Monday, July 18, 2011

Fish Bowl Food Genre #1: Curries


Monday night’s dinner…


Ever since I got back in the habit of blogging about food, I’ve realized how much I’ve missed it.  So today when I made some off-the-top-of-my-head curries for dinner, I thought it would be a good chance to post some recipes.


A brief history here: My family’s pre-Korea diet consisted of about 4 food genres: (1) pasta (generally spaghetti, the cheapest food to make in the U.S. next to Macaroni & Cheese, also in the same genre); (2) pot roast (or other crock-pot meat and veggie mix); (3) Tex-Mex (including chili); and (4) Curries.


There are a few reasons why I like to make curries so often.  The first is that I love the flavor – in fact, for many years in my childhood, chicken curry was my birthday dinner of choice.  The recipe my mom used was passed down a generation or two, and it had a heavily Americanized flavor and texture.  However, after tasting authentic homemade curries and Indian dishes made by some of my friends post-high school, I knew my palate had not been tricked into falling in love with curries.


The second reason I enjoy making curries is that I used to cook them with PapaFish when we were dating.  I still have the recipe cards we used on those first few dining-in dates somewhere around here…


The third reason I enjoy curries is that they make for a quick, easy, delicious recipe.  They flavor vegetables well and make meats more savory.  Everyone in the family, TheFry included, loves the taste of curries and will eat just about anything that is curried.


Now, I have a confession to make: the recipes I’m going to post, along with most of the curries I usually make, are completely random and not really related to authentic Indian food in any way.  In fact, I regularly stock the sinful curry powder in my pantry, because I am too dang lazy to go to Itaewon (or wherever) and buy all the separate spices for authentic South Asian recipes call for.  In fact, all the ingredients in this list I bought at HomePlus or Emart, including the curry powder, which is made by Tesco (yay!).  (In fact the only thing I bought at Emart was the fresh parsley, which I promptly stuck in the freezer).


Okay, on to the recipes!  I hope you enjoy these family-friendly curry recipes. ^.^


Beef, Carrot and Apricot Curry



200g ground beef

1/2 onion, diced

2T Curry powder

4 small apricots, pitted and diced

1/2 C chopped carrots

1 C diced potatoes

salt to taste



1) Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Brown the ground beef together with the onions.

2) Add the curry powder and stir.  Simmer for about 2 minutes.

3) Add the potatoes and the carrots and stir a little bit.  Cook on medium heat, covered, until the carrots and potatoes are slightly tender.

4) Add the apricots and stir.  Cook uncovered for a couple more minutes.  Add salt to taste.


Succotash Curry


I am probably the only blogger in the world who still takes pictures of their food with a point-and-shoot digicam. *^^*


1 can (432g) kidney beans, drained and rinsed.

1 can (340g) sweet corn, drained and rinsed.

1C chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)

2T butter

1t cinnamon

1/2 t ground coriander

1/2 t black pepper (or to taste)

salt to taste



1) On medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the kidney beans right away, stirring and simmering for about a minute.

2) Add the corn and the spinach.  Stir and simmer for about a minute.

3) Add the spices.  Stir and simmer for a few minutes, until the mixture is heated through and the flavors are absorbed.

4) Add the salt last, until the taste is right to you.  I used about a teaspoon.


Tomato & Parsley Chutney



2 C diced fresh tomatoes

2 T crushed frozen parsley (or finely chopped fresh parsley)

1/2 diced onion

salt to taste

fresh lemon wedge (optional)



Mix everything together in a bowl except the salt. Sprinkle salt over the whole bowl, a pinch at a time, until the flavor is as strong as you like.  I recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon, stirring the mixture, and letting it set for 5~10 minutes.  Then come back and add more salt if needed.


Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the mixture if desired.   



So…I hope you enjoy curries as much as I do, even something as inauthentic as this. *^^*  Until HomePlus starts stocking jasmine rice and garam masala, Tesco curry powder will have to do. ^.^

Sweet Daiso Find – Popsicle Freezers

So I took TheFry to get a vaccination the other day and he was so upset afterwards that I would do just about anything to cheer him up.  That’s when I decided to take him to Daiso.


Daiso is like a mini household-goods store, like if you put Bed Bath & Beyond in a Seven-Eleven.  Anyhow, TheFry was excited to go, and I bought him a little set of six cars for 2,000 won (roughly $2).  He couldn’t have been happier.


