Monday, October 31, 2011

When nothing else presents itself....

When I have nothing exciting in my life to blog about, I make up something exciting {cooking or baking natured}, so I can share it with ya'll.  Yeah for excitement!

In not exciting news, I am sick.  I have a cold.  Boo! 

In exciting news, I have developed the ultimate immune system boosting soup! 

In not exciting news, it is has yet to work.

Things that help to boost your immune system naturally: chicken broth, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and green tea. (the green tea does not go in the soup, I just drank it as the beverage.)

I was out of ideas for dinner the other day, so I was browsing the Ovenless Chef's blog, looking for something new to try.  Chicken and Cheddar Dumplings.  YA.  ALL.  Ohmigoodness.  Please go over there right now and read this recipe, then go to the grocery store buy whatever ingredients you are lacking, come back home, and make this!

Maybe this does not look delicious, but it is.  Trust me!

My amazing husband gave the recipe a 9 out of 10 (for soups.  I am pretty sure a 9 out of 10 for soups is like a 5 out of 10 on the pizza scale, nothing compares with American pizza.  Or a good meatloaf.)

You may notice that there are no shiitake mushrooms in this recipe.  I switched out the onions for the mushrooms (mainly because I had bought mushrooms and not onions).  I added in some extra garlic too.  I had some homemade chicken stock, that I substituted for water (although I ended up pouring in some water too). 
Anticipation...waiting for everything to finish up!

Make sure you use a big pot.  We only have one pot.  It was not big enough.  We had yumminess dripping down the sides and making messes.  Not a big deal, but if you have a big pot, use it. 

In super exciting news, I am going to start listening to Christmas music tomorrow.  If I lived in America, this would wait until after Thanksgiving, but I live in Korea.  So bring on the Christ child and His tunes! 

Fun fact for today.  Christmas and carol are Konglish words, pretty much the same in English and Korean (except the r's are l's and add some funking vowels sounds in.  You are good to go.)

One of my all time favorite questions: What is your favorite Christmas song and why?

Monday, October 24, 2011

KNN Half Marathon!

I ran a half marathon this weekend!  It went well, but you need to hear the whole story (you know me and my love of details).  Let's start at the very beginning {that is a very good place to start!}.  On Saturday, my amazing husband and I headed to Busan.  We were able to see our friends, visit the 2nd biggest department store in the world, and drink some Starbucks.  Life was good.  Except I was freaking out in my brain because it was raining and I was so nervous about the half marathon.  We ate a fantastic dinner!  I wanted to make sure to carbo load, so I ate pasta in a bread bowl.  Did you catch that?  The land of morning calm has bread bowls.  Who knew?  First bread bowl I have had in 2 years I think.  Let's hope we do not have to go another 2 years sans bread bowls.
It was a combination of all different kinds of pasta in a cream sauce in a bread bowl - delicious!

I love bread bowls.

Oh yeah, Katelyn or John, if you are reading this, thank you for putting up with me through the viewing of Stardust.  To your surprise, I may watch it again sometime and probably not talk as much.  It has gone up from a 5 out of 10 to a 8 out of 10 movie on my scale (now that I know how it ends).

Sunday dawned bright and beautiful and early.  I was so nervous.  As in, I knew if my amazing husband came with me he would get the outpouring of my stress through inappropriate comments.  I can be snippy when stressed.  So he stayed with Katelyn and John and went to church.  (Better for him and for our marriage I think).

Upon on arriving at the race, I watched some grand open girls dance, watched everyone do some group stretching, then there was a parade of 10 K runners headed to the start line.  Some guys carrying a banner saying "Half and a bunch of Korean words" followed the 10kers, so I thought "ah, we are going to start soon" and jumped in the parade.

I was wrong.

Completely and utterly wrong.

Unless you consider 40 minutes soon.  I stood, waiting for the race to start for 40 minutes.  There were about 2000 other people doing the same thing.  There were a Korean man and women MCing the whole 40 minutes.  I would love to know what they were saying.  What can you possibly say for 40 minutes?  Run fast?  Put one foot in front of the other?

