I find that most people are surprised to learn that there is a plant called the marshmallow. It grows in marshy areas and, like most mallows, has pretty flowers—though the flowers are not as showy or large as those of the related hibiscus and hollyhock. The marshmallow has a root that was at one time used to make a creamy confection, which has more recently found itself vaguely imitated by the sugar and gelatin puffs we now buy in bags.
The reason marshmallow roots made good candy is because of the mucilage, which works as a thickening agent. This is a trait it shares with another family member, okra. However, in okra, it is the pods that contain this thickening agent. Continue reading
Our introduction to the meat-filled Mongolian fried pastry called huushuur was during a picnic in the Gobi. We also had huushuur in restaurants and during the Naadam Festival, where it was prepared by vendors in open-air stalls. Huushuur can be eaten out of hand, as a hearty snack, or it can be turned into a meal by adding a salad. (Two salads we frequently encountered in Mongolia, which would be appropriate: carrot and garlic salad—grate a carrot or two, grate in garlic to taste, add a little mayonnaise to bind it and a dash of salt; or shredded cabbage tossed with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper). Huushuur is good hot, but is also excellent at room temperature.
Mongolian Fried Meat-Filled Pastries
2-1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
water to mix
1 lb. chopped or ground beef or mutton (see Notes below)
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1–2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
oil for cooking Continue reading