Thursday, January 29, 2015

On Returning Passions & Spicy Korean Style Soy Braised Chicken

Another recipe transfer. The hearty, spicy, somewhat aggressive flavors of Korean food and cold weather are a natural pairing.

Spicy Korean Style Soy Braised Chicken

This time in which I've taken an indefinite break from creating new food content but in which I also can't seem to help myself from sharing food related content has shown me what an inextricable part of me are the love of food and the desire to share what's good about it with everyone.

It still hasn't changed in the least my feeling that only sharing food is one-dimensional, stifling, and limiting to my soul, but it has helped me to continue to refine my ideas and to realize that what I want to do going forward is more inclusive and expansive than I had allowed myself to dream before.

To feed mind, belly, and soul...

That's my working mantra for the moment.

And with Izzy almost turning a corner on 3 (an age based on past parenting experience that I expect some of this natural mothering-induced career and other haze will lift), I'm feeling a good kind of return to a passion for my work that I think has been well tempered by time and greater insight.

Totally worth the haze... :)

I'm so excited for what lies ahead and grateful that y'all have stuck with me. Thank you. <3

Spicy Korean Style Soy Braised Chicken
Serves 4
Time: About 1 hour total, about 20 minutes active.

- 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken drums, thighs, or whole wings
- salt
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1.5-inch cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into 1/2" thick slices, vertically
- 1/2 a bell pepper (any color), sliced into 1/2" thick slices, vertically
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- optional: 1 or 2 jalapeños or serranos, halved
- 1 cup rice wine (I used Korean rice wine, but you can use a drier sake, or even a drier white wine in a pinch)
- 1/4 cup regular soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chili paste - you can use sriracha as a substitute if you don't have gochujang)
- 3 Tablespoons white sugar

1) Lightly season the chicken pieces on both sides with salt.

2) In a large pot or Dutch oven, sear each piece of chicken in the Tablespoon of oil over medium high heat in for 3 minutes per side and set aside, outside of your pot.

3) In the same pot, saute the onion, bell pepper, potatoes, chilies, and garlic until the onions begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes or so.

4) Turn the heat down to medium, pour in the wine, and deglaze the pan, scraping all the yummy chicken fond off the bottom of the pan.

5) Add in the rest of the seasoning ingredients - soy sauce, gochujang, sugar - and stir to mix and incorporate all seasonings thoroughly.

6) Add chicken back in the pot in one layer, turn the heat back up to medium high, and bring to a gentle boil (this should take 3 or 4 minutes).

7) Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer with the lid slightly askew for 20 minutes.

8) Flip each piece of chicken and let it braise on the other side, uncovered, for another 25 minutes.

We like to eat it with steamed rice and some of Joey's Favorite Crunchy Soy Slaw and/or kimchi on the side.

I hope you enjoy, mind, belly and soul. ;)


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's with the #Humpday posts, Shinae? (Hint: You were born sexy.)

If you've been with me for a while, you know that every Wednesday, I start off the morning with two or three #humpday posts. Some musical, some literary, some literal, some figurative, some artsy, and others humorous, they are my tongue-in-cheek homage not to the middle of the week, but to the vital life force that is our sexuality.

They aren't necessarily intended to provoke sexual desire, and they are certainly never intended to provoke any specific association between my readers' sexual thoughts and me personally. But in keeping with my loose message of personal fulfillment and personal responsibility for that fulfillment, they are intended to remind us that it's so very essential - for the manifestation of that which is vital, visceral, joyful, and sensual - for creation itself, that we acknowledge and embrace that life force and keep it smoldering at a minimum.

Because it's in that place that we can set aside intellect, self-consciousness, and political correctness and feel our very essence. It's in that place that all that is strangely, beautifully, inexplicably, and powerfully feminine and masculine within us flourishes. It's what keeps our juices flowing. And really - who doesn't want to be and feel so very deliciously vulnerable, potent and juicy?

(Well, we all know - or maybe even have been - joyless, sexless people who seem to have lost all inner juice and potency, trying to reclaim it through any number of identifications, acquisitions or affectations. Some of them like to hang out at PTA meetings, but I digress...)

It's not necessarily about whether you make other people horny at the sight of you (which, believe it or not, is a cheaper and easier thing to accomplish than one might think), or whether you're getting laid, though a long dry spell might deceive you into thinking it is. And it's not about constantly putting your sexuality on display for others to see.

It's just about feeling that place in your belly and your loins and knowing that you were born with it, that it resides within you, that you can choose to tap into it at will, and that you can't lose it. Because it's literally a part of you, even if you've buried it under layers and layers of life and other bullshit.

Sex is life. You come from sex. You are sexual.

YOU. are sexy.

Don't you forget it.

Happy #Humpday. ;)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On solving #firstworldproblems...

