saditycents











This was  a refreshing meal and great for those spontaneously hot fall days here in Korea.

Pecan Chicken Salad. Yum!

This salad is very simple and really started out as a hodge podge of vegetables I was trying to use before my next shopping trip. Now it has become one of our favorites.

Chicken Pecan Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Romaine Lettuce
  • 1/2 medium Cucumber
  • 1 large Celery Stalk
  • 1/2 Roma Tomato (seeded)
  • 1 Chicken Breast
  • 1/4 cup Glazed Pecans
  • 1/8 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 of a Large Red Apple

Method

  1. Chicken Breast – I seasoned my chicken with a little garlic salt and ground black pepper. Then I placed it in a glass pan with about a 1/2 inch of water and covered in foil. I baked it for 25-30 min on 180-degrees Celsius (350-degrees Fahrenheit). Allow the chicken to cool if necessary (I like my chicken to be slightly warm in my salad).
  2. Arrange salad as you please. With the variety of vegetables and fruit and their colors, it’s hard to go wrong.
Nutrition Facts
Servings 2.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 297
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9 g 14 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 7 %
Monounsaturated Fat 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 73 mg 24 %
Sodium 160 mg 7 %
Potassium 736 mg 21 %
Total Carbohydrate 26 g 9 %
Dietary Fiber 5 g 19 %
Sugars 18 g
Protein 29 g 58 %
Vitamin A 97 %
Vitamin C 31 %
Calcium 8 %
Iron 11 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

I make this Thai Tea with some variations, thus Thai Chai. While I love traditional thai tea, its too sweet for my diet objectives (look at the nutrition facts below). Still I’ve included the recipe for the traditional ingredients as well as my version.

Thai Tea v. Thai Chai Tea

Traditional Ingredients:

  • 6 cups strongly brewed Black Spiced Tea
    • 3/4 cup black tea leaves (approximately 3 oz.)
    • star anise, ground tamarind, cardamom and/or other spices, to taste (optional)
    • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk

Healthier Ingredients.

  • 6 cups strongly brewed Black Spiced Tea
    • 3/4 cup half Chai tea and the Thai Tea mix below (I prefer a spiced tea drink)
    • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar (It melts better in the warm tea)
  • 1/4 cup Original Cashew Milk
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Method

  1. Steep the tea leaves (and any optional spices) in the water for 5-7 minutes, then remove the tea leaves from the water (either by removing the infuser you’re using, or by straining the water to remove the leaves if loose).
  2. While the tea is still hot, stir in sugar until dissolved
  3. Allow tea mixture to cool to room temperature or colder.
  4. Fill tall iced tea glasses with ice, and pour in tea mixture until glasses are roughly 3/4 full.
  5. Add a layer of condensed milk or cashew milk.
  6. Slowly top off glasses with evaporated milk or almond milk, but do not stir
  7. The milks should remain primarily in layers at the top of the glass for aesthetic effect.
  8. Each drinker should stir before drinking.

    Note:
    It’s important to make the tea very strong, since it is ultimately diluted with milk and ice.  Also, you can make a large batch of the sweetened tea in advance and keep it in the refrigerator, then you can just pour it over ice and top it with the milks at the time of serving.  I do this often because we only need to 2-4 glasses at a time.

TRADITIONAL THAI TEA Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 294
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6 g 10 %
Saturated Fat 4 g 18 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 27 mg 9 %
Sodium 234 mg 10 %
Potassium 171 mg 5 %
Total Carbohydrate 53 g 18 %
Dietary Fiber 0 g 1 %
Sugars 52 g
Protein 7 g 14 %
Vitamin A 3 %
Vitamin C 2 %
Calcium 18 %
Iron 2 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
thai chai tea  Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 79
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0 g 0 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 27 mg 1 %
Potassium 27 mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate 19 g 6 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g 2 %
Sugars 18 g
Protein 0 g 0 %
Vitamin A 1 %
Vitamin C 0 %
Calcium 6 %
Iron 7 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.



{October 23, 2015}   Market Shopping in Korea 
A Dapper Dog at the Market

A Dapper Dog at the Market

As a military dependent, shopping overseas isn’t as tricky for us compared to others who don’t have the connection and support of a local base. We of course have the base commissary.  When I was in the states I loved the commissary because of their great prices. Overseas they have an awesome coupon policy (you can use expired coupons for up to six months overseas), friendly service (for the most part), and products from home. But the truth is there are somethings the commissary can’t achieve; like fresh local produce. You see the commissary is ran under an arm of the Department of Defense, which means it has government contracts it must fulfill, which for me means my fruit is often frozen, shipped, and defrosted, only to prematurely rot. So while I buy many of my staples at the commissary I like to shop locally for my fresh items. And to tell you the truth it’s almost always cheaper.

