Monday, September 1, 2014

Kimchi on my mind


I can't get the blessed thing out of my head. I went out to Korean restaurants every other day this week - maybe a minimum of four times - and indulged in all kinds of kimchi side dishes.
The extremely fermented, bitter, and sour kind.
The freshly made with more than just a hint of sugar or sweetness added.
The bland flavored kimchi.
The hot 'n spicy kimchi in my kimchi kimbap.
The radish kimchi.
The dongchimi kimchi.
You name it. Chances are I had some of it.

Then, I got fed up with not having my own kimchi and went to Zion Market to eat some kimchi kimbap (the Korean version of sushi) and picked up a small jar of kimchi that I've already eaten half-way through in two days. I have a very old jar sitting in my roommates' fridge that I will recover when I return tomorrow.  I've been craving kimchi THAT much. My old jar is so fermented and sour by now that it's probably ready to be turned into a tasty stew.

What did I eat for lunch today? A large green salad with a side dish of kimchi.

What did I eat for snack today? A side of kimchi.

What did I eat for dinner today? NOT kimchi!  I went for a walk and got some tasty pho! Whether I had another bite of kimchi to top the night off, is something I'll leave you to determine.

Dear God, please spare my stomach. I hope these filled cravings are doing something good.

On another note, it's September 1st. Chuseok is next week. Autumn is almost here.

Happy first day of September everyone!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May Gray

I haven't posted this month because where I am living doesn't have internet and whenever I find access to internet I always find myself taking care of business and or catching up on the latest social media feeds and news.  I know, I know. Bad. Bad. Hopefully by next month I will have some wifi access. : )

Here in San Diego we have this thing called May gray. It's supposedly gray and overcast most of the month. However, this May, only a small percentage of the days have been "gray" and cloudy.  We hit some record breaking high temperatures and had some large fires in the county.  My life has mirrored the spurts of sunshine, hot fires, and dismal gray days in so many ways.  There have been some fired up storms, with some gray days, and even some beautiful sunshiny days in my own life.  Regardless of the ups and downs and storms that may weather us, it is a good time to remember and reflect on how each of these different weather patterns in life bring us closer to the creator and only make us stronger. I won't give up. I will only keep up and strive for the best.

No turning back. Keep moving forward.

I also have a mad craving for some healthy samgyetang as the hot summer days continue to roll through San Diego.

Stay cool everyone!

Friday, April 11, 2014

a love for hongcho

What's the big deal with HongCho? I love it. That's all that really matters. The pomegranate vinegar juice concentrate can be added to water or used in sauces, yogurt, salad dressings, milk, carbonated water, etc. I use it as flavoring for my water as a thirst quencher. The packaging and various reviews state that the vinegar:

  1. Supports the rate of digestion. 
  2. Helps absorb calcium. 
  3. Is an addition to everyday healthier life. 
  4. AND. is a vital quencher. "So refreshing!" 

For the best taste add one part vinegar to three parts water. 

Best taste: Hongcho 1: Water 3
Strong taste: Hongcho 1: Water 2
Light taste: Hongcho 1: Water 4

A serving size is 12 tsp. 

You can drink the beverage after a meal, after a shower, after a workout or anytime of day you feel the need to drink something so delicious. I like to drink it after or with some meals and after exercising. I often dilute it with water and drink it anytime a moment of thirst comes over me. I have to drink as much water as I can on a daily basis, so thankfully I have Hongcho flavoring or lemon for my water.  I have more stamina and energy after I drink a glass of this goodness.  

I bought a 3 pack (2 pomegranate and 1 blackberry) Hongcho vinegar mix from Zion Market here in San Diego last week. It was on sale. Taste it! You can grab yourself some over on Amazon, if you're not close to a Korean market! Click pic below. It's delish.

Friday, April 4, 2014

how NOT to eat bibimbap

Yesterday evening my friend and I decided to go to a meeting to inquire about writing for a Korean magazine in San Diego. 'twas a very interesting and fun experience learning about it and meeting all of the people. Though almost all of the people were familiar faces to me, my friend met lots of new people.

