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Saturday, July 28, 2012

To the Poet . . .

I write.

If I write well, people may respond. Good, or bad.

I welcome such interaction, BUT the ability to be anonymous also gives the ability to be a bully, an ass or just a moron.

I wrote a post recently on a very dear and much-loved friend who died.

I received an anonymous comment that was sick, hurtful and disrespectful. I'm glad I monitor my feedback as I would not want my friend's family to read that.

I dislike knowing that someone who reads my blog (intentionally small) would write that.

If you want to engage with me personally, bring it.

If you don't have the courage to do that, go back to your mouse hole until you do.

I have a life to live.

Cooking 101

Someone asked me yesterday what I blog about, and I said whatever interests me,

Today it's food:

On the rooftop a few days ago, while eating breakfast (nectarines, peaches and blueberries with peach yogurt and fresh mint from the balcony garden), my landlady came up to tend her garden and cut two perfect eggplants for me (she tried to give me three and I said too many).

I ate with friends a few weeks ago at a Bulgarian restaurant near 3 Alley Pub and had an amazing grilled eggplant and pepper salad so decided to try something similar.

I grilled the eggplant, one red and one yellow bell pepper (almost, I saved a slice of each to add crunch), a passel of garlic (I'm not sure how big a passel is, but it was a lot), a red onion and some yellow grape tomatoes. Tossed in olive oil and sprinkled well with Italian seasoning first.

Once cooked, I pulsed them in the blender then added the finely chopped raw bell pepper, finely diced raw red onion and a chili pepper (the landlady's garden) for crunch. And some balsamic vinegar. And heaps of fresh basil (my garden).

I gave some to my landlady's family, not sure if they would like it, but this is a Korean family that loves basil and cilantro/coriander (most Koreans dislike both).

The daughter this morning told me they loved it.

Yesterday, a dear friend had a BBQ. I wanted to contribute, and teach Americans that vegetables don't need to be boring.

I did a Kiwi/Mediterranean potato salad.

I boiled halved small potatoes with lots of mint in the water (I wish I could have had vari-colored potatoes but this is Korea, so you work with what you can get) and steamed chunks of sweet potato (they fall apart easier than potato, and I wanted them to stay solid).

Char-grilled a red bell pepper over the gas flame, then put it in a plastic bag to sweat so the skin would be easier to peel. Peeled and chopped it when cool.

Halved yellow and red grape tomatoes. Added fresh mint (garden).

Halved the bigger caper berries, left the babies whole.

Chilled a can of olives stuffed with salmon, ready to mix.

Picked a passel (again?) of fresh basil from the rooftop garden. And some more mint

Got to the BBQ, threw it all together, ripped the basil leaves into it (tear basil, don't cut it), ground pepper over the top.

Took it to the roof, where it got eaten. 

The view from the roof - I forgot to photograph the food.
As someone who cooks, the compliments don't count as much as the empty bowl.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Surviving Typhoons 101

Relish the Power

Damn, nature is powerful. You can't fight it, as much as you try. You can choose to lock yourself away, but why would you? Dance in the rain, run with the winds. It's life - live it!

Choose Your Weapons Wisely

I love watching what others choose to wear and carry during monsoon/typhoon season. Rainboots are big here in South Korea, preferably high-end brands that cost $100 plus. They're often worn with the skimpiest of shorts or mini skirts (Korean gals, in general, have great legs). I prefer flip-flops/jandals/thongs - when the rain is really heavy, boots tend to fill up rather than protect. I keep a change of shoes at work.

Almost everyone carries an umbrella, which can be awkward in crowded places, and are not always useful in the high winds that come with most heavy rains. The streets after a storm are a dead umbrella graveyard.

Long skirts/dresses/pants are not advisable for traveling in. If your work dress code warrants them, you're better to wear shorts and carry dry clothes with you. Or leave a change at work. Pretend you're Don Draper.

Think of Others

When I lived in Jakarta, I always felt guilty for loving storms. More accurately, for having the luxury of being able to love storms. Looking out on the havoc wrought by nature while sipping coffee or even going out to experience the elements isn't quite the same when you know you have a safe haven, dry clothing and (most of the time) warm water at home. Every downpour in Jakarta meant flooding for shantytowns, many of which  are built on the side of waterways, and deaths were inevitable.

As of this morning, there has been only one casualty from Typhoon Khanun, an 83-year-old woman who died when part of her house collapsed.

I worry about those with nowhere to go. When I work nights, I walk through Myeongdong, in downtown Seoul, to catch a bus through Namsan Tunnel 3 to home. The forecourt of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters, opposite my office building, doubles as the sleeping place for a number of the city's homeless, and I wonder where they go in these weather conditions. There's also a homeless man who lives in the subway underground near my home who I try to look after intermittently. I'll look to see if he's there tonight and needs warm food or perhaps some dry blankets.