31 January 2007
I still need to get one too. Wit woo.
30 January 2007
1 pound young bok choy
2 tablespoons homemade chicken broth
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 plus 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 ginger slices
1 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
Separate the bok choy into stalks. Wash bok choy in several changes of cold water and allow to thoroughly drain in a colander. Trim 1/4-inch from the bottom of each stalk. Halve each stalk lengthwise and cut bok choy into 2-inch-long pieces. In a bowl combine the broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, tapioca starch, and sugar.
Heat a wok over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil and ginger, and stir-fry for 10 seconds, or until ginger is fragrant. Add remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil, bok choy, and garlic, and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes, or until leaves are just limp and bok choy is bright green. Restir the broth mixture and swirl into wok.
Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly and lightly coats the vegetables. Serve immediately.
29 January 2007
I'm wondering what will happen to the tandem agreement. Will Isabekov be operating under the same unconstitutional restrictions that Kulov was?
It will be interesting to see where Kulov goes from here.
The subtitle is also rather misleading (...the Deadliest Hurricane in History) since the Galveston hurricane was far from the deadliest hurricane in history, although none has topped it in the US. Am I not supposed to care about the thousands of people who have died in cyclones and hurricanes outside the US?
There are still a lot of good things about this book. There are many interesting bits about early weather forecasting in the US (although it covered a lot of the same territory The Children's Blizzard did) and it was enjoyable in many ways. Recommended, particularly if you already like Larson.
27 January 2007
25 January 2007
- You ride the marshrutka shouting ostanovite na ostanovke EXACTLY where you want to stop, and not worrying about handing your money to the driver via 6 people
- Strangers are molodoi chelovek! or devushka
- You keep typing 'н' instead of 'n'
- You start to say oiy, akh, ekh
- You actually start to use the prefixes with verbs of motion
- You start measuring in km, kg, and, koneshno, sto gramms!
- You get suspiscious when someone smiles at you (rightly so)
- You laugh at Russian comedy
- Voda and bezgazirovannaya are inextricably linked in your head
- The DSP start pulling even more cars off the road, and you're not surprised when a politician convoy goes past at 200km
- You take a plastic bag everywhere just in case
- You yell Alyo!? into the phone when you answer
Sometimes you hear, when you're reading about a child living in poverty in another country, that they have so little that they don't even have any toys.
But they do. I've never ever seen a child who didn't have some kind of toy from the street children in Bishkek to the tiny little children in the City of the Dead in Cairo to homeless children in the US. It might not have looked that great (a pile of bones, a wad of fabric tied together for a ball, a stick for a doll), but they had toys and they played. They didn't necessarily need what we think of as toys.
And when I saw how some of the traditional games are disappearing because of toys and video games from other parts of the world, I really wonder if sending those toys to other countries is even a good idea.
Of course, toys can be a good idea after a natural disaster. And there's nothing wrong with sending toys. But our toys aren't any better than theirs. I wish we still played with bones.
24 January 2007
23 January 2007
One of my favorite things about the book was how clear it was that Didion and her husband loved and supported each other. But it made his death even harder because of that. I simply enjoyed reading the book. Recommended.
I've often wondered if it's easier for a spouse when a person dies unexpectedly or after a long illness. I'm inclined to think it all equals out in the end since the unexpectedness of a death can make getting on with life even more difficult but a long illness is so hard to deal with.
21 January 2007
The bulk of the book was about Daniel Burnham, the overseer and moving force behind the fair. There was a minor story running through the book about H.H. Holmes, a psychopathic murderer who lived in Chicago during the fair.
The parts about the fair itself were unquestionably better than the parts about Holmes. While it was an effective storytelling device to weave Holmes story throughout the book, I got tired of it and finally skipped ahead to read the parts about Holmes to get him out of the way. Larson clearly didn't have much to work with when writing about Holmes and I felt he had to stretch things a bit to keep that part of the story going.
I'd have liked to have heard more about the fair and its effects and I could have totally skipped Holmes. Still this was a good book to read. Recommended.
19 January 2007
(I also made the Beirut Tahini Swirls yesterday; they were excellent. The recipe is posted on the internet if you want to try them.)
