Todd doing toddly stuff

T-bone and I are still separated by *sniff* the Pacific Ocean, so we chatted on the phone last night. Our conversation went something like this:

Todd: “My Dearest Love, you know that I support your blogging habit. However, I have always secretly felt very hurt that you do not feature more photos of me in your posts.”

Me: “My One and Only Angel, thank-you for sharing your true feelings with me. I would be happy to rectify this situation.”

100_2090

“She left me out of her blog. Again. I can’t take it.”

Or something like that. This conversation must have been fabricated divinely inspired, because I have a few photos of Todd’s trip to Canada that I have been wanting to share. There’s nothing I like more than a blog post with three sections – it just seems so … complete – so here are three typical toddly activities.

1. Todd really enjoys doing strange and/or risky stuff, and life with my family provides endless opportunities for this. Arguably, marrying into my family was the single most strange and risky thing that Todd has ever done in his life. As for my family, they still can’t believe their good luck that someone as normal as Todd willingly joined the clan.

100_2058

The Vooys men meet Todd:
“Ooh. What is it?” “I think it’s a man.” “Don’t let him get away!”

During this visit, Poppity Pops was particularly excited to share his latest hobby with his strapping (relatively) young son-in-law: scything the grass in the green belt behind my parents’ house. The city was just takin’ too darned long to mow it, so Poppity Pops took matters into his own hands.

IMG_2533

Hmmm…. this photo gives me the creeps but I can’t figure out why…

Good thing Todd comes from Strong Mennonite Stock, because there was a serious amount of grass that needed attention, and Poppity Pops was relentless.

IMG_2537

Just ten more acres, T-bone.

Strangely enough, scythes do not include baskets that catch the clippings, so while Todd scythed, Poppity Pops scooped up the clippings with his bare hands, and hucked them in a nearby field. Teamwork at its finest.

IMG_2540

Todd finally snaps: “I married your daughter! Isn’t that enough?!”

After the scything endeavour, my mother gave Todd a haircut as a reward. Todd couldn’t bear to be separated from his favourite nephew, Ezekiel The Prophet Dog, so my parents groomed them together:

IMG_2545

The family resemblance is really quite striking

2. Todd really enjoys channelling his voyageur side wherever he finds himself. Due to the insane flooding in the Calgary area, we weren’t able to get out on the river during this trip, but Todd comforted himself with the next best option: gunnel wars. This nifty game has three steps. First up, enjoy a Canadian beer that doesn’t taste like warm canal water.

IMG_2448

This ain’t no Chang.

Second: find yerself a life jacket that allows you to be both safe AND stylish:

IMG_2455

Success!

And finally, intimidate your opponent with your sheer animal prowess:

IMG_2459

May the studliest life jacket win!

3. This last activity is pretty self-explanatory. Eating schtuff is perhaps the most important toddly activity of them all, and the man does it with panache and extreme joy.

IMG_2415

Well, T-bone, I hope that you find this photo essay of yourself to be adequate, but if you are still unsatisfied, have no fear: I promise that as soon as I step off the plane in Bangkok, I will document your every waking move with my camera and you will never have to feel left out of this blog ever again.

Foodie Fridays: How to Make Cheese in an Elfin Kitchen!

(Whoops! Sorry once again for the late Foodie Friday post! I spent the last few days in Cambodia with a group from my church (not visa related!), and due to the hours of bus travel/brutally long passport control lines/crazy outreach in Siem Reap, blogging got a little delayed).

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I like to rant about my apartment in general, and my kitchen more specifically (see this post or this post). Basically, it was designed by/for elves. Everything is miniature, from the single hot plate, to the shelf that is perfectly positioned to smack your forehead when you stand up. The sink is so low that Todd washes dishes sitting down, and the fridge holds approximately one jug of milk and 3 eggs. Because of this, for the first few months that we lived here, we ate out most of the time. However, as time goes on, we have been craving a little home cooked (ie: not drenched in sugar and msg) goodness. This craving, coupled with the paucity of cheap dairy products in Bangkok, led me to experiment with cheese making. Unfortunately, rennet (necessary for harder cheeses) is not readily available in Bangkok, but the ingredients for ricotta/cottage cheese are easy to find. This is a great recipe for my fellow Bangkokians who have limited kitchen resources, or for anyone who wants to become reacquainted with the pioneering spirit.

Ricotta for an Elfin Kitchen

Time frame: 45min plus 1-5 hours of draining time

(recipe taken from this site)

1. Find a kitchen. Hopefully the elves haven’t hidden it.

Oops! There’s one hiding on the side of my toaster. Classy.

2. Gather your ingredients and equipment. You will need:

– A strainer/colander

– cheesecloth

– half a cup of white vinegar

– 2 litres of milk (any fat percentage will work, but remember that more fat = tastier).

– a saucepan with a lid

Tip: to make your own “cheesecloth,” you can use a tea towel, or, in this case, an old shirt. Simply find your husband or another random dude, steal his ugliest shirt, and cut it up. Wash it first if you don’t fancy man-flavoured cheese.

3. Begin by heating the milk in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. You want to heat it until it is 120F, or, if you don’t have a thermometer, until it feels warm but not hot.

Sterilize your finger with boiling water first if you’re nervous about germs.

4. When the milk has reached “warm” status, turn off the heat. Pour the vinegar into the milk, and gently stir the mixture until the ingredients are combined.

We haven’t splurged on measuring cups yet.

It will soon start to separate.

5. Cover the pot, and let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes. When you remove the cover after 30 minutes, the mixture should look something like this:

Curds and whey.

6. Line your strainer (in this case, part of my salad spinner) with the cheesecloth.

7. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the lined strainer.

Like I said, the shelf is the correct height for forehead whacking.

8. Allow it to drain for a few minutes, then gather the corners of the cloth together, and gently squeeze the mixture to release additional moisture.

Drain that sucker.

9. The next step is an optional one. Once most of the moisture has been drained from your bundle, you can rinse the bundle (still wrapped up) under the tap to get rid of the vinegar flavour, and gently massage it to break up the curd. I once forgot to follow this step, and my cheese still turned out fine.

I wasn’t able to take a photo of this step, because my photographer disappeared and I don’t have a third arm.

10. Once your cheese is rinsed (or not), hang the bundle on a protruding object to allow it to drain further. I like to use my kitchen tap. The longer you leave it, the firmer it will be. I let mine hang for 1-5 hours, depending on my mood and my schedule. If you’re unsure, open the bundle and take a peek to determine the firmness of the cheese.

11. After the cheese has hung out for a sufficient amount of time, open the bundle.

Sour milk is so tasty.

11. Scrape your fresh cheese into a container. I like to mix in some salt when I make it. You really could add any number of seasonings – pepper, garlic, chillies, jam, etc. I also like to refrigerate mine for a bit before eating, but you could also just tear into it like a ravening wolf.

It’s also great on pancakes, and I’m sure it would be charming in a lasagne, but since I don’t have an oven, I really can’t verify this.

12. Serve to your favourite elves, (now shirtless) husbands, and Intrepid Italian houseguests.

“Sorry” for cutting up your ugly shirt, T-bone.

The Italian approves.

Yum.