Monday, March 10, 2014

In the Kitchen

I (Dori) tend to do most of the cooking. This is primarily because I look forward and enjoy it and Caleb, well, he doesn't. This post may not be of much interest to many if cooking isn't your thing, but for me, settling into a kitchen is what makes a place feel like home. Being able to exist in it comfortable feels important.

We weren't sure what to expect kitchen-wise when coming to Korea, other than small and "sparsely finished." It is those things. Provided by the school was a large skillet, medium-sized stockpot, a wooden cutting board, chef's knife, two spoons, two set of chopsticks, and two plates, bowls, and saucers. Our cooking area is about 1.5 meters wide and includes a sink with a draining board and a counter top with a gas range on top. We extended or work space by buying a counter-height rolling cart from one of the other foreign teachers leaving soon, and it has been incredibly helpful to have another prep surface. Below is a poor-quality shot of our kitchen right now. It's cozy!

We managed to cook several meals using those utensils and Caleb was, in fact, the first to cook anything on our stove: a stir fry of beef, broccoli, onions, and potatoes using chop sticks to stir things in the pan. It was good!

Since then, we've acquired a rice cooker, toaster, off-brand magic bullet, and electric kettle, also from teachers leaving the country, that have proved invaluable. We're still flipping fried eggs with two spoons, spreading jelly with the back of a spoon, and flipping browning meat with chopsticks, but we've become quite comfortable with the sparseness.

One of the most unfortunate things about the kitchen is a lack of oven. Though some people purchase toaster ovens, the investment doesn't make sense for us at this point and we're just managing without. It is a sad thing to have to go without our favorite roasted veggies and the option of baking bread or cookies, but I'm sure we'll survive. I have been surprised at how useful a tool a rice cooker can be. I have managed to "roast" a chicken in it with quite delicious results!

We've grown more and more comfortable with shopping for food at emart, a Meijer-like store just a few blocks away, but recently we've taken advantage of a local outdoor market that is open on days ending with 4 and 9. It takes place just a few blocks away and offers a plethora of fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, bulk Korean side dishes (including kimchi and other preserved vegetable "salads"), eggs, and just about any other fresh food product one might need. They have fresh seafood, as well, that we haven't yet taken advantage of. Just yesterday we witnessed an octopus trying to climb out of its tub of water. Fortunately, a passerby righted the situation by throwing the poor guy back in just as it was about to fall to the ground.

We'll try to post updates about new and/or fun eating experiences but I'd better run for now. We have a pot of meat and veggies stewing on the stove. We'll see how it turns out!

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