Sunday, February 24, 2013

My experimental kitchen - Yubuchobap and Soondubu jjigae!

Elly had a new Korean friend over for supper.  So, thinking soup would not be enough for us all, we all made a second dish  -- a  gorgeous finger food called "Yubuchobap".  The kit I'd bought came with everything except the rice.  
You cook and then mix sticky rice with tiny dried veggies (yellow pickled radish, sesame seeds, carrots and seaweed) and cider vinegar.  Then you tuck this beautiful stuff lovingly into the Yubu, which are slightly sweet pockets of rolled tofu.  

These were so amazing!  No one could say they didn't like Korean food after eating these tasty little bundles.  The next 2 dishes might be a bit more challenging to those who like a more simple diet.

This is "Soondubu jjigae" - soondubu being a very soft tofu and jjigae meaning spicy.  And spicy it is!  You use "gochugaru" (red pepper flakes) in this dish; and even the addition of the so-called mild 2.5 Tbsp measurement is hot, hot, hot! 
The broth is made with anchovies, mushrooms and kelp.  And the soup contains beef and seafood, the gochogaru, dollops of soft tofu and eggs mixed in at the end.  The result may be hot 'n' spicy, but it is truly delicious.  

I love greens; and I'm having wonderful fun trying unusual greens that come from Korea.  They're so good for you and so rustic that they kind of put me in mind of a 1960's "back-to-the-land" type of cuisine with roots and shoots and wild foragings.   

This is "Kkaennap", sesame leaf or also known as Perilla leaf.  
On the left is the soy based Kkaennap that Elly had already opened, and on the right is a spicy version.  Elly wrapped the leaf around a ball of sticky rice, and Sandy popped that sucker in her mouth.  Doesn't it look like Greek dolmas?   But they have a taste all their own -- sort of a licorice taste on the tongue at the end.  Again, delicious!  

Thank you for visiting my experimental kitchen once again.

Now, go out there yourself and EAT!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The magic of sunshine!

Hands up everybody who's ready for spring.

Me too!  So, when the sunshine came out yesterday afternoon, I opened my blinds at work and let it warm my back.  When I got home at 5, it was still shining; and I had to stand in the driveway for several minutes just to drink it in.  

We all know that sunshine is necessary for optimum health.  But in the midst of snowstorms (3 in the past 2 weeks) and rainy days (4 in the last 2 weeks), even those few hours of indirect sunshine  had a magical affect on me.  I could feel the stress sliding off; I could feel endorphins and serotonin being produced; I could feel my hormones balancing themselves and all the stars and planets beginning to align.

  • It made me want to take a 30 min walk --- but it was freezing and I was hungry.  
  • It made me want to eat spa foods -- so the girls and I made a huge salad with my favorite blend of lettuces (or is more than one lettuce "lettuci"??)  and ate broccoli quiche with iced Jasmine green tea. Yum yum!  
  • It made me want to stand on my back deck and shout "Thank You, God, for this tangible sign of life and hope!" -- but I said it silently. 
" Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun."  Ecclesiastes 11:7

Later that evening with the promise of spring in my veins, I treated myself to a spa evening.  I soaked up to my neck in an epsom salts/eucalyptus oil bath; then I exfoliated every inch of my body that I could reach (thereby ensuring that nothing negative could possibly stick to this ole' smoothie!).  Why I even painted my fingers and toes!  

I get a little excited about sunshine and the arrival of spring! 

Only 25 days!

Happy Friday everyone.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Journeying through the winter blahs

My life is full of changes these days --  big and little ones.  And coupled with winter ice & snow and being surrounded lately with flus & colds, life is leaving me pooped.  I know that at my age (58), it takes more time to adapt to change.  
But scheesch!  Enough already mind and body!  It's been over 2 weeks!    

  • My new Japanese student, Ayaka, is an absolute darling.  But having a new student in the house means I can't operate on auto-pilot:  I must remember to ask her about her day, does she like this food, does she need help with anything.  I have to play my A game when some days I'd just like to sit on the bleechers!
  • I've added daily hours to my regular job so I could take on another day at my second job = an earlier start in the morning, added focus on the work at hand (as opposed to 1/2 hour breaks as I check my blog), shorter lunch hour.
  • I've found an exercise program that doesn't hurt and which is, thankfully, helping my shoulder.  But guess when I go to that exercise program?  My shortened lunch hour!
  • I'm trying really hard to change my eating habits and "Put down the sweetie, Sandy!"  I have good days and bad days.
  • And I've joined a new TOPS chapter in town to help me stay motivated.  But, of course, I couldn't just sit on the sidelines; I'm the secretary for the group.  Did I need another job!

Most of the time, I feel like I'm in the "engaged" position -- from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm!  So, once dinner is finished and as I wait for all that extra energy I'll get from exercising and eating right, I head into "disengage" mode.  And that usually happens on the couch.  All those great new TV shows (The Following; The Face; The Taste; and the new Survivor series) help me to tune out and rest.  But there's also the mini struggle between being gentle on myself and wanting to get on with things.  

