Monday, September 28, 2009

A Call for Suggestions

Today was a pretty average Monday, so there is not much to blog about and no pictures to be had!
Julia texted us this morning and switched our meeting to tomorrow at 10:30am.  Apparently Julia has a cold. She's been sick for over two weeks.  As we say here in Asia, let's hope it's not "the influenza."  Don't panic, I'm joking.  However, I am unsure why the meeting has to be so damn early.  I suppose she needs to make up for the time she's lost in letting us know that we're inadequate.

It was pretty refreshing to talk to the other teachers on Saturday.  We're definitely not alone in our troubles, in fact, we actually work fewer hours than they do.  Some of their set ups (breaks, apartments and vacations) sound a little better, but for the most part we're all in the same boat.  Many of them use a stick or ruler at work (or their coteachers do).  It's pretty much to poke the kids into paying attention.  Man, on some days, what I wouldn't give...

The only main difference that bums me out is our location.  Everyone else lives pretty close to downtown and within reasonable walking distance (20 minutes, tops) to everything (work, shopping, other teachers, etc.).  It's kinda lame to be stuck out in the annex.  It takes us at least twice as long to get anywhere and it seems like it's strange that we're not within walking distance from our schools.  Everyone else seems to be.  Ian says that he likes the annex, though.  And, he has a point.  Our neighborhood is really self contained, I mean, we could easily live without ever leaving Sinback.  But, all the neighborhoods (called "dongs," yes, go ahead, giggle) are self contained that way.

So, because we have a lull this evening, I wanted to take the opportunity to ask for a couple of suggestions.  Firstly, we're almost done with the books we brought.  When we get paid, we're going to order some new ones from  So, we want to know if anyone has a good book suggestion or two.  I've recently read and enjoyed "Broken" by Daniel Clay and I'm currently finishing "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris.  Ian likes most science fiction (I like a good deal of it, too) and recently finished the Star Wars novel "Vision of the Future."  We both read and mostly enjoyed "The Time Traveler's Wife" this summer.  We both love graphic novels, but we're trying to stay away from them because they make for too quick a read when getting books takes so much effort.  So, what say you?

The other thing we are looking for are good skillet (stove top) recipes.  We don't have an oven we get home around 9pm to make dinner, so it needs to be relatively quick.  Though, if you have a more time consuming one that you really like, let us know.  I'm sure we could make it on a weekend.  Remember, we're vegetarians (vegeMAtarians, as the British girls call us :) ), so please leave out the meat (meaning we don't eat fish, either).  Also, we live in Korea, which means that some ingredients are tough to find.  We won't be able to make it to Costco until after the 10th (I'm SO stoked).  I'm excited to see what you guys come up with.

Last call for suggestions:  is there anything that you would like to see me blog about?  I know you want more Ian, but it's very difficult to get him to cooperate. Any questions to which I can devote a blog?  Let me know.

This coming weekend is a three day weekend (we have Friday off for Chuseok, which is Saturday).  I don't know what we're doing.  We may be going with Chun wha to her family's place for the actual holiday.  I'm not saying anything to her about it, because with the language barrier you tend to invite yourself to things.  Chuseok is a VERY family oriented holiday.  If we are invited, it's an honor and we will go.  However, I completely understand if they'd prefer to leave the foreigners out of this one.  We probably won't know until the last minute, but we'll keep you posted.


  1. Books: I've mostly been reading children's literature (which are super short) or biographies lately, so I'm not sure if I have any good suggestions. You could always try for the classics. Have you read East of Eden(highly recommended!)? Gulliver's Travels? I was really engrossed in The Handmaids Tale, though it is a bit depressing.
    Recipes: Zucchini pancakes? I use the Barefoot Contessa recipe, but I also have it in a vegitarian cookbook of mine. Super simple and really yummy. You can have them for breakfast or as a side dish, whatever. I can e-mail you the full recipe if you want it. We have a heavenly bean burger recipe and falafel. Also, sweet potato and feta patties which kind of remind me of the zucchini pancakes. Some soup recipe's too. do you have a soup pan? Tell me if any of these sound good/you can get the ingredients/you don't already know how to make them, and I'll facebook you the full on recipes.

  2. I think you eat eggs, right? Regular crepes (flour, milk, eggs) can be filled with most anything. I'm sure you could substitute water or soy milk for regular milk, but I've never tried that. Fruit or veggies. You can top them with most any kind of sauce, too. I scoff at the idea you need a special crepe pan. Any frying pan will do.