During this 40 minutes I was FREAKED out.  I kept waiting for the pacers to show up.  I had seen pictures of previous years and there were pacers.  My whole plan was to run with a pace group for the first half of the race and chase a different pace group the second half of the race.

I was wrong.

Completely and utterly wrong.

There were no pacers.  I was freaking out (mentally).

My view of the start (that I stared at for 40 minutes).


Finally, the 10kers started and then we started about 5 minutes after them.  I spent the first 5 miles of the race dodging 10k folks who decided to walk.  It was super fun.  Thankfully the 5kers started after the half.

See the Orange Line?  It's the course  image credit
I do not have a lot of specific memories from the race.  Here are things I do remember thinking:

Mile 1: I hit mile 1 at exactly 9:00.  I was not a happy camper and decided to speed up.  Then my knee started to hurt.  A lot.  At this point in time, I just gave up.  I thought, "I can not run faster, there are no pace groups, let's just do an easy run and finish."

Mile 2.5: My knee miraculously stopped hurting.  (It was not really my knee, it is my IT band around my knee).  Thank you Jesus!

Mile 4: Who are all these guys in suits?  Everytime we had to turn there were two guys wearing the exact same 3 piece suits, doing the golf clap, and saying "PI-ghting!  PI-ghting!" (that is Korean for Fighting!).  I am pretty sure they were paid to be there.  They were the only people who cheered for us.  The people out in their front yards who we ran past just kept weeding their flower beds.

Mile 6.55: I think I hit the half way point somewhere around 56:30.  I realized that I would finish in 1:53: and some change if I kept up this pace.  So I decided to speed up.

Mile 7.76 or so: There was a water station, so I stopped to get some gatorade.  I think I was at 1:09 or so at this point in time, so I was headed in the right direction.  I had done some 4 or 5 mile tempo runs semi-successfully during my training, so I decided once I hit 14 km I was going to tell myself it was a tempo run and just run.

Mile 10: More men in suits, this time handing out hair ties.  I evaded the first one muttering, "I'm      oh      kay.    Gwen    chen  ni  yo"  But the second suited man got me.  I have a bright red hairtie with some metal on it if anyone would like it.

I also remembered that I should take some pictures.  Kilometer 16! 

Mile 12.5: I always think the last mile or half mile of the race is the longest.  They had us twist and turn so many times the last half mile.  I kept thinking, "Almost there, almost there!"  I wanted to cry or walk or something but I summoned up all my adjuma power and pressed on.  It was definitely the hardest part of the race for me.  Where were all the identical three piece suit guys when you needed them?

30 seconds before I finished: I passed a lady!  Woot!  Woot!  I had passed about 100 guys when racing but only one other women.  My whole body felt like jello at this point in time, but I told myself I could not let her pass me back.

Mile 13.1: I finally looked at my watch!  1:48:01!  Woot!  Woot! I negative splitted!  My second half of the race was 51:31.

Probably not the smartest race of my life (went out too slow) but I was really happy that I did as well as I did.

Here are the results, I am quite easy to find:
My name gets two lines!
I got some sweet food after the race.  Unbeknownst to me, the land of morning calm also has granola bars!  Who knew?  I was SO excited.  Bliss.  I also got some triangle gimbap and soy milk.

I have missed Nature Valley Granola bars so much!
I got a medal for finishing the race and a piece of laminated paper that says I got 10th place.  Potentially the only time in my life that I will place 10th in a half marathon.

This was a few hours after the race, I did not look this smiley after finishing.  

Whew. That was quite a long story.  Thanks for listening to all of it!  I am in midst of 2 weeks of bad decisions right now.  Except it is more like 2 weeks of bad decisions for an 80 year old.  My bad decision from yesterday was to go to be at 8 pm.  Livin' the dream, folks, livin' the dream.

If you had two weeks to make bad decisions.  What would they be?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Anticipation

The anticipation is building!  There are some the pretty exciting events coming in the near future:

1.) Tomorrow - As of Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 we have been married for 500 days!  Yeah!  Praise God that He has sustained us, provided for us, been faithful to us...the list goes on and on.  It has been a great 500 days, can't wait to see what the next 500 days will bring us.

