak which I had taught Sambath to make.

While I was at the market I bought ingredients for one of our family favorites, pumpkin and coriander soup so I thought I would share it with you.

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Ingredients or in Khmer “Gruang”

Spicy Pumpkin and Coriander Soup

  • 1/4 pumpkin
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 shallots
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger (adjust for spiciness)
  • 1/2 inch fresh turmeric (or 1/2 tsp dried turmeric)
  • 100g yellow lentils
  • 3 TBS dried coriander
  • 1 dried chilli pepper (optional)
  • fresh coriander (garnish)
  • fresh yoghurtImage
  1. Wash and soak lentils
  2. Soak dried pepper in hot water
  3. Roast coriander seeds on a dry frying  pan until they start popping then grind them.
  4. Chop and fry garlic, onions, ginger and shallots until soft

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  5. Add in ground coriander and stir quickly then put in pumpkin and sweet potato chopped into cubes.
  6. Stir fry until coated then add in blended dried pepper. ( I pound in my mortar with a little of the water it soaked in until it makes a paste)
  7. Now add 1/2 pint of water and lentilsImage
  8. Simmer until vegetables and lentils are soft. This could take about an hour. Top up water as necessary. You made need to do this several times. i put in a cup at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Leave to cool then blend until smooth then return to heat until piping hot
  10. Serve with chopped fresh coriander, yoghurt and bread.

My day

I must be slightly crazy, but those who know me know this already. After a full day at work, leaving the house at 6:30 am I come home with the children and some of their friends at 2:30.
After sorting out a snack for the ravenous hords I turn my attention to my househelper who I am teaching to make Thai Green Curry. I discovered after being here a year that the Khmer only have one kind of curry, which although nice, does not compare to the Thai ones I grew up with. Communicating is hard as she has no English (except words from me) and I have very little Khmer. I had magaged to describe the relevant ingrediants to one of the cleaners at school woth the help of one of the teachers, then the cleaner had run my househelper with the list. This invariabley goes wrong as people dont always understand what you are trying to explain!!! I always assume that at least one thing will not be quite right.

Today it was the wrong herb and no chicken!! We finally got there and I was able to teacher her how to make it.
I have discovered that laughing and humour goes a long way to getting the message through. We were both very pleased with the result!!
After this at 5:30pm I have a language lesson for an hour! I have felt like I have made very little progress this year with language and decided this year I was going to make a determined effort!
I am now doing 2 -2 1/2 hours a week, which is not much but more than last year. I have not been able to use my friend Tevy this year as she has extra university courses to do, so I am a bit sad. One of my classes is taught by one of the teachers brother-in-law. It is a group class where the emphasis is on speaking and listening with a bit of reading and writing. The other class I am on my own and I am going to follow on with what I learnt in the first lesson.
Here is what I have to learn to read!!!!! (I did learn some last year) Consanants…..

vowels…..

and then there are subscripts too which are the symbols below the letters!!! These can change the sound of word quite a lot.
Today was fun because we played “Guess Who” in Khmer. It was a great way to learn questions and useful vocabluary such as baldness and facial hair!!!
So think of me as I try to find time to learn this beautiful but complicated language. Now I have so much sympathy for the students in my class learning English. It is not easy trying to remember everything.
I find I can remember it at the time and then it goes out of my head when I need it.