color by numbers

mindless musings of a semi-creative guy

Tasty Tuesdays goes home

If you haven’t figured it out already by my lack of blogging in the last week and a half, we’ve been doing a bit of travelling and internet has not been readily available to us. Though, rest assured, between our trip and the events of Christmas here in Thailand recently, you’ll have plenty to chew on over the course of the next few days…

But, for now, Tasty Tuesday in a slightly different format from before. Instead of introducing you to one of the many Thai culinary creations around me, or sharing my excitement with you over yet another triumph against the wily ways of my wonky old stove and lack of familiar ingredients, this will be more of a mild lament about what it is that I am missing out on back home. Oh, boo, you can stop reading if you want to, but if you’d like to continue I’m more than happy to keep the conversation going.

Seeing as the big holiday rush has past, New Year’s commences this week, and all sorts of family gatherings have closed up shop until the next season of celebration, it’s been a bit lonely around here. Sure, the Mr. and I have each other, which is a blessing beyond measure… but what about all those other faces and voices and foods that we’ve grown so accustomed to at this time of year?  In our bouts of thinking of home, we’ve started to face some of the realities of living overseas, in SouthEast Asia for that matter, and the fact that the changes in our lifestyle are not as temporary as they have been in times before – this is the long haul and things really have to change.  Wow.  Crazy.  Exciting, and not so exciting all at the very same time!  (More on this stuff later.)

So, what in the world does this have to do with Tasty Tuesday, Sara??  Well, a big part of life is eating, and when you change where you live, surely that aspect of life change must as well – and, in our case, dramatically.  When moving to a completely different culture, the items that you are used to seeing everyday, the things that are easy to find and fit well into your budget are not so anymore.  Those economy meals you used to make back home now become a luxury priced item, if you can even find what it is you were needing in the first place.  That’s a big change.

Those of you who know me well, know that I am a rabbit by nature.  I like to eat light and fresh, the things that make me feel healthy after consuming them rather than like a slug.  (Though, if you happen to put a big slab of meaty lasagna in front of me, my knees just might buckle from delight!)  So, when it’s summertime and the weather is hot (song reference, Mom?), there’s nothing better than some crisp cucumbers and tomatoes, a sliced up avocado and some sprouts, a slice of cheddar or colby-jack and a bagel with all the nuts and seeds to cool you down and cure that hunger… well, it’s summertime here all year ’round, but it’s a bowl of rice with something hot on top.  Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy Thai food, but it’s just not what I’m used to having every day.

This, right here, is what I would be willing to pay a fortune for right now.

Photo borrowed from PioneerWoman.com and her fabulous food blog.

Photo borrowed from thepioneerwoman.com and her fabulous food blog.

Now, don’t go getting ideas of how to mail this to me, because frankly, after 2 weeks in transit this would be downright nasty.  But, the next time you delight in such a meal for yourself, please do think of me.  🙂

So, if you were to move to another country, what do you think you would miss eating most?

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Food, Tasty Tuesdays, Thailand | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tasty Tuesday – Not Your Average Grocery Store

For this week’s Tasty Tuesday segment, I’d like to introduce you to one of two open-air fresh markets here in the city of Lopburi.  This is the larger of the two, and it is located in the ancient sector of the city.  This is the Thessabaan Market.

4183701405_48ba921697_bSome of you may have been to seasonal fairs or Farmer’s Markets back in the States, so you are already familiar then with the concept of local vendors coming to hawk their fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and spice blends in custom quantities for a price differing from that of your average grocery store chain.  Good.  We have a reference point from which we can begin.

4183697225_6fc86c34d0_bOur local Thessabaan market sells fresh fruits – dragon fruit, longan, 3 different types of oranges, 3 different kinds of apples, sometimes grapes, fresh pineapple and watermelons in varieties you’ve probably never even heard of in the States, 2 types of papaya, 3 kinds of mangoes, 6 different species of bananas, fresh young coconut, persimmons, both red and yellow pomegranates… you name it, and it’s tropical, surely somebody is going to sell it.

