Black bean sauce and noodles- Jajangmyeon 자장면


This is one of Tae’s favorite foods and also of Koreans, though I had to develop a taste for it, but it has also become one of my favorites as well.

It was my first time in Korea and my first meeting with my husband’s entire family and even though back home we ate Korean food every day, I still had my American foods I could mix in and Sunday dinners with my parents. I had not gotten used to eating “real” Korean food 24/7. This was the dish that made me realize how sensitive I was to these exotic foods.

To be completely honest, the first time I tried this dish, I could barely bring myself to even eat 1/4 of it without feeling sick (I now know that it was the noodles that made me feel sick, as other Korean wheat noodles give me this problem, typically the dried ones). Luckily, almost all Korean restaurants have Coca Cola and I found that when feeling a little nauseous when trying something new, Coke will help you get through it so you don’t offend your in-laws!!! (also ice cream after!!!) I have a special fondness for Coke now! I don’t drink it much because I know that high fructose corn syrup is really bad for me, but when weighing the issue of HFCS to offended in-laws I think I know what is most important.

I also learned that I can push through trying new foods and eventually come to love the food. Not the greatest thing for my kids, when I tell them they get to try something new. They just don’t get much sympathy.

I also learned that a month of eating Korean without a break, was something I couldn’t seem to adjust to, as would probably be true anytime you go outside of what you were raised on. My husband cannot eat American food 24/7. I can still remember the first time we ran out of rice a few years back and he panicked. It would have been equal to the panic I would have had if Korea had decided to not purchase Coke.

At this point I make this dish at least once a month for lunch and enjoy eating it. The jajang is not gluten free and even though I have searched, there isn’t one that is. (I am attempting to try to make one to share later). I do use rice based noodles to pour the sauce over. By far the noodles pictured below are our favorite for texture and taste. (we actually found these at Kroger and could not find them at Hmart!)


If you are not watching gluten intake, the noodles for jajangmyeon are found in the frozen section and are delicious! These are fresh pasta noodles, not dried. One of the rows is typically a serving, but it is shareable if you don’t have the appetite of a Korean. (I usually share mine)

The meat we use in this recipe is pork belly, but we tend to buy an entire side of pork belly which is essentially bacon, before it is processed. It can also be pricey, so pork butt is a good substitute. You need a slightly fatty meat.

The pork belly is sliced like bacon and then chopped up, This would essentially be the same for pork butt, you are essentially trying to make small pieces of pork. Now for the recipe!!

Jajangmyeon-serves at least 5

2 cups of sliced pork belly or pork butt
1 cup of diced onion
4 cups of diced potato
1 1/2 cup of diced Korean radish
1 1/2 cups of diced zucchini
1/4 cup of water
2 TBSP sugar, honey, or maple syrup
1/4 cup of the bean paste
1/4 of an English cucumber
1 Package of noodles

Fry the pork in a pot until it is fully cooked and a little brown. Add the onion until it is transparent and caramelizing.

Once the pork and onion are cooked add the potato, radish, and zucchini. Cook these for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the 1/4 cup of water to the pot and cover. Stir this occasionally to make sure the vegetables are not burning.

(Don’t forget to start the noodles!!) While this is cooking, it is a great time to cut up that cucumber into julienne strips. Cut the cucumber on and angle to get longer strip of cucumber (the Korean way of cutting veggies!!)

Once the radish and potatoes are fork tender, add the bean paste and extra water if necessary to make a thick stew. (If you add too much water, thicken it with corn starch, or tapioca starch, so that it isn’t runny, it needs to be thick enough to sit on top of the noodles when scooped) Once the noodles are done and drained. Take a serving out and put it into the bowl. Pile the jajang stew on top and place cucumber strips on top. mix and eat!!!
Hope you enjoy this as much as we have come to!

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A shopping we go!!!

Once upon a time there was this cute little Korean grocery store run by a sweet little middle aged Korean Ahjuma. Our beloved Uri market!!

