A Lil’ Puddin

Jason, for reasons I am still not completely sure of, had a can of coconut milk at work, which he brought home about two or three weeks ago. Ever since he did, I have been aching to use it in a recipe. Most of the recipes I found that call for coconut milk are curries, you know, really savory and delicious Thai and India food. But, I wanted to keep it sweet to really keep the coconut flavor.

I finally found this recipe and I was in business. Now, I did take pictures, but they didn’t come out nearly as well as I would have liked, so I am not including any this time. But, it came out REALLY good. The recipe actually calls for equal parts coconut milk and regular milk, but I didn’t have enough regular milk at the time, so I used the rest of the coconut milk. We also didn’t have lemons or limes, so I omitted that ingredient. It still tasted great (and still does today after chilling in the fridge).

Just a side note, for those of you who are vegan: You can substitute pretty much any non-dairy (ie rice, soy, coconut) milk for cow’s milk, especially in sweet foods like breads or puddings. I also find that applesauce or mashed bananas work really nicely in place of eggs and sometimes, butter in things like muffins, cookies, or breads. Just be aware that the results are a little less fluffy and a little more…sticky/gummy, but a lot more healthful!

Happy baking!

Knit Me Something Warm to Wear

I thought I would change up my MO a bit. Previously I have posted about cooking and baking, but today I want to talk about another hobby I’ve been working on. I actually learned to knit a few years ago (before moving to Korea). My aunt’s mother is an amazing crafter of a multitude of genres and she introduced me to knitting. To start, she gave me HUGE knitting needles, which I have somewhere in my closet back home.

When I moved out here in 2009 the winter months were a big downer. Having to be at work and stay in the office throughout the day was quite depressing. I missed the sun, and I was not the happiest of foreigners, let me tell you. Jason suggested I find some hobbies. I took up painting/drawing and I also took up knitting. I should say that I invested a little more time into hobbies I already had, but which I had not engaged in for quite some time.

The art turned out ok, for the most part. I dabbled in abstract, but not quite as successfully at realist. I actually haven’t painted or drawn anything in quite a while–several months in fact. I’ve been baking and cooking more regularly, so that takes up more of my time. Take a look at some of my art projects:

When Jason and I first moved into our apartment in September of ’09, we soon discovered a really awesome alley on which vendors sell a wide selection of fresh, seasonal fruit or veggie. It’s a veritable farmers market that is open year round (although in the extreme cold or heat there are fewer people out). Along this road we also can find plants, beans & legumes, blankets, fresh fish, as well as a plethora of Korean side and main dishes. The smells, as we meander down this road that runs about four blocks, are distinct. The atmosphere, exciting.

Upon discovering this road, we also discovered this shop:

It was actually closed today, either because of the fact it was MAYBE 5 degrees (F) out, or it was Sunday. The woman who owns it usually has a ton of yard on display. When I finally decided I was going to take up knitting, we came here. I picked out a large, 10,000 won, hank of purple yarn and Jason was able to communicate enough with her to let her know we wanted to purchase that and a set of needles (quite difficult, actually). It took me about 6 months to knit my purple scarf. Mainly because after a while I would get bored and put it away. I did finish it though, and have worn the extra long scarf nearly every day this winter. A few months before the Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas season, I decided I would make one for Jason. He picked out a nice red hank of yarn (although the cost had gone up a thousand won) from the same lady.

 It’s coming along nicely. I plan on finishing it by his birthday in February. Wish me luck!

A Busy Week

Since posting last Sunday, I’ve been a bit busy. Vowing to get even more recipes under my belt, I started watching a few more YouTube channels like Laura Vitale’s “Laura In the Kitchen.” This stylish foodie specializes in mostly Italian cuisine, and makes it look easy as pie. Last night’s spaghetti alfredo was inspired by her fettuccine alfredo recipe. Let’s back up to last weekend. I mentioned in that post that I had been having issues with baking powder. The two days following Christmas weekend, I had tried to make a batch of scones. I tried two different recipes from two different contributors to the UCC recipe site I use. These two recipes were a total fail. The dough was too moist (think goop), and the scones turned out inedible (too much BP created an overwhelming scent of ammonia/urea). The solution? Change recipe sites. I found this recipe and after a slight modification (substituting ½ part plain yogurt and ½ part milk in place of buttermilk) I finally got a delicious result (and honestly, I would have been happy for bread that just smelled NOT of urine). Finally, my dough was “solid” enough to actually kneed, form into a ball, and roll out (had I opted to roll the dough as the recipe suggests—instead, I pulled off small, golf ball-sized bits, flattened them slightly and placed them on the greased baking sheet about an inch apart). The result was an amazingly buttery scone. Add a bit of blueberry jam and you get YUM! 

