Category Archives: Uncategorized

Corner Shop Chowder

Sliced string cheese makes for a chic presentation.

I am lazy.  Especially when it comes to going to the grocery store.  Having been coddled for most of my life with a supermarket always within a block, I don’t appreciate my current situation.  Yes, we’re talking about a bike commute that amounts to maaaaybe five minutes, but there’re at least two intersection crossings.  Those can tack on minutes while simultaneously shaving them from your life expectancy.  Also – have you ever ridden your bike with a watermelon on your back? It tests your balance.  Mine is not so hot.

Suffice it to say, when I’m able to make do with what’s available from my corner shops, I’m a happy camper.  Between the family run joint with fresh vegetables, the butcher down the street, and the franchised CU mart, there’s a fair amount to work with.

Not so long ago, one of my favorite blogs (www.eatliverun.com) posted a recipe for Cheesy Green Chile Potato Chowder. It was doable with a minimal commute, and I was in.  Samgyeopsal (pig belly) substituted for the bacon and sliced string cheese sufficed as “mexican blend.”  When the entire batch was consumed amongst two people in under 30 minutes, I knew it was a keeper. It’s just the thing to warm the crisp autumn air! 

Cheesy Green Chile and Potato Chowder

Modified from eatliverun.com for those of us in the far East

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

3 green chili peppers (I used ones on the large side because they’re less spicy)

1 green bell pepper, small diced

1 large yellow onion, small diced

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 slices samgyeopsal, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 chicken bouillon cubes, dissolved in 4 cups water

2 tsp salt

2 cups milk

1/4 cup flour

3 twist string cheeses, sliced {plus 1 additional for serving}

thinly sliced green onions

Directions:

First, fire roast the peppers.

To do this, place poblano peppers right over the flame on your burner if you have a gas stove. Flip occasionally until every inch of the pepper is charred. If you don’t have a gas stove, place peppers underneath the broiler on a lined sheet tray {also flipping occasionally} until charred. Once charred all around, immediately remove peppers from heat and zip up in a plastic zip-loc bag. Let sit for 20 minutes then remove charred skin with the back of a knife and roughly chop up peppers.

While your peppers are cooling, fry the samgyeopsal in a large dutch oven or heavy  bottomed pot. Fry until crispy then remove from the pot and drain on pepper towels. Keep grease in the pot!

Add your onion and garlic to the hot grease. Saute for about six minutes over medium heat until just tender. Add cubed potatoes to the pot, as well as the peppers, and toss well so everything is combined.

Pour in bouillon mixture and add the salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 35 minutes until potatoes are very tender {be sure to “test” with a fork or knife…nothing worse than biting into an uncooked potato!}. Add milk and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together so that no flour clumps remain and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Turn off heat completely and add cheese to the pot. Stir well so cheese melts. Serve immediately with crumbled samgyeopsal, sliced green onions and additional cheese.

Time:

1.25 hours

If coming from a location in sight of a supermarket, click here for the original recipe.

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Bali Bali Bhaji

Bali, bali!  It was probably the first expression I learned in Korean.  Meaning “hurry,” the exclamation is indicative of the Korean mentality: hurry up and wait. Not really grasping the concept of cohesive planning, this country seems to make many decisions at the last possible second. This almost always culminates in a mad rush, followed by an inevitable lull during which the consecutive decision waits to be made.  Followed, of course, by another hasty dash.

18 months ago, with my life carefully stacked into storage pods in Denver, I still had no idea where I’d be moving.   After a scramble to meet the application deadline, I waited for an interview.  Weeks passed before one was requested.  When the time was selected, without advance warning, I was to be available within 8 hours.  Following the chat, I waited.  

When word finally reached my email, it was that I should prepare to sign and return documents on their way to my house immediately.  Documents detailing where I’d live and the level I’d be teaching?  Oh no, no, that decision hadn’t been made.  I’d find that out 8 days after my arrival in Korea, on the day before I moved in.  I had to learn to go with the flow (and breathe deeply).

