December 12, 2019

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  • Buttered Up: Cowhide and turnovers

    Chaussons aux Pommes (French Apple Turnovers). (Photo by Sarah Khanna)

    Only yesterday I was gifted an early 1980s Rwandan cowhide rug as a housewarming present. At first I was unsure about laying it out, granting it the power to open up thoughts of guests about the ethical treatment of animals. What does it say about me, about our home?

    It has been a year since I witnessed the slaughter of a sheep for the first time. On Friday, it will happen again and I have chosen to go. It is not a pleasant experience. It is unlikely that it ever will be, but it is necessary to remind myself at least once a year that sacrifices are made for me to eat meat.

    Many Muslims around the world go to extra lengths to find out if the meat they are consuming is halal. But is it fully halal when the name of God is mentioned at the time of slaughter though little else of what we must do as Muslims is actually observed? Because of the demand, because of our population, the kind treatment of the sacrificed animal has mostly been forgotten. Sacrifices are lined up, awaiting their turn. They are butchered in front of each other in large car parks. They are not laid down gently but are rather flung and held tight as they kick to get up. In many cases, they see the knife clearly and in the end, many of their bodies are cut up with disregard to the different cuts of meat they were destined to become, sliced in haste and cooked in the usual braise.

    We have gotten corporate, maybe even industrial about our Eid slaughters in the big cities.

    In our home this year, we have been discussing the details of slaughtering. We’ve watched videos, some that would instantly get you off meat, at least for a while; and others that make you believe that we’re probably doing it all wrong. Sam Kouka’s video on Mercy Slaughter is one. I know that vegans and others may say that I cannot call slaughter humane but his method has to be the most humane slaughter I’ve seen.

    Back to the cowhide, say what you will but I have decided to put it out for all to see. It reminds me not to live in my own bubble for too long and to pay attention to our world and what we are doing with it. It brings back all those fast food burgers I’ve eaten without thinking twice, finishing it off with a steaming apple “pie”, a turnover really, that comes packed in carton.

    This below is the homemade version of said apple “pie” with the shortcut of frozen puff pastry. Make it at home without the temptation of that burger that comes from a corporation that tells you nothing about your food. Accept that we are not treating animals the way they should be, whether dogs and horses or cows and sheep. Be kind this Eid.

    Chaussons aux Pommes (French Apple Turnovers)
    2 tablespoons of butter
    3 cooking apples
    1/4 cup sugar
    A pinch of cinnamon
    A pinch of allspice
    A few walnuts, broken up
    A little less than a handful of raisins
    A squirt of lemon juice
    1/2 tablespoon flour
    3 square sheets of frozen puff pastry, rolled out to 24.5×24.5cm (2.8mm thickness)

    1 egg yolk, beaten with a teaspoon of cold water
    Extra caster sugar for sprinkling

    Core and peel the apples. Cut the apples into small cubes. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the apples. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sugar to the apples as well as the raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, allspice and flour. Stir for a moment to combine and cook down the flour. Cook for another 7-10 minutes on medium-low heat. Add the lemon juice and cook for another 5 minutes or until the apples become soft and coated with sugar. Leave to cool for a while. Cut puff pastry into rectangles. Spoon the apple mixture over half of the pastry leaving a margin. Brush the margins with the egg glaze. Fold the pastry and seal the edges. You could seal the edges using the tines of a fork.  Place on a damp baking sheet and slice 3-4 vents in the top of the pastry. Brush the pastry with more glaze and sprinkle some caster sugar on top. Let it rest for 15 minutes in the fridge.  Oven at 220 degrees Celsius. Bake the pastry for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 190 degrees Celsius, and continue to bake until golden and puffed up.  Cool slightly and serve. Let me know how it goes.


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