Monday Meal Review: Kazakhstan


Today is a tribute to my cat who died last week. To non-cat lovers, my apologies. Please return tomorrow for regularly scheduled programming. 

This week’s comfort food was exactly what I needed.

You see, when we finally decided to put Cabo to sleep I was a red faced, crying mess. I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be sure of my decision. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be free of “what if’s.”

Instead I felt horrendous for having such power over life. I didn’t want to decide when he would take his last breath. I didn’t want to break his unfaltering trust in me as his owner. I just didn’t want any part of it. I simply wanted to make him better by ousting the horrendous disease that swallowed him up – feline AIDS.

Unfortunately that wasn’t possible.

By the time the decision was made, he was a skeleton of his former mega kitty self. He’d developed a tremor in his last days that ultimately brought us into the vet’s office scared, but hopeful for some magical remedy.

There was none.

As we sat there with him in his final moments all I could do was sneak him a little bit of Ava’s milk, cuddle with him, rub his neck and let him nuzzle me, before the drugs took over and he slowly put his chin on his paw for the last time.

It was so darn sad.

When we told Ava to say goodbye to Kitty (his more common nickname), she said I love you and gave him a kiss on the nose. Unbelievable; she’d never said that to him before. Then she moved on, as any 2 year-old does, to finding something to play with. We were still looking at Kitty, tears fully flowing, when she quickly flipped the windowless room into total darkness.

I wanted to scream.

The funny thing is, though the timing was terrible, the more I think about it, the more I realize Kitty probably wasn’t bothered one bit. You see, he was just about as sweet and understanding as it gets.

Cabo was a stray that found me in 2006. Before he (and his startlingly loud meow) made his way to our home, he must have lived with a hundred kids and a dozen old ladies who took shifts petting him. He never once hissed for getting his tail pulled, and he wanted nothing more than to be pet or to be curled up with his buddy Malky – the cat we got shortly before I got pregnant with Ava. Just about nothing phased him.

He was a pleasure to own.

So, thank you for listening. It helps.

P.S. He loved watermelon. Really.

Central Asian Noodle Stew (Lagman Shurpa) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

This is the most wonderfully comforting stew. It’s brothy and filling, hearty and healthy. Keith asked me to put it on his list of favorites, stating “I’d eat that any time.” Considering the turnips, I find this quite remarkable.

What I liked least about this dish:


Lagman (Hand-cut Noodles) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

I love how simple it was to cut out these thick noodles – so much less fussy than getting out the pasta maker. It’s also a fun activity to do with kids.

What I liked least about this dish:

Just be sure to dust the noodles with flour so they don’t stick together. Also salt the water (instead of the noodles) for the best flavor.

Chak Chak [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

Chak Chak is great. I had to continually swat at Keith and Ava as they tried to eat it up before it cooled completely. Although, I have to admit I was no better – warm buttery honeyed noodles is pretty epic.  It would be divine with a few shakes from the cinnamon jar.

What I liked least about this dish:

This was a lot easier to make than I thought. Just be sure to keep your hands damp so that it doesn’t stick to you (or burn you).

Salty Salty Chai [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

Adding salt is so unusual – it gives the tea a savory twist which is not completely terrible, especially on a hot day.

What I liked least about this dish:

There were some problems with the sour cream – it separated in the hot water – taking on a strange curdled look. Their sour cream must be different than ours. Overall, this was definitely a stretch for my western palate.

Ava’s Corner:


  1. I’m so sorry about Cabo. I can’t even imagine how hard that was. I definitely teared up from your story. 🙁

    On a happier note, Ava is a brave girl with the crushed red pepper! She handled it like a pro.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Thank you Donnie – it’s been a very contemplative week for me. My outlook has changed on so many things. As for the crushed red pepper – that girl is amazing. I don’t know how she does it. I wish I could handle it as well as her. 🙂

  2. aunty eileen says

    My tummy loves ‘brothy’ stews and soups. When making I make big pot full… enough for a few times and enough for putting in containerS for freezing… Tastes even better sometimes because it has chance to marinate.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Yes, the longer soup and stew sits, the better. I love a day old chili, for example.

  3. That was good of you to give Cabo a home, even though he had feline AIDS. Most people wouldn’t do that. I know making that trip to the vet is one of the hardest things you can do. But I’m sure Cabo is in a good place now.

    Take care.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Elaine, I appreciate your kind words. He only dealt with it the last six months but it was unreal how changed he was in that short time. Still as affectionate as ever, though.

  4. I have been thinking about it this week: to decide to end a loved animal’s suffering is a huge responsibility. Surely this is not the place to discuss it, but I send you a huge hug for having to face it.

  5. aunty eileen says

    A little story about an adorable stray-cat and how he found-love. About a year ago my friend and neighbor and her husband (husband had a stroke a few months earlier but was doing kinda-ok) could not get rid of a stray cat. Every time they sat on their porch the cat would appear… they would not pat it or even touch it or give it any food or drink or even a kind word… they did not want any cat. It went on for weeks the cat being relentless with coming on the porch to sit with them even tho they continually shooed him away and even sprayed him with their garden hose and still they gave him nothing but the words “go away”. Finally my friend said to her husband… there is a reason God has put this cat in our life and I think we should take him in… Once they accepted the fact they would be taking care of and living with this cat, they both fell in love with him/Casey and the cat is very happy also.

    Very sorry for your loss and what you had to go through Sasha… thank goodness Paul always took care of those type visits to the vet…. We never had cats, just dogs.

  6. As a dog lover myself, I was touched by the experience you had with Cabo. Our (my best buddy) Shi Tzu will be 13 next month and he is slowing down as we all do when we age. I dread the day when I have to make that last trip to the Vet with him. I just found your blog and find it quite interesting as I was always telling my kids, now my grandkids, to try something new. My 21 year old daughter has even used my pet saying “Explore your horizons” on her fiance. She is still much a meat and potatoes girl, but she did try my biscotti the other day and said it was pretty good. I’ll try some of these different cuisines on her over the holidays.

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