Monday, December 27, 2010

3am and I'm wide awake.

But there are some things that are pretty OK about this situation, because I'm at home.
First of all, and my Korea brain very much appreciates this because it's pretty sure it's 1pm and lunchtime, the fridge is stocked and loaded. Snack? How about leftover mahi-mahi and lobster bisque? Pita chips or toasted bagel on the side? Or fresh mushroom ravioli? That's a whole lot better than the options usually available in my kitchen in korea (PB&J or kimchi with tofu -- again).

Also? Hulu. No proxy needed.

Don't get me wrong, I love Korea. I'm glad I stayed for another year, and I'm looking forward to the next semester. But boy, there are some creature comforts at my parents' house that just can't be beat.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Update: 12/4 pics

I wrote about these monstrosities when they occurred the day after my birthday, with dough leftover from my homemade pizza birthday party.

But now I've got pics, cribbed from ye olde food blog. Behold!


The Pizzaghetti:



The Chili Cheezghetti (pizza topped with leftover vegetarian chili, cheddar, & mozzarella).



The chili was homemade a couple days before, and I'd tracked down some sharp cheddar (no easy feat in Korea!) so it came out like giant, really yummy nachos.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

HP7

I read the book in one sitting, from about 12:30am when I got the book back to my apartment (Marian and I were near the front of the line to buy it at midnight at a bookstore in Dupont Circle). We both read through the night, snacking occasionally on pumpkin pasties, licorice wands, cauldron cakes, and chocolate frogs (the last of which we bought, the first three we made, with the movies playing in the backgorund). I went into the bedroom when Dobby died so Marian wouldn't hear me sobbing and know something awful was coming.

It was intensely nerdy. And thoroughly awesome.

I haven't read the seventh book since it came out -- I've read all the other ones multiple times, because I'd re-read them every time a new one came out. But I've found that if I read it just before the movie comes out, I'm extra-unsatisfied with the film (of course, that might be because I did that with the first 5 movies, which all kind of sucked save #3).

At any rate, I saw movie #7 last weekend, and it was pretty great. I was hoping they could match #6, and I think they surpassed it. I've been really looking forward to re-reading the books since then, but my copy's at home. And while stores around here sell all the books, they're in Korean.

But then, I remembered something great - there's a mini English library right in my classroom! And lo and behold. They have 3 copies of all 7 HP books. Since the kids are clearly not reading them (and if they don't read them when there's a new movie out, they NEVER will), I will be here at my desk, re-reading #7. I think I'll ask Roy if it's OK if I take a copy home with me for the day, too.

He Thinks He's An Elf

Lesson of the Day: Elf (with English subtitles).
Lunch Today: sticky rice, spicy pepper chicken soup, whole (and I mean whole) small fried fish, white/non-spicy kimchi, seaweed (washed, boiled, and salted) mandarin oranges donated by a student's mom

Ginger Spice Christmakkah Cookies

I put these bad boys in my holiday cookie assortment boxes, which got sent out to a select few people who have generally made my life in Korea easier or better.

Assortments included some combination of cookies I baked in the last week, namely Shortbread Hearts, Bananoffee Thumbprints, Colored Sugar Rounds, Cinnamon Pinwheels, Lemon Pound Cake, Chocolate Biscotti, Almond Biscotti, mini Crushed Almond Thins, Lime-Glazed Shortbread Squares, and Ginger Spice Christmakkah Stars.

Here's the recipe for the last one:

Equipment:
  • Star of David cookie cutter (available, apparently, at major Korean grocery stores)
  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper/silicone baking sheet
  • Rolling pin (optional)

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 egg (scramble in a cup and pour in half?)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) room-temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
Instructions:

1. Beat butter with electric hand mixer for about 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat for another 2 minutes.
2. Add vanilla. Gradually add flour. You might want to switch to a rubber spatula or big wooden spoon.
3. Flatten dough out on parchment paper, cover with another piece of parchment paper. Chill in the fridge for 40 mins-1 hour
4. Take about half the dough out of the fridge, and roll out to 1/4" - 1/8" thick. Cut shapes. Lay on parchment-lined tray, chill in fridge for about 15 minutes.
5. Bake at 180C/350F for 8 minutes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Birthday Package

When I opened the window this morning, which I refused to do until about 8am when it finally got light outside, I saw that it was snowing. And not just snowing, but really snowing, and sticking, too. I think this is the first snow of the year I've seen in Daejeon -- it's flurried quite a bit in the mountains where my school is, but I hadn't seen anything until today in the city outside my apartment.

Lucky for me, I have the day off. I got to spend the very, very cold day snuggled inside with dark chocolate and Mighty Leaf tea from the birthday package my parents sent (thanks again, mom and dad!), watching back episodes of "Rubicon" and working on the website for the Daejeon Children's Home.

There will be more information to come about the website, and about the project we're working on, but the basic idea is that there should be a place for current, past, and future English-speaking volunteers to stay in touch with the children, and also a secure way to donate to the home.