4184459116_f8e12c57a0_bAnother thing you will see is an incredible variety of vegetables and spices.  At any given time, you can always find red onions, white onions, yellow onions, shallots, fresh garlic (both in bulb and clove form, bunches or cloves by weight), green onions, fresh herbs – coriander (cilantro), parsley, Thai hot basil, and a bunch of others I have no clue yet of what they are!  There are various tomatoes, cucumbers in differing in size and color, purple eggplant, small globe eggplants, green, black, pink, and white peppercorns (both fresh and dried), cabbage, bok choy… and at certain times you can also find broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and even potatoes.  There is a vast supply of dried spices, Thai spice mixes, and even large bowls mounded 2 feet high with Thai chili pastes and wet seasoning blends.  Can you imagine the waves of smells that come over you when you walk past any of these market stalls?  It’s quite the experience!

4183700317_a595253065_bAnd then there’s the meat market.  My favorite part (I’m lying).  You have not truly experienced a market until you’ve both seen and smelled “fresh” pork, poultry, seafood, and beef all sitting out on trays in the heat… in a space where despite being outdoors, feels very closed in by all of the stalls and umbrellas surrounding you.  This is the area where I like to challenge myself to hold my breath for as long as humanly possible.  Here in the meat market, you can get everything from a side of pork to a whole or pieced out chicken/ duck, multiple kinds of fresh or dried fish, eels, shrimp, and other sea creatures to eat, as well as animal heads.  Yes, I said animal heads.  I will not include a picture of what is, to me, the most horrifying sight ever (a hog’s head split down the back and flattened to the point where it almost looks like a rubber mask), but you can see a regular one at the bottom of this photo.  Most meats (I only say most), disappear by 10:00 am, as that’s when the heat generally begins to pick up – if you want meat that is actually fresh, you go to market about 5 or 6:00 in the morning.  However, there are those vendors who do remain all day long, and you can imagine the lovely aromas which come from their stalls…

4183695487_f84459b118_b
Now, just when you thought you’d had enough sensory stimulation, here comes all the vendors of everyday items such as shoes, sandals, sunglasses, lottery tickets, draperies, cloth, children’s toys, new and used books, batteries, new and used car parts, containers in any shape, size, and material… all laid out meticulously in straight, even lines, hung and advertised neatly.  And just think about this – every single stall, whether it be food items or other things, is set-up and taken down every single day.  Can you imagine the time that must go into just that part of daily business?

And you thought Super WalMart was the only one-stop shop in town!

To see more photos of the Thessabaan Market in Old Town Lopburi, Thailand, please click here.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Food, Tasty Tuesdays, Thailand | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bangkok | Diverse and Dedicated

The following is from Brook’s blog, but I figured it would be good to post it over here as well…

Soon Sara and I will be spending some time in Bangkok as we look for some possible ministry locations after completing our time studying Thai here in Lopburi, Thailand.  Once finished at the language school in Lopburi, we will move away and continue to learn Thai with a personal tutor while beginning work in ministry to the Thai people.

I happened across this short video clip produced by OMF (the organization we are partnering with here in Thailand) which helps paint a picture of life in Bangkok, the people living in this HUGE city and ministries that are taking place there.  The video is a few years old now, directors mentioned here have changed positions, but life in the City of Angels is still much the same.

If you have a minute or two, this will be worth watching!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=5435688&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1

December 12, 2009 Posted by | Thailand | Leave a comment

Tasty Tuesdays – Thanksgiving # 2

As with last week’s post, this one will also showcase a little piece of how we were able to celebrate American Thanksgiving here in Thailand. I say American Thanksgiving, because contrary what many of you may think, the last Thursday in November is not celebrated as a holiday throughout the rest of the world. Sure, Canadians celebrate a holiday also called Thanksgiving, but theirs is held in early October. A few other European countries may also have a holiday which focuses on thankfulness, but what we do back there in America truly is unique.