Almost every town or province in South Korea has a local outdoor market where farmers and shopkeepers set up booths and sell their produce and goods. Where I live the market is known to the locals as the Songbook market. The Americans call it the “4/9 market” because vendors set up on any day ending in 4 or 9 of every month. Another base has the 3/8 market;  you get the pattern. I reckon the same vendors travel to many local towns.

Anyway the 4/9 market can be intimidating. There are flurry of people pushing their way through the crowds, a lot of yelling from vendors trying to make a sell, foods you don’t recognize and what seems like general chaos. After frequenting the market almost weekly for a few months I’m starting to understand the method behind the madness.

An example of unfamiliar foods: If anyone knows what this is please let me know.

An example of unfamiliar foods: If anyone knows what this is please let me know.

IMG_0016

First understand how the market is set up. One thing to note is that for the most part vendors are always in the same spot. This becomes helpful as you build relationships. That way you can find the same tomato vendor over and over. Also don’t be afraid to go down alleys and side streets. Many times vendors who are not on the main drag are more willing to bargain because they don’t get the same amount of traffic. Once you find that special vender ask for what you want. This may seem elementary, but sometimes the vendor is set up in front of their brick and mortar shop, so if you don’t see an item they would likely sell, just ask. They have more items in the back. 

Learn how to bargain. The greatest appeal about open air markets is the ability to bargain shop and haggle prices. I learned from a Korean national that it’s part of the Korean culture to haggle.  The thing she didn’t tell me was that as a foreigner the same bargaining rules don’t apply. When Korean vendors see Americans they know our method of shopping is to see a price and pay, so many won’t haggle with you because they know that’s not your culture. This doesn’t mean haggling is impossible it just means that your shopping experience isn’t going to be the same way as your well-meaning Korean friend’s trip.

Here are some tips to improve your haggling experience.

1) Get a Calendar – Make yourself familiar with traditional Korean holidays. The market tends to be more crowded and vendors are far less likely to haggle with you on those days. They don’t need your business that day and they don’t have time to waste going back and forth with you for fear of losing another sale.

2) Get the Worm -As in the early bird… Get it?! Anyways, I just mean go early. The earlier in the day the better. The earliest I’ve been is 8 am. Sure some vendors aren’t set up yet, but the truly committed die-hard vendors are and they are ready to make their first sale. There is a cultural belief that your interaction with your first customer is how the rest of the day will go for your business. So theoretically they are more willing to bargain to get a sale. Superstition aside, in my own experience I have found that vendors are just nicer in the mornings and therefore more likely to give you a deal, even if you aren’t their first customer. Another plus is that the market is less crowded, though still crowded, in the morning; so it makes for a more pleasant shopping experience.

3) Get an expanded definition of bargain. Many people only think they got a good deal if they paid less than the asking price. Sometimes that’s hard to achieve. I frequent vendors who throw in free items or who who give me significantly more for the same price compared to other vendors. This takes some trial and error and a good memory.  I try to remember specific vendors for specific items because of their generosity with portions. Like my raw nuts lady. She puts more in the bag than other vendors and puts a free item in as well. I also appreciate vendors who will fairly cut an amount down for me. Sometimes the vendors pre-portion their produce (say that five times fast) and you pick the basket of produce that looks best. But it’s just my husband and I at home, so often their portions are too large and I know a large amount will go to waste. There are some vendors who try to force you to buy the whole amount. It could be because they’ve already weighed out the produce, but it doesn’t serve my purposes. Others will cut the fruit in half to their advantage. Meaning the entire pound was 5,00 won but for 3,000 won they’ll give you half. I don’t use them. I like when I get just a little more than half for about half the price. it means they value you me as a customer and want me to come back. Either way, there are more than one way to get a good deal. For instance, we use a lot of organic Korean honey (seriously, whatever these Korean bees are doing, it’s life changing). So rather than ask my vendor for a cheaper deal on the honey, I buy double the portion and then cut a deal on that. I know I’m going to use all of the honey, so it’s a win for me, and he moved merchandise, so its a win for him.

4) Get o.k. with “N.O.”. Sometimes you have to walk away. I’ve heard stories of Americans buying items and not knowing what they bought because a vendor started putting it in a bag as they were talking and shoved it in their hands. I can’t even imagine being bullied into a purchase just because I’m afraid the vendor won’t like Americans afterwards. I think that’s a simplistic and insulting view of people in foreign nations, to think that a seasoned vendor won’t know how to handle a “no thank you” (but that’s a different, more political view that would probably be titled: Polite Paternalism). Anyways, the point is that if in the midst of haggling you aren’t getting the deal you want, walk away. It’s ok. I am not afraid to walk away from any vendor, nor am afraid to try several vendors to see whose willing to haggle. I’m also okay with hearing “no.” Some say no as a bargaining method. Try another number. But if they are insistent on the price, then I smile, bow, and walk away. No hard feelings. You don’t have to be rude to bargain, but you don’t have to be a pushover either. Sit back from a distance, you’ll see them bargaining with other locals. Many just assume that you won’t.

