Taiwan Cabin In The Country

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Photos by MJ Klein & Hui-chen
WARNING! This post contains photographs of food! It is also the longest blog post I have ever created, with more photos than any other, ever! You have been warned!

Our good friend Andres invited Hui-chen and I to visit a cabin owned by his cousin Becky’s family. Well, they are all the same family but you know what I mean. We jumped at the chance to spend some time in the beautiful Taiwan countryside in Miaoli. Let’s start off with a video that I put together to set the mood.


Now for the details!
On the way we noticed that the bing lang girls wear skimpier outfits than they do in Hukou!
This is the view from the front porch of the cabin. Simply gorgeous!


This is the front porch, just hosed down in the morning sun.


I love the woodwork!


The cabin is beautifully designed and built. But I didn’t spend any time inside.


Becky gets down to serious business and uses a blowtorch to light the charcoal.


While the charcoal is burning down, Karen and Becky do some preparation in the kitchen. You’ll see what they made in a few minutes!


Andres ignored previous warnings about my Dutch oven cooking and asked me to bring one and do some cooking. I didn’t photograph the food going into the Dutch oven. Later on you’ll see what I cooked.


Ahhhh yes, salt pork on the grill. Man this stuff is awesome!


I looked up and saw this wonderful sky. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. Bright sunshine and a light cool breeze.


Hui-chen looked so nice and happy that of course, I had to take this shot.


Andres handling the grill. The food was really great.


That’s Jerry on the left, digging in. Hui-chen is cutting up some of the pork that just came off the grill. Becky’s dad is enjoying some of the meat wrapped in lettuce. Becky’s father is a very interesting man and he was fun to hang out with.


FOOD CLOSEUP! The sauce in the center bowl was squeezed from lemons that grow on the property.


FOOD CLOSEUP #2!: I checked on the Dutch oven, and it was cooking along very nicely. Only about 20 more minutes to go from when I took this photo.

No more food closeup warnings beyond this point!


This is what the ladies in the kitchen were making: Taiwanese style Hot & Sour soup! I love this dish and their version was excellent!


They also made a Thai style salad shown half-eaten. Wonder why….


The Dutch oven dish is finally finished!


One of the advantages of cooking in a Dutch oven is that you can put coals on top, resulting in a well browned dish such as you see here. The dish contained garlic (lots!) chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions and sweet basil. I used oyster sauce and soy sauce instead of salt (I do live in Taiwan after all). When the dish was almost finished I added 4 fresh peaches, quartered and pitted by hand.


Judging by the reactions of everyone, I think this dish went over better than what I cooked at Shao-hui’s!


Becky’s dad said that he wants to get a Dutch oven too!


Hui-chen is dishing out a piece of peach that I had cooked in this dish. I have always enjoyed cooking with fruit in a Dutch oven, and Taiwan peaches are incredible, adding so much flavor to cooked dishes.


After we ate, it was time to shoot! Becky takes aim…. (6mm BB gun, not a real gun)


Next Jerry made the rest of us look really bad by demonstrating his superior Canadian shooting skills (notice that I didn’t say “superiour” eh?).


Rub it in Jerry! Those are plastic bottles stuck onto tree branches. I think we should have made him stand further back because it’s just too easy.


This is Andres doing his impersonation of Horatio Caine.


Becky’s dad decided to take advantage of the additional manpower and replace a tree. Jerry carried the new one down to the road.


Here is Becky’s father pushing down the old tree.


And, in goes the new one. The pond has fish in it, and it’s fed by the stream nearby. The sound of water is very soothing and adds to the relaxation factor of this place.


Take a look at the bottle of Thai rum in front of the Dutch oven. It’s 1/2 gone. That can only mean one thing: guitar time! This is my 12-string electric. I put new strings on it, and it was sounding amazing. Or, it could be that I just thought it sounded amazing after a 1/2 bottle of Thai rum!


Peter can play guitar too, and here he is with my Fender Custom Shop strat.


Hold on a minute while I refill. Can’t expect a man to play while he’s thirsty can you?


Everyone politely listened to my drunken finger exercises….


I really like this shot of Andres and Karen. 🙂


Later on I went for a walk around to check things out. This is what the cabin looks like from the road. It’s on a sizable piece of land.


The guys tried their hand at fishing in the pond.


Yes, they did catch (and release) a few small fish.


Across the street are some banana trees by the stream.


And beside the bananas are olives.


Just look at this lovely stream featuring Taiwan’s famous blue water.




Except for the bamboo, this could have been a stream in New Hampshire where I used to hang out.


If you were to sit in the pool, you would get a relaxing massage from the rushing water. Becky say that her brother often does just that.


So now, evening approaches….


And it’s time to light a fire….


I swear I’m losing weight, but you can’t tell by this photo. Normally we don’t have campfires like this in Taiwan. The last fire we had was in Thailand, so this was a real nice way to end the day.


We were all enjoying the fire, when suddenly,


Becky’s father grabbed a light and a small net.


There are river shrimp in the channel that runs beside the house, and he wanted to show us.


So, everyone went off in search of the shrimp, while I handled the camera.


Becky’s dad and Peter find something….


Yup, it’s a river shrimp alright! Although the proper term may be “prawn” and not shrimp.


