Monday, March 29, 2010

Catie: I am The Kitchen MASTER.

Orrr... actually not.

Since my oatmeal cookies failed miserably.

Tip: Oatmeal cookies taste better with butter inside of them, as opposed to, you know, sitting on the counter..

My banana bread is on the verge of terrible failure as well.  It said to put it in a large loaf pan, but I knew better.  I shouldn't have listened.

There's a lot you can bake in a toaster oven without adapting.  A lot.  The only exception I know of is bread.  I guess I didn't expect quick bread to rise very much, but it did, and now it's but centimeters from the top element and although the top is VERY dark, the bottom isn't cooked.


Such good intentions.

Still, I had a few successes prior to the failures.  I made a triple batch of granola, which equals kind of a lot of granola and definitely a lot of work.  With a toaster oven instead of the real thing, it's a little more like making 6-8 batches of granola.  Granola is annoying, period, though, which is why I made so much.  I just hate being tied to the kitchen, stirring it every three minutes.

Still, it is worth it.  It's delicious and I've missed having it around.

I also made granola bars with dried cranberries, walnuts and pecans and some mini chocolate chips.   They aren't like store bought granola bars.  Maybe they're more like oatmeal cookies in bar form.  So, I guess it's just as well that my oatmeal cookies didn't turn out.  The granola bars are delicious.  And, so we won't feel compelled to eat every single one of them by tomorrow, they're in the freezer.

I also have my yogurt incubating, by now a regular Monday happening.  I can't believe we go through what must be a half gallon of yogurt a week, but we do, using it for buttermilk in recipes, and as sour cream in recipes and on other things like tacos.  It's cheaper than sour cream (8.00US for a tub) and tastes nearly identical, though it is a little runnier.  I make it with cream, though, so it doesn't have the thin flavor of regular nonfat yogurt.

On the stove, I have my second batch of chicken stock going and it turns out (duh) that it's a whole lot easier to pick a chicken if you just let it cook long enough.  Then it practically falls apart for you and it doesn't take an hour.

It's still disgusting, especially when I have to de-neck them (I don't for stock, but I do for roasting), but I'm getting used to it.

The difference between chicken broth and chicken stock, I found out today, is bones.  Stock has bones and broth doesn't.  I didn't know there was a difference, but I made stock.  I've boiled two whole chickens, as well as a couple carcasses leftover from roasting.  Also, I heard the tip somewhere that you should save all the ends and weird pieces from your celery, onions and carrots, and boil them for stock.  I have been over the past little while and it's so nice not to have to throw a real, live carrot, onion and celery in there.  It always felt like such a waste of a delicious carrot.  That, combined with saving the carcasses, makes homemade stock almost free!

And, the longer we're poor, the more I learn the value of FREE.

Especially when it comes to food since I like food.

Also on the stove, is some enchilada sauce for chicken enchiladas tonight.  It's a little more like.. chili or something, without the dried ancho chiles, but.. we do what we can.  We'll see how it turns out.

Speaking of enchiladas for dinner, I should go and actually make them.

Look who's coming to visit in two weeks!

I'm pretty much excited.

Hopefully we'll find interesting enough things to do...  The more I think about life here, the more I realize that chicken stock and granola are pretty much it.


It makes me happy.  I'll have to think of something more than that for people visiting though.

- catie

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Catie: Let's pay a visit to the Statue of Limitations.

Our latest interest has been the Myers-Briggs test.

Actually, the fake Myers-Briggs test since... we aren't willing to pay $30.00 just to have a computer define us with four letters.


I'm sure pretty much everyone I know has already taken it.  I'd taken it before, too, but I couldn't remember my letters.  It's kind of funny to read an in depth description of each personality type because it's a little uncanny.

Anyway, we took our free test here: There are probably better ones, but this one worked pretty well.

For a more in depth description of each type, we went here:

In case you've never taken it, there are four categories: Introverted/Extroverted, iNtuitive/Sensing, Thinking/Feeling, Judgding/Perceiving.  That breaks down to I/E, N/S, T/F, J/P.

In every category, you're rated higher in one or the other based on how you answer the questions and that gives you your letters.

Ben is an ISTJ: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging.  And, apparently, according to our picture there, is "doing what should be done".  He'd be pleased to hear that.. let's NOT tell him. ;)

I'm an ISFP: Introverted (we're an outgoing pair, aren't we..), Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving.  Yes, apparently I see a lot of stuff, but I never share.  I don't know what that means.  Except that maybe I don't like to share... but I don't think that's true.  Until Ben tries to eat my chocolate.


