Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Catie: Yesterday, I...

1. Made more granola - this time three times as much.

2. Made my own breadcrumbs - we're sticking with whole grains (as far as anything is whole grain in Korea) and cutting out weird ingredients we can't pronounce, which means I can't just crunch up Zecs (like Ritz crackers, only Zecs) anymore when I need breadcrumbs.

3. Made my own peanut butter - we've switched to no refined sugar, and no high fructose corn syrup, and since there's no Adam's peanut butter to be seen for miles, I've made my own.  Unsweetened, with heavily salted peanuts we got from Costco and washed, then dried (a long process).  It tastes a lot different and I think I may have put in too much oil, but it's real good on toast with a little bit of honey.

I am currently roasting a chicken in the crock pot with carrots, potatoes and onions, having just learned how to de-neck the fair creature and having saved the neck for bone broth (the best kind of broth you can make -- or so I am told).

We feel so good on this freaking food thing.

And have I mentioned I've lost 10 pounds?  Because of the kilograms to pounds thing, I thought I'd only lost 2, so it was never worth mentioning, but after talking to Ben about it last night, it turns out it really IS worth mentioning.

And so I am.

Also, the food we're eating now: way more consistently delicious and amazing than anything ever before on the face of the earth.

Also, natural saturated fats are good for you.

Look it up.

- catie

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ben: I has made socks!

I have now successfully knitted three (3!) pairs of socks! Each pair with less and less need to ask for help from Catie every third stitch (which I know she is grateful for). On my last pair I even turned the heel and and bound them off all by my very own self. I still can't figure out how to cast them on yet, but thankfully I married talented knitter extraordinaire. Umm, I can't really think of anything else to say. I'm sure if I was Catie I could tell you all sorts of detailed business about the knitting process, but I'm out of things to say. So... pictures!

[caption id="attachment_438" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Set (3) Socks!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_446" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="These were the first pair that I knit, and required lots of help from Catie. As in "Ah! I ruined them! Help!""][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_447" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Pair number 2. Charcoal is really hard to knit with, but thankfully it also masks all of my mistakes."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_448" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Okay, so when I said I had finished three pairs that was a little bit of a lie. I've finished this sock and have turned the heel on its mate, but haven't quite got it all done yet. Still I'm more than halfway there, so I just made a slight rounding error!"]Okay, so when I said I had finished three pairs that was a little bit of a lie. I've finished this sock and have turned the heel on its mate, but haven't quite got it all done yet. Still I'm more than halfway there, so I just made a slight rounding error![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_449" align="alignright" width="300" caption="It fits! Nothing beats knitting a sock and than having it fit perfectly when you try it on."][/caption]

Friday, February 19, 2010

Catie: A Second Fridge

We've had a lot of interesting difficulties figuring out how to store all the food we eat at home.

Costco is a problem for us.  It is great because we can get so many of the things we need like cheese and butter and these organic frozen vegetables we found there last time.  But it's Costco.  And everything comes in bulk.

Still, we can't get this stuff anywhere else.

So, we buy it.  And then we just try to shove it in the freezer and fridge.  Which...... works.  But is a little haphazard.  Not to mention scary times whenever you open the fridge or freezer.  Especially the freezer since bricks-o-chicken seem to fly out unexpectedly.

I was contemplating canning a few things.  They sell canning jars by the piece here and you can just water bath can them in a pot with a towel.  Or so the jar instructions say.  But the jars are expensive (3-7 bucks a piece) and canning takes more time than freezing, plus it's not as good for things like vegetables as freezing is.  And fermenting.  Apparently, fermenting is the best ever.

Sorry, nutritionist again.

Anyway, a few days ago, we were discussing the freezer/fridge dilemma and Ben went online, looking up whether or not anyone in Korea sells freezers.

They don't.

Kimchi fridges, yes.

Freezers, no.

BUT... he did find us a whole 'nother fridge/freezer combo!

Go, Benny.

And it arrived today.

