Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is there a Baker in me?!?

I am going to find out.

And Kerrie has graciously been willing to help me!
Kerrie is on the right!
Earlier this week, Kerrie gave me a lesson in bread-baking 101. We had been over her house for dinner a few months ago and she had made an awesome loaf of fresh baked bread to go along with dinner. There really is nothing better than fresh baked bread. I gobbled down as much as I could fit at dinner...and then she sent us home with the rest of the loaf! I immediately froze it when I got home (no preservatives makes it go back pretty quickly) and made some of the best tuna-salad sandwiches in the following days.

I was inspired and...(as all people tend to say) she said it was easy. So, after much rearranging of busy schedules and planning, Kerrie & I commenced Bread Baking 101 earlier this week.


My first loaf of bread (no bread maker, my friends!). It is a honey oatmeal bread. We actually made the dough at Kerrie's house, then I brought it back to my house to bake. Upon which I made a zillion errors...forgot I was supposed to let it sit in the fridge overnight and baked it that night, forgot to let it rise in the pan (duh!), and other minor mis-steps.

The bread turned out good, but my errors prevented it from being great. The one Kerrie made at her house was better, so no beginners luck in bread baking...more practice and reading the instructions thoroughly makes perfect.

So, I am inspired to bake...or at least try! Do you have a favorite bread, roll or any recipe that you like? Share it with me...I'd love to try!

Spell Check.... Please!

If you have ever travelled abroad, you probably take the numerous amount of signs in English for granted. Honestly, in most European and Asian countries, you can travel around without a bit of knowledge of the local language, because they have kindly taught all of their citizens English and translated most of the essential signs (exit, bathroom, subway, etc) to English. And...have you ever stopped to appreciate that fact?

Recently, I have. With over seven months living here in Korea, I regulary say "Hello", "Thank You", "Good-bye", my address for taxis, ordering food and some other basics in Korean on a regular basis, but it is entirely possible to live in Korea and never learn a drop of English. Good and Bad! Less motivation to force you to learn the language, but makes the transition much easier.

All Korean children are taught English, at least for a few years, and all major road and directional signs are in Korean and English...

My one pet peeve, that you may find consistent with all American expats in Korea, is the lack of Spell Check. They have taken all of the trouble to add the English translation, but they SPELLED it wrong! Arghhh!

Do you think the Korean Gov't would hire me as a sign proof-reader???

Can you see what is wrong with this sign?

The Opportunist!

A Korean man sells cotton candy immediately outside an Elementary School everyday at lunchtime. This is Sales 101...Location, Location, Location...and I think Sales & Marketing Text books should use this guy as an example.

What a great idea...and so simple. He has a captured market...they are hungry, they love sugar and many of them have a little bit of lunch money left in their pockets! Cha-Ching!

I swear that this could not happen in America. There would be so many parents, teachers, school administrators and everyone complaining (but then feeding their kids sugar-filled cereals for breakfast), that eventually the guy would have to move. But, not here in Korea...if there is a street corner and you think you can sell something on it...go for it!!

I love this picture. I just think it captures the hard-working spirit of Koreans. I think we could learn something from them!

Seoul Flyers Social

Seoul Flyers is the running group that Mike & I belong to here in Seoul. They are a pretty large group of over 500 people (~ 50-100 active) that run for fun, run competitively, run for the social scene or run for sanity (I am in this group). The folks are completely diverse from native Korean, Australian, South African, British, Irish, Americans, Canadians, men, women, young, old, mothers, single. And since most runners are good-hearted, solid makes for a good group.

Thanks to the help of the folks providing some of the not-available-inrgedients from the US Army Base, I was able to make some good ole lasagna. (ricotta cheese cannot be found in Korea and mozzarella is price-prohibitive). Wow...runners really know how to make up a pot-luck though because our house was full of goodies like dark chocolate & bacon cupcakes, 7 layer mexican dip, corn bread with honey butter and loads of great things.

It was really a great time and we are happy to have such a great group of friends here in Seoul.

Really, I am just taking notes so that I have all of the necessary ingredients to start my own running group back in Michigan!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Some things never matter where you live!

And that is such a good thing. In our house, no matter how hard I try to be productive, Sundays will always be the day of lounging!

The movies we downloaded during the week get loaded up, Maddy, exhausted from her crazy schedule (sarcasm), assumes her sleeping position and relaxation begins! I love Sundays!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Korean Home!

One of our favorite meals, especially after a long workout, is Korean BBQ. You are at a table where there are boiling hot coals put in the center of the table with a grill on top. You are served your choice of meat in small chopstick friendly pieces and you grill the meat over the hot coals. You are also served many side dishes in true Korean style (it is not a Korean meal unless you have at least 10 dishes for every person at the table). Along with the beef, you are also served some greens (lettuce or leaves of some sort) in which you wrap the meat, kimchi, some type of soup, and sometimes peppers with a bean bean sauce, rice, potatoes or whatever the restaurant specializes in.

After a beef purchase at Costco and with Mike's long weekend, we decided to attempt a semi-Korean BBQ at home.

Here is how our Korean BBQ turned out! Some beef, some veggies, rice, and lettuce for wrapping the beef. And we didn't forget the Korean bean sauce in the green container. Mike even added some extras...mandu and soup!

