Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer Bounty

The catnip (nepeta cataria) I planted this spring

is now ready for primetime...

Just ask Princess.

(And Kevin wishes to thank you all for your kind thoughts and messages. He is doing well and expects to be home next week sometime.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

In the Kitchen

Private home in the Markha Valley

I've been spending a fair amount of time in the kitchen these days. I would like to say that it's because of the bountiful tomato crop, but I'd be lying. Zucchini, sure, but if the tomatoes show up for Thanksgiving, it will be a miracle. And I will be grateful. 

Other kitchens I've been visiting? The photo to the right is of a Ladakhi kitchen in the village of Yurutse (alt. 13,500 ft.), a "village" of one family, with three generations living together. We stopped for tea and a rest on our trek in the Markha Valley. The family was very kind to this tired and slightly sick traveler.

An important feature of the Ladakhi kitchen is the imposing metal stove. It is not only used for cooking, but for heat during the long winters. Surrounding the stove are cabinets containing beautiful brass utensils, cooking pots and food storage containers. Many of these items have been handed down for generations.

The kitchen also serves as the living room, dining room, playroom and, sometimes, even as a sleeping area. In fact, much of Ladakhi daily life is carried out in the kitchen. Sound familiar?

Many families in the Markha Valley now use outdoor solar cookers, especially for heating water for the generous rounds of tea which are consumed each day. Since the traditional stoves use animal dung - hand collected - for fuel, there are obvious advantages to the solar cooker.

Our traveling kitchen consisted of two gas burners, set up in a large yellow tent (smoked to black on the inside. It could have been declared a toxic waste site. Makes burning dung seem like a plausible option after all...). Our cook's meals were astonishing in their complexity, range of flavors and sheer tastiness. Needless to say, the tent also served as the dining room on windy nights, the storage area, and the bedroom for our helpers.

Gelsim cooking dinner

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Relax. Think positively. Praise is Vital.

Kevin, my brother-in-law, is going in for heart surgery on Friday.  So, if you have some spare time to think good thoughts, please do.