This ability came in handy during my time in India this past winter. On more than one bus ride, without warning, small windows of time were allowed to “take care of business.”  During one such window, hunger plagued me.  Unsure of just how long our bus would remain in the station, I frantically located the nearest castle of fried treats. 

The crowds didn’t ease the rush

Noting some fresh round patties in contrast to the fly ridden stocks, I said I’d take two.  Not really sure what I’d purchased, I bowed my head and streamlined it to the bus.  I was happily surprised by the sweet onion flavor when I dug in on board.  Turned out I’d grabbed a bhaji, and the craving was logged in my psyche.

This week, I decided to try my hand at homemade.  The recipe seemed straightforward enough, and I’ve never known fried onions to turn out bad.  Turns out I was right; simple and delicious.  One recommendation, however, is to be sure you slice the onion thinly.  Mine were a bit too chunky.

To compliment the little fritters, I simmered up some mango chutney.  Canned mango is available rather readily, and I had some spices on reserve from my trip.

All in all, the snack was ready in under an hour.  Next time you’re surprised with company, they’ll be just the thing.  

Onion Bhaji – From BBC Food

Serves 4-6

2 free-range eggs

onions, sliced

120g/4oz plain flour (1/2 cup for the imperialists out there)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra if required

1. Beat the eggs in a bowl.

2. Add the onion rings and mix well.

3. Add the flour, ground coriander and cumin seeds and stir well to combine.

4. Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat. When hot add a large spoonful of the bhaji mixture and fry for 30-45 seconds, until golden-brown.

5. Turn the bhaji over and fry for a further 30 seconds, until crisp and golden-brown all over. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

6. Repeat with the remaining bhaji mixture, replenishing the oil in the pan if it runs low and allowing it to heat up again after a new addition.

Mango Chutney – From Rasa Malaysia

Yields about 1 cup

1 ripe but firm green mango (450 -500 g)
1 sticks cinnamon (about 2 inch)
2 whole cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 cardamom pods, cracked
1 tsp ginger, grated
2-3 whole dry red chilies
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 cup brown sugar (if you have access to Indian jaggery use 3/4 cup- 1 cup powdered jaggery depending on the sweetness)
1/2 cup vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 tsp salt

Cut the mango into 1 inch cubes and for chunky chutney, keep some pieces about 2 inch.  If you are looking for smooth, cut them all in same size.

Using a piece of thin muslin cloth, tie up the spices into a bundle. Cook the mango, spices (in the muslin cloth), water, ginger and garlic until the mango is tender. Some pieces will disintegrate into the water. Takes about 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and dry chilies. I like to break 1 red chilly into flakes and keep 1 whole. If you want and are feeling adventurous you can go up on the chilies. The sugar requirement may also vary depending on the sweetness of your mango and personal preference. Feel free to reduce or add as per your liking.

Cook for about 30 -35 minutes until the chutney is thickened. Squeeze every bit you can from the cloth and discard it. Transfer to sterilized jars while still hot. Don’t put the lid, until the chutney cools. It keeps well for 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

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Open Wide to Avoid A Dry-Cleaning Disaster

Don’t pick me, don’t pick me… My lack of coordination stands in stark contrast to that of the chefs on display.  Chosen as the recipient of the flying shrimp, I’m doomed.  Just get to the onion volcano, already.

Note the wonder. Feel the joy.

Benihana, the original hibachi grill, is one of my dear true loves.  I’ve been to this establishment for every occasion, from finding a stray sock to the big 1-6.  Not to mention in both hemispheres (Yes, I located the one and only in Santiago, Chile).  Imposters, lump yourself in this category expect to be measured by stiff standards.  I’m happy to slander your establishment in the name of ginger goodness.  If the sauce doesn’t measure up, you’re out.  Grades are assigned in direct correlation to ladles consumed.