From time to time, I revisit the old blog (that I now lovingly call The Prequel) to see how I've changed and evolved since. I did that this morning and came across this post first published in August of 2013 that really resonated with my headspace today and wanted to share it again. Thanks for your indulgence. :)

Since my last post, I've been giving a lot of thought to my first world problems.

I'm ambivalent about the term because on one hand, what other kinds of problems do we first world dwellers have but first world ones? On the other hand, I get it. At its best, it smacks us back to perspective when we want to whine about things we know we shouldn't.

Because non-first world problems are truly staggering and humbling in comparison.

How to illustrate first world problems with a pic...
Well, it's kind of like having blue skies smiling at you
and thinking they're raining on you instead, I guess.

There are still many places in the world where most people don't even have the remotest opportunity to enjoy electricity, running water, septic systems, shoes on their feet, clothes on their backs, a roof that doesn't leak or a roof at all, one reliable meal a day, much less three, not for themselves and not for their children...

Just imagine for a moment how unkind we would think life if that became our reality.

And yet so many people in those places still manage to face life with gratitude and a smile, simply for the chance to live it.

Not that I don't think there are surly ingrates among them, though we like to romanticize that there aren't. But the knowledge that there are people who have it so much harder than I do, without any reasonable expectation that their situations will improve, who choose to see riches in their poverty and be grateful for them, should not be anything less than transformative.

As a woman who's been well fed, well clothed, well sheltered, well loved, well educated, well employed, and well situated throughout most of my life, with the choice and ability to change my situation if I desired to, I have hit the fucking Powerball.

In terms of having my material, spiritual and emotional needs met, I am no poorer than the wealthiest first world human - only the brands are different.

While third world people struggle with infant mortality and starvation and diseases we don't even remember, I suffer from a first world kind of amnesia that frequently makes me forget the fullness and greatness of my blessings.

Realizing this doesn't mean that I'm going to shame myself out of the pleasures of first world living. To have won the jackpot and then to sit on it for guilt that others have not would be a waste of my good fortune.

But it does mean that I am going to make a conscious effort to be all the more grateful and joyful in all of my first world privileges and to realize in each moment of each day...

- From the first flush of the morning; to the hot water shower; to the first drip of coffee; to the garden I tend for pleasure and the free running clean water with which I feed it; to the happy, healthy albeit groggy faces of my husband and children who appear to me one by one, in their own time, after I've been awake for hours listening to music and indulging my love of words; to my never empty refrigerator; to the washer and dryer that keep our clothes clean and dry with the press of a button; to the TV on which I indulge my less than admirable viewing habits; to this laptop and the wi-fi that enable me to connect with so many people... to ALL OF IT - incredibly blessed I am to be able to rely on just those things, never mind the rest, which is so much more.

And it also means that I am going to make greater efforts every day to share my blessings with others and earn some of this wealth I've inherited simply for being a child of the first world.

I think that might be a good first step toward solving my #firstworldproblems.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Nifty Thrifting: Japanese Bronze (?) Vase with Peony & Butterfly

Today's thrifting find from the DAV in Oceanside:

A Japanese metal vase of some kind - I'm guessing either brass or bronze, but I don't really know much at all about metals.

About 6 inches tall, a lovely peony on the front, and even better, a butterfly on the side. $2.95.

I'm specially fond of the butterfly. :)

This hardly puts a dent in the progress of the landscaping project, but it was totally worth the short excursion.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Jjajang Myun Sauce (Chinese-Korean Black Bean Noodles Sauce)

Another recipe transfer. These old pics are making me nostalgic for our Teeny-Tiny Bungalow of Fun on Ditmar. ;)

While items like bulgogi, bibim bap, and japchae have become quite familiar to Korean food lovers here in the States, there is a lesser known subsection of Korean cuisine that is quite popular with Koreans everywhere: Chinese-Korean.

And one of the most popular dishes from Chinese-Korean cuisine is a noodle dish called jjajang myun, literally black bean paste (jjajang) noodles (myun).

It's many a Korean kid's spaghetti, and I ate it all the time when I was little (and loved it!).

Black bean paste in both Chinese and Korean cuisines has a very salty, nutty, toasty, deep, rich umami to it, and though it looks and tastes a little intimidating right out of the jar, it's delicious when used in the right quantities and mellowed by other ingredients and cooking techniques.

In this dish, it's mixed with sauteed pork, onions, carrots, zucchini, and potatoes in a deliciously savory sauce served over noodles.

When I don't have chow mein noodles on hand (which I usually don't because that means a 45 minute drive to the Asian market), I serve the sauce over spaghetti noodles cooked 3 or 4 minutes past al dente to mimic the softer texture of chow mein noodles. Rice is also commonly used in lieu of noodles in many Korean households, but in that case, you'd call it jjajang bap (bap meaning rice) instead of jjajang myun.

