Sunday, February 21, 2010

Snowboarding Cap

We had our first visit to Hunter Mountain this season yesterday!  We, of course, made our traditional morning Micky D's sausage-egg-cheese McGriddle stop and then headed straight to the mountain. (Apologies for no picture of actual meal... again, scarfed it down before remembering to take picture haha...).  Actually, I have to admit that I have never seen the Golden Arches seared on the top of a McGriddle because I've always scarfed it down so fast!  I didn't even know the delicious syrup-filled top bun masterpiece was branded until I googled it hahaha!  We love McGriddles so much that, in fact, once we refused to eat breakfast for the duration of a 2 hour drive until we finally found a McDonald's.  We're very serious about our McGriddle tradition here.  I mean, look at these things!  How can you not want one?  They look almost as good as they taste...  but the taste - it's heavenly.  Where else can you get 560 calories in a 5oz bundle of fatty love?

Snow conditions were actually impressive for NY/NJ - the least amount of ice patches I've seen in a while.  Can't wait for VT next week!  Looks like we're headed to Okemo Mountain.
 (Everything was covered in snow, so looked like Narnia)

So, after a nice day of snowboarding what does a hungry lil Korean girl want?  Ddukboki and Odeng, of course!  We were in a rush to get back to the city and return the car by the 9PM deadline (which, we sadly missed by 4 minutes, by the way), so we made a quick pitstop at Cap Udon in Palisades Park, NJ.  Maybe if I hadn't ordered a feast for 8 people instead of 4, we could've made it back in time... oh well.  Was totally my fault, but it was worth it!

Korean tidbit: "Cap" is meant to be a phonetic translation for "Kep," which in Korean means awesome, da bomb, numero uno, da bestest.  Cap Udon is a "boon shik jip," which pretty much means, casual cheap eats joint. 
Cap Udon
198 Broad Avenue
Palisades Park, NJ 07650
(201) 461-9977

Maindishes, Clockwise from Upper Left: Cheese Lamyun, Bibimbap, Omurice
Shared Dishes from Top to Bottom: YooBuChoBap, Ddukboki, Kimbap (tuna and mixed)

Then, as if this wasn't enough food, I couldn't suppress my craving for Odeng, so I had to order it...

But I'm so glad I did, because it was delicious and I was happy :)  Happy Snowboarding season, everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Aruba Through Diana's Lens

T&N bought me the fantastic Diana for my birthday this year.  I finally got a 35mm converter and took it for spin in Aruba.  I definitely need more practice, but here are a few fun shots!

My Sweet Valentine!

Oh, what a week it's been!  Life always has a way of going from 0 to 100 in a blink of an eye...  But what's most important -- I don't care if what I say makes you barf -- is taking the time to appreciate the memorable events in between blinks ;)

This Valentine's Day was the sweestest I've ever had!  MrMC and MrN cooked us an Italian FEAST!  Everything from scratch!  Even the tomato sauce!  When the idea was suggested, I seriously thought we would be having curry for dinner - MrMC's House Special, which I have no qualms with because you know I love curry.  But lo and behold, an exceptionally delicious 6-course Italian family style dinner.  (I'm not exaggerating).  Complete with champagne, Godiva chocolate covered strawberries, and espressos.  My goodness - I was so impressed!  They were cooking with all sorts of fancy techniques that I must admit, I have never had the patience to even do myself!  They roasted peppers and PEELED THEM.  Umm, I buy them in jars.

They blanched grape tomatoes, peeled them, and MASHED THEM.  Umm, I buy them in cans. 

They were being so fancy that they totally put my kitchen skills to shame!  All their hard work and effort made me feel so cherished and loved :)  I would take a lovingly cooked meal over an expensive fancy dinner out, any day.  Hands down.  Love tastes a thousand times better than dollars!

Thanks for an oh-so-special & delicious Valentine's Day, MrMC & Mr&MrsN!  (Extra thanks for my yellow roses - my favvvv!)  You always know how to make me smile :)  Cheers!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mandoo (Dumpling) Gook (Soup)

My family upholds our Korean tradition to make mandoo (dumplings) from scratch every New Years Day.  I can't share with you my family's mandoo recipe because I would have to kill you before my mom killed me, but I will share with you what you can do with the mandoo: make mandoo gook (soup)!  Even if you don't have a year's supply of delicious homemade dumplings in your freezer like I do, you can make this soup with any dumpling you buy from the freezer section of your nearby Korean super market.  Here's my slight spin on the traditional mandoo gook!

Cook-to-Eat-to-Be Happy Time: 20 min
Difficulty: 1 2 3 4


1. Soak dduk in cold water.
Note: How much dduk you put in your gook is your preference.  I like dumpling > dduk.  But remember that cooked dduk doesn't hold well, so only add how much you can eat.  You can always add more at a later time.

2. Add chicken broth to pot and bring to a rolling boil.  Rolling boil means it's not going crazy like a boiling culdron. 

