A Return to Chili~Lime~Garlic

I know!  It’s been a long time. Forgive me.

I’ve not been writing and sharing but I’ve been cooking and baking like never before.  Let’s just say I cook nearly all of our meals at home. Yes. 99% unless we have guests or we are out and about in another city. For the most part, when we are at home it’s all homemade.

Since the last time I wrote in December 2013 ~ Woa that’s a long time ago ~ a lot has happened. We traveled a lot  as usual and 2014 was no different==  we were in Taiwan (3 months during Summer). Malaysia (2+ months),  Texas (2 months for winter holidays), back to Thailand in January 2015 for three weeks and MOVED to Taiwan in February.   We started homeschooling our daughter as of June 2014.

We’ve been in Taiwan since February 2015.   We moved to a small town on Southeastern coast of Taiwan at the end of May.  You can read about our jaunt from Thailand to Taiwan here on my other blog. Then about all the dramas since we arrived to Taiwan here  here and here.

golden rice

Life is simple in our new home surrounded by rice fields and the sky. And we love it.  Well except as of  September, we have lots of tomato fields around us too but that’s a whole other story on its own that I may tell you about. But you may not want to eat tomatoes again after reading it. Eeeek!

The great thing about living where we are is that we have an oven and a rice cooker in the spacious kitchen. The traditional Taiwanese rice cooker is my favorite because it could be used for steaming all kinds of food.  More on that in other posts too.

In addition, my 12 year-old has had the opportunity to cook with me more in our new place which has a very spacious kitchen.  She’s also had ample opportunities to bake here using  the tiny oven. We’ve made steamed buns and bread with ingredients like sweet potatoes from a friend’s garden. She’s had the opportunity to learn about what it means to grow our own food, about gardening, composting, planting chemical free and being aware of how we treat the earth and the natural resources.

We only have bicycles.   We don’t own a car.  Local friends are always amazed that we ride all over the place with our bicycles and not own a car.   We even volunteer at a town about 8 kilometers away from us and in order to get there we can either ride there or take the bicycles on the train to get there and then ride there.

One of the things we make a lot of lately since moving here is steamed buns. We’ve tried so many variety of recipes and tweaking them to fit the way we like to make them. We like using whole wheat flour and it’s been a challenge making steamed buns to rise properly. We make Japanese curries from scratch.  I’ve taught my daughter how to make several Burmese and Thai dishes. She can make pancakes, fried rice, fried noodles, jams from scratch also. She is quite the helper in the kitchen.

So much learning and living going on here in our new living environment.    Hope to share the delicious  foods we cooked, baked and steamed.

Hopefully, my daughter, Culinary Cookie (her user name),  the Junior Chef in the house, will also feel comfortable sharing what she is making in our Chili~ Lime ~ Garlic kitchen in Taiwan.

And with that we’re back to revive this blog once again!

Cheers. The Tawian's East Coast Sky


Father’s Day in Thailand: Sun Pyote for Breakfast

It’s been a long time since I wrote here last, over one year!

I’ve been cooking a lot in our new home in Chiang Mai.  We moved to our 4th place in August and you can read more about it here I included pictures. We love our new place, away from the city, but I like being able to see the fields and the mountains around us.

In our new place, I love that we have a spacious kitchen and I have been cooking almost everyday!

Today is the King’s birthday in Thailand so naturally, we made a special breakfast for Jack. Emma was my little helper. See?

M helpng 2

M helpng

What did we make?  We made Sun Pyote, that’s rice soup in Burmese.  Last night I made some lemongrass tea with kaffir lime peels and ginger.  I added the boiled lemongrass water which adds geat aroma and taste to the soup.

lemongrass teaHere’s how I made mine. I’m sure there are many versions out there,  but this is my version.  And again, I don’t cook with particular measurements. I just cook with a dash of that and a sprinkle of this. Sorry. I”ll do my best to give some kind of measurements.

