Vegetable Stock and Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

While looking up recipes for vegetable stock I came across the wise advice of Jamie Oliver, “I find that I tend to make this after we’ve had our Sunday roast ‚ąí I just throw the carcass in a pan with any root veg and herbs I happen to have”. Any root veg and herbs I happen to have!?! Well, I can do THAT in Korea. After having too much food poisoning and buying bad chicken from the store, I eat mostly vegetarian. Adventures in stock making was so easy, much easier than finding vegetable stock at the store (I got some beef stock but it tastes weird- like it wasn’t made in the US! HAHAHA). So what veg and herb did I have? After prepping for stuffed pepper soup I had some extras for the stock:

Veg:
1 1/2 Onion; really the top, bottom and outer skin of two onions- this includes the peel
One Carrot; roughly chopped
One bell pepper; remains of a green and orange pepper
Four cloves garlic; smashed with the peel on
1/2 a leek; big pieces
Herbs:
1/2 bunch of green onion; cut into four
1/2 bunch Chinese celery; scrunched a few times then cut into four

With some grape oil, I browned the veg threw in the herbs- let them sweat it out a little, then filled with water and covered with a lid. After putting the heat really low, I watch Fantastic Four and Dr.T and the Women. Both of which I had never seen, they were entertaining but not as good as Christian Bale as Batman. He reminds me of Wyll. I’m fine being the only one who sees it.
Christian Bale

After three or so hours of movie watching, I put a colander in a mixing bowl and separated the now colorless vegetables from the now flavor rich, brown water. Stock done, moving to the soup!

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup (you will need 2 pounds of blanched, diced tomatoes):

In a hot pan with a little grape oil add diced:

One onion
One green pepper
One red pepper
Four cloves of garlic
One pound blanched tomatoes

Cover with Spices- to taste:
Paprika
Cayenne
Chili powder
Salt

Then add the Other ingredients:
Half gallon of stock- enough to cover the veg and feed the rice

Once the soup is hot and the spices are incorporated taste that bad boy, make any final adjustments then add:
One cup clean rice

This soup ends up really thick like a chili. I topped it with yogurt, lemon and green onions. Enjoy!

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Say what!?!

I consider today to be a huge success.

I got some one-on-one time with my partner and we talked about the many possibilities the future holds. We’re 18 weeks pregnant and have almost no idea about the next step. We threw around several ideas but the main one was to focus on what’s happening now. I’m growing a child and Wyll is launching his board game after three years in the works! I’m so proud of him and excited to see how it goes. Nervous to see where it takes us and happy to see us becoming more adult. It feels like when we decide on a plan it changes, so I’m comfortable without one or having one that includes the possibility of change.

Friends and Foes at Big Bad Con 2014

Being pregnant in Korea is super fun, I’m forced to have a stress-free time. Adults in the know, often remind me to sit down, take a rest. Zenith has been super sweet. My class time has been cut and my co-workers ensure I’m not overrun. I’ve been given iron supplements, seaweed soup, fruit and even had chairs taken from others and brought to me. Since July, being away from all my family was intended to be a good experience. The first trimester of pregnancy was awful. It probably took me a month to get over the jet lag. The exhaustion was so intense. I stopped learning Korean and slept 12+ hours a day. Concerned students thought I was seriously ill.

The concern for my health doesn’t stop in Korea, family and friends in the states often express their worries. On the American side of things, my mom and little brother are coming to Korea this Thursday. Yeah, this Thursday! I’m so excited. My mom has never been out of the states and my brother is eight. I think it will be a wonderful learning experience for both of them. My brother may even pick up some of the language. I’m ready to start doing things. There’s a Studio Ghibli exhibit in Seoul I think my brother will love. There might even be a trip to Malaysia in the works.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten my energy back and taken advantage of the solo time. Today I went to Conga, the local coffee shop and read my economics book, Capital by Thomas Piketty, finishing the first section! It’s a good refresher for me, I hope the following sections will have some new information. It’s funny to understand where Piketty is going moments before he reveals it, making it almost like a mystery novel.

After all that reading, I picked up supplies to make vegetable stock and Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup. It was my first adventure in making stock and blanching tomatoes.The result is really tasty, but The Bell Pepper Soup wouldn’t be as great without the spices Wyll picked up for me on a recent trip to California. I was really pleased because it was all vegetables that I transformed into something pretty wild. I didn’t have some of the ingredients and my substitutes worked out well.

A whole Lotte party-ing going on!

I have to say the biggest company in Korea is Lotte. They own fast food chains (complete with squid burgers! YUM!), grocery stores, outlet malls, movie theaters- they make movies!, and on the weekend before last I was introduced to a whole new product- LOTTE WORLD!