It rocks.  First, it's WAY nicer than our other fridge.  It has SHELVES.  That aren't broken!  And the guy who sold it to us (for pretty dirt cheap) cleaned it out really, really well.

And second-- actually, I don't think there's a second.  But the first is pretty great.

We also got another mattress for when Ben's family comes to visit.  And a vacuum!!

I am very excited about the vacuum.

Now we are going to Costco to get frozen blueberries (so yummy in homemade yogurt and now we have a place to put them!) and a big shelf for the second bedroom, where food storage is finally going to start happening.

Man... it turns out eating at home is hard.

But it's also pretty delicious.

- catie

Catie: I like food.

I don't know if I've ever liked yogurt as much as I do since making it myself.

[caption id="attachment_418" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="homemade yogurt and granola"][/caption]

Yes, I made my own yogurt!

I know, right?  I was super excited, too.  It even got all creamy and thick and culturey.  And all I had to do was heat it up then stir in some store bought yogurt.

Okay, I'm starting to sound like an infomercial, but seriously.  I kind of am an infomercial when it comes to yogurt right now.

Korea has The Most Yogurt of Life.  And it's all a little scary.  From yogurt cups to yogurt drinks to yogurt milk?  Isn't that just yogurt?  For a few things, I was buying, "plain" Activia (sweetened with fructose.. plain?), but the healthier we get at home, the more I'm cutting out creepy processed foods and sweeteners and I've been reading about all these people making their own yogurt.

It is EASY.

Seriously.  Like, SO easy.

This isn't like when I make something and Ben says, "Yeah, it was easy for you."  Not like that kind of easy.  Like actually easy, I guess.

Here is what I did:

[caption id="attachment_419" align="alignright" width="180" caption="I added cranberries afterward because they are YUM."][/caption]

1. Put 1/2 gallon milk (any fat content works -- even nonfat) in crock pot.

2. Turn Crock Pot to Low and put lid on.

3. Leave, with lid on, for 2 1/2 hours to warm.

4. Turn Crock Pot off and unplug.  Put 2 cups of the warm milk into a bowl and add 1/2 cup Activia (2 little yogurt cups) to the bowl.  Stir and the put all this back into the Crock Pot and stir that.  Put lid back on Crock Pot.

5. Move Crock Pot to warm-ish, out of the way area and wrap entire Crock Pot in two big bath towels with one dish towel folded on top to cover the lid.

6. Leave for 8-12 hours.  I left mine 8.  I was too excited to leave it longer.

7. Now it's yogurt!  Store in fridge, in airtight containers.

I know it's seven steps, but two of them are all about doing nothing and letting the Crock Pot just sit there, so, really, that means it's only five steps.

[caption id="attachment_429" align="alignleft" width="203" caption="This is my giant Costco jam jar full of yogurt that I made on Wednesday. It's now Friday and at least half the yogurt in the jar (plus everything that wouldn't fit into the jar) is gone. Which is primarily because I ate it... Ben is not so excited about it. And I've just been craving yogurt, what else is there to say?"][/caption]

Advantages to making one's own yogurt:

1. It is actually PLAIN yogurt!  No sweeteners, no thickeners, no additives.  I know what is in it (and pretty soon, after using my own yogurt as my next starter, I will get all the Activia starter diluted out of there) and it is just milk and cultures.

2. It is fresh.  The cultures contained in yogurt rock for your body (and I know this because I am smart and I read now.  It is a newly acquired skill), but most yogurts either don't contain any active cultures, or they did contain active cultures and now they're dead/weak and lame because they've been on the shelf too long.

3.  It is, like, SO good for you, okay?  The cultures help you digest other dairy rich foods, like milk, with lots of lactose because that's what they're doing in the yogurt.  That's what makes it taste sour.  The cultures are eating all the lactose.  Then, you put them in your stomach and they eat all the other lactose.  And other stuff.  They're awesome for digestion and, let me tell you, my yogurt may have started from Activia, but it works way better.