This ahjuma was the best!!!! Every time we went shopping she would give us free drinks and kimbab. She would let us go into the kitchen part of the store and pick out her latest creation. She gave the kids (2 of them at the time, number three hadn’t been born yet) suckers and snacks!! She just loved us!!! I was unique in the fact that I could speak and cook Korean and my two little ones could also speak Korean!! It was the best of times!!

But then the sky clouded and grew dark……….and like all mom and pop stores (or Korean ahjuma stores) a giant corporation named H Mart moved into the region and took over, shutting down all of these little stores 4 cities around, and our beloved Uri Market closed FOREVER!!!!! We still miss her, even though it has been 4 years.

Time heals all wounds, though there are scars left behind, and we now shop at the evil corporation because their prices are good…..and well, we just don’t have a choice. So time to head out to the store.

Since it is winter in Michigan, we bundled up. You are probably thinking it is because it is 20 degrees out with 3-4 inches of snow……

Nope that isn’t it at all. It is because H mart keeps the temperature set down around 50 or 60 degrees. Sometimes when shopping there my hands and feet actually hurt.

After a 40ish minute drive and passing through 8 cities, we finally arrived!! (I miss how close our other grocery used to be WAHHHHH!!)

Going to the Korean Grocery is always an event, and since it happens once a month now, it is a 2 hour event that usually culminates in us spending time in their tiny restaurant, which has delicious Korean choices, but has just priced themselves out for our budget ($20 for two people, think of the groceries we can buy and we can just make the food ourselves!). We tend to eat clean, but sometimes I turn a blind eye. So one of the things I allow us to get for a treat is Cuttlefish snacks!!

Yes, they are actually made with minced squid! I can’t tell you why these are so yummy. This brand has the best crunch! It actually takes willpower to stop eating them. 9 servings in that bag and we considered buying another because they were a dollar off.

Tae’s favorite part is the frozen and live fish area.

Notice his gloves!!!

This section is pretty cool. We live in Michigan, so aside from fresh lake fish, we do not have an outlet to get fresh ocean fish. The majority of the fish they sell is wild caught and brought in by truck same day. There are some varieties of farmed fish, but that isn’t the normal.

It also allows us to pick from a variety of wild caught crustaceans, octopus and squid. (I’m having a hard time eating octopus after seeing how intelligent they are in many videos, mostly I just feel sad when I see a tray of baby octopuses, in fact I couldn’t even take a picture of them) With our smaller Korean groceries this was never an option.

One of the things I like about going shopping here, is it allows me to recreate a feeling of being back in Korea. For 2 hours that’s where I am. I really miss my sister-in-law and her husband, my Korean parents who left us a short while ago and are in Heaven, and the country people. (City people are very cold) and for this space of time, I can imagine being back there. That is probably why I loved our little grocery so much and the ahjuma who ran it. I really felt like home. I digress…back to shopping!!

Another really special treat that we tend to pick up is this!!!

You don’t see it……hold on, let me zoom in.

Young coconuts!!! I don’t know about the rest of the country, but these little water filled gems are usually $3.99 and more at our grocery stores. At H-mart they run $1.99 or less. This is a special treat. I know how good these are for health so I will splurge on this item. Tae begs us to get one every time we go. He sometimes drives the whole way home with the coconut in his hands impatiently waiting to get home to open it. First thing when we get home and unpack all the groceries????

I crack open the coconut, pop in on of our stainless steel straws (LOVE THESE!!) We each get a sip, and he drinks the rest. The taste is amazing and sweet!

Another area we tend to splurge is my daughter’s favorite. Ice cream!!

Korean ice cream is made with some weird ingredients. They tend to be fruit flavors and totally artificial in flavor such as the banana milk shakes, and sweetened red bean paste. They love coffee flavored ice cream, and a melon flavor. One of our favorite ice cream treats is a fish shaped cake with red bean and vanilla ice cream in it.

This image actually has some of our favorite flavors, (I was very tempted to get the honey flavored cake). They didn’t have the fish shaped cake, but instead had an oval one that just wouldn’t be as much fun to eat, I think. The kids love biting the head off of the fish and the red bean is so much like innards. Next time!!

