Sunday, August 31, 2014

And oldie but a goodie --about our plans to move to Thailand








Most post from Thailand bloogers are about their life upon arriving and about daily living and,traveling in the LOS, but not to many on what causes us Expats to decide,plan, save and finally,make the move to Thailand.So ,I thought I would give it a go. A friend introduced me to Ciejay ,we dated for three months and then we married ,on the fourth of July 2002. A year later Ciejay's father in Thailand passed away and we made plans with her sisters and their husbands who also lived in America to come to Thailand for the 100 day celebration of her fathers life , a tradition in Thai culture.We all flew together and rented a van to take us to their home place , and where the 100 day celebration would be held .We had talked it over and also planned to spend a week ,after all the visiting and family affairs were over, traveling around and seeing the sights .It was my first trip to Thailand and I fell head over heels in love with the country and the people.I ask Ciejay if she would move back to Thailand if we could find a piece of land to build us a house on? ,would she move back to Thailand and we would retire here ?. Being the sweet person that she is,said"YES "which was a total suprise to me because she had just the month before got her green card that enabled her to stay in American ,and being married to me was renewable every ten years with no problem.No every three months visit to immigrations or anything and she could work pay social security and taxes and retire at 62 just like anyone else in America ,a dream of a lot of Thai people.What a surprise answer. Well we spent the week traveling a lot, and visiting relatives and really looking for land and a house that we liked and the place where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives . Well, we could not decide where or what , but on the last evening of our trip before flying out the next day, we decided to visit her brother in a little village called Wang Pho in the providence of Kanchanaburi,right on the famous River Kwai.As we turned off the highway 321 and started driving down the 5 kl. and I do mean down the mountain, into the little village , my heart soared within me and I said to Ciejay "if the village is pretty and we like it , and can find a little piece of land , this is the place ". Well we visited her brother and a neighbor had a small piece of land out of town , with no road to get to it , or water and power was not close at all ,we said thank you ,but no thanks. It was getting dark when we got back to her brothers and we said "well we will have to plan another trip sometime when we had time to look around for land" . We both agreeded that this was the place , I loved the small village and it just had the right feel to both of us.Disappointed that we could not find something we liked, as it was getting late, and we had a three hour drive to Bangkok and were flying out at 6:30 the next morning, I told Ciejay to ask her brother a simple question , if he knew of any land with a empty house on it , and to our suprise he pointed 100 yards up the road and said "yes my friend and his wife divorced 8 years ago and the house is not quite finished inside and the bathroom roof has fell in , but it was for sell ", but because of bad Karma and Thai's belief in ghost and bad spirits no one would buy it, Me and Ciejay being Christians Karma and ghost ,didn't scare us at all. The house was all locked up and all the windows had security bars and screens and they were all tinted to keep out the hot sun, so as dark as it was outside and inside we could not even see inside thru the windows. we looked at each other and said lets do it . We ask her brother if he had the friends phone number, and after a while he found it ,and called . He ask if it was still for sell and how much and the friend said 400,000 baht , my brother -in -law said to him this my sister give her a discount , the friend said ok ,300,000 baht , we said we'll take it.We didn't have any extra money on us and it was night time and we ask if we could send money when we got back to the USA. He said "mai pen rai " I give you 6 months to pay me all at one time,no want payments . We said ok and told Ciejays brother to look after it for us and we would send him money every month for 6 months to pay it off and for him to keep the money ,till we had sent it all, and then pay his friend , He said ok "I keep in bank for you" ,all was settled, we now had a piece of land and a house in Thailand . Located within 1/2 mile of the town square , the high school , the hospital , the city hall, and the local police station, at the foot of the mountain and I mean right at the foot and 1/2 mile from the River Kwai, What a dream come true. We could not believe it .Our other American, brother -in-laws and their wives thought we were crazy , and maybe we were crazy , but we had a dream . We went back home , I had one more year before I could retire (62) with 75% my social security , 100% if I worked till 70. but I was ready to retire, and we had a house in Thailand .Remember I am just a worker bee in America not CEO or owner of a bussiness , no,401 K plan and no monthly retirement pension coming from years of service with one company. Just my monthly S.S.check . So I worked one more year and in 6 months we had sent money to pay the house off and we planned to move over in March of 2004, but we knew that we needed money to remodel the Thailand house and buy furniture and everything else we would need to make the house a home . We sold our cars , everything we had acumalated since we were married 3 years ago , I personally had nothing as I lost it all in a couple bad relationships before Ciejay,if you know what I mean. So when a friend suggested that we sell produce with and for him and we would split it all 50/50, we said ok and changed our plans to leave on Oct the 6th for our house in Thailand , hopefully with enough money,to do what we needed to do ,to make the house a liveable home .We sold produce from June the 1st, till Oct the 1st ,7days a week rain or shine and on the 6th of Oct. 2004 we arrived in Thailand with 11 suitcases of cloths and pictures and important papers , and our dream