Makes one double-crust eight-inch apple pie with a thick tender potato crust; serves 6 to 8
1 pound potatoes, peeled
About 1 ounce (1 heaping tablespoon) butter
About 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for surfaces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large or 3 medium-sized firm apples, peeled and thinly sliced
About 1 ½ ounces chilled butter, in four thin slices
Scant ½ cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut up the potatoes, bring to a boil in water and cook until tender. Drain, add the 1 ounce butter and immediately mash while hot, adding the salt, ginger, and 1 tablespoon sugar. When potatoes are smooth, add ½ cup flour and stir. Add another scant ½ cup flour and stir and knead in, then turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, several minutes. Cut in half and roll each half out to a round about 9 inches in diameter [I just used my fingers]. Lightly grease an 8-inch pie plate and line with half the dough. Place on the shell the chopped apples, mounded up in the middle. Drape the other rolled-out pastry sheet over the mounded apples and press the edges together firmly to seal. Make an X-shaped cut, each arm of which should be about 2 inches long, over the central mound of the pie. Bake it in the center of the preheated oven at 400 degrees.
After 45 minutes, the pie should be touched with golden brown. Cut four thin slices from the end of a pound of very cold butter. Lift the pie from the oven and quickly slip a slice of cold butter under each flap of the cut top of the pie. Sprinkle onto each slice of butter about 2 tablespoons sugar (under each flap). Place the pie back in the oven to bake for another 5 minutes. It will be golden brown all over. Take out, let stand five minutes, and serve, hot or warm.
Forna is an excellent writer and Ancestor Stones is unquestionably recommended. I'm so glad I stumbled on it. Forna also wrote The Devil That Danced on the Water, a memoir of her father who was executed in Sierra Leone for his political activities that got many positive reviews, although I haven't been able to find it yet.
18 January 2007
And we tried the Chinese egg fried rice and the Thai red curry from Seductions of Rice last night (an odd collection of dishes, yes, but I prefer to try several new things at once in case something bombs). The Thai curry was very simple and so was the fried rice and both turned out perfectly. What a great meal. I've only found a few cookbooks authors that I can always count on like I can the authors of these cookbooks (see Flatbreads & Flavors and Hot Sour Salty Sweettoo.
16 January 2007
15 January 2007
13 January 2007
12 January 2007
All in all not really worth picking up, but if you're interested in Tibet, it's probably worth reading. Peissel also briefly writes about a later excursion to Tibet to study horses.
11 January 2007
The Railway by Hamid Ismailov
Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna
My Name is Red and Snow by Orhan Pamuk
The Day Lasts More Than 100 Years by Chingiz Aitmatov
Suite Française by Irene Nemirovsky
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
10 January 2007
This is an online keyboard emulator that allows you to type in a wide variety of scripts and then simply copy and paste them wherever you want. It even has Kyrgyz, although once you get the Cyrillic in, it's not hard to add any language that uses Cyrillic. The Arabic looks good and so does the Russian, so I'm happy. This is a handy way to type in a different script and have the keyboard right there too. I've got the Russian and Arabic scripts in the computer but I don't use them often enough to remember the keyboard.
This comet has been around for several weeks now and steadily brightening. Tonight is the night to look if you live in the northern hemisphere and want to see it. Look for it just after sunset just following the sun. I fear that I will either forget to look tonight (it's a little busy around 5:30 here) or it will be cloudy. But do try to see it if you can.
09 January 2007
There are other books in the series that I imagine would be fun to read too, sometime. But there are many other books out there.
Another earthquake in Kyrgyzstan, but this one was in the south (the orange square). There is always a reasonable amount of minor earthquake activity going on in this part of Central Asia, but there have been several stronger earthquakes in the last few weeks.
08 January 2007
I really ought to read more contemporary fiction; all non-fiction really can't be the only option. Maybe I'll try The Emperor of Ocean Park as per Julie's (and my sister's mother-in-law's) suggestion. Actually it's just nice to have time to read again. Practically all I managed to get through in December was Harry Potter again.
07 January 2007
The last third was a lot more interesting, particularly the chapter on how parasites affect humans. It was very interesting to read about the ideas of how the lack of parasites in some parts of the world has given rise to other ailments in those better-off humans. And the chapters about using parasites as biological warfare were interesting even though I was familiar with what they were talking about.
So I can't quite recommend this book unless you're really interested in the topic. Still, I didn't quit in the middle and I'm glad I didn't. But I've moved on to better things.
