2015 Year In Review

Hey You!!

Did you ever blank on someone’s name, and resort to calling them “you”? Well, If you’re receiving this email, it means that you are not just a “you” to us, but a special part of our lives, even if I (Rob) still can’t figure out how to merge a [NAME] field to make you feel even a little bit more special. Comfort Ye! We have not forgotten any of your names! Note to self: Learn how to merge fields in my email so people feel more special.

So, please do grab a cup of your favourite beverage and celebrate the end of 2015 together with us.

#1 This One Thing.. Family

One of the biggest parts of our lives is family. We have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with family, friends, and supporters here in Chiang Mai, as well as during our trips to Sweden and the USA. It doesn’t matter how tired we are at the end of those visits; we are soon ready for more!

 

#2 Our Boys Our Joys

When Veronica and I see the way Rasmus and Lucas allow God to work in their lives, it is an inspiration to us. We mostly appreciate the way they enjoy each other’s company. And we also love taking them on Mommy and Daddy dates! See some more pictures of the boys here.

 

#3 Today’s Reader

Rasmus loves reading books. At age 1 1/2 he helped us win a year’s supply of diapers in a Pampers video contest when I once filmed him in his diaper, reading a book. It might be noteworthy that the book he was reading was upside down. Who knew he would be such an avid reader today? I am pretty sure he has already surpassed me in the number of pages he has read. For those of you who know me, I guess that doesn’t say much. But I’m still really impressed!

 

#4 Artist and Mathematician

Lucas’ favourite past-time is drawing and counting. He is rarely seen without a pencil or pen in his hand. We framed and hung one of his pictures on our wall to remind us of the creativity God has put into him. And he is also fond of making mathematical observations everywhere he turns. The other day he was explaining to Veronica how simple 10 + 6 is the same as 9 +7. Duh Mom!

#5 Grounding Our Connections

We believe that to stay grounded and know who you are, and where you come, from means making time to reconnect with good friends. Last summer, in Sweden, we carved out some calendar time to spend with our good friends, the Thiessen family, who work in Nepal. It’s so cool to see them all change and grow every time we meet. You can see a few more pictures here.


My Food Ebook FOR SALE!

Do you like eating food? Do you like supporting mission? Then how about buying my ebook called Food Portfolio? It’s full of foods and drinks I have enjoyed living overseas. You can feel good knowing your money is going to something bigger than food and drink! Note! It is only available on iPad. Sorry Android users 🙁
Buy it here.. Now


#6 The Age Of Travel

I think our boys have collected nearly 100 flights together since they were born. We are a family of travellers, and the boys have their own system down pretty well. They pack their own little carry-on bags with all the necessities. I imagine if they ever owned an airline together, Rasmus would prefer that all seats be First Class, and Lucas would make sure their flights were the fastest on earth!

#7 New Home

No, these guys are not our new roommates. They are the movers who helped us put our furniture into our new rental, in a really great neighbourhood close to work, school and friends. Thank you God for finding the perfect home for us! I love how relaxed Thais are, when they can plop themselves down into someone else’s furniture, as if it was their own, and light up a cigarette.

#8 Party Time For Al

Date nights are something we have missed since moving to Thailand. But now that we have developed some deeper friendships, the boys get to enjoy sleepovers, and Veronica and I get to spend some quality date nights together.

#9 Classical

One of Veronica’s passions is her violin. This autumn she got to perform in a beautiful theatre in Chiang Mai alongside some well known Asian pianists. What a classy event that was! I recorded the entire concert. You can listen to it here.

#10 Photography

One of my passions is photography. I get to do cool photo shoots like this one – a graduation photo of a missionary  ‘kid’ from Chiang Mai. And the cool thing is I get to do what I love and sometimes make a little extra money on the side. You can see more of my grad and family photos here.

#11 A Rare Treat

Usually, Veronica’s and my work schedules keep us separated. The romantic in me often laments how nice it would be if we could work together more often. Well, last spring we got to work together on part of a film I was involved in. I was directing a live animation scene in a green screen studio, and Veronica got to be my script advisor. The thing that made me most happy was when she said she actually really enjoyed the entire day! You can watch the film here & photos here.

#12 Clovis

A family newsletter just isn’t complete without the family dog. Clovis, our beautiful Thai dog has proven to be a real gem. She has gained control over her addiction to chewing up welcome mats and plant leaves, and instead has turned her hobbies towards killing snakes, cockroaches and rats around our graden. She still is clueless as to what the words “Clovis! Come!” means, but other than that, she’s doing pretty darned well!

