Entries from July 28th, 2013

Sunday Good Reads

Sunday, July 28, 2013

In a few hours, my friend Graeme will be at the door, and he and I will begin cooking a retro themed dinner for a small group of friends. Seems like we’ve been talking about this dinner forever, and now it’s here. I’m super excited about the menu – we’re making mocha granita, fried rice balls, salmon roulade, cranberry ginger cocktails, and lots of other things. We’re making a dessert he’s been telling me about almost since I’ve known him called banoffee. I can’t believe I did, but I bought Spam, which I haven’t tasted since Roseville, Minnesota, on a sandwich, when I was six. It’s going to be a good time.

Have you read anything good lately? I stayed at a farm in Malaysia, and the guy who lives there and hosts travelers recommended a list of books I can’t wait to get my hands on. And here’s what I’ve read lately and really liked:

The Little Prince looks like a children’s book, but it’s appropriate for all ages and especially adults. Originally published in French in 1943 by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and since has been translated into more than 250 languages, about optimism, relationships, and the difference of life through a child’s and adult’s eyes. A quick but thought-provoking read.

Lit is a memoir by a poet and literature professor at Syracuse originally from Texas, Mary Karr, about her relationships with her mother and father, her battle with alcoholism, getting sober, getting married and divorced, and having a son. I’ve never read anything like it. The way she composes sentences and phrases is so gorgeous, each statement could almost stand on its own. I laughed and cried from cover to cover. I can’t wait to read more from her.

How to Pick a Peach is a compendium of seasonal fruits and vegetables, how to choose them, store them, and prepare them. I’ve dogeared so many recipes, like cold spiced cherry soup, cauliflower custard, cornmeal buckle with plums, and applesauce with bourbon, sour cherries, and hazelnuts (I know!!!).

Kafka on the Shore For years I’ve eyed IQ84 and listened to people gush about Murakami without reading any of his books myself. Until I needed a book fast for a trip and found Kafka on the Shore at a nearby used book store in Seoul. I see the hype now.

Ishmael – one of the books from the farm, I read only a third of it before it was time to leave. A man in the story answers a want ad from a teacher looking for a student, and when he gets to the point of location, the teacher is a gorilla who can talk. The man battles with himself about whether or not he should return the next day, but day after day, he does return to learn a valuable lesson only an animal can tell.

Have a great week.

White Summer Slaw

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hi.

Uff. I thought I’d have a post all ready to go about Malaysia by today. I wrote yesterday at a coffee shop down the street, and to avoid looking like a creepy coffee shop loiterer, I bought a pretzel after an hour, and then a second americano, and then it was time to meet a friend for dinner.

I didn’t finish, is what I’m getting at. But I will. Until then, I hope you are soaking up whatever summer weather you’ve been given this week. Also, it’s great to be back.

White Summer Slaw

Mix 6 cups of shredded white cabbage with 1 red onion, sliced. Add a handful of chopped fresh cilantro. Whisk together 1/3 cup homemade mayonnaise with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper, all to taste, until it’s as sweet or acidic as you like. Eat straight, or atop pulled pork on a sandwich.

A note about homemade mayonnaise: it’s easy, and it took me twenty-five years of mayo adoration to discover I’d never buy a jar of it again. The arm you whisk with will pinch a little at the crook of your elbow, but if you keep your eyes on the prize, a gorgeous whip of pale yellow mayonnaise will develop sooner than you can say wheresthefuckinghellmans. Or, soon after. Bonus? Leftover mayonnaise presents a superb excuse to make BLTs. As if you needed one. Here’s the recipe I use.

Melissa Clark’s Homemade Mayonnaise (makes 3/4 to 1 cup)

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cold water

3/4 cup canola oil or another neutral oil – but not olive, which will make your mayo bitter.

Whisk together all ingredients except the oil until frothy. Then, add the oil drop by drop while whisking fast. If you add the oil too quickly, your mayonnaise will break – if it does, no big deal. Start over. Once the mayonnaise starts emulsifying and expanding, you can add the oil in a slow, steady stream while continuing to whisk.

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Brooklyn & Summer

Monday, July 15, 2013

Every time I read one of my friend Sarah‘s latest posts or take a look at her photos, in comes a tidal wave of nostalgia for Brooklyn. Her blog has been a great resource for good eats in Seoul, and now she’s discovering all sorts of gems in her new city of New York. Thanks, Sarah, for guest blogging this week. And Happy {Brooklyn} Summer.  

I’m new to Brooklyn. Although I had a ‘Brooklyn’ Pinterest board for years, I finally made my way here early this year. You have to be careful with what message you put out in the universe sometimes, as I have sent messages time and time again about residing in Brooklyn! Then it sorta happened. It really did.

You know how some folks love to go out and about, almost all the time? I’m not sure if it’s the aging, or the fact that I’m becoming such a homebody, but I actually look forward to being at home. A lot. It’s all about eating. Most of my friends who live alone complain about the difficulty of cooking for one, or don’t make much of an effort with food when dining alone at home.