Anyway, we think everybody should take the test and post their letters in the comments because we want to know them!  If you know them without taking the test, that's fine, but tell us your letters!  We're interested.  We've even been taking the tests FOR some of you and we've got you all figured out... That's right.

You can read our "portraits" here:


Catie: ISFP

Tell us your letters!   Do you realize how long we've been here?  We probably don't even remember what any of you are LIKE.

We need the reminder so we'll recognize you when we get home.  Otherwise, we'll see you at the airport and be like, "You LOOK like my mom, but my mom is Feeling, not Thinking and she's MUCH more Extroverted..."

And you wouldn't want that.

- catie

Friday, March 19, 2010

Catie: Lemon Cream Cupcakes

I know nobody likes my cooking anymore, but it is still delicious.  So there.

[caption id="attachment_511" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="yum?"][/caption]

While I did sub maple syrup (in the cake) and honey (in the frosting) for the sugar and whole wheat flour for white, these were seriously amazing.  It was a real recipe to start, so you could just make the real thing: Lemon Cream Cupcakes.  Like normal people. Unfortunately, we're just not that boring. :p

In the interest of AWESOME, I tried The Pioneer Woman's (speaking of awesome... check her out: The Best Frosting I've Ever Had instead of the frosting in the recipe and The Best Frosting sounds weird because it has flour in it, but it is NOT weird.  You should believe me, 1.) because it is the pioneer woman and she does not lie about food, not ever, and 2.) because I LIKE good frosting (not store bought) maybe better than anything in the world and apparently better than my teeth since I keep eating it...

I picked this frosting at first because I thought I could substitute honey for the sugar, which I did, and it turned out so much better than I expected.  I kept hearing that it had the texture of whipped cream, but I disagree.  I think it has the texture of really, really good buttercream like the light, airy kind I make out of my cupcake cookbook that's, like, 1/2 butter and 1/2 whipping cream.  For the lemony-ness, I added about a tablespoon or so of lemon juice (would've added more but I was pushing it with the liquid additions..) and about 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and it is SO killer.

I like cupcakes.  I make cupcakes.  I EAT cupcakes.  I do not lie about cupcakes.

[caption id="attachment_512" align="alignright" width="225" caption="I like lemon..."][/caption]

I asked Ben if he'd eat them before I made them (not so lemony, that one..) and he said he would, but I did not expect him to be quite so enthusiastic once they were done.  Between last night and breakfast this morning, he's had 5.

It should mean something that I used whole wheat flour and they're STILL all light and airy and yummy.  And the frosting is all light and airy and yummy and I expected it to taste like whole wheat, but it doesn't.  Although, being my crazy self, I soaked both recipes about 12 hours before making them.  It helps to soften the edge of that "whole wheat" taste and also makes things bake up much lighter (extra baking powder helps as well..), in my opinion.

[caption id="attachment_513" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="cupcakes for breakfast! and somebody's tired of having a camera in his face... oopsy!"][/caption]

These are going in the repertoire.


- catie

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Catie: They're all copycats!

Well, now everyone in my family has a blog.  It's nice.  Now I don't have to talk to them to know they're still alive.  It really simplifies my life. :)

Julie Swallowtail: My mom, in Pennsylvania, rockin' out to snow and gravy boats.

Miss Mayah Says...: My sister, Sarah, and quotes from Mayah, the almost-four-year-old.

Just Something We Do: My sister, Mel, and her husband, Rob, livin' it up in Libya.  Or.. y'know, mostly traveling everywhere BUT Libya, but she's coming to visit to me, so I'm down with it.

Allendar's Magnificent Creations: Jeff and his amazing creations.  You might not understand any of it, but I think that just reinforces how super smart he is.  He speaks a whole 'nother LANGUAGE.  I never even knew...

Right now, I am embroidering without an embroidery hoop.  Not some of my best work as embroidery puckers without a hoop, but.. I'm making do.

Check out the suh-weet blogs.

- catie

Friday, March 12, 2010

Catie: Recipe - Fried Bananas and Whipped Cream with Cinnamon Mandarin Sauce - um, hello? Yum.