You can see Clovis kill a snake here!

God’s richest blessings & Merry Christmas to you!
Rob, Veronica, Rasmus and Lucas

Fun foto contest

Yesterday I ran a fun foto contest. Here’s how.

I uploaded a photo to Facebook and then asked people to guess how I took the photo. The winner got a full-size copy of the image plus, in this case, the recipe to the food that I photographed.

Look at the picture and see if you can guess how I took the photo, where, when, what light sources and camera settings were used.

Good luck!

Here are the Facebook comments and the answer:

  • Rob Darby I’ll also give the recipe to the winner!
    19 hours ago ·
  • Shine Phinao I only know Rob Darby took the photo.
    19 hours ago ·
  • Jonathan Fullerton with a camera, surely I am not wrong 😛
    19 hours ago ·
  • Angela Hedley I have no clue.. But the food looks absolutely delicious…shame i no nothing about photography….or cameras…only that you are an amazing photographer…much love to you… Veronica n your handsome lads..xxxx
    19 hours ago ·
  • Mick Burke Rrrrright…
    18 hours ago ·
  • Veronica Darby You are a true nerd Rob, I love you:-)
    18 hours ago · · 1
  • E Sarah Masters ‎50mm lens, 1.8 to 2.8 aperture, natural light, light diffusor/reflector, lunch time/noonish…..Did I WIN!
    18 hours ago · · 1
  • Marie Hörnell nerd was the word – and he has good talents for pedagogic
    17 hours ago ·
  • Kris Jack there is a stronger light source behind and slightly to the right, i would guess to be a window and morning sunlight, possibly an overcast day… for fill light a diffused on camera flash possibly a ceiling bounce??. Aperture 2.0-3.0 on a 30mm lens.
    16 hours ago ·
  • Rob Darby I’ll give the answer in a day or two. Pass it on to other photographers – or NERDS! – you know and let them try to guess too.
    14 hours ago ·
  • Abby Minnich I agree with Angela. Haven’t the slightest clue, but the salmon looks wonderful!
    10 hours ago · Edited ·
  • Jo Plummer Same as Kris for light sources but you used 50mm lens 1.8 aperture
    9 hours ago ·
  • Sharon Ash You’re getting way too creative for my brain, Rob.
    8 hours ago ·
  • Rodney Blevins Its salmon…and lemon! Oh yeah and there are some tomatoes and potato salad involved. Did I win? (Sorry, I have a one track mind when it comes to food.)
    4 hours ago ·
  • Rob Darby Settings: 1/60 sec @ f 1.8, ISO 200 Lens: EF50mm f/1.8 II Time: 14:03 Place: kitchen table in front of window, Light sources: natural light from window/no direct sunlight, aluminum cereal box lid as a reflector from the front left side of the picture. Winner: E Sarah Masters!
  • Rob Darby And, since this is the first contest, I’m giving away my delicious grilled salmon recipe for free! Grilled Salmon with potato salad recipe

    Salmon: Grill four salted salmon steaks over hot charcoal for 10-12 minutes, turning once. I added some large oak chips to the colas to add a smokey flavor. I also closed the lid for extra smoke flavor.

    Potato salad: I bought some ready-made potato salad from the grocery store and added my own boiled potatoes, fresh dill and a bit of apple cider vinegar to add bulk and save some money.

    Garnish: lemon and tomato wedges.

    Drunk: Goes great with black current leaf saft.
    Link: http://www.icakuriren.se/mat-dryck/recept/saftiga-gr%C3%B6na-blad/

    www.icakuriren.se

    Letar du efter goda matrecept – besök Icakuriren.se din kokbok på nätet, 9000 ut…See More

The connection between grilled salmon and BP

grilled salmon and riceI overdosed on my blood pressure medicine this morning. I put my pills in this little pill box, all in place so I will take the right amount time. But this morning I accidentally opened it too far and took the evening’s dose as well as the morning’s.

As I was swallowing the pills my mind flashed back 2.5 seconds where I envisioned two pink pill lying in my hand instead of one. Yikes! So I rang the medical assistance number that you can ring here in Sweden if you have a medical concern, and they told me to take it easy for the rest of the day; no driving, drink lots of water, and have someone around me at all times in case I get dizzy and pass out, in which case I should ring 112 – Emergency.

