Monday, June 28, 2010

P.S. How's the weather?

Ever stand in a scalding hot shower for four days? Looking forward to it.

hah, i love that the search still says 'how to take a screenshot.' The previous searches were 'how to be more tech-savvy than a 9 year old' and 'why don't i already know this shit?' i think i'll ask jeeves next time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

When America Loses We All Win*

America, I'm glad you lost.

For being so damn good at everything,

For being good at things you don't even care about,

For sweeping the olympics every four years since Zeus himself lit the torch,

For being cocky about it,

For not understanding why Canadians would cheer for England,

For stealing our hockey players,

For stealing Beckham,

Aw hell, for stealing Victoria,

For adding 'fuck yea' to your country's name and yelling it, a lot,

For all this and more, I'm glad you're out.

When it comes to the winner of the world cup, it's one of 16 countries left. For the gold in everything else, there's the U.S. On behalf of nations that sucks at sports, thanks for letting us have this one guys.

P.S. Keep your hands off cricket, you'll only dumb it down.

*Except for the war on terror. As we've seen they will drag us down with that boat.

Don't cry, just go invade something. You're good at that.

From your realtor

Memo to the Maldives:

I know you've been looking for a new homeland, what with the water level in the bathrub getting too high and all (back story here), and I think I might have found a few places for you. Here's the specs:

The first one is quite an old piece of land, but it was remodelled in the late '40's. I'll be honest, the neighbourhood had kind of a bad reputation, but I think some new blood is just what they need. Plus it's already got the whole 'new homeland' vibe foing for it. There's a lovely strip of beachfront property along the mediterranean sea that might be available too, and there's hardly any gunfire this time of year. Comes with nuclear capability, but it's sort of a hush-hush signing bonus. I'll be honest, there's quite a bit of interest in this area so act fast and carry a tall stick. By stick I mean gun, you're definitely going to need a gun.

I know you have that whole 'paradise' thing going for you now, but this next place is a real up and comer. It's a littly chilly right now, but if the weather trends were seeing continue you'll have beautiful beaches again within the next few hundred years. Plus, it's currently vacant so you don't have to worry about previous tenants. Well, except the penguins!

Finally, I think we should consider something a little further away. It's a bit of a fixer-upper, but the view is great. Currently no vegetation to speak of, but also no other life forms to worry about. Small gravity issue, but I think that'll work in our favour in getting the downpayment down a few k.

Let me know when you're ready and we can talk about my commission.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Life in a Week

10:32 on a Thursday: decided to calculate the amount of work I've done this week. I normally do math by hyperbole (47 apples plus 92 apples? That's like, a bazillion apples) so you know I mean business when I break out the calcumolator.

This week I will have taught 9 classes, each 40 minutes long for a total of 360 minutes of teaching time. Zero prep time.

I must be in this strange prison for 40 hours a week, otherwise known as 2400 minutes.

Now, if my grade 6 math servies me right, we just divide this and times by 100 to get the percentage of...15? Is that right? Can I possible have worked only 15% of the time I've been here this week? That would mean that I have piddled away 85% of my time, no, my life, sitting here getting carpel tunnel and becoming stupider by the minute. I have never been so understimulated in my life and for the record I have worked for the government and a call centre. I am the queen of boring jobs.

On the bright (?) side, I have 85% more time to ponder the insatiable cuteness of sloths.

And to learn how to embed youtube onto the bloggo, which I srsly didn't know how to do until this morning. Congratulations me! Now go take a break.

Pull it Good

A lot of people talk about how expensive it is to cook at home in Korea. While it's true that you can get a free piece of fatty, unseasoned pork just for walking in the door of a bbq place, eating at home can be done on the cheap. I'll prove it:

Pulled Pork with Coleslaw and a Side of Home

- chunk of meat. I couldn't find a shoulder or butt at the store, but I did find a sizeable, not very fatty long piece of pork - maybe a loin? Any cheap cut will do for pulled pork, mine cost 4,000.
- onion - I think a basket on the side of the road is going for like 2,000 for about 10 onions, but if you buy them individually in the store we'll say 500?
- bread - 1800 for a baguette at Bary Baguette

For the bbq sauce:
- ketchup and moustard - as a Westerner you should probably already have this. 1 cup.
- vinegar - like 1,000? or just wring out some old kimchee. 1/2 cup.
- sugar - 2,000 for like a kilo? 1/2 cup.
- garlic - 500 for a year's supply? 2 cloves, minced.
- salt and pepper - basically free.
- soy sauce - my house literally came with this. just a small splash.

