Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kitchen Tip: Boiling Water for Pasta/Potatoes/Etc.

While browsing Pinterest as I too often do, I came across a tip I thought seemed a bit ridiculous...

Use a wooden spoon to prevent water from boiling over while preparing pasta, potatoes, etc.

Unfortunately, now I am unable to find the link which lead to this tip, but here's the thing, it works! It was absolutely amazing and embarassingly freeing. Rather than keep an eye on my boiling pot of water I just did the dishes and played with Lady until I figured the pasta was ready. Fabulous! Definitely worth investing in a wooden spoon if you don't already have one! (Or you can try sticking a metal spoon over the pot or in the pot, however be careful touching a metal spoon that's been in or near boiling water...and I only assume that a metal spoon would because of folks discussing the subject at AnswersYahoo - take it for what it's worth)

Omelet Kimbap

Days of deskwarming in a Korean public school generally leave the foreign English teacher with a few lunch time options:
  1. Order in with other teacher's/vice principal...if you can find them.
  2. Leave for an hour and find a Kim-bap restaurant or other solo-dining option.
  3. Pack your own lunch.
Option 1 and 2 can be great for a couple days or so but quickly begin to drain the wallet, and when you realize one day, while your waiting for some sweet Korean lady to hand over your Kimbap, that you could have made your own with ingredients in your house, you suddenly lean toward option 3.

So, remembering my success with Kimbap in a pinch, I threw some rice in the rice cooker before hopping in the shower.  When the rice was cooked I added directly to the rice cooker container some mayonaise, sesame oil, salt and pepper and mixed it all up.  Set out a sheet of seaweed, spread on some rice and then whisk up an egg and pour it into a lightly greased fry pan.  Next lay the egg out on the rice sprinkle on some cheese and green onions, rolled the sucker up, made a few slices and lunch was ready for the day!

Cheesy Slow-Cooker Potato Soup


I love potato soup. I love comfort food. I love the slow-cooker.


Into a slowcooker throw: 8 cups peeled and diced potatoes (between 6 and 10 potatoes depending on size, Korean potatoes are generally quite small), one Onion chopped, 3-4 minced garlic cloves, equal parts water/broth and milk (you want the potatoes and onions to be covered, so the exact amount can be tricky to calculate). Cook on high for 5-6 hours.  Add to broth your choice of thickening agent (flour + water or more effective, cornstarch + water) and cook on low 3 hours.  During the last hour of cooking add additional milk if necessary for consistency and 1-2 cups grated cheddar (or your choice) of cheese and 2 Tbsp. dried Parsley, season with Salt and Pepper. During the last hour, cook up some bacon until crispy and slice some green onions to use as garnish, serve and devour.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Peanut Butter Spent Grain Cookies


When I made these chocolate-chip and pumpkin spent grain cookies, I considered that I would soon experiment with making them into an all peanut butter cookie using only spent grain rather than a mix of spent grain and oatmeal. 

Well dear readers, I have made a Spent Grain Peanut Butter Cookie and it was fantastic! (If not entirely overloaded with fiber ^.~)

As should be expected, I'm loving these grains and the way they are motivating me to continue creating and experimenting in the kitchen, especially in the baking department. There is something entirely satisfying about creating your own cookie recipe, empowering really, but maybe that's just me...

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit (177 Celsius) Combine 2 sticks butter, 1 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cups white sugar until fluffy.  Add 3/4 - 1 cup peanut butter depending on flavor preference, 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla and beat until combined. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder, shake of cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg (if you so desire). Stir in 3 cups of Spent Grains (drained of moisture to the best of your ability. Also note, I used 4 cups because that's the amount I have frozen per bag, that just requires me to use more flour to gain the consistency necessary). If the dough is too wet and sticky at this point (because generally spent grains hold a bit of moisture) add some flour and mix until you acquire a dough that can hold it's shape and isn't too wet. If you wish, you can stir in some chocolate chips or nuts or whatever your heart desires and finally plop dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown and beautiful.

For me, these cookies were incredibly delecate and remained soft the entire week or two we had them within our reach. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Taiwanese Three Cups Chicken


Perhaps it is in anticipation of soon setting down in Taiwan for a weeks worth of exploration that I suddenly craved a dish once prepared for us by an English expat of Taiwan who visited us via CouchSurfing.  Either way, the dish proved to be exactly what I was wanting for the evening meal and come together quicker than anticipated (minus the brown rice which is incredibly worth it, but incredibly slow in the rice cooker...and probably on the stovetop as well).


