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eG Foodblog: Ninetofive - January in New England


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Welcome, from another snowy place and another jammed pantry! I'll be interested to see how you deal with Ol' Man Winter.

I've always loved the King Arthur catalog. I hope we get to see the real place this weekend!

How much are you paying for pomegranates out your way, and what-all do you with them? Are they easy for you to find? Lately I've been fascinated by the cross-section, and I'm admiring the (unusual, in my experience) symmetry of the four-armed star in your photo.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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her only dislike is fish and seafood.

:angry:

I know, JohnnyD. It's criminal. Our last au pair wasn't crazy about fish or seafood, but by the end of her stay, she was eating plenty of it. (Rubbing hands together) I have plans, lots of plans ....

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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Okay, story filed. Now I can play.

Darn! I forgot to take a picture of my lunch, a delightful tossed green salad topped with these:

gallery_28661_5601_55187.jpg

and these:

gallery_28661_5601_35595.jpg

The sardines in tomato sauce are a new addiction. They have a nice mild taste, not too salty, and one can can get me through two lunches. Christiane gets fair warning before I unleash the fish from their tins, because they are just a bit stinky. The tomatoes get me through the winter. I hate buying tomatoes out of season, but these are really quite nice. They're called Campari and I buy them at Costco (another crack den for me).

Today's salad also included 1 ounce of buffalo mozzarella, a tsp. of flaxseed oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a good sprinkling of smoked salt. Very yummy. Don't worry, you'll see plenty more salads this week. They're standard lunch fare for me.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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Yay! Like many who did their college years in Boston, I remained in the area a good decade afterwards, so this is going to be a real nostalgia trip for me. I'm also enjoying looking at a classic New England winter without having to actually drive in it. :laugh: Happy blogging!

(Plus, as a freelance writer myself, I'm going to be checking out your blog with great interest!)

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Ditto!  Thanks for the snow shot, Diana.  As a former New Englander myself, I'm really looking forward to this week.

Is Oliver a good eater?  What's his favorite?  And does he like to take part in the cooking?

Megan, Oliver's a fairly good eater. He used to be much better when he was younger -- around 5 it seems that a lot of kids develop some taste and texture issues, and he's got a few of those right now. He went through a long phase of insisting I cut his crusts off his bread, for example, but I noticed the other night he chowed down on a boule, crust and all.

He's got his Dad's midwestern appreciation for a good steak, for sure. Actually any kind of meat. Chicken, pork, beef, lamb, rabbit, buffalo, ostrich -- he'll put it down. He's struggling with the concept of eating animals, though. We've always been very clear with him about where his food comes from. For example, our CSA raises and slaughters hogs; the kids spend a lot of time visiting and feeding them during the summer. We explain to him that, come fall, the bacon, pork roasts, ribs, etc. we pull from the freezer all came from those pigs.

We've told him that it's okay to be a vegetarian (I was vegetarian for a number of years), but he's not quite ready to make that choice ... the steak is too good to give up.

(Sorry if that offends anyone. I'll explain more about how we buy meat around here.)

As for his favorite foods ... I just asked him and he said, "Bananas, hot cocoa, and milk." Yes, he cooks a lot with me. He's in charge of measuring and stirring. He likes to pretend we're a restaurant kitchen, and he's my sous chef.

Last year his teacher had to talk to him because he was screaming at some of his playmates in the playground. Oliver explained to her, "Oh, I wasn't really yelling at them ... we were playing restaurant and I was Gordon Ramsay." Ooops.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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Welcome, from another snowy place and another jammed pantry!  I'll be interested to see how you deal with Ol' Man Winter.

I've always loved the King Arthur catalog.  I hope we get to see the real place this weekend!

How much are you paying for pomegranates out your way, and what-all do you with them?  Are they easy for you to find?  Lately I've been fascinated by the cross-section, and I'm admiring the (unusual, in my experience) symmetry of the four-armed star in your photo.

Huh, I didn't notice the design until you pointed it out, Smithy.

I think I paid a couple dollars for the pomegranate -- it may have been on sale. We were coming back from CT late at night so I wasn't really paying attention.

