Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner

Just a quickie to post a picture of last night's dinner.  Rib eye steaks with (boxed) mashed potatoes and sauteed onions and mushrooms.  I think there was a salad in there too.  Yum.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ok I Give.

With the chaos of the last couple of months, this project keeps getting pushed further and further on the backburner.  I would love to keep doing it, but it turns out that after a 14-hour day, I really just don't have the energy to learn to cook in some fancy new way every.single.night.  So while I'm going to leave the list as it is and continue cooking 5 nights a week, I'm going to put the "cross countries" part of this blog on hold for a while.  Unless some company steps forward and offers me beaucoup $ to continue it full time.  Then I'll jump right on in.  :-)  For now though, CCK is going to go on vacation for a bit.  Sorry to disappoint all like 2 of my readers.  :-) 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Week #18: Mongolia

The nomads of Mongolia sustain their lives directly from the products of domesticated animals such as cattle, horses, camels, yaks, sheep, and goats, and sometimes game.[1] Meat is either cooked, used as an ingredient for soups or dumplings (buuz/khuushuur/bansh), or dried for winter (borts).[1] The Mongolian diet includes a large proportion of animal fat which is necessary for the Mongols to withstand the cold winters and their hard work. Winter temperatures as low as -40 °C and outdoor work require sufficient energy reserves. Milk and cream are used to make a variety of beverages, as well as cheese and similar products.[2]
The nomads on the countryside are self-supporting by principle. Travellers will find yurts marked as "guanz" in regular intervals near the roadside, which operate as simple restaurants. In the yurt, which is a portable dwelling structure, Mongolians usually cook in a cast-iron or aluminium pot on a small stove, using wood or dried animal dung (argal) as fuel.
The most common rural dish is cooked mutton, often without any other ingredients. In the city, every other locale displays a sign saying "buuz". Those are dumplings filled with meat, which are cooked in steam. Other types of dumplings are boiled in water ("Bansh"), or deep fried in mutton fat ("Khuushuur"). Other dishes combine the meat with rice or fresh noodles into various stews (tsuivan, budaatai huurga) or noodle soups (guriltai shol).
The most surprising cooking method is only used on special occasions. In this case, the meat (often together with vegetables) gets cooked with the help of stones, which have been preheated in a fire. This either happens with chunks of mutton in a sealed milk can ("Khorkhog"), or within the abdominal cavity of a deboned goat or marmot ("Boodog").
Milk is boiled to separate the cream (öröm, clotted cream).[2] The remaining skimmed milk is processed into cheese ("byaslag"), dried curds (aaruul), yoghurt, kefir, as well as a light milk liquor ("Shimiin Arkhi"). The most prominent national beverage is airag, fermented mare's milk.[2] A popular cereal is barley, which is fried and malted. The resulting flour (arvain guril) is eaten as a porridge in milk fat and sugar or drunk mixed in milk tea. The everyday beverage is salted milk tea ("Süütei Tsai"), which may turn into a robust soup by adding rice, meat, or Bansh. As a consequence of the Russian influence during socialism, vodka also has gained some popularity[2] with a surprising number of local brands (usually grain spirits).
Horse meat is eaten in Mongolia and can be found in grocery stores.

Ok, so the gist of that stuff up there is "they eat a lot of high-fat meat because it's really freaking cold there".  As much as I wish I could claim "it's really freaking cold here" as an excuse to eat more calories, I don't think it's as cold in NH as it needs to be to justify eating fatty meats daily.  Given that the majority of "authentic" Mongolian recipes I've found have been pretty consistently simply meat, maybe rolled in dough and boiled/steamed/fried, I think I'm going to get creative this week and might only do a couple "authentic" variations on "meat".

Here's the only source I've found that seems to be truly authentic Mongolian cooking.   I think I'll pick two recipes and try them and fill the rest of the week with familiar stuff.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My First Interview!

Even though I haven't been cooking this week (I'm dying to though!!), I still have food news!  Check it out!  I'm in our local paper, talking about party food!

With any luck, I'll be back to a normal(ish) schedule next week, just in time for Mongolian week!