Daily Archives: May 3, 2007

A return to sorted

There’s a great big huge gap since I last posted and I’m just now realizing how much I’ve missed it. Thanks to Christine and Connie’s insistance that I make a larger effort to share where I am and where I’ve been, I’ve been seriously considering what it is I have to say. I’ve discovered that its a lot, actually. There’s a lot to say about who I am now, what I’ve been through and how much my view of food, blogging and “food blogging” has changed.

Right, up to speed… I’ve been enrolled in the part-time culinary training program at George Brown College here in Toronto since September last year. I’ve also managed to move from my old design agency to a new one – with a massive boost in both responsibility and payscale along the way. Its been a challenge to try and manage these substantial life changes – not to mention some family issues, squeezing in a holiday to Mexico, several trips to L.A., Quebec City and San Francisco (where Christine and I finally – FINALLY – met in real life!). The one thing that has remained somewhat constant is that I’ve missed writing but felt as though I had nothing of any consequence to say – nothing of substance to contribute. I certainly kept in touch with my fellow MuffinToppers and other blogs of interest for their continued excellent reportage of things both small and grand but there was no passion left in my heart to even attempt to bring my literary skills into focus.

Things have changed. I’ve finally got something to say! About things grand and small, attitudes and beliefs, tastes and samples. At college I’ve gotten through Food Theory – Basic, Food Theory – Advanced, Nutrition and Communications for Hospitality and I find myself now taking a slight detour for the summer. My new course, Food Writing Level 1 isn’t part of my chef training program but rather a landmark “Food and the Media” certificate program (don’t worry, I’ll fill you in on this one soon enough… Keep your tongs in your crock, we’ll get to that). How ironic that the thing that brought me back to writing is… writing!

I guess this is something that every writer discovers at some point or another: if all else fails to get to writing; write something. Anything. By getting my literary mojo on for class and the required writing assignments, I’ve become interested in my voice again. I really do have something to say and finally, I’m not afraid to say it. By turns, I can and will most likely be controversial, aggressive, sweet, inquisitive, compassionate, fearless and benevolent. What I can no longer afford to be is quiet. A return of sorts to myself is where I am – and what comes next might be fun. Stay tuned for the ride.

Come gather for comfort: “galbi jjim” (aka Korean braised short ribs)

Korean short rib stew (galbi jjim)

Maybe I am craving comfort in my life–but these days, my mind has been filled with comfort foods, and my tastebuds are craving them as well, whether they be a bowl of North Korean style chicken soup or a piece of toast with plugra butter or some raw sapporo ichiban ramen (yes, this foodie likes to eat raw ramen in guilty splurges).

There are very few dishes that spell “comfort,” at least in my mind, than a bowl of galbi jjim, otherwise known as braised Korean short ribs. Short ribs are a favorite cut of beef of mine and I love them grilled and in soup, as well as braised in a stew; braised short ribs exist in other cuisines such as Italian cuisine, but my favorite form of this food happens in Korean cuisine. The dish is called “galbi jjim,” and it is incomparable.

(disclosure: I’m Korean–so I may be biased. But then again, this is a fantastic dish and you may probably agree with me in my assessment).

So incomparable is galbi jjim that it is known to be served to special guests of honor on special occasions, though I hardly wait for such occasions. But any dinner with galbi jjim becomes a special occasion as I watch the guests eat the short ribs with great delight, first timers and those familiar with galbi jjim alike.

Through the years, I’ve made my adjustments to a time-old recipe. I’ve found that pre-boiling the short rib pieces makes for very tender pieces of meat, and decreases the amount of fat in the end product. I know that pre-boiling meat is a “no-no” in cooking, but in this case the result (tender short ribs) is so wonderful (and I use the broth so that the flavors do not go to waste) that I can’t refrain from pre-boiling. Plus, it makes for a faster result–otherwise you’ll be braising the short ribs for MUCH longer.

I also like to add various vegetables, depending on my mood. In the past, I’ve added brussel sprouts to the dish to great success and delight. Brussel sprouts, needless to say, are not a traditional ingredient in this dish. Most recently, I added turnips, and they were equally delicious. Carrots and onions and potatoes are the mainstay vegetables, however.

I encourage you to experiment, and enjoy one of my favorite dishes!

Galbi jjim

Recipe follows after the jump…

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Tastespotting Chickens

tastespotting

Recently, I found out that my recent post on North Korean chicken soup with ohn bahn was getting a lot of traffic–where from? The answer: Tastespotting.

A simple click took me to a tantalizing website filled with food/gastroporn–simple and gorgeous pictures of food, with short descriptions and a link back to the featured site. This is a webportal for the appetite! And while browsing a bit, I found that I’m not the only one who loves this site; the venerable food blogger, Chez Pim, loves Tastespotting, too.

Of all the posts up there today–the beautiful cakes and muffins and cookies and noodles and soups and food products, a picture of fresh eggs caught my eye. The caption: “The best way to get fresh eggs? Raise your own chickens. Yes, even if you live in the city!” I clicked.

Because I love chickens. I have always wanted a chicken coop in my yard–and reading about it makes me want chickens even more! Fresh eggs, and new characters, pecking about my yard…and free manure! And pest control! It would drive my dogs nuts, and I’d have to find a way to shield the chickens from vicious predators like raccoons, but how lovely would it be to gather eggs in the mornings?

So much have I fantasized about this prospect–Melanie, another writer here on Muffin Top, and I have even go to the extent of researching different breeds. (“Oh, that one’s PRETTTY! But this one’s more productive! But–blue eggs!”) And we are not alone–my friend, Anne, loves chickens too.

Do I sense a zeitgeist movement of raising chickens in our semi-urban backyards?

I remember visiting my mother and father, who used to live in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Every morning, we’d be awakened by a rooster’s crow. Someone in their neighborhood was keeping chickens and a rooster. “Ah! I like it! Rooster is natural, good alarm clock!” my nature and animal-loving dad would say. I rather liked it, too.