Thursday, June 23, 2011


Since coming home a few months ago, everyone asks question about what the food is like where I live. They all want to hear the crazy stories of when I eat sheep brain, or the time I tried fried bugs. But on the whole Uyghur food is really good and filling. The following is the recipe to make Polu. This is one of the main foods in the Uyghur diet, and is mainly eaten at the lunch. In fact restaurants make one batch a day and if they are out by 1pm and you can forget about trying to order it for dinner. It is one of the foods I miss the most when I am home.

Polu (Rice with Carrots and Mutton)

1 cup salad oil

1 kg mutton cut into 4 big chunks

5 big carrots (some yellow, some orange), cut in thin slices on the diagonal, then cut into tiny long strips

½ medium-sized onion, cut in chunks

3 cup rice

4 ½ Cups water

2 tsp salt to begin with (add more to taste – up to about 3 ½ tsp total)

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp cumin (optional)

Put oil in the pot and let it get very hot. Add salt to oil. Add mutton and cook from 2 minutes. Add onion. Keep frying until mutton is brown. Then put in carrot. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Turn heat up and add water. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer covered for another 15 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. Add rice on top of vegetables. Push not water but DO NOT STIR. Poke some holes in the rice. If a little too much water, cook at a high heat for a minute or two, then turn heat right down, cover and simmer for 30minutes. Turn off heat and let sit covered for another 10 minutes. Don’t remove lid until you serve it. Stir and serve.

Options: Add raisins, dried apricots, currants, or eggs tucked into the top of the rice before the final 30 minute steaming.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Second Bellybutton

Since surgery and since my brother's wedding I have come down with an infection at my incision sight. While the infection itself is clearing up, and looks good, the doctor had to cut a hole in my stomach in order to clean it all up. The hole is currently the size of my pinky figure and healing slowly. They can’t stitch it back up, because that would close any remaining infection inside, which means I am waiting for it to heal on its own. The doctors have given a variety of time length indicating how long this might take, I have heard everything from 2 weeks to almost 2 months ( as Uyghurs would say when they hear bad news ‘Huda Suklasun’ aka- God Forbid).

I asked friends in the nursing profession if there is anything I can do to speed up this process. One suggestion was to stay away from sugar - a hard thing to do in the Canadian land of plenty surrounded by chocolate, ice cream, cinnamon rolls and other decadent treats. But in an earnest attempt to do all that I can I have not only turned my back on these sweet indulgences, I have even cut the sugar from my coffee. (Long suffering sigh)

I ran into some friends the other day who were surprised to see I was still in Canada. They said they had been checking my blog, but since there was no update either way they just assumed that I was in the process of traveling and unable to post anything. Sorry to all who have been faithfully checking in hopes of hearing news. I have been taking so many antibiotics to fight the infection that I didn’t have any energy left to sit at my computer, much less try to be lighthearted while admitting to my delay. I will keep you posted on the state of my second bellybutton and my plans for return.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Main Event

The whole purpose behind my trip home this year was not just to visit with old friends or even to have my appendix out… the main purpose was to witness the wedding of my big brother and to share in their special day.

June 4th marked this important day in their lives and I was glad that I could celebrate with them. The ceremony itself was very beautiful and very intentional in it message. I finally have a sister!

You may notice that we are wearing shawls in a few of the pictures… those were not standard wedding apparel. In fact I picked them up at the grand bazaar in Central Asia before coming home. I had seen a picture of the bridesmaids dresses on-line and knew they were way too revealing. I had told my Muslim neighbors that I was going home for my brother’s wedding, if I brought back photos of me looking that inappropriate they might disown me. I bought a white shawl for the bride as well, so that they would know my brother had found himself a virtuous wife (since being home I have got to know her and see her beautiful heart… but sadly that wouldn’t communicate cross-culturally if all that can be seen is bare shoulders). Decent or indecent it was a beautiful day.