Butter Beef and Other Treats

Well, the blog has been a little mother-centric lately, and I’m sure she’s starting to feel just like Todd sometimes does (“why does it feel like YOUR blog is always about ME?”), but I had to do one last post on Momalot. Actually, it’s more about the food that she cooked while she was in Bangkok than it is about the gal herself. Homecookin’ is no mean feat when you are operating in an Elfin Kitchen in a strange land, but she rose to the challenge. Momalot has never been one to let a few minor roadblocks like emergency hospital trips prevent her from feedin’ her chilluns. Here are a few of the gems she produced:

1. Butter Beef

Butter Beef is one of my favourite things in the world. It’s exactly what it sounds like: beef cooked in butter. Momalot learned this handy trick from her Dutch mother-in-law: buy some meat (any kind will do), and huck it in a pan with a bunch of butter. Let it simmer for a few hours, then serve it alongside a pile of carbs. You cannot go wrong. This was one of my favourite dishes growing up, and due to its fat-bomb consistency, Momalot would only make it on birthdays. Remembering the few times that I chose something other than Butter Beef for my birthday supper leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

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First, simmer the butter. Don’t skimp.

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Make sure you’re wearing a cute apron when you add the meat.

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Let it cook…

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And cook some more. 6-10 hours should do it. A Canadian potholder will greatly enhance the flavour

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Momalot wishes to state that the meat shouldn’t be quite this black – our stove didn’t offer a low enough temperature to properly cook it. The blackness tastes amazing, though.

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Get yer carbs ready (Yorkshire pudding in this case)

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And mow down. I apologize for the lack of artistry in this shot, but if you knew how hard it was for me to resist eating while I took a photo, you’d forgive me.

I am salivating as I write this. Fortunately for us, Momalot was not content to rest on her laurels. Once we’d digested the Butter Beef (this took a few days), she got to work baking

2. Bread and Cinnamon Buns

My parents are basically the original hippies, minus the drugs and free love – they had a manual push mower long before it was trendy. When I had to mow the lawn as a child, I wished that they were a little less “progressive,” but now that I have no lawn to speak of, I have fond memories. They also bake their own bread from scratch on a weekly basis. It was no problem at all for Momalot to bake bread in our little oven. She hucked some flour and some yeast into a pot, let it rise in the Bangkok heat, and bob’s your uncle: ready to bake.

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“Are you dissing Uncle Bob again?!”

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And apparently we consumed the finished product so quickly that I didn’t even get a photo. Dang.

Finally, Momalot repeated the steps for making bread dough, but this time she also made her own sauce, lined one of our wire mesh racks with aluminum foil, and voila, cranked out a

3. Pizza

This was probably my second favourite meal as a child (after Butter Beef). Unlike Butter Beef, we would often eat this on weekends, as apparently it was not as rough on the ol’ arteries as fat-drenched animal protein. I often wished that we could order takeout pizza instead, but now that I am an adult and have eaten my share of truly dire pizza topped with mysterious meats, I see the error in my ways. There’s just something about knowing where all the ingredients come from that allows you to stuff your face with far more panache.

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Momalot also stocked our cupboards and made us numerous salads, but sadly, I did not document this with my camera. If you want more specific instructions on how to make Butter Beef, let me know, or ask any Dutch Oma who lived through the war. Just like Momalot, she’ll probably have some buttery tricks up her sleeve.

Happy Ho-Ho-Ho-Holidays!

Last week, I was having a pity party because we won’t be home for the holidays. This week, I decided to do something about the melancholia: in fine North American style, I said to T-bone, “Schnookums, let’s celebrate Christmas early by opening the mountain of gifts that our families sent to us, and eating copious amounts of food.”* We are spending Christmas in India, so it seemed  necessary to open our gifts at least a week in advance – this way we have time to fully appreciate their wonderfulness. Basically, I couldn’t wait any longer and T-bone knows how to pick his battles. We started off with Christmas dinner.

I slaved all day in the kitchen to produce this.

We shut our blinds, lit candles, and put on Christmas music. Ahhh. Nothing like a little King’s College Choir and the cheapest bottle of red wine we could find. Thailand has introduced me to the concept of the “red blend.” We could almost pretend that we were in our drafty, aging house in our Canadian ‘hood. Minus the mice and the superfluous coal cellar. Just crank the AC and you have yourself a frosty Christmas.

Our meal concluded with a bowl of Christmas pudding that my mother made (and canned) in 1994. Wonder if my mother suspected that her daughter would be consuming that particular batch with her husband in Thailand in 2012. Maybe. Sometimes mothers just know.

18-years-old pudding covered in 5-minute-old bechamel/white sauce. Don’t ask me for my sauce recipe, because it was a little wonky.

Our families were simultaneously very generous and slightly bizarre. Here are a few of the gems that they sent us:

It just isn’t Christmas for a Dutch person without a chocolate letter and double salted (Dubbel Zout) black licorice. If you live in Big Tree and want to taste a strange and wondrous delicacy, drop by our room.

Feeling a spiritual connection to all my Dutch ancestors.

The best letter in the alphabet made from the best food in the world watches the sunrise from our balcony.

Apparently, this blog has reinforced the idea that Todd loves his birds, and both sides of la familia added to his swag:

Todd, your bird friends will always be there for you. No matter what.

Our mothers must have a psychic connection, because they were really on the same page this year. They decided that they would help us follow the romantic Asian trend of couples wearing matching clothes, and sent us not one but TWO sets of matching t-shirts.

Our matching lululemon running shirts made T-bone tear up. He is relieved that he will finally learn why so many females mortgage their lives to buy this gear.

Reading the inside of his new shirt “Drink fresh water and as much water as possible.” “Dang,” says Todd. “I was about to drink out of the canal, but now I will have to find a fresh water source because lululemon ordered me to.”

And one half of our second shirt duo, from International Justice Mission (IJM), one of our favourite NGOs.

And this wee gem. Now I can be a proper housewife and bake pies all day or whatever it is that good wives supposedly do.

Wow. What is it?

We ended up having a great evening with multiple sugar hits and our multiple matching shirts. Thanks very much to our generous families. Just a warning to all my blog world friends, though: don’t think that just because I’ve done a “Christmas dinner post” you will be spared the massive, massive curry-laden Christmas dinner that we will consume in India. It’s gonna happen. Just sayin’.

*Wow. That sounds pretty frivolous. Let me assure you all that we have not forgotten the “reason for the season,” and that our celebrating will be spiritual as well as materialistic.