Sunday, January 30, 2011

How to Make Buuz/Bansh: A Photographic How-To

Thanks Mel, Ellen and Mom. :) I know I have a lot of time to figure out what I’m doing in the future… I tend to think about it a lot since I have the time on my hands to think about such things.

Just finished up a lovely conversation with Ellen about… Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13, whist I was trying to clean my desk. Sundays are usually my cleaning day. By the way, I think 13 is my favorite! Mmm George Clooney.

As I mentioned, Tsaagan Sar is THIS WEEK. I’m not hosting my own Tsaagan Sar, but I’ve been invited to a bunch of houses already. Suvdaa’s even got her stack of 50 tug bills to give to the children who come’a knocking. Seriously, it’s like trick-or-treating for the kids, except they get MONEY. Alex told us last year kids came knocking at his apartment building, but since no one was answering their doors, the kids shut off the circuit breaker. Nice!

I also got my new deel (traditional Mongolian dress) this week. I'll have to upload those pictures after Tsaagan Sar. Remind me.

Last weekend I went to Suvdaa’s home to make bansh, which are like mini-buzz (dumplings). It was interesting to explain to her that we just have the one word for dumplings; that we don’t specify between sizes like they do.

In keeping with my new year’s resolutions, I did a photo-how-to on how to make bansh!
Start with mixing flour and water... make a  dough ball!
  Let the dough rest...
            While the dough rests, take out your sturdy knives and
                     choice of meat (in this case, it's beef, but you can have camel, sheep, goat, whatever!)
       Just be sure NOT to trim the fat! (Mongolians love it!)
Cut the meat in big strips...
...then take those strips and cut them into even tiny-er strips...
Make sure to look FABULOUS while doing it!
...and cut again to make tiny cubes of MEAT
Now that you've chopped the meat,
put a handful of salt into a bowl of water for the onions.

Next, chop the onions into REALLY SMALL PIECES!
This is Suvdaa's daughter, such a helper! :)

Onions into the water-salt mix!

Onion-salt mix, into the meat mmmm

Now rooool it out into a desired thickness (thicker
for buuz, thinner for bansh)

While waiting that to marinate, check out the dough
that was resting, and kneed it like ya need it.

Cut the roll it into a desired thickness and press it,
making a cute little dough-coin thing

                DOUGH! IMMA EAT CHOO

Now the trick to good buuz is the rolling and the pinching-
roll from the inside to make a disk that's slightly thicker in the middle.
Now add the meat + onion mix...

...and pinch the top like an accordion... or something
I'm really terrible at it. So don't listen to me.

           Suvdaa even taught me how to do the buuz folding... which I failed at. Big time.
Can you tell which one I made? Ha.
           All that's left is to cook 'em! This is milk tea, a traditional Mongolian drink.
            It's a mix of water, milk, tea from drained tea leaves, and a little salt.

                        My Little Pretties
                                 IN GOES THE BANSH!
Boil, and SERVE!
Eat it with friends! Hom nom nom!

And that's about it! Easy-peasy yeah? So now go make your own and let me know how it goes. :)

Happy Tsaagan Sar, everyone!
Сар шинэдээ сайхан шинэлээрэй!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Singing oh, January, oh

The Decemberists new album = rockin', albeit a bit country sounding, was inspired by REM so I'm gonna give them a break.

Went to the Mercy Corps Client Day and Trade Fair during the weekend, some pictures ahead (HAHA get it?! Well, if you don't you'll see soon enough...). I got some cool stuffs, including PORK which we made pulled-pork sandwiches with and they were DELICIOUS.

Yesterday was the end of the 4th Nine (see my post about the Nine Nines)… which is the coldest Nine. Only warm from here on up, yeah? I’d like to call BS since it’s only the end of January, but it seems that it might actually be true- the weekend calls for the lows to be ABOVE zero, and highs of +23F! I don’t even remember what that feels like! Break out the bathing suits!

At the Trade Fair
This little sheep went to market... 
Also a month from today (*ahem* this was written yesterday) I’ll be headed to the good ol’ US of A (and Hong Kong) for a nice vacation. I’m thinking either I’m going to FREAK OUT (dreading reverse culture shock) or it’ll be perfectly fine. Hopefully the latter. Although my mom said she had it when she came back from Scotland for the first time, going into the huge supermarkets. One can only hope that I freak out whist eating a wonderful Jimmy Johns sandwich. #9 with no tomatoes and extra lettuce and onion… here I come.

…Need to stop thinking about American food. Just gets depressing. I’ve noticed I get on “food kicks” here. Like I’ll eat one kind of thing for a long time then suddenly get sick of it. I once was hugely obsessed with veggie melts but once sliced cheese disappeared from the delguur (store) shelves, I’ve been mostly eating sliced veggies with a Thai sweet-and-sour sauce, sometimes with chicken if I have it. For breakfast I used to be a hard-core egg eater but now I’ve gotten lazy and, with the help of Alex’s oven I’m still pirating, I’ve been eating toast nearly every morning. Partially also due to the fact that eggs are becoming a rarity again now that Tsaagan Sar is less than a week away.