Left over rice which I think was about a cup, and enough water to cover the rice over medium heat. I placed rice and water to be boiled in a pot until the rice became a bit mushy!   You may need to keep adding water if it gets too thick (maybe 1/2 cup). You can add any veggies you’d like really but I had a whole lot of carrots so I added cubed carrots about 10 minutes after I started boiling the rice.  Carrots are sweet and add great color to Sun Pyote. I boiled some more for approximately 10 more minutes or until the carrots are ready, and making sure the soup doesn’t stick to the bottom and have enough water in it. Instead of adding water when it was getting a bit dryer, I added the lemongrass water so to add more flavor and aroma to the dish. I added maybe about 1/3 cup.  Sorry I really don’t measure when I am cooking.

I also added 3 large cloves of diced garlic and diced 1/2 small onion a few minutes before I turn off the fire on the stove.

Add salt to taste.  If preferred, add soy sauce.

rice soupToppings.

  • Sprinkled black sesame seeds
  • Chopped green onions
  • Fresh thinly sliced ginger
  • Thinly sliced carrots
  • Pickled leeks or anything pickled like kim chee is good to give it some crunchy and sour taste
  • Pickled ginger
  • Dash of sesame oil
  • Fried garlic and or fried onions
  • Shredded fish (i brought back from Burma)
  • Boiled egg  if preferred

breakfastM n DaddyBreakfast included Sun Pyoute (rice soup), lemongrass hot tea, mini oranges also known as cuties, and carrot beet and lemongrass juice.

Happy Father’s Day to Jack!  It’s great to celebrate US, Thailand and Taiwan’s Father’s Days! We are lucky and grateful everyday!

Happy Father’s Day to all the Father’s out there!  Cheers from Chiang Mai!



Flavored Water with Your Favorite Fruits

My daughter loves milk. She loves homemade juice and not-so-homemade- juices too!  She normally drinks a lot of water at school but not so much at home.  Often, I have to remind her to drink more water.    Most Mums might agree that we have to remind our kids to drink more water.

In effort to encourage her to drink more water, I made flavored water for us.  It’s the easiest thing to do for myself and my child too!

Like all my other recipes on this blog, there are no hard and fast rules.  You adjust, tweak, go with your gut instincts and make what tastes good and sooth your taste buds.

Here is an estimate of how I made my flavored water and other suggestions for you!

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Garlic Ginger Rosemary Salmon

I love garlic.  I eat it raw. I add it in my food to most, if not all of my cooking.  I eat it pickled.  I eat it all the time.

When we used to live in Texas, before moving to Thailand, I cooked fish more often. After moving to Thailand and no real kitchen for more than 18 months, I usually order salmon when we go to our favorite Japanese place in Chiang Mai.

Here’s a very fast and easy way to get your Omega3 and have a delicious healthy dish in about 30 minutes.

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Black Bean Salad

I refer to this as black bean salad but it really has a lot of great healthy ingredients in addition to black beans.  You don’t have to use all these ingredients.  You can use what you have.  Just like my fried rice recipe, you can make a salad with many items you already have in your fridge and/or  pantry.    And remember, I don’t have exact measurements because my cooking is driven by taste and instinct. I make enough for a family of 3 – 6.

Cooked black beans (1 cup)

Cooked black eyed peas (1/2 cup)

Corn (1/2 cup)

Red, yellow, orange sweet peppers(1/2 cup)

Celery 1 -2 stalks cut

Avocado (1 sm or med sized cubed)

Onion (1 sm cubed)

Carrots (cubed)

Green Onions (sliced)

Cilantro (several strands cut)

Romaine lettuce (2 – 3 cups cut)

You could even add red onions, red cabbage, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, blueberries, beets, dried cranberries, apples, crushed walnuts, pecans, peanuts, cashews, cheese, along with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds– the list is endless).

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl except nuts, seeds and cheese.  Add these last like a topping or leave on the side and each individual could add to their salad as they please.  Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil, splash of vinegar (I had pomegranate infused red wine vinegar), a splash of lime or lemon, a dash of salt or no salt seasoning, a dash of soy sauce (optional) and if you’d like, you could even sprinkle some roasted black sesame seeds and sesame oil.  Because we had it, I even added the juice from pickled ginger –you know, the kind you eat with your sushi. I also added pickled garlic and its juice into the mix.

You could make the dressing on the side and then add to the salad which is what I usually do.  I usually also leave a small bowl of extra dressing on the side in case someone wants more on their individual salad.

There you have it.  A delicious and easy way to make a great salad that could go with any meal or eat it by itself.