I don't eat many of them, truth be told, but when I do I like them squeezed over ice cream or yogurt.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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As for his favorite foods ... I just asked him and he said, "Bananas, hot cocoa, and milk." Yes, he cooks a lot with me. He's in charge of measuring and stirring. He likes to pretend we're a restaurant kitchen, and he's my sous chef.

Sounds like a boy after my own heart. Hot cocoa is high on my list as well.

Last year his teacher had to talk to him because he was screaming at some of his playmates in the playground. Oliver explained to her, "Oh, I wasn't really yelling at them ... we were playing restaurant and I was Gordon Ramsay." Ooops.

That is a FABULOUS story.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

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. .

The sardines in tomato sauce are a new addiction. They have a nice mild taste, not too salty, and one can can get me through two lunches.

. . .

I already feel a kinship! We love these sardines in tomato sauce and frequently make a lunch of them on hot buttered toast! They are the only sardines I can get down but I love these ones.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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So, imagine this room filled with guns. Lots of guns:

gallery_28661_5601_4738.jpg

We bought the house from two police officers. This is where they stored their "equipment." The moment I saw this space, I decided that it was the perfect place for my equipment. The room is unheated, and especially when I keep the door closed, it keeps everything around 50 degrees or so in winter. My husband and FIL put the shelves in for me; before, there were just little posts to hang handguns and nunchucks.

I adore pantries. When I lived in Vermont, we had a large one in my grandmother's house. There were built-in drawers, a large counter underneath a window one could look out while kneading bread or rolling pastry, a couple bins you that tipped out and held 50-lb. bags of flour. Swoon. I have many happy memories of baking alongside my grandmother there, and I think there's a part of me always looking to get back to that room.

Edited by ninetofive (log)

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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Nunchucks? Really? :blink: At any rate, that's an enviable pantry. I have yet to live in a house with a walk-in pantry, but I certainly would like to do so.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Nunchucks?  Really?  :blink:  At any rate, that's an enviable pantry.  I have yet to live in a house with a walk-in pantry, but I certainly would like to do so.

They had a lot of interesting things in there -- they were into the martial arts. There was also a hole punched into our bedroom door. :unsure:

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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Dinner will be a little late tonight. Off to take a shower then finish things up in the kitchen. Will be back later with photos and more commentary.

Thank you all for welcoming me today. I was very nervous about blogging here -- I think eGulleteers are such a sophisticated bunch, why on earth would they be interested in my strawberry jam, freezer full of pork -- oh, and the snow? Wow, who'da thunk the snow would land me some readers? :laugh:

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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Oliver explained to her, "Oh, I wasn't really yelling at them ... we were playing restaurant and I was Gordon Ramsay."

You just made my day! That's a terrific story.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Thank you all for welcoming me today. I was very nervous about blogging here -- I think eGulleteers are such a sophisticated bunch, why on earth would they be interested in my strawberry jam, freezer full of pork -- oh, and the snow? Wow, who'da thunk the snow would land me some readers?  :laugh:

hey, i said the same thing to snowangel about a librarian in new jersey. while some may be more "sophisticated" than others the one thing that binds us all is our love of food - cooking and eating and learning and sharing.

oh, and for that snow - so glad someone got those 5"-7" they were predicting for here. course i have to wait a bit longer to get out on the snowshoes now :angry:

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

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Ingredients for tonight's dinner:

gallery_28661_5601_36679.jpg

I purchased several chickens about six weeks ago last time I was at Mayflower Poultry in Cambridge. I may be back there this week, so I'll take a picture of the sign hanging out front.

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The Belgian endives got a toss in some browned butter, before they were bathed in lemon juice and salt and sent to a 325 degree oven for a two-hour braise.

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Some say I make a damn good biscuit, despite that I was born far north of the Mason/Dixon line. Not trying to start another war, here -- just telling you what I've been told. :raz: Here you'll see the butter cut in in nice big chunks.

gallery_28661_5601_62638.jpg

My favorite pastry blender. It has sturdy tines that don't bend against the cold butter.

