Weekly planning 

With the Elder in daycare and Wyll working, the baby and I get stuck with the house chores. We go shopping once a week and try to keep laundry down to three times a week. As much as we try not to, sweeping, mopping and dishes seem to be everyday chores.

The weather has been tres hot in Reno and I’ve been opting for things I can make in the instant pot. Yesterday I made red pepper hummus, falafels (yes the bean balls), and baba ganoush in the Instant Pot. I felt so professional! We fixed them up in pitas with cucumber, tomatoes and homemade tzatziki. Everyone loved it. We ate most of the pita but nothing like a flour tortilla to step up and be a wrap. Hurray for quick lunches!

Last night I made a big pot of yogurt in my sleep. It was so easy. We have things to go with it like apples, bananas, grapes which the baby has now learned he can grab them out of the fridge. This morning we had overnight rolled oats. They were so good and easy. Fridge cold and peanut butter chocolate, just mix together with equal parts oat and ‘milk’ (I did a cup rice milk with 1/4 cup PB and 1/4 cup chocolate pudding I made) and chill in the fridge. I will definitely be doubling it next time.

Beets are in the Instant Pot right now. So easy to steam them up then throw them in a vinegar marinade. I’ve been ‘roasting ‘ many vegetables this way, bell peppers, garlic heads and all my side veg- potatoes, carrots, squash, corn. It takes about an hour to do a pot of beans from dry with the Instant Pot. It’s easy to take whatever veg and beans then heat it up on the stove either in a tortilla with cheese or in a bowl with avocado.

Brown rice is easy to make in there too but I haven’t mastered white rice. I haven’t mastered the one pot pasta meal either but boy am I trying. I guess I’ll just keep a few pots and pans for the stove.

Pantry capsule

So  I’m a little behind the trend or maybe I’m just learning about whats going on in the world outside of Korea. This past weekend I’ve been learning all about capsule wardrobes. It’s a very cool fashion idea which poses the thought that you can look amazing with a minimal amount of clothes cluttering your life. I’ve been a long time believer that I ‘should’ spend more money on fewer clothes to make my life better. Korea has really helped me cull my collection to a few pants and a couple shirts. I keep trying to throw away my jacket but every time I put it next to the door it snows. Come on, Winter, shove over for Spring already.

Perhaps the biggest point of contention in my house is the tiny kitchen. If you haven’t guessed it already, I’m working on a pantry capsule. I want to have things in the kitchen I use 95% of the time. I think this will mean sticking to my convictions when I go shopping. It means having a focused effort on using up the last bits of precious foreign items and working with Korean ingredients. I have a pretty good outline of what this looks like.

I feel like the spice/ tea area is my big down fall. Confession, I don’t really drink tea. As for the spices what I use feels like a small portion of what’s there. The spices I use on the regular are purchased from the local grocer. I use salt, pepper, cinnamon, Korean red gochu pepper, garlic powder, parsley, basil, sesame oil, sesame seeds, fish sauce, soy sauce, white vinegar, spaghetti sauce, corn syrup. Other cooking essentials are flour, rice, baking powder, baking soda, panko crumbs, corn starch, sugar, brown sugar, onions, canola oil, and olive oil. I think I can pair this down even more by taking out the spaghetti sauce and corn syrup. In my Korean fridge, you will always find kimchi, eggs, soy bean paste, spicy soy bean paste, milk, ground pork, lemon, minced garlic. We often have a variety of vegetables and one kind of fruit.

This is not what my kitchen looks like today but I hope it will be here soon. I’m also working to have fewer pots and pans. It feels like a big task but I think it will happen.

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Fried octopus sandwich

A long time goal of mine mostly due to being in Korea is to master seafood, namely octopus, squid, and cuttlefish. I didn’t gather up courage or even think about what was happening when Wyll picked up octopus at the market today. He likes to push me into my goals. It was a good price and I was wanting to try a Tom Colicchio recipe for a calamari sandwich. I ended up with something probably really different but terribly delicious. This recipe was so good I felt obligated to share it right away. There were a few prep things I had to do like learn to clean and cut baby octopus. Luckily YouTube is full of wonderful people doing amazing things so I figured it out kinda quick. Basically you cut off the tentacles, push out the beak and cut into sections. Then slice the head so you can turn it inside out to pull off the brain sack then cut it off at the eyes. It took four before I felt really comfortable doing it. I ringed them off and set them in a colander to dry off a little. Then I went to work on the green peppers. I pan fried them whole with fish sauce and garlic. I mixed up some panko crumbs, corn starch, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and gochu powder. I mixed in all the octopus trying to get an even coat. I heated some oil in the wok and covered the bottom with octoparts! I let them cook to pop songs then put them on paper towels to dry. I didn’t really have much for Colicchio’s sandwich just an idea about how good it would be. I did have Saracha which I mixed with some lemon. Sorry, Tom, no mayonnaise. I sliced up tomato, very thin, diced onion, chopped up some curly parsley, and got out some radish sprouts for the sandwich. I assembled my sandwiches on some French bread, delicious. 