If you liked reading this post (short story) and a little about our lives ,as well as our retirement , please let me know with a comment ,I've got a couple more stories that, I think you might enjoy too , let me know what you think. Malcolm

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kaffir Limes and their uses-----for you info --from the web

Kaffir Lime
The kaffir lime is a citrus fruit which hails from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The kaffir lime is popularly used in Southeast Asian cooking, such as Thai, Indonesian and Cambodian cuisine. However, it can also be grown throughout the world as a backyard shrub.
Names by Which the Kaffir Lime is Known
The kaffir lime is known by many names, including “kieffer lime” and “limau purut”. It is also sometimes referred to as “Thai limes” or “wild limes”. The leaves, zest and juice of the kaffir lime are all used in Southeast Asian cooking.
“Kaffir” comes from the German word “Kafer”, which means “bug”. This fruit is so named due to the fact that it slightly resembles an insect. Some controversy surrounds the use of the “kaffir” name for this fruit because this word is used by white Afrikaners as a pejorative for black people, meaning “infidel”. This usage derives from the Arabic word “kafir”, which was used by Portugese explorers to describe native Africans. This word is considered a derogatory term that remains in use today, and as such, alternative names such as Thai, Makrut, Asian, or Wild lime are preferred to ensure no one is offended.
Kaffir Lime Leaves
The Kaffir Lime’s Appearance and How it Grows
The kaffir lime does not resemble most of the limes that we are used to seeing. This Southeast Asian lime has a rough, warty green exterior. It grows on a thorny bush and its leaves are very aromatic. The kaffir lime leaves are also quite distinctive in that its leaves are “doubled”. The kaffir lime is easily identifiable with its small size and bumpy exterior. It is dark green in color. The kaffir lime is comparable in size to a Western lime. This fruit is very suitable for growing in containers. As mentioned above, although this fruit is native to many Southeast Asian countries, it can be grown anywhere as a shrub.
Traditional and Current Uses of the Kaffir Lime
Southeast Asian Cuisine
There are many different ways that the kaffir lime is used in Southeast Asian cooking. The rind, or zest, is often used as a curry paste in Lao and Thai cooking. This usage provides an aromatic and astringent flavor.
In fact, this fruit is so commonly used to impart flavor in Thai cooking that if a dish calls for the use of citrus leaves, it can be assumed that it means kaffir lime leaves. Kaffir leaves are the only citrus fruit leaves that are used on a regular basis in a large number of Thai dishes.
The leaves exude an aromatic perfume and provide a striking and distinguishable flavor that is virtually impossible to substitute. The zest of this fruit also adds a piquant flavor to such mouth-watering favorites as fried fish cakes and “jungle soup”, or “gkaeng bpah”. The zest of the kaffir lime can also be found in creole cuisine. Additionally, the zest of this fruit is often used to add flavor to “arranged” rums that are made in Madagascar and the Reunion Island.
The zest or rind of the kaffir lime has such a strong flavor that it can overpower a dish’s other, more subtly flavored ingredients. As such, the rind is to be used sparingly. The rind should be grated or chopped very finely and then further reduced in a mortar along with the other paste ingredients until it become indistinguishable. This promises a recipe containing a proper balance of ingredients and flavors.
The whole kaffir lime leaves themselves, which have a somewhat hourglass shape creating the appearance of a double leaf and have a glossy sheen, are commonly used in Lao, Thai and Cambodian cuisine. The kaffir lime leaf contains two parts. There is a top leaflet which has a slight point at the tip. Attached to that is another leaflet at the bottom which is broader on the upper portion. The size of kaffir leaves can vary in size, from several inches long to less than an inch. The bigger the leaf, typically the darker its color. Because of the variations in size, it is often best to specify in recipes the number of leaves based upon size so that one does not use too much or too little.
Thai Cooking
The leaves of the kaffir lime are used in a wide variety of dishes, especially in Thai cooking. They are often used in soups, salads, curries, and stir-fried dishes. These leaves are also used in other cuisines, such as the cuisines of Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. An example of Laotian cuisine in which these leaves are used include the Lao dish known as Tom Yum. They are also used in Cambodian cuisine as the paste base in Krueng. In Indonesian cooking, especially the cuisines in Bali and Java, the kaffir lime leaves are used in such dishes as Sayur Asam. The kaffir leaf is also commonly used in addition to the Indonesian BAY LEAF to cook chicken and fish dishes. The cuisines of Malaysia and Burma also make use of the kaffir lime leaf.
