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Where horses are Food, not friends

19 Aug


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.


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


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.


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

Momentary Fur Neckpiece

28 Sep


They are both on nuts, corn, antler, fruit, bread and water now.  Hickory nuts!  Chinese horse chestnuts!  peanuts!

This Sunny Sunday Morning

8 May

Jay came with me this morning!  He had an errand in mind, though.  As you can see many trees are in flower of bud and some in early leaf.  The field seems to have been planted yesterday when we were not around.

On the edge of another field is a lively specimen of a mullein.  I let a few of these grow in my gardens.  Their leaves are thick and wooly and it will put out a tall spike on which yellow flowers open gradually for weeks as the spike grows.  insects like them.

They are quite large.

Jay’s errand was putting in a salt lick for the deer.  We saw 11 the other night.  He was pleased.  Me; not so much.  He is ensuring that wild animals will be able to access the salt by placing it in a depression on an old log.  When the rain melts it, the salt will be retained in the wood.  It is near where he has a stand.  But the salt will be gone long before the fall season.

Recently I saw a young fox kit dead in the road which brought forth mixed feelings.  Sad because it had been hit, but pleased that there are enough foxes around to get off a litter.  The coyotes have played havoc with the fox population near us.  Heard coyotes in the night recently, yipping and singing.

Literally overnight, the multitudes of little spiders must have received a decree from their leader to spin a patchwork of small webs across the whole of the fallow field.

(A pause while I remove a tick crawling on my hand.) This is not a daily occurance, but is altogether too frequent.  And I wear rubber boots that come almost to my knee.  But I did bend over and kneel to pick violets.

Which you can see here.

Last night I made rhubarb custard pie filling and baked it in a buttered pie dish without the pie crust.    It is marvelous.

And the red pasque flower is now out.

A Grouse

18 Mar

Years ago when Isabelle and I took walks we would note the (mostly) insects and birds dead on the side of the road.  Angela wished back then I would keep a dead journal.  Walks now are not usually on the road.  And I don’t get out driving much. But this week there are more dead animals along the road than there were the first week of March, which was the previous high week.  That week I saw the first minks, a raccoon, and skunk of the year all dead from car strike.  Deer–there are one or more each week.

Sunny, warm yesterday I noticed the first opossums (2), another couple mink, another skunk,  and a grouse.

The grouse came home with me.  It was freshly killed.  The deboned breast meat weighed  four tenths of an ounce less than half a pound.  It was cleaned and parboiled and then fried in butter.  Since it had not gone through rigor it was chewy.

But tasted wonderful with buttered vegetables.

Saw also the first live woodchuck of the year out of its den in a pasture.

An Incomplete List of Foods Eaten in Mongolia

6 Mar

This was written months ago.  If you are Mongolian without influence from the west your diet consists mostly of  meat, milk and dried and fermented dairy products, wheat noodles/dough, water, tea and salt.  The meat and dairy come from a variety of domestic cattle: cow, sheep, goat, horse, yak, camel, reindeer.

NB: all name and spelling errors are due to my ignorance and misunderstanding

aarts: a fermented ricotta-cheese type product.  We ate it cooked with rice and milk and sugar.  Different but nice. Has a tangy tsate.

hua jiao – a coriander-sized dried citrus fruit with a single black seed that smells spice/fruity/peppery which when sucked +/or chewed gives off a substance which makes lips, tongue and mouth tingle progressively more and more the longer in contact.  Alarmingly so! Think electric fence. Started out as a pleasant fruity taste.  Often used in conjunction with the very hot red pepper sauce.


Breakfasts: homemade yoghurt, bread, milk, tea

-milky cooked millet –sometimes with star anise and sugar

-bread and jam and milky tea

-milky sweetened rice

-bread and milk


Suppers:  Lahgman Manti–bean noodles,  ground meat and onions with a two toppings a) raw garlic ground with salt mixed with yoghurt and b) very hot red ground dried red peppers mixed with oil.  I forwent the second.

Narun: a Kazakh dish: boiled cut up horse with onions, carrots, potatoes, and noodles in the broth.  Kirsty taught me to make Mongolian noodles. Rounds of dough (flour and water) rolled very thin, lightly oiled, rolled up and steamed.  Then unrolled and cut or broken in pieces.

Laghman topping on rice: potatoes (lots) cabbage, red bell peppers, onions, beefe, black vinegar, laodza (the hot red pepper sauce)


Lunches and Snacks:  toasted, popped,  hulled buckwheat (this was tremendously wonderful–made by in a dry skillet)

-huushuur and pineapple Fanta.  Huushuur is a circle of  dough 6-7″ around lightly filled with cooked ground meat and onion, folded over, sealed and deep-fat fried.  Very nice.  Ate these with college students before going to visit the children in the holding facility.

