Our Stuff Arrived (And It Was Frozen) — UPDATED

It hadn’t occurred to us that, of course, one of the things that happens on a slow rail trip across China and into Mongolia this time of year is that stuff freezes en route. Which is pretty funny, when one of your things is a snow globe enclosing a photo of your dog, and inside, where the “snow” is, is full of real ice. Fortunately, our various chile sauces, maple syrup (duh) and sherry vinegar are fine, but poor Phil had a leg fall off. The movers were horrified that they’d broken him somehow, but we think the glue gave out in the cold.

IMG_0827We spent this weekend unpacking and trying to put everything away. The plan is to give the landlord’s kitchen stuff and linens back and phase in our own things, which sounds simple, but there’s just. so. much. I did find my bread baking equipment and baked for the first time since August. The sourdough starter — our other pet — travelled here in my suitcase, and I’ve been feeding it, just haven’t baked with it. Someday I’d love to take a class with a real baker and learn how to gauge temperature and hydration properly; being self-taught in the the tropics has not prepared me for the far colder and drier conditions here. To make the whole project riskier, I used an unknown flour that could be pretty much anything. If anyone can read the label and identify it, please let me know. My best guess is that it’s rye or something close: it was very dry and dense while kneading and made a dark loaf. (This is 1/3 mystery flour and 2/3 white.)

Anyway, it’s Sunday night, and all my clothes and personal things are put away. We shored up the bookcases, and Mr. Handy is switching our tv for the landlord’s. Overall? Just like Christmas.

UPDATE: The mystery flour is barley! I look forward to experimenting further…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Our Stuff Arrived (And It Was Frozen) — UPDATED

  1. Dayna

    I’m sure it’s nice to say hello to all your things again. It is funny (but not surprising) that your most coveted things relate to food. It’s probably time to find a local cooking class. Bread looks good, even if it is a mystery. Bon appetite!

  2. Joan and Wally MacDonald

    The big question is, do you like the taste and texture? If, yes, put a name to it and do it again!!! Could it be pumpernickel? heavier, thicker texture, usually darker than even dark rye — your experience, too?
    Hope Phil can have a quick simple surgery for his limb. Sweet that the movers were so contrite and concerned!

  3. Mongolians call this “blue flour” and say it’s very healthy. Interestingly (to me, the novice baker), it’s a lot lighter than regular flour, meaning that 100g made a much bigger mound on the scale than 100g of either white or whole wheat of the flours I usually use. Almost powdery.

  4. Крис (Chris)

    I like your glass in the background, reminds me of that line from Alice in Wonderland, ‘one mustn’t drink much from a bottle marked poison, for it is certain to disagree with one sooner or later’ … good advice. nice cup. good luck with the baking. Most Mongolians (at least in the countryside) are excellent bakers of bread.

  5. Kay

    The bread looks delicious! I agree with Joan and Wally, it looks like pumpernickel. I have never heard of frozen belongings – how interesting your life has become.

  6. Katherine

    Good to know we are not the only expats who included maple syrup in our shipment! It seems that freezing might be kinder to most goods than the sweltering heat ours sat in in a Jakarta ship yard for two weeks, hope nothing broke.

  7. I think you’re right about the effects of freezing vs. tropical heat — I’ve heard bad stories about things that evaporated and hope that didn’t happen to you. Maple syrup is such a treat sometimes, and it’s easy to find in shippable cans or plastic jugs. Things I’d never considered before…

  8. JoAnn Muir

    Get yourself a copy of “The Joy of Cooking” best all around cook book ever. Tells you how to cook anything and accommodate for tropics, cold, altitutde, you name it. Tell you how to cook wild meat, baking, It is the best gift for new brides/grooms. Order it on Amazon.com. JoAnn Muir

  9. JoAnn Muir

    I am joining the Peace Corps and coming to Mongolia. Do they actually have coffee somewhere. I hate tea. I actually get sick from tea.

    • There’s lots of coffee here in Ulaanbaatar, both at cafes and beans to make your own at home. Not sure what will be available at your posting site though — the basic minimum is instant Nescafe.

      • JoAnn Muir

        Thank for your reply. I wrote elsewhere on your site about a great basic cookbook that explains everything about anything you want to know about altitude, wild game, measures, I mean anything. You can order from amazon.com, called The Joy of Cooking. It even tells you how to get soughdough starter started again if you lose it!!!

      • Yes, thanks, I know Joy of Cooking well. I didn’t bring my copy when we moved, but it’s very easy to look up techniques and recipes online. Cooking in Mongolia doesn’t include high altitudes or wild game — with 40 million head of livestock for 2.8 million people, it’s all mutton, beef, goat, camel, chicken or horse. The issue is finding ingredients and cooking creatively with what can be found.

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