5) Get a basic vocabulary. I’m pretty horrible at other languages, speaking wise. But I have found that even recognizing a few words is helpful, even if I can’t respond. The vendors are less frustrated if you understand something, and actually appreciate a few words in Hangul (Korean). Words that I have found to be useful are:

Hello = Ann-yeong-haseyo (all the translation books say to pronounce it this way. Locally, I find Ah-naseyo gets a better response)

Thank You = Kasi-hamm-ni-dah

How Much = Ooh-ma-im-ni-kah

Please Give Me = Joos-Aa-Yo

Yes = Nay or Dae

No = Aneeyo

Once you get the basics of the marketplace down, it can really be worthwhile. Before the market our grocery bill could easily be $300 a month for 2 people and that was with little to no fresh fruits or vegetables. Now I spend about $250 on groceries and that is with about half being large amounts of fresh produce, and of course local honey (I use it for almost everything that requires a sweetener). Here are some pictures from a typical trip:

IMG_0075

I think I spent less than 15,000 won on this trip with 10,000 won being the honey. Still a good deal, but this was one of my earlier trips, before I’d grasped the concept of bargaining.

This is a more recent trip. Even with the superior honey I spent about 30000w

I love seeing twists on foods I grew up with or foods I've never even heard of.

I love seeing twists on foods I grew up with or foods I’ve never even heard of.



They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; and if home is where the heart is, then my home is in the kitchen…

Okay now that I’ve gotten all of my anecdotes and puns out of the way I thought I’d add a new element to the blog. 

I love to cook and I love to eat (thus I devote a lot of posts to weight loss. LOL). One thing I’ve been trying is making healthier spins on some favorites. Not every recipes will be “healthy” per se and I won’t pretend to be a nutritionist. I’m just a gal who loves to cook and who married a man with a military sized appetite. 

Anyone who cooks knows there’s no science to it. I’m an intuitive cook. Sometimes I hit on a win, sometimes not so much. Last night was a win. 

I saw a recipe for Lemon Cream -Sauced Mahi Mahi. I revised it and then  I paired it with fried rice from the night before and cabbage salad. 

  

Mahi Mahi with Lemon Cream sauce

Ingredients

  • Mahi Mahi fillets
  • Garlic Salt
  • Black Pepper (coursely ground)
  • 4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice (fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp. White Cooking Wine
  • 1 Tbsp. Brandy
  • 3 Tbsp. Cream Cheese (whipped)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cashew Milk
  • 1/4c Butter / 2 pats of Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Raw Sugar
  • 1/4c water

Method

  1. Note: This recipe cooks very quickly so don’t leave the stove. 
  2. Season fish well with garlic salt and pepper. Preheat skillet to medium heat. Steam fish with half the butter in a pan  with a lid for 10 minutes. Turn pan down very low with lid and with water to keep moist. 
  3. In a seperate skillet: Melt cream cheese on a med-low heat. Add lemon juice, brandy, and white wine. Whisk until blended. Bring to a slight boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.  The cream cheese may appear to curdle this is normal. Add a splash of cashew milk (about 2 Tbsp.). Add remainder of butter and whisk well. Then add sugar while stirring.  Simmer about 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Remove from heat and allow it to sit 5 more minutes. Sauce should appear eggshell white with a creamy consistency. 
  4. Serve over fish and garnish with herbs or sliced peppers. 

Review

I loved this fish recipe it was just the right amount of sweet and savory. Typically I pair some kind of mango chutney with Mahi Mahi but I wanted a change and I’m so glad I tried something new. I think this would be a great recipe for a dinner party. 

My husband loves it as well. He let out an audible “mmm” when he tasted it. 

Side Dishes

Red Cabbage Salad with Mango Vinagrette

Ingredients

Salad

  • 4c Red Cabbage (Half a head)
  • 1c Asian Pear
  • 1/2c Carrot (finely diced)
  • 1/4c Celery
  • 1/4c Bell Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Concentrate
  • 1/4c almonds (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries (optional)

Vinagrette 

  • 1/4c Mango (diced)
  • 1/8c water
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 6 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method

  1. In a large bowl mix salad ingredients with lemon juice. 
  2. Add craisins and nuts. 
  3. In a blender purée the mango with water. Then combine the purée with the othe Vinagrette ingredients in a smaller bowl.
  4. Toss salad and Vinagrette together. Chill until ready to serve. 

