Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bonkers for Bread

I have to admit that one of the hardest parts of moving to Thailand was saying farewell all my favorite foods. Hummus, pizza, pasta, chocolate, cheese and wine (is it sad that i count it as a food group?). I was however pleasantly surprised when i moved to Nakhon to discover that they sell mainland vintage cheddar and Edam in the supermarket here as well as Australian wines (horrible but better than nothing). I nearly jumped had a seizure of pure delight when i was taken to 'Italian Man' the EXCELLENT Italian restaurant (run by a real Italian and thus the name the Teachers have given the place) which serves beautiful salads, perfect pastas and most importantly thin crust, traditional pizzas. Thanks to the girls here I have sussed out the places that sell good (imported) chocolate and even found some good (ish) icecream.
All in all not too bad. When i get sick of Thai there is plenty of other cuisines to try - we're actually having Indian tonight, yum. On the downside my weight loss regime is not going as well as i thought it would, simply because in Thailand i can have my cake and eat it too, so to speak.

The only thing that i find is really lacking is the coffee (they add sugar syrup and condensed milk - ICK!) and the bread. Bread in Thailand is very sugary and fluffy but not in a good way. It doesn't seem to have any nutritional value to it at all. I really miss having a good piece of sourdough with jam, or vegemite, some crusty bread to dip in my soup or wipe up some balsamic and oil. I've only made bread a few times but each time i have enjoyed both the process and the eating. I think it's time ot get back into it.
Making multigrain bread at Pun Pun Farm in North Thailand 2010

It turned out really well, i used it to wipe up my leftover pesto  which we also made from scratch along with the pasta. YUM!

I was cruising the internet looking for easy bread recipes and I found this fantastic, and yummy sounding recipe for Polenta Loaf and I'd like to give it a try (cooking it in someone's toaster oven should be interesting).

Polenta Bread

3 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 cup finely ground, quick-cooking Italian polenta, plus more for baking sheet
2 tsp. quick-rise yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups warm tap water
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbs. water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the 1/2 cup polenta, the yeast and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir to mix well.

Add the warm water and olive oil and stir until all of the flour has been absorbed and a dough has formed.

Using your hands, gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a well-floured work surface. Knead the dough until soft and elastic and no longer sticky, about 10 minutes.
Work more flour into the dough if needed to reduce stickiness; be sure to keep the work surface well floured. The dough should remain in a rounded shape and not flatten out when left on a work surface for a minute or two. If not, work a little more flour into the dough. Place the dough in a warmed, lightly oiled bowl, turning several times to coat it with oil.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 45 to 75 minutes.

Sprinkle a little polenta on a baking sheet and set aside. Punch down the dough, return it to the lightly floured work surface and knead a few times.
Form the dough into a round ball or an oval shape and place on the prepared baking sheet. The dough should retain its shape and not flatten out.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.
While the dough is rising, position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 220°C.
When the dough has risen, using a very sharp, thin-bladed knife or single-edge razor blade, carefully make a slash 1/2 inch deep across the top. Brush the surface with the egg mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 190°C and continue to bake until golden and crusty, 30 to 35 minutes more.
Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool. Makes 1 round or oval loaf; serves 6 to 8.

Doesn't that sound yum yum yummy! I'm sure i can get yeast here but polenta might be harder (hint hint friends who like to post care packages)

While we're on the subject of bread, i am going to make my own sourdough starter and see how i go with that. I found a wonderful site and what looks like an interesting recipe so i'll keep you posted. (for the starter recipe)

Happy baking, unitl next time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Let the Games Begin

Sorry for the lack of posting, School started on Tuesday and it's been a bit hectic. The reason i have time to write now is that we're on a 5 day weekend - gotta love Thailand, back at work for 3 days then off for 5.

My class has 25 students in it and they're all different in their own ways but they're all lovely, funny, crazy kids who i will have a wonderful time teaching this year. I have really enjoyed my first week teaching them.

On the first day there were no students and we just met our department heads and met all the Thai and Foreign teachers. There's teachers from all over Thailand as well as farang (foreign) teachers from England, Australia, USA, South Africa and Canada.  
The teachers of the English Program at Srithammarat Suksa School

As it turns out i will be teaching 18 hours per week and my Thai teacher teaches 17 so it feels very much like a partnership. My Thai teacher's name is Teacher Poo (pronounced Boo) and she's just lovely. She doesn't speak much English yet but she's told me she would like to learn from listening to me so i'm sure she'll be swearing like a sailor and chatting away in an Aussie accent by the end of the year.

