Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

Perfect weather for a weekend full of swimming! This blog has been such a great way to document everything in our lives and it's so easy to look back this time last year and see what we were doing as we had only been a family of four about a month!

I wrote this post last year Memorial Day and avoided the camera while in a bathing suit then, and did the same this year! Maybe next year?!?!?!

Took this same shot this year (see last year's post to compare!) and what a difference a year has made!

As a daughter of a veteran of the Gulf War who is alive and well, we can only be grateful for the brave men and women bravely serving our country. May we always remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to give us our freedom.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Facts Friday. {All about kimchi}

Kimchi (김치; pronounced /ˈkɪmtʃi/, Korean pronunciation: [kimtɕʰi]), also spelled gimchi, kimchee, or kim chee, is a traditional Korean fermented dish made of vegetables with varied seasonings. It is most commonly made with napa cabbage and other vegetables such as radish, green onion, chive, and cucumber. Kimchi is the most common banchan, or side dish, in Korean cuisine. Kimchi is also a main ingredient for other common Korean dishes such as Kimchi stew (김치찌개; kimchi jjigae), Kimchi soup (김칫국; kimchi gook), and kimchi fried rice (김치볶음밥; kimchi bokkeumbap).

Kimchi is so ubiquitous to Korean cuisine that the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) developed space kimchi to accompany the first Korean astronaut to the Russian-manned space ship Soyuz. Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), an internationally recognized food standard, chose Korean Kimchi as an international standard over Japanese Kimchi on July 5, 2001.

Kimchi is made of various vegetables and contains a high concentration of dietary fiber, while being low in calories. One serving also provides up to 80% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C and carotene.[9] Most types of kimchi contain onions, garlic, and peppers, all of which are salutary. The vegetables being made into kimchi also contribute to the overall nutritional value. Kimchi is rich in vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, and iron, and contains a number of lactic acid bacteria, among those the typical species Lactobacillus kimchii. The magazine Health named kimchi in its list of top five "World's Healthiest Foods" for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth.

Kimchi jjigae. A popular stew made with kimchi, it is commonly cooked with kimchi, fresh vegetables and pork or tuna although countless variants exist.
One study conducted by Seoul National University claimed that chickens infected with the H5N1 virus, also called avian flu, recovered after eating food containing the same bacteria found in kimchi. During the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia, many people even believed that kimchi could protect against infection, although there was no scientific evidence to support this belief. However, in May 2009, the Korea Food Research Institute, Korea’s state food research organization, said they had conducted a larger study on 200 chickens, which supported the theory that it boosts chickens' immunity to the virus.

Nutritional composition of typical kimchi
Nutrients per 100 g * Nutrients per 100 g
Food energy 32 kcal
Moisture 88.4 g
Crude protein 2.0 g
Crude Lipid 0.6 g
Total sugar 1.3 g
Crude fiber 1.2 g
Crude ash 0.5 g
Calcium 45 mg
Phosphorus 28 mg V
itamin A 492 IU
Vitamin B1 0.03 mg
Vitamin B2 0.06 mg
Niacin 2.1 mg
Vitamin C 21 mg

So basically, we could have all just eaten kimchi rather than standing in line to get our flu vaccines!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My first attempt at homemade Kimchi.

After making another delicous batch of yakimandu recently, I had the usual large amount of napa cabbage left over, which usually sits in my fridge till it wilts and I finally throw it out. I've been wanting to try out a kimchi recipe a friend of mine succeeded at and this was my chance to put that cabbage to use instead of ending up in the trash!

It. Was. Delicious.

So here's what I did:

Cut up a large head of napa cabbage in bite size pieces and found the biggest bowl in my house. (Well, actually my parent's house!) Then I added a gallon of cool water and a half a cup of sea salt.

Soaked it for a little over three hours, then drained, rinsed and squeezed it dry.

Put 1 head of garlic peeled, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1 teaspoon suger and about a 1/2 cup Korean red chili paste. Placed it all in my food processor and blended till smooth. The recipe actually called for 1/2 cup of Korean red chili FLAKES as well as two inches of fresh grated ginger, but I improvised to avoid a trip to the store! Next time, I will try it the way the recipe states, but must say the kimchi was still delicious the way I did it!

Pour mixture over wilted cabbage,

and stir!