Hui-chen checks out the shrimp with claws.

Now, we’ve all wondered “How bad does it hurt when a shrimp gets you with one of those claws?”


“Not too much” says Peter, who volunteered for this un-scientific experiment.


Hey, what’s over here?


A freshwater crab. He wasn’t too happy about being found either. He jumped out of the net and tried to run away!


Peter checking around for more shrimp.


He found one….


…. and it fell out of the net. The shrimp tried to crawl away, demonstrating remarkable mobility on land.


“Wait, what’s that?” says Jerry.


“Oh, just a leaf.”


Not about to give up, Jerry keeps looking, with Andres holding the light.


Jerry redeemed himself by finding the biggest one so far!


We let all the shrimp (and the crab) go. Here you can see the big one heading for a hole in the wall. When the shrimp was released, it was disoriented and didn’t know one side from the other. In the space of a few seconds, it figured out that it was looking for this hole on the wrong side and swam over to the other side and then went up and down looking for this hole. Smart shrimp!

After our shrimp adventures, we settled back down beside the fire. It was a wonderful evening and the perfect ending to a great day.


You really need to play the video to hear the fire cracking and popping. Those sounds are very soothing.


Becky’s father suggested that we put the Dutch oven back on the fire and heat it up so we could finish off the food!


Good idea!

Hui-chen and I thank Andres and Karen, and Becky and her dad for inviting us to their wonderful cabin in the country in Miaoli. We had a great time!

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15 comments

  1. Wow, what a wondeful post, containing a magical description of a cabin, food, barbecue, people, and nature. Thanks to Becky for inviting the blogmaster to such an enchanting place.

  2. Anon, oh yes, we loved it there!

    Joanna, thanks to Becky indeed! i still feel relaxed from having such a great time.

    thanks to both of you for your comments.

  3. mj… it was a real pleasure having you and hui-chen with us. thanks for bringing the dutch oven, the gun, the guitars (which simply kicked ass!) and as usual for taking most excellent photos. we enjoyed everything and every moment of it all.

    we are so honoured that the day resulted in your longest post ever! hahha

  4. Hello Mj, I showed dad your blog, he then showed my mum and my sisters. they all enjoyed your post. Dad said u are all welcome to visit again!

    cheers
    Becky

  5. Andres, when i was putting the blog post together, i was really surprised by how much stuff we crammed into one day! i don’t think we could top that day, ever!

    but, this weekend we’re gonna try (that is a little teaser for our readers to hang onto)!

    thanks for inviting us!

  6. Becky, your dad is a cool guy and we enjoyed hanging out with him. please tell you dad that anytime he needs some more manpower he can call us to help out. we really appreciated that day and the excellent company.

    btw, i would be very interested to see what your dad does with his own Dutch oven!

  7. Looks like a nice dutch oven dish. I would like to hear about any new recipes you might have.

    I made my steak wrapped broccoli with orange almond glaze the other day.

  8. hey Colby. i don’t have an new recipies, sad to say. i haven’t done very much cooking in Taiwan and i’ve been relying on past experience rather than experimenting and developing new dishes. the one positive aspect is that i have been working with Asian ingredients such as soy sauce, oyster sauce and the fresh spices we have here.

    you should send me some of your recipes in a word document and i’ll post them to the blog. that one you mentioned is really great. i do remember it!

    thanks.

  9. Okay, What a day.

    The cabin with all the polished timber looks great.

    The setting looked amazing as well with plenty of forest and even mountains.

    I have to light my coal using some deasel soaked lighters we buy from the market and an electric fan.

    Cooking camp fire style so to speak witht a camp oven usually means great meals if the person, such as yourself has experience in using one. Food cannot taste better cooked this way.

    Then you got to shoot a gun (BB) and also play your guitar which I am sure sounded great and drink Thai rum.

    Do a little shrimping and then wrap the night off with an open fire. That is what I call livng MJ.

    I am in envy. And the food pictures thanks for the warnings but still very cruel as it’s 11pm and I am hungry now. Ha ha.

    I am actually picking up my custom made BBQ tomorrow hopefully, which is being made from a 44 gallon drum from a Thai/chinese man who is a great guy.

    I look forward to doing some BBQing and raosting in the very near future and may be calling on some recipes from you..

    Thanks for the great post and fantastic pictures as always.

    Oh, by the way. Picture number 1 in the post. Is it edible?… It sure looks delicious to me..

  10. Brunty, pic #1 is a “la mei” or hot/spicy girl, selling betel nut. the girls usually dress like that to attract truck drivers to stop at their stand.

    i suggest you get a blowtorch and use that instead of the diesel which certainly imparts an undesirable flavor to the charcoal.

    when i got back to Thailand next time i’ll be stopping in Ubon, so you might want to consider getting a camp oven so we can whip up some bush cuisine in the village.

    i knew you’d be reading that post late at night, so that warning was just for you! sorry that you didn’t have the self-control to postpone the rest of the article until the next morning after breakfast, lol.

    be sure that you blog on that new grill, and of course, whatever you cook in it!

    i am looking forward to a guest post from you Brunty. our readers would love an introduction to your area and your everyday lifestyle.

    thanks!

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