In our American grocery stores I tend to shop the outside isles, (EXCEPT when it comes to Oreos!!) because most of the food in the aisles is processed. In the Korean grocery I can almost get away with it as well.

The veggie section is huge!!

This area takes up about half the store and has some interesting items. Dragon fruit, Durian, a myriad of Chinese vegetables and our Korean radish and cabbage. Besides some of the fun items, we buy our rice here, we usually purchase 2-4 of the 40# bags, which will last for a month or two. We have sticker shock every time we buy rice now. Rice has doubled in price in the 20 years my husband and I have been married. It now runs $30 a bag!! One item we don’t buy, but that Tae has recently discovered the taste of, is Spam. Korean’s LOVE spam and spam loves Korean cooking. It is a match made in heaven!! Really it is delicious in kimchi chigea!! I had to tell Tae to put it back on the shelf. He was totally disappointed!

I have also learned that label reading is a must when we go shopping, with my oldest having severe food allergies, but especially at the Korean market. After bringing home one new snack to try out and eating some, I decided to read the label.

We won’t be buying those again!!!! And they are not the only item. There is a sweet radish which also comes with a warning label usually, though this brand didn’t have the warning, so you better know what those chemicals are. (notice that little product of China label, it is getting harder to find products of Korea on these shelves!!!) So besides some treats we like, there are those that need to be avoided or I have to learn to make them from scratch. (Upcoming recipe for these sweet radishes which are key to kimbab!!)

So after 2 hours and $180 we were able to stock up for another month. We checked out, headed home, unloaded and put away our groceries. We were ready for a month of Korean cooking and kimchi making. Then suddenly my husband groaned and pulled out the little bit of fish sauce he had left to turn our case of cabbage into kimchi. This store will never replace the little Korean grocery store I grew up in ( as my Korean alter ego developed and grew) but it is an okay replacement. Anyway it looks like we may be going back much sooner than we thought. Yay!!! More cuttlefish snacks!

Korean Radish Salad 무생채

Probably one of my favorite Korean side dishes is a sweet and sour radish salad called moosangchae. This dish has a slight bit of spice to it, but nothing that is too strong. Even those that are sensitive to heat, can eat this.

It is very simple to make and will probably become a quick family favorite. Korean radishes, also known as moo, can have that same spicy bite to it of our little salad radishes if eaten raw but tend to be milder. In the salad, that spiciness seems to disappear and becomes a very mellow vegetable with the best crunch to it. The radishes are not the little red ones we are used to or daikon (but these would probably be a close substitute) but a very large radish found in all Korean grocery stores. They usually weigh about 2 lbs and up. (that is me holding one, so you can see the size. They are huge and that is a medium sized one!)

This radish is a large staple in Korea, used in soups, kimchi, and side dishes. Probably one of my favorite Asian veggies!! Now to learn how to turn this radish into one of my favorite dishes. One other vegetable that is used in this dish for flavor and color is shisito pepper. This is an asian sweet hot pepper. This does not taste similar to our sweet peppers, but has the flavor of a hot pepper without the kick. If you cannot find these (I was glad to see our local Costco supplying them after my harvest failed!) green onion is an acceptable substitute.

Recipe time!!


Radish Salad 무생채 Moosangchae

  • 2 Lbs radish
  • 1 carrot
  • 6 shishito pepper or 1/2 bunch of green onion
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp Fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic paste
  • 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

First wash and peel the radish. After this I like to grate it, but my husband will slice it paper thin and Juliane it. Basically you need to end up with matchsticks of radish. I use the largest holes on my mandolin to achieve the same results my husband achieves (but I save time)

Next wash, peel and julienne the carrot. The mandolin can also be used for this step, but lay the carrot down and slide it so you are getting pieces about the same length as the shredded radish. Next slice the shisito peppers into thin slices or chop us the onion. Add all the vegetable together.