For a short while, I considered Benihana chef as a career choice.  After the news broke about the buffet, however, I let that one slide.  Working at the one and only as a summer busboy, my brother dashed my hopes.  The endless employee buffet of steak accented with shrimp-sauce fountains was a farce.  I knew it was too good to be true.  I’d never be able to wield a knife like a nunchuck, anyway.

Now, to be fair, and to assure no readers are misled, I will present all sides of this story. Not to be confused with reasons to dine anywhere else.

Unless you have 7 friends on reserve, be prepared to make friends.  Or to avoid eye contact for about an hour and a half.  The tables are set up for eight, and they do not like to waste those precious seats.  You’re likely to sit where they tell you, when they tell you, and with whomever they fancy.  I told you they’re kind of a big deal.

Additionally, you’re likely to emerge from the experience putting off a bit of a waft.  Table side preparation is a delicacy, I tell you!  Stash a change of clothes in the car, or, eat enough to seal your coma for the rest of the evening and you’re square.

In attempts to bring one spark of the joy Benihana imparts to its patrons to my life here in Korea, I came up with the following.  It proves itself as a stand-in, and even meets the dietician’s criteria.

When slicing and dicing, remember to track your chops per second.  One never knows at what point they’ll consider a career change.  Since when is playing with food against the rules?  Being bad never tasted so good.  (Disclaimer: Not responsible for kitchen splatters and ruined silk charmeuse.)

Crispy Tofu Steaks with Zucchini, Onion and Sesame Ginger Sauce

Serves 4

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 medium onion, remainder reserved

1″ piece of ginger, skin rubbed off

—————————–

8 firm tofu steaks, cut 1″ thick (Due to the unscientific portioning at my corner shop, I have no idea of the exact measurement.  Sorry!)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 large zucchini

3/4 medium onion, sliced

Paper towels

First, make the sauce.  Heat sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat.  Stir often, cooking until seeds turn golden and begin to pop, about 5 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, 1/4 onion and ginger in the blender.  Pulse until smooth.  Add in reserved sesame seeds and set aside.

Next, spread the tofu steaks out in a single layer on a flat surface.  Cover with paper towels and press to absorb the excess moisture.  Repeat until tofu seems fairly dry to the touch.

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add tofu steaks to the pan, being careful not to crowd the pan.  Allow to come to an even golden brown, about 3-5 minutes, then flip and repeat.  Remove and allow to drain on paper towels.

When all tofu has been browned, add the onions to the pan.  Saute about 2-3 minutes until beginning to brown and become fragrant.  Remove and set aside.

Add the zucchini to the pan.  Arrange in a single layer, and allow to brown.  Flip and repeat, being careful not to over cook.

When finished, arrange tofu steaks, zucchini and onions together for serving.   Top with 1-2 Tbsp sauce and enjoy.

I’d Be Peachy Keen

In these fleeting days of summer, I find myself drawn to the light.  The last rays before the sun drifts behind a hillside.  Don’t go, day, don’t go.

As a chill presents itself in the evening air and the day end creeps dangerously close to dinner time, before we know it, it’s winter.  Under the cover of nightfall, we find ourselves holed up, hunkered down, and ordering in.  In these final days of summer, I refuse to submit.  I’ll keep the picnic dream alive with one last summertime favorite.  Chicken salad — with peaches. Double down or walk away.

I still remember the day of the epiphany.  Apparently pulling one over for years of my youth, I found my mom in the kitchen, passing off canned “chicken” with mayo as the real deal homemade.  Living under the pretense that an aptitude for recipes such as chicken salad came only by way of a generation gap and an arsenal of secret ingredients, I was appalled.  The thought of a dressing untempered by even so much as mustard nearly brought tears to my eyes.  What do you mean that’s all it is? Just, just…mayonnaise?

Appalled at the simplicity, I developed a leniency towards recipes bulked out with cranberries, almonds and the like.  A balanced tang countered with a delicate sweetness.  Not to mention a limited quantity of mayonnaise.