499 days ago, he was making me laugh...still true today.

2.) Half Marathon!  One of the best parts about racing in Korea is that you do not have go the day before and try to use body language and broken Korean to explain who you are and what race you are running; your number and complimentary jacket are delivered.  I am number 25001 and I got a cool new jacket.  Sadly it does not say, "Why yes, I have run a half marathon.  In South Korea."  My goal for signing up for a half marathon was not let myself get out of shape over the summer, do some speed work during my training, and be ready to start training for the Daegu Marathon.  Goals accomplished.  A good race on Sunday is just icing on the cake...we'll see what happens.

Fun fact: It cost me 27 US dollars to register for a half marathon in Korea.


3.) Baking and Pumpkin Spice Coffee!  This may not sound exciting to those of you in America, but we got a care package today!  Woot!  Woot!  It contained some pumpkin spice coffee

Can not wait to brew this!

and some baking dishes!

When no space presents itself, store new muffin tins in the oven itself!

It may have contained some Halloween candy, but that is gone already.  Thanks Mom and Dad for thinking of us!

Now I need to end this blog post and I stink at conclusions, so here it is:  I hope you are looking forward to some exciting events in your life too!  Please tell me about them because I would love to hear about it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Plan C - the weekend

So Apple Craziness Weekend did not really go as planned.  Even after it did not go as planned for plan A, it did not go as plan B was supposed to go either.  So we ended up with plan C (when does life go as planned in Korea?).

I can make applesauce any day of my life.  I can not play soccer with cute Korean kiddos any day of my life.


And by play soccer, I mean, watch my amazing husband play soccer.  I practiced telling time {in Korean} to all the cuties that kept asking me what time it was.  And I might have taken a picture or two.

Dae-Han-Mi-Gook!  DaeHanMiGook!

My fall "allergies" also decided to turn into a cold.  So I got to rest this weekend as well.  I was planning on running 10 miles Saturday morning.  It turned into 8.  So glad that it is taper week.  I am going to get as much sleep as I can between now and Sunday.

I did make one batch of applesauce.  I also tried out some cinnamon apple granola.  Lessons learned from my cooking this weekend:

1.) If you start applesauce at 7:30, 3.5 hours later is 11 not 10:25.  Applesauce taken out of the crockpot and then put back in still turns out fine.

2.) It is hard (for me) to take appealing pictures of applesauce.

maybe I need a garnish?

3.) If you make granola, you might want to try using rolled oats.  I live in Korea, I have only found one type of oatmeal.  It is not rolled oats.  My granola turned out more like apple crisp or something.  Still delicious.

apple cinnamon goodness

That was our weekend.  How was yours?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Moving onto Apples

Well I started with a pumpkin, then I got a bajillon (that is 12) persimmons, and now I have moved on!

I may or may not have bought 10 kg of apples this week.  Yes folks, I am the proud owner of 22 pounds of apple deliciousness!  {Hi, I'm Alissa and I can not stop myself from buying things in bulk.}

I have plans, big plans.  (Keep in mind that I live about 7000 miles away from ya'll so my big plans are probably not as exciting as your big plans.  hahahaha)

So far I have made some apples in the microwave and applesauce in our crockpot (basically this recipe but a little different).  I have learned that my amazing husband likes his applesauce without the peels.  But he is amazing so he still eats it and smiles.  I am going to crank out as much applesauce as possible this weekend (hopefully three or four batches?)  Yes, one of them will be without peels.  I feel like I am a little squirrel or something, trying to fill up the freezer for a long winter when apple prices are outrageous and pumpkins are nonexistent.

I also want to try to make some applesauce bread, apple nachos, (switching the caramel for pb; caramel does not live in the land of morning calm.  shout out to my Illinois sister!  She posted apple nachos on pinterest and I can not get the off my mind - thanks sister!) apple granola, apple oatmealapple fritter bread, and maybe some pancakes.  I will definitely update you as to what turns out great and what needs potential improvement!