Afterwards, we ran out in a flash to find a Korean restaurant.  We originally intended to eat dinner beforehand, but we got a late start. By the end of the meeting our stomachs were making the gurgle gurgle, "please feed me" sounds.

We ended up on Convoy St. at Grandma Tofu and BBQ. In Korean it is known as 할머니순두부!
We ordered a selection of favorite Korean foods.

I usually like to eat fairly healthy and enjoy eating a good hearty bibimbap. I always order the hot stone pot bibimbap. If you would like to sound like you know what you're ordering you can say you want the dolsot bibimbap, which written in Korean is 돌솥비빔밥. The hot stone bibimbap is the best! It cooks up all the vegetables and makes the rice and other foods at the bottom crispy. The stone pot itself always adds extra flavor.  Because I am abstaining from gluten for an undetermined amount of time, I order mine without meat. Most restaurants will add soy sauce to their meat marinade. Though Koreans will tell you that their soy sauce was and is traditionally made without wheat, in America almost all soy sauce is made with the glutinous goodness that we know of as wheat.

As many stereotypical Asians do when their food comes out, we started snapping pictures.  My friend snapped a picture of me while I grabbed my chopsticks and picked up the first vegetable in my stone pot. HOWEVER, might I inform you that this is traditionally NOT how to eat your bibimbap.  See below.

Modeling how NOT to eat bibimbap

How do you eat bibimbap? I would say it's best eaten after adding some gochujang, Korean red chili pepper paste to the top. Using your spoon and or chop sticks mix all of the vegetables, egg, meat, sauces, etc. together.  If you're eating the bibimbap in a hot stone pot, be sure to scrape the food off the sides and allow the other parts to warm up, too.  You can then eat your bibimbap with a spoon!  It's okay to eat with chopsticks too, though it's much more commonly seen and easier to be eaten with your handy dandy spoon. Note: be careful not to burn yourself against the edges of the hot stone pot. When they say hot, they mean it!

My friend ordered the combo with soondubu jjigae (tofu soup) and kalbi (tasty marinated ribs) that comes with a hot stone pot of rice.  A look at what we ate:

Left: Friend. Right top: hot stone bibimbap, bottom: the dishes

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April showers bring May flowers

In San Diego it rarely rains!  Fortunately, we got some rain today!

Having lived and gone to college in Oregon, the rain always brings me a sense of peace.  Sometimes there is a bit of stress that accompanies it when having to fight the rains to face the day, but rarely does it rain enough to cause that kind of stress or problem.

Rain makes me happy!

There are so many things I could and would enjoy doing when it rains here:

a) go for a walk/jog
b) let it serenade me back to sleep
c) curl up in a chair with a good book and hot cup of tea
d) not do what I'm doing now
e) all of the above.

Water is life. It's refreshing and nourishes our soils, land, and our bodies.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

looking back helps me look foward

I keep looking back...looking back at Korea, looking back at my adventures while dreaming forward to Korea and other service projects if they are to become a reality again. Where is time going? Last year I traveled a lot for work, pleasure, and personal emergencies.

I keep looking back at the past...remembering good things...It's great I have memories to look back upon, but today is different. I need to look at today and accept that it is not the same.  I do not know when I will return to Korea. I do not know where I'll be next week or next month.

Instead, I'm going to look back with a smile only to motivate me to keep moving and progressing in a forward direction.  Right now that looks like having my health, being well, becoming stronger, and living in the present.  I can create new memories everyday! Hence, why I started the #100happydays challenge!

As I look forward, there are many things I want to accomplish and places to be. I am going to continue to set those goals in motion by doing what I know is within my capability on a daily basis.  In many ways, I am living at the mercy of others in faith with no control of my surroundings or my future. I promise to stand strong, positively looking up, believing and doing the little things that slowly get me closer to my goals and dreams.

This week includes exercising, sleeping, and studying even if for only ten minutes each per day.  That is what I can do. That is what I will do.