4. You have ALL the control.  I like this in.. well, everything really.  It's my mom's fault (sorry, mom! <3 that's supposed to be a heart...... for love. you know?) .  Anyway, since you can control how long you leave the yogurt to incubate (that's the towel-wrapping-leaving-it-to-sit part), you get to control how much lactose ends up in the end product.  So, if you leave it for 8, like I did, you still have quite a bit of lactose (milk sugar), but the yogurt is really mild (not very tangy at all), so I just don't put any sweetener in it, only my homemade granola.  But if you leave it for 24 hours, all the lactose should be gone, you'll have a really tart yogurt, and you can sweeten it with honey.  Which is also yum.  And good for the lactose intolerant.

5. Yogurt cheese.  I have just discovered yogurt cheese and it is my new best friend.  A lot like Greek yogurt in

[caption id="attachment_430" align="alignright" width="158" caption="See my cute little jar-o-starter for next time? Right next to the cute, brown eggs from our lady at the traditional market."][/caption]

consistency (real thick), yogurt cheese is awesome to use in place of cream cheese on bagels and toast because it has more redeeming value than cream cheese what with it's active cultures and lack of creepy additives, but it has a lot of the flavor of cream cheese.  And all you have to do to make it is put the yogurt in a piece of cheesecloth in a strainer, over a bowl, and drain out all the whey, so it gets all thick and yummish.

I know I sounds like a nutritionist now.  It's annoying.  But I was homeschooled.  You can totally blame it on that.

In other news, as pictured above IN the homemade yogurt, I made my own granola, too!  It is also good and has the same value as yogurt as far as no processed foods and additives go.  I know what went in it and that makes me feel better about eating it.

I think that's one thing that's hard about living here.  Not being able to read the ingredient labels and knowing that Koreans have a different standard for what's okay to eat.  Obviously, it works for them.  They have the least obesity overall of any first world country.  But I don't necessarily want MSG or sodiumdioxihydratedphosorosates or... things.  Like that.

We've been making a lot of food at home.

Can you tell?

The granola has:

Rolled Oats

Sunflower Seeds







I got it a little browner than it should probably be, but it still tastes fine.  I just won't be sharing it with the neighbors, who seems a little adverse to my offerings thus far anyhow.  I tried to give them banana muffins.

I think it was a no-go.

But I drank the Red Ginseng Tonic that makes me positively gag, so.. we're even.

In the realm of knitting, we have:

[caption id="attachment_420" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Ben's clogs. He says they are cozy and warm. Unfortunately, the wool also picks up all the lint on the floor. Or, perhaps, fortunately. He can be my dustmop."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_421" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="The foxy I knit. In very bad light. I've had issues with light that are irritating. Sorry it's so hard to see. I finally gave up."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_424" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The elephant."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_425" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="And the octopus. With two red tentacles since I ran out of blue... haha."][/caption]

Anyway, I think that is all for now.

Soon, I think I will make some crackers because we haven't been able to find any decent crackers here and we would eat a lot more of them if they were available.  I know crackers are time consuming as well as a pain to make, but I'm hoping they might be worth it for us.

Oh!  And once we get a blender (maybe not until next month -- I keep putting it off), we will also make our own peanut butter.  It is easy.  Or so we hear.

More later.

And hopefully more often.

But don't expect the sounding-like-a-nutritionist to wear off.  Poor Ben...  He's a trooper.

- catie

Catie: I guess you could say it's been a while.

But can I just note that I have been very busy.

Number 1.) Knitting.

Number 2.) Cooking some stuff.

Number 3.) Failing at all baking endeavors.

Number 4.) Knitting more things I want to have.

Number 5.) Organizing the kitchen, living room and bedroom intermittently.

Number 6.) Cleaning out and setting up the spare room to become a makeshift pantry. (All right, I haven't exactly done this yet, but soon I will be very busy doing it, so it is my excuse for next time.)

See how busy I have been?

Answer: So very.

Yes, you are right.

Things I have knit:

1. a pair of slipper clogs for The Benjamin.