I also want to make an apple coffee something...apple pie mocha?  If you have any inspirations, let me know!

Fun fact: Different towns in Korea are known for something.  Jeonju is known for it's bimibap.  Daegu is known for it's beautiful girls and apples.  So I guess my 22 lbs of apples are the best apples Korea has to offer.

What is your favorite apple recipe?

*p.s. Sorry that I do not have any pictures for this blog post.  I always like to look at pictures when I read blog posts.  I promise I will take some pictures of Apple Craziness Weekend that is about to ensue.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

15 thoughts from my 15 miler

I ran 15 miles this weekend.  Here are 15 of the 19723098709375 thoughts I had while running. {in no particular order}

1.) I am running!  Yeah! 

2.) Do not eat french toast the night before a long run.  Or any food with eggs in it.

3.) If you do eat french toast the night before a long run, make sure you plan a route that has a port-a-potty ('nough said).

4.) I wonder where my amazing husband will take me on our hot date tonight?  {he took me to a fab Italian restaurant called Little Italia.  I had spaghetti noodles with alfreado sauce with mushrooms and bacon.  it.was.divine.  Proof that marriage changes you.  Before meeting my amazing husband, I would have NEVER eaten anything with bacon in it.}

Hot Date Night!

5.) What should I wear on our hot date tonight?  {see above}

6.) I wonder what I should make with the 12 persimmons that I bought?  {persimmon pudding cake!  see below for recipe}

7.) I really miss having people to talk to while I run.

8.) Praise Jesus that a half marathon is only 13.1 miles.  {mile 14 was not the most fun mile of my life.}

9.) I am racing a half marathon in 15 days.  Yikes!

10.) I am taking 2 whole entire weeks off after the half.  It has been over a year since I took two whole weeks off from running.

11.) Thank you, Jesus, for this amazing weather.

12.) I kinda like listening to music while I run.  It is growing on me. (Don't worry Mom, I only have one ear bud in, I have the volume on the lowest possible setting, and if I am in a busy part of town, I take both ear buds out.  I am a responsible music listening runner.)

13.) I wonder how Koreans celebrate Hangul Day?  {Hangul Day is 10/09.  Hangul is the written Korean language.  It was invented by Sejong the Great in 1443.}

14.) Is that construction worker cheering me on or trying to tell me not to run through the construction?  I am pretty sure he is waving...

15.) Thank you Jesus for allowing me to run, breathe, and do this for Your Glory!

----------------

Persimmon Pudding Cake {adopted from Taste of Home}

Ingredients
     4 eggs
     1 cup milk
     1.75 cups sugar (I could not bring myself to put all 2.25 cups of sugar in)
     splash of vanilla extract (who really ever measures vanilla?)
     4.5 Tblsp butter, softened (mine was more towards melted)
     3 cups flour
     1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
     1 tsp baking soda
     9 or 10 ripe persimmons (you want to end up with 3 cups of persimmon pulp)
     1 cup flaked coconut (thank you HomePlus)
     1 cup (or however much you happen to have on hand) chopped walnuts

Directions:

To prepare persimmon pulp, cut the tops of the persimmons, then cut each persimmon into fourths.  De-seed the persimmon, cut into smaller pieces.  Throw Put the pieces into the blender (or a food processor if you have) Blend until smooth-ish.


In a bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, sugar, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in butter. Combine flour, cinnamon and baking soda; add to milk mixture. Fold in persimmon pulp, coconut and nuts. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. {I used a 11-in x 8-in baking pan because that is what fits into our oven.  I also baked at a slightly higher temperature for longer than an hour, but whatever flips your pancake.}  Bake at 325° for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

---------------- 

Ohmigoodness!  I was skeptical about how this would turn out, but it tasted great!  The cake is really moist.  The cocnut, cinnamon, and walnuts help to balance out the persimmon.  My amazing husband thinks that the cake taste similar to carrot cake.  I think it would be amazing if some vanilla ice cream was served along side.