The site isn't completely up and running yet, but you can peek at it as I try to get it ready with blog posts, video, pictures, stories, projects, and more. Find it by directing your browser to KoreaKids.webs.com, or by clicking here. Stay tuned for more info....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Goodbye, Third Grade Students


The last time I saw my now very grown-up and college-bound 3rd grade Wednesday English Lunch posse, we took some pretty excellent photos.
Here's me and Olivia aka Hye-In, that she took as a "self shot" with her cell phone just before they left school for the last time.



Olivia made a notebook that she decorated for me, and every week she gave me new Korean vocab words to study. I am so proud of my third graders for all getting into great colleges, and I am gonna miss that gang like crazy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brought Tofu Dunkin' Donuts to Work Today (...oh korea)

Dear 8-months-pregnant office assistant:

You're, like, super nice, but when there are doughnuts in the office, and you only eat half of yours, it makes me feel fat.

Thanks,

Dara

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Daily Jolt, I Hardly Knew Ye

Sigh. I was poking around various Smithies blogs today, and started thinking about how much I miss the Smith DailyJolt. I'd just assumed that if I ever found myself in, say, Korea, with lots of time on my hands between classes, I could pop on over to the Jolt and check in on the ickle Smithies.


Image from ProfessorQuotes tumblr, which is at least trying to pick up the mantle of the best part of the DJ, save the forums. DoubleSigh.

Monday, December 13, 2010

You Fool!

Name something a mother tells her child again and again:

1. You're doing good
2. Be quiet
3. Beside your neighbor is doing well, what are you doing?
4. Don't sex.
5. You fool!
6. Study.
7. Stop playing computer games
8. Study!

Cee Lo 싫어

Thanks, class 2-1, for alerting me to the fact that Cee Lo (of "Fuck You" fame) sounds like 싫어, the Korean verb "hate".

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Elevenses

Thursday Elevenses - earl grey, lemon pound cake, flannel pajamas.

I cannot begin to tell you how often I think "what on earth will I do when I have a real job?"

I imagine it'll be quite a bit like this:





I'm fairly confident that it will not involve me lying around for hours on Thursdays with tea, a book, and homemade cake before heading over to run around with the cutest kids in town at the Salvation Army orphanage.

Ah, well. Enjoy it while it lasts!


Seoul Sisters

Smith College Club of Seoul Christmas party tonight, at a restaurant in Gangnam called "Mamacita."
Superman, who by day pretends to be my coteacher Roy, drove me to the Gongju bus terminal so I could head up to Seoul straight from work, instead of spending an hour and a half getting from school to the Daejeon train station. I've never gone from Gongju to Seoul, but it wasn't a bad bus ride. Big comfy seats, relative quiet -- if I hadn't forgotten my iPod back at the apartment this morning, I probably would have fallen asleep.
Then a subway from the bus terminal to the Gangnam-gu Office stop, where I swung by the big department store there to pick up a gift for the "Secret Santa" gift exchange at the Smith dinner.

Most department stores in Korea have a basement level with a food court, sometimes a small upscale grocery store, liquor store, and a few small vendors selling various foodstuffs.

But this.

This was incredible. The Gangnam Shinsegae department store basement was pure food heaven. This place is amazing. Glass cases displaying assorted French chocolates next to a counter selling hot broiled winter squash filled with pillows of risotto, Chinese steamed pork buns next to beautifully decorated cupcakes, Korean food, burgers, sushi, fresh fruit, Italian food, cream puffs, -- you name it, they had it.

I knew if I stopped to look around, I'd get lost, so I promised myself I'd come back some other time and made my way up to the cosmetics floor to pick up a little gift set.

Then a quick taxi ride later, I found myself at Mamacita! Run by Smith alumna Diana, Mamacita has a yummy Mexican restaurant on the bottom floor and a tequila bar on the top floor. We had a great time, and a great meal, and I got a chance to see some of the now-familiar faces of the Smith College Club of Seoul. These women are incredible. Architects, research scientists, musicians, writers -- I could spend hours with them and never get bored. The club seems active and pretty tightly knit, but also very welcoming. I felt all warm and fuzzy, especially since this was the first Christmas event of the year. December makes it extra-tough to be away from home, but I really did feel very much at home surrounded by Smithies past and present. Even if they are all impossibly slender, well coiffed, well manicured, and well dressed. It takes some pretty extreme graciousness to make up for that.

I stayed around after dinner to head upstairs to the tequila bar part, but I knew the last train for Daejeon would leave at 11:30, so I skipped out on the tequila in favor of a bit of celebratory champagne, said my thank-yous and goodbyes, and made it to Seoul Station with 15 minutes to spare. I got home around 1, slipped into bed, and went to sleep thinking about how incredibly, incredibly lucky I was that Smith College and I found each other.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gaining a Pound Cake

Dear Martha Stewart.
Sincerely,
Dara

PS: I added a tablespoon of lime juice. A+.
PPS: I baked mini-cakes in cans, which will be going into Christmas treat boxes for various Korea people. High. Five.

