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Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Wintry Menu

I think every country has seasonal limitations on what sort of produce can be bought.  I always get a kick out of seeing fresh cherries in the winter in the US for $9+ per pound, and wondering who is actually buying them.  Kazakhstan may have more seasonal limitations than many other places, although I've been told that the situation is improving rapidly.  There have been some pleasant surprises.  I don't know where the fresh apples and pears we've been buying are coming from, but they have actually been pretty good.  Other surprises have been somewhat less pleasant.  Know how everyone complains about the "fresh" tomatoes that are available in the winter in the US?  The ones I've had here are even crunchier.  And good canned tomatoes seem not to be as readily available, at least in the places where I've looked for them.

We decided to have a few people over for dinner last night, and I wanted to plan a menu that made use of what was readily available, without having to chase down difficult-to-find ingredients, or risk serving people something like icky crunchy tomatoes.  This is what we had:

  • Appetizers:  potato chips, cheese, and halal sausage.
  • Soup:  Lentil soup.  My recipe includes red lentils, onions, cumin, and lemon juice.  I'm happy to say that lemons are being imported from somewhere.
  • Main course:  Latkes!  A good way to make use of a seemingly endless potato season.  I had actually been thinking of having people over for latkes during Hanukah, but we had some kitchen plumbing issues at the time, so social gatherings in our apartment weren't ideal.  I think latkes are tasty at any time of the year anyway.
  • Side dishes:  Roasted root vegetable salad and apple/pear/ginger sauce.  I make variations of roasted root vegetable salad all the time.  For this one, I made use of the beets, green radishes, and onions that are available here. I made a mustard vinaigrette to go on it and added chechil.  I'm not sure where the ginger root I used in the apple/pear/ginger sauce is coming from, but I'm happy to have it.
  • Dessert:  Raspberry upside down cake!  We froze a bunch of raspberries in the late summer/early fall, and decided it was time to start enjoying them.  It was fun to taste raspberries in this snowy, subzero weather.
I'll be interested to see when new produce starts coming into season...

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