And neither could I, really, because I found these supercool popsicle freezer containers – sets of 4 for 1,000 won each.  I bought two sets and immediately put them to use.



They’re dirty, but you get the point.


The great thing about popsicle freezers is that you can make an iced summer treat out of just about anything.  Plus, you can wash the containers so you won’t be making a lot of waste throwing away popsicles and paper cups or the plastic wrappers from packaged ice-pops.


This week I’ve made ice-pops almost every day from 100% grape or apple juice.  In fact, I made some watermelon lemonade and froze that, too.  I must say that watermelon lemonade ice pops are really, really yummy!


What makes popsicle freezer containers worthy of a blog post?  Probably because they keep me from having to march all the way to the grocery store whenever I feel like eating an ice cream.  But mostly, I have a very vivid memory of the time when we first bought this particular kind of popsicle freezer containers.  I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember my mom being excited about the little straws on the side that you can use to drink the juice.  I must have been pretty young because I remember thinking it was an A M A Z I N G idea to put straws on popsicle containers.


Anyhow, I hope you can go out and buy some of these if you’d like – you won’t regret it!  My next experiment…vanilla latte popsicles. *^_^*



TheFry and PapaFish with watermelon lemonade popsicles

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chef Fry: Bean Sprout Soup

Last week, TheFry’s nursery school class went on a “field trip” to the farmer’s market that happens every Monday in front of their building.  I gave him 1,000 won (about one dollar) and he bought a big bag of bean sprouts, a potato, and an onion.


He was super excited about his purchase, and he was even more excited to put on his apron and prepare one of his favorite foods with the ingredients: Bean Sprout Soup (콩나물국).


Normally the soup does not call for onion or potato, and actually I recommend against using them, as this particular soup tasted somewhat off.  The recipe I like to use (as always whenever I cook Korean food!) is from Aeri’s Kitchen.


This soup has a really mild flavor (especially if you remove the anchovies!) and TheFry will eat it for any meal on almost any day of the week.  Serve it with rice and some dried seaweed and it makes a tasty meal for any preschooler.


Here’s a video of us preparing the soup.  I hope you enjoy it!


Cutest. Chef. Ever.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Drinks and Treats

One thing I haven’t even realized I’ve missed while living in Korea is the culture of summer celebrations in the United States.  I miss the 4th of July fireworks and the random barbecues that happen where no one really invites anyone, but everyone just shows up, and the food is still delicious.


This past week I’ve been remembering back to my teenage years, when I spent much of the spring and summer going to various celebrations in the different places where I’ve lived.  Between Fiesta Week in San Antonio, Cinco de Mayo and 16 de Septiembre in Tucson, to old-fashioned barbecues in South Dakota, there was always good company and great food.


This weekend my co-workers and I are having a gathering and we’re making Mexican food.  In addition to the usual taco bar that I like to prepare, I decided it would be really fun this time to try and make some cold summery drinks.  When I was deciding what to make, I really couldn’t choose. 


My favorite summer drink to make has always been watermelon lemonade, which I used to make with my mom back when I was in high school.  However, I don’t have a blender this time around so that one was out – I decided to make plain lemonade instead.


Then  there was the conundrum of not having enough lemons.  One summer drink that I enjoyed a lot when I was in middle school was horchata, a sweet rice milk drink that I used to have when I would go to celebrations of Mexican holidays in Tucson.  The first time I tried to make it was for my high school Spanish class and it turned out pretty poorly, so I was eager to try again for better results.


I still felt like that wasn’t enough so I decided to make 수정과 (sujeonggwa), a sweet cinnamon and ginger tea that reminds me of cooking Korean food when I lived in Minnesota.  Though it is most often served cold, I enjoyed drinking it hot with a dried persimmon or a dried apricot – the fruit would get plump and juicy in the teacup, and the flavor reminded me of spiced apple cider, which was more expensive to make when our family budget was much tighter.


So here are the links for the recipes that I was able to find on the web, and a little about them.  I hope you have time to make some of these yummy drinks so you can cool off on a hot day.


1. Lemonade

yield: about 1.5 liters)

This is probably the easiest recipe to make, especially if you can get the lemon juice without hand-squeezing it.  I bought some lemons at Costco for about 7,000 won and was really excited about the lemonade this time.  I found this recipe yielded perfect results.