For the coleslaw:
- cabbage - 1,000 for a quarter of a head. i used half of it, chopped into shreds.
- carrotts - a bag of 7 was like 900. i used one, cut into slivers
- yoghurt - yoghurt is a healthy and deliscious thing to have on hand, but if not it's like 2,000 for a 4 pack (8 if there's a sale). i used one individual serving for this.
- mayonaise - same story as the ketchup and moustard. Check your fridge your fridge you probably already have it. just a smallish squeeze.
- vinegar - you already got it from the kimchee! just a splash.

So even if you have to buy EVERYTHING from scratch, you're looking at max 13,000 and it worked out to about 3 servings for me. Plus I only used one carrott, one yoghurt, and half the cabbage. SO basically it's about 4,000 per serving AND you'll have stuff for next time. Take that, samgyupsal.

To do:

- season the meat with salt and pepper, throw into a large pot with some onion, roughly chopped and a little bit of water. If you have other seasonings you could play around with that at this stage, if not, don't worry.
- mix the bbq sauce ingrediens together. Keep in mind this is just a basic bbq sauce, you can add anything you want. Maybe some hot sauce? I like to use the free packets that come with pizza. Hot peppers? Chilli powder? Maybe some coffee for a smokier flavour? Some dust collected from the top of the refrigerator? Whatevs, go crazy. Just go bat shit, long sleeved white jacket crazy with this stuff.
- When the meat is about 3/4 of the way cooked through you can throw it in the rice cooker to save on your gas bill. Add the bbq sauce and just let it set a while so everything can get groovy.
- in the meantime chop and mix the coleslaw
- when you're done the meat should be so tender that if you glare at it it'll fall apart. Use the tines of two forks to pull it apart into deliscious little shredded pieces.
- put it on some bread, add coleslaw, and enjoy your hard(ish) work.

This is all very longwinded but I promise easier to do than it sounds. Also, I forgot to mention before, but if you don't want three servings just cut your uncooked meat in half and throw it in the freezer, it'll stay good in there for many moons.


penghu. google image. drool.

44 more days! Time to order some books for reading in between bouts of blissful beachside vegetation. Note: I don't read anything sad, scary, or depressing. I don't like characters who do bad things or plots where something bad happens. Any suggestions???

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Breakfast BLT

During the week I'm so dead in the morning that I could mistakenly eat a bowl of coffee grinds and not even notice. On the weekends I sleep right past anything reembling mornings, but I still enjoy breakfast whatever the time so this is my take on a breakfast BLT. I replaced the lettuce with basil so I suppose technically it's a BBT, but we'll just let that slide a'ight?

- tomatoe
- basil
- bacon
- an egg
- slices of bread. I used a day old loaf of french bread becuase I like how it stands up to the egg mixture.

Fry your bacon up and put aside. Drain most of the bacon grease (into a container not down the drain guys) reserving a thin layer on the bottom of the pan for favour flav. Lightly beat the egg with a splash of milk and season with salt and pepper. Dip the bread slices in, lightly coating each side and throw them down in the hot bacon grase pan.

*note: vegetabletarians can make this sandwhich by simply replacing the bacon with disappointment. Personal preference.

Meanwhile, slice your tomatoes and rinse off the basil leaves. Flip the bread when it's lightly browned and let it cook on the B side.

When it's done just assemble, pour your coffee, get back into bed, and enjoy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spice Swap and Ratatouille

In my infinite wisdom I bought some spices from Costco when we first arrived and I was so desperate I almost kissed the basil straight on its mouth. Now in the light of day though, it's clear I'm never going to use all 12 kilos of it, so, if anyone is interested in taking a portion of cinnamon, basil or a few bay leaves just let me know and I'll gladly dish out a bucketfull for you.

And now, Rat-atat-atat-tat-touille. Otherwise known as the traditional French provencal stewed vegetable dish made famous by...rats. Thanks Disney.

Unlike the strawberries that came and went in about two weeks, the zucchini season seems to be never ending here so I used some to make a stove-top ratatoille with chicken.

I will never in all my days understand why they butcher chickens like they do here. Never. They hack through through the bones instead of following the natural sections of meat and consequently I wound up with these haggared, uneven, pieces of meat that have random sharp bone chips all over. From now on I'm going to break down the birds myself because it drives me crazy.