Emptied a jumbo size pickle jar and rinsed clean to store my kimchi with plenty of room to expand and create juice as well as seal tightly with a air tight lid. Stood back and admired the masterpiece before placing the sealed jar in a brown paper bag and storing in my pantry for about 24 hours, then transferring to the fridge.

Piled it up beside a big scoop of sticky rice and a few mandu a few days later and enjoyed!

Though I have found two different Korean markets with excellent homemade kimchi, I may just have to make my own more often!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Facts Friday!

I decided to start a fun new post for every Friday, as you can see, called "Facts Friday". Got that? ;)

Let's just say it will be facts about...well, whatever I found interesting that week!

This week is all about Korean food. Specifically, Korean food for kids. In the form of, well, school lunches!

Here's some typical school lunch cuisine in Korea...

Lunch A looks like potato, kimchee, bean sprout soup, and kimchi chigae over rice.

Lunch B looks like seasoned squid, meat and potato curry, kimchee, and soybean paste soup with rice.

Lunch C looks like sliced radish with egg, mandoo (dumpling), kimchee, Deukboki (rice cake dish), rice and fish cake udon soup.

Pictured above are typical school lunches given to Korean school aged children. As you can see, all of the lunch trays include rice, soup, kimchee, and a Korean main dish of some sort. The kids eat their lunches with metal chopsticks, which is unlike American children who primarily eat finger foods (sandwich, chicken nuggets, pizza) for lunch.

When I was in Korea, I took a trip to the Flower Gardens. Gorgeous, to say the least! What I wish I had a picture of though was all the school children who were there on field trip eating their lunches out of bento type lunch boxes with their trainer chopsticks, squatting on the ground! So cute!

We have these and love them!

I'm sure their bento boxes were full of some of the items listed above! I actually had a pretty authentic homemade lunch that day too made by Rai's foster mom (MaryAnn and Aaron's son, whom I met up with while in Korea) and have vivid memories of it's deliciousness! I know she frequents my blog, so Mrs. L, if you're reading this, it was yummy!!! She even had freshly made pomegranate juice! Mmmm, makes my mouth water just thinkin' about it!

Let's just say that I don't think I would have had too hard of a time eating lunch if I had grown up there! My son would definitely starve, but I think Zoey would chow down right along with me!

How about you?

(Credit to Little Seouls Blog for pictures and description)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just another day at the baseball field

I still wonder, "What did I do before having kids?!"

I spent many a night at ball fields across the country watching my husband play in the minors, but before having kids...

I definitely did not spend my weeknights at the T-ball field...

Yelling phrases like, "Run faster!" "Catch the Ball!" or "Go Mets!"

And I know I didn't congratulate players that struck out or let a ball slip through their legs simply for giving it a "Good try!"

I definitely did not chase around a tiny toddler who repeatedly tried to climb the fence...

Or giggle proudly when that said toddler balanced perfectly all the way across a ledge.

And I know I never tried to pretend it was someone else's kid who threw something onto the field.

Or watch curiously when she discovered smashing bugs was fun...

But I also know that before having kids, I didn't have these two little faces to come home to every night...

By the way, these little Mets are undefeated!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Honored to be a mother today, thankful for my own and wishing that two very special birth mothers know they're in our hearts...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Family Portrait

I went to pick Braedan up from school on Thursday and he was drawing this. If you know us in real life, let's just say it's suprisingly accurate. :) Sorry Papa.

Bi Bim Bap!

In the words of Rachael Ray, "Yummo!"

This was my first time making this dish, but definetly not eating it, and it did not disappoint!

Here's a little background on the dish in case you don't know what it is...

Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish. The word literally means "mixed rice." Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating.[2] It can be served either cold or hot.

Vegetables commonly used in bibimbap include julienned cucumber, zucchini, mu (daikon), mushrooms, doraji (bellflower root), and gim, as well as spinach, soybean sprouts, and gosari (bracken fern stems). Dubu (tofu), either plain or sautéed, or a leaf of lettuce may be added, or chicken or seafood may be substituted for beef.[2] For visual appeal, the vegetables are often placed so that adjacent colors complement each other.