So for lunch we ate this amazing grilled salmon. I grill as often as I can, because I simply love to grill! I added a little oak wood – or was it ash.. or birch? Hmmm! Not sure. – Anyhow, I salt my salmon an hour before grilling and put it straight on the grill for 10 minutes. I’m sure that the extra salt helped counteract the effects from the excessive BP medicine.

I served the salmon with white jasmine rice and ricolla salad – included tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, lemon juice and olive oil.

You might be wondering what all this food stuff has to do with overdosing on blood pressure medicine? Absolutely nothing!

I have to have some excuse to write about food.

Let my people go!

let-my-people-go-2Every year my wife and I spend a coupe of days alone just to retreat with God. So last weekend, I stayed at a friend’s house – they were on vacation. One of the ways I like to relax is to try out new techniques with my camera. So, this morning, I was listening to the audio Bible and letting thoughts, images and the Holy Spirit inspire me. That’s when I came up with this image which I title “Let my people go!”

How the process went

During my last visit to Gothenburg, I saw a large advertisement of some fruit, as I was walking through a mall in Gothenburg. It looked quite tasty, and I thought I might like to replicate the lighting setup. So, while I was in the kitchen this morning, I spotted a jar filled with pieces of dry bread and thought “Here’s my chance.”

I poured the crumbs out onto the dining table, set up my flash and gave it a go. The first images were too light. I could see the light wood color behind the pieces of bread. So I poured them out onto a chair which had a dark fabric seat. – Sorry Fredrick! – This worked!

As I came closer to what I was looking for, I thought, “Why not shoot the flash through the back of the chair and create long shadows. When I did this it looked like shadows being cast through prison bars upon little crumby prisoners. Next, I moved one piece of bread out closer to the bars as if to call out to the prison warden.

That’s when I thought of Moses and the Isrealites.

Chewy Ciabatta Bread

I wanted to honour Cook’s Illustrated copyright, so I am re-writing this in my own hands. you can’t break a copyright, But hey! you can’t keep people from sharing their own version of a great recipe, right?

ciabatta bread loaves
I made this batch yesterday evening. I can't believe how moist and chewy it turns out every time!

*If you weight the flour you will get a more even recipe every time. Flour measurments can be up to 25% innacurate depending on the way it hads been processed and how long it has been sitting in the package.

**You can double the recipe and get the same results

 

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups (15 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups water (room temperature)
  • 3/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 Cup milk (this keeps large bubbles from forming, but if you like’a the bubbles, then change’a the milk with water!)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions

Add the dry yeast to 1/4 Cup of the water (should be warm) and let it start to… uhm, do it’s thing.
Combine the rest of the water, milk and salt to the mixing bowl.
Turn on the mixer and start to add about half of the flour to the bowl – After the yeast has started to bubble – scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
Add the yeast mixture to the mixing bowl and let it mix in for about a minute.
Add the rest of the flour and let the entire bowl continue to mix for about 8 more minutes.
Let the dough rise in a large, covered bowl for about an hour until it doubles in size.
Fold the dough with a rubber baking spatula about six times to reduce it’s size, but keep most of the air pockets intact, and let rise for about another 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Farenheit. *For best results, place a large pizza stone or ceramic baking pan to heat it.
Place dough on a large wooden board and divide it into two pieces. The dough will be very wet and sticky, so make sure you dust the board well. *I also rub a generous amount of olive oil on my hands and the cutting device to keep the dough from sticking too much.
Shape each piece into 12X6 inch pieces and then fold over in thirds, like you would a legal letter.
Place on a 12X6 inch piece of baking paper, dust with flour and cover it with plastic wrap for 30 minutes. When 30 minutes has passed, press your fingers into each piece of dough to make it a bit flat, but not too flat.
Move the pieces to the pan, leaving them on the baking paper and spray them with a little bit of water. *You can also sprinkle some sesame seeds on the tops to add a very nice roasted flavor.
Place in the oven, taking the bread out two more times, within the first five minutes, to spray them with more water.
Let bake for about 10-12 more minutes, until the tops become golden brown.
Remove the loaves and let them cool on a wire rack.
Smather with butter and enjoy!

 

Chickpea Curry Pilaf Recipe

I am always amazed how my wife can get 12 hours of work out of six people when she arranges a company work day for our staff. Sometimes, half the people she expects actually show up ready to work. But she quickly performs a little administrative magic and makes it all work. My wife, on the other hand, is equally impressed by my ability to combine ingredients and come up with delicious-tasting dish almost every time. Here’s to individual strengths! Ching! Ching! The other day was no exception.