Being only a couple of the few Americans within OMF Thailand, we felt a bit lonely during this beloved holiday… but, thankfully, we did find ways to enjoy it nonetheless. The first was by joining with older missionaries in their traditional celebration last week. The other was by creating our own day of celebration (which we so cleverly named “ThanksFathersMas”), and inviting our friends, the Ruggles, to leave their home in Bangkok for a weekend in the exciting city of Lopburi. (snicker, snicker)

Jason & April do not have any areas for cooking in their high rise apartment in downtown Bangkok.  Having felt the stress of a similar situation when first arriving in Thailand (living in a youth hostel for a month and a half), I offered my home and my kitchen up for their culinary pleasure.  April made sugar cookie cut-outs to bring back to her English students, and Jason cooked breakfast for us.  Wonderful!  Oh, but it gets better…

We decided to celebrate a late Thanksgiving/ early Christmas together, and the day that we chose for the feast just so happened to be Thai Father’s Day – thus, the name ThanksFathersMas.

IMG_0509 sm We did our best to re-create a meal from Midwest America, and I think we did a pretty good job!  Turkey, as mentioned in the last post, is hard to find (and when possible, very expensive), so we got an already roasted chicken from the local fresh market to serve as our main dish.  We mashed some potatoes, whipped up some Betty Crocker sweet potatoes, chicken gravy, corn, and can’t forget my mom’s recipe for stuffing (with sage bread cubes sent from mom herself)!  I made some fluffy homemade dinner rolls, and April baked a fabulous apple pie.  Oh, and since our friends come from the Big City, they were actually able to find a few precious items that we are unable to buy here in Lopburi, like cranberry sauce and chocolate chips (not for anything in our meal, rather to be saved for a later time, to be rationed out slooowly)!

After enjoying a (literal) taste of home together, Brook did the dishes and we relaxed until it was time for a Christmas movie.  It really felt like home… despite the 90 degree temps, of course.

I know this whole post may seem rather ordinary to many of you out there, but to us who live 8,000 miles away from home, residing in a culture that is one of the most opposite from that which we are from, this was truly a big event.  I am so thankful that God has placed people in our lives that we can share our joys and frustrations with, who come from the same culture, are going through the very same things, in the very same country, at the very same time.  Funny how He arranges those sort of things, huh?  God has taken care of us, and provided means of encouragement when we most need it.  This weekend was nothing short of wonderful.

As busy as this past week has been, the following weeks will be just the same… leading into a busy next few months.  I would like to invite you to pray with us for some important travel coming up for us. Thank you in advance!

  • December 19-26: We will be visiting possible ministry locations in Bangkok for placement after completing language school Spring 2010, as well as assisting in some of their Christmas outreach programs.  Pray for clarity, wisdom, and guidance as we try to figure out the next steps in moving toward a more permanent location for our work here in Thailand.
  • January 17-20: Tentative visa run to Penang, Malaysia to pick up Brook’s RA visa, which will enable us to remain in-country 1 year at a time between renewals.  We will also be renewing my O visa (3-month) as I will not ride on the RA visa until Brook’s work permit comes in (hopefully within 3 months from now).
  • February 15: We leave for a 1 month term in Singapore at the OMF International Headquarters for organizational instruction and business matters.  When we return to Lopburi in mid-March, we will jump fully back into language study, aiming to finish in June/July.

December 9, 2009 Posted by | Food, Tasty Tuesdays, Thailand | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prayer above all things…

Today we met with other OMF missionaries from all over central Thailand for one reason. Prayer. When living on the other side of the world, in a culture so ingrained in ancient beliefs and hopelessness, the need for prayer seemingly becomes more evident. When we’re faced with new situations, new questions about who we are and why we are here, we turn to prayer. When making tough decisions about family life or where and when to serve, we turn to prayer. It always seems when there is something we need, the automatic function is to turn to God.

But what about the everyday stuff? Do we really take the time to get to know our God, our Father, the One who created it all? How much time do we set aside to just sit and talk with Him? Those are things I have to ask myself constantly, as I too forget to pray when things are going well. After all, if nothing’s going wrong, what would we even talk about?