This time looking for something a bit different, I took to the internet.  I landed on a recipe that incorporated Dijon and capers in addition to fresh fruit.  I substituted peaches for fresh grapes, timidly mixed in the capers…and was delighted!  Perfect for those endless summer nights.

Chicken Salad with Peach, Nuts and Capers

Adapted from epicurious.com

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast

5 cups water

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup diced peach

1 cup (3 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts, pecans, macadamia, whatever you have on hand

3 tablespoons drained capers, chopped

Bring water and bouillon cubes to a boil in a large saucepan, then add chicken and cook at a bare simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Drain and cool, then dice into 1-inch chunks.

Meanwhile, stir together yogurt, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Stir chicken and remaining ingredients into dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

(This is, of course, best when eaten alongside a blended margarita.  Keep the summer dreams alive!)

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Not Sure About Nicoise

If it’s pink in the middle, it’s cooked too little.  A catchy little tune drilled into me by a dancing burger.  Undoubtedly commissioned to prevent BBQs from going down the tubes (literally), it was introduced to me in grade school.   To this day, every time a dining companion ponders the inquiry of how they’d like their burger cooked, heart palpitations ensue.  Just. Say. Well.

In the case of tuna, for me, it’s always been to the contrary.  Anything more than a light sear and it’s equivalent to pencil shavings.   The silken texture I love is gone with the wind.   Fluttering away with the pungent scent of a freshly opened can.

Finding myself these days on new horizons, it seemed fitting to give canned tuna a second chance.  In Korea, it’s economical and also readily available.  Whereas fresh tuna stands out for its unassuming flavor, canned tends to be a bit musky.  Deciding to harness this, I incorporated capers as a briny compliment.  Finished with a healthy dose of lemon juice, misconceptions flew out the window. Paired with an assemblage of veggies, eggs, and potatoes, I had a tasty spin on an old French classic. Bon appetit!

Tuna Salad Nicoise

Serves 4

For the dressing:

1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 pinch salt

1 pinch black pepper

Whisk first three ingredients together in the bottom of a small bowl.  Add oil, one tablespoon at a time, while whisking rapidly to emulsify.  Finish with salt and pepper.

For the salad:

2 250 g cans light tuna

1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp capers, lightly diced

4 cups lettuce, washed and torn

16 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, sliced

8 new potatoes, boiled and quartered

4 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced

4 large bowls, to serve

Combine tuna, lemon juice and capers.  Set aside.  In bowls, arrange one-quarter each of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, potatoes, and eggs.  Top with tuna mixture.  Toss with dressing and enjoy!

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Your Guide to Getting Minted

“Always remember to look up and down.”

A friend’s advice after I’d just arrived certainly rang true.  Upon exploration of my new surroundings I found restaurants stacked four tall and neon-illuminated stairwells that led to karaoke heaven.  Born and reared in a nation never short on space, this was a new concept.  Big box super marts housing just over seventeen area codes weren’t all that shock-inducing.  Sprawl was a luxury I’d taken for granted.

Fields juxtapose with the surrounding high-rises

I admired the Korean ability to make efficient use of the space available.  When it came to homegrown produce, nearly everyone had a personal stockade of plants.  Whether the pots lined an apartment overhang or lettuce sprouted just between the highway and the on-ramp, every vacant patch was teeming with life.

Something’s minty…

Along my morning commute, I’ve noticed a bloom of plants that’s intrigued me.  Bearing a striking resemblance to the purchased-then-killed mint plants of failed garden endeavors, I gave it a whiff last spring.  Dismissing the notion, I wrote it off as a bountiful dream.  The other day, for whatever reason, I decided to give it another sniff.  This time I was certain–mint it was! My technical pruning knowledge quickly flew out the window.  I tugged and ripped like a mad-woman, anxious to fill my purse.  Buzzing off the menthol, my mind was on repeat–tabouleh, mojitos, freshhhh freshhhh>REPRISE tabouleh, mojitos, fresh fresh freshhhh…

When I found myself at home with my harvest, I figured it was time to determine a use.  Realizing I was packing heat with a red onion (also a hot commodity), I settled on an old stand-by.  A version of tabouleh, I found this recipe a few years ago in Cooking Light.  Its fresh ingredients and filling protein provide all the summer satisfaction one could dream of.  I had to do without my favorite part, the golden raisins, but it was still delicious. I tried substituting regular, but it just wasn’t the same.  