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Yankee ingenuity in action. The biscuits chill while the chicken bakes.

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Your basic roasted chicken, a staple meal around here in the winter. This one I rubbed with butter and rosemary, then drizzled with half a lemon. The rest of the lemon got stuck in the chicken cavity with a handful of parsley. A good dose of salt and pepper to finish. Roasted at 450 for 15 minutes, then turned oven to 375 and gave it another 45 minutes. (I braised the endives on the stovetop so the oven was free for the chix.)

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The finished biscuits. Nice loft, but I forgot the timer and they got an extra minute in the oven. Oh well, nothing a little glaze of melted butter can't fix.

gallery_28661_5601_17449.jpg

Lazy woman's gravy. I basically whisked the drippings together, gave them a quick strain, and we were good to go. This was quite tasty, slightly lemony but with plenty of chicken flavor.

gallery_28661_5601_60964.jpg

The braised endives were soft and buttery -- but very bitter. I didn't bother serving any to Oliver or my hubby. Christiane took one small bite and passed. Even for me they were too bitter, but I ate them anyway.

Then I went to the gym and worked my fanny off for awhile. Then I came home to this, my reward:

gallery_28661_5601_8487.jpg

Cold vanilla pudding. Can you see the flecks of vanilla bean in there? I made it with vanilla sugar, plus I steeped a vanilla bean in hot milk for awhile. It's not much to look at in the picture, but the pudding was delicious, straight, no adornment.

So I'm heading off to bed soon. I normally rise at 5:00a.m. and go to the gym. Today I slept in because of the storm, so tomorrow it's back to business.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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I don't think I've ever had Belgian endive before. Do you think you just had "bad" ones, or was it the treatment they got? If I were to buy some to try them, what should I look for?

That chicken looked wonderful.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Hi from France, where we have no King Arthur (alas!) and eat lots of endive. Try splitting them lengthwise and removing the little "cone" you'll see inside at the center. That removes most of the bitterness, although a little bitter flavor is a prized feature.

And lots of KA photos, please. I was a loyal catalogue customer for many years but I've never seen the store.

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Good morning!

gallery_28661_5601_29789.jpg

I was up at 5:05 a.m. and by 5:20, was backing out of the driveway.

gallery_28661_5601_53268.jpg

By the time I arrived home 45 minutes later, the sun was starting to come up. Here's a view of our side yard. Where the lawn meets the treeline is where you'll find my elderflower bushes and rhubarb patch in the spring. I also grow tomatoes down there, and it's a great place to find edible mushrooms.

Here's the view from our dining room. Such a lovely sunrise!

gallery_28661_5601_8639.jpg

I have to admit: I woke up feeling pretty crappy this a.m. It took monumental effort to get my shoes on and go to the gym, although almost every day is like that, which is why I actually wear my gym clothes to bed. :laugh: If I don't, I can talk myself out of going when the alarm goes off: "Oh, I don't want to put cold clothes on," yada yada yada. My lizard brain is a mighty opponent, let me tell you. Exercise is a lot like writing for me: it always feels best after it's done.

But today, I was drained, which makes me wonder if I'm coming down with something. I even felt too tired to eat breakfast, so I camped on the couch and snoozed through some PBS cooking shows:

gallery_28661_5601_11680.jpg

Andreas Viestad is so cute. Today he was cooking something with potatoes, cream, and butter. Isn't that one of the holy trinities? My maternal grandfather was Norwegian/Danish and my husband and I spent two weeks in Norway 10 years ago -- I do like a great many Scandinavian foods! (More on my family background TK!)

At 8:00 it was time to drag my butt off the couch and get Oliver ready for school. I was still feeling rather unwell, but this helped:

gallery_28661_5601_16710.jpg

Oliver has the rest of the week off from school (student conferences/teacher training), so you'll be seeing more of him later this week. He permitted a photograph on the way to school, though, so I could show you all what he looks like:

gallery_28661_5601_16620.jpg

gallery_28661_5601_77115.jpg

That's his school. We're the next town over from Lowell, an old mill town. Many of these mills now house offices, stores, and yes, even schools. He's in a Montessori program, which he's been in since age 2 1/2. This school goes up to third grade; after that, we'll have to move him to a Montessori school in nearby Littleton, which goes up to eighth grade.