Success - persimmon pudding cake

Friday, October 7, 2011

Korean moments

I was thinking about titling this post Precious Moments, but then I thought you might think of the figurines.
This post has nothing to do with little statues, but with moments of my day that are sweet and precious.

There are no school buses in Korea (in the city at least).  But there are taekwondo vans.  Taekwondo is a pretty big deal in Korea.  So the taekwondo master (guy or girl in charge of the taekwondo place) picks up the kiddos every morning and delivers them to school.  After school, the kiddos go to practice taekwondo and then are taken home (generally, there are always exceptions).  Anywho, when I walk to school in the morning, I pass several different taekwondo masters helping the kiddos out of the van and then before they leave the taekwondo master says something in Korean (it sounds very taekwondo-y) to the kiddos and all the kiddos say something in unison back and then they bow.  It is so cute!  I am sure it does not sound cute if you are sitting in America trying to picture this scene in your head, but believe me, it is precious!

Second precious moment of my day.  I was checking Facebook today after lunch (FB informs me of all major news and keeps me up to date with American life...) and I realized that my co-teacher was humming.  That's nice I thought.  Then I realized that she was humming a song I knew (please watch this video, it sums up my childhood I think...gotta love the 80s and 90s).  I just sat and listened to her for a few moments, settling into the presence of God.  I finally interrupted her to tell her that I knew the song that she was humming.  This particular co-teacher is really into practicing her English, so I let her guess at the English lyrics and told her what I remembered of the song.  It was a sweet and precious moment of my day!

What are favorite moments of your day?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Pumpkin...

Can I just say that buying, boiling, and pureeing a pumpkin has provided me with hours of happiness?  Last night we made Pumpkin Lasagna.  This morning, there was just a little bit (a couple of tablespoons) of pumpkin puree left in one of the containers.  So I made a kefir, banana, pumpkin smoothie.

It was lacking.  So I opened up the cupboards and thought to myself, "self, what can I add to make this taste better?"

Nutella.

Go make yourself a 1 cup kefir, 1 frozen banana, a couple tablespoons of pumpkin puree, a scoop of Nutella (by nutella, I mean some generic off-brand of Nutella that they sell in Korea: Armella) smoothie.


It is the perfect fall breakfast (perfect in taste, not in healthiness).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

How to fold a fitted sheet

After years of frustration, I had a great moment this morning.  I folded my fitted sheet to look like all the rest.  It was a very happy moment in my life. 

Check it out.  Read the directions.  Fold your fitted sheet.  Be happy. 

Sometimes I am too Type A for my own good.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

6 easy steps to pumpkin puree

It seems that I have been hit with the plague (also known as the 24 hour flu).  I had a long to-do list for this weekend.  Now this is my to-do list for the weekend:  Get better.  {Read: I am so tired of sitting down, napping, etc.  The weather is amazing here this weekend, I so want to be outside enjoying it via a 14-miler.}

Anywho, I wanted to share my triumph from this week!  I made pumpkin puree.  boo.ya.

Step 1: Buy a pumpkin from the lady on the street.  Carry it home (it was a 40 minute walk home).

Step 2: Talk to your pumpkin and tell her how she is the prettiest pumpkin of all.

Please do not judge my pumpkin, you should have seen the ones I didn't pick!

Step 3: Cut the pumpkin in half.  Scoop the guts out.


Step 3.5: Do not put the pumpkin seeds in the refrigerator to be dealt with at another time.  Just do it.

Step 4: Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces and peel the pieces.  I was not aware that you can peel a pumpkin, but you can.  It was not as difficult as I thought it would be.

Step 5: Boil the pieces for about 25 minutes.


Step 6: Let the pumpkin cool some (drain the excess water) run it through a blender or food processor.  Ta-dah!  Pumpkin Puree.  As I said to my amazing husband (and the world of Pinterest) I went. I saw. I conquered.


So far I have used my pumpkin puree to make
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Spiced Pumpkin Hot Cocoa
Pumpkin Bread

Can't wait to try some recipes.  What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?