Mix the final ingredients into the salad. We use our hands to mix (with gloves on of course!). Once well incorporated, it is ready to eat. This is a wonderful side dish with Bulgogi, or Sang gyup Sal (recipes coming soon!!)

Hope you enjoy it! If so leave a comment!


Kimchi 김치

With so many Korean restaurants opening, the popularity of Kpop and Korean dramas, the majority of American’s are becoming more familiar with Korean cuisine. And there is no other food that says Korea, like Kimchi. There are many types of kimchi, from cabbage or radish, to green onion. All are amazing and full of healthy gut supporting probiotics. Kimchi is served with every meal in a Korean household and if you have not had the good fortune to try it out, you are missing out! Kimchi is a fermented spicy and tangy explosion of smell and flavor.

 

This box will only last us 3 months!!!

 

Cabbage kimchi is made with Napa cabbage. This can be found in just about any grocery store for around $1.49 per pound. When we go to our Korean grocery store (HMart in Michigan) it runs us about $.69 per pound unless we buy it by the box because 48lbs is $25. Two 1 gallon jars of kimchi cost around $24. We can make 4 gallons with the box above. The recipe I will give will be for 3 heads of napa cabbage which will make about a gallon.

There are two ingredients that are not typically in our cupboards that are vital to making kimchi. The first one is anchovy sauce or shrimp sauce which is known in Korea as “eggk-chut”. Any brand will work but be aware most brands contain MSG so read the label. The one by CJ cheiljedang, pictured below, does not.

The second item is red pepper powder or “goet-chu garu”. Make sure this is coarse powder and not fine powder, especially since they are both called powders. They are used for different purposes. Usually a picture of kimchi on the front is a safe bet. IF you are looking for some extra points with the store owner use the Korean pronunciation! Sometimes they will even reward your use of Korean words with a free package of Kimbab (Korean style sushi) if you are in a small auntie (ahjuma) store.

I’m just throwing all kinds of Korean at you!! Back to making Kimchi!

Other items you will need to have available is fresh garlic, preferably processed into a paste. (Minced works, but needs to be drained of the water), sea salt, sugar, and either green onion or onions, and fresh grated ginger. You may want some food prep gloves and glass jars. Now onto the recipe and the process!!

Kimchi

  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 4 Tbsp Sugar
  • 6 Green onions chopped or 1 sliced onion
  • ⅔ cup Fish sauce
  • 1 cup Red pepper flakes

First remove any yellowed or bad leaves then cut up Napa cabbage.

Once cut up. it is time to wash the cabbage and salt it. Because we make such large amounts, we bleach our kitchen sink and use it as a wash tub. a colander will work just fine! When you salt it, you will use 1 Tbsp per layer. A head of cabbage will make about two layers.

At this point the cabbage sits for about 2-4 hours collecting beneficial bacteria. So sit and read a book…..or clean the house.

Have several hours passed??????? Ok then, it is now time to add all the other ingredients and mix the cabbage. As you mix you are also massaging the cabbage somewhat. You want to really incorprate the ingredients and make sure they are evenly distributed. This is best done with your hands, so plastic food prepping gloves are important, my sister-in-law just uses her hands. She is brave, as you can continue to burn sensitive mucous membranes and eyes for a while after you finish even after washing.

 

All ingredients added and now to mix!!

Once it is fully incorporated your kimchi will look like the video below.

It is now ready to be put up for storage and further fermentation!

 

If you only have an American fridge to store the kimchi you made, the kimchi will keep for about a month before it is time for different uses. It tends to sour after that time. It is still safe to eat, it just looses some of the delicious qualities. In a Korean kimchi refrigerator it can keep as long as 3-4 months. I was fortunate enough to get one used for $600 and it had only been used for a week, Score!!!! The upright variety usually sell new for $3900. If you find you are making a lot of kimchi or fermented food, watch out for one of these!!

Happy KIMCHI making!!!

