Sunday, May 8, 2011

One Bridge Down

26 more to go! I decided to go out for a nice long run today (7 miles is long for me!) and decided to go in a random direction.  The great thing about running around town on the weekend is it isn't too busy so you don't have to worry about dodging people everywhere you turn.

I haven't mentioned it before, but one thing that is great about this city is how safe it really is all the time. People let their small kids walk around and use the subway by themselves, the girls leave their wallets and purses on the table if they get up to go to the restroom and people just leave their keys in their motorcycles!  It's hard to see in the picture below, but no one even tries to steal the Papa Johns mopeds!

Running around a new city is always a great way to see the sights. I can't wait to get back out there!

Lotus Lantern Festival 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Buddha!

Today was a huge celebration for Buddha's Birthday. The Lotus Lantern Festival is held every year here in Insadong. I'm so excited we were able to be a part of it and experience the festivities. Our morning was standard which of course means buckwheat bakes and a few errands!

*Side note--The BEST granola came in today and I can't wait to have it tomorrow! I'm so excited! Thank you Michele's Granola!

We hoped on the Subway and headed down to get the afternoon started. We knew we wanted to grab lunch in Insadong so we wondered around until we were both starving and couldn't wait any longer. We were really boring and went to a Cafe to grab something quick.

After our veggie sandwiches it was time to head back out. Insadong is an artsy area with many pottery and painting shops. It has a lot of tradition Korean artifacts so it's always interesting to see. The Lantern Parade wasn't starting until dusk so after all the walking, someone needed a refreshing beer or two to keep him going.
This was the bar we stopped to for drinks. I thought the sign was pretty funny. I love advertisements here!

We were early enough to make it to the front row of the parade and stayed to see tons of lanterns and people celebrating the holiday. I found this description of the Festival from a Korean Website 

"The Yeon Deung Hoe is a traditional Korean folk festival that began in the Goryeo Period (918 - 1392) as the Lotus Lantern Assembly (Yeondeunghoe) and continued in the Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1910) as the Lantern Celebration (Kwandeung-nori). According to Buddhist beliefs, the act of lighting a lotus-shaped lantern will light up the dark parts of one's soul. By doing this, the evil and flawed parts of one's soul are stripped away leaving only a clean slate to start anew. Lanterns are also lit to dispel the darkness that is in the world, symbolizing one's hope for a wiser and more compassionate society. "

It was fun be surrounded by happy, cheering people. The lanterns were incredible to see and can't wait to see what our next adventure will be here in Seoul. I have a ton of pictures I'll be posting tomorrow so check back!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Beginning to End

Here is my day from start to finish in pictures.

I turned and empty boring jar into...

Steel Cut Oats with PB&J, Chia Seeds and Banana!

And headed to Osan for a quick trip with Rush. Most important stop was the music store!

And in the distance we saw something that looked very familiar

A Hickam Bird! A crew from Rush's old Squadron came out so we had dinner with them. I'm so excited to get back and start flying in Hawaii!

And to prove that Rush does eat fast food I had to take this picture. I know everyone thinks I don't let him, but that isn't true!!!

And the most random pictures of the day go to the bus station at Osan. I mean who really needs a whole bag of cough drops or lollipops? Or even a large bottle of lotion?

Did you say you needed aftershave? Don't worry, they have that too!
We had a really good day and I'm happy we made the trip down to Osan. It never disappoints but I'm always happy to get back home to Seoul. Tomorrow is one of the biggest festival's here and I can't wait to go and check it out. Just as everyone on the East Coast is getting up, we are headed to bed! Good Night

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Out in Seoul

So the smoothie actually held me over and I had a great workout! I had hoped to run longer, but I decided that after 3.5 miles, I would head to the gym to do some weight training. Running in Seoul is really fun. They have quite a few paths and different parks to check out. We are lucky enough to live by Namsan Park where they have great running paths.

Today I wanted to change it up a bit so I decided to head to Seoul Station. I'm never bored running here be because the sights around are always new. I didn't get to take a picture because it happened so quickly, but in the beginning of my run I had a large group of Seoul Police running towards me with their shields. It scared me into thinking something was going on but when they got closer I could see they all had smiles on their faces! I did have time to take these pictures...

These tanks are everywhere! I'm just not used to seeing these animals all time :) 

For the afternoon, I was decided to check out the area of Insadong. I had been there once before but only for 10 minutes (there was a small key mix up with someone who will remain nameless!). It is one of my favorite places in Seoul. They have Tea Houses, Pottery, and most importantly Vegetarian Restaurants!! They can be hard to come by so I'm excited to try a new place this weekend. I say this weekend because it is the Lotus Lantern Festival! It is to honor Buddha's Birthday and on Saturday night over 100,000 lanterns will be lit. The area of Insadong is already starting to get ready for the festival. 