This theme park boasts human size rodent mascots!

That’s not me or Wyll but I think you get the idea (Minnie and Mickey have been turned into squirrels or maybe¬†chipmunks?)

Anyway we had a bunch of fun with a bunch of people and I thought I’d share some of the photos with you!

I would also like to add that we have been going to the bigger cities and seeing live bands. We also hit up a club with Angus and Jim! That was tons of fun. I’ve really started learning Korean vowels, so I should be able to read… any day now…. ūüôā

Wyll also finished the beta version of his game and it will be play tested across the world in the next few weeks. The cherry trees are blooming and life is starting to out pace me again. Spring has sprung!

Friends and surprises

The winter season has been full of new friendships and surprises. Wyll and I went snowboarding with some¬†foreigners¬†and not only did we gain new friendships we also took on bunny sitting. Tomorrow will bring about the end of our bunny having adventure. The bunny has¬†acclimated¬†to a very different life style. He eats raw/ fresh vegetables by the kilo and a few fruits. He has his own room where he generally runs around like a maniac. He now has a name “Rodeo”, when he runs through the apartment he sometimes kicks out his feet like a buckin’ bronco. He will probably have a hard time getting use to small quarters again, especially after having a whole room!

Last night we had a game night, hopefully the first of many. We played Ascension and Apples to Apples. Both games were well fought and closely won. There was also an expressed interest in play testing Wyll’s game. Let me back up a little. The night before Angus, he’s Canadian,¬†¬†returned from his month long vacation, bearing gifts of maple syrup and¬†deodorant. I am going to try to make maple people-¬†apparently¬†they don’t have them in Canada.We went out for dinner with Angus and James Murray. James is¬†fascinating¬†and awesome! He is a self-published author. He has a novel and collection of poetry. He has done conventions and promoted his book on the east coast. He is working on an epic looking graphic novel.¬†James has qualities that remind me of family members, Delmar specifically. For the game night James gifted us with a copy of his novel and I am loving it!

On another¬†surprising¬†level one of the foreigners is leaving Gochang. She was the first we met. She chased us down at the Moyang festival. She introduced us to many other foreigners. After helping her by taking her HAMSTERS, she surprised me by “loaning” me her juicer. With the understanding that if she comes back I’ll hand it over willingly. Well after all the fun I had today, that might prove to be very difficult!

I was reading online about all the crazy things it can do- whole¬†pomegranates, whole pineapple! So, I went out and bought everything I could find. I forgot a few things like ginger and there wasn’t celery. I made a juice: dino kale, red kale, beet, pineapple, carrot, apple. It was amazing, so I had to try my hand at tomato soup! The soup was crazy! I juiced half a cabbage, a carrot, green onion, garlic, a kilo of tomatoes and half a bell pepper. I sauteed some basil, salt and pepper. I tried the juice before cooking it and it was spicy! Garlic really gave it a kick. So simmered the juice and seasoning together until it looked like soup, 20 minutes or so. ¬†

This could be life changing!

It’s getting warmer :)

While there is occasionally ice on the ground, the oranges have found there way into the supermarket. I feel that this is due to my name being confused with the fruit. Our personal fruit grocer, Park, remembers my name by saying “Lindsy Orengy”. This is often followed by him shoving citrus into our hands and shopping bags. Previously¬†mandarins or tangerines.

On Monday, he gave us big juicy California Oranges. They were lovely. And so tasty. Did I mention cheap? I have been told that oranges are usually around a buck each. Being from California more than 25 cents seems weird, but sweet navels were hard to pass up. The kids at school have been eating tons of candy. Sometimes it really gets on my nerves. On Friday, I bought some for the whole school. It was awesome! Everyone was so excited! Even our director, Grace. (An outsider came in and ate a few of them and she got really upset.) I bought 32 for 20k won. They were a hit. At the end of the night I had six left.

I don’t know why everyone’s reaction was so unexpected. I mean, I love oranges. Doesn’t everyone else? I mean, why would I think differently? I think it was especially nice to share something with my students and staff that they liked and appreciated.

I think Wyll and I have it really good here. I think we eat better than most people. We eat fresh fruit and vegetables everyday. We make meals at home. Making food at home has become really important. Tonight for example, we had curried spicy beans and carrots with fries and garlic fish. Not totally sure what kind of fish, but it was trout-y and good. I like it here.¬†Pantomiming¬†‘could you please cut this fish in half‘ can be hard and silly looking, but I’m looking forward to Spring and the coming adventures.