Let's keep fighting!

Friday, March 7, 2014

this is me

this is me

the simple
the complex
the mundane
the introspective
the unsettled
the light
the hope
the resilient
the fighter
the giver
the power
the peace
the creative
the crafty
the sick
the strong
the foodie
the loved
the korean
the adopted

this is me

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tea: my non-traditional tasty delight.

This is a post from last year that may (or may not) have been published, but in the editing phase it bumped it up to today.   Enjoy! : )

This week I awoke with an intense tea-craving for which I have not yet fulfilled!  I was in Trader Joes, a health foods store here in America, with my mom and walked by the tea section. I saw a box of pomegranate white tea! It looked delicious, but right now I'm on a no caffeine kick. Although I now know it has less caffeine than natural green tea, I'm trying to hold strong to the no caffeine.  Pomegranate is delicious and white tea is loaded with antioxidants, all the good stuff that helps you fight off illness and bad things in your body! The combination is difficult to beat. Pick some up if you have the chance.

The color of pomegranate white tea reminds me of one of my favorite Korean teas: omijacha.  It literally means five-flavored tea and is supposed to satisfy the five distinct tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent).  This tea, often slightly bitter to first time tea drinkers, is made of a berry from the schisandra chinensis vine originating from China and is used in herbal medicine. The red berries have healing properties that can soothe the raspiest cough or open up the airways of asthmatic individuals. They're also known for keeping the liver healthy and helping digestion among other properties.  Don't take my complete word for it! You'll have to try it yourself!  No one individual will react the same way. If it doesn't work for you, just enjoy knowing you're putting something tasty and healthy into your body! I'd be down for a cup of omijacha any day.  The flavor and health benefits are too good to be true.

With the thought of omijacha comes the flooding memories of my first experience drinking it  at a cultural village in a tea house in South Korea. I remember traveling with a group of new friends in 2008 in the Joellanamdo province. After a day of touring the cultural site, learning about pottery, and creating some traditional Korean crafts, we sat down for a refreshing cup of tea. Because it was my first time ordering tea in Korea, I looked at the menu and chose something that sounded flavorful and looked pretty. Of course I don't judge a book by it's cover or a person by his looks! I just have a peculiar interest and obsession with the presentation of food and beverage. Presentation is half the taste. If it looks good, it should taste [at least a little] good!  I chose the iced omijacha to soothe my soul and cool down on a day of humid delight.
My first, and definitely not my last, tea experience was amazing!  I knew I loved tea. However, this experience sealed the deal and developed a long-lasting relationship and devotion to Korean tea houses.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kale Kimchi Omurice and a kind Korean Ahjussi

Today I walked around downtown to do some exploring and spend quality time with myself. Who stays cooped up inside when the sun is shining and its almost 70 degrees in January? Not me!

Look at that beauty of a day!

After my adventures,* I decided to get more adventurous with my food. With an hour of exercise and three hours of walking in the sun later, I worked up an appetite. Though I drank a delicious green drink packed with kale, spinach, broccoli, apple, etc that I picked up at the Farmer's Market and my typical daily fix of a Kind bar,  I still figured I better eat a good evening meal. As usual, I didn't have much food and will need to go grocery shopping soon, so I made something up with the random foods I had. I came up with a rather fun and tasty kimchi and kale omurice! It probably exists somewhere, but I'd like to think I created something for once!! I come up with great ideas --more like yours truly reinventing the wheel. Hey, at least I can find how to best cook up what creative idea is brewing in my head if I need help bringing it to fruition.

About the kimchi and kale omurice...

I tossed extra special "sprouted" brown rice in the rice cooker....don't ask. I bought it at HMart and it was triple the price of any other rice on the shelf. I was looking for brown rice and the package says sprouted is healthier for many reasons. I don't know. Better go ask a Korean to find the legit reasoning behind it. Basically it's good for health and solves some of life's problems? Sounds good to me!