Okay, so we've cut back on sugar even more and I was doing fine with it until I decided to cut wheat out almost completely.  I kept reading that of all the grains in the world, wheat is probably the worst ever, so I decided to experiment.  I've now been off it for.. I don't know, maybe a week?  I didn't notice anything at all different, so yesterday I decided to eat a piece of toast -- whole wheat toast, one piece -- and about 1/2 an hour later I thought I was going to die a slow and awful death.  It was weird.  Sort of like the last time I ate ice cream after being off sugar for a couple weeks and it made my whole body itch like a plague of.. itching fire.  Anyway.  Gross.  Sorry.  Moving on.

So, cutting out wheat has made my sugar craving SKY ROCKET.  Your body basically ferments wheat into sugar as soon as it begins digesting.  I read somewhere it's such a quick transition that if you hold a piece of bread in your mouth for just a few seconds and let your saliva work on it, it will start to taste sweet.  So, obviously, it was giving me some sort of sugar.. thingie.  And, obviously, it wasn't a good.. thingie, judging by yesterday's breakfast.  Still, in the interest of staying sane, I HAVE to eat something that tastes sweet SOME of the time.

Thankfully, my standards for sweetness have gone down a lot (in that I don't require a whole hot fudge sundae to be able to breathe) and fruit usually works great (especially these mandarins... I am telling you, they are the fruit of the gods).  So, I went through my trusty new Nourishing Traditions cookbook and found this Fried Banana recipe.  I tweaked it a little to  leave out even more of the honey (Ben found some raw honey at the market -- amazingly -- so I would've used that, but I'm trying to save it for when Ben's allergies kick in later this spring, plus.. it just didn't need it), to make enough for just two of us, and because it called for creme fraiche (or piima cream), which we didn't have on hand.  It was still super yum.

If you like bananas.  And whipped cream:  You will like this.

Also, I know I'm all weird and creepy now (I creep myself out with all the "Real Food".. ness.), but whipped cream really isn't bad for you.  It's best raw, straight from the cow, and ultra-pasteurized is basically useless, but... the fat is really good for you.  It's natural fat, so it burns quickly, keeps you full a long time and is full of calcium your body can actually absorb.  Plus, it has butterfat, a rich source of vitamins A and D, two vitamins that are real hard to come by naturally in anything but egg yolks and butter, and the sun, but that's minimal.

So now you know.  You probably don't care, but I do, because it means I get to eat whipped cream.  So there.

Fried Bananas and Whipped Cream with Cinnamon Mandarin Sauce

2 very ripe bananas, large

2-3 T. butter

juice of two mandarin oranges

1/4 - 1/2 t. cinnamon

1/4 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped with vanilla and about a teaspoon of honey

Peel bananas and slice lengthwise (we sliced widthwise because I didn't read the directions).  Saute in butter and transfer to a pyrex dish (or.. glass the case may be).  In a small bowl, mix mandarin juice and cinnamon.  Pour over bananas and bake at 300F for about 15 minutes (we baked it about 20, just.. know your oven).  Serve in bowls with a dollop of whipped cream.

I wish I had pictures, but I didn't think of it until... we'd eaten all of it.

It's a little rich, so keep that in mind.  I shouldn't have eaten a full bananas worth, it made me a little ill.

Ill in a good way.  You know.

- catie

Catie: Things I would make if we were rich...

I took for granted all the fabric and craft stores of America.  I still don't know how I feel about giant chain stores coming in and killing off the little guys, but right about now, I would kill for a Michael's or a JoAnn's with their miles of buttons and bias tape and fabric for less than $10.00 a fat quarter.  The warm weather makes me really want to sew, but the problems of not having a sewing machine or actual lengths of fabric to work with leave me a little stranded.  Usually, I'd go buy a sheet if I really couldn't afford a bunch of fabric and I wanted some (thrift store sheets make dresses for $2.00), but Korea doesn't make sheets.

Haha.  I'm at a loss.  And while it can be infinitely frustrating, yarn has proven easy to come by.  And that's just amazing.  It seems like every time I round a corner there's a yarn shop (okay, not really, but I'm being positive).  I've found four so far, plus E-mart, which has a little.  The fourth one I found at the big, fat traditional market last weekend when we went down there in search of buttons.  No buttons were found, but we did find a bazillion bolts of silk and other shiny, traditional Korean wedding dress (Hanbok) fabrics.  I hold out hope that somewhere in the literal maze of shops I might find some affordable fabric someday.  Someday.  When we're rich.

