my cooking…a food post…homesick for the USA…culture shock…

okay, it’s cold…i’m spending lots of time indoors during this sub-zero South Korean wintertime…and i feel like blogging my thoughts…a lot…this week.

i lost interest in tofu about 2 months ago.

gone are the days i was able to enjoy a meal of tofu and veggies for less than $3 in korea.  i’d rather starve at this point.

i’m not a big fan of kimchi at the moment (i’m convinced it rots ur pearly whites), and i don’t even see white rice (so i’ve been trained not to eat ‘white empty calories’ from an early age).  it’s like it’s invisible to me.

sushi, my favorite food since i was 6 years old, has no appeal anymore (and i haven’t even touched the stuff since california, but i think korea’s proximity to japan may have something to do with it).

i just went to thailand for 11 days, and only ate thai food once.  the rest of the time i ordered salads with fresh veg, fruit, and cheese.

indian food is suddenly a craving like never before. maybe it’s the cold weather.

peanut butter, celery, apples, and other fruit has been a mainstay dinner lately.

i’ve spent $12 on feta just this week.  and i’m not talking a big block, but 2 measly jars of the stuff soaked in oil (ill post a pic one of these days).

and no, i’m not pregnant.  (this is the year of single-ness, remember?)

but i just now came to the realization that i can’t /forgot how to cook.

the only thing i make well (these days) is
1) runny eggs, sometimes adding in fresh veg and salt.  sometimes a little curry seasoning or cinnamon if im feeling really wild.
2) salads.  chopped up lettuce + fresh/dried fruit + canned beans + canned tuna/chicken (used to add sauteed or plain tofu).  avocado will be my long lost friend in california.  t-6weeks till avocado and reasonably priced feta!

everything else is a mishmosh of crap.  or one vegetable, such as the kabocha squash, that steams really well.

i don’t know how to grill.

i haven’t used an oven in a year…how do you make cookies again?

i’ve never used a food processor.

maybe this is the apartment with no windows + 1 electric hotplate talking.  but man, i don’t know if i remember how to cook.  i think i used to enjoy that.  once upon a time.  i did make pumpkin pies, i do make a mean cranberry sauce, i have made a mean salmon, medium rare.  what has happened?!

maybe i should put “cooking classes” on the to do list for california lady of leisure time.
that is, if i can find the time since i’ll be maximizing the outdoor time like no other!  homegirl is in serious need of vitamin d….

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Samcheong-Dong

Samcheong-Dong
After the Reiki group last Sunday I was quite emotional…a lot of deep feelings bubbled up. I needed to be by myself…reflect…maybe wander around and explore to get outside of my head.
Consulted my little “Korea Sparkling” guide (freebie from the tourist office)…and I found that Samcheong-dong was right at the bottom of the park.
“a picture taker’s paradise, but even if you don’t enjoy the taking of pictures, a stroll around Samcheong will do the trick” (oh I love translation…). So, I took a walk through Samcheong Park onto Samcheong-Dong.

this photo could have been taken on Main St. in SaMo 🙂
Samcheong-dong is my new favorite place in Seoul! My mood instantly lifted the second I saw the European-esque part of Seoul~no buildings above 3 or four stories!! Cafes, boutiques, tree-lined streets. I felt like i was back in Santa Monica (and oh how i miss Santa Monica! I loved living there…for the community, the yoga (bryan kest power yoga!), cafes…) . Anyways!!!

Took myself out to eat at Onmaeul, a “dubu (tofu) house”. Of course having dinner by yourself in Korea is not the norm, so I got barraged with questions from the well-meaning, but overly curious owner, “How old are you?”, “Are you married?”, “Korean boyfriend?”. Haha. The dinner was pretty tasty and only 6,000 won ($6). Plus I was a gonner for the restaurant when I saw their menu was on a wooden spoon.
Love it.

Reiki in Samcheong Park

This past Sunday I branched out and joined a Reiki group. Reiki is an energy healing modality that I’ve been interested in since introduced by my Santa Monica hairdresser, Mary-Cate. There are different levels of Reiki Practitioners, and the most trained are called “Reiki Masters”. In this group, we had a few practitioners, one Master, as well as newbies like me.

