a pause

I’ve stopped blogging for a bit.  Can’t really describe why.  Maybe the wave will hit again.  But, maybe not.

But one thing’s for sure.  I’m home now.  And I’ve left this little love nugget behind.

 

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nola gif

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Make-shift stuffed peppers

I’m always drooling over recipes I find on blogs for stuffed peppers.  But they always require ground turkey or ground chicken as one of the main ingredients.  Both of which aren’t available in Korea, so I’ve always just wiped my drool and figured it would have to wait until I’m State-side again.

However, last night I opened my fridge to find it stocked with vegetables and 1 large yellow pepper.  With no recipe in hand I figured I’d wing my own stuffed pepper with whatever was in my fridge.

I sauteed 1 chopped onion, chopped mushrooms, spinach, and red pepper flakes.  I added a can of chicken breast.  Yes, a can.  Cans are cheap.  Then a can of diced tomatoes (with chilies).  Sauteed/cooked it all for a bit.  I halved my yellow pepper and stuffed it with the mixture I just created, adding feta cheese in between and on top.

On a pan, covered, and in the oven for 45 min at 375 degrees.  I honestly wasn’t expecting much and figured even if it sucked at least I’m getting my veggies.  However,  after my first bite, I was pleasantly surprised.  Not too shabby for a make shift stuffed pepper.  I would’ve added some quinoa into the mixture if I hadn’t been as lazy.  Next time.

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me + library = ERROR

I am extraordinarily terrible at returning books.  DVDs too.  (I guess people don’t do this much nowadays, though).  But that was always why I loved Netflix.  I’m sad to hear that while I’ve been in Korea their company took a nosedive.  (Why did this happen????  I always thought Netflix was genius.)  

Anyway, books and libraries.  It’s as if I’m physically incapable of returning to a library once I’ve already left with a borrowed book in hand.

Since living in Korea I got myself a library card.  Last year I borrowed 2 books.  Miraculously I managed to get my butt back to the library to return them…..

Over 6 months late (185 days or something).

The library, thank God, doesn’t charge late fees.  However, they put a hold on your account for the days equaling- Number of books borrowed x Number of days late.  In my case, this equation was something like:  2 books x 185 days = 370 days.  370 days banned from borrowing books.  Over a year!

Normally (If I were home) I’d much rather buy (used) books.  I like having my own copy, the ability to write in it, and dog-ear it all I want.  But since I’m in Korea, and trying to accumulate as little as possible, libraries are the way to go.  Anyway, I’ve got “around” the system by using my boyfriend’s account. Ha.

But I just got off skype with my friend (whom I used to live with at her parent’s home).  Apparently I rented a book from the public library while living there.

In 2005!

Her mom found the book recently and returned it the other day.

Over 7 years late.  MY GOD!

I’m really not looking forward to that late fee bill…..

I think I’d rather take a 7 year ban than pay those dollars.  *sigh*

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Hey Korea- Where are the dog parks?

Having a dog in Korea sucks when you have a dog that likes to exercise and run around, you know… like most dogs do.

Why does it suck?

Because there’s no place to take your dog.

Near my house are several “mini parks.”  They’re not really parks.  More like several stretches of grass with sidewalks in between.  Because of it’s closeness, ideally this would be a nice place to take Nola to run around, play fetch etc.  This would all be possible if there weren’t “park police” who patrol the area and yell at me to get off the grass.  “No dogs on the grass!”  Really?  We can’t bring our dogs on the grass???  I understand they’re concerned with people who don’t pick up after their dog.  And this is understandable but, like me, I feel that most people do.

I also live near a large park, Lake Park, but even still there’s no place for dogs to run freely.  You must keep them on the leash and keep them on the walk ways.

I take Nola for frequent walks, but it’s always a fight to put her leash on.  And taking your dog for a walk and letting them run and play fetch are 2 completely different things.  I now understand why dog parks were ever created.  Dogs need and like to run around.  They need to exhaust that energy.

We can’t take dogs to the real parks, or the “mini parks.”  So, where are the dog parks here?!?    I know I can’t be the only dog owner feeling frustration with this.

Recently I started taking Nola to the roof of our apartment.  We walk up 4 flights of stairs and make it to the rooftop which is big and spacious.  It’s perfect for her to run around and it has a little grass area for her to do her business.