Anyway, today I went looking for an orange extract recipe and, somehow, stumbled upon a million Martha Stewart sewing patterns.  Some of them were not so cute, but some of them make me all bubbly inside and now I'm conniving ways to get around our financial barriers and utilize our dollar stores....

Until then, these are on my list of things to make, either when we're rich, or once I devise a most brilliant plan:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption=""Sleeper of a Bag""][/caption]

This super cute bag is made out of one pillowcase and I want it.  I'd want to make it out of two, so it would have a lining and not be too thin, but......... Korea doesn't have pillowcases, only pillow shams... so.  Maybe next life.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption=""Doily Tablecloth""][/caption]

I think this is cute.  Plus, it looks easy and quickly gratifying. At the Dollar Place, they have a bunch of doilies for cheap, so this one might actually be doable.  We'll see.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption=""Bandana Tablecloth""][/caption]

Bandanas: distinctly American.  This one looks cute and summery and also very easily gratifying.  I'm really into things that are easy and gratifying.. maybe because I've been knitting all winter.  While not difficult, it does take concentration and it is painfully slow sometimes.  Still, I did pick the Tea Leaves Cardigan (see last post) for my gold yarn and the yoke is coming along nicely.  So, no actual complaints.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption=""Homemade Duvet Cover""][/caption]

I made a duvet cover in high school and it was cute, but I could make a cuter one now and since we have these two, big white fake-down comforters that keep getting dirty, I want to make one even more.  I've been working on it in my head for a long time, but so far: nothing.  Why does Korea sell big, white fluffy fake-down comforters with no duvet covers?  There are a lot of answers I can't give you.  Basically, America is the land of way too much.  You can find anything in the entire world you want in America in almost any city, big or small.  Shipping is usually not very expensive if whatever-it-is has to be ordered.  Other countries don't live that way, it turns out.  They make do with what they have.  It's entirely frustrating, but.. not unreasonable.  In a way, I guess it forces more creativity.  Seriously, you should see some of the little carriers people have rigged up to their bicycles and scooters.  Nothing short of creative genius.  On the whole, I'd say our land of plenty makes us a lot less creative and a lot more color-inside-the-lines boo-riing.  Now just so long as Ben doesn't remind me I wrote this the next time I complain that Korea has nothing I want...

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption=""Slipcovered Headboard""][/caption]

I just think this is cute.  Mostly because I like things that I can change on a whim, like Swatches.  If you made enough, it could be like a headboard Swatch.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Button-Up Window Shade"][/caption]

I want this.  And I want this now.  Where, God, does Korea keep it's buttons and it's cotton fabric?

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Handmade Dolls"][/caption]

I like dolls.  I think they're cute.  Especially when you get to make them yourself.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption=""Bias Toward the Pretty""][/caption]

Bias tape just makes things look nice, doesn't it?

And, lastly...

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption=""Removable Tote Organizer""][/caption]

This is clever.  And I like it.  I don't have a tote... but if I were rich, I'd make one, just so I could make this to put inside it.

There are just about a hundred things that could be on this list, but these are the ones I'm lusting after today.  By next week, I'll probably have a whole new bunch.

I'm going to post a yummy fried banana recipe next, so... you should read that, too.

- catie

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Catie: Good Kimchi!

Well, the Kimchi turned out AWESOME.  Actually.

I kept saying I thought it would be bad, bad, bad, but it's totally not.  Maybe a teensy bit too sweet (though that should decrease over time, even in the fridge) and I think I'll use soy sauce instead of Yoshida's next time, but it is good.  Like seriously good.  Way better than even our favorite Korean BBQ place across the street and I've always liked theirs pretty well.

But maybe I Americanized it somehow so it appeals to my palate a little more.

[caption id="attachment_485" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="yummy."][/caption]

I am eating some right now, just plain because.. I don't have anything else to eat it with.  I had it with eggs and bacon for a weird dinner (because I put the chicken in the crockpot too late to actual EAT it for dinner...) and that was good, too.

Kimchi's the best with meat, though.  Especially if a meal sits really heavy, I've noticed.  If I eat some kimchi, it just digests a lot better.  Plus it's all, y'know, good for you and stuff. Amazingly good, actually, and the more I read about it, the more I find that foreigners here fall in love with it if they just give it a decent chance.  It's a little strange the first couple times and the smell is intense, but it tastes a ton better than it smells and you won't believe how many points it'll earn you with the Korean population at large, all of whom eat kimchi at every single meal including breakfast.

