Life Lessons from Mom

Oh, my lov-e-ly lov-e-ly (pronounce the separate syllables to make it sound like her) mother. She may not be the most graceful and elegant woman she imagines to be, but she has her charms. She is boisterous and her laughter is contagious, she tackles problems head-on, she has a tender heart and is the opposite of my often unresponsive father, her enjoyment and commitment to studying the Word is honorable, and she is passionate. It took me nearly twenty years to appreciate her intended motives and efforts, and what I came to realize was: she tried to the best of her abilities. She wanted a better life for us (me and my siblings) and though things did not turn out the way she wanted/expected, we know that God works in mysterious ways. I was subtly rebellious and did not like the idea of obedience and conformity–so foolish, I know. To tame and love such a sinner–the Lord knows the grueling task that was given to her and the struggles, agony, tears along the way. I am humbled and ashamed by my sinful past, and now as I raise my own child, I hope I can cling to Him as she did.

Here are a few life lessons she has taught me by example:

  1. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind.
  2. Read the Bible and pray every day.
  3. Love means sacrifice.
  4. Respect your husband.
  5. It’s never too late.

I love you, 엄마 (mom). Thank you.

Meal Planning: 10 Easy Asian Recipes (links)

Meal Planning: 10 Easy Asian Recipes (links)

(Image and recipe from My Korean Kitchen)

It’s week 8 or 9 of shelter-in-place for us and I feel the drain of cooking and cleaning after every meal 7-days a week (with help from the Hubs now and then, and gracious friends this past week ;)). Before the shelter-in-place order, we would eat out Friday evenings and the weekends, but now our home has become a 24-hr diner, and moms, I feel ya. If I was by myself, I’d eat simple things like eggplant spread on toast and call it lunch, but do my husband and daughter consider that a meal? Nope. And because I haven’t been eating red meat for the past couple of years, and I don’t cook chicken that often, I feel like my husband, especially, is not consuming enough protein, hence losing his hair (is my theory). Of course there are other factors like stress, age, genes, but his once beautiful black hair is now so scant and peppered with gray. Balding and gray–I thought it would be one or the other–but both! ’tis so cruel. Lord, you have taken away my hair but blessed me with regrowth and thick curly locks. Lord, please, please bring his hair back! T-T

I digress, so beyond the point. ehehe…

To inspire next week’s menu or meals during the month of May as the weather continues to warm up, here are some easy-ish recipes to incorporate into your meal planning:

  1. Cold Noodles (Korean Mul-Neng-myun (물냉면)): Easiest way is to go to buy a couple packs of these ready-made noodles (found in the refrigerated section in the Korean/Asian market), slice up some cucumbers and pickle them quickly in a vinegar mix (equal parts vinegar and water, with a little sugar), and add ice. For protein, add a hard-boiled egg and try to dig up some frozen meat. If you don’t have ready-made noodles or don’t want to risk going out, you can substitute buckwheat/soba noodles and use cans of chicken broth as the base soup. If you want to be fancy and take more time, here is Maangchi’s recipe, or if you want it simple, try My Korean Kitchen’s recipe. I personally don’t like pears in my noodles, but a hard-boiled egg is a must.
  2. Poke bowl or vegan poke bowl (회덮밥 or vegan): Add any veggies in the fridge and tofu/raw fish to rice and stir in some soy sauce and sesame oil if you don’t have red-pepper paste (home-made sauce: 2 tbs red pepper paste, 1 tbs corn/rice syrup, 2 tbs vinegar, 1 tbs sugar, 1 tbs minced garlic, 1 tbs lemon juice).
  3. Any of these 3 Korean noodles: These 3 noodle recipes are very easy to make with items most likely in your pantry/fridge. Her videos are calming and most of her recipes are somewhat approachable. Note: Her recipes are typed in the video’s description box.
  4. Unagi Chauke (unagi bowl): I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it seems simple enough. I’ve tried her okonomiyaki and yaki udon, and they were both very good. Her recipes are solid so I’d browse through the site to see which ones would be more for your taste/effort. The yaki udon is simple and quick, so I also recommend that dish. The okonomiyaki is delicious, but it’s very time-consuming and requires special ingredients, so unless you’re up for a cooking project, it’s not a quick meal you can whip up with pantry items (it takes 1.5+ hrs of prep and 12-15 minutes to cook each okonomiyaki)
  5. Soba: The most similar recipe to what I usually make is Just One Cookbook’s oroshi soba. My quick tip is to use a pre-made soup base, i.e., Kikkoman’s Koidashi and forgo the whole dipping sauce/soup base prep. The pre-made soup base can be used for other dishes as well (udon, stir fry, etc.). There are many soba noodle dipping sauce soup bases options sold in Asian markets. All you need are soba noodles, the soup base, a small radish, and some green onions. I often add a silken tofu with soy sauce-based dip as a side-dish.
  6. Katsu sandwiches: Just One Cookbook’s or Bon Appétit’s spicy version. A change from a regular katsu rice dish. I can’t wait to visit Konbi. I may need to drive all the way there and order take-out if this quarantine isn’t over by the end of May. Until then, I’ll try it make a baked version at home.
  7. Peppered Steak: The Seasoned Mom’s recipe sounds like the meat incorporation my husband needs.
  8. Thai chicken thighs: add some chili sauce, fish sauce, peanuts, and cilantro to change up a chicken thigh recipe
  9. Hainanese Chicken Rice: a bit time-consuming, but easy enough with pantry/common ingredients (a pressure-cooker might speed things up)
  10. Veitnamese-style vermicelli noodles: This is a simplified version of what we’d find in a Vietnamese restaurant. Easy to make at home.

