A night on the Koreatown

This weekend’s highlight was definitely Saturday. We went with M & K to Korean BBQ and it was DELICIOUS. This was my first experience at this style of restaurant so I felt very lucky we had a Korean friend in our group to explain things! We chose Dae Jang Keum which is on Engineer a few blocks off Convoy, San Diego’s Korean main street.

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[photo from yelp]

You start with a bucket of super-hot coals in the middle of the table.

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They top the coals with an iron griddle and bring you lots of marinated raw meat, which you can cook to your own liking. Medium rare, please!

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Meanwhile there are like a dozen sides, from pickled vegetables and kimchi to bean sprouts and seaweed, and lots of dips for the meat like soy sauce and hot chili paste and bean curd. And drinks too! There was water and hot tea and OB (Oriental Beer) and soju (kind of like a Korean vodka).

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When we were too stuffed to eat any more, we walked a few blocks away to a Korean karaoke bar. Each group gets a private room — not like American (Japanese?) style karaoke where you sing in front of the whole bar.

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And jumping around the spectrum of music from Queen to Chris Brown to Britney Spears to Limp Bizkit, we sang until we were hoarse.

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In the wise words of Fred Durst: Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy.

It’s that season

There comes a season in everyone’s life when all their friends start becoming parents. For years I’ve watched a small but steady trickle of babies arriving. It’s been fun! I can take time to fawn over each one.

Now that we’re approaching 30, that trickle is picking up speed. One of my favorites just reached her first birthday; a dear friend’s baby is due any moment (come on out, girl!); another close friend just announced she’s pregnant. Pretty soon it’s gonna be like this:

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Aww, don’t listen to me. Keep ’em comin. I love your babies, all of you. Can’t wait to sew stuff for them and play with them — and then happily give them back to you at bedtime, mwa-ha-ha!

Hat in progress

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Look — my very first handmade hat is slowly taking shape! Don’t you love the color? It’s Patons Classic Wool Worsted in Jade Heather.

But as a crochet newbie, here’s my question: this far in, shouldn’t it be starting to have a hat shape rather than looking relatively flat like a doily? I’m closely following this single crochet beanie pattern. Many people have made it successfully, so maybe I just need to keep going and trust it will shape up eventually.

Meal plan 01.18.13

Last week I had mixed results with cooking. The birthday cake didn’t turn out well — bland and dry. Next time I’ll stick to box mixes for yellow cake. But the frosting was rich, almost moussey, which made it all worth eating. We had leftover cake with coffee and eggs at breakfast. Because we’re adults and we get to decide what breakfast food means.

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On the upside, I made chickpea salad wraps and brought them to lunch a few times. They were delicious and now I’m inspired to make ahead some kind of salad or wrap filling each week for easy grab-and-go lunches. I’m no good at making lunches in the mornings.

This week’s meal plan (including stuff from last week I didn’t get around to):

Lately, I’m wildly attracted to taco recipes. Is it bad to eat tacos all week long?

Car Abuse

I’m ashamed to admit that I wounded my poor faithful Camry!

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It may not look like much, but when you zoom in you can see the depth of pain I must have caused it:

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I was coming into the parking garage after work on Monday and a large line of cars was waiting to exit, clogging the entrance ramp. One of them scooted back so I could squeeze through. I judged there to be enough room and crept most of the way through the narrow gap, but as I swung my wheel to finish the turn I heard a SSSCCCRRRRAAAAPPPPE!!

The poor girl who had moved over flung her door open to talk to me but I don’t know what she wanted to say, because I just kept going. It was my fault, not hers, and I was too pissed to be nice to her (assuming she would try to apologize) so I drove down and around the next two ramps of the parking garage, seething.

When I reached my space I was pretty relieved to find that the damage was limited to the edge around the back wheel. There’s minimal denting and because of the location on the car, you don’t really see the scrapes when you’re walking by.

But it’s my baby! It’s been my car since senior year of high school, through endless college road trips, like when Dan and I took a week-long camping trip to Colorado and back during the first summer we dated. It even survived four years of snowy Cleveland winters, including the infamous gridlock blizzard of 2010 that turned my 5-mile commute into 3.5 hours of snowy hell. Can you believe that in all that time, I have never once scraped or dented it? (Except the sideview mirror, but that’s a gimme.) Here it is in its pristine condition last summer, before I brought it to California:

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At the time I wanted to sell it, and figured the little plastic dinosaur stowed in the armrest by the previous owner’s kid would make a good selling point. It did cause the most comments when I posted the ad, but nobody bit… and it turned out to make more sense to ship it here to California rather than buy a different used car.

I’m so sad it’s not pristine anymore, but maybe a thirteen-year-old car deserves a few battle scars. On the other hand, I don’t want it to rust or flake more where the scrape is. Since it’s old I don’t carry collision insurance (only liability) so any repairs would come out of my pocket. What do you think — would you get it fixed? I’m leaning toward no…

One-skillet pork chops with sauteed apples and onions

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I’ve finally found my go-to recipe for the classic combination of pork and apples. And it’s all done in one pan, which is great for easy cleanup. My version is inspired by these oven pork chops with sauteed apples but I adapted it to omit the oven and add some of my favorite flavors. I love using the fresh thyme that grows year-round in my balcony garden!

One-Skillet Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples and Onions (serves 2)

  • 2 thick boneless pork chops
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic powder
  • dried oregano
  • dried thyme
  • flour
  • butter
  • 1 apple (I like Honeycrisp) cored and sliced into eighths
  • 1/4 large onion, sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped (more sprigs for garnish)
  • sherry (or hard cider)

Season chops to taste with salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, and dried thyme, and dust with flour. Melt a little butter in a skillet on medium-high, then add the chops. Pan-fry both sides until browned and cooked through. Remove to a warm plate and tent with foil to rest and keep warm (chops will continue cooking a bit while resting, so don’t overdo it in the pan).

Add more butter to pan if needed. Saute the apples, fresh thyme, and onion until apples are crisp-tender. Add a generous splash of sherry and boil for 1 minute. Serve over the pork chops. Garnish each chop with fresh thyme.

These would be great over wild rice or quinoa, but I usually serve them alongside roasted broccoli with lemon and garlic.

Meal plan 01.11.13

Today’s my birthday.

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My birthday two years ago

I