Julienned cucumbers are a typical garnish to add refreshing crunch, and kimchi and dakuang (a sweet-salty pickled daikon dyed bright yellow) are usually served on the side.

Basic Jjajang Sauce Recipe
Time: About 30 minutes
Makes 3 to 4 servings

- vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped into 1/4" dice (about 1 cup)
- 1 large carrot cut into 1/4" cubes (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium zucchini cut into 1/4" cubes (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium potato cut into 1/4" cubes (about 1 cup)
- 1 pound pork shoulder cut into 1/4" cubes and tossed with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 Tablespoon corn starch (or 3/4 Tablespoon potato starch)
- 1 Tablespoon corn starch (or 3/4 Tablespoon potatoe starch) slurried in 2.5 Tablespoons cold water
- 1/3 cup jjajang (Korean black bean paste)
- 1 3/4 cups unsalted chicken stock (or 1 2/3 cups water)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar

1) In a large pot, saute the vegetables in 2 or 3 batches, using 2 teaspoons of oil per batch, over slightly higher than medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

2) In the same pot, add 1.5 Tablespoons oil, turn the heat up to medium high, and saute the meat for 4 to 5 minutes, until most of the pieces have a dark golden brown sear on them.

3) Pour in the black bean paste, water, sugar, and starch slurry, and story thoroughly to break up the paste and evenly distribute all the ingredients. Make sure to scrape the bottom to release any fond.

4) Bring the sauce up to a gentle boil for about 2 minutes, then cover and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At this point, give the sauce a taste, and if it's a little too salty, add water in Tablespoonfuls to adjust the flavor. (The salt in such salty condiments as black bean paste can intensify exponentially past a certain point in cooking.)

Cut the heat and allow the sauce to cool and set for 5 minutes or so before ladling it over your noodles or rice.

Enjoy. :)


arm's length

for time and space
that creates a place
for greater love
to make its haste
we need not waste
a single trace
of guilt or shame
to feel its grace


Friday, January 16, 2015

I finally planted some pansies to replace the marigolds that were decimated by things I'm not experienced enough as a gardener to identify... yet.

To be honest, I don't even like pansies that much. They're pretty and all, but their blooms are so fragile, flimsy, and fleeting. I like flowers that stick around for a while, hence the marigolds they replaced. But they were the least unhealthy looking seedlings left in the nursery after the storms, and the marigolds in my yard were looking sadder than sad...

I also got myself this journal the other day. My least unfavorite from the roughly 50 different styles I pored over in two different stores. I don't like the words all over it (not to be confused with my not liking the worD because it happens to be a favorite of mine), and the size was slightly shy of perfect, but I do love its particular shade of red, and, as I said before, it was the least objectionable to my admittedly extraordinarily particular and peculiar sensibilities.

In another life, these purchases would have been considered unfortunate compromises.

But in this one, this is progress in the evolution of my priorities.

In another life, I might have spent more time, resources, and frustration - more LIFE - in search of more perfect-to-me other flowers and a different journal that I may or may not have ended up finding.

In this life, I chose to spend more life nurturing and enjoying the Plan B pansies and writing in the least unfavorite journal than continuing to quest for their more perfect alternatives.

Not that enough particularity and peculiarity don't still live in me that I could very well have come home empty handed had those pansies and that journal not been there to help me continue to refine my practice of embracing the good-enough.

But they were.

And I didn't.

Less driving, less searching, less buying.

More gardening, more writing, more creating.


Progress. :)


Monday, January 12, 2015

20 Minute Mediterranean-Inspired Shrimp with Tomatoes & Capers & Stuff for 2

Dean selected my next recipe transfer by requesting this dish over the weekend. It's delicious with crusty bread or pasta, but I like soppage action, so I usually opt for crusty bread.

As with my Cajun-Inspired Shrimp & Sausage, we enjoy the head-on, peel and eat shrimp for the delicious headfat and extra flavor from the shells, but you can use whatever kind of shrimp you like - with or without the head, with or without the peel.

Size wise, I recommend at least 21/25 count.

20 Minute Mediterranean-Inspired Shrimp with Tomatoes & Capers & Stuff
Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2, Easily doubled, but you'll need to add another 4 or 5 minutes of cook time at the end.

- 1 Tablespoon butter + 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 a small onion, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 10 oz. basket of grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon capers
- 1.5 Tablespoons caper brine
- zest of 1/2 a small lemon
- 1/3 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 1+1/4 pounds shrimp
- optional: 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- optional: 3 or 4 lemon wedges if you like a little fresh lemon juice on your shrimp before you dig in (I do. :) )

1) In a large pan or pot, melt the butter with the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onions turn translucent.