I think I’m the opposite. I’ll try to create the most random meals out of nothing a.k.a. ‘cleaning out the fridge’. When I end up eating everything and the fridge looks spotless, it’s seriously like the most comforting accomplishment! Then soon after, I look forward to going to the farmers markets around Brooklyn and picking up the latest seasonal fruits and vegetables. I guess you can see this is almost a weekly routine for me.

I tell myself not to takes things for granted around here such as the farmers markets, good food, the parks, overabundance of trees, hipsters, and the bridges.

As soon as I moved here, I made sure that I had the ‘Brooklyn uniform’-plaid shirt and a tortoise brown oversized pair of eyewear. Not to mention Ray Bans for the summer.  I’m still working on a bike to join the rest of the gang, as it seems to the perfect mode of transportation from point A to B in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn summers are what most folks look forward to here. Smorgasburg outdoor food festival, farmers markets, flea markets, endless choices of food trucks, bike rides, free concerts at Prospect Park, the Botanical Garden, just to name a few.  You almost have to set your Google calendar to knock all this out! However, the great thing is that you can do this practically every week throughout the summer.

If you think you need inspiration, to get back in touch with nature, have good eats, good spirits, or would like to join the community of Brooklyn hipsters-stop by and take a peek. Well worth a quick weekend getaway. Anytime. You will definitely leave happy.

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for the traveler

Sunday, July 7, 2013

My friend Niki gave me a card when I left Minneapolis for Seoul back in April. In it, she wrote one of John O’Donohue’s blessings – this one was for the traveler. I read it for the first time on the plane ride, and I’ve reread it a few times over the past two months. Take this poem, read it before you go, once you return, and every time you need a reminder of why you travel in the first place. And I’ll see you when I’m back from Malaysia. (p.s. HBNT)  

Every time you leave home,

another road takes you

into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.

New places that have never seen you

will startle a little at your entry.

Old places that know you well

will pretend nothing

changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself

alone in a different way, more attentive now

to the self you bring along,

your more subtle eye watching

you abroad; and how what meets you

touches that part of the heart

that lies low at home:

how you unexpectedly attune

to the timbre in some voice,

opening a conversation

you want to take in to where your longing 

has pressed hard enough

inward, on some unsaid dark,

to create a crystal of insight

you could not have known – you needed – 

to illuminate – your way.

When you travel – a new silence – 

goes with you – and if you listen,

you will hear – what your heart would love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:

make sure, before you go, to take the time

to bless your going forth

to free your heart of ballast

so that the compass of your soul

might direct you toward the territories of spirit

where you will discover

more of your hidden life

and the urgencies that deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,

gathered wisely into your inner ground;

that you may not waste the invitations

which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,

and live your time away to its fullest;

return home more enriched, and free

to balance the gift of days which call you.

-John O’Donohue

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End of the Line: Chuncheon

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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Fortunate is the food enthusiast with fellow enthusiast friends, especially those who will travel for food. It was my friend Habiba’s idea to journey to Chuncheon for the city’s annual Dak Galbi Festival. Thank you, Habiba! Though Chuncheon boasts a lot of natural beauty, we went for its culinary claim to fame. We met at noon in Seoul on a Sunday and took the Gyeongchun line to the end. Along the way we met a good-tempered man, typically bedecked in hiking civvies, whose first words to us were, “Welcome to Korea!” What a guy.

Habiba’s approach to food is bewitching, and I’m constantly learning from her. She contemplates flavors and how to pair them, and she always has an anecdote or interesting piece of history to share about the ingredients she uses. But the best part about her culinary point of view is that she doesn’t take it too seriously. In Chuncheon, we ate bin dae duk, or savory pancakes made with mung beans and fried so that they crisp at the surface but stay tender at the center. We tore them apart with wooden chopsticks and soaked each piece in salty sauce flecked with red pepper and green onion, alternating between bites of crackly pancake and kimchi and swigs of shitty Korean beer that somehow grows on you despite your best attempts to avoid it. We walked around and made friends, and when we were sufficiently sweaty, we headed to a corner tent for the festival’s main attraction.

Dak galbi is a dish meant to share, and the aroma itself can lure you from a block away. We sat around a circular table with a big flat grill in the center, and soon a woman in a red kerchief delivered a heaping serving of chicken, sweet potato, cabbage, garlic, green onion, and rice cake. Dak galbi’s sauce is thicker and sweeter than gochujang and, like all good sauces, is the magic ingredient of the dish. Our lady used a wide metal spatula to fold it all together, and as it cooked, the rice cake’s edges turned golden and candied. The cabbage relinquished every bit of its sweetness, and when the chicken was ready, we wrapped it in lettuce with grilled garlic like little dak galbi tacos. Dak galbi tacos?! For a nanosecond, I thought the idea was all mine. Not even close. Yes I would travel to Chattanooga, Tennessee for dak galbi tacos. I wonder if I could convince Habiba to join me…

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Photos in color, copyright 2013 Turmeric and Twine.

Photos in black and white, copyright 2013 Something for Sunday.