After dropping him off, I went for an appointment, then stopped here:

gallery_28661_5601_54451.jpg

Last night I realized I had one EFA pill left. Of course, I walked out of the store with much more than a container of fish oil pills:

gallery_28661_5601_1620.jpg

The strawberries are for the ice cream I'll be making this afternoon. The multi-grain pilaf looked like an interesting starch for Oliver and Christiane's dinner. And then the rest was for the pantry.

I snacked on this on the drive home. It wasn't very good:

gallery_28661_5601_81250.jpg

I'm still feeling a bit droopy -- I hope I'll perk up later today. In the meantime, I've got some work to do. Later this spring, I'm heading to India for two weeks, and my travel companion and I are working to get our tickets booked and final details settled. Plus, I need to start pitching some stories to make this trip work financially.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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Hi from France, where we have no King Arthur (alas!) and eat lots of endive.  Try splitting them lengthwise and removing the little "cone" you'll see inside at the center.  That removes most of the bitterness, although a little bitter flavor is a prized feature.

And lots of KA photos, please.  I was a loyal catalogue customer for many years but I've never seen the store.

Ah, thanks Abra! Next time I'll give that a try.

I'm really hoping I can get lots of photos at the Baking Center. Sometimes these places can get fussy about cameras, but on the other hand, Vermonters are a laid back bunch. Plus, I seem to recall my aunt knowing people who work there ... fingers crossed.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

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The Renegade Writer Blog

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Just a question about your eG posting handle:

I'd hardly consider what you do a 9-to-5 job unless you block off that time for your paid pursuit. (By this I most certainly don't mean it's not a full-time job: as I've learned from my own fitful freelancing efforts, freelance writing full time can easily eat up way more than 40 hours a week.) Why did you choose this as your handle?

(If you've read my foodblogs, my own posting handle should be painfully obvious.)

Question for any trivia buffs playing along: Is this the first time in eG Foodblog history that two professional writers have blogged in succession?

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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It is never too cold for ice cream:

gallery_28661_5601_73623.jpg

This was my favorite cookbook in 2007. I love everything about it: the recipes rock, the writing's great, mouthwatering photos, and measurements in weights, as well as volume. As my son would say, A thousand billion thumbs-up.

gallery_28661_5601_77722.jpg

Ingredients for tonight's dessert, strawberry sour cream ice cream. (Just a tablespoon of the vodka, so no need to call CPS. That's Christiane in the background, quizzing Oliver on his German articles. Oy, one huge reason why I'll never learn German!)

gallery_28661_5601_73204.jpg

This is where weight measurements come in handy. You see, I'm using a superfine vanilla sugar with this ice cream. The crystals are much smaller than those in a bag of cane sugar, so by using volume measurements, I might end up with an ice cream that's sweeter than intended.

gallery_28661_5601_50833.jpg

Produce aisle berries look frightful this time of year, so I took liberties by using frozen ones. Here they're thawed and macerating in sugar and the vodka. They'll sit for an hour, then I'll pulse them in a food processor with sour cream, lemon juice, and cream. Later this afternoon, Oliver will give the mixture a whirl in the ice cream maker. I like this ice cream, not only because it's delicious, but we don't have to make a traditional custard base, which usually needs a few hours to cool. Here you can pull stuff out of the pantry and freezer and in an hour or two have ice cream.

gallery_28661_5601_78064.jpg

When I made vanilla pudding on Sunday night, I was left with a split vanilla bean with plenty of flavor. I rinsed it off, let it dry, and now I'll top off my vanilla sugar stash:

gallery_28661_5601_104649.jpg

I just cut the bean up, throw it in the food processor with a cup of granulated sugar, then give it a whirl for five minutes. The sugar gets sifted so only the tiny bits of vanilla are left. This sugar is wonderful in creme brulees, pudding, shortbread, cakes, etc. It's one of those subtle things that makes something ordinary into WOW.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
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