2) Turn the heat to medium high, add the tomatoes, capers, caper brine, and lemon zest, give it 2 or 3 good stirs to distribute the ingredients, and let the tomatoes cook until you hear 3 or 4 of them pop. Mash or pierce the tomatoes with a potato masher or a large fork at this point, then add the chicken stock and chili flakes and stir to redistribute the ingredients again.

3) Let the resulting sauce come to an active simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, then add the shrimp, gently fold to cover in sauce, and let the shrimp cook undisturbed for 3 or 4 minutes until the bottom side of the shrimp have turned orange and opaque. (Shrimp without shells will take a little less time to cook.) Give the sauce a taste at this point and adjust the salt if needed.

4) Gently fold again to flip and redistribute the shrimp and let them continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or so on the other side or just until all the shrimp have turned orange and opaque on both sides.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley, serve lemon wedges on the side, and enjoy with crusty bread or 2 servings of al dente pasta tossed into the sauce.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Easy Gochujang Glaze for Fried Chicken (& Other Things)

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

I was in the middle of (slowly) transferring my old recipes over to the new blog when I decided to take indefinite leave from the work of food (which didn't exclude sharing the love of food that is an organic and omnipresent part of my life), and that was a much needed thing because I was fatiguing of it and frankly boring and stifling myself to near tears.

It's been lovely to regain an amateur's enjoyment for cooking and eating again, and the time off has given me some renewed enthusiasm to return to the light work of just transferring recipes to a central repository, so off I go again, morsel by morsel...

Next up on the list is this Easy Gochujang Glaze that's delicious on fried chicken, chicken wings, and pork ribs among other things.

If you'd like some pointers on fried chicken and chicken wings - my Yogurt Brined Fried Chicken recipe and Buffalo BBQ Fried Chicken/Chicken Wings recipe.

Easy Gochujang Glaze
Time: 15 minutes
Printable Version

- 1/4 onion, minced
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon oil

- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 Tablespoons gochujang
- 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup (or 1 Tablespoon molasses + 1 teaspoon sugar)

1) In a small sauce pan, saute the onions and garlic in the oil over medium heat until the onions turn translucent.

2) Pour in the rest of the glaze ingredients, stir 3 or 4 times, bring the heat up to medium high, and bring the glaze to a gentle boil for about 1 minute.

3) Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes or so until all the ingredients have melded, and the glaze has a caramelized flavor.

That's it!

Enjoy. :)


Thursday, January 8, 2015

"Babe, how come you're never mad at me?" (as I slide back into bed and wake my not morning person husband at 5:30 am...)

"Because I'm never mad at you."

"Ok. Not *mad*, but sometimes it's something, right?"

"Yeah. Maybe sometimes you frustrate me."

"Ok. How come you never show that you're frustrated with me?"

"Well, because... what good would that do? And also, I love you."

"You love me better than I love you, Babe."

"It's not like that, Babe."

"No. It really is. I know it's not a competition. I love you well, but you love me better. And that's ok. I'm learning."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Izz gave me the sweetest hug this morning, which happens quite often these days. But today was different because we happened to be sitting in front of the wardrobe mirror, and we caught our smiling faces smooshed together. This made both of us laugh.

Then I caught my grays in the mirror. I'm totally ok with my grays, but they did serve in that moment a very real reminder that these days won't last forever. Not just a realization that our kids will grow up one day, but a much heavier moment in which I fast forwarded to a day when I would no longer be here - not with, or for, any of my family.

It's everyone's reality. And it's for the best that these things don't occur to us that often.

But it's also for the best that these things do occur to us every so often, because they remind us to live better the life we've got left.

The only useful thing to do with such moments is something good.

So I hugged Izz a little tighter, took in her sweet face a little longer, and decided we'd do some little good thing not to waste the gift of being starkly reminded how precious our moments are.

And off to surprise Dean for lunch - something I haven't done in the longest. Lengua and carnitas street tacos for me, a ginormous carne asada burrito for Dean, and some of whatever we were having for Izz at La Perla Tapatía, a little gem of a local Mexican market, bakery, and restaurant right across the street from Dean's office.

Oh, and a blue truck for Izz as well. She loves automobiles, and I love to ponder what it is in her soul that makes her love them so.

And then a visit to the Last Chance at Life thrift that I've been meaning to check out forever. A buck spent on some Allende and Bradbury for me - part of my new year's resolution to read hard copy (and smell musty old pages) again - and a sheet of Halloween stickers for Izz, the latter which inspired Izz's first improvised song that went something like, I LUH da Tattoween! Tattow-tattow-tattoween!!!

Which pretty much laid any of the past week's restlessness about things like "work" and "career" to rest for the time being. Old habits die hard, but she has this way of keeping me still and making me like it in spite of myself.

And off I go to make executive decisions about some ribeye and asparagus...