Tag Archives: food

Where horses are Food, not friends

19 Aug

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Let me get this right out in the open.  Kazakhstan is not a place for vegetarians or animal rights activists.  The population was halved by Stalin using starvation and gulags.  Kazakhstan values its children.  They are a main priority.  Animals are primarily for food.  In Kazakhstan people eat horses, cattle, sheep, goats, fish, chickens.  Though I never saw any pigs or pork I was told it, too, is available.  On the vast steppe one sees herds of hundreds of cattle, or horses, or sheep and goats grazing without fences in the care of one to three herders.

Horse meat is readily available in the bazaars.  Along with horse sausage.

IMG_0591Horse has yellow fat, which similar to venison, is around the outside of muscles rather than in the muscle tissue itself (like beef).  It is a lean meat.  The horse meat we ate was either boiled, steamed, or in some kind of sausage.

IMG_0340Behold Beshbarmak, literally “five fingers”.  Historically (and even currently) eaten with the hands, hence the name.  The horse is boiled in salted water, removed and large thin rounds of home made noodles are added to the salty broth to cook.  Meanwhile, thinly sliced onions are cooked in horse fat.  When the noodles are done, they are placed on a platter, then the horse, then the onions scattered over the top.  It is delicious.  Sometimes potatoes were cooked before the noodles and added.

IMG_1639Another bishbarmak, with horse sausage.   And yes, most people eat at least some of the fat.

IMG_1664My plate at a party.  Yum!

IMG_1797The other main way we ate horse was in manti, steamed dumplings filled with chopped horse, potato and, onion.

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Isabelle and I had fun learning to package the manti correctly.

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Manti were very popular.  Eaten hot right out of the steamer, maybe with a little hot pepper sprinkled on.

And here is another boiled horse dish which has thin noodles (they were called strudel) that are layered and boiled after the horse meat and potatoes.

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Here is a link to an old NYTimes article on Kazakh horse use.

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Chocolate Chips and the Guzheng

23 Dec

Chocolate chips are about as “native’ a United States food item one can get that are not readily available or used  in much of the rest of the world.

Back in the 70’s I was an exchange student to the Australian Outback–near Walgett, NSW.  When I wanted to make something typically American for my host family I thought of chocolate chip cookies.  They had never heard of such an item.  My mother sent some, a big undertaking, and expensive, in those days.

To the best of my recollection, I saw none for sale and ate no foods in Panama, Mexico or Bolivia in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s containing chocolate chips.

There were lots of chocolate bars in Mongolia, but no chips.

Ditto in Israel.

Back in the 90’s my friend Soon, from Korea, wanted to make Rice Crispy bars.  To her _they_ were the quintessential American food.

_________

The daughter of one of my friends from China plays the Guzheng.  I finally saw a photo of one yesterday and listened to a musician performing on one here today.

The Guzheng similar to a harp.  And a piano.

Cookies and Arrangements

23 Dec

Yesterday M and X came and we made two kinds of cookies and Christmas arrangements.

X brought a Sichuan dish of mung bean noodles with garlic, cilantro and herbs that we ate at room temperature.  We also had leftover venison chili on rice.  I made chai, which X and M had not had before.  That was a surprise to me.  We went over the various spices I used: cardamon, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, star anise.  Cardamon and nutmeg were not familiar to them.

We made chocolate chip cookies from the recipe on the yellow bag: a typical All-American cookie.  Chinese homes, they explained, do not have ovens and they had been at a loss to use the ones found in their apartments here.  X’s daughter and husband in particular wished her to learn how to use the oven to make cookies!  Chocolate chip cookies!  We made and decorated chocolate spritz Christmas tree cookies.

All that butter.  Another thing not used in Chinese cooking.

Then we went out and collected assorted greens, berries, and plant material for the arrangements.

M’s very lovely artistic result:

 

What I made for X:

That morning the Paperwhite narcissus Ellie gave me had come into full enough bloom that i cut them and added them to the arrangement already on our table.

We had such a lovely time.

Stalking the Wild Antlered Beast

18 Dec

Hunting was not as productive this year.  Yet for the first time in his hunting career Jay sighted,  stalked, and shot this 7-pt yearling buck the Thursday afternoon before gun season ended in a fallow huckleberry field a tenth of a mile from our home.

