Monthly Archives: May 2008

rifling through a cookbook

various Korean snacks

Just a little post with one of my musings here, people. I’m so inspired by French Laundry At Home–I’ve been thinking about a foray of my own, in a similar vein. Only with Korean food.

My mom cooked fantastic Korean food but she never taught me how to cook. She wanted me to grow up a “career woman” and she didn’t want me stuck in a kitchen. And she figured that not teaching me how to cook might help me avoid that fate. Also, I never went back home after college–apparently that might have been the time to teach me a few domestic duties according to custom.

And thus I am horrible at doing laundry. I am horrible at tidying house. But strangely enough, I still learned how to cook. And I cook with great joy, probably because it was never taught to me as a duty but because I learned it as a wonderful hobby.

I learned to cook on my own and from my mother-in-law who was an incredible foodie. She once took me to Surfas in L.A., I remember, where we spent an afternoon gleefully rummaging through all the kitchen supplies and ingredients. I brought a huuuuge bag of lavender home from that excursion. We woke up early to go to the farmer’s market where she would pick up fresh chicken, special ordered. The list of foodie adventures goes on and on. She ignited my passion for cooking.

I have a few recipes of favorite childhood foods from my mother, some of which I’ve shared here, but I don’t have a great repertoire of Korean recipes.

I regret that.

And reading Carol go through the French Laundry cookbook has inspired me to do something similar: go through every recipe of one of my favorite Korean cookbooks, Hisoo Shin Hepinstall’s Growing Up In A Korean Kitchen. In that way, I can recapture Korean foods in my kitchen…and also share them with you.

What do you think?

Springtime’s bounty

baby potatoes from the garden!

Ohhhh! After a long winter (and this year, despite my love for this year’s prolonged cold weather, even I must confess it was a looong winter), Spring fruits and vegetables are a welcome sight! I can’t wait until tomatoes come into season–but for now, I’m very happy with what’s coming out of the ground these days.

My garden, much more sparse than last year (because of my hunt for the gopher), is still bringing me great culinary delights.

I mean, check out the potatoes in the garden–in my overzealous search for gopher tunnels, I decided to uproot a potato plant. Surprise, surprise! Baby potatoes! Of course I snatched all the baby potatoes right away.

potato plant with potatoes

I had no idea that the potatoes were anywhere near ready for harvesting. These potato plants are just the best find ever, first having sprouted from potatoes I’d thrown into the compost pile and now blessing me with unexpectedly early baby potatoes.

The potatoes, by the way, were so delicious. I’ve never had potatoes fresh out of the ground before and I am going to plant some more. If there was ever an excuse to gorge oneself on carbs, this is it–a fresh potato straight out of the soil is a piece of heaven, I think.

In the springtime, we eat a good number of baby veg, little miniature delights, straight from the soil. Not just potatoes. It’s our impatience, and my curiosity–what *is* lurking beneath the soil? I have to know. So I’ll pull out a baby carrot, or in this case, a baby cherry belle radish.

Cherry Belle radish

I paused to take a photo, but then hurried back into the house where I rinsed the red globe, and took it out to show my husband who was washing cars on a sunny Saturday afternoon. “Mrmmm! Bring it over!” He ate it right up. He loves radishes, and he’s the reason I planted a few this year.

“How was it?” I asked.

“Yummy!”

And what my garden does not produce, I seek out at the store. This morning, finding myself in a remarkably calm and optimistic mood (maybe it was finding the radish in the garden), I chanced the crowds at Berkeley Bowl, a market I normally avoid on weekends. It’s CRAZY on weekends there. If you can find a parking spot, you still brave the crowds inside. I mean, there’s a reason for those crowds (the diverse and high quality produce, nevermind the meat and seafood counter and wide variety of baked goods) but it’s still maddening to shop there.

fresh cherry belle radishes from the garden

Still, I decided to head on over. I had a hankering for some fresh produce. I hadn’t been to the Bowl in months, and I was getting sick of the apples and oranges and other usual suspects at Andronico’s and Whole Foods. The Bowl didn’t let me down.

It was there, while browsing the aisles, having parked my shopping cart at the end that I realized how happy and content I was feeling. (you’re crazy if you want to actually stick with your cart the entire shopping time there–you’re better off parking the cart occasionally and then roving the aisles, especially in the produce section). How long had it been since I’d gone grocery shopping by myself, as an act of luxury?

It had been MONTHS. I found myself beginning to imagine the foods and dishes I would make out of the ingredients before me, I found myself delighted at finding Haydn mangoes (not just Tommy Atkins), at the amazingly red and plump flats of strawberries!

And…I discovered ramps. Ramps! The Bowl had ramps! I’ve been reading a lot about ramps these days, and was dying to try them. But they’re not too easy to find in the Bay Area–they’re wild leeks local to the Appalachians.

ramps!

I quickly grabbed them. I found my hand sullied with dirt, they were so fresh. The Appalachia (or what other far away place these ramps came from) was on my hands, and though I would normally wipe the dirt quickly away, I let it linger as I shopped.

When I got home, I used the ingredients to make a spring pasta–not a primavera, but my own “hacked together” (as they say in high tech) version: ramps, morel mushrooms, peas, and asparagus.

ingredients for Spring pasta

Aren’t they beautiful? I also saw fiddlehead ferns at the Bowl–I regretted not grabbing some of those to make a perfect Spring vegetable bouquet.

Just chopping them up and sauteeing them together made me feel more alive, healthier. It has been a long winter, and I’ve missed my vegetables.

Spring pasta with ramps, asparagus. morels, and peas

Chelada

Budweiser + Clamat = "Chelada"

I was out of town a month ago when we spotted this can of Bud Chelada, aka Budweiser+Clamato. Hrm. Intrigued, we bought a can and then took turns drinking from it and making funny faces, and then doubled over with laughter, we took sips again just to keep on laughing.

Needless to say, we were not too entranced by the taste.

But then the other day, I came across a Slashfood’s post on Michelada–at first, knowing of Bud Chelada, I thought this was perhaps a proprietary name for the Michelob version of this same drink.

Nope. It’s some other concoction–one that you can make with Michelob even though it’s preferable to use a dark beer.

Not being a beer fan, I’m not a fan of the beer cocktail, either.