30 September 2008

Low-Altitude Adjustments

Up till now, I've spent all but one year of my living at a high altitude, or at least what would be defined as a high altitude for baking. Usually it's been around 4,500 feet, although some places in Idaho were only 2,500 feet.

That means I'm having to make adjustments for low altitude baking. I have to follow the recipes instructions and bake stuff for the recommended time and at the recommended temperature or it'll be burned. The rice will be done in the time the recipe says, not five minutes later. Cakes don't fall.

It's almost taken the fun out of cooking. Although my spice cake that by definition is always sunken was pretty good the other day without a pit in the middle.

I should go back through my recipes and say whether it's a low-altitude one or a high. Because I wasn't always consistent when I posted them here if I'd post my changes or post the real recipe.

29 September 2008

Everyday Life in Central Asia


This book edited by Jeff Sahadeo and Russell Zanca is an excellent compilation of essays about Central Asia. Basic enough to be read by anyone who wants to know more about Central Asia, it's also interesting for those with more experience in the region.

The book covers a variety of topics, especially religion, post-Soviet attitudes and changes, gender, etc. Few are specifically about Turkmenistan and Tajikistan; Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan are better represented, with a few essays about Afghanistan.

I especially liked the essays in Parts 4, 5, and 6. Several covered issues that I'm particularly interested in, like the one about the Sokh enclave, and another about the diversity of religious life in Central Asia. Whatever your interest, there should be something here for you.

Highly recommended.

27 September 2008

Sarah Palin

I haven't blogged about Sarah Palin because I've been able to talk about her with friends. She was a great topic of conversation just before we moved. I don't have anyone to talk to her yet, but she's still a great topic of conversation.

I ought to wait till after the VP debate to post this, because I think that could well seal her fate. She did exactly what she was supposed to do in the convention, but I don't think McCain was looking much beyond that convention week when he picked her. How can you expect someone to get up to speed on so many different issues in just a couple of weeks? Her interview with Katie Couric was painful for everyone, from the viewers to Couric and Palin. An interview with Katie Couric shouldn't be painful, at least for the interviewee.

What disappoints me most is that McCain had other women whom he could have chosen, if he was determined to choose a woman, women who already have significantly broader knowledge about the issues facing this country than Sarah Palin does.

But even though I'm disappointed, I've thoroughly enjoyed watching this all unfold. And I'll keep enjoying it unless it ends up as a thoroughly embarrassing trainwreck for someone.

25 September 2008

The Language of Baklava

The Language of Baklava: A MemoirI browsed this one at the library just before we moved, which is probably why I couldn't remember the title a few days ago. But now I remember and it's a great book. It's an interesting culinary memoir that has good recipes too.

Diana Abu-Jabr is the daughter of an American mother and a Jordanian father. The book focuses a lot more on her father and his cooking than her mother and anything about her mother, although not every recipe is Arab. The writing is good and the recipes are excellent. In fact, I'd recommend this as a good, basic resource for a variety of Middle Eastern recipes. They're not overly complicated and nearly all the basics are here.

Recommended.

24 September 2008

It's fortunate the Jewish holidays are late this year or we'd have missed them. Now the only conflict is Rosh Hashana and Eid al-Fitr overlapping.

I'm thinking I'll try to track down some Bukharan Jewish holiday recipes since this year is going to be all Central Asia, all the time. I know plenty of Central Asian recipes that will work for Eid al-Fitr already.

Wrong Addresses

My husband and I get emails from Barack Obama's and John McCain's campaigns, which is fine, except he gets the ones from the candidate I will vote for, and I get the ones from his candidate. Neither of us signed up for the emails. We don't know how he got on the list; I got on because I emailed a senator about 5 years ago and that senator apparently thought I would be interested in the emails from his party's candidate. It's been fun to compare the emails.

23 September 2008

Back on the Other Side

We survived the move.

We even got lucky; the day we drove out, we found out we'd gotten into a 3-bedroom townhome. It's even 100 square feet bigger than our last place. We drove and drove and drove to get here by 4 the next afternoon and now we're settled in. I even have all my books out.

I have all my books out because of this:



We bought this before the move, thinking we'd use it as a room divider. Turns out we don't need it in this apartment, so it's now in my bedroom. It can hold over 10! boxes of books (since the shelves are deep). We should have gotten one a long time ago.

When you switch apartments the day you move, your mail takes a long time to find you. I think it's still wandering about and may never get here.

I read a good book recently but I can't remember anything about it now to post. I've read a lot of not-so-good books this summer too. There will be a lot of Central Asia books again over the next few months. Did I mention my husband is taking Central Asian politics this semester? Did I mention that I'm looking forward to it more than he is? And he'd taking Uzbek.

09 September 2008

So, I've been looking for ideas on living in a small apartment since it looks like we're moving from our just-under-1000-square-foot flat to a just-under-800 townhome. I've gotten good at living in an apartment this size with 5 people; it's straining my brain a bit to think of losing almost 200 square feet.

I've decided though that what really bothers me in a small space is having too much stuff. I think the tiny space arrangements at IKEA are good, but there's too much stuff in them. Our small-for-us place will work for us, and still be a lot cheaper than anything else in our new city, if we get a storage unit. It's not ideal, but I think it'll work.

The small apartment is much closer to the law school and will have a lot more children my older boys' ages than the one we could move too that's the same size as the one we're moving from. And it's closer to the library and farmers market. Closer to the law school is the most important thing though. And did I mention it's $700 less a month?

01 September 2008

Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan Mubarak
2007 prayers in Palestine, Tajikistan, and Nigeria