Tag Archives: cooking

Christmas in Laos

Two quick writing tidbits: First, Writing Wednesday will be back next week and I’ll be sharing the title of book baby! I find titles difficult, and this one took me more than three years to settle on, so I’m super excited that during these past few months I’ve finally decided on a title that I love. Come back next week to find out what it is.

And, second, I received my first peer-feedback on my memoir this week – from Gina Holmes, the award-winning author of Crossing Oceans and Dry as Rain and founder of Inspire a Fire. I was thrilled to read her endorsement:

“This is a positively riveting memoir by a talented author and globe-trotter. I loved journeying with Lisa McKay as she sought the love of her life and a place to call home. I can’t recommend this beautiful and triumphant story enough!”

But this week hasn’t been all (or even mostly) about writing, so it seems fitting that this week’s post should be mostly focused on sharing a couple of snippets of our Christmas in Laos.

We may not have had a traditional Christmas tree, but we did have a Christmas fireplace and we even ended up with some nicely wrapped gifts piled beside it (thanks mostly to Mike’s staff who, incidentally, were also the only ones who bought Dominic presents – I suspect that’s the last year we’ll be able to get away with that).

I stayed busy feeding the Christmas elves by cooking up a storm in our toaster oven. Along the path to banana spice loaf with lemon glaze, chocolate chip cookies, and caramelized onion and sweet potato frittata, I’ve had to do a lot of something I never dreamed I’d do again after completing my high school cooking classes in Zimbabwe – cream butter and sugar by hand with a wooden spoon.

Twenty years later that endeavor still takes just as long and is just as laborious, but at least I have an interested audience to play to. Although, sometimes those audience members (particularly the furry one) are a little too interested in the process.

Feeding the Christmas Elves milk

Cooking the Christmas Elves cookies

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were lovely – relaxed and friends-filled. Our housekeeper, Oun, brought her baby around for us to meet. We had lunch with friends on the Khan, and another couple of friends surprised us at our house that night with carol books in hand and “caroled” us.

On Christmas morning we had two friends around for what turned out to be a champagne brunch, and then two more for a Moroccan dinner. The food turned out a whole lot better than our family Christmas photos.

Despite (and in some ways because of) the crying baby soundtrack, we had a delightful Christmas. We hope yours was every bit as special. Thanks for dropping by!


Lisa and Mike are having breakfast the day before Lisa leaves for London for a week. Mike has made blueberry pancakes. They are not the best pancakes he has ever made.

Lisa: “Mike, let’s enter brainstorming mode for a little while. Let’s pretend there’s a big, blank, flip chart sheet right here by the table. Now, let’s think about what could possibly have made these pancakes better. Remember, we’re brainstorming here, so there are no wrong answers.”

Mike: Silent

Lisa: “Oh, wait. Is that the word recipe appearing up there on that sheet? It might be!”

Mike: “You know, there are countries in this world where you are not allowed to talk. I know where they are. And I know how to get there.”


Mike: “Do you trust me to do the stir-fry?”

Lisa: “I totally trust you to do the stir fry.” (Fifteen worried seconds later). “Just, don’t put any water in it. And don’t use the olive oil. And you might want to wait until the oil heats up before you put the garlic in there.”

Lisa makes a concerted effort, and stops talking.

Ten minutes later.

Mike (looking mournful): “Aww, this is too runny.”

Lisa: “Why? You didn’t put any water in it, did you?”

Mike: “Just a little bit.”

Lisa: “I’m not the only defiant one in this relationship.”

Mike: “I wasn’t being defiant, I just wasn’t trusting. And, yes, we both have that problem.”


6:30pm. Lisa and Mike are on the couch, contemplating dinner.

Mike: “I’ll make dinner. Vegetable red curry stir fry.”
Lisa: “Can I help?”
Mike: “Are you going to meddle?”
Lisa: “No.”
MIke: “Then you can chop the vegetables.”
Lisa: “I’ll tell you now, though, that I’ll be very unhappy if you put water in the stir fry.”
Mike: “You said you weren’t going to meddle!”
Lisa: “That’s not meddling! You haven’t started yet! Therefore I am not interfering in an ongoing process. I am merely imparting information about standard cooking practices and my preferences prior to the start of said process. As soon as I start chopping vegetables I’ll stop talking, I promise.”

Honesty equals righteousness

Lisa and Mike are standing in a group, talking to friends after church one morning about cooking.

Mike: “Do you use recipes?”
Jonathan (who designs remodels for a living and practically doubles as a chef): “Nah, I just make it up as I go along.”
Mike (triumphant): “Me too!”
Lisa: “Yes, but Mike, using that approach works best if you have some basic level of skill to use as a springboard for experimentation.”

Ninety seconds later, walking down the stairs with the same group, Lisa sidles over to Mike and strokes his arm lovingly.

Lisa: “I was mean to you, but now I’m going to come over and be nice and make sure everything’s OK.”
Mike: “Oh, so now you’re going to be needy as well.”
Lisa: “And you need to not only take my meanness, but now reach out to me in my uncertainty and give of yourself to affirm and soothe me.”
Jonathan: “Wait a minute, there’s something not quite right with that.”
Mike (with a sigh): “Yeah, but we believe honesty equals righteousness. It’s part of how we function.”