Thai flag prayer

For one whole day, all available workers in OMF central Thailand joined together in lifting up the Thai people in prayer. I was a bit apprehensive going into it, as I tend to be one who prays silently when in groups, rather than aloud with the others. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would be with so many people whom I had yet to know, pouring out our hearts and desires for the people of Thailand, all together, all at once…

But, I was moved.

It was a privilege to be allowed to pray with people who have given a greater portion of their lives to serving in this country. It was encouraging to hear their stories of trials and triumphs in differing regions of Thailand, with different people groups, different tribes and systems of belief. It was beautiful to listen to the praises and prayers of thanksgiving being offered for all that has been already accomplished over the years in Thailand.  It was a wonderful feeling to know that now, by the grace of God, I have become another part of this body of believers who have dedicated their lives to serving and loving the Thai people.

Please, join with us daily in prayer for the people of Thailand.  Their culture is ever so deeply ingrained in the Thai Buddhist belief system (a seeming synchretism between Buddhist thought, Hindu beliefs, and practices of animism), and it will take much work, much love, much patience, and even more prayer to break through the darkness we see every day.

Prayer is not something we should resort to only when we have requests, rather it should be something we do daily to offer thanks and praise for all of the blessings we already have. I want to encourage you to remember this, as I must also remind myself of the same.

December 3, 2009 Posted by | Thailand | , , , | Leave a comment

Tasty Tuesday – Thanksgiving #1

Yesterday we had to privilege of joining with a small group of fellow Americans in celebrating Thanksgiving here in Thailand.  Over the past 4 months, we have gotten to know a wonderful couple who have been serving in this country for near 30 years, and this year they invited us to join them.  There were a total of 9 adults, 1 toddler, and 2 very new babies in attendance, and it couldn’t have more enjoyable.

The meal was set for 1:00 pm.  We arrived early though, so I could prepare my contribution to the meal, as we had about a 1.5 hour bus ride during which holding a hot pot of mashed potatoes would not have been enjoyable!  As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by their shaggy-haired dog named Moe – who later became our foot warmer under the table – and a home that smelled of a roasted bird and sage stuffing.  It may not have looked like home, or had the weather we are used to during the Thanksgiving holiday, but the smells were there!

IMG_0476 smSince turkey is not easy to find, and when it can be found is rather expensive, our hostess roasted 2 chickens instead.  She also made a sage stuffing that was similar to my mother’s, which again made me feel just a little bit closer to home.  I made a big pot of mashed potatoes to go along with gravy made from the chicken’s drippings.  Someone else brought homemade dinner rolls.  We used black currant jam in place of cranberries (wonderful – you all should try it!), as those are difficult to find here as well.  There was a bowl of broccoli, a pot of roasted snap peas and sliced carrots,  and, of course, a pumpkin pie.  (My dad would have been happy about that part!)

After a short devotional time and prayer, as we began filling our plates with all the goodies before us, each person around the table named 5 things we were thankful for… and it was hard to name only 5.  Despite all of the problems, setbacks, difficulties, goodbyes, and stresses we have had to face in this past whirlwind of a year, we have been incredibly blessed.  Just to name a few…

  • We are healthy and able to live each day.
  • We have loving families who support us even though their hearts wish for us to be near them at home.
  • We have friends and churches who continually encourage us and make us feel loved.
  • I have a faithful husband beside me to share in both the joys and trials of each day we go through.
  • We are, by the grace of God, debt-free!
  • We are living the dream placed in our hearts only a few years ago, pursuing excellence in language studies, and moving forward in the work we have been called to.
  • We have received our RA Visa status, and final proceedings to make it official should occur before the year is out.
  • We have the friend/mentorship of some solid Christian missionaries to guide us through the beginning steps in building a life in Thailand.

And so much more!

December 1, 2009 Posted by | Food, Tasty Tuesdays | , , , , , , | 1 Comment