Sunday, 22 March 2015

Days of Significance- March 21st

Amira was celebrating Nooruz

When we moved to Kyrgyzstan the first time 10 years ago, one of the things I most looked forward to was Nooruz. We had had some Uzbek friends in Idaho who told us about the holiday and invited us to their celebration and I wanted to see what it was like in Kyrgyzstan.  We've since celebrated Nooruz many times (that's the Kyrgyz spelling- there are lots of variations depending on what part of the Iranic or Turkic world you're in) and one of my favorite things to do is to eat laghman.  They're long pulled wheat noodles that probably orignated in China.  These specific noodles aren't necessarily traditional for Nooruz, but eating noodles is.  I love to celebrate this holiday, not only because it reminds me of being in Kyrgyzstan, but because it's been celebrated for thousands of years by many different people.

This version of laghman is a simpler way to do it than the flung and folded way.  More power to you if you can pull that off.  Most people in Central Asia make laghman this way.

Mix about 4 cups all-purpose flour (this is the only recipe where I don't use whole wheat flour- it just doesn't work well), 2 eggs, 1 tsp salt, and enough water to make a stiffish dough, then knead it a bit.  You can do this in a mixer or food processor if you like.  Shape the dough into a ball, cover, and let sit for at least two hours. 

Break off walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll them into long, pencil-thin strips. After forming each strip, oil it, then coil it on an oiled plate (start in the middle and work your way out, then when the plate is full, start a second layer till the dough is all used up). Cover the coiled dough mound with plastic and let it sit till you're ready to cook the noodles (you want to let it sit for at least 30 minutes and much more time is better- at least two hours).  As you can see, you don't have to be perfect.
Take each noodle one at a time and pull it with both hands into a very long, thinner noodle. Work carefully so you don't break the noodles. Leave each pulled strip in a separate little heap on the counter until the water boils.
Holding your hands out, about 18 inches apart with the palms facing each other, take the ends of three or four little heaps together between your thumb and your palm and run them around the back of your hand. Bring the dough on top of your other hand and then down across the back of your hand. Bring the first hand around to pick the dough up again on top of the hand and then around the back. Repeat that motion to make a sort of figure-8 with the noodles. 
When you have all three strands wrapped around your hands, pull the noodles again by moving your hands farther apart (don't break them, but do give them a good pull), then drop them off your hands into the boiling water.Stir the noodles to prevent sticking. They'll float to the top as the water comes back to a boil. Fish them out with the strainer about a minute or less after the water boils again. Dip them into the cold water, then transfer to a plate. It's easiest to keep each batch on separate plates because the noodles are so long that they're hard to get out of a communal bowl.

If you're making a lot of noodles, they'll get cold before you get them all done, so briefly dip them back in the hot water before serving to warm them up.  Or you can fry them which is what my son prefers and I have to say that's a really tasty option.

Get a large pot of water boiling and have a bowl of cold water and a big strainer scooper thing (I don't know what they're called) ready. While the water is getting hot, start stretching the noodles. Take each noodle one at a time and pull it with both hands into a very long, thinner noodle. Work carefully so you don't break the noodles. Leave each pulled strip in a separate little heap on the counter until the water boils.


Rose-Marie was celebrating Mabon.

Once it stopped begin too hot to move without putting the air con on, I got stuck into the very much needed Mabon cleaning. It's not that I'm fond of housework, or anything, but by the time Mabon comes around, I find myself glad to be able to get stuck into it. We worked on it a little each day for over a week. I didn't want to inspire rebellion in my daughter!

Here's a pic of my other trusty cleaning companion, the vacuum cleaner that used to be mine, that I handed over to my mother because she has more carpet and a house big enough to fit it in!

Hooray for the vacuum cleaner! Spiders, you must rebuild!

We also harvested. This year, living somewhere with better quality soil and more reliable water, we finally got enough popcorn to eat, not just to plant next year! It looks pretty, doesn't it, sitting in my lovely fruit bowl made of red gum burl. We haven't eaten any yet, but we can and that's nice to know! I will certainly plant more this summer. 6 plants wasn't enough. The plants are so large, but only produce about two cobs. That's not going to keep anyone in afternoon snacks for long, is it?

This being temperate Australia, it is not only a time of harvest. We get a winter growing season, so it is also time to start off seedlings. Daughter and I planted out some old seed we had left over on Mabon, expecting nothing to germinate and for us to have to take a trip to a nursery for seedlings come Samhain, but lo! We had much better luck than expected! Look at that! 

Amira is a peripatetic homeschooler currently living in Mexico.  She loves food, books, geysers, ruins, rain, and rocky beaches. She blogs at

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally...

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