Monday, November 23, 2009

Catie: Pretty persimmons

[caption id="attachment_305" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="My three persimmons."][/caption]

Yesterday, I bought three persimmons for making something persimmon-y.  The most popular things made from persimmons in the western world seem to be persimmon cookies and pudding.  In Korea, it's really hard to say.  I think they do a lot more raw-eating of persimmons than most people in America would dream of doing.  Perhaps mostly because a lot of Americans have no idea what a persimmon really is.

I think they're a nice looking fruit.  At our grocery store, DreamMart (which should really be called Good Morning Mart, but the Korean word for, "Good Morning" sounds like, "Dream") we occasionally get them confused with tomatoes because they're displayed upside down, so just their roundy little bottoms show and (sadly, for us), their orange sort of color is the same color as the rock-hard, never-ripe tomatoes they sell here.  Although, as it gets colder, the tomatoes get greener, so it's becoming increasingly easier to tell the difference.

We just hope they're better than the tomatoes.

It's only getting colder here and while we keep our windows open to counteract our over-compensating water/floor heater, the Koreans turn their heat to 80 C and leave it there.  We've done more sweating since it got cold than before, when it was hot outside!

We were pretty afraid they might not heat their buses, but now I have to put on a long sleeved shirt, my fleece jacket, a scarf, my double layer wool hat and gloves to stand at the bus stop, and then take them off inside the bus, just to put them right back on once we get out.  Koreans leave all theirs on, though.  And, literally, it's about 80 degrees on that bus.

Yeah, you think I'm exaggerating, but I am not.

On Friday, I made 60 Minute Rolls, also known as DeeDee's One Hour Buns, which, really, is totally a better name.  Anytime you have the choice to say a phrase with, "DeeDee" in it, you really should.  These opportunities don't arise very often.

I've only seen one kind of yeast here, a turkish yeast, "Pakmaya".

Very aptly named.

It's an instant yeast, which is kind of nice.  Some people seem to swear by instant yeast.  But, apparently, there is no way to test whether or not it's alive.  Sure, they'll tell you about 1,500 different ways to test it, but it will fail every single of them and, in the end, still make DeeDee's buns rise.

I tried to foam tepid sugar water.

I tried to foam warm sugar water.

I tried to foam sugar water that was probably too warm.

I even tried mixing flour, sugar and water and waiting an hour to see if it would rise -- although the problem with that was mostly just that I got too impatient and decided to go ahead, regardless.

Finally, I mixed up a batch of dough and started kneading it, kneading it, kneading it.  I was probably 5 -6 minutes into the 10 minute process when I realized that our grimy table was griming my DeeDees!

I wash that thing every day, too, so don't think it's anything I've done to it.  It just has this weird black top with a gray splatter paint sort of pattern and I think the gray comes off, because it turns all my dishcloths gray and has since we moved in, I just didn't even think about it!

So, I made another batch -- argh -- and kneaded it on a big white tray we have that came with our cozy little... bingo parlor.

Kneading takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r, fyi.  I worked at a bakery, and I think I took the bread mixers for granted, because, seriously, I thought my arms would give out before I got a, "silky, elastic texture".

Once I had them all ball-rolled and plopped into the pie pan, I was still pretty terrified that they wouldn't rise (and after all that, I wasn't taking any chances), so I boiled some water in the electric teapot, poured it into a coffee mug and set it on top of the Trusty Crousty (which I turned on low, the top gets real hot) with a chopstick inside it.  Then I put the DeeDees right next to it and draped a towel over the whole set up.

They rose FAST.

Let me just reiterate -- F-A-S-T.

I thought to myself, "I will go to DreamMart and get some things for dinner."  DreamMart is only two and a half blocks away, nothing could happen.

Is it ironic that I over-proofed them?

[caption id="attachment_310" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="As you can see, I did at least TRY to eat them.."][/caption]

I have trouble figuring out what irony is.

Regardless, in the end, they went the way of the first batch of dough.  Sadly.  But, to the DeeDees credit, they did taste good.  They were just too weird and dry.  They were the best right out of the oven.  After that... you know, kinda downhill.

They looked cute.

I will try again, bread is something I can fiddle with over a long period of time, I think, and so I probably will.  It's interesting and tad bit finicky, which seems like fun.

There are my DeeDees.

The main problem with bread recipes over the internet, though, is that no one -- lie detector says: maybe 3 people -- bake bread the old fashioned way anymore.  Everybody uses their bread machines.  Which is all well and good, until you move to Korea and all the bread machines are in KOREAN.

Then you're stuck the Trusty Crousty, but no Beard on Bread or whatever in sight.

I guess converting from machine to oven isn't too difficult, though, and I will be trying it.

For tonight, however, I am making fresh applesauce.  And I wanted to make sweet and sour chicken, but was completely floored by the fact that DreamMart doesn't seem to carry vinegar.  It's bizarre.  I have seen vinegar.  I have seen vinegar everywhere.  And all I need is white vinegar.

Come to think of it, though, I don't know that I've ever seen plain, white vinegar.  Which.. I mean, really?  No white vinegar?  Really?  How hard could it possibly be?  They eat squid, that's hard. That make kimchi, constantly, all the time and that's no easy trick.  And they.. you know.. read the space age scrawl that is the Korean language.

They make all their medications in-country!

You'd expect a little white vinegar, now, wouldn't you?

So, now we are having stir-fry.  Neither as good nor as fun as sweet and sour chicken, but I am at a vinegar loss.  I thought about possibly using lemon juice, but, after my DeeDee failure, I need something to turn out properly, so I'm sticking to what I know.

Maybe next time.

Also, Thanksgiving is out.  But we will have pie.  So, I'll let you know how that goes.

- catie


  1. You are having all the cooking adventures! Good job with the rolls. Yeasted things aren't hard here, but over there? Probably...
    Love you!

  2. You know, if you ever master cooking food in Korea, you can right a book like Julia Child and call it "American cooking for Korean Chefs" or something like that.

    And its ironic if you expected them to underpoof and they overpoofed. I think.

  3. Thanksgiving is out?

  4. The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart is a great book, all books by Reinhart are good. It's baking for real. And poolish is something I love, it seems like you don't have to knead it for nearly as long.