  

Happy Peppero Day

So yesterday was Peppero day, one of the many silly holidays in South Korea. Well, I think they are silly anyway, but who am I to talk? The United States has an entire month dedicated to ice cream. I participate in Peppero day every year. I think it’s a fun way to interact with students almost as fun as Halloween. There may not be any dressing up but everyone is eating cookies and in good spirits. The holiday has only been celebrated for 15 years. One of my adult students told me that it wasn’t around when he was in elementary school but by the time he was in high school it was a very popular holiday. He also told me that it is for children and that he had never received a Peppero gift because he didn’t have a girlfriend in high school. I tried to convey that Peppero day is no longer a couples holiday. It is now more like Halloween even though it may have started off closer to Valentine’s day.

Another student delighted me by explaining that 11/11 is a day for tall people to give food to short people to help them grow taller. My youngest students inquired for the pencils, pens, colored pencils, flutes, wands, and long rice cakes I was also giving to them. Apparently anything that looks like a ‘1’ can be given as a gift, I had never heard that. I gave all my students Pepperos and then old students stopped by to eat some as well. I was also given some but they didn’t last long!

Happy Peppero day! May you grow as tall as the Summer days are long. 🙂IMG_1916

Sloppy Joes

Often Wyll and I reminiscence about the food we ate as children. He talks about the tacos his mom use to make with ketchup, something she wouldn’t dream of doing today. My food memories from this time are cooking pumpkin and making Sloppy Joes in apartment ‘B’ when we lived near my cousin Gideon. And of course, the time my mom convinced my sister that we were having chocolate pancakes for breakfast- they were buckwheat. Sloppy Joes are the kid food that I think about. I wonder if they are as good as the memory because many people thought spaghetti-oes were good twenty years ago.

Not long ago, I floated the idea of making Joes for dinner and, as i recall, Wyll protested because he didn’t want to eat sweet, slimy children food. The spaghetti sauce in Korea is pretty sweet so yesterday, I proclaimed “I’m going to make Sloppy Joes for lunch tomorrow…”

Waiting with slightly held breathe for some sort of okay regarding the father’s day menu.

“Great! I love Sloppy Joes.”

Did I imagine this previous conversation? Well, no need to get into this now: Sloppy Joes for father’s day! I hope it’s a good idea. :/

This morning the baby and I went to the store. Park asked “Where is Wylliam?”

“At home,” I responded, “It’s father’s day.”

“Oh,” he replied knowingly, you would think father’s day was celebrated in Korea. Maybe it was the understand that all anyone wants to do is stay at home and play cards by themselves. Or whatever it is other people do alone because I doubt that Wyll does much else when I’m not around. Park asked if he was delivering our groceries today, “배달?”

(Which sounds to me like pay-dar.)

I respectfully decline although, really, I should, but I’m hungry and the Sloppy Joes are getting tastier with every minute. Here are photos of the Spaghetti sauce and Gochu pepper, I used:

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Sloppy Joes recipe:

2 Tablespoons oil- I used canola

1 diced bell pepper

1/2 diced onion

2 minced garlic cloves

200 grams (about a half pound) of ground pork

1 teaspoon Gochu pepper

2 Tablespoons ground ginger (in the future I’ll leave this out)

1 cup spaghetti sauce

Heat oil in a sauce pan add veg, when onions become clear add pork then cover with ginger (or don’t). Stir to cook pork evenly. When pork is mostly cooked add sauce. Let cook for another five- ten minutes until sauce turns a little darker.

Serve on bread. Try to eat with hands, make sure a for is close by.

I paired it with a cabbage salad. It was a great idea, but needed to be dressed. It probably needed a little more thought. It was well received and I’ll definitely make Sloppy Joes again. Here are some pictures of the final project.

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Mulberry Jam

After returning from a recent trip to Seoul, my Halmonie (my boss’ mom), sent over a largish box of mulberries. After stuffing ourselves on them, there was still several left in the box. We were out of jam and syrup so I thought I’d try to make pectin-less jam- if it didn’t work out we could have it on pancakes! This was a fairly simple recipe with some delicious results. The main factor was having a lot of time to not really watch it but be in the house while it cooked. I’ve tried it with other berries and not been successful.

About 3 pints of berries (no stems)

1/4 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons Lemon juice

I started by heating up the pan and throwing berries in. Then I mashed up the berries added the sugar and lemon. I let it cook for 6 hours; stirring sometimes. I cooked it on the lowest setting possible.

It probably ended up to be about half a quart…

I canned it and put it in the fridge.

mulberry jam and yogurt

mulberry jam and yogurt

Korean style Tom Kha

I really didn’t have everything I wanted but…. I had some ingredients for this soup so I went for it. The result was delicious!

1 carrot
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 whole chicken (mine was chopped at the store)
6 cups water
1 Tablespoon grated lemon
half a package of rice noodles

1 can of coconut milk
Sesame leaves (thin sliced)  and lemon to garnish

Start by chopping your vegetables and heating up the soup pan. Put your chicken in first so it has the time to brown and grease up your pan. Then throw in your veg. When the onions are translucent add water and turn to low. Cook until chicken is done (about 40 minutes).

Fish out the chicken to cool and shred. Add the coconut milk, stir in the cream. Then put rice noodles in while shredding the chicken (they take about 13 minutes to cook).

Dish into bowls. Top with chicken, sesame leaves and a squeeze of lemon.