Tip: as described above,  you can add any pickled juice when you make your dressing for your salad. If you asked me, I’d tall you to make your own salad dressing, don’t buy it.  You save money and you know exactly what’s in your salad dressing.  You’ll never have to read another salad dressing label again.




Cafe Escape: Buak Haad Park

As I have written in my other cafe hunting post, I like trying out different cafes with air conditioning to escape the Chiang Mai heat and to share it with my readership of 5!  Ha ha, okay 6! . Happy to report we found another nice one.  There are so many cafes here in Chiang Mai that pops-up and you never know how long they will stay around. Last week we went to one close to our house and realized it was no longer a cafe- well it was more like a real estate office- they just forgot to change the signs. :-)  No worries, we have many other choices.

In 2008 when I came with my Mother to Chiang Mai as a side trip from India and Burma, I knew this is where I would want to live with my family.  In 2009 I was lucky enough to convince my hubby to return here on Summer holiday.  As with any family with a young child, the first thing we tried to find was a place where we could take her for some outdoors play time. This park known to us as Chiang Mai park was the perfect place for such activity.

We fed the pigeons and had picnics here during that trip.  Since we moved to Chiang Mai in 2010, we’ve had many gatherings here with friends for yoga, thai chi sessions and play dates with our daughter’s friends as well as the annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival.  We went for a nice walk this morning here (we counted 565 steps, 1.27 km there’s an app for that) which isn’t much, I know, but my right arm and my hand started to tingle again,  so we stopped. :-(

The place where we use to do yoga and thai chi is now Cafe de Garden.  It is quite spacious with lots of comfortable seating inside and out, several outlets around the cafe, fast wi-fi as there are very few people (as in one other person) utilizing it,  staff that smiles and quite a peaceful view of the park like the picture below.

The best part:  we are nicely surrounded by green grass, trees, a large pond, pigeons flying about, and a water fountain.

Open 8 am – 8 pm.

The park is opened from 5am – 9pm.

We enjoyed the Banana-Black Sesame smoothie for 50b = $1.67. There is also a food menu and they have rice and noodles dishes from 45b to 65b per dish. Haven’t had any food here but I’ve seen a few customers came in for lunch and left.  Mwwaaahaaahaaa more wifi juice for us!   And now we are thinking about the cheese cakes for about 70b or $2.33.

So there you have it.  Another cafe with air con!

I’ll keep an eye out on all the places I’ve written as long as I live here to give proper updates- as in – it’s still in business!  Hate for you to show up and have it turned into a bike shop!  :-)

And burrrrr it’s cold under this air conditioner.

Here are other cafes in Chiang Mai with air conditioning:

Cafe Escape: The Hunt

Cafe Hunting: Macadamia Nut Brownie

Cafe Hunting: A Massage and a Cheesecake

Cafe Hunting: The Crepe Cake

Until the next post- Cheers from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Samosa Salad

This is probably one of the simplest, easiest salad you will learn to make.  I will show you how.

I love samosas don’t you? You can devour them very quickly. They are so delicious.

I usually pick up my samosas from the Friday morning market here in Chiang Mai.  I can find them any time of the week but since we make a family tradition out of going to the Friday morning market every week, we get our samosas from there.  Not every Friday, but almost.

Place the samosas in the toaster over to cook them so that they are crispy and warm. We also bought some fried tohu so we added them as well

NOTE:  I make my salads based on what I have in my fridge. Since I like salads a lot, I usually make sure I have cabbage and onions in my kitchen.   And of course,  Chili ~ Lime ~ Garlic!

I also had green mangos at the time and I included thinly sliced pieces in the salad.

Thinly sliced cabbage.

Sliced tomatoes.. NOT too big.

You could add onions and cilantro as well if you wish.  We didn’t this time.

Add all the cut veggies into a large bowl.

Cut the samosas and the tofu with a pair of scissors into the large bowl. Not too big, bite sizes.

Usually, along with the purchase of the samosas you should get some dipping sauce.  I usually use the sauce to add to my salad as dressing.

If you don’t have sauce, it’s very easy to make some.

Vinegar, lime, water, brown sugar, salt, crushed and diced garlic and ginger, and chili pepper flakes.

