Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Pumpkin Grits

So, I'm sitting there with all the pieces of the pumpkin and thinking, "What can I do with all of this." Seemed a shame to waste it. So, I decided to make some Korean-style Pumpkin Porridge (HobakJuk) with the pieces. But the amount of porridge made was not enough, so I decided to thicken it up a little to make it go around. Et voila: Halloween Pumpkin Grits.

You need:

Pumpkin meat chopped into small thin pieces. (about 3-4 cups)
Water enough to cover pumpkin
Dark Brown Packed sugar (2 tablespoons)
Quaker Instant Grits (3/4 cup)
Glutinous Rice Powder ( 3 tablespoons, more makes it thicker)
Salt (1 teaspoon)
Butter (1 tablespoon)
Molasses (1/4 teaspoon)

1. Place the pumpkin pieces in a large pot with enough water to cover them.

2. Boil until the pumpkin is soft.

3. Drain off excess water and place pumpkin in a blender

4. Puree the pumpkin and return to the pot on low heat stirring occasionally.

5. When it begins to boil, Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of packed brown sugar.

6. Slowly stir in 3 tablespoons of glutinous rice power (찹살가루). Add more rice power for thicker porridge.

7. Slowly stir in the 3/4 cups of instant grits making sure not to make clumps.

8. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the grits are softened and thickened. If they come out too thick (too much rice power or grits) then add some water 1/4 cup at a time or so until the desired consistency is reached.

9. Melt in the butter (add more butter for flavor as desired)

10. Serve piping hot in a bowl with a dollop of molasses (or maple syrup) for a little extra down home flavor and garnish.

Can I get a YEE-haw!!


Every Halloween, I take a little time to entertain and teach my children (my real ones) about pumpkin carving and the tradition of the jack-o-lantern. My daughter is 5 year old now and she is starting to understand a little bit about ghosts and goblins and scary-things-that-go-bump-in-the-night so, I told her that the jack-o-lantern should be scary so it will scare away all of the boogymen (and women, important to be P.C. don'cha'know) on Halloween. But she said that it is just to scary and she wants daddy to make a 'heart' jack-o-lantern. So, we made a deal that the scary side would face out the window to scare away the evil spirits and the heart side would face inside to give us a little chuckle now and again. The result: Jack-the-bipolar-O'-lantern.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

One year of the view

I'm a little late on the exact date which was 12 October. It's been a fast year and I looked back and was a bit shocked at how much I have written. I know I'm not the most read blog on the Korean Blogosphere but to all my faithful readers and to those yet to come...DaeDanHi Kamsahamnida...Thanks loads!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Today's Vocabulary: Gyrate

Gyrate - 1. To wind or move in a spiral course 2. To revolve quickly and repeatedly on one's own axis

Observe an example:

Now if that ain't gyratin' I don't know what is.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Alarms in the night