MSG and emotional volatility

10 Oct

For some time I have suspected that the emotions of our daughter may be influenced by MSG.

She really likes ramen noodles.  The taste of them, rather.  Those little flavor packets containing MSG high up on the ingredient list.

Myself, I get migraines if too much MSG is ingested.  Since I cook most of our food from scratch, that leaves only snack-type stuff.  Which we do not routinely have in the home.

The girl didn’t think MSG had any impact.  So Saturday lunch we ran a little test.  She had ramen.  I added a half cup of homemade salsa, and a bit of onion and carrot.  She complained that they did not taste like they should.  It seems she uses half the water the recipe calls for.  Hmm.

In nine hours time she was saying things she should not have.  Then bedtime.

The next morning (Sunday) the extreme emotional volatility continued until about 6.00 PM.  It was a day of hell.

My few minutes of research on Pubmed this morning indicates 1)L-glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS).  This paper indicates that if the glutamate removal system is impaired, your retina (ergo your eyesight) will suffer.  Not to mention the neurotransmitter will just keep those neurons firing.

2) MSG is used to induce metabolic syndrome (obesity and its attendant characteristics) in lab animals.

3) Exposure to glutamate in young lab animals can induce seizures (think epilepsy).  Makes sense: an exitatory neurotransmittor set loose in a young, still  forming brain…

4)MSG is used as the agonist (stimulator) of choice where measurements of specific brain activity in research mice where measurements are needed.

 

Today, it must be noted, she was sweet as pie.  And she seems more amenable, at this time, about watching the contents of what she eats.

 

Catch and Release

9 Oct

The forefinger largehairy caterpillar eating on the Milkweed fell off the plant I picked so it did not come home to be photographed.  It sure was not a monarch larva.  It was a caterpillar.

The red darning needle dragonfly was rattling under a piece of grass.  Freeing it, holding it in my hand, wondering if I should set it free or keep it for cards.  It was a spectacular  bright red.  It flew off just then and I was happy the decision was made for me.

The Black Swallowtaillarva went back out into the dill and promptly disappeared.  It overwinters as a pupa so perhaps it got ready for winter.

We found one Katydid still alive and kicking in the long grass verge on the side of the corn field.

Earl and Merle Squirrel have increased their range dramatically.  They now go over the lower roof to the west side of the house, they meet us at the door, and this afternoon Earl was on top of the freezer in the back room; I gave him a chestnut, got hold of him and he jumped onto the door and up over the roof.

Jay took Isabelle hunting Saturday and they came home with one goose.

 

And while we were cleaning up the garden, we thought maybe the answer to higher food prices is to feed out the turnips.  One of these would feed a family for a couple days.  Or even longer if no one likes turnips! Turnips as large as your head.


The First Frost

6 Oct

Yesterday morning stepping outside  in the predawn was like stepping into a refrigerator.  There were still a few intrepid insects singing.  A couple early birds.  When the sun came up the crows, squirrels, chipmunks all started their morning calls.  We walked to within 100 yards of a buck feeding  on the corn left in the field.  For breakfast: my mother’s homemade blackberry jelly on home made toasted bread.

Yesterday during the day the east cornfield was harvested.  It was clear sky all day and into the evening.  I harvested the rest of the peppers and most of the tomatoes.  Jay covered the red raspberries with a tarp.  I cut dill.  And while doing so came upon the first (for us to see) Swallowtail larva of the year.

The dill plant with it attached was brought into the house.    The green-red blown hydrangea blossoms were picked and hung.

The Monkshood was just coming into bloom:

Easy to see where Aconitum got its common name, eh?

This morning was like standing in front of the open freezer. The grass and gardens were covered by thick white frost. No insects singing.  Birds were, though, in a frantic “Thank God for the sun” kind of way.  Geese were landing in the newly harvested field.  We walked fast.  How did the spiders work so quickly since the field was harvested yesterday to string innumerable filaments of fine silk down low to the ground amongst the stubble?  And what happened to the spider which had strung a heavy thread of tough silk right at head height on one corner of the field?

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