Wednesday, 31 December 2014


After a rushed and confusing first trip to Costco, several hours of late-night dough preparation, and an early start, I found myself somehow sitting bleary-eyed and only half awake on the subway. Presumably Nick just guided me the entire way as I clutched my unnecessarily large bowl of dough still rising, and a heavy bag of the most blueberries and cream cheese I've ever owned.

We finally arrived at the Global English House, cold and only slightly more awake, and stumbled up the stairs to friendly faces and the best kitchen smells a weary traveller can experience.

Embellishment aside, there was a vat of mulled cider heating on the stove, filled with oranges, cinnamon, and a variety of other things filling the room with seasonal smells. Combined with an array of baked and baking things and the soft daylight that seems to always fill the kitchen, it really does feel like we've left Korea entirely.

I know I've always said that I don't really like Christmas, but I've never been shy to declare my love of Christmas food. Theoretically we were here to celebrate Thanksgiving, but it definitely felt like Christmas to me.

The Macy's Day Parade was rewound and played for us to experience the full impact of the event, and I got to work with my dough while we marvelled at the TV. It was...strange.

Affixed to the wall was Erin's military precision planning for each dish, and I started to roll the dough with the largest vodka bottle I've ever seen.

Braid assembled, 3 different pans of stuffing ready to go, and all manner of autumn vegetables sliced, diced, boiled and prepared and ready to eat. My braid went in the oven, (taking on more of a wreath shape due to my poor planning) and we started to move all of the food into the makeshift dining room downstairs.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Coffee and Bossam with Han and Lina

I stole this photo from 이민정 ^^;

A little while ago, Nick and I met up with some of our EPIK orientation co-ordinators for some dinner and a chat. We went to a bossam place in Hongdae and had a really great time! 

I'm always happy when I can talk freely to people without awkward pauses, and meeting and talking to many Koreans is a big priority of mine here. I can talk to Westerners all I want back home and even in my apartment, but there's so much to hear and learn from people in Korea that's just so much nicer than reading it all in a book. There's opinions and stories there you'd never read otherwise.

What's the point in living abroad if you don't interact with the locals?

After eating, our conversation was mid-flow so we went to a nearby coffee shop which was incredibly adorable and seemed to know what they were talking about. All kinds of mysterious roasts, blends, and coffee making devices could be seen.

It reminded me a lot of the cute, hipster places I love visiting at home. As it was fairly late, the cafe was quiet and service was very fast.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Month in Photos: November

Donghyun's Birthday ^^~
November was pretty hectic, and aside from all the things I already blogged about or still have queued up, we do a lot each week that I often think doesn't warrant a full post, but it's nice to share my pictures and experiences. So here's November in photo format, with a few annotations along the way.

Payday I decided to treat myself a little and bought a handful of Copic markers. I've been wanting some for years now, but was always scared to pay that much money to find that I'm awful with them and there was no point. But I've been working away with the Promarkers now, and wasn't doing too badly so I splurged and haven't regretted it.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Seoul Food | 보쌈 Bossam

Preparation!  준비하다
It's a very poorly-kept secret that Nick's favourite food is bossam. It's a slow-cooked pork that you usually eat by wrapping it in a lettuce leaf (쌈) with a bit of that really great sauce I'm always banging on about (쌈장) and maybe some garlic and rice or kimchi or whatever you want really.

It's kind of similar in taste to Filipino sinigang, with a texture similar to pulled pork (pre-pulling), but it can also be a little expensive so we thought why not try cooking it ourselves, seeing as it's so easy to do?

I used a combination of recipes as well as advice from Korean friends, and ended up using:

- 1 onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- a sizable chunk of belly pork (maybe 300g?)
- a pinky-sized chunk of garlic (basically what I had left from another recipe), chopped finely
- 2 bayleaves
- a sprinkling of peppercorns
- enough water to cover it all
- half a bottle of soju

That last ingredient, soju (Korean rice wine, about 12%) is very important and the aspect most impressed on me by all my sources. Basically, when you boil pork for that stinks. Like, really bad. So, in Korea they add soju which for some reason kills the smell. I'm not sure of the science behind it, but it works and the alcohol cooks off. Due to soju being pretty flavourless (it's like a milder-tasting vodka) there's no flavour left on the meat either!

I suppose you could use white wine (or possibly 'cheap' vodka, which isn't as cheap or nice as soju) and I also saw suggestions stating that a spoonful or two of instant coffee will also do the trick just fine.)

Then, pretty much, you put the slab/s of meat into your boiling water, bring it back to the boil for about 10-20 mins, then turn the heat right down to just about a simmer. Then you leave it. Maybe stir it occasionally, but generally just leave it for about 40 mins to an hour.

So far, I've got the texture down pretty much spot on, but the flavour is lacking and I'm assuming that's just down to experimentation. I tried again a second time and used less water than before, and adding more salt and garlic and it was a lot better. But still not as good as what we've had!

Here's to more experiments in the future :p

Aw yeee

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Pepero Day

Collective Pepero haul from students and each other
Technically the 14th of every month in Korea is a little commercialised 'love'-based holiday. From January's Diary Day where you buy a diary for your loved ones to use in the new year, to the more well-known and largely-celebrated Valentines Day and White Day in February and March.

My favourite is 'Black Day', generally the antithesis of White Day where singletons wear all black and eat 'black' foods to mourn their suffering love lives after 2 months of loved-up celebrations.

November 14th's 'day' is supposedly for movies, but I'd guess that it's generally overshadowed by Pepero Day which occurs on the 11th.

The story goes that on November 11th a group of middle school girls exchanged boxes of Pepero to encourage each other to grow tall and slender. Other people say that it's just because the date (11/11) looks like Pepero sticks.

Text: Happy Pepero Day!
Either way, it's very popular (well done, marketing team) especially with younger people, and the stores were piled high with intricately-arranged boxes of the stuff days or possibly even weeks in advance.

I wasn't really expecting to get anything aside from jokingly trading a box with Nick, but we both ended up with a few at school!

It's cute and silly and I love it even though it is just a big manufactured day to make money. As long as I'm getting tasty snacks out of it, who am I to argue? :p

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