Moral of the story?  A second opinion is worth a million bites.

Healthy and delicious

Black Lentil and Cous Cous Salad

From Cooking Light, October 2008

1/2 cup dried black lentils (Or any variety, I used green)

5 cups water, divided

3/4 cup uncooked couscous

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered 

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1/3 cup finely chopped cucumber 

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind 

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Rinse lentils with cold water; drain. Place lentils and 4 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.

2. Bring remaining 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in couscous and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Combine lentils, couscous, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, tomatoes, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Yield: 6 1-cup servings

***For questions about where to find the ingredients in Korea, check out the new Ingredient Guide!***

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Clamming in Korea

Seagulls, the crash of waves breaking on the shore, a salty musk in the air–there are plenty of things that characterize living near the sea.  Finding myself living on the East Sea (a.k.a. Sea of Japan depending on whom you ask…) this is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of holding a seaside residence.  When the summer heat proves overwhelming, it’s my greatest joy to hop in the saddle and pedal my bike down to the shore. 

On weekends, it’s the tendency of my friends and me to congregate at our favorite stretch of sand. The patch of foreigners gleams from afar, the greased-up skin standing in stark contrast to the fully clothed Koreans.  Usually in tandem with the sunbathing, a barbecue ensues.

Taking a nod from the Koreans, a few friends began to seek the edible bounty waiting out at sea.  Neck and neck with hardcore grannies, they battled it out diving for the fresh clams on the ocean floor.  In the hunt, elbow room is not respected, and it’s the swiftest that reaps the glory.  If you can hack it, you’re rewarded with plenty to share. 

After embarking on one of these expeditions, I wrote about the adventure for Groove magazine.  The article explores clamming along the northeastern shore and also captures my hunt for razor clams down south.  I’ve included a recipe to serve up your fresh catch beachside as well.  Check out the article in Groove Korea’s July issue or online here.

Happy clamming!

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Granola Girl

Editor’s Note: Before I came to Korea, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  In my mind, “kimchi” conjured images of my last pan-asian meal, and DMZ was easily confused with a website that slandered celebrities (TMZ).  Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese were categorized just the same, and I had no idea having a “small face” was an attribute.  When I was left wondering in my safe haven back home, a friend’s blog enabled me to take a quick trip to the far East.  Johanna Wooden, author of Head in the Clouds, has found a way to bridge the gap for the couch voyagers among us. 

Since moving to Korea, her blog has continued to enrich my daily life, whether with the addition of tips for wholesome living or by putting the everyday curiosities into perspective.  Also a culinary whiz, Johanna has been kind enough to share one of her recipes in a guest post.  I hope you enjoy the change of pace she provides in the kitchen!

Jay, Claire, and Johanna “Granola Girl” Wooden

Granola girl.  My new nickname after my Korean friend, Jay, tasted my first homemade batch of granola.  Little did he know how clearly the connotation rang with the description of my rather free-spirited, music-loving, festival-going former self.  Witnessing my amusement at the name, he inquired, “What is a granola exactly?” 

In its definition, Urban Dictionary (the highest authority on slang interpretation) refers to a “granola” using the popular buzz word, hippy.  I didn’t have to explain that one to my friend, as he immediately confirmed his familiarity.  “Oh yeah, I know, a homeless person who plays the guitar in the park and holds out their hands for coins.”  He was pretty close, although you couldn’t necessarily say I was anywhere near living on the streets, I couldn’t play a chord on the guitar and I usually had enough coins in my pocket to get through the rough college life.