Well, this morning after we finished our roof time, we headed back to our floor.  She barrels down the stairs 10 x faster than I do, especially at 7 am.  When we made it to our floor I thought I heard the sound of someone in the hallway.  Of course Nola tornadoes past me, sees a man, and runs up towards him.  He freaked out.  Like freaked out scared.  Wouldn’t move.  I could tell he was startled or scared.  Then it was obvious he was mad.  Really mad.  I immediately apologized and ran to pick Nola up (which of course she then ran away).  He then proceeded to yell at me while I tried to get Nola, who now thought we were playing a game.  Still the man did not move, as if he was too afraid.  Still yelling at me.  Still I was trying to get Nola to get inside our home.

Eventually she came in.  Eventually the man walked away.  But then I got mad.  I don’t even know exactly what words he said, but I understood the gist of it and obviously how mad he was.  Originally I felt sorry that Nola had scared him and that’s why I apologized.  But as he continued to berate me for 5 minutes in that mean ajosshi way, I felt more like, seriously?  Chill the eff out!   Though people don’t necessarily know this, Nola won’t do anything to them.  If anything, she’ll run up to a stranger, most likely to check if they have food, and then run away.

Though I’m not sure, I’m almost positive that man said something to the front desk about “this incident.”  Now I won’t even be able to take her on the roof.

I dunno, maybe I’m being selfish and insensitive to people who don’t like dogs.  But mostly, I just don’t get people who don’t like dogs, especially puppies.

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Korean Food Pt. 2

Tonight I had a really delicious and colorful dinner.  It’s nutritious and just a tad spicy.  It’s bori bap. (보리밥)

This dish is similar to another favorite of mine, bibimbap.  The difference is in the rice.  Bori bap has a slightly fatter grain and it is more sticky than regular white rice.  The concept of both bori bap and bibimbap is the same-

Take a bowl of rice.

Add vegetables.  (sometimes meat)

Add a little sesame oil.

Add gochujang (Korean red pepper paste).

Mix it up.

Eat!

It’s such a simple and nutritious dish.  I love the variety of vegetables you can add, the possibilities are endless.  The gochujang makes the dish spicy so you should add it according to your tastebud’s tolerance of spice.  I like mine spicy.

This restaurant I went to served us a nice variety of vegetables, a soft tofu dish, and some Korean bean soup.  Bori bap is one of my most favorite Korean dishes.

Veggie platter:  (I think its great when restaurants serve boribap or bibimbap like this, as you can add whatever and how much of whatever you like)

Veggies added:  (Beneath the colorful mountain is the rice, and the red in the middle is the gochujang)

Mixed up:

One of Korea’s healthiest dishes.

You can check out my previous post on Korean food here.

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Expat yoga

If you’re a foreigner living in Korea, with a short knowledge of the Korean language, and wondering if it’s possible to take yoga classes; it is!  I’m proof.  Embarrassingly enough, I’ve been here for 3 years and still haven’t grasped the language as I should have by now.  Most of my Korean vocabulary relates to asking for food.

So, seriously, the only word I understood in class at first was “Namaste.”

But I’ve found that after a few classes, you understand the routine.  And the Korean words being spoken aren’t comprehended as words, but rather, sounds.  You may not know the words the instructor is saying but you come to remember the sound of the word and remember what it means to do.  I still have no idea what the actual words being said are.  All I know is that when I hear something like “mal shee go”, I should inhale.  “nay shee myeon”, I should exhale.  “hiim!”, straight and strong.  “ah pay”, forward.  etc. etc.

I’m still a far cry from understanding everything and there have been many times when the whole class is looking left with arms down and I’m looking right with my arms up.  It’s a little embarrassing.

I was intimidated for a long time to take an exercise class in Korean, but it is possible.  I’ve learned by watching others, listening to sounds as cues, and doing my own research online about form and poses.  And when your instructor realizes you can’t understand Korean, they’re extremely understanding and as helpful as they can be.  And besides, when you’re doing something completely wrong, you can always use the lame excuse of “oh, I didn’t understand.”

Oh and the one thing I found different about yoga in Korea is that you don’t need to bring a mat.  The mats are provided for you in the studio.  While this may be a little gross for some people, it is very convenient.  I suppose you can bring your own mat if you wanted to, but I imagine others would wonder, “why?”  I’ve thought about purchasing and bringing my own mat but I decided against it because I don’t want others to think like I need my own mat.  That theirs isn’t good enough or something.  Koreans tend to operate more as groups, whereas Americans tend to think more independently; but I’m in Korea so I decided to just follow their thang.