    If you decide to read classics, check out The Guttenberg Project (just google it). You can download most any book that is out of copyright. Granted, you may not want to read them on the computer but it's an option until you get a shipment of books. Another option is Google Books. It's amazing how many current books are on there, in whole or in part.

    I'm sure it feels good to know that others are facing similar frustrations. Maybe you can brainstorm solutions or, at least, coping techniques.

    Good grief...we must have about 500 books lying around. I wish I had a better handle on what you might like and I'd ship you some.

  3. Ok, food ideas... How about edamame (raw soybeans)? I used to buy them here frozen and shelled until the only ones available were from China. All I did to cook them was boil them with salt for like 10 mins. Lots of protein and pretty tasty to my humble palate. I like the leftover water, too. I imagine you can get them there, since they are ubiquitous in Japan and China.

    Another easy thing I like is eggplant. We just peel, cube into 1/2 inch (er, 1.25 cm) cubes, douse with e.v. olive oil, add garlic powder, and microwave covered. Comes out great. Be sure to cook them long enough. I think I saw eggplants in Japan, so maybe you can get them there. Dunno if you can get olive oil there, but probably garlic is available in some form. Or, you can devise your own seasoning. Can't go far wrong with eggplant. Of course, eggplant aren't exactly full of protein... But with the microwave it's almost zero effort.

  4. Peter had a great idea with the edamame. I cooked it for you lots, and I think you liked it. But the best thing is that it is really loaded with protein, and easy to fix. Add them anytime you are stir frying vegetables, serve with rice, or noodles.
    If they have yellow squash or pumpkin there, you can put it in a pan with water , cover and cook it on your stove top, till tender. Serve with a little coconut oil and salt and pepper, if you have sugar or honey that is good on it also. If you don't have lids for you pans, aluminum foil will work well. Providing they have that there. But costco will have some of the things you can't find locally I am sure.

    As far as books, the Omnivore's Dilemma, is proving to be a good read, and very enlightening

    As I think of more recipes I will let you know.

    Blogging: I would like to see history and cultural topics. It would be great if you could visit places like temples, or where they make kimchi. How things have progressed or changed over the last couple of decades.
    But mostly keep doing what you are doing, by taking lots of photos wherever you go. It makes me feel like I am there almost. You are doing a awesome job. I can't wait till you visit some of the other cities, such as Seoul, and even the costco visit. Keep up the good work!

  5. Chelsea: I loved the Handmaid's Tale. I would love those three (pancakes, patties and burgers) recipes from you. They sound excellent. I haven't read East of Eden, I will put it on my list.

    Judy: We haven't made crepes, but we do make standard pancakes with a mix. We don't really have many separate baking ingredients because we can't read Korean, yet. Remember that game at my bridal shower where we had to guess what was in the bag? That's what it's like. Only less fun. As soon as we figure out what we're looking at, though, crepes are a great idea. You're right, you can fill them with anything, so they're super versatile. We're not too big into electronic reading, but I'll tell Ian to make a list of books that you guys have and that he would like.

    Peter: Strangely, I have not seen edamame since I've been here. I do really like them, they have a great, bright flavor. Here (in Jecheon) it seems that they prefer earthy flavors. Incredibly earthy, they like roots and stems, primarily. I'll keep my eyes out, maybe at Costco? The eggplant they have here is pretty chewy and gross (it's shaped more like a purple cucumber), but again, we'll keep trying.

    Mom: We're going to buy a lid soon, so we'll be able to make things like that. I have not seen aluminum foil, only plastic wrap. I'll look into The Omnivore's Dilemma, I've been meaning to pick it up. As soon as we have money, we'll be making those cultural trips. There are Buddhist temples that serve full course meals sans animal products, so we'll be doing that, for sure.

  6. The Buddhist temples will be most interesting, I had no idea they served meals, and meat free. Yeah

  7. One of my favorite recipe blog sites is by a vegetarian named Heidi Swanson. She has great ideas and really yummy food...and she is a great photographer, so her photos of her food are beautiful!
    If beans are available, I used to make a pasta and bean and tomato dish on the stove top. If you are interested I'll send it to you!

    It sounds like you have fun roaming through grocery stores which is a great way to see what is available...what fun to see the odd translations in English! What a hoot!