Original Recipe and Inspiration come from this 'Not Eating Out in New York' post

In a wok/large skillet/whatever you have heat to boiling 1/3 cup Sesame Oil with 10-15 smashed Garlic cloves and 2 Tbsp minced Ginger. Add 2 chopped Chicken Breasts (more authentic recipes call for thighs and dark meat which would result in a more tender dish, my market only had breasts) and stir until all pieces are browned/seared.  Add 1/3 cup Soju (or any other kind of Rice Wine), 1/3 cup Soy Sauce and 3 Tbsp. Sugar, bring to a boil then cover.  Reduce to simmer until chicken is cooked through (roughly 5-10 minutes).  Stir in 1-2 chopped scallions and a handful of peanuts (personal choice, also highly recommended is Thai basil however I did not have that on hand...) and serve with your choice of rice.

Tomato, Spinach, Mushroom and Chickpea Pasta Soup

This came together in the most perfect, beautiful way possible.

I somehow end up with a ton of things in my freezer, all.the.time.

There's all the 'once-a-month-cooking' that I'm still using because honestly, I like to cook things fresh, but having certain things in the freezer is a huge blessing.

There's always some beans because the canned variety aren't abundant in South Korea, so, I'm always putting a load in the slow-cooker and freezing about half.

There's always some homemade chicken broth because that's also great in the slow-cooker and home made broth is outstanding compared to powdered or store bought versions AND if you eat a chicken, why not get the most out of that bird!

There's always other random bits and pieces of only God knows what.

And the other night, a little bit of all that mess made for a most fabulously delicious dinner that way exceeded my expectations and which could be re-created...I think ^.~


Since most of these are pre-made but still home made you may want to experiment, I'm sure by the end you could have something delectable and quite similar

Saute in a touch of oil one chopped Onion.  Add to the pot 3-5 minced cloves of Garlic, saute one minute before adding 2 Tbsp. Butter and 1 cup chopped Mushrooms. (If you don't want butter, no problem, I just believe that butter and mushrooms are a beautiful combination).  After a few minutes of sauteing these veggies together, add 1 cup home-made Chicken Broth, 1 cup Water (or 2 cups store bought broth ^.~), and 2 cups Tomato Sauce (I recommend the one linked here as it has a few added depths and flavors that really amp up this dish) and 1 cup Spinach Pesto - without cheese (or you can add chopped spinach toward the end of cooking and surely have an equally delicious experience). Bring to boil add one cup of Chickpeas (or one small can) and about a cup of Pasta (macaroni or another short style) continue to boil 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked to desired tenderness, add water if needed. Serve with toasted baguette slices, a glass of red wine and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

No Bake Cookies

(Apologies for such a lame picture...I was so anxious to get these suckers made and devoured that I forgot to take a photo!)

In an attempt to further win over my winter camp students and increase my chances at an early release through subtle bribing, I whipped these no-bake cookies up which always impress my Korean co-workers and friends who are quite unfamiliar with the wide-world of baking and cookies.


Bring to boil 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 cup milk , 1 3/4 cups White Sugar, and 4 Tbsp. Cocoa in a sauce pan or pot.  Boil for about a minute, remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Peanut Butter followed by 1 tsp Vanilla and 3 cups Oats. Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets (or cardboard covered w/ wax paper) and place in the fridge or on your Korean verandah in the winter and let set a couple of hours before serving!

Ddeokguk - Korean Rice Cake Soup

You can have a new year in Korea without having a bowl full of Ddoek-guk.  And when we opted to host a Redneck Life game night on the 2nd of January our friend Aaron and a Korean friend decided it was good and appropriate to bring us a bag of ddeok-guk-ddeok (the rice cake noodles specific to this soup - pictured top left and top center). So I did a bit of research and whipped up an incredibly large pot of ddeok-guk one week after the new year!

The original recipe calls for boiling beef in the first step but since I still have an abundance of freezer goods including shredded pork, I went that route.


In a large pot bring to boil 1/2 onion, 3 scallions and 8 smashed garlic cloves with 10 cups water (or mix of water and choice of broth).  Reduce heat and simmer (1 hour if you added beef, 20-30 minutes if you're using freezer pork).  Meanwhile, soak ddeok, Korean rice cake, in a bowl of cold water about 20-30 minutes.  Mix 1/2 lb. cooked meat with 2 minced cloves of garlic, a touch of sesame oil, salt and pepper (can be used as topping or thrown into broth after the next step). Strain onion, scallions and garlic from broth pot. Drain ddeok of cold water. Add deok and meat to the boiling broth, let boil for 8-10 minutes until ddeok is soft and chewy. Whisk 2-3 eggs, drizzle into soup, let set about one minute before stirring. Serve soup with crushed seaweed on top and welcome in the New Year!
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