Then, there was Woodstock.  I figured this was the most stereotypical “hippy” festival of all time and would make for a great example of where the said type of people gathered.  Quickly, I ran a Google search, and we examined the return.  Rather than gaining the clarity I intended, my friend instead viewed a sea full of naked people listening to speeches about how to beg for money.  In his mind, the gathering was a forum for the dispute of the correct way to hold your hand when accepting coins, followed by workshops about how to make the best granola. I admired his humor and enjoyed the banter, so I continued to enlighten him about the fascinating subculture.

Further explanation of the term, using Urban Dictionary as a resource, concludes that present day hippies, called “granolas,” are people who go hiking, ice climbing, and engage in outdoor activities while wearing labels such as Colombia and munching on granola bars or trail mix.  This kind of person usually eats from the earth and refrains from eating animal products. 

At this point, my friend felt he was closing the gap.  He confirmed his comprehension that such a person steals crops from the neighbors’ gardens to eat when the coin-begging income just isn’t flowing.

When we dove into the fresh granola, my friend Jay was left perplexed.   How could a homeless person eat such a delectable snack?  He was immediately hooked on the nutty, crunchy mixture.  As he chewed, he began to understand why the hippies would take along such a delight for their long days of making melodies of peace at the local park.

The finished product

As a conclusion to the evening, I was left with some hints about what my upcoming birthday present might be.  Clues were cast towards customized pants with special pockets in which I can stash my own supply of granola for easy access.  Jay also alluded that another for safely holding my extra coins would be a necessity.  I wonder how “granola” will translate to the tailor. ..

In the meantime, I will continue to provide this wholesome, healthy snack to my friend and his family until I leave Korea.  It brightens their diet with vitamins and minerals and always leaves me smiling with their praise to the “granola girl.”  I thought it was all behind me, but I guess I will never live down those days of wearing patchwork pants and tie-dye while swaying to the tune of St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Here’s how to get crunchy.

Granola Girl’s Special Blend

3/4 cup of plain oats

1/3 cup of sunflower seeds

1/3 cup of pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup of slivered almonds

1/3 cup of crushed walnut pieces

4-5 teaspoons of brown sugar

1/3 cup of honey

2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla

3 tablespoons of cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick

salt

Optional: Raisins, dried cranberries or other dried fruit

Directions

1. Combine dry oats and nuts.

2. Spread on a tin foil sheet or baking sheet.

3.Spread the nut mixture in a thin layer, just enough to cover the surface.

Spread evenly

4. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, oil, vanilla and cinnamon on medium to high heat.

5. Bring down the heat and simmer for 1 minute.

Heat it up

6. Drizzle the hot mixture over the dry nuts and oats.

7. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes, then stir mixture and continue to bake for 10 minutes.

8.  Once the top is golden brown, take out and cool for 20 minutes.

9.  Remove from foil and break into chunks. (Some will be loose – this is good:))

10. Add a handful of dried cranberries, raisins or other chopped dried fruit.

11. Sprinkle with salt .

12. Enjoy over yogurt, with milk or as a snack to munch on at work.

Yum

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Hot on the Trail

The High Park Fire

Fire! Fire on the mountain… Great when backed by the Grateful Dead’s chords, not so great when the truth of the matter. As I’ve said before, I have roots in Colorado.  Colorado’s been quite the hot topic lately, literally and figuratively.  As Smokey Bear warns at the entrance to the state’s  forests, the threat of wildfires is always present.  This season, unfortunately, Colorado’s number came up. 

The authority on the matter

Colorado has been hit particularly hard by wildfires this season.  With a lightening strike on June 9, the region around Fort Collins, Colorado, was set ablaze.  The homes of a multitude of living things, as well as my fondest memories–the Poudre Canyon, Rist Canyon, Lory State Park, Horsetooth Mountain Park–all went up in flames.  Now 100% contained, the High Park Fire has left a trail of devastation.  257 homes, 87,284 acres.   