Excuse me...
i lose mai bodie... plz help mi :(
In other news we finished our grant for the Children’s Camp this week and I’m just waiting until Friday to get the final signatures so we can send it in. This week I’ll be starting another grant to address road safety in our community. When my coworker said that the hospital was interested in doing that project, I was right on board. We’re going to try for a MCA (Millennium Challenge) grant… but the deadline is April 4th, just after I come back. So I’m going to try my darndest to punch this thing out next month with the help of my coworkers.

A little random, but I had a momentary freak-out at work today. I haven’t been feeling very good this week (tired/sore throat), I don’t know if that has anything to do with this. Anyway. I had “Doctors Without Borders” on the brain for some reason so I decided to check out their website. My thought process went a little like this:

Oh this would be a really awesome thing to do, what are the requirements? *clickity click* --> Huh, two years clinical experience with less than a 2 year gap in between --> Well, that’s ok, I can do my masters before hand, then I can work for a couple of years and then do this --> Let’s look at U of M’s nursing master’s programs! *clickity click* --> shit, do I need to take the GRE? WHEN? --> wait, what the heck to I even want to do my master IN? Clinical nurse specialist in GI diseases? CNS in adult acute care? Community health? Education? --> Should I start applying now?? --> Oh, but what if I wanted to take a year off? Then I could go down to Bolivia to do the photographs for Hugh’s university --> What about those photography classes I wanted to do? *clickity click* --> What about the continuing education classes in Japan? *CLICKITY CLICK* --> What about doing a year in South Korea teaching English? You get paid for that! --> What if I want to do a 3rd year here?! I’m going to be SO OLD! I’m going to be the OLD SPINSTER with the nice career and no love/personal life, aren’t I? AREN’T I?? --> …I really should be working on that grant. *hastily closes browser tabs*

…Luckily my coworkers did not notice such a thought process.

Chairs chairs everywhere
Here's a nice picture so you can think happy thoughts after this blog post!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Only Living Girl in the B-U

School Children
The local school kids are keeping warm!
((re: Title: On a Simon and Garfunkel kick, so sue me))

Anyway, what a week. Back in September we all thought about the months ahead of us- October was going to be busy due to the huge amount of birthdays and English classes, November busy because of Thanksgiving, December busy because of Christmas/New Years/IST, and January we thought to be the calm before the storm of Tsagaan Sar in February. Yeah, no. January is busier than ever, and we're already half way through!

Winter Afternoon
Moon at 4 in the afternoon
It's been really nice to be busy. It was a tad bit slow during Christmas and New Years, but since then it's been constant. I've been working on various proposals, and we're all getting together to start to organize the children's camp in June. English club has started up again, but it was cancelled today probably due to prep for Tsagaan Sar (as Travis told me and confirmed by Suvdaa). We're only half way through January, but I've already been warned to stock up on things such as juice and eggs. I'm going to have to really practice self-control with the eggs... I still have control of Alex's oven at the moment and I wanted to make the pumpkin pie with the mix I bought. Mmm...

LESSON TIME! Tsagaan Sar, or "White Month" is the lunar New Year. Not be confused with the Chinese New Year (which is occasionally shares the same date), Tsagaan Sar is tied closely to the Tibetian New Year, and is celebrated two months after the first new moon after the winter solstice (remember the start of the nine nines?). It's to celebrate the new year, and start fresh. I've been told that it's the "beginning of spring" as well, but this year it's during the coldest part- Feb 3rd-6th. It's the biggest Mongolian celebration, with each family spending the weeks prior stocking up on goods and making (literally) thousands of buuz (steamed dumplings). I've also been told that families can go broke during this time because families will save up and spend every tugrik they have on presents and food. 
School #1
Tiled banners at the 1st School
On Tsagaan Sar day, people travel from house to house, greeting each other, eating, drinking, and giving gifts. Kind of like Christmas, since it's getting to be a slightly commercialized holiday now (I've seen TV commercials on the big screen in the square). It was renamed to "Herder's Day" in the Russian communist era, but it's back to the good ol' Tsagaan Sar name now.

With the Children
Alex and the kids... photo walk in -15F weather! Yeah!

In other news, I had a backpacker stay with me this week! His name was Alex (Alex #2!), and he's from Spain. He's doing a around-the-world trip which I'm quite jealous of, really! Maybe after Peace Corps? Who knows. Anyway, he came down to the less-traveled BU to do a mini-project with the children. Alex had a bunch of cameras he brought with him so along with Nate, we organized to have the children come down to the children's center to participate in a photography project. The children learned about photography, did a photo walk, discussed their photos and made frames for them. They were then hung in the children's center. Overall it was a really cool project, and since it was the first time that Alex has done this project, I think he got some good ideas of what to do/not to do next time (he wants to continue to do this around the world, to show the people of Spain how the children of other cultures think of the world... neat huh?).
Mongolian Woman
Mongolian Woman

Switching gears again, we've passed the 7 month marker of being in Mongolia. I mentioned this to my coworker who said, "when you have lived here for one year, you will be Mongolian." Sweet! Also, only a month and a half until Florida, Michigan, and Hong Kong... so much to do! People to see! Grants to write! Mongolian to learn! Again, I'm glad it's so busy, I just hope I don't get too overwhelmed. 

Peace for now... stay warm my Michigan people, I know it's getting chilly over there. Just don't expect any sympathy! :)