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!
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.
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.
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!
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!