Up On The Roof

Photos by MJ Klein & Hui-chen

When this old world starts a getting me down

And people are just too much for me to face
I’ll climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below don’t bother me, no, no

The Drifters, 1968 (I personally knew Mr. Bill Pinkney who recently passed away).

We love our rooftop cabana. It’s a great place to escape the heat and catch some air and relax with a cool drink. We like to cook up there and invite friends over to relax and enjoy the sights from 5 stories up.

Today, Hui-chen and I spent several hours “up on the roof” and I took lots of photos this time. After all I wouldn’t want to be accused of making it all up!

The only drawback is the amount of stuff that I have to carry up there every time we want to hang out on the roof. The floor below is our “party room” with all of the stuff we use on the roof. The good part of it that I get exercise hauling the stuff upstairs.


Some kids noticed me on the roof and were trying to get my attention. 300mm lens time!

Fire lit, and the 12″ Dutch oven placed over the coals. It was very well cleaned from the last time I used it. Here you see that I have added olive oil.

This is the lid, and the tool that I used to handle the very hot lid. It works very well and holds the lid securely so it can’t fall. In this shot the lid is on the divot that I talked about previously.

While cooking, I like to enjoy an adult beverage. The drink of choice today was Sang Som Royal Thai Rum. I’ve switched to plastic cups because the paper cups leaked!

Nearly every Dutch oven recipe begins with “brown the meat” or “brown the vegetables” so here I am browning the mushrooms and garlic. Overcooking the garlic makes it bitter so you have to be careful.

Browning the meat in all that mushroom and garlic goodness.

Then the mushrooms and garlic are added back to the pot.

Then my herb of choice: fresh basil. Seems like I’ve been using a lot of this herb lately. I love it but the problem is that all the dishes start to taste the same.

I covered everything with store-bought spaghetti sauce. This dish wasn’t going to be a spectacular original creation, just something homestyle and easy to prepare. However, just cooking it a Dutch oven imparts a certain flavor to any dish that is hard to duplicate otherwise. For those of you who are interested in checking out just what you can cook in a Dutch oven, I suggest that you look at Byron’s Dutch Oven Recipes.

Lastly, I covered the top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Hui-chen patiently awaits the results.

This dish requires a lot of top coals. Most dishes require more top coals than bottom coals but today I’m using about 2:1 top:bottom. Top coals make it possible to bake in a Dutch oven. Cakes and even breads are all possible with a Dutch Oven. In this case I am trying to brown the top of the cheese and sauce.

In the meantime, I shot a few rounds with my new 6mm BB gun. This is the target of my rooftop shooting range, Rev.1. Rev.2 will capture the BBs for recycling. I’m working on that design now.

We had some wonderful Taiwan corn left from the other day, so we grilled it Native American style right on the hot coals.

Hui-chen enjoys handling the grilling chores.

When the outside of the corn husk is evenly blackened the corn is done. One simply peels the husk back and it forms a handle. Here you see me rolling the ear in New Zealand butter.

Next, a pinch of salt, and….

That grilled flavor is hard to beat! Leaving the husk on it protects the kernels from ashes and drying out. The moisture inside the husk steams the corn and the burnt husk gives the corn a nice smoky flavor. Personally, I cannot stand the grilled corn served in Taiwan. The ears are stripped and then grilled with a sauce that is supposed to make up for drying it to death. It doesn’t work. That style of grilled corn is hard, dry and disgusting. But, I have had quite a few Taiwanese ridicule me for grilling with the husk on, even refusing to eat it because it couldn’t possibly be any good!

Meanwhile, one of our neighbors insisted on going through a gate where cars aren’t supposed to go. She pulled her mirror in so she could fit through the hole. Come on people, this defeats the purpose of living on a quiet street with no through traffic.

Finally, it’s done!

The dish was OK for standard fare. I should have made some pasta to go along with it. Perhaps next time!

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  1. I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now. I find it very interesting. I went back and caught up a few days and realized that you are from Derry! Obviously I knew you where from NH but I figure more up -country. Instead your from spacetown! I am nearby in Windham. Keep them coming! I would love to hear your story about how you really started doing what you are doing now. You don’t seem to fit in to the usual categories of expats I read about.

  2. thanks for reading and for your comments, Mike. i lived in Derry for 5 years before moving to Taiwan. i love NH and the outdoor lifestyle there. Taiwan’s outdoor lifestyle is a bit different but it’s also very worthwhile and interesting.

    i don’t fit in with the usual expat categories because i am not in Taiwan for the usual reasons. also i don’t consider myself an expat; i am an immigrant to Taiwan and i live here permanently. i live in a small town and i rarely interact with foreigners and even more rarely, speak in English to local people.

    for me to explain how i ended up here would take a volume of text! if i thought it would interest anyone i would write about it on the blog. but i think it’s better to show photographs and talk about what is going on these days.

    thanks again for reading Mike.

  3. wait that minute?! what is going on?! is that… is that the bushman without a bush shirt?!?!?
    hell has frozen over!!! now, i’ve seen it all!!!

    hahahaha… just playing around. hey, i’m so jealous! can’t wait to get my own place with a rooftop so i can do the exact same thing!

  4. Andres: hahahaha! good call, bro! that is my Thai yellow shirt, in honor of the Thai King, 2006. I wore it because i live in a Thai neighborhood and people can see us up on the roof!

    until you get your own place, Hui-chen and I invite you to use our roof as your own. you are welcome anytime! we expect to have you over as our guests after your Maioli party!

  5. I didn’t realize that you intended to live permanently to Taiwan. Wasn’t immigration and visa’s a problem like what people go thru in Thailand.

  6. Mike, the process, although frustrating sometimes because it requires lots of running around, was in reality, very easy compared to more other countries. the reason that it’s so easy compared to Thailand is because the reasons for emigrating to Taiwan are completely different than Thailand for example. in Taiwan, there is no farang population of retired old men (i could go on about this but i won’t). so the process is much easier because Taiwan doesn’t have to try to filter these kinds of people out of the country. on the contrary, our President recently stated that Taiwan extends all rights to spouses.

    think about this Mike: have you ever read on a website about some farang who has “retired in paradise” and he is talking about Taiwan? no. it’s Thailand or the Philppines usually. the reason is that these guys can’t get a modern, sophisticated, edcuated woman from Taiwan.

  7. I am happy to hear that your immigration situation is a positive one. Your a lucky man.

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