Coffee House Scones with Blueberry Jam

Last weekend (after posting) I decided to also make us a bit of granola. In my pursuit of recipes, I found this woman on YouTube who provides easy recipes and tips for cooking healthy dishes (skip the lobster one, or you might cry). Rita Heikenfeld posted a nice and easy recipe for maple granola. For this one, you really only need the rolled oats, oil, and maple syrup to get your base, but you can add seeds or nuts to the mix prior to baking and any sort of dried fruit or chocolate afterword. Last weekend’s batch was sans seeds or nuts and only Jason’s half had raisins. This week I will add a bit of walnuts and more raisins.

Maple granola, fresh from the oven.

Yesterday was our monthly Costco run. As expats in SK, we’re not so keen on driving (while pretty easy to get a Korean license as a foreigner, forget about trying to buy a car here, let alone drive it in the amazingness that is Seoul traffic on any given day, at any given time) so, we bus. But, before getting to said bus, we have to prepare (both mentally and physically) for the journey. Before leaving the apartment, we ready our backpacks, Jason lining his with a plastic bag to prevent leaks from any meat we’ll get. We also bring at least three of our five Baggu bags (the most awesome things…ever). From our apartment, it takes roughly 20 minutes to walk to the correct bus stop. Our bus runs maybe every 10-15 minutes, so we wait. Yesterday, as we are leaving the apartment, it begins to snow. By the time our bus get to us, the snow has already begun to stick. Jason is actually happy for this, as it will add a little more resistance to the 2 inch thick ice that has yet to melt from two weeks before. After a 25 minute bus ride, we arrive at Costco. Let the insanity begin.

I’m not sure how many of you have lived in a really large city, but if you have, then you know what I mean when I say that the Yangjae Costco on a Saturday morning is like a mosh-pit of bargain seekers. In a city of around 50 million, it’s bound to be, right? Even with three or four other branches placed around the city. But, I digress. We were only in there for maybe an hour, which is long for us, but I was on a mission to find spices not easily found here in SK (such as granulated onion and garlic, parsley, paprika, oregano, etc) and I found most of those for much cheaper than expected, considering the store near us sells dried bay leaves for about 11,000 won (Costco had them for less than 4,000 won). I was also looking for parmigiano-reggiano (to use in the alfredo sauce), but after finding it for 40,000 won, we passed. We leave Costco, each of us with about 40 pounds on our backs and 10 pounds in the Buggu bags. The trek home seems longer, weighted down with 50 pounds of food each, but eventually we make it.


A Post a Week?

So, WordPress has issued a challenge, and I am going to take on this challenge!

Mainly, what my blogs will be about, what they will continue to be about, is my experiences living abroad in Seoul, S. Korea until I move home. It’s January 2, 2011 in Seoul, and I think it’s a great day to begin anew.

Yesterday, the 1st, I sent Jason for sweet potatoes and apples so I could finally make the two recipes I had been anxious to try for several weeks.

Last year (gotta get used to that all over), Chanukah was at the beginning of the month. Traditionally, I would make latkes with my mom or my aunt and cousins. But, for obvious (I’m in SK) reasons, that wasn’t possible this year (or last year in fact, but this year was oddly different and we both felt the distance much more this year, than last).

So, emerging kitchen goddess that I am, I looked around for some recipes. My two big sources (aside from my mother) are AllRecipes and JoyOfBaking which are UCC recipe sites and have just about everything you could ask for when it comes to cooking anything from soup to dessert. My advice, however, is that you read the reviews and compare like recipes. We’ve had some issues with baking powder recently, so BE CAREFUL!

Because we CAN actually find all of the ingredients for the two recipes here, in SK, I was stoked to try them out. I sent Jason out for the sweet potatoes and apples, and he did not disappoint. One thing I would like to note, however, is that SK isn’t big on pumpkin spice, so I did have to make that from scratch with ingredients on hand (see below).

So, the latkes, YUM, and you can’t have latkas without the requisite applesauce and sour cream (we substituted plain yogurt and it was just as good). I didn’t take pictures, but I will be sure to start including them in subsequent posts.

Lastly, I did use the applesauce in my tried and true pancake recipe this morning, and that was REALLY amazing (see below).

Pumpkin Spice

(makes about 1/4 – 1/2 CUP)
4 TBSP ground cinnamon
4 TBSP ground ginger
4 TBSP ground nutmeg
3 TSP all spice (or 1.5 TSP both ground cinnamon & ground cloves)

*mix all spices together with a fork until well-blended

Applesauce Pancakes

(makes about ten medium-sized or 15 small-sized pancakes)
1 CUP flour
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 TSP salt
2 TSP baking powder
1 egg
1 CUP applesauce
1/4 – 1/2 CUP milk (to thin batter)
2 TBSP oil
* mix dry and wet ingredients separately.
* stir the wet ingredients into dry, mix until well incorporated.