We were lost in the forest until we found a magic box-our journey with Lyme

Several years ago my daughter traveled to Traverse City to spend time with her aunt learning to take care of Scarlett O’ Hara. This is a horse that would prove to live up to her namesake as she threw my daughter countless times and was the most stubborn and snobby animal I had met (even more so than my goats!) The one time I decided to show her who was boss, that horse left me exhausted as she threatened to throw me as she cantered around and around the arena with her head down, and complained loudly as I wouldn’t let up. I taught my daughter, if that horse was told to canter around the arena, she would do what I told her. But I was worn out!!

But this isn’t about a horse of course!! But about something much much MUUUUUCCH smaller. It would cause her as much distress as this horse, and just as we battled her and she eventually went back to my sister, we are hoping the same story repeats itself.

This time our battle would be with a Ioxdes tick or as others know it a deer tick. And with this tiny little parasite came Lyme disease and co-infections.

While my daughter was staying at my sisters, she developed an extreme case of nausea that would sometimes lead to vomiting. We literally chalked this up to a major change in her diet while staying with my sister. My sister had just transitioned to a vegan diet, and the amount of processed food she ate as she learned how to be vegan was incredible. We assumed that my daughter who was used to a “from scratch” diet was having severe digestrion issues due to this change. This continued for her for about 2-3 months and then just resolved itself as we expected it to do. As the bacteria that causes this side effect of Lyme wouldn’t even be discovered until 2016 and it was only 2013, not sure what a doctor could have done if I had brought her in except, as I see it now, needless testing.

4 1/2 years later my daughter began to experience the effects of chronic Lyme and our time in the woods began. This isn’t a nice forest with carved out trails run by the state or metro parks….Nope, this is like being dropped by helicopter into Tongas National Forest in Alaska with no compass or map.

Good luck getting out of here!!!

As I posted what was going on with her on Facebook, many of my friends kept telling me her symptoms which were; complete lack of heat in her hands and feet, severe pain in her joints and hands that would migrate, brain fog and lack of memory, fatigue, nausea that would just come and go, fibromyalgia type symptoms, uncontrollable ticks and twitches in her legs and face, and headaches.

We began to seek medical intervention and testing. I had her thyroid tested as we thought that was causing the inability of her body to keep heat in her hands and feet.

Nope, thryoid was working beautifully! In fact all blood work we would get for her from here on out showed everything was in perfect working order, even her inflammatory markers were negative, which her doctor would be confused about as she witnessed the swelling and heat of the inflammation in her knees and hands.

As friends continued to tell me about the battles they were having with Lyme, and I started researching I became 99.9% sure that is what we were dealing with. As I researched and learned about this disease I learned how far off the mark our medical community is in dealing with and diagnosing this debilitating illness. At this point we still had not started treating the illness, as everyone was telling me something but none were getting better, all the books written basically gave no hope or very little.

My daughter whose first love was piano went from practicing 3-6 hours a day, to not even being able to touch the keys, understand the music, or have her fingers respond to the signals her brain was sending. She had to stop alltogether. I remember holding back tears in our kitchen as I listened to her slam her hands down on the keys as she struggled to play a Chopin piece. Eventually her piano sat unused and began to collect dust.

This time I went to the doctor and requested a Lyme test to be done. Now the worst part about this test is it’s inaccuracy. It is only accurate 29% of the time. Seriously?????? Why don’t they just throw it out and do clinical observation as their test???? The doctor warned me that it may come back negative but that doesn’t mean she is not Lyme positive. I already understood this and probably knew more about the disease than she did at this point. I also do not thing she was taking me seriously as she did the typical eye roll. We are not in a “high hit” area, but I am also understanding that you can get this disease just about anywhere, it just helps the doctor to not roll her eyes at you if you live in tick infested lands.

Of course we had a negative test result (which I expected), which means we would get NO medical intervention and anything we decided from here on out was going to be paid out of pocket. It was time to start talking AND LISTENING to those people who were surviving the disease and find out if anyone had beaten it.