Add a little dressing to the salad and mix everything together. Add more as needed until you are satisfied with the taste of it.


And there you have it.  I love salads. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.  Let me know if you have any questions on making this one.  I’d be happy to help!



Cafe Escapes: The Hunt

We’ve been hunting for new cafes with air-con in the past couple of weeks.   Frankly, it’s an absolute fun activity for me to visit and try out many different cafes.  It’s an adventure exploring and discovering new cafes each day. I much prefer not to go back to the same cafe over and over unless it is Akha Ama! In that case, I keep going back because of some friends there and well, I will only drink their coffee.

Besides, going to cafe on a lonely planet’s list or any other popular lists sometimes means crowd, slower internet and more expensive.

Today we’re at Coffee Bee which is right across from Airport Plaza next to the Chiang Mai golf driving range.  We’ve lived in Chiang Mai for nearly 2 years and guess how many times we’ve passed this cafe? Too many!  Just had to put that to an end! :-)  What I usually see are iPads lining up along the glass wall as we drive by on our motorbike.

And for the record, we’re not hunting for the best coffee in town. We’ve already settled that- it’s Akha Ama Coffee.  We’re only looking for quaint places with air con where we can hangout and we found some this week.

Coffee Bee – we’re here now and I can see us returning in the future. This little cozy and bright place is filled with white antique-ish furniture with velvet cushions, decorations of lace and grace,  relaxing music playing to cover the traffic noise in this area with occasional sounds of tuk-tuk’s reminding me that I’m still in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

There are four iPads available for your use and a large-screened apple computer. All complementary of Coffee Bee including the fast wifi.   Nice concept, eh?  I like it!  10b an hour to recharge for electronic devices.  That’s not bad compared to Doi Chaang – they charge 30b per hour.

We ordered an ice green tea and a strawberry yogurt smoothie. We’re set for the next couple of hours until it’s time for us to pick up our girl from school. They have a limited selection for your sweet tooth like brownies and blueberry cheesecake. There’s smoothies, juices, teas and coffee with prices ranging from 40b to 65b. Their hours are from 8 am – 8 pm.

That’s my hubby reading a book on Kindle and chilling at the cafe. Oh and we did have peace for a few hours until a very spoiled child started storming this place and Mom let her continue for about 20 minutes.  Thank goodness for our ears, she did the screaming outside. Hopefully, this does not happen often.

We came back in the afternoon with our daughter and she did her homework at the cafe. M had a chance to play on the iPad as well.  She was happy.  Most people know to come and grab the iPad, use, place it back on the charging dock when they are finished!

We came by here before yesterday, but it was quite full in the afternoon so we left and decided to come back.  Instead of Coffee B we drifted off to another little place in the same parking lot at the other end next to the DHL office.

Jaokun Coffee –  this is another quaint little place hidden in the corner.  I didn’t know it was there until we went to DHL office to drop off a package the other day.  I made a note to return there and glad we did.

Similar price range as coffee bee.  They have coffee, juices and smoothies but no iPads and no sweets.  There is wifi and it worked and worked fast.  We ordered the Iced green tea for 50b and I had a small tub of yogurt bringing our total to 63b.

We were the only two there – lots of quiet time to chat and get some work done. I like the outdoor area of this particular place because there’s a lush and cozy green garden. Their hours are from 8 am – 8 pm.

It is located in the same parking lot as DHL and Budget car rental across from Airport plaza.  Very easy to spot if you are looking for it otherwise, easily missed.

Janhom Restaurant – for lunch, we walked over to the newly discovered Thai restaurant that overlooks the golf driving range.  I read that this restaurant serves some southern style Thai food, which means spicy!

We discovered a large menu filled with many choices including seafood dishes.  Not your typical 30b -40b street stall dish kind of place though. Their menu rage from 70b – 190b for dishes, which is still not bad at all compared to Western prices. Seems it is an older restaurant that has been here for a while.  The age of the place is noticeable based on the look of the air con, the stained walls and the torn up floors.  Still it is air-conditioned, has wifi, a wine bar, tables are either covered with table cloths and place mats.