While that was cooking, I made the egg. I mixed up two eggs in a bowl (add a bit of milk or water for fluff and texture). After greasing up the old pan, cooking up the egg and placing it on a plate, I moved onto the fried rice fixins.

I started with the kale. I used the last half of an older bunch of kale. I cleaned, cut, and cooked the kale, much like the blanching you do with spinach, and set that aside.  Next, I fried and cooked the kimchi. Once that was cooked I added the kale back to the pan. Oh yeah! I snuck some carrots in and attempted to add garlic after realizing it was a bit too old. You can add more veggies, meat or whatever leftovers are in the fridge. In the future, I'll be sure to have meat protein lying around. With some sesame oil and the kimchi veggie mix, I finally added the rice! Cooked it all up and placed it in the egg!
Finally, choose the sauce. You can add ketchup or gochujang on your omurice delightful creation. All I had was sriracha as you can see in the pic below. After taking the picture, I garnished it with leftover avocado. You can never have too much avocado in any shape or form and it goes great with omelettes. The kimchi kale omurice was a lot of yumm in my mouth and quite a bit of food!
PLUS! It had kale. As far as I'm concerned, anything with kale is healthier. It's a super food! Right? Heck! You can argue the whole thing is healthy. Kimchi, kale, sprouted brown rice, egg, and sriracha. The only thing not so healthy is the sesame oil, but you've got to throw some in for the sake of having oil and that extra flavor!

Here's the creation::

Wanna try it? Make your own rendition and let me know how it works or tastes for you!

Have fun!

*Because this blog supposedly touches upon Korea related things, I'll add the part of my day where I met a Korean man (definitely ahjussi status!!) on my walk. He has lived in the US for quite some time but is originally from Daegu! Crazy! [I have this weird thing with ahjussis and boys/people from Daegu. I love Daegu dialect and happen to be able to find or attract random people from Daegu.] As I was walking, I noticed a cute dog that reminded me of my family's childhood dog. I stopped to ask the breed of his dog not knowing he was Korean...and a friendly one at that!  His dog is a maltipoo (Maltese/Poodle mix) and our childhood dog was a Bichontese (Bichon Frise/Maltese mix). They look very similar. My!...he was friendly. I knew he was nice based on the conversation with previous onlookers, but just how....I didn't know.  He asked me to sit next to him and take a picture with him and the dog. I politely declined!  He then asked if I was Korean. Apparently he could tell. I said, yes. He started speaking in Korean. Not that I needed to, but I did explain that I was adopted. I really hate when people, especially older people make assumptions and project their expectations wanting me to act culturally appropriate or speak perfect Korean. Sometimes I think by telling you I was adopted it will mitigate any strong expectations or predispositions. Who knows.

Once he found out I was Korean AND adopted he again asked me to sit down right next to him and talk. "Please!! Dear," he pats his hand down on the bench next to his lap and dog, "have a seat next to me and let's talk!" Again, I politely declined. I knew I'd be stuck there if I sat down. He is married folks! Nothing like that! (or so I hope!) He has a Caucasian wife and was giving a Korean friend and her child visiting from Korea a tour of various parts of California. They were off whale-watching while he was holding down the fort and taking care of the dog. He really wanted me to sit there and chat him up for another hour, so I could meet the woman and her 8 year old kid. Supposedly the woman spoke really good English. I talked with the ahjussi for a little longer [interesting guy] and I decided to carry on with my own day. As much as I'd love to meet more Koreans, I needed to get going.  I also love Korean kids and listening to them speak in Korean. Part of me wanted to meet them. I love the sound of the language. If not to communicate with my Korean family, I'd learn Korean to speak Korean with my future kids!  I must admit, I love having lots of older Korean friends with kids. As I walked further, just a minute later, I saw a Korean family with a very cute daughter under the age of 5.  My heart melted when I heard the daughter speaking to her mother.Too bad kids have to grow up so fast!  I might have stopped to "observe" them for a minute while stepping aside to avoid photobombing three Korean girls taking pictures of each other by the water.  : )

The dog:

K. End.