Review

This salad is a spinoff of a recipe I found on Pinterest. The original recipe called for apple as instead of Asian pears. Since I’m in Korea right now Asian Pears are far more plentiful than apples. 

I really enjoyed this salad. It was very refreshing. I thought it paired well with the citrus flavor of the fish sauce. I had a first mind to skip the craisins and only have fresh produce in the salad. I now think that would have been the best. The salad is crunchy and full of flavor. The addition of dried fruit takes from the fresh taste. 

My husband also preferred the salad without cranberries and I’m glad I only put a small amount. However I wouldn’t discourage others from adding the craisins, we love them, it’s just our preference with this very specific pairing. My husband also said to lose the almonds.  I have to veto him on this one. They added a healthy crunch to the salad. He’s just adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. 

Restaurant-Style Vegetable Fried Rice

Ingredients 

  • 2 Tbsp Green onions (diced)
  • 1/2 c Red and Yellow Peppers
  • 1 c Frozen Peas and Carrots
  • 2 Eggs (beaten or whisked)
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 3 c Brown Rice (cooked and refrigerated)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat a skillet to medium heat and add olive oil. Cook onion and peppers until tender and then add frozen vegetables. Push to the side or in a seperate skillet cook the eggs. Allow them to cook almost all the way through before dicing. Once cooked mix with vegetables. Add rice to the mixture, stirring occasionally until heated through. 
  2. In a small sauce pan combine soy sauce and honey.  Cook on medium-low heat until honey has completely dissolved. 
  3. Remove both pans from hat and pour soy-honey sauce over the fried rice. 

Review

We love fried rice. My favorite was from this restaurant that had the slightest sweet flavor to offset the saltiness of the soy sauce. I can’t even remember the restaurant name anymore but I have found that adding a bit of honey provides a very similar flavor. I often add chicken apple sausage to the mix and it is divine. I didn’t this time and I’m glad because it would have destracted from the fish.  




My parents came to visit my husband and I in South Korea! They are our first, and probably only, houseguests. Needles

Because South Korea takes some getting used to, I think a hostess should plan in advance for her guests. 

In preparation of their visit I did a deep cleaning of the house. I thought that this would be a good time to exclaim my love of all things essential oils. Right now my staples are: lavender, tea tree oil, and peppermint. Peppermint is an old southern trick to rid farmhouse kitchens and pantries of rodents. For me, my kitchen just doesn’t feel thoroughly cleaned unless it has the smell of real peppermint. It’s also great for killing drain and sink oder. In my bathrooms and bedrooms I used lavender. For the toilets in particular I combine borax, lavender, and tea tree oil and let it sit after cleaning to fill the bathroom with a clean and calming fragrance.  I use tea tree oil for almost every cleaning combination whether peppermint or lavender or orange oil (for my wood and leather furniture). I don’t support any particular company as I have found I have different fragrances from different companies. Maybe one day I’ll do a review of all the brands I’ve tried. 

After the thorough cleaning I fixed up the master bedroom for my parents. The heat has definitely broken in the last week or so but its still pretty warm at night. The apartments don’t have central air so I decided my parents, who aren’t used to even this cooled down version of heat, should stay in the bedroom with an air conditioner. 

I also prepared a “Korea Kit,” some basic essentials for life in Korea, especially in the more rural area where the majority of military bases are located. The kit consisted of a t-money travel card for subway and bus travel, a reflector belt for after dark travel on roads without sidewalks and speeding cars, a water bottle and towel for walking the everyday heat and humidity, a subway map – map of the base, and contact information sheet complete with instructions to find their way home or to our Seoul hotel if they get lost, a phrase card with basic phases, and an itinerary for the next two weeks. 

South Korea is confusing, even for seasoned travelers like my parents. So I did my best to provide them with the tools they would need to enjoy all that Korea has to offer without feeling completely dependent on me for assistance. My parents loved the kits and found them to be quite useful. I think this is a good idea anytime a first time visitor stays I your area but particularly when you are living overseas. 

Here’s a generic checklist of things to have prepared for them:

  • Basic phrases in the local language.
  • Itinerary for their time in the area.
  • Easy to follow instructions to your (the host’s) home.
  • Basic map of the area.
  • Subway or bus map with important landmarks highlighted. 
  • Subway or bus card with a small amount on it. 
  • Reflecting belt (if they will have to walk from public transportation spots at night). 
  • Items to combat the elements of your particular region that your guests might not be prepared for. We included a towel, hand sanitizer, wipes (check out my bathroom post), a water bottle, and a small umbrella. In hindsight I would have also included sunscreen. I am happy to say that almost all of the items were needed at one point or another and I was proud that I had accurately anticipated the needs of my guests. 

Are there any other suggestions for future kits?



et cetera