-Mantibuuz: steamed dumplings: 4-5″ circles of yeast dough filled with ground raw cow head meat, onions.  Hannahd and Ganbaat made these.  They were very filling and delicious.  There is also buuz, made with a plain dough which i did not have.

-tea with small thick round sweetened biscuits flavored with orange oil, some dusted with confectionary sugar.

-Fried bread (kirsty’s) with onions and fried cheese

-rice with a fried egg on top

-Russian ice cream bar, Mongolian ice cream bars.  The Mongolian chocolate ones are especially nice.

Single, Sunny, Still, Songs, Spiral, Squirrel, Sauce

3 Mar

Single digits but sunny.  And no wind; a wondrous stillness.  Yesterday was a howling whipping wind day.  On top of the thick crunchy sugar crust of snow is a light dusting that fell before the wind.  That thin layer looks like a fine painting this morning: fine brushstrokes covering the surface.  Wind work that artists try to imitate with feathers or fine hair brushes.  And through all the whiteness bright crystal sparkles of reflected light.

Even with the bitter cold, the birds are singing.  It is light earlier and later.  The Northern Mockingbird was at the feeder yesterday.  And the Brown Creeper returned to the suet tree. I had never seen one before last week.  It uses it tail as a support and spirals only up, flying down to work its way back up the tree.  Hawks, crows, jays, nuthatches, chickadees, finches, woodpeckers, the creeper: all are sounding off that spring is coming.  On the road trip last week we saw a pair of yellow-shafted flickers and some turkeys.

Our pussy willow is exceptional only for a few of its branches rather than its gray pussies.  Those are wide and flattened at the end with buds sticking out on every surface.  This one is best–a spiral.  The photo does not do it justice.

I have been contemplating moving the flying squirrels up to an enclosed porch to enable them to acclimate somewhat to the outside temperatures.  I didn’t think it would get into the single digits again.  So not yet.  But they continue to have to work for their food.  I give them whole English walnuts.  They chew one hole and eat some of the nut, then move to another nut.  To encourage them to do better, I put only as many nuts in as have been more thoroughly eaten.  This entails them chewing another hole to get at the other end.  So now I have a few necklaces worth of squirrel-slave-made “beads”.

Jay thinks they should be made into a garland for the Christmas tree.  I think maybe necklaces or buttons?  Each nut needs to be sanded.  Maybe strung with other large beads?

Isaac saw a gray squirrel on the feeder yesterday.  I saw a squirrel– could not tell the color–red or gray–crossing on branch tips from spruce to spruce outside our bedroom window this morning.  The same window Banner used to visit and come into our room through.  Sigh.

Daren harvested five grays Tuesday for me.  We were having guests for supper that would appreciate game.  I boiled them up yesterday morning.  They were noticeably smaller; the meat lighter and more tender than the big ones he gave us at Christmas.  Five yielded about 2.5 cups of meat.  It was ground up and went into homemade sauce for pizza.  Squirrel pizza.  Yum!  Quick sauce recipe: three large cloves garlic, three shallots (bought five pounds of them in the fall–must use them!), a medium onion all chopped fine and cooked in butter.  Add one quart home canned tomatoes (a red-Sungold mix), spices, extra frozen basil, salt, pepper, the rest of the ajvar and the ground squirrel.  Cook for a bit.  Really marvelous.  It got my 20-yr old out of bed.  Well, not until 10.30AM.  But he said he smelled it all the way upstairs.

First Harvest of 2011

18 Feb

It was in the 40’s F all day yesterday, so about 4PM I decided it was time to see if there were some greens we could have for supper in the cold frame. If not for the tall side posts I might not have known where it was, even after a day’s melt.

I used a hoe to remove snow from the top.

I thought that would be adequate.  But it was not.  There was a layer of ice under that snow so it all had to come off.  The weight would break the cover if it was lifted.

Then had to keep Hawthorne from climbing on it.  He thought it was an agility box to stand on.  Nope.


The moles have dug around quite a bit and many plants are barely in the soil.  I tucked a few back in.  I harvested 4+ cups of greens.  The mustard I picked out to cook.  The lettuces we had for salad last night.

The temperature this morning is about 50 F!  All night and even now it sounds like it is raining  But it is not.  It is the snow melting and water dripping continuously off the roof.  There are bare patches under the pines.

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