My class has about the same number of boys to girls, they all play well together and they're cutie pies. Here are some pix of some of my amazing kiddies.
Praew, Tawun and Tonkow



This week i have to make a Who's Who in K2 Class 2 poster for outside my classroom. I'm going to do a garden scene and get the kids to make flowers out of paper muffin patties and then stick their faces in the center. CUTE!
Next week we have to talk about rules too and we'll be practicing saying 'please' and 'Thank you', sitting in a circle, keeping hands to ourselves and walking in a line. FUN!

I am honestly loving life here, i think i have found something else i can be really happy doing :) Yay!  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Big Mango, Stuck in Heaven A gain and New Friends

So Lydia, Lauren and I LOVED our sleeper train experience. We hopped on board at 2:50pm in Nakhon and the train - which was scheduled to leave at 3pm - pulled out a lazy 20mins later. Amazing in Thailand, it could have been much worse.
We made our carriage our own, played some Gin Rummy,  ate some snacks and agreed that train is the best way to travel.
Lauren on the train to Bangkok

Lydia on the train to BKK
Our beds folded down from the roof and at about 6pm a guy came around (wearing a face mask - scary?!) and made them for us. After which we were served a random kind of Thailand train dinner and basically forced into bed at 8pm.
Lucky I had my iPod with movies and my Harry potter talking books because talking was frowned upon past about 9pm and it would have been a very long night without that to entertain me.

6am, the sleeper train man converting a bed back into seats
We pulled into Bangkok at 6:30am and all in all it was a fun trip, something i'd do again for sure.

In Bangkok we decided to stay in the area around Khao San Road because it's easy to go out there and a lot of what we ended up doing was close to there. Khao San is fun and there's shopping, lots of restaurants, a great reggae bar and many many backpackers to hangout with, but I prefer to stay closer to the shopping centers. Ha ha ha i can hear you all laughing. The reason i like to stay near the malls is that (well apart from the fact that i like to shop) i love the cinema and eating Japanese food and as Nakhon has neither of those things it's what i like to spend my time doing in TBM :)

Speaking of which I saw Thor (ok, Directed by Kennith Branagh...who woulda thunk it) and Rio (cute, but not my fave animated movie) and the tix were only $5 each - amazing!

Siam Paragon has great Japanese food which Jane, Lydia and I ate twice. So yummy! I really miss ready amounts of wine, varieties of cheese and good Japanese food.

Groovy jelly fish outside Siam Paragon, the big shopping mall  we  watched movies at

We did end up going to JJ markets and having a lot of fun. Lydia and I both bought some 'vintage' clothes and by vintage i mean second hand. I bought a beautiful necklace which is shaped like an origami crane, so cute.  
Khao San Road
Instead of going to Koh Phayam, where i have never been and really want to go, I once again went to Haad Yuan and had a big party weekend with the other teachers. It was so much fun but really i should go somewhere else sometimes. Seriously i am going to see Koh Phayam and Krabi and Koh Lanta in the next few months i promise.
The taxi boat from Haad Rin to Heaven AKA Haad Yuan
We spent a load of time in the water, eating, dancing and then sleeping. It was just what i needed :)
Lydia, Kate, Mel and Stuart at Eden
Haad Yuan
Stuart making strange noises at Eden
Beautiful Haad Yuan
Lydia painting on my arm, looks great under the black light
Abhim, Mikey, Mel and Lauren on the ferry from Koh Phangan to Don Sak (mainland)
Mel, Me and Lauren on the ferry
When we got back to Nakhon there was a big surprise party for a lovely new friend of mine and fellow kindy teacher, Kate. It was loads of fun and not just because i bought my moustache. We all bought food and had an amazing, gourmet put luck dinner and we met all the lovely new teachers. Yay!

Jane, Issy, Amy and X at Kate's surprise birthday party 

Jake and Stuart at Kate's B'day bash

Laura, Lovely girl i met that night but forgot her name :( Kate and Emma at Kate's b'day party

Abhim BBQ king!

Helen suits the tash

Our hosts Emma and Jake present the birthday cakes 
Kieren and his new Mo

Stuart and Kate with yummy birthday cake and ice cream
Needless to say i am really having fun and you should all come visit!!! Stay tuned for the next installment in which will talk about my first week at school and meeting my class.