This is one of the festivals that I have really been looking forward to seeing. I'm so happy I'll be here! I'll make sure to take the good camera this weekend to get better pictures.

Smoothie Time

I've been craving a smoothie all week but every time I went to make one it was almost dinner time and too late in the day. To change that, I decided to have it for breakfast instead. I find that smoothies don't always keep my full until lunch but I had to have one today. I have to use frozen fruit, because it is still hard to get some fresh fruit here. You could obviously substitute all fresh fruit in this recipe.

Smoothie Recipe

1 cup frozen mango
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup plain organic yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk

I threw everything into the vitamix and let it blend! Having breakfast out of a fancy glass is always fun so I put it in my wine glass and topped it with some puffins, chia seeds and a little honey! It was so good. Hopefully it gives me enough energy on my morning run!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

I think starting the day with a buckwheat bake is the way to go! They keep getting better everyday!

I had high hopes of being able to get to Insadong today, but with all the errands I had on my list I never made it. Instead, I ran around and baked some cinnamon sugar flatbread crackers. They are almost like graham crackers but healthier! I didn't make mine flat enough but they were still really good. Just a reason to try and make them again!

Cinnamon Sugar Flatbread Crackers

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar + 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well. Add water and olive oil and mix until a dough forms, using your hands at the end. Form it into a bowl.
Dust a baking sheet with flour and roll the dough as thin as you can with a rolling pin. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture all over top and cut with a pizza slicer into small or large crackers. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Let cool completely.

After the baking, it was time to head out on the town. Living in Itaewon has a lot of benefits!  One of the great things about living in the city are the restaurants. Going to a new restaurant every night would keep us busy for at least year! We actually try and go out about once a week so our list is continually growing. Tonight we went to an Austrian Restaurant, Chef Meili, with some friends to try something new. I was a little hesitant at first but was decently surprised. I wasn't too hungry so I had Tomato Soup, but Rush really enjoyed his meal. The weather was nice enough to sit outside on the roof so it made the night even better.

I'm still reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and really enjoying it! I can't wait to finish it and move on to the next book, Unbroken.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blueberries and Lemon

I'm warning you about this post in advance. Get your grocery list and make sure you have all the ingredients to make this recipe I'm going to share with you. I promise you won't regret it!

Blueberry Lemon Cake

1/2 cup plain nonfat or greek yogurt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar (plus a reserved 1/2 cup sugar for glaze)
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
zest of two large lemons (juice the lemons and reserve liquid for glaze)
2 tsp water
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pint blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Preheat oven to 350.  In a small bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large bowl beat together the yogurt, melted butter and sugars.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla and lemon zest.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined.  In a the same small dry ingredient bowl, toss the blueberries with 1 Tbsp of flour.  This keeps them from sinking all the way to the bottom during the baking process.  Add the blueberries to the batter and gently fold until evenly distributed.  Coat a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Pour batter into pan and spread evenly.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Immediately pour hot glaze (recipe below) over the hot cake.  Let cool completely in the pan before removing.  Serve and enjoy!

For the glaze:
During the last 15 minutes of baking, combine the juice from the lemons (no seeds please!) with 1/2 cup of sugar.  Stir, over low heat, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has taken on a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes.  Set aside until cake is done.

I couldn't even let it cool before I tried the cake. Rush even asked for seconds so it must be good. 

I knocked a few more miles off the total today. There wasn't a lot happening here in Seoul, but the highlight was having company on my run tonight. Running with Rush is always more fun and he definitely tries to keep me motivated. I'll be doing some exploring tomorrow so I'm excited to see something new! 

I'm off to keep researching Graduate Schools. The hunt for a Masters Program that I'm interested in has turned out to be really hard. Everything I find has ridiculous pre-reqs so hopefully something turns up soon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

An afternoon to remember

The sun is finally shinning and the weather is warming up here! I started off the day with a breakfast bake that I recently read about on Ashley's blog, Edible Perspective. This was the second day trying to make the bake and it turned out much better than yesterday. I changed up the recipe because I don't have all the ingredients available here in Korea, but I thought it was still really good. I thought it tasted a lot like banana bread and you can put any toppings you want on it! I definitely recommend honey and peanut butter.

Breakfast Bake

1/4 cup buckwheat flour
3 tbsp steel cut oats
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 ripe banana
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 - 3/4 cup of milk

Mix all the ingredients together and add enough milk to get all the dry ingredients mixed well. Lightly grease a small oven safe dish and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. 