Cakes and Ale

In and out of my oven today (no school! yay!):
1. Almond biscotti (new recipe - this one uses buttah)
2. Chocolate Chocolate chip biscotti
3. Lemon vanilla pound cake in a loaf pan
4. Lemon vanilla pound cake in a can
Plus, onion, mushroom, spinach, and smoked mozzarella omelet for breakfast, 두부 김치 for lunch, and basil eggplant chicken for dinner. What is basil eggplant chicken? I have no idea. But I have those things in the fridge, so -- why not, right?

Other cookies to be made this weekend - mini chocolate chip, chocolate-dipped almond shortbread.
Anyone know where I can find cornstarch in Daejeon?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pizzaghetti, Chili Cheeseghetti

23 is going pretty well, so far. For dinner tonight, I unleashed my inner 5-year-old on the kitchen, and JJ and I made pizzaghetti (leftover homemade pizza dough topped with spaghetti, sauce, and cheese)



and chili cheezghetti (pizza topped with leftover chili, cheddar, mozzarella).




And applesauce.

Clearly, my inner 5-year-old doesn't give a fig if I get hugely obese. She's just here for a good time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Appsimmon? Persinnamapple? Appersinnamon?

What do you get when you combine fresh apples, persimmons, and cinnamon?

Whatever you call it, it's delicious. I hope there's enough left for when I want to put it on latkes tomorrow! I wanted to make them today, but I forgot to get a potato grater at the store, and I didn't really want to go all the way back to get it. But tomorrow's another day, and I'll give it a whirl then!

Ingredients:
-4 apples (sweet, not tart)
-3 persimmons (hard and ripe)
- 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 generous tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more cinnamon + a dash of ginger)
-1/4 cup orange juice (or water + 2 tsbp lime or lemon juice)

Directions:
1. Peel, core, and chop the apples and persimmons.
2. Put everything together in a deep pot. Bring it to a boil, then cover and reduce heat
3. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes, more if you'd like.
4. Drain off excess water and reserve it. Smash a few fruit pieces in the pot to make sure it's thoroughly cooked.
5. With a hand mixer or immersion blender, blend until smooth.

6. Optional: I started early and had extra time to cook, so I just added the sweet fruit-y water back into the sauce and let it boil down. 'Cause why not?

Serve with 고구마 latkes. At least, that's the plan...

The United States of Miami

Survey Question: Name an American state.

Results so far:

Washington (13), Texas (11), California (6), Hawaii (4), Ohio (4), Illinoi (sic) (3), Florida (3), Miami (2), Connecticut (1), Mississippi (1), Alabama (1)

OK, Illinois sans 's' and Miami-is-a-state aside -- who knew Ohio was so famous?
Is this a side effect of "Glee"?

Survey Question: Name a famous artist (past or present)

Class 1-3's first 5 answers:
1. Leonardo DaVinci
2. Beyonce
3. 스위트 박스 ("Sweet Box")
4. Picasso
5. Michael Jackson

Guess I should have been more specific.

Name the university with the smartest students:
Harvard (22), SNU (11), MIT (5), KAIST (3), Caltech (3), SuncheonHyang (순천향), (3) 나사렛 "Nazarene University" (3)

Ouch, Yale, Oxford, and the Sorbonne. Looks like you've got some work to do on global outreach...

Name the foreign city you would least like to live in:
1. Pyongyang/ NK (10)
2. Sahara Desert/Africa (4)
3. London, England (4)
4. NYC, USA (4)
5. Sydney, Australia (3)

Number 6 was a three-way tie for L.A., Geneva, and Somalia. WTF?

Guinea of Ecuador

Me: Name a country in Africa.
Student: Guinea of Ecuador.
Me: Sorry, what?
Student: Guinea of Ecuador.
Me: (pause, try to remember map of africa. Fail to remember "guinea of ecuador". Go to computer. Slyly google image a map while students are busy) Ahem, Equatorial Guinea?
Student: Yes, Guinea of Ecuador.

I had no clue my students had any knowledge of any country that didn't play in the world cup.
Also, does this mean I fail high school social studies?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

It's Hanukkah! And another big thanks to the extremely friendly Seoul Chabad rabbi. I sent him an email a few weeks ago asking if he knew where I could find a menorah, and he responded by mailing me not only the menorah I asked about but also candles, chocolate gelt, and a piece of Israeli Bazooka gum (Okay, full disclosure; I'm not sure it's Bazooka, because the label is in Hebrew, but I sort of remember what a B and an A look like in Hebrew from that one Hebrew lesson I took at the Oxford Chabad? I swear I tried to learn, but they ended up canceling the class when I was the only person who showed up). Suuuper nice. So now I've got the menorah and box of 44 candles (with a picture of a VERY happy-looking father and son with matching yarmulkes lighting candles) sitting on my window sill.