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 − 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!

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.

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!

Kabocha Squash Soup

If I learned anything last year (2011) it was making soup. While I was working at Bloomfield Farms, I had mountains of produce to play around with. I ventured into all sorts of veggie dishes from stir frying to soups. One of my favorites is a squash soup that uses lime and cashews. You can find the recipe here. When I saw the squash at the market (and with the help of the recent snow) I thought SOUP!

It might have been easy to create the same soup again, however I like a challenge so I set off to create lunch in under an hour with only the thing we already had in the house.

Total ingredients include:

3 baby Kabocha Squash- cut in half, with the insides scooped out

2 yellow onions – one quartered, one chopped small

1 apple- chopped small, with peel, without seeds and core

handful of peeled garlic cloves

salt, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, Bragg’s liquid aminos

Plenty of Water

First boil water with squash, quartered onion and salt. I was hoping to use boiling water for broth but I ended up throwing out the remaining onions and water. Once squash is soft and cooked put in bowl of cold water to help separate from peel. Put yummy goodness in bowl and set aside.

Do a quick rinse of your pot and fill 1/3 with water, in the vicinity of two quarts. As you bring to a boil add  chopped onion, apple, garlic, a dash of cinnamon, a dash of cayenne, and a squirt of Bragg’s probably 3 Tablespoons or less. Cover. Let it boil and cook all the veggies. When soft add squash and smash everything together. Enjoy hot!

Image

Best Restaurant

Last weekend it was very cold. As much as we wanted to venture out and see more of the unfamiliar we mostly stayed indoors. We did eventually go out as we were too hungry to stay inside. We went out seeking food and calm refreshment. You would think that would be an easy thing to do Saturday at 4pm. It seems to me that Korea has a night owl culture. Y-Mart always seems to be open while coffee shops open at 11 and restaurants open at dinner 5 or 6.  Friday and Saturday nights are also referred to as fire nights. This is due to the mass consumption of Soju. Korea is also known as The Land of the Morning Calm, I often get the idea this nickname is from sleeping in.

Five days plus a week, Wyll and I walk the same path to work. Over the month and a half that we have been here we have watched a garden/farm in all stages. When we first arrived it was the number one thing that blew our minds. Then we witnessed it being planted. We have also seen all the diakon be harvested and more recently the cabbage- it is Kimchi month btw. There is also a restaurant that we want to eat at, but it is always closed or too late for us to dine. We had seen the restaurant family making their own kimchi over a few days. One of the sons speaks minimal English, I was so bummed that I didn’t have a camera on me. Two and two = our favorite garden/farm is attached to our favorite restaurant. How cool is that?

Unfortunately, they were closed. We still haven’t eaten at our favorite restaurant.

We walked down to Y-Mart. It was getting really cold so we thought we’d walk over to restaurant street. There are two main streets that bring us to town. One has all the restaurants on it and our director called it restaurant street so forever it shall be named. The other one we just call main street or direct street. Anyway, there is this massive log cabin it has a Gochang Top sign that reads “Best Restaurant”. We have been intrigued with this place for a long time. It looks like something tourists are really into.  (For those of you interested yesterday Wyll and I went to the BIG supermarket and got coffee in tea bags- so much better than instant! I’m enjoying it right now). Wyll went into check the menu out. I’m silly and waited outside.

When he okay-ed the menu he came out to get me. There are a few things we look for on a menu, pictures being the main and price- if I can’t eat it, I don’t want to pay too much for it. Although, I should probably get over it b/c I’ve been able to eat everything except some of the ‘fast food’ like spicy ramen, tapoki- a outrageously spicy noodle dish. We sat down and our waiter was looking over the menu with us. He didn’t speak English, but was very interested in our process for picking out food. We decided to get a family style short rib stew. It was labeled ‘best’. It was also pretty much the only thing on the menu. Wyll tried to order the biggest one 30,000 won. The waiter refused. They had a comical finger pointing war. At the end the waiter won, secretly. Wyll thought he had won. When we got the bill they had compromised. 25,000 won.

I think if he could speak English he would have said:

“Kind sir that portion is for 6-8 people; how will you and the lady eat all of it?”

After the waiter left, the hostess returned with a mountain of Banchan- side dishes. (Pictures below). There was pickled quail eggs, some kind of seasoned mushroom, cold greens, spicy pickled diakon, salty kimchi, spicy kimchi, soy marinated kimchi… Wyll loved the kimchi so much he asked for the banchan to-go. Our hostess got a brand new one for us. When the soup arrived they also put a camp stove on our table. The stew continues to cook while you are eating it. This is problematic for me b/c it smells so good I always burn my tongue. I say always b/c the three times I have eaten boiling soup I have gotten over excited and burned my tongue. But not this time! I knew better! I put everything in my bowl, I pulled the meat off the bone, I put some soup on my spoon, I waited, I cooled… I ate! It was delicious!

Note: There are also a few pictures of a soccer competition.