Meat

Around the world, not all meats are considered equal. It seems that in each region there is at least one kind of meat that is taboo. Knowing this, we were uncertain what types of meat we would find in Central Asia. Thankfully, we do have some good options available, and while the meat doesn’t come neatly packaged in a styrofoam tray labeled with the cut of the meat, I am learning how to prep it and cook it.

Ground beef has been my go-to because of its flexibility, and I have always had the meat guy at the bazaar grind it before my eyes so that I know that there are no extra bits in there. But despite choosing the slab of meat and watching it being ground, somehow it always includes bits and pieces I end up spitting out later when I am eating. Because of this, Benjamin and I decided to grind our meat at home. So at our most recent trip to the bazaar, we not only bought a whole slab of beef, but we also bought a grinder.

It was a lot of work and a huge mess. I am not even including a picture because it was… well… unappetizing. We haven’t had time to eat any of it yet (it all went into the freezer), but when we do, I will update you on the outcome.

Lesson Learned: Maybe chicken should be my go-to meat…

Comfort Food

I got sick again… am I surprised? No, not really. This is a part of life in Central Asia. As my stomach recovered, I wanted simple comfort food, and my mind went to tomato soup and grilled cheese. Both of the two major components I made from scratch (No, I didn’t make the cheese, although I am interested in learning cheese-making.).

I have never made fresh sandwich bread before, so this is a personal triumph. For some reason, using yeast and making a roux used to be my downfalls. I am getting better at roux, and I am also making some strides with yeast. So this may not look amazing to you, but I blame the poor lighting in my kitchen.

There is no Campbell’s here, so I had to start with what I had, a jar of whole cherry tomatoes. I used Martha Stewart’s basic recipe for creamy tomato soup, and I think that it turned out fairly well. I may try to do a little more with flavor layering next time, but for now, I have lunch for the next several days. With a little effort and surprisingly little cost, I can continue to feed myself food that I know and love.

Lesson Learned: Though far away from home, comfort food is still possible.

Tea

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In America, some people drink tea, but I am learning that everywhere outside of the States tea is THE drink. While coffee is growing in popularity in Central Asia, it will be a long time before it surpasses tea. Go to your local market, and you will see a whole aisle of tea, and while there is a whole aisle of coffee, it is sadly, not really coffee. Nescafe… is in a group all of it is own.

Tea is the answer to all questions. What do we serve our guests? Tea. I don’t feel well, what should I do? Tea. If I am thirsty, what should I drink? Tea.

Lesson Learned: While Americans dumped tea into a harbor, the rest of the world puts it into a teapot.