I was soaking in the warmth of sweet sleep and my wife came in.
"Hey...wake up!! what's that noise?"
"What the...Huh?"
"C'mere...listen....it sounds like an alarm and I smell smoke...do you smell smoke?"
Ok...I'm awake but still groggily searching for my glasses. I staggered to the window now noticing the siren like noise that caused my wife to stir. At first, I thought it sounded like a car horn. But it could also be a fire alarm like the one we heard when the apartment across the hallway caught fire. I smelled no more smoke than I would normally smell in the city at this time of year. I tried to triagulate the location of the sound but could only figure it was coming from the apartment across the parking lot. I saw no smoke billowing out of any of the apartments. I looked at the clock-3:34am.
"It's not coming from this apartment. Call the security guy and tell him to investigate it."
"shee-lo!" she said sheepishly in Korean to let me know that was not something she was inclined to do. She closed the windows and went back to bed. So, I picked up the phone to call the guy downstairs.
"No answer...probably sleeping at this hour." I thought to myself. "Forget it, go back to bed." So, I walked off to bed cursing the time of night and lamenting the thought of getting up in a mere 4 hours. But as I laid in bed, the sound that I couldn't even hear whilst bathing in sweet sleep was now an incessant dog whistle beckoning me to seek out its source. I put on my shirt and sandals and announced, "I'm going downstairs to find out what it is."
"OK, I'm going back to sleep." My wife advised.
"I can't sleep now." I said as I closed the door. Once on the first floor, I found the security guard sound asleep. I knocked on the door and spoke "Adjusshi!!"" I repeated several times envying him his sound sleep and then as I walked off in the direction of the noise which was now obviously coming from the basement parking lot.
The mystery was revealed. Just as I had thought it was a stuck car horn. It was one of those 'bongo' pickup trucks that drives around with a PA system on the top announcing to the world that there were fruits and veggies to be had. I chuckled as the thought crossed my mind that this truck just doesn't know when to shut up. As I drew closer, the sound got louder and then almost deafening. I tried the doors - no luck. I banged on the hood, stupidly hoping that the sound would stop with a jar. Then, I looked for a phone number on the dash. Sloppily written with a sharpie on a compact disk was the driver's phone number. I searched my pockets and realized that I didn't bring my phone. The sound was incessant and had now grown into a full-blown headache. The thought of sleep now long gone and replaced by an urge to take a couple of Tylenol and brush my teeth.
I knew, without any doubt, that if i did not do something about this, I would be hearing that sound all night and sleep would be out of the question. I turned around to go and get my phone and noticed a door. I remembered that I had seen some security guys walking in and out of that door from time to time but thought, "Surely not. Who could hear that and do nothing" as I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open to find two crumpled figures asleep soundly on a heated floor.
"Adjusshi!" I demanded attention gently, "Jo Ghee Yo!!" and then realized that someone who could sleep throught the blare of a car horn not 10 meters away would not likely wake up with gentle chiding. "AADUUSHEEEEEEEEE!!! JOGEEEEYOOOOO!" I made my best attemt to be loud but reasonably polite sounding and one of them stirred and woke. It was not immediately evident that he was coherent of the sound coming from the parking lot. So, lacking the proper language skills, I just opened the door and pointed. He blankly looked at me like "What do you want me to do about it." Though he dare not say that to me. I told him he should try to call the owner.
"There's no phone number. " He said and led me to the conclusion that somehow he had known about the noise and deliberately done nothing.
"There IS a phone number on the dash." I said in Korean and walked out as he was still digging for his phone. I came back and gave him the phone number and he called. No answer. And indicated his resignation to leave it alone. Frustrated with his lack of concern, I just turned to leave. The other security guard was still either asleep or feigning during the entire exchange. "How the hell can he sleep," I commented a bit rudely and left.
Back in my apartment, the sound that was barely audible when I had first been stirred was still ringing in my ears enough to make it difficult to sleep. I remembered the phone number and called. Someone picked up the phone.
"YoBoSayYo" I greeted --- no answer. So, I hung up. I sent the best Korean message I could think of "Car....problem....go see!!!" I waited and then fumbled through the electronic dictionary in my phone looking for the words disconnect, battery, and horn after that I sent another message. This time I received a call a few minutes later.
"Who is this." demanded the Korean-speaking voice.
"Finally, someone responds." I thought and then said in Korean, "Your claxon is honking."
"What." I assumed that claxon was somehow not the right word though I recall that is what they called it.
"Do you drive a 'bongo' parked in the basement of Woobang Apartments?" I managed to make a full sentence in Korean.
"Yes." came the terse answer. I was annoyed by the curtness of his answer until I realized that I probably would not like being called at 3:45 in the morning even if my car was making a problem.
"Your car is noisy. Please see to it." I was not using the polite form anymore.
"Alguesseumnida." The voice replied understanding and hung up.
I was fairly confident that the sound would be taken care of and it was perhaps that confidence that led me to lay in bed and waiting for the sound to cease. I imagined a person getting out of bed and getting dressed and going to his truck. It seemed like it was taking forever but I could still hear the ringing in my ears. I wondered if the ringing was just my imagination as a variety of other early A.M. sounds seeped through the closed windows. I got out of bed again to see if the sound had stopped, but it had not. I closed both outside and inside windows, knowing that it would make the house stuffy. It was 4:40. I laid down and eventually fell asleep with a pillow over my head. When i woke up the next morning, the sound was gone and the house felt like a sauna. I hope his battery ran out.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kristi Lu Stout on Korea

The last few days, I have been watching my favorite eye candy CNN anchor singing the praises of South Korea. In the CNN special report "Eye on South Korea" Ms. Stout is travelling around Korea (with Eunice Yoon and Ji-Ae Sohn) and giving various reports on the state of everything from the 'ubiquitous' connectivity and the gaming industry to the 'ultramodern' shipbuilding industry. Unfortantely, that eye seems to be looking through a pair of rose-colored glasses.

I know there are a lot of great things in Korea and basically, I love this country. I make my home and my family here. However, although some of the reports are interesting and will undoubtedly do some good for the Korean economy and the human interest stories will obviously appeal to an international audience while they will leave the Korean population writhing in masterbatory ecstacy. The whole thing feels like an extended "Sparkling Korea" or "Seoul of Asia" commercial singing the praises of the South Korean culture and economy without any of the balanced reporting that can help encourage reflection on improvements that need to be made.

Hey Kristy, in case you read this, I have an idea: instead of just slathering over the high rate of connectivity and showing the gamers in their glory on the stages and on the televisions of the nation, why don't you focus a little on the internet and gaming addiction that is ruining lives all over the country. Instead of 'oohing' and 'aahing' the shipbuilding industry and hi-tech gadgets, why not add a little balanced reporting and show the plight of the migrant workers of Korea who do a lot of the work neccessary keep the industry alive. While you're at it, you could focus a little on the state of English education in Korea and maybe have a story or two about the hagwon industry and crooked directors. This would segue nicely into a report on racial discrimination and the treatment of mixed race children.