Basically, you can prepare a bowl of noodles/rice and throw on some vegetables, protein of choice, and a sauce and call it a meal. Change up the vegetables, protein, and sauce, and there you have it, Asian cooking. haha ;)

During this quarantine, if I could learn anything practical, I’d like to learn sauces and marinades.

Poem: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

I may have posted this poem before, but it’s one of my favorites and it came to mind this morning as I was washing the dishes. I unconsciously recited the first line in a random tune, “I wandered lonely as a cloud…,” and Elaine asked if it was a Winnie the Pooh song.

(source: via artnet news)

Little Story #003: Rainbow Road

Little Story #003: Rainbow Road

On March 6th, 2019, Elaine witnessed her first rainbow. We were driving down to San Marcos on a rainy day to celebrate my father-in-law’s 60th birthday. It had been raining all week, all winter, and rainbows were nothing new. But Elaine had been in school, at home, at church, indoors mostly because of the rain, and she never had the chance to see the magical colors paint the sky at the right moment in the right place, when the rain stops and sunlight seeps through the clouds causing light to refract and reflect to form a rainbow.

We pointed to the faint rainbow almost camouflaged by the colorful hills, and she yelled, “A rainbow! A real rainbow! I’ve never seen a real rainbow!” Then the rainbow disappeared because we were driving away, because light works in funny ways, and she was sad to learn that they didn’t last.

A few minutes later, we witnessed another rainbow along the road and I exclaimed, “Another one! Look!” and pointed to the left of our path. “God wanted to show Elaine another rainbow,” I thought, and surprisingly another rainbow appeared, and another, and another. I think we witnessed at least five on our drive down, and the very last one was painted over the poppy fields. Patches of orange against green hills, and a giant rainbow gracing itself across the green, down to our road, exactly on our path,

and we drove along the rainbow road,

with a pot of gold on the other side shining with golden poppies.

10 Favorite Books

10 Favorite Books

Many people have been saying they’re bored, twiddling their thumbs, feeling restless. I find myself restless with feelings related to confinement, but not necessarily boredom. My daughter has been keeping me plenty busy–there’s been a lot more cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, teaching, engaging, etc. and I kind of miss having my own time in the mornings. Nevertheless, I will share some of my favorite (fiction) books because you may be in search of a good read or an escape during this isolated time.

A side note: My favorite genres are comedy/satire and mystery, with well-written prose. There are many books that are quick and entertaining, but not necessarily well-written. My favorite books lean more towards classics and dense material. If you find yourself cooped up indoors without work or kids hanging onto your ankles, here are my recommendations:

  • A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz: Laugh-out-loud funny
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: Another funny one, and original
  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: Pick any story, any volume; they’re all so good.. and unexpectedly humorous
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas: Thrilling
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: Nostalgic
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens: Considered Dickens’s best by some, and somewhat relatable to current times (amidst epidemics), and detective work for the reader (following characters, plots/subplots)
  • A Lover’s Discourse by Rowland Barthes: Heartfelt, metacognitive
  • The Collected Stories by Amy Hempel: Perfectly written endings
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Thought-provoking, not as dense as his other novels
  • (Poetry) The Art of Drowning by Billy Collins: True to life poems

[Photo from this site: source: elenaleonova/iStock]