Near Colorado Springs, the Waldo Canyon Fire was a scene from our wildest nightmares.  Declared the most destructive in the state’s history, the fire raged into suburban subdivisions destroying countless family homes.  Declared a disaster area by President Obama, the situation is bleak. 

While all may be a part of Mother Nature’s cycle, it doesn’t change the fact of the matter.  There are a lot of pieces yet to be picked up across the state I love.  In this tough time for Colorado, do a little rain dance and send cooling thoughts their way. 

Whether we are the ones affected by a burning blaze, or we’re lost on a hunt for frozen scallops, we all need a little help sometimes.  In exchange for your rain dance, I’d like to be of assistance. 

I’ve been working hard on a new component of my website. In the directory of pages, you’ll find the addition of “Ingredients Guide.”  Check here to find a glossary of ingredients as well as a listing of where you might find them in Korea.  There’s also a list of useful in-person and online retailers.  Check it out – Ingredients Guide!

After stocking your pantry, if you’ve got a little change rattling around and you’re thinking of Colorado, consider donating to one of the organizations below.

Trees, Water & People

A Fort Collins-based organization doing exceptional work in the community.  As a former intern, I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of their programs.  In the area affected by the High Park Fire, they will not only re-plant trees, but will reconstruct the devastated ecosystems to create a forest that is healthier and safer than before.

High Park PAC

The remnants of their bedroom

Some friends were personally affected by the fire, and in response, they’ve set up the High Park Relief PAC.  Currently in the process of establishing tax-deductable 501(c)3 status, they’re working to raise funds to directly help members of their community. 

Colorado Professional Firefighters Foundation

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Get Spiced Or Die Chai-in’

Just the thing to make your worries fade away.

Chaiiii, chaiii, chaiii, chaiii.  The melodic tones snapped me back to Earth.  Lost somewhere between exhaustion and relative lucidity, I immediately assessed my surroundings. First, I noted the location of my backpack.  Next was to assess all points of skin contact.  Realizing before bedtime that I wasn’t alone in my rail car berth, I had tucked myself in to provide a barrier.  No roaches were trotting around on this passenger!  Finding all to my (sub)standards, I let out a sigh.  And then it sounded again passing through the corridor.  Chaiii, chaiii, chaiiiiiiii.

Despite the resentment for such an abrupt awakening, I was tempted.  For a second I reflected on the sweet and spicy nectar, and then reality sunk in.  Chai could wait until I was sure it had come to a rolling boil.  No need to entice parasites mid-way through a journey.  The chai was lukewarm and the bathrooms a little short of sanitary.

Tea time!

Throughout my time in India, I found one constant.  North, South, young, old, rich, poor — chai.

It’s no surprise this delight has caught on in the West.  It takes your basic milk tea and it kicks it up.  It literally adds some spice to your life.  Now I get what Columbus was searching for.  Spices exalt the senses.

A coffee addict at heart, I’ll never cheat, but I do like to mix it up.  With the weather heating up, I was looking for something refreshing to top off my afternoons.  Taking an ode from India, I gathered together my spice stash and made up a batch that’s perfect served over ice.  My version uses soy, and takes into account its already-added sweetness. If you’re particularly fond of porcelain, feel free to sugar it up and rot ’em out.  Next time you hear the cry of chai, you’ll be amply prepared with back-up.

Perfectly spiced harmony

Soy Chai Tea

Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup water

1 black tea bag

1 tsp crushed/coarsely chopped ginger

1 green cardamom pod

2 whole black peppercorns

1 clove

1/2 cup sweet soy milk (I like Vegemil B)

1. Coarsely pound ginger, cardamom, peppercorns and clove together.

2. Bring the water to a simmer in a small pan over high heat.  Add tea bag and spice mixture.  Allow to simmer about 15 seconds, then remove from heat.  Allow all ingredients to steep together for another 5-10 minutes, then strain.

3. Pour strained concentrate over ice.  Mix with soy milk and enjoy.

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