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. 

  

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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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.

Long awaited holiday

After a year of anticipation I finally celebrated Christmas with my brother and sisters. A week before the 25th as no one wanted to wait any longer and many of us have other family obligations. It was perfect.
We did a secret Santa to ensure that even the naughty received a gift. Fortunately no coal was passed out. So we must have been pretty good as a group. Wyll and I got the opportunity to give out our Korea gifts and that was a lot of fun. I think everyone ignored the secret Santa idea and got gifts for everyone. It was extra jubilant.
We ate traditional foods like ham mash potatoes. There was persimmon pancakes for breakfast and then I made a vegan persimmon bread for the following day.
I had so much fun. I love spending time with the family. The next trip should be a lot of fun a few kits were handed out. So the next visit will involve sushi making!

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! ❤