Chickpea Curry Rice Pilaf
Chickpea Curry Rice Pilaf

It was a Tuesday – Nothing special about that. It just adds to the drama – and we were expecting lunch  guests, but I had no time to buy groceries, and our cupboards were bare. So I dove in deep to see what I could put together. Now, both times I had been to India I don’t think I tasted a rice and chickpea dish. But somehow it just seemed right. So a opened up a can of chickpeas and threw them into the pot with the rice and WHAM!

After a little post-discovery research, I discovered that chickpea pilaf is already a common dish in middle eastern or arabic countries. Here is a common recipe I found on the Washington Post site. Even Oprah shares her favorite pilaf recipe! Wow! I am so privileged. And below is how I made my own pilaf creation, what I call ‘Chickpea Curry Pilaf.

I found that the taste improved after letting it cool to room temperature, storing it in the fridge overnight and then re-heating it the next day. Mmmm! Delicious!

 

Ingredients4 Tbs cooking oil
1 finely chopped onion
3 cloves crushed garlic
1-2 lemons squeezed
1 chicken boullion cube
1-2 Tbs curry powder
Salt and Chili powder
2 Tbs dried parsley (Fresh is preferable if you can find it.)
1 400g can chickpeas
4-5 cups Basmati rice (I didn’t measure it exactly)
10-12 cups of waterHeat oil in a large deep pot.Instructions

Saute the onions and parsley on medium heat until onions are slightly browned and translucent; approx 5 minutes.

Add the garlic to the mix and continue for another 30 seconds before adding the water.

Pour the water slowly stirring constantly. Being careful not to splatter the hot oil on yourself. You can let the rice cool a bit before adding the water.

Add the chickpeas, lemon juice and boullion cube until thoroughly mixed. Stir occasionally adding more water as needed, trying to reach a near-creamy consitancy.

Add the salt and chili powder to taste.

Serve with stiff yoghurt, sour cream and/or chutney as a condiment.

Haircuts and Heart valves

new haircuts
Dad and the boys after getting their haircuts

I took this picture yesterday. Do you like it? Actually, Veronica took it, but I set up the camera for her. Did I mention that her calling in life is NOT to hold my reflectors and assist me on photo shoots? Anyhow, where was I? Oh, yes, haircuts… Veronica… she took this picture of the boys and me yesterday evening after we cut our hair.

It works like this: I bring the hair-cutting tools out to the back lawn, set up the laptop and pop in a kids movie. This time it was Bolt. Then I sit Lucas in the chair first and start clipping away. I have to use scissors because the electric clippers tickle his neck. Have you ever tried to clip hair from a three year old’s ticklish neck? I think maybe the only thing harder to do is replace a heart valve! Oops, more on that later. Then, when I finish with Lucas, we trade out Rasmus and clip away. By age five, Rasmus is a pro at letting me cut his hair. But he still makes the occasional move and jerk, which is a challenge. then we throw them, literally, in the bath tub, dry them off and let them finish watching the film, then send them to bed.

After their in bed, I go into the bathroom and clip my own hair using scissors, electric clippers, a mirror and stealth-like accuracy. It saves me around 290 kronor ($44). Not a bad deal for the results I get. Funny story, it took me about a year to figure out that if I tilt my head to the far right, I can clip my left side of my head evenly! Don’t know why it took me that long to figure it out! Oh well, we live and learn.

What was I saying about a heart valve replacement? Well, in case you subscribe to our Swedish Meatballs newsletter (subscribe here!!!), but missed it in the previous four years, I am having an aortic heart valve replacement surgery sometime in September. I have had a leaky valve my entire life, but only recently (5 years ago) did the doctors recognise that I had a leaky valve. They have been monitoring it ever since, as well as giving me BP medication, until the heart and valve have reached a certain stage where it is optimal to replace the valve. That time is now here. I go in for an angiogram on the 24th of August. the reason is to check out if there are any other issues the surgeons may have to deal with while they’ve got me opened up. Routine procedure. After that,m the surgeons will meet and decide when to do the surgery. I am told it will be sometime near the end of September.

So, there are two prayer points. 1. my heart surgery and 2. my steathly hair-cutting skills. Pray that God will have his eye on both sets of hands.