In my time being in that forest, watching my daughter grow sicker and living with pain that was stealing her youth and her dreams, trying CBD oil and getting her a medical marijuana license so she could live without pain, I learned that I had to truly trust in God to lead me. The despair I felt during this time would have been overwhelming if I did not know he had some plan in all of this. This gave me immense comfort and hope. I was led to a woman at our church whose son had overcome this sickness with the use of a magic box known as the rife machine. He had become very ill when he was eleven and they went to the East Coast to seek treatment. He had had antibiotic therapy and was almost killed from the strength of these antibiotics. The doctor who was administering the antibiotics said he couldn’t continue. This led her back to Michigan and to a holistic doctor that was using this machine to clear patients of many sicknesses but also of Lyme.

We didn’t follow the same path as this woman, as after talking to many others who had used antibiotics without the results they were after and still were not well, I decided to flip the prescription around and start with the rife machine first.

I was given the magic box ( a friend’s husband asked you paid $0000.00 for an easy bake oven????) and Dr Rivers proceeded to use codes to find the frequencies where the bacteria would be destroyed. These were not pre-programmed as most machines are, but 400 different numbers and counting. We left with two sheets of paper and 16 hours a day of rife therapy, which means you keep your head less than 12″ away from the glowing bulb for 16 hours a visit every twice a week and an actual hope that was the first light in the woods. But honestly laying in front of this machine could be brutal in its absolute boredom and isolation. We are not tv watchers, but we made it through 6 full Korean Dramas, which have at least 12 episodes of one hour each, as I or her brothers would sit with her for part of the day so she wasn’t completely alone. I think our brains began to melt.

She is now 3 months into the therapy, some of her treatments are 8 hours as opposed to 16 and we have not seen that many hours since her first visit. When she gets a new area of treatment it usually starts at around 8 hours and reduces by 40 percent on each subsequent visit. Her visits are every two weeks still. Dr. Julia has rid the disease of her Thyroid, Hypothalmus, and is now working on joints.

We had come into contact with Dr Julia Rivers at Rivers Chiropractic in Shelby Twp, who was treating my aunt for a myriad of problems. My aunt’s daughter insisted I take my daughter to her for testing. In some ways, to humor her I did (she had offered to pay, but we didn’t take her up on it). Sure enough she tested my daughter and we got our first positive test result. This was through a method called muscle testing, and even though Lyme will mess with your muscles, it worked. I had to hold back tears again as my suspicions were confirmed. After speaking with other patients that had been cured of this illness, we decided to pay the fee and begin treatment.

She is getting better and has not had any need for CBD oil almost the whole time treatment has been going on. She began piano 2 months after treatment started, as her ability to focus, remember and react returned and the pain left. I see the exit to the forest and believe we will be another one of her patients that beat this sickness. We will not know for sure for another 6 months and will update on if we won this war. But for now, there is a rope out of this forest and I cannot thank the many people who God put in our path to help us find that lead line.

The Journey Begins!!

Life is a journey, which you realize when you look back over 10 years of facebook photos trying to find that perfect one for your new blog!. My journey began in 1998 when I met Chang Soo Han, (those years before can be forgot about thank you very much!!!). When I first met him, he had just immigrated to America and spoke very little English. I decided to begin tutoring him in September of 1998 and by April of 1999……well the pictures tell the tale.

Two years later I then found myself with our first born son, who was 14 months old, traveling on a 17 hour plane trip to meet my in-laws and to formally marry in South Korea so our marriage could be documented in the family history.

20 years later, we have had quite a journey. Our journey has brought into the world three beautiful and unique children. A martial arts school that we own and operated for 20 years in one of the fastest growing cities in Michigan. A homestead that we run and reduced from pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dairy goats, turkeys, bees, and a 2000 sq ft garden, to chickens, ducks, rabbits, bees and our garden. A myriad of diets based on food allergies and sensitives and a mish mash of American and Korean cuisine centered around healthy diets, allergy free foods and fermented foods as well as Paleo mixed into that.

I invite you into our family and hope you journey with us as we present many of our family situations and anecdotes, as well as amazing and authentic food recipes from Korea as well as our Paleo dishes and some experiences you can only have on a homestead.

Welcome to chopsticks and a fork!