Anyway, for the ratatoille:

- zucchini, sliced
- eggplant, sliced
- tomatoes, chopped and sliced
- onion, chopped
- garlic, minced
- basil, oregano, salt, pepper

- Slice the eggplant and succhini into semi-thin rounds, sprinkle with salt and leave them to sweat.
- Saute the chopped onion and garlic in some butter until translucent. Add about a half a chopped tomatoe.
- When the tomatoe startes releasing it's juices layer the zucchini, eggplant and tomatoe rounds and add the seasonings. Let it be until everything is coming up roses.

For the chicken, after hunting for a decent piece,I shoved some chopped parsley and butter underneath the skin and seasoned with salt and pepper. I grilled it over medium heat, skin side first, then flip it on its backside once. Done-zo.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Nose q-tips. For those boogers that just won't blow.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Today the teacher's lunchroom was filled with middle aged women in high heels and beauty pageant sashes. No one thought to explain anything to me so I casually inquired about the hubub. "Oh," my co-teacher said, "They are petitioning to remove bad food from school lunches."

I automatically thought of the wonderful mini hotdogs and fried chicken and corn covered in cheese (btw, wtf?) and panicked at the thought that they might be gone. These are the things that get me through the day when the rest of the lunch is dried fish scales or boiled chicken skin or whatever other thing I used to think was inedible. Naturally, as a individualistic Westerner, I expressed my opinion about this; "Bad food? What bad food? Most things are so healthy."

"Ahh," she said, "How can I explain? For example, chicken that is...past the date."

Oh for serious Korea? You're serving rancid poultry in your children's elementary schools? Shiiit son. Jamie Oliver better shut his pie hole because at least those porky British kids aren't at risk of food poisoning.

The best part of the whole thing? The Korean barbie women ate lunch with us, then resumed their post. Protest about the food, eat said food, go back to protesting about the food. I love your logic ladies.

Personally I'm cool with eating rotten food, but that's becuase I ate my mother's cooking for 17 years so my stomach is basically invincible. However, out of curiosity I checked 'yahoo answers' to see what the dangers of eating expired food were and at the bottom of the page there's a section of 'related questions.' Check out these gems:

Q. When i fart poop comes out is this normal?
(My answer: Totally. Everyone poops their pants! If pooping your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis.)

Q. I'm using my brothers urine to pass a drug test, what is the most effective way to transport and maintain temp?
(My answer: I suggest keeping a camp stove or kerosene burner in your car. Keep the windows rolled up and be sure to let the gas run for a minute before you try and light it.)

Friday, June 11, 2010


I'm trying to get on bitethebedbugs blogroll becuase, well, at 3:00 on a Monday that seems like the most productive thing I could possibly do. Also, she's great and when I grow up I want to be like her. Unfortunately due to genetics I'll probably be a lot crazier than her so I feel like I should be more realistic. If the stars are in outer space I'm aiming for somewhere just above the atmosphere.

To be on the blogroll you have to answer the following questions:

1. Have you ever eaten a stale donut in the dark?
2. Have you ever taken expired drugs?
3. Have you ever broken a bone or a boner?
4. Have you ever dressed up like the back brace girl from Sixteen Candles?
5. Have you ever set a kitchen fire?
6. Have you ever dressed up to go to Safeway in case the firemen are there?
7. Do you like tacos?
8. Are you a sporadic vitamin taker?
9. Do you think Hawaiian pizza is a crime against nature?
10. If I asked you right now in what aisle I might find arm braces in Target, would you know?

Here are my answers:

1. I have never let a doughnut live long enough get stale. No doughnuts left behind.
2. Drugs, food, relationships...anything past it's prime is about right for me.
3. I've broken a boner, like, emotionally. It's more of a wither than a crack, but I think it counts.
4. No, but I DO like to do Ducky's dance from Pretty in Pink alone in my living room.
5. Chicken breast stuffed with spinach and goat cheese wrapped in bacon. At the moment when I should have been deciding if it's baking soda or baking powder you throw on a grease fire I was shouting "GREASE FIRE! GREASE FIRE!" and then grabbed it with my hands and blew it out like a birthday cake. No moustache wax that week.
6. I'm not into firemen. I have dressed up only because I thought putting clothes on and leaving the house before dinner time would make me feel better about my life. Wrong.
7. Love. Miss desperately. Currently in South Korea where fermented cabbage is the snack choice of 50 million people.
8. I take them after I get sick, when it's already too late, and then complain that they're not working.
9. No. Hawaiian pizza is God's way of saying, "Sorry I tricked you back there in the garden. Since you've been banished, please accept this free gift of pineapple on your pizza."
10. Originally from Canada, currently in South Korea, never seen a Target with my own eyes. When in doubt, take three consecutive lefts.