06 January 2007
Anyone who's read this blog for a while knows I love Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's cookbooks. I've had Flatbreads & Flavorsfor about 8 years now and it's still my favorite cookbook; Hot Sour Salty Sweetand Seductions of Riceare high on my list of favorite cookbooks. I haven't had a chance get to see their Mangoes & Curry Leavesbut hopefully it will come to a library near me sometime.
But! They have a new cookbook coming out in a year about China. And this isn't going to be your typical Chinese cookbook. When Alford and Duguid go somewhere, they don't stick to the basics, they go to the unusual places. So this Chinese cookbook will cover Xinjiang province and Tibet and all the "other" parts of China that are often sadly ignored in Chinese cookbooks (Xinjiang province in particular is missing in almost every Chinese cookbook I've ever seen). From their website:
Our current working title for the book is Noodles and Tea: Culinary Travels Beyond the Great Wall, as a way of indicating that we are in China, but in the regions around the edge, from Tibet to Mongolia, from Xinjiang to the hills and mountains of Guizhou and Yunnan. We are delighted to be getting to regions new to us (Guizhou province for example) as well as revisiting places we came to know well in the late eighties and nineties, such as Tibet, Yunnan, and Xinjiang.
We’re now at the editing stage, though there are also a number of recipes that need more work. We’ve had a good time figuring out grilled kebabs from the oasis towns of Xinjiang and several breads, including an interesting and easy round loaf baked by Kazakhs in a kind of dutch oven. We are still struggling with the Uighur stretched noodles; if anyone has any information that could help with this, please write. We know the technique, but we can’t get a dough that is happy being stretched and flung.
I have to admit that I'm pretty excited. :) And I wish I'd asked the Uyghurs we knew how to make those noodles. I always wanted to.
05 January 2007
This is much more than a biography of Chinngis Khan (I love the name; one of my English students in Bishkek was named Chinngis), it's a history of the Mongols from the birth of Chinggis to the death of Kubilai, with a very quick summary of what happened to Chinngis' descendants after 1300. Weatherford also writes about the major impact the Mongols had on Europe and Asia and the common misperceptions many in Asia and Europe have about the Mongols. The fact that many Mongols were Christian, their religious tolerance, the role of women, and especially the ability of many Mongol leaders for administration, and so much more are often ignored
and only slightly more about the A few complaints- Weatherford writes very little about the Golden Horde and the ChaghataisIlkhanids. The chapter on the Kublilai and the Yuan dynasty was very good, but I felt that focusing only on China after Mongke Khan's death was a bit limited. Weatherford is also rather optimistic in his evaluation of Mongol contributions in the opening and closing of the book. While the Mongols had a much bigger impact on the making of the modern world than most Westerners give them credit for, they also were not the sole instigators of modernism in Central Asia, the Middle East, China, or Europe. But maybe his exaggerations help balance the ignorance that most have about the real impact of the Mongols. And these very small drawbacks should in no way keep you from reading the book.
The Mongols weren't a bunch of nomad warriors sweeping out of the East to wreak havoc and destruction on the civilized world. Highly recommended.
I tried making pad thai for the first time tonight; it was delicious. I used a recipe from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia and found a lovely little Asian grocery only a few blocks from the boys' tae kwon do place where I got the necessary ingredients. I was rather impressed with the store. I've been in lots of ethnic groceries and some are a little haphazard and dusty, but this one was quite nice and even had plenty of good produce.
Last night we had khachapuri from Georgia and I think tomorrow we might have plov from Central Asia. Or maybe chilequiles from Mexico, or kichree from Iraq. If you can't go there, at least you can eat the food.
03 January 2007
Take Off! is unquestionably the best geography game I've ever played (and I've played more than a few). Most geography games are long on facts and short on plain fun. Facts are fine, but I'd rather my children learn the locations of countries and their capitals and a few other facts like religion and ethnicity and not worry about major imports or the exact GNP or the monetary unit of any country. Take Off! requires you to spend the entire game looking at a world map and moving between capitals and major cities around the world. And it covers every single capital and country from East Timor and Djibouti to Russia and Mexico. There's no skipping over the countries that are usually ignored (or maybe I just was pleased to be able to zip between Urumqi and Bishkek). You don't need to know anything about geography to enjoy this game, but it still teaches you a lot because you play over and over and learn every time you play.