Except the napkins, well  the tissues.  They were literally fold-up toilet paper in a fancy glass ware like this one! :-)

We had decent dishes.  We were not all that hungry so we both got something very light.  I ordered the stir fried seafood with Thai herbs. This dish, as you can see from all the chili peppers, definitely had a KICK and fragrant flavors from the herbs.

My husband had something simple as well since we both wanted something light. He liked the kale and crispy pork on steamed rice.

Below is the golf driving rage in front of the restaurant.  They charge 3 carts for 100b and I think there are about 40 used balls in each cart. That’s 120 golf balls for 100b = $3.33!

Oh and remember I said it over looks the Chiang Mai driving range? Here’s the view from our table!

Just in that one area across from the airport plaza there’s a golf range which has its own wifi, a restaurant with decent food which has its own wifi also and two coffee shops within walking distance both with wifi, air con and one with iPads.

Well there you have it.  I found a few more cool-off zones for you in Chiang Mai.

Here are a list of other cool-off zones we found.

Cafe Hunting: Macadamia Nut Brownie

Cafe Hunting: A Massage and a Cheesecake

Cafe Hunting: The Crepe Cake

Cafe Hunting:  Yes, at the Park

Cafe Hunting: 100% Chocolate (coming soon)

Enjoy them all.  Come back and tell me what you think about them.

Be well and cheers from Chiang Mai, Thailand.


Cellophane Noodles and Bamboo Strips Recipe

We frequent several vegetarian restaurants here in Chaing Mai.  Chiang Mai is a vegetarian’s heaven since there are so many cafes and restaurants from which to choose.

Often when I go to the Taiwanese vegetarian restaurant near Chiang Mai gate, I order this dish (when they have it).  Since I like it so much, I decided to make my own version at home.

Note about cellophane noodles- also known as bean thread noodles, crystal noodles, or glass noodles.

One bunch of dry cellophane noodles (small bag) costs about 8b = 27 cents or buy a large bag of 10 for a lot less like 60b or $2.  I can get about .35 kilo of stripped bamboo shoots for about 10b = 33 cents.  (Bamboo shoot strips can be found in cans in the US). This is why food is sooo cheap here in Thailand.  When I cook at home it’s even cheaper.  Although that’s not the only reason I cook at home. I cook at home for several reasons.  I suppose I need another post for those reasons! :-)


3 bags of the noodles

2 cups of bamboo shoots

1 large onion, thinly sliced

a few pieces of garlic, diced or mashed or how ever way you like it

2-3 T of oil (grape seed is my choice, but extremely expensive here in Thailand)

Pinches of salt and black pepper

Fish sauce (if you like)

1-2 eggs (if you wish)

Obviously, you can customize it with your own favorite veggies and even tofu.  My recommendation is to cut the veggies in strips or string like thin slices. Carrots or red bell peppers would be nice because that will give nice coloring in the dish and tasty too!  :-)  I like shiitake mushrooms in this dish but I didn’t put any in the pictured dish.  Didn’t have any at the time.

Saute the garlic first in oil.  Then add the onions and cook on medium heat until golden brown. Now add the bamboo shoots or other veggies. Don’t over cook the veggies unless you like them that way!

Boil the cellophane noodles in a different pot but don’t drain them.  You need to time it so that when the noodles are ready,  transfer them straight from the pot to the frying pan.  Or you could let the noodles soak in some hot water so that the noodles are not fully cooked. Once the noodles become glass-like, you can transfer to the frying pan.  You’ll have to add a bit of water because you are now continuing to cook the noodles and the veggies together in the frying pan.

The noodles tend to cluster.  Since we are not using a LOT of oil, to keep noodles from clustering, this dish is best eaten immediately after it is cooked.  That’s what I do.  I serve it right away and I don’t cook it until close to eating time.  Other wise, lots of oil to keep the noodles NOT cluster so much.

Well there you have it. It’s a good alternative vegetarian dish and quite tasty.

Here’s the finished dish.  I ate it with nge-pea-kyaw and srirachi type sauce.  Nge-pea-kyaw is a combination of grounded dried shrimp, dried chili pepper flakes, fish sauce, onions and fried onions.

This dish will go well with my sidekick salad.

I hope you’ll give this a try. Go ahead, experiment!  Come back and leave me a comment here and tell me what you think.