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fishy, fishy, fishy

I used to think I liked seafood. Being from the prairies it was always a rare, expensive treat (save for the bottom feeders of the muddy Waskihigan river) but Korea has turned this all on its head. The fish here is so....fishy. Go figure, I know, but there's no other word, it's fishy. Consequently I was hesitant to cook fish myself but I found something that looked like salmon the other day so I decided to give it a go. Whoop, here it is:

Salmon in Lemon Butter Sauce with Zuchinni and Eggplant Ribbons

1 medium zuchinni, ribboned
2 smallish eggplants, ribboned
large chunck of fish, possibly salmon, probably not
5 tbsp butter,
garlic, finely chopped
onion, finely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
zest and juice of a lemon
cherry tomaotes, halved

- Cut the fish into even sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper and marinate in some olive oil.

- Scrub the veggies real good then get your peeler and use it to shave off thin ribbons. This is a little trickier than I thought, but you'll get it. Have faith. Throw some salt on the eggplant and let it sweat a little. It'll talk eventually.

- I cooked the veggies first and then put them aside because I only have two pans. Heat a tbsp of oil in a pan and give the veggies a quick saute. We're talking quite quick if your veggies were as thin as mine. Pull them off before they've fully cooked and put them aside for now, they'll finish cooking when you reheat them later.

- Another tbsp of oil in the pan and then slap your fish down, skin side first. If you've got some pieces smaller than others give the big ones a head start. When the colour starts to creep up to the middle of the meat give it a flip.

- Melt two tbsps of butter in another pan and saute some finely chopped onions and garlic until translucent. Add the zest of half a lemon and a cup of chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and let it reduce by one third. Then add most of the juice of a lemon and about 3 more tbsps of butter, one at a time, whisking between each. Taste, add salt and pepper, taste again, good. If you have a sieve you can strain the onion bits out at this point, or just use as is. Toss in a bunch of halved cherry tomatoes and let them warm up for minute.

- Toss the veggies back in the pan for a quick sec to warm up. Throw it all on a plate. Voila!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Biggest Loser

So I accidentally have a personal trainer.

The first thing you need to know is that I don't work out. Like, ever. Before yesterday I hadn't owned running shoes since back when gym class was mandatory. So like, 1999? I haven't done a jumping jack since '95 and when the gym teacher suggested I do a chin up I think I told him in no uncertain terms where he could put the chin up bar. I have what they refer to as a 'bad attitude.' If laughing as the other kids dive on the ground to save a volleyball is considered a bad attitude, then sign me up. I dive for no ball.

(I am of course ommitting my brief attempt at 'running' last year which I thought might be the cure for my unemployment anxiety. Wrong. Running feels terrible and people who say otherwise are kidding themselves.)

That being said, in Korea I sit on my ever-growing ass for 40 hours a week, walk nowhere and eat a lot. When I inquired about finding dance classes in Daegu my teacher's said "No, no, no, dance class only children and professional." Of course.

Fast forward: a kid asked if I was having a baby, I freaked the freak, thought about making my own yoghurt, decided it would take too long, joined a gym. A couple of those are not related, but I just wanted to bring you along for the mental ride.

Fast forward again: after getting through the rigorous shoe on/off procedure at the gym (change into gym shoes at front door, walk through gym, take off shoes at change room, change clothes, shoes back on) I hit the treadmill. Now I'm no one's hero, I thought I'd do 30 minutes at a brisk walk and call it a win. About 20 minutes in the gym dude comes over and says, "Weight training?" to which I responded by nervously laughing and give him the 'no' signal. After 30 minutes though I was still feeling ambitious so I thought I'd do the stationary bike for a bit. Again he comes over, "15 minutes, then weight training." "Ha ha haha, no, X, X, aniyo, sorry, nooooo." Sure enough though, 15 minutes later he gestures me over to the 'heavy pully down machine' and what followed I can only remember in flashbacks like a bad dream. I pushed heavy things, I pulled heavy things, I lifted heavy things, I squated, I lunged, I nearly cried. However, because he didn't speak English I couldn't tell him I couldn't do it. He just stood there blinking until I did it. Of course I also couldn't tell him about that I have a bad shoulder or that I had a dinner to get to, but the point is I couldn't tell him I was tired (though I did mime it several times). He also couldn't say annoying things like 'feel the burn' and 'no pain, no gain' which was nice becuase then I didn't have to punch him in the nose bone.

