Today in Stupidly Easy Things Even You Can Make, I give you: Ricotta Cheese.

If there is one thing uniting all Peace Corps Thailand volunteers, it is CHEESE LUST. The Land of Smiles has a lot of amazing food, but there’s not exactly a lot going on in the dairy department. The closest place I can buy cheese is the mini-Tesco 15 kilometers away, where my options are “White Plasticky Cheese Slices” and “Yellow Plasticky Cheese Slices.”

Fortunately, ricotta is dead easy to make, delicious, and only uses three common ingredients. Here’s how you make it:

1) In a saucepan, mix 2 cups milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons white vinegar. If you live in a place where people actually eat dairy, you should use a combination of whole milk and cream. If you live in Thailand, just use whatever milk box looks like it doesn’t have sugar added to it.

2) Heat the mixture until it just starts to bubble. You should see the milk beginning to separate.

3) In another bowl, set up a colander with a piece of cheesecloth in it (or whatever thinnish cloth you have lying around). Pour the milk mixture into the colander and leave it to drain. I usually drain mine for about 30 minutes, but you can leave it for up to 24 hours.

What should you make next? EVERYTHING.

Ricotta cheese pizza! (Baked in your wok like a boss)

Baked Ricotta and Herb Dip!

Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breasts!

Ricotta Pancakes!

Okay that’s it, I’m hungry. Go eat!

I knew trying to bike home with a watermelon in my backpack was the wrong way to go. Where’s my stroller?

Peace Corps Announces Historic Changes to the Application and Selection Process

New application process makes me almost want to consider a second service. (Nepal: I want to go to youuuuuuu.)

Hiking in Thong Pha Phum, Kanchanaburi.

Hin Dad Hot Springs in Kanchanaburi. I’ll be real: This would have been amazing if there were not approximately a thousand other people there. It was still fun, but probably the only underwhelming part of our trip.

From the Trip Advisor Reviews of Erawan:

The water is cool and refreshing once you get used to the fish sucking on your dead skin!

At all levels the river is abundant in fish which will nibble you all over; they particularly like feet, nipples and any cuts you may have.”

I loved swimming in the pools and letting the fish nibble on my toes and legs. I never got “bitten” or “chomped”. It’s a weird feeling and takes some getting used to, but not unpleasant.”

Level 7 and level 2 are the most beautiful. Only the fish are irritating because they bite you constantly. ”

We thought all these reviewers were delusional and did not take their fish warnings seriously. Obviously we should have, as you can tell from this photo of Cailyn getting chomped on the back. If anyone has ever wondered what getting Dr. Fish on your whole body feels like, the answer is very tickly and a little unpleasant.

After visiting Erawan, we made our way up to Thong Pha Phum. This little city in the heart of the mountains quickly became one of our favorite places in Thailand. Great food, few tourists, gorgeous mountains, and so much to see. Our first night there was Asalha Puja (Dharma Day). After dinner, we saw a number of floating lanterns coming up from a wat perched high up in the mountains and wandered over to check it out. The whole area was covered in candles. From the sky, we could see that the candles were formed into intricate designs of the Buddha, lotus, and other Thai symbols. The monks at the wat told us that they spend 2-3  months hand-making the 10,000+ candles used for the celebration. Such a beautiful celebration to stumble upon and definitely an unforgettable experience. 

Spent an amazing long weekend in Kanchanaburi with two of my favorite humans! We spent the night in Kanchanaburi City catching up with local PCV friends, then hopped a bus for Erawan Falls. The waterfalls were pretty surreal- so beautiful and amazingly formed that they almost looked like a man made waterfall ride for an amusement park. I would definitely recommend a visit. The trails were a little crowded, but it was an easy hike, great swimming, and a quick bus ride from the city. (Click photos to view larger size)

 New World Shopping Mall in Bangkok: “In 1999 the mall burned due to suspected arson committed by a competitor in the area. The disaster resulted in several casualties, and the building has remained abandoned ever since. Not having a roof, the basement floor remains under several feet of water year round. At some point in the early 2000′s an unknown person began introducing a small population of exotic Koi and Catfish species. The small population of fish began to thrive and the result is now a self-sustained, and amazingly populated urban aquarium.”

-Taste of the Road

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is DON’T give people resources without explaining how and WHY to use them.

The instructional teaching manuals, and ESL resources my counterpart has received at English teaching conferences? Locked in cupboards because no ever explained how to use them and the language is too difficult to teach herself how to use them.

The giant flat screen TV and English DVD library in our classroom? Never been touched.

The free “educational” tablets my students receive every year? Used for playing games and taking selfies, rather than learning and reading.

The 2 Smart boards my school received? Used once to project blinking GIFs behind my principal in a meeting, then abandoned in an empty room. None of the teachers even know how to turn them on.

I think giving people resources (especially technology!) can be such a great gift, but if you don’t teach people how to use things, you might as well just throw money into the abyss and hope it hits someone who knows how to spend it.