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This picture is from when we were in Seoul! ‚̧

Seoul part 2

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Maybe we would have gotten there faster with wonkwang power!

So, the second day was spent worrying about the subway. We walked to the hub of Itaewon and looked for Vatos, a hot Mexican restaurant with wild margaritas. Down a skinny road, counting the shops and mini roads to find the right place to make a right turn. Did I say right? I meant left… Luckily the right turn was a quick dead end. We turned around dodging motor cars, mini trucks and motorcycles. Sadly what we found was closed. The door was open but on one was home. We agreed to have hot dogs.

(I think this was the moment when we decided that the trip was a wasted one. I didn’t put in the ARC request for a new ID. And our first day felt like a waste of time and now there were no amazing restaurants open in Seoul. We had started the day by walking a mile or more in the wrong direction. Dinner the night before was a bust- we looked for Greek, we got really excited about Greek- we ended up eating at a chain that served us a¬†mediocre¬†fried shrimp and chicken platter ¬†and FROZEN seared tuna.)

We moped around the back alley looking for something. Really we were heading out to the street to surrender ourselves to Outback Steakhouse- however this was very much like the establishment we ate at the night before. We saw a sandwich board it read “The Alley: Gallery, Restaurant , Cafe”. Okay we glanced at the menu- has to be better than frozen fish.

It was phenomenal!

We had wine (from Chile!), a creative Caesar salad (with black olives and balsamic), incredible lasagna (mucho ricotta cheese!). We had an excellent time. Wyll and I talked about people and home. We laughed at the future and basked in happiness. It was an excellent way to let go and breathe.

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Not the most flattering picture but it was tasty!

After we were fed and properly watered, we headed over to find What the Book?, the only all English bookstore in Korea. We spent a good block of time there and found some really wonderful reads. Yes, we got a Korean language book! And cookbook, along with two history books (France and Language- both anticipated and showing to be good reads) and a Korea Rough Guides. Cashing out we took our books over to Starbucks where I got my first caramel macchiato in what felt like years. I studied up on Korea. I read my new language book and actually perused the cookbook. It had been covered in plastic at the store. I looked at Korean foods I would want to eat! Oh man, Grace was in trouble. I was going to be speaking her language and eaten her food in no time! I think I deserve another caramel macchiato, thank you very much!

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Wyll after a long day at the Suncity Hostel

That idea (another coffee) was quickly voted down… We headed back to the hotel to drop off the heavy stuff and out to Dongdaemun, a shopping mega district. What were we thinking? It was fine. We took the subway like pros and didn’t get lost. Of course, we were very careful and used our smartphone app. Our first challenge was finding our way out of the subway. My biggest fear was that we would end up in the homeless section of the sewer system. While I don’t know if these are real, I have seen them on many shows from Law and Order to Bones. I pretty sure even Batman has sewer people. I think it was to our¬†disadvantage¬†that we were shopping at night. I might not have been scared with the sun on the surface.

During the trip I never¬†successfully shopped underground.¬†¬†Someday, soon I’m thinking, I will. We got very turned around and walked the place several times. We found an information booth with English speakers. While probably not uncommon it was a very friendly and welcome sight. We got directions to an ATM from our branch and were told that a jimjilbang (sauna and hot tub) was in the third level of the basement of the same building. Leaving the booth we crossed the street in the wrong direction and had to immediately turn around.

Let it be known that separately, Wyll and I are great with directions.

While the ATM charged us a 1,000 won fee, the building had a jimjilbang in the basement and Wyll was delighted. He gave me a large sum of money and told me to spend it. I left him with my coat, gloves and other bulky belongings. Two floors of women’s clothing, one floor of handbags and headbands, one floor for men. I took the elevator to the top (where the movie theater is) and noticed that many of the floors were closed or under repair. Awkwardly for me, the women’s sections were like Forever 21. Yes, it is a store that I hold near and dear but sadly it is for teenagers. Korean teenagers are¬†typically¬†much smaller than their ten years older American counterparts. Korean fashion is something that I love, so I had no problem with looking at everything many times. Pearls and¬†rhinestones¬†cover sweaters, dress collars, handbags. Clothes are fuzzy, silky,¬†gaudy. ¬†Leggings¬†are currently the only kind of pants! Giant sweaters are worn as dresses. Korean fashion is is also covered to the neck and long sleeves while skirts barely cover your butt. ¬†I was tempted to buy a free size (one size fits all) dress but the last one didn’t fit so I stood my ground.

There was also a fantastic gate. Dongdaemun means East Gate, it is very lovely and after several tries we got a photo in the dark that wasn’t to blurry.

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