Still railing on about it is futile.  This slower adaptation time is all part of the wonderful process of aging.  It's just a laugh riot!

And you know what?  I'm enjoying my couch time.  Plus I know that even though I feel tired now, it's just temporary.  I feel confident -
  • that I'll gain some extra energy
  • that as long as I keep trying to eat right, I'm benefiting.
  • that once she's been here a little longer, Ayaka will take less work, so to speak
  • and that spring will come and the sun will shine more and I'll walk again and be cheered by birdies chirping & little green shoots coming up out of the ground and my polka dot rain boots for those wet days.

So, as we age, let's keep learning and striving to improve ourselves.  But let's remember to be gentle as well.  After all:  Life is a journey not a destination.  

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Ahhhhh!  Valentine's Day.....
A day for love.  Not just for lovers; but Mamas and babies, children and parents,  friends and relatives.  We can all enjoy Valentine's Day.  After all, we can never have enough love.
I love chocolate!
And even though it was only the 13th, I ate my Valentine to myself already while I watched American Idol ...
It was delicious!

I love my children more than chocolate.  
I love my parents, my siblings, a number of wonderful friends and my God.  

The best advice on love I've ever received?

It comes from HIM!

I'm far from there yet, but He keeps reminding me and I keep trying.

I also love blogging and I love my followers.

 Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Spring arrived in a box!

I recently rec'd a little unexpected bonus money from my Mama.  Now,
  • I could have gone thrifting ..... but I do that all the time and I wanted to do something special with this money.
  • I could have bought $100 worth of good chocolate ..... and as special as chocolate is, I am trying to cut back.
  • I could have put it directly on a bill like any sensible budget-conscious woman would do ..... but I follow my budget.
  • And Mama did say "Buy yourself something nice".
So, what did this little woman do?  I went online shopping at this place

You know why I went shopping there?  They carry Petals dishes by Oneida which as some of you know I've been painstakenly collecting at thrift stores for the past 4 years.  I decided to order some pieces to make up a few place settings.

Yesterday, spring arrived in a box! 
Aren't those colors gorgeous!  It makes me think of Easter bunnies (and chocolate eggs!!).  I didn't even know the Light blue color existed until I found their website.  The one color not featured in it's own solo shot is Cobalt blue and not black as it looks in the compilation picture.  All I'm missing to complete this 6 pc place setting is a Light blue bowl and a Marigold yellow dinner plate. 

And I know my food will taste so much better when I serve my guests on these pretty dishes.
The package only took a week to arrive from NC; and they did the best packing job I've ever seen.  I highly recommend Replacements Ltd.

Meanwhile, feeling sad and lonely on the plate rack are the lone pieces waiting for companions. 

I'm hoping that the thrift store gods will continue to smile on me and I'll be able to find some more pieces.

Either that or another financial windfall!

Those of you on the US Eastern seaboard, we're expecting tonight what you're getting today.  I've battened down the hatches and have a stockpile fit to withstand a siege.

Stay warm and safe y'all!  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Rabbit Rabbit Everyone: Time to Dance Walk

February 1st already!  Rabbit rabbit everybody!  I'm hoping that February is better than January because that ole' sugar monkey is still lurking round every corner and occasionally jumping on my back.  And the freezing temperatures have been keeping me indoors and inactive.  Aarg!  I need some first-day-of-the-month "rabbit rabbit" luck --- or some willpower --- both in short supply here.  

Nevertheless, I do not give up.  No, I do not back down.  I do not admit defeat.  I am woman!  Hear me roar!  (Or belch ... or fart ... or sigh.)  

This time of year calls for a general shake up.  Perhaps I need to try a different approach.  Perhaps I need to change what I would normally do for fitness?  Perhaps I even need to change my fitness venue?  You know, a change of scenery might  add some pizazz to working out and some healthy oomph to my cooking.  

Or perhaps I could just grow a backbone and NOT buy chocolate biscuits?

Anyway .............

Don't you find that it's a little easier to bring positive change to your life when other changes are happening?  For instance, here it is a brand new month (with little or no screw-ups yet).  I've a new Japanese student with me; it's the start of a new school semester; and there's been a change in my weekly work schedule.  A perfect opportunity to add one more new thing to the mix.  And by changing up my fitness routine, perhaps it'll be a catalyst to really catching hold of regular  healthy eating.

Mind you, some things don't need to change in my life:  green smoothies for breakfast, salads 'n' EVO dressings (with those lovely fig or cranberry vinegars); drinking lots of H2O.  

And here's an idea whose time has come, I believe.  I've been doing this on a small scale ever since I first had children I could embarrass.  And I just love being given the okay to go for it big time and involve others.

Dance walking anyone?

See you at the supermarket where disco will be making a come-back in my earphones!


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