** The great thing about this recipe is you can make changes and substitutions. Use different dry ingredients or add any other fruit you would like. Go crazy and add chocolate!

Following breakfast I decided to get my run out of the way. It was an okay run, but each time I run here I realize I don't like hills. Bad news for me is that I can't escape them unless I go run on a treadmill and I don't see that happening! I wear my GPS watch to keep track of my times, miles, and elevation changes. The highlight after my run is to download the info and see the route and information. I definitely have times when I have to slow down, but I'm still working towards my goal. 

After returning from the run I turned on the news after reading about breaking news that would be reported soon. We had no idea it would be, but we were surprised when we heard Bin Laden was dead. With both of being in the military and fighting this war, it is definitely a day we will remember. 


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Finally Giving In

** Before I talk about the recipe for tonight's meal, check out the mile counter! I logged 5 miles today...only 95 more to go!

Rush has been asking for pizza every night for at least a week. I know you are asking why I haven't made it so I'll explain. I've tried making dough/bread numerous times over the years. I thought for awhile maybe the yeast was bad, but after buying different kinds and new bottles I've started to realize I might be problem. I follow all the directions but it never really seems to work. Of course Rush is the tester for everything so we now he always jokes about my bread making skills on a regular basis.

We went to the grocery store today so I couldn't make an excuse about not having all the ingredients because he knew that wasn't the truth so I broke down and tried again. This time I surprised myself and it was actually okay. I put in the first few ingredients, waited about 15 minutes and it actually looked like it might work. I let it rise and then rolled it out to make mini pizzas. 

Of course having a helper made it more fun, but definitely more messy too! They ended up turning out okay, but I still don't think I have it perfected. Looks like I'll be trying again.

Dough Recipe (Makes 3-4 mini pizzas)
from How Sweet It Is 
2 cups flour (I used all purpose and whole wheat)
3/4 cup warm water
1 packet dry active yeast
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Combine water, yeast, olive oil and honey and mix with a spoon. Let sit for about 15 minutes until yeast becomes foamy. Add in flour and salt and mix until a ball forms. Using your hands, need dough for 1-2 minutes until it is somewhat smooth. Place in an oiled bowl (in a warm spot) and let rise for 1-2 hours. Once it's ready, roll out pizza dough to the desired size (mine were about 4-5 inches wide and very thin). Bake at 375 for 10-15 mins or until the crust is golden.

Is it really May?

I can't get over the fact that it is already May. The year has been flying by and I can't get it to slow down! The weather here was rainy all day yesterday with thunderstorms and lightning. I think it was preparing me for the upcoming Monsoon Season. Looks like it is time to start looking for goulashes.

On a different topic, I'm not the kind of person that makes New Year's resolutions because I feel like you can always make an improvement or change whenever you want. Instead, I make goals that I hope to accomplish. I did start out with a list in January of things I hoped to do this year, but I've decided because it's a new month I'll add to that list. I figure that by blogging about my goals, I'm more likely to try and complete them because I may have 2 people reading this and wondering if I can actually do it! (And yes, one person is Rush so maybe my Mom is the second!) So for May, I'm adding to my list running 100 miles. I realize it isn't that many for a lot of people (like Skinny Runner who ran over 26o miles in March!) but it gives me something to work towards.  I figure it's a good even number to shoot for so I've added a mileage counter to keep track of how I do. Wish me luck!

Monster Cookies

Since the move to Korea, I haven't really been into baking/cooking as much as I normally would. Part of it is because I'm not in the kitchen I'm used to and I don't have very many tools here. No Kitchen Aid mixer, no large bowls, no ocean to look at as I bake. Plus, the ovens here are very small and they don't even fit a normal size cookie sheet! I finally decided it was time to get back in the kitchen and have a little fun. I wanted something that was a little healthy, but still sweet at the same time so I decided to try out monster cookies. Of course, I tried to make them as healthy as possible so I changed some ingredients.
Monster Cookies
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (substituted this for butter)
  • 1 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used chunky because that is all I had)
  • 2 cups instant oatmeal
  • 2 cups flour (I know most monster cookies don't contain flour, but I didn't have enough oats)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (1/2 white chips, 1/2 semi-sweet)
  • 1 cup M&M's
Instructions: Beat the eggs in a very large bowl. Add sugars, applesauce, vanilla, baking soda, peanut butter and mix well. Next, add the oats and flour until they are mixed in well with the wet ingredients. Hand mix the add ins. Use a large spoon and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10-12 mins or until a little brown.
I was thinking they were going to be too healthy for Rush, but he didn't seem to mind because of all the chocolate involved! Get creative and put in whatever additional chocolate or nuts that you like! Enjoy warm with a glass of milk!