My sourdough starter came to a miserable demise (perhaps due its being left too near the kimchi?).  It got all watery and smelled just terrible.  I was pretty excited about bread for a while, but now after several irritating failures, I think I'm ready to just wait until I can either get someone to hold my hand throughout, or until it's worth it for me to buy a bread machine.  Right now, it's just not.  Besides, all I've read about bread makes me think we may be better off without it.

In other news, I've taught myself to haphazardly read crochet patterns.  It is NOT as easy as reading knitting patterns... probably just because I know what most knitting pattern abbreviations mean, and usually there's a key at the bottom for odd ones in case you forget, but that doesn't always seem to be the case with crochet patterns.  I end up googling abbreviation after abbreviation and, in the end, I make up my own dumb pattern because I just can't figure out what they're talking about.

Still, though, I got a cute little market bag out of it:

It's a bit skinny and stretches long, so it's kind of funny, but it works really well.  I'm making another that's wider and it will be shorter, too.

I got my gold yarn in today, finally, from New Hampshire.  I ordered it back at the very beginning of January, but it was on back order and things ship slow to Korea where everything has to be opened once it arrives and is usually stuck in customs for several days.

It's really nice and I'm happy with the color (a few other ones looked very different on the website and, thankfully, Ben liked them, but I thought they were a little blarghy).

[caption id="attachment_488" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="delightful, golden Cascade 220"][/caption]

With it, I think I will be making the Garter Yoke Cardigan or.... maybe the Tea Leaves Cardigan.  Not sure yet.  I really like the Tea Leaves one.

Lastly, I got this book in the mail:

[caption id="attachment_489" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon"][/caption]

And it's my new super-fave.  It's more a cookbook than anything with all sorts of crazy recipes for things like beet kvass, fermented berry preserves, baby formula (......?), potato cheese, fermented ketchup and mustard, and a whole section on organ meats with recipes for kidneys, liver and hearts.  Ooh.. and brains in wine sauce.  Maybe someday...........  It also has a totally lame recipe for kimchi (1/2 teaspoon red pepper instead of 1/2 CUP), but I am willing to overlook that because of the fermented root beer and sweet potato soda (?) recipes.

I'm pretty excited.

Anyway, I need to go do something with this yarn because.. it looks lonely.

- catie

Friday, March 5, 2010

Catie: On Making Kimchi

We're still not going to be sure how this will turn out until around Monday -- I, for one, am afraid it will be too salty -- but, the process works, even if it does turn out too salty.

And I know it works because, well.. you know, people have being doing it here for hundreds and hundreds of years.

[caption id="attachment_467" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="the ingredients"][/caption]


First, you have to get all your ingredients together.

- Napa Cabbage (Napa is best, but any kind will work, I think)
- green onions or scallions
- peeled garlic cloves
- raw ginger
- other vegetables: daikon radish is traditional, I hear greens are real good, I like carrots and cucumber and I think broccoli would be good and maybe beets
- a small apple
- sea salt (iodide in salt can make your ferments turn BLACK, plus sea salt is better for you and it tastes better and sticks better to your food)
- Korean red pepper flakes or some sort of alternative like Thai chile paste
- fish sauce, anchovy sauce or soy sauce, although I used Yoshida's BBQ sauce (which is not actually BBQ sauce) because it was what we had on hand
- 1-2 t. honey

This won't make you the most traditional kimchi in the world, but it will make you good kimchi (or so I hear), and I believe it. The ingredients look right and all of them were found in or around the Kimchi-making section of the grocery store.

I didn't do a lot of measuring, I just kind of made it up (another reason it might be too salty...), like I, y'know.. do, and so you may want to actually measure things.  If you do, Kimchi recipes abound online, or I will actually measure what I put in the next time (once I know if this time is a flop) and post that here.

Also, you can make White Kimchi, which leaves the red pepper out.

Since coming here, I've grown quite a fan of the red pepper in things (in a moderate sense.. a moderate sense which is never really applied to Korean cuisine, so I'm not sure how this happened), so I put it in, but it can be a little spicy, so keep that in mind.

First, you want to take the top leaves off your cabbage.  I got only half of one at the grocery store for two reason: 1.) I was unsure as to my skill in fermentation and, 2.) it was cheaper.  So, I took off the toppest two leaves anyway, because you need them for later.  Wash them and set them aside.