3. Whisk eggs in small bowl and pour into chicken broth.  (If your broth is boiling like crazy, it won't be the end of the world but your egg is going to separate into tiny little pieces and make your broth murky).  (Save a little bit of your whisked egg for extra credit later - See step 7).

4. Add dumplings and cook over medium heat (~5 min) until the dumplings umm look like little brains.  I'm sorry, but that's the only way I can explain it.  They will float to the top and the dumpling skin will be tightly boiled to the filling... and it'll look like a little brain.  Haha.  MrMC doesn't like it when I compare food to not appetizing things, but well - I can't help it, that's what it looks like!

5. Are you ready for my little spin?  Korean people don't do this, but I like it :)  So, while dumplings boil into little brains, combine ground beef, soy sauce, and sugar in pan and cook.  Put aside to top dish later.

6. Drain dduk and add to pot along with almost all the scallions.  (Save some of the scallions for plating).  Cook max 2 minutes.
Note: Be careful not to overcook the dduk!  It will get mushy and not be yummy.

7. Extra credit: To make your mandoo gook prettier, fry and slice some of the beaten egg you saved, cut up some seaweed, and add to top of your bowl of mandoo gook along with the leftover scallions and marinaded beef.

8. Eat & Be Happy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eating Through Aruba

Sorry to disappoint, but I honestly didn't eat anything super interesting in Aruba.  But I did my best to log my gastro-journey across the small island of Aruba for you.

Our most delicious meal was the pork ribs and grilled chicken we ate at the flea market!

Our most creative meal was the triple decker ham & cheese sandwiches we made in the car using ingredients we bought from one of the countless Chinese-owned super markets we drove by. 
We scarfed the sandwiches down, so sorry no pictures.  But here's a picture of the view from the top of mountain peak where we ate them!

Our most memorable meal was our dinner at Marandi to celebrate MrMC's birthday!

We discovered that it was somewhat difficult to define Arubian cuisine.  We thought there would be more Caribbean or South/Central American influence, but we found that their menus (even in the local joints) were mostly burgers and sandwiches.

But regardless, we had a great time in beautiful Aruba - relaxing on the beaches, driving around the entire island, wading crystal waters, and photographing some incredible parts of the island! 

 Oh, Aruba.  I miss you already!

Happy Birthday, MrMC :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sandy Buns

Hello, from Aruba!  Or like my mom likes to say, "Arllllloooooooooba!"  We left NYC right before the snow storm and was greeted by fine white sandy beaches surrounded by crystal clear aqua green waters.

It feels great not to think about a thing except my two goals: (1) Get a tan and (2) Eat local food untainted by tourism.  Both missions are turning out to be quite difficult to accomplish!  First, for whatever reason, God chose to create my skin to reflect the sun, not retain it.  But we're in Aruba!  So, I'm donning the lowest SPF my skin can handle and I'm hitting the sun!  Wish me (unburnt) luck!

Now the local food...  After a day of researching and chatting it up with a handful of local people we have encountered, we have found that "local food" is hard to define here.  Like many Caribbean islands, the island is comprised of a hodgepodge of many different cultures and ethnicities - and then completely covered by tourists.  So what do you get?  An island that is more like a giant U.S. suburban outdoor mall + foodcourt.  That's ok... We'll find something somehow!

As for now, we had lunch sandwiches at Salt and Pepper :)  Cute!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

2-in-1: Omurice & Fancy ChoBap (aka Inarizushi)

I had a guest photographer & sous chef visit me today.  Everybody give MissB a round of applause!  We made some rice, chopped some veggies, and bam bam: omurice & chobap (Korean) / inarizushi (Japanese).  Usually, I like to make omurice for dinner and pack chobap inarizushi for lunch the next day.

Cook-to-Eat-to-Be Happy Time: 15 min
Difficulty: 1 2 3 4

  • Squash - 1/2 
  • Carrots - 2 small or 1 large
  • Onion - 2 small or 1 large
  • Yellow Pickled radish*
  • Ketchup - 4 tablespoons
  • Eggs - 2
  • Tofu pouches* - 10 
* Can be found in fridge section of Asian supermarkets

1. Dice onions, squash, carrots, and pickled radish.
Note: I use the assistance of a wide blade on the mandolin for the carrots and squash to slice them into long matchsticks before I dice them.  Faster and easier.  I also found some corn to add to the mix - Bonus!

2. Add a little oil to a pan and fry onions, carrots, squash, corn, and radish.
Note: I add the squash last to prevent it from overcooking and falling apart.

3. Add 3 (or more) cups of rice and fry together for another minute.

4. Transfer half the rice mixture into a bowl and carefully stuff tofu pouches and fold over edges.


5.  Add ketchup (to taste) to the remaining rice mixture.

6. Beat and fry 1 egg at a time, in a separate pan.
Note: Rather than trying to flip the egg sheet and risking disaster, I lower the heat and place a lid on the egg for the last 30 seconds to cook the top side.

7. Plate ketchup'd rice mixture in individual bowls, add egg, and attempt to create fancy zigzag ketchup design.

8. Eat & Be Happy!