2. Korean Cinnamon & Ginger Tea (수정과)

I used this recipe from Aeri’s Kitchen, my all-time favorite Korean food blog.  This recipe also yielded perfect results.  You can serve this drink hot or cold.  Normally I like to drink it hot in the winter time so the dried persimmon puffs up and is all juicy with the tea’s flavor, but this time we decided to chill and make a refreshing summer drink.


3. Horchata

This recipe for a Mexican-style sweet rice milk drink was hard for me to emulate because I don’t have a blender, food processer, or coffee grinder. I even tried using a meat tenderizer (haha) but that didn’t work, of course, because the grains of rice were so small that they stuck between the teeth of the tenderizer.

Also, I used short-grain Korean rice instead of long-grain rice and cinnamon sticks instead of ground cinnamon.  Since I adapted the recipe so much, it’s quite different from the one I linked to, so I’ll write my own recipe here:


Danielle’s Horchata

yield: about 1 liter


1 C rice

about 3~4 cinnamon sticks (or 2 large pieces of bark)

1/3 C chopped blanched almonds

5 C warm water

1/2 C milk

2/3 C white sugar



1. Put the rice and cinnamon sticks together with the warm water in a bowl and set overnight, covered.

2. The next day, strain the mixture into a bowl and squeeze out all the juice you possibly can.  Set the rice aside and save it for a yummy breakfast porridge.

3. To the rice water, add the milk and sugar.  You may want to add less sugar if you prefer the drink to be less sweet.

4. Serve chilled over ice.


Horchata Rice Porridge

(This recipe makes a yummy, cinnamon-flavored rice porridge that you can make with the leftover rice and almonds from the horchata you just made.)


1. Pull out the cinnamon sticks or pieces of cinnamon bark from the leftover horchata rice and discard.

2. Place the remaining rice and almonds in a pressure cooker (or rice cooker if you have one) with 2 cups of water.  You may also add a handful of raisins if you like it.

3. Cook until done (that’s 5 minutes of wobbling in our pressure cooker, not sure how long for the rice cooker).  Stir in 1 cup of milk with the hot rice and mix together until the milk is absorbed.

4. Add sugar to taste. (I just serve without sugar and let each person add sugar to their own bowl)


So there you are!  Enjoy these sweet, summery drinks cold with ice, or you can freeze them into popsicles.  A cool drink is a good way to enjoy the summer and it also really brings back memories in my case. ^^

Saturday, July 2, 2011

TheFry’s Art Projects

TheFry takes four classes at his nursery school in addition to their normal program: art, P.E., music, and English.  We pay about 60,000 won per month for these for classes in addition to his tuition fees, which altogether isn’t really that much.


So anyway, he comes home with a big bag of art projects and English books at the end of each month.  We stow the story books on his bookshelf, look through the English activity books and kind of laugh at how hard they work to make 2-year-olds fill out workbooks (and I can laugh because I have to do this as part of my job, too – so I share TheFry’s teachers’ pain).  We laugh even harder, however, at the cute and sometimes strange little art projects the kids do every now and then.

animal foods

In this first one they learned about what animals eat, I guess.

squirrel nuts

I think he might have mistaken the peanut for something else…?


  animal hats

They made these cute felt headbands with different detachable animal faces.


Animal poo

This one of the different shapes of animal poo is probably my favorite.

animal poo rabbit

Poor rabbit.



Not sure what’s going on in this picture…maybe he’s making a guard dog?  It looks like a bald, earless sheep. ^^;;



Also not sure what’s going on in this picture of the hairy legs.  There was another picture of a town that I think he was supposed to stamp, so maybe he stamped the wrong picture.


TheFry is in the Korean Police!



Prepare to be arrested with real plastic handcuffs and beaten with wiffle-bat-esque nightstick! 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bilingual Potty Training

Our house has been alive with a new adventure these days: TheFry is finally getting the hanging of “Potty Training!” We’ve been working with him little by little for the last 7 months or so. We took the whole thing in several small steps, working only at home on weekends, then gradually introducing underwear, until he finally decided in March that he wanted to wear underwear to school and not his diaper.

However, the concern we always had about potty training was how it would work in two languages.

TheFry’s nursery school has been trying to encourage him to use the potty for the last five or six months. We had hoped that nursery school would aid in potty training success, and that the social pressure of being a big boy like his classmates would help him. However, we started potty training at home before the nursery did, and we were concerned about the confusion TheFry might feel when learning potty training at the school.