In the end I managed to escape after about an hour to which he said 'Tomorrow?' Oh honey, nooooo. I need a couple of days to regrow the parts of me that died here today. Then on my way out of the gym the owner came over and gave me the thumbs up, which I thought was nice, and then proceeded to make a gesture like this )( with his hands accompanied by a 'whoosht' sound and says, "Gwenchanio (okay), no problem, no problem," as if to say "Don't worry, we've seen fat white ladies before. This is totally do-able."

On the bright side, for the first time in three months I'm grateful for slippers at work because it means I don't have to bend down to put my shoes on. My feet have never been further away, thanks for nothing hamstrings.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

I took a trip to Seomun market last weekend and in amongst the chickens, kittens and bunnies awaiting their peril I found some fresh peas. I really love to shell peas; I used to spend a week each August hunkered over a five gallon bucket of pods, cracking them open and dumping out the goods. Unfortunately the peas I got were overripe and dry, and I got a horrified bug-eyed stare from a grandpa when he saw me eating the peas straight out of the pod. Crazy foreigner, eating raw peas!

Anyway, I used the peas to make a 'spring-y' risotto. Risotto can be intimidating, but it's really not so difficult and is a really welcomed change from steamed rice, steamed rice, steamed rice.

Here's the deal:

- Heat a few tablespoons of oil (or butter) in the bottom of a pot. Add some chopped onions and garlic and saute until translucent. Add your rice and stir to make sure each grain gets coated in oil.

- At this point you can add a couple glugs of white wine. If you're Amish, or if you've accidentally drank all your wine while waiting for step one to finish, you can skip straight to the broth.

- Your broth (chicken or veggie) should be warm and you should add it only 1 or 2 ladle-fuls at a time, stirring gently in between until it's absorbed.

- Repeat, repeat, repeat until the rice is tender, but still slightly firm. At this point add one more ladle-ful and your veggies. I used peas, chives and basil, but you can use virtually anything. Except turnips. Please don't use turnips, they smell like farts.

- Finish it off with a boat load of parmesean. Or, you know, a reasonable amount.

I served this with some shoddy pork cutlets (I'm still trying to use up those unfortunate pieces of pork). If you do find a nice piece of meat here's what I did:

- Slap your meat down in between two pieces of saran wrap that are bigger than the meat.

- Get a weapon. I used a rolling pin, but if you have a hammer, or a baseball bat, or a rage problem you can use that too.

- Pound it. Smack it out until it's pretty thin, and evenly so.

- Bread it. Dip in beeaten eggs, then flour, then breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are hard to find here, but I have a solution: toast a piece of bread then run it through the fine setting of the cheese grater. When you get down to raw bread throw it back in the toaster and repeat.

- Fry, fry, fry. Just a couple of tbsp's of oil and a minute or two on each side and you're done.

The green stuff at the back is a 'salad'. Eat that at your own discretion.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The News

My mother calls often. She always has, probably always will. In the two minutes following any given phone call there's a 70% possibility that she'll call back; "I forgot to tell you about the grasshoppers," (it's very dry this year) or "I ran into the high school janitor at the grocery store. Ground beef was on sale." Between grunting 'uh-huh' and rolling my eyes I hear a lot of things about drugs (they're bad), the people who are on them (also bad), what they can do to you (hint: it's bad), and how my brother may be on them (he's a bad kid).

Sometimes she tells me about the news, as if the five major cities I've lived in are somehow less in touch with the goings on than she is. She loves, or hates (or some measure of both) horrible tragedies. Did you hear about the boy that microwaved his arm? The family that drowned in a glass of milk? They were trying to get those mustaches, you know, the milk ones. Then she shudders audibly and I say 'uh-huh.'

Last week my mother called to inform me about the situation in North Korea. Because 300 kilometres south of the border we might be out of the loop.

"Did you hear that North Korea sent a missile to South Korea?"

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"They sent a missile, didn't you hear? It killed 40 people."


Back me up here: when someone says they 'sent' something, you think 'in the mail,' right? Not fired out of a fucking rocket launcher. I pictured some poor minion who got the shite job of delivering the pacakge, marked 'FRAGILE', in his regulation khaki mailman shorts, saying "Uh, excuse me? I have a package for South Korea? Could you please sign here? Oh, and uh, don't open it until I'm gone, okay?"

I think my mom should have a segment called Not Quite the News, Not Entirely Fiction.