The kaffir lime leaf can be used whole or finely chopped. The best way to finely slice this leaf for use in cooking is to stack three or four that are similar in size and then slice them into very thin pieces using a sharp knife. Cutting diagonally is faster and easier. This task becomes easier with practice and you will enjoy the amazing aroma that rises from the leaves as you continue to cut them. The leaves can also be cut using scissors, but this practice is much slower and may not result in the fine slivers you get through chopping with a sharp knife.
It is important that the leaves be cut into fine slivers, as mincing or chopping can impact the flavor of the leaf, thus causing them to overwhelm the flavors of the other ingredients in the dish. Cutting large slivers can have the same result. As such, using fine slivers that are approximately one inch long are the preferred method for creating a balance of flavors. The kaffir lime leaf is very versatile and can be used either fresh or dried. It can also be frozen and stored for future use. The juice of the kaffir lime itself is regarded as generally far too acidic to use in cooking.
Medicinal Uses
The juice and rind of the kaffir lime is also used in traditional Indonesian medicine. As such, in Indonesia the kaffir lime is referred to as “asjeruk obat”, which translates to “medicine citrus”. The juice of the kaffir lime is also used in Southeast Asian folk medicine, where it is touted as promoting gum health.
As such, this culture recommends using the lime juice to brush the teeth and gums. The fruit has essential oils which are incorporated into various ointments as well. The rind itself serves as an ingredient in many medicinal tonics which are believed to be beneficial for the blood. Just like galangal and lemon grass, the rind of the lime is also said to be beneficial for digestion.
Using Kaffir Lime Leaves
The oil from the lime’s rind also contains strong insecticide properties.
Household Uses
The juice of the fruit can also be used as a detergent for clothing. In fact, it is known as being a very effective cleanser. Some use it as a natural bleach for the removal of tough stains. It is also used as a shampoo to clean hair.
Not only does it leave the hair nice and squeaky clean, but it also invigorates the scalp. Many believe that use of the kaffir lime in this manner will refresh a person’s mental outlook and also keep away evil spirits. Moreover, this lime is a natural deodorizer with a wonderful scent of citrus blossoms.
Every time the zest is scratched, it emits a refreshing and inviting perfume. These uses are mainly found in Thailand, where almost every countryside home has a kaffir lime tree in the yard. For those living in rural villages, just one kaffir tree will supply enough limes to keep the entire house and the family clean, thus making the kaffir lime also an inexpensive household cleanser and detergent.
Where to Find Kaffir Limes
Kaffir limes are not very easy to find, especially if you do not live in Southeast Asia. As such, if you are truly interested in using this as an ingredient in dishes or for its many other uses, it may be best to grown your own kaffir lime bush. You can visit a local nursery and request they order one for you. You can also find many vendors online who can ship the kaffir lime bush directly to you.
When growing and maintaining a kaffir lime bush, you will want to give the bush plenty of water during the warm summer months. Also make sure it gets citrus fertilizer and plenty of sunshine. Prune it to maintain its bushy shape. If you live in a frost-free area, you can keep your lime bush outdoors year round. However, if your area drops to freezing temperatures, you will need to bring your bush indoors during the cold winter months. Harvest the leaves during the summer. Seal the limes and their leaves in a plastic bag and freeze them, as they will keep this way for at least a year, and thus, can be used over time.
Kaffir lime trees can be found online for around $40 to $50. In addition, you can purchase Thai kaffir lime leaf powder online for about $7.00 for half an ounce.

Kaffir Lime Tree

Folks come every year to harvest the young leaves from the Kaffir Lime tree in our back yard, the trees are hard to find and the leaf's fetch a good price in the markets . The leaf's are used in many Thai dishes and especially Tum YUm. Ciejay loves it , time to get a new hair do lol.