I placed a big scoop of sticky rice in the center of the bowl and surrounded it with a spring mix of baby lettuces, radish, zucchini, sirloin steak, mung bean sprouts, carrots, cucumber and mushrooms. Top the whole thing off with a fried egg and a big 'ole spoonful of gochujang. Take a picture, 'cause it won't look this pretty for long! Take a big fat spoon and mix it all up and then it's time to dig in!

I julienned most of the veggies, but it might even be better to shred them...I liked it nice and chunky though. I did marinate the meat in a soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, black pepper and sugar mixture for a few hours before cutting up and frying in a wok. I used the same sauce to season all the veggies and blanched the carrots and zucchini in a pot of boiling water for about a minute before shocking them in an ice bath to keep some crispness and color. I sauteed the mushrooms and radish in the wok for just a minute or so as well. I fried the egg in the wok using a little more sesame oil and a tiny bit of butter. I honestly think that the gochujang, or the hot chili paste, makes the dish. It is just delicious and I use it in lots of other things as well like stir fry, on chicken and even on tacos.

We had this for dinner on Friday warm and had the leftovers room temperature today and it was just as good! I made my yummy yakimandu to go along side!

I'm thinking about making every Friday Korean food night. Anyone have other Korean food favorites they make at home? Please share!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Got cake?

With all the celebrations we had last week (Braedan's birthday, Zoey's Family Day and then Braedan's birthday party), it warranted a cake for each day in my mind!

So thank you Betty Crocker for premade cake mixes and canned frosting!

On Braedan's birthday, we had cupcakes...yellow cake with bright blue frosting! When I went to pick him up at preschool, his entire class had a blue mouth! Let's just say we got out of there faster than usual before the other parent's arrived!

On Zoey's Family Day, we had special cake that reminded us what a family is...and the four layers of chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting definetly made us feel loved!

And of course, a Transformer cake for the party! This took a lot longer than I had anticipated and the frosting dyed everyone's mouth pretty badly! But it was sure delicious! Who knew Optimus Prime tasted so good!

So you might be thinking...all that cake, there's gotta be leftovers, right? Nope. Not even a crumb. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Children's Day!

Children's Day (orini nal) is a South Korean national holiday celebrated on May 5. It was founded by the Korean children's writer Pang Chong-hwan in 1923 as a way to instill in the children a sense of independence and national pride. Children's Day highlights the dignity of children and their need for love, care, and respect. It is also a day to honor adults that have contributed to improving the lives of children.

We've decided to start celebrating this day every year and what fun we had today kicking that tradition off! If you know anything about me, I'm not nearly as adventurous as I may seem. (Or not seem for that matter!) So I usually don't do a whole lot without my hubby or family with me. Especially try and take two kids to the zoo on my own! But I wanted to do something special with them today in honor of Children's Day (though I would really like to be spending it in Korea!) and we used our zoo passes to spend some quality time together. Despite the 90 degree Texas heat today, we really had a blast! Kids were great and the zoo never disappoints! Zoey was actually home this time last year and there was a lot of talk about this holiday in Korea but being a new family of four, the day sort of passed us by last year! Can't imagine why!

I was inspired by another blog post I saw on this holiday, to make a wish for my children every year.

So this year's wish is for my children to always remember who they are and where they come from and to always be proud of it. That being unique is something to be treasured, and not shy away from.

I'm sad to say that as a little girl, I was made fun of quite a bit. I was different. I wore glasses and my eyes and skin didn't look like everyone else's. And I didn't look like everyone else in my family. But I was okay with that. I never wished that I was like anyone else. I never wished I looked the same as my family. I liked being different. Maybe because my family instilled in me to be proud of who I am. Proud to be unique.

I still get the stares in public when I'm out with two very different looking children, I still have cute little Korean ladies mumble under their breath at me when I don't understand what they're saying. I still have people remark that my English is very good and how surprised they are I don't have an accent. And even when in public with my own parents, people still assume they are my in-laws. I'm sure there are those too who think my kids have different fathers (which, technically, they do!), and may judge me for that. And I'm sure that we've not endured all that we are going to. (Which, lets face it, is not all that bad!)

But my wish for them is that they let it roll of their shoulders like it did for me...that they know that they are loved, cherished and I am proud to be their mother! That they are just as proud as I am to say they are Korean! But mostly, I wish that they both will be proud of being different and unique!

And frankly, who could possibly want children any more adorable than mine?!?!?!