Now, chop your cabbage up.

[caption id="attachment_468" align="alignright" width="300" caption="my cabbage half"][/caption]

Or.. that is, first cut out the big stem thing, and cut out more than I did, because I ended up having to pick out big chunks of thick stem later on.  The thick bits are favorited by some people, but not by me.  I like the curly, tender bits.

[caption id="attachment_469" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="chopped and rinsed"][/caption]

Now, you want to chop it to bits.  Traditionally, it's not chopped nearly as fine as I did.  Maybe... in 3"x3" pieces, but I want to be able to use it more as a relish on meats and things, plus.. I like my Kimchi a whole lot more when I don't have to shove a HUGE piece in my mouth all at once.  The beauty of Kimchi is the absolutely overwhelming flavor and who can focus on the overwhelming flavor when they're simply focusing on the fire that has been ignited in their mouth by thousand bits of red pepper on a giant leaf of cabbage?

Tiny bits are nicer.

Then, you want to rinse them and salt them.  Some recipes will say to soak the leaves in salt water, but I liked this approach better.

Put the rinsed bits into a colander (or a sieve like I have there), salting them as you go, and then..

[caption id="attachment_475" align="alignright" width="300" caption="water weights"][/caption]

weight them down with ziplocs full of water.

What would have been ideal is to have had a gallon ziploc on hand, but I didn't, so these two quart sizes worked.

I laid my outer cabbage leaves, the whole ones, on top of my chopped cabbage leaves and salted them, too, before adding the weight.  Then, in the interest of curiosity, put the sieve over a bowl so you can see how much water comes out of the leaves.

Leave them to drain for two hours.

In the meantime, though, you can..

[caption id="attachment_476" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="green onions and carrots"][/caption]

Chop your onions and grate/chop your carrots.  I chose grating.  It was easy.  Plus, that tiny bit at the end that will murder your fingers if you keep trying to grate it: you get to eat it.  And carrots here taste a little bit like sweet chunks of candy, so I ate it.

Also, use less than half of what I did here.  Not a whole, giant carrot, and not a whole bunch of green onions.

After that, you can peel and chop your ginger, garlic and your apple.

[caption id="attachment_477" align="alignright" width="300" caption="everybody peeled and ready to chop"][/caption]

You will, again, want to use less than half of what I did here.  Half an apple, two garlic cloves and a one inch finger of ginger.

Eat the other half of your apple.  If it's like mine, it is delicious and, like the carrot, a little bit like candy.

Then chop them up, but you don't have to go really fine, because next you stick all three of them in the blender and whiz them until they're all pulpy.

The apple is in place of white sugar and gives the excited stuff something to eat while it's getting all fizzy.

[caption id="attachment_479" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="cucumber, green onions, carrots and apple-ginger-garlic pulp"][/caption]

That scrambled egg stuff is what it'll look like.

Scrambled eggs, I guess, basically.

Don't taste it, though.  It won't taste like scrambled eggs.

Don't forget to chop up all your other vegetables, too.  I almost forgot my cucumber and threw it in last.

Mix all the vegetables but the cabbage up and put them to drain, too, while the cabbage finishes.  They won't drain much, but unless you want your Kimchi to be swimming in red water, some drainage will be nice.

Once the cabbage is drained, you want to rinse it.  Really, really well.  Better than I rinsed mine.  Good enough to get off a lot of salt since there's probably a lot on there and, as I said before, sea salt sticks real well to everything including your friends and relations.

And your cabbage.

Then mix all your drained vegetables together in a big bowl with (approximated from what I used.. which is to say.. somewhat less of each than I used):

1/4 c. red pepper (I actually did use this much and while you should definitely use less if you don't like spice, this is probably pretty accurate as far as tradition)
1/8 c. sauce (fish, anchovy or soy)
1-2 t. honey (more for the happies to feed on)

And don't use your hands because red pepper is hot and your hands get into your eyes and nose and unless you wash them really well that can HURT.

Not that I'm saying you don't wash your hands well, just... you know. In case you didn't. For some reason.

Also, the red pepper can stain your hands, or so I hear.

After all the mixing, you can transfer your glop into a clean, glass jar (plastic is pretty likely to leach, especially with the high acid content you'll have going).  You will want to make sure, if you either making more than me or using a smaller jar than me, that you leave some head room.  I just had a really big jar, so I didn't need to worry about head room, but I'd leave about 1 inch, maybe?