They also give you towels.  So all you need to bring is your body and a water bottle.

** In case you’re in Korea and you want to try Hot Yoga, I’ve been going to 다본 핫요가 (The Bon Hot Yoga).  They have 4 locations.  Sadang, Daehwa, Anyang, and Hugok.

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4 Things (Yummy & Pretty)

 

1.  Very delicious curries.  If you’re in Ilsan, go to Asia Asia

2.  Precious little shoes!

3.  Season’s cherry blossom.

4.  First experience with quinoa.

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bread baker

As you would guess, Korea is big on rice but not so big on bread, like sandwich bread.  The size of Korea’s rice aisle is equivalent to the size of a typical US bread aisle.  I was always and still am amazed at how many kinds of rice there are and how much people buy of it.

As I’ve never been keen on rice that much, the rice variety doesn’t impress me and I sorely miss a large bread selection.  Of course you can buy sandwich bread here.  But it’s not the same.  At stores and bakeries you will generally find the same poor selection of breads named:  Milk Bread, Morning Toast Bread, Sandwich Bread, Corn bread and occasionally a brownish color bread (that isn’t whole wheat).  I have no idea what the exact difference is between them all, but at many stores they all carry the same name.

The bread I miss most is whole grain and whole wheat bread.  And another thing I noticed and don’t like about Korean bread is that they typically have a higher sugar and fat content that American breads.  I attribute this to how Koreans tend to view bread as more of a snack or treat rather than as a part of a main meal.

Anyway, I’ve found one bread I somewhat like at Paris Baguette.  In the past year or so they started making an Omega3 bread, which is the best thus far but still not whole grain.

So I decided to buy some whole wheat flour and try making my own.  I used this recipe for a whole wheat ciabatta.  But halved it and didn’t follow the instructions nearly as close as these instructions were intricate, time consuming and needing of things like pizza stones.  It was actually very easy to make but you have to have alot of time.  Stretching the dough every 15 minutes 6 times.  Over night refrigeration.  Almost 2 hours of proofing in the morning (I cut that down to 40 min.) And then about 40 minutes of bake time.  (This guy is an accomplished bread baker)  I’ve done bread maybe twice before so I wasn’t holding high hopes for the outcome.

This is his loaf. (shown on the recipe link)

And this is mine:

Haha!  Well I tried!  It looks somewhat similar and tasted okay.  We’ll see how it does for sandwiches.

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Miracle Noodles

When I last purchased from iHerb, I bought 2 packs of Miracle Noodles.

Miracle Noodles are a brand of shirataki noodles.  They have 0 calories.  0 fat.  0 protein.  <1g soluble fiber.  No soy, no gluten and no wheat! Basically nothing.   So what is it exactly?  The noodles are from Japan and are made from an elephant yam.

I wanted to try them out so I bought both the fettucine and angel hair variety.  Originally I thought I would use them like regular pasta with red sauce.  However yesterday I had a craving for Pad Thai.  When I was buying the pad thai sauce I realized this would be a good dish to try using my Miracle noodles.  Turns out, I was so right!  My pad thai was sorta fake pad thai as I only used the sauce, an egg, bean sprouts, green onion and the noodles.

The noodles were the perfect consistency and texture for a dish like pad thai.  When I was eating this I realized these noodles should not be used like regular pasta, and if done so, you’d be very disappointed.  Your fettucinne alfredo made with Miracle noodles would be miraculously unsatisfying.

Rather, these noodles (in my humble opinion) should be used in all kinds of Asian noodle dishes.  Like thai noodle dishes, Asian style noodle soups, or even in stir fry.  The noodles do a good job of soaking up whatever flavor you’re cooking with.

I was really happy with my fake pad thai.  And really surprised how delicious it was and how you’d never know these noodles were basically nothing.  The texture of the noodles actually reminded me of Korea’s noodle 당면, dang myeon, which is made from sweet potatoes.

I think these noodles are hard to find (in Korea and the US) but I imagine you can find them at some Asian food stores.  And, of course, you can buy them very easily from iHerb.com.

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