It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kitchen Tip : Egg Shells

Please tell me that I'm not the only one in the world who's just learnt that the best way to pick a piece of broken egg shell out of your just cracked eggs, is to scoop it out with the big bit of egg shell that's in your hand?  I've only just read this tip, and I was baking yesterday so I got to try it out.

I was cracking raw eggs into a bowl to beat them and a little bit of egg shell fell in.  Usually, I'd get a long handled spoon and try and hook it out that way, which usually takes a while whilst I poke it around and around and it eventually decides to come out.  No more!  I tried "the egg shell tip" and scooped it out with the half egg shell that was in my hand - it came out immediately!

Thrilled!  I'm thrilled.  Really, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

I know I've posted before that my favourite poem (The Road Not Taken) is by the fabulous Robert Frost, but he's actually my favourite poet as well.  This year we didn't really have a "proper" winter, only a few hours of snow that melted pretty much straight away, but in previous years I often thought of another of his gorgeous poems, especially riding the horses back through the forest in the gloaming as big, fat flakes of snow are falling quietly around us.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Travel with Carry-On Luggage Only?

It's entirely possible that I've done this before ...

I keep seeing all these great articles about how to travel overseas for a few weeks using only carry-on luggage, and frankly, I don't think it's possible.  I know that in the USA, people are allowed to bring much more carry-on luggage on board with them than in other countries - and thank heavens for that if you've ever seen me trying to fit all my shopping in after a trip back to the US - but in most other countries, carry-on luggage limits are very strictly controlled.

We fly a lot within Europe on Ryanair, who are well known for being astonishingly vigilant with their carry-on allowances - weighing, measuring, and generally making your life unpleasant.  Easyjet have a strict size limit, but no weight limit, to their carry-on.

Click HERE to find out more about Ryanair's limits, and click HERE to explore how much you'll be able to lug on with Easyjet.

I can certainly do 3-4 days in another country with just one carry-on bag, but any longer than that and I think you're running out of clothing options, and you've certainly not got any room to buy anything to bring home with you.  I think it'd be easier if you are a guy travelling with just carry-on luggage, but us girls have to heft around shampoo, conditioner, mousse, moisturiser etc., and all of that stuff has to be able to fit into the little resealable plastic baggie that has to be scanned separately at the airport.

That said, if you're determined to take only one carry-on bag to your destination, and have discovered that you've wedged your bag full and there's no room for your shampoo, conditioner etc., think about buying it at your destination and just leaving it behind when you depart.  I know it's a bit of a waste, but if it's a case of paying $100 to check a bag in (and this is becoming normal on the cheaper airlines), or spending $20 on arrival at the nearest pharmacy to stock up on a few things, I know which way I'd be going.  Pharmacy, here I come!

Remember that not everyone has the same level of income, so if you're going to leave things behind in your hotel room on departure that are still good, e.g. shampoo that's 50% full, make sure you put it next to the bin (not in it) so that the maid knows you've not forgotten it and that it's available for taking home if they wish (or are allowed to).  Maids are paid appallingly in many countries, and I often leave clothing, books, etc., next to the rubbish bin (and a cash tip on the table with a "Thank You" note) in case they need it.

I've also read a couple of articles on rolling versus folding your clothes to go into your carry-on, to make more room.  I was dubious about this practice, but since trying it, I think it's better.  People say that it minimises creasing, but I'm not convinced about that.  If you roll things up nice and tight, you can certainly fit more in, but it does get creased - there's no way around it.

The diagram below provides some handy ideas on how to wedge all your belongings into your carry-on bag, and I also recommend wearing a coat with lots of pockets for other random things that you might not be able to fit into your carry-on bag (e.g. I've come home with bacon, pottery, spices, Vegemite, camera, chocolate, paperback books etc. in my jacket pockets).

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Recipe : Quick Cheese Straws

I must declare that I have a more than passing affection for party food, and Cheese Straws are right up there with my favourites.  I've always bought them before, but we had friends coming for dinner and drinks so I thought I'd try and make some.  There's oodles of recipes out there requiring you to make your own pastry (sigh), but I found this fabulously easy one that uses store bought puff pastry - yippee!

Store bought puff is easy to keep in the fridge and cheap to buy.  I pimped it out a bit by grinding some cracked pepper and dried chilli on top of the cheese before I folded it, and that just added to the yumminess.  Just warning you that these are scrumptious, but even better when they're fresh and warm out of the oven, they've very hard to stop eating once you start.  Okay, let's cook, as usual my notes are in italics.

Quick Cheese Straws

  • 350g ready rolled puff pastry
  • 4 handfuls of grated parmesan (I used less)
  • Handful of flour to roll pastry on
  • Cracked pepper/dried chilli if you wish
  1. Heat oven to 220c
  2. Unroll puff pastry
  3. Scatter over a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan and fold in half (I ground cracked pepper and dried chilli over the top of the cheese, and then pressed it all down a bit into the pastry with my hands before folding it over)
  4. On a lightly floured surface roll out to the thickness of a one pound coin (any fat coin will do)
  5. My puff pastry came rolled up in non-stick paper so I did everything on that paper, I didn't use a floured surface (much less mess!)
  6. Cut into 1cm strips, then twist each strip 3-4 times
  7. Lay on a baking sheet and scatter over more cheese
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden
  9. Eat one, burn your mouth, eat another one, and then maybe another one ...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Restaurant Review : Smith, Bangkok, Thailand

Since our previous visit to BKK, the fab Smith restaurant has opened.  Smith is a new concept for BKK, nose to tail dining.  Nothing is wasted.  Now, whilst I'm not mad on trotters or snouts, I think this is a great idea.  Don't be frightened off, there's not too much mad stuff on the menu (though there's currently a dish featuring pigs tail, and another with head cheese - um, no thanks!) - and there's loads of really well done normal food too.

I had a fried squid starter which was scrumptious, washed down with a great fruity cocktail, and then my main was a wagyu burger (Australian Wagyu patty, squid ink brioche, golden gouda, spider mustard and rosemary fries).  I was curious about the squid ink brioche - it tasted just like any other brioche bun - but it was black!).

They also have a cooking school, knife store, and a chefs table available - and it looks like they do a Sunday BBQ lunch, but you might want to check that's still current.  Smith was absolutely hopping the night we were there, jammed with young and gorgeous Thai couples, and several large tables of office girls, each brandishing the customary two mobiles phones (hey, we're in Thailand now!), and enjoying scads of cocktails.  Service was brisk and friendly and everyone spoke English.

Smith is tucked just inside Sukhumvit Soi 49 (click HERE for a map), and it's not much from the outside, but it's fab and trendy-posh-warehouse-y inside.  We'll definitely go back.

1/8 Sukhumvit Soi 49
North Klongton
Bangkok 10110
+66 2 261 0515 (bookings recommended)