We all met up at Anguk Station in Insadong around 2pm. I instantly felt comfortable with several of the people in the group, it just felt good to be around holistic-y people again. I immediately connected with 2 of the other women over yoga talk. I missed that aspect of my friends from the holistic rehab where I worked before Asia.
We headed to beautiful Samcheong Park, where I’d never been before, and Kevin, the organizer of the group, led us all to a clearing just off the paved park paths. It felt like we had gone deep into the woods.

We started the group off with a “Sea of Oms” meditation led by Christian. The meditation is supposed to be free-flowing, with everyone “om-ing” at their own pace. However, our group was shy with each other at first. Everyone waited until they heard Christian or Kevin “om” to start “om-ing”.
We talked about the practice for a bit, then got down to business.
I volunteered first, I was excited!
So, I layed down on a yoga mat and for 30 minutes, Kevin practiced Reiki on me. I didn’t feel much during the session, but afterwards I was extremely emotional, and after talking to Kevin about what he picked up from my vibes, I started crying. Bawling my eyes out, cannot stop, crying. Every practitioner there said it was normal, and that I might even feel sick and thirsty for a day or two, then start to feel really good. I was thinking, “ya…maybe…not!!! you hocus pocus people”…
But, boy, they were right, I woke up the next morning with throbbing ears…
and I cannot get enough H20. I’m talking two 2L bottles a day.
I’m amazed by Reiki and I can’t wait for the July group.
After the group, I took a walk through the park center myself and take some photos. I swear, one of the greatest things about Korean parks are the acupressure foot paths. In Seoul, all you do is walk walk walk. which = tired, sore feet. These paths are very common…and very welcome.
 
After a walk, I sat down on a bench and took out my Korea guidebook to figure out where
to go next. A group of ajjumas (older ladies) were sitting on the next bench. One got up and handed me 4 rice cakes. It was very sweet, and I must have said “ganhasamnida” (Thank you) about 20 times. I have to mention that this isn’t the first time a stranger ajjuma has given me food…apparently it’s quite common. Just never something that would happen back in the States. Maybe they’re trying to tell me to eat more. With all this walking, the majority of my diet being veggies, plus dancing with the kiddos all day, I can hardly keep any meat on my bones!
 

Home Cookin’, Korean-Style

Let me just start by saying I adore Asian food. The parents took me to the sushi bar at the ripe ole’ age of six, and Western food just never tasted good again. Give me Japanese, Korean, or Thai any day over pizza, burgers, spagetti, and tacos. 

 During college, I used to drive a half hour to the Asian market just to get some of these ingredients to eat at home. Now they are available in alleyways all over Korea for radically insanely cheap prices.

Even though eating out in Korea is extremely cheap, it’s even cheaper to eat at home if you get the right ingredients. Plus, in Korea, eating usually is a social thing, and if you are in a meditative mood, well, sometimes home cooking is good for the “Seoul”.

The Kitchen…

yes, this explains why most of the food is raw and uncooked in the following pictures. I avoid turning on this hotplate…

The creations…

 Dotorimuk + Nigari Dubu (tofu) + sesame oil + soybean paste + green onions

Dotorimuk is a jelly made from acorn starch. It’s low in calories, high in protein and several vitamins and minerals. 

Mung Bean Jelly…same idea as Dotorimuk, but made from mungbeans…


Homemade yogurt by Elisa! 

After being on antibiotics for two weeks, it was important to get the good bacteria going again my system.  Korean yogurt tends to be loaded with tons of sugar, so I made my own lower-sugar option by adding store-bought yogurt (for it’s cultures) to milk. 

How to make homemade yogurt:

1.Dump 1 cup of yogurt and 1 carton of milk into tupperware.

2. Fill sink up with hot water. Cover tupperware and allow to sit overnight.

3. Voila, fresh plain yogurt in the morning. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Afterschool snacks! Dried squid and xylitol sweetened gum.