I guess "Eye on South Korea" is not about balanced reporting. If we want some real grit we need to call Christianne Amanpour or Anderson Cooper. Ms. Stout is just too sweet looking to be able to handle any of the tough reporting and probably would be best sticking to the pollyanna side of the news anyway. In the meantime, I'll just turn the sound down and enjoy.

P.S. - If you get down to Daegu, look me up, I'll buy you a couple of drinks and fill you in.

UPDATE: At the advice of an anonymous poster, I would like to offer my apologies to the lovely Ms. Stout (great name though, eh?) as they did add some stuff on cyber addiction and the gap between the rich and the poor in Seoul according to the reader. I was too busy to watch this morning so I, unfortunately, missed it. Assuming that these pieces have the equivalent enthusiasm that the brighter pieces have and are not just stuck in there to appear balanced then I apologize.
PSS: I'd still like to fill you in over a beer, Kristi:)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Baek-in Pedophiles in Korea???!!!

Say it ain't so. Interesting discussions over at Marmot's, ROKdrop, and Lost Nomad
You take an environment of legal laxity as is found in Korea and you are bound to attract some of these freaks. Problem is that they don't look or act like freaks. They are often very good with children and exactly the kind of person that children's hagwons are looking for; a director's dream. As the father of a 5-year-old daughter, I worry every day that she is going to run into someone like this guy...whether Korean or Foreign the odds are just too great to not be on edge.

I am reminded of a complaint that my wife waged with me one day. She commented on a foreigner that was standing next to the entrance to the place my daughter goes to dance class. My wife said that this guy looked up and d0wn my daughter in such a way that it really upset her. Not to be overly boastful, I realize that I'm just like every other proud father in my love of my daughter but I know that she is exceptionally attractive (child model) and a very tempting target for a Korean pedophile because of her caucasian appearance. So, of course, I'm watching eyes and behavior with the paranoia that only a father can have.

It would be interesting to hear from other fathers out there, particularly those like myself with mixed race children: Do you think you are more paranoid here than you would be back home? Do you worry, like I do, that your lack of langauge skills would aggrevate a potential situation? I personally don't know how I would have stopped myself from opening a can of whoopass on the guy my wife saw looking at my daughter like that. But that is a foreigner, the cops wouldn't really give a hoot....what if it was a Korean man? What could you say, what could you do? What if your daughter's bus driver or swimming coach molested her?
All comments welcome.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's gochu time

I'm a little late on this but it seems that some people in my city apartment have decided that being in the city won't stop them from the usual countrified things; setting the peppers and something else (I think it's either rice stalks or mugwort) to dry in the sun. It sure makes for an interesting and colorful picture anyway. Little bit low quality due to the cameraphone.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

About the Waekookin mall

So, we have this new online mall called waekookinmall.com that sells mostly IKEA furniture. I'm thinking, great, maybe i can get that (Fusion) table i wanted to get. I saw it on another Korean site and it was about double the price from stateside and I just wasn't willing to pay that much for what is usually supposed to be cheap DIY furniture. So, I went to the mall to see if it was there and it wasn't. Then, I sent a message to see if they had it or could order it for a reasonable price. Below is my question:

Is it possible to get IKEA's Fusion table here for a reasonable price?...the
korean retailers seem to be marking up more than 100% and i'm just not willing
to pay that for what is supposed to be affordable furniture.>

The response took just a day or so, but was dissappointing to say the least:

Sorry, We don't have it in stock. Maybe you're right but here is Korea.>>Thank you,

This kind of response just puzzles me. Seems polite enough at the end, but those words "...here is Korea" just get me all hot under the collar. Particularly when dealing with businesses that claims to be 'foreigner friendly.' A company whose motto is "For your better life in Korea" and whose very name suggests that it exists to serve the foreign community seems satisfied to teach me about living in Korea. I can understand that they do not have the table I'm looking for and I can accept that but to come back with "here is Korea" just makes no sense. But having been in Korea a long time, I am used to communication difficulties and thought it might just be a communication problem. Nonetheless,I asked for some clarification:

Perhaps you could explain what you mean by "Maybe you're right but here is
Korea." Do you mean that I should EXPECT to be marked up 100% because this
is Korea? Do you mean that Korean businesses are normally usurious? With
this reply are you suggesting that this practice is ethical or justifiable? Is your glib
response simply a result of your desire to take advantage of the foreign community without using the appropriate global business practices? Perhaps it is just a lack of English communication skills. Please help me to understand this brief and enigmatic statement so I may share it with the foreign community as I am sure they would like to know where you stand on the subject of ethics.

Was I too harsh? I sent the previous message on 7 October....Thusfar, no answer has been posted. I guess they must be busy.