2. a pair of socks for me.

3. ...half of another pair of socks.  also for me.

4. still MORE on my red, cabled cowl scarf and no, it is not done yet, believe me, I will be the first to tell you when that bane of my very existence is finally DONE.

5. half a pair of one slipper clog for me.  I got bored.  yes, yes, I got bored.  probably because, for this pair, I didn't have a husband waiting for slippers.

6. a red and blue elephant.

7. a red and blue octopus.

8. a happy little fox.

9: three weird looking balls.

10. a felted handle for a basket/makeshift drawer that contains kitchen utensils and lives under a riser on the kitchen table/makeshift counter top.

11. a little felted bag with a button hole that hangs on a hook near the sink and is filled with every rubber band in existence.  It's a cute bag and I needed those rubber bands off my counter.  I'd normally put them in a drawer, but Koreans don't like drawers, and we only have two, both housed in our wardrobe.  So, there is a ledge along the back of the kitchen sink, under the window, and I kept them there in a little box.  But they kept collecting odd food particles as well as always getting tangled up in the green robot man that I found under the fridge a few months ago who managed to make his way into the rubber band box.  Anyway, it was just TOO much.  So, I knit a wall-bag (and I coined the term "wall-bag").  Mostly in public, while out and about.  Korean women always think I'm knitting hats.  Always.  They point at my hands and they hit their heads saying all kinds of things in Korean and then, in Korean, I say "No, no." (since that is just about the extent of my second language skills) and then I say, "Bag.  Is bag." (like if I speak in broken English they'll be better able to understand) and I make the motion that seems to be Korean speak for "shopping bag", which means moving my hands from a cupping gesture, outward and up to sort of outline the bottom of a bag.  Then they look at me like I've just lost my mind because who makes shopping bags that small and.. then they give me a nod and pat their head one more time, saying the word for "hat".  Just making sure I'm really looney.  And I smile and they leave and anyway, now it's done.  So, they don't think I'm crazy for making tiny shopping bags, just for wearing birkenstocks in the winter and for leaving the house in a very light drizzle without an umbrella.

13. a calorimetry.  it turned out waaay big, but I wear it anyway.

14. I just-just finished my first pair of endpaper mitts yesterday.  it may possibly be true that I have been lusting after them in an unnaturally disturbing sort of way.  possibly.  but, now they are finished.

I think those are pretty much all my recent projects.  I am now working on a second pair of endpaper mitts (they were the funnest thing I've made in a long time), the half-done sock and NOT the bane of my existence.  Oh, and also my 1/4 finished clogs, which are cute colors.  red-orange and pale turquoise.

It is late now and the light is bad, so I do not have pictures for you, but I am planning on taking some of, you know, things.

We didn't cook much in December. It was busy and crazy and we just ended up eating out a lot.  To the complete detriment of our health.  But, through many fits of digestive illness, we have again begun to cook at home.  This time, I've been paying a lot more attention to our healthier American food options like whole wheat spaghetti and fresh frozen green beans instead of canned, etc...  Eating American in Korea can be difficult (although I'd venture to say we're quite adept at this point), but eating healthy American is even more difficult.  However, there is a lot of brown rice, some frozen alternatives to canned vegetables, yummy yogurts (waaay too many yogurts), soy products, awesome tofu and the best produce and eggs anywhere.  Now I just need to figure out which greens are what so we can make salads.  None of them make sense to me and all of them look like the weeds you pull out of your garden.  Some of them taste like them, too, and that is gross.

Today, we found some good frozen vegetables at Costco.  This is nice only because the combination includes broccoli and cauliflower, two vegetables we either can't find or refuse to eat (cauliflower = nowhere to be found, broccoli = tastes like the smell of new tires mixed with moldy navel oranges).  We eat lots of zucchini and I think I may have found beets the other day which could be interesting.  I've been craving a chocolate beet cake.

Anyway.  I have to go... you know, do something.  Like I usually do.

- catie