We don't win points for presentation here, but it was all delicious!

Here is Mike grilling up the hot coals in our apartment,
so we had to go with the stovetop grilling method.

Maddy begging for some steak...due to Mike's
sharing steak with her, she now knows the
smell and the word. She did get a small piece
after we ate.
First attempt...I give it 7 out of 10. Needed some kimchi and soju or makgeoli! 10 for effort though. Practice makes perfect though... check back for more of our attempts at Korean BBQ.

So, for all of our friends back home, get ready for a new style of BBQ at the Onofrays! (wherever that may be)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Koguryo 32.195K Race

Since we have moved to Seoul and I no longer have a full time job, lots of you guys have asked, "so what do you do all day?" Valid question, as I now have 10+ more free hours everyday that were previously taken up by commuting and working (not to mention all of those now additional free hours thanks to Mike's Korean work hours of 15+ hrs/ day :-)

Well, part of my answer to "what do you do?" is " I Run." I do other things, but my most important source of sanity here in Korea is running. And the Seoul Flyers running group has really made us feel pretty welcome here in Seoul.

So, as part of peer pressure from the group and my "Type A -Must Have a Goal" personality, I signed up for the Seoul International Marathon on March 20, 2011! Can't just run to run, right?...must have a purpose, right?. Half way through the training, I cursed myself for this thinking. But, last weekend my last long training run was my ~20 mile run and it went better than expected.

The race started and ended in Jamsil Stadium, which is part of the complex that was built for the 1988 Olympics. Yes, there are still some of hte original signs up from the 1988 Olympics (I can tell they are the original because they are all faded). I am sure they have done renovations over the years, but almost the entire set of stadiums and the Olympic Park are still intact, used regularly and are in great shape. I think being hte 1988 host to the Summer Olympics is still a very big source of pride here for Koreans. Tangent - I can only compare this to our visit to the "Cube" swimming complex built for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, which was is very poor repair in 2010...if that is going to stand for another 22 years, it is going to need some major renovations.
Back to running...I do think races are such a great way to get some of these long training runs in. Otherwise, it is grueling to get out there in the 10F weather and run for two hours by yourself...heck, I get sick of myself sometimes. Plus, all of those Korean men that pass me during the races and say "Hi-ting!" (not sure what it means, but something like great job...keep it up), really do keep me motivated and I don't have to carry my own water...what could be better.

Best News...If I don't fall apart in my last 10K, I just might have a PR marathon by ~5-10 minutes! (based on this 32K race...hint: marathon is just over 42K, which is where I got the 10K mentioned above)

Of course, Mike was there to cheer me on and lots of fellow runners. Here are a few pictures from the run!

That is an honest-to-god true smile by Mike! I had some nervous energy before the race :-)

The best fan a girl could ever ask for...don't think he has ever missed a race! Thanks! And me prepping (with Korean version of the PowerGel in mouth) for 3 hours of running.

 Great shots by Mike of the race start. Can you find me in the picture on the right? (Hint: I am one of only about 3 women in the whole picture)

Norah is from Ireland and is probably the fastest woman in the group and easily clinches Top 3 in every race...when you race every weekend like her, you collect some cool stuff from money to digital cameras, etc.

I do have to qualify this to let you know that approx 70-80% of all of the races are male. There is not much female competition, and the femail competition you do find are older women in their 40's and up. I don't know why, but very few Korean women run and even fewer younger Korean women run competitively. As compared to the U.S. where the 25-29 year old age group is packed, here it is wide open to take the podium...shame I am no longer in that age group. hour after Norah...My finish of my 32.195K run...yeah!!!! Don't look too bad after 20 miles, if I dare say so myself, and I didn't feel too bad either.

Yes, there is Norah on the podium in 3rd place. I have a ways to go to get there.

The best part of the day was Korean BBQ recovery dinner...yummy beef, salad, veggies, soup, kimchi and best of all...makgeoli! (scary how this stuff is growing on me...gonna need to sneak some back into the states when we go back!)
2 weeks and 2 days to Seoul International!

oh yeah...and post race recovery will take place in Bali! Is there any better place for rest and relaxation after a marathon? I will be recovering my legs from the 26 miles and Mike will be recovering from the early wake up call and having to run around the city to take pictures of me ( husband ever!)

Things that make you Hmmmm?!

OSHA has surely created an enormous entanglement of safety regulations and potential sources of litigation of which no human could ever keep complete track, but because of OSHA, we may never get to see this in the U.S.

I left my house about 5 PM on Tuesday and returned about 8PM that night and when all of this stuff was still there, I had to take a picture (sorry for the poor quality...darn iphone 3).

I can only deduce that someone was fitting together some aluminum piping (see remnants of aluminum piping) and using a table saw to cut it (see table saw in top center of picture...a little hard to see). The best part of this picture is that there is NO ONE around either time I walked by, and the table saw is not even closed or locked or anything. It is all the way open, just in case someone needs to stop by and use it :-)Someone was obviously working there during the day and felt that it was appropriate to leave EVERYTHING exactly where it was and leave for the day.

I guess it is a tribute to the honesty of Seoul-ites...this would all be gone in a heartbeat in Detroit