[caption id="attachment_481" align="alignright" width="225" caption="pressing out the oxygen"][/caption]

And now you can start pressing out the oxygen.

You want to get as much oxygen out as possible because it can have all kinds of weird stuff in it and weird stuff can cause the BAD happies (happies = bacteria) to grow and that will just end badly.

If you jar is clear like mine, you'll be able to see the bubbles coming up to the surface.

Don't be afraid of smooshing your vegetables.  They're resilient.  Plus, Kimchi is supposed to be wet and kind of mashy.

That being said, don't KILL them either.

I used the pestle from my mortar pestle to do it.  It worked real well.

Once you are satisfied that most of the air is out, you bring your whole cabbage leaves back into the picture.

Part of the successful fermentation process is to keep your ferments under the liquid they're in.  This can be real tricky when it comes to things like green beans.  While this isn't always an issue, it's my first time fermenting vegetables, so I am feeling cautious.

Break your whole leaves up to fit in the jar and press them down on top of the rest of your vegetables.  This will keep them covered, away from the outside air, and, hopefully, keep them under the little bit of liquid.

Now.. as far as what sort of jar you should use.  Koreans often use the traditional Kimchi jar, a big clay pot of a thing.  Dark brown, with a lid.  The kind of thing they still keep outside, and the thing those in the country still bury in their backyard in winter.  I, however, am using the more modern Kimchi jar, found at LotteMart.  It's got an airlock thing on it so that the gases made by the fermentation process can escape.

If you don't have a Kimchi jar (and chances are you don't..), you should be careful not to screw your lid on too tight.  This will allow the gases to escape without exploding your jar.

Now, put your jar in a nice, room temperature place and leave it for three days.

Do not be afraid.

That is what everybody says.

In the West, we have this fear of things going unrefrigerated for any length of time.  "Keep hot things hot and cold things cold", etc...  but people have been doing this for a long time, so it is SUPPOSED to work.

That means if you can't make it work, you are obviously less of a person.

Or.. it means... you used too much salt.  Like me.  Or something.  else.

[caption id="attachment_482" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="my waiting kimchi"][/caption]

Here is my finished jar.

I hope it's good, but I have low expectations...

Today I killed my SECOND batch of yogurt in a row.  Actually, my third, if you count the last funky batch that we ended up throwing half of out.

This is not because yogurt is scary, though, mind you.. it is because A.) I used bad milk once and, B.) I forgot about my yogurt.  Twice.

Yogurt is still easy, you just.. have to watch it.  And not use bad milk.

Anyway, I am also hip deep in sourdough starter lately, too!  It's pretty exciting because it's all bubbly and sour-smelling and I get to feed it every day.

Though, I just realized it's right next to my Kimchi and there's a school of thought that says ferments can cross breed and get all wacky, so I'm going to go move it now.

It's probably fine, but still.

Tonight, for dinner, we are having Kung Pao Chicken (we have a favorite place here that makes it, but it's far away, probably made with scary ingredients, and.. cheaper to make at home) and fried rice.

Because we've started soaking our grains, I've started meal planning.  At first, I thought it was totally dorky, but the more I do it, the more it is AWESOME.

1. I actually end up making food 5 nights a week because I don't have to worry about what to make, I just look at my list.

2. I only have to go grocery shopping once a week.

3. I use up everything perishable we have because I can plan around the foods that will be going bad soon.

4. Soaking our grains isn't as daunting because I know when to start them.

5. It keeps me on a waaay better (and cheaper) budget than before.  We're now spending about 4,000W a day on food, where before it was 10,000-11,000W.  That means we're eating dinner for, like, 2,000W per person, per night.  Plus leftovers for Ben's lunches.  That is kind of awesome.

Anyway, my starter needs moving and I need to wash the dishes.

So long!

- catie

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Catie: Coming Soon... a-- computer? near you.

[caption id="attachment_464" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="my kimchi"][/caption]

I made kimchi!

And, while I'm fairly certain most of you are grossed out by the idea of eating vinegared, left-out-on-the-fridge-top-for-three-days vegetables, the process is interesting.  So, I took some pictures and, soon, you too can make left-out-for-three-days cabbage.

It's really good.

See that?  How could that not be good? least, I hope mine is good.  The jury's out until Monday.

I'll let you know.

- catie