As much as I thought I might speak Korean with TheFry on a daily basis, it has not turned out that way. Most of our interactions occur in English, because the words I want to say just come naturally to me. Therefore, it felt awkward and even a little silly to try and teach him two sets of words for “pee” and “poop”. At first I started teaching him the words in English and Korean, but he seemed confused, and I was constantly fumbling over the words. Therefore, I dropped the Korean vocabulary and just trained him in English.

When he started potty training at the nursery school, I wrote in Hangeul the pronunciation for the words we used for “pee” and “poop.” The teachers were kind enough to make an effort to use the English words, but I know they were more than likely going through the same thing I just described. And, given that Dexter was used to hearing only Korean from them, it only made more sense for them to potty train him in Korean. (Furthermore, I’ve been told he actively ignores his teachers when they try and speak English to him, but that’s another story for another day.)

In the end, he learned both sets of words just fine, but now that he’s mastered potty training, he only uses the Korean words. Why? Maybe it’s because he knows I understand them. Maybe it’s because he spends a large part of every weekday speaking Korean and using the Korean words for “pee” and “poop”, and switching doesn’t seem to make much sense if he knows he’s being understood. Maybe he finds that the words just come easier to him in any case.

All this makes me wonder just a little bit how he will feel in other situations in his life. I’ve often wondered if, when he finds the one he loves in the future, whether the Korean words or English words for “I love you” will come first to his mind. Or, if he continues to worship God, which language he will feel more comfortable for worship. When he writes in his diary (if he ever has one), in which language will he write?

Though I ponder all these things often enough, for now I’m just glad to not be buying any more diapers for awhile!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

English Loan Words in Korean: A Bus Stop Story

One thing I’ve noticed TheFry doing in his language acquisition adventure is categorizing loan words in a very different way than I expected.

Let me explain this further for a minute. The Korean language (as used in South Korea) is full of English loan words. Many everyday objects are words taken straight from English with a Koreanized (or “Konglish”, as many of my students would say) pronunciation. Off the top of my head, I can think of these: bus, heart, truck, pink, pizza, chicken nuggets, cheeseburger, spaghetti, taxi. Yes, many of these items are food or transportation-related nouns, and it certainly doesn’t stop there – this is just the kind of vocabulary that’s infiltrated TheFry’s life right now.

Now, as a monolingual speaker of English, I tend to recognize the loan words as being English words borrowed into the Korean lexicon, and not separate members of the Korean lexicon. As my undergraduate studies in linguistics will refresh my memory, this is not necessarily the way that native speakers of Korean, especially monolingual Korean speakers, will think of such words. Anyhow, I had neglected to remember this when TheFry’s Korean and English lexicons began to form and appear in public. One particular incident brought all of this to the forefront of my mind:

We were standing at the bus stop and waiting, as we generally do on Saturdays, to go into Seoul or grocery shopping – I don’t remember which. We were all alone at the bus stop at first, and TheFry was chirping “Bus! Bus!” as he usually does, because he can’t say a word just once and leave it at that. Soon we were joined by other would-be passengers, and one lady in particular greeted us. TheFry refused to be greeted, protesting “No, thank you! No, thank you!” and hiding his face in my neck. Then, out of the blue, he turned to the lady and shouted “beoseu! beoseu!”

I had to laugh out loud. TheFry had perfectly differentiated the two words in pronunciation and usage. One thing he has managed to do since a very early moment in his acquisition of Korean and English is to distinguish to whom he speaks each language. In general, he uses English with his family members and other people that he knows will understand English, and he uses Korean with everyone else. So, he had distinguished the English word “bus” from the Korean word “beoseu” without any trouble.

This little anecdote reminds me that TheFry, as a native speaker of Korean, has acquired what I would call “loan words” as Korean words, and they appear to fall naturally into his Korean lexicon, separate from the English words from which they are derived. Those English words, in turn, appear to fall into his English lexicon, and are separate in form, but not in meaning, from their Korean equivalents. I will need to do more research to see if this is a common phenomenon, and if it indeed happens as I think it does, so if anyone has any pertinent information, please feel free to share. ^_^

I wonder how he will come to think of such words as he grows older. I can only assume that he will come to think of such words as loan words from English, although not English words – much in the same way Spanish loan words and phrases (i.e., “burrito”, “hasta la vista”) are recognized as being not native to English by many, if not most, English monolinguals. However, there is a chance he could still see them as distinct forms of separate languages (a similar example from Spanish would be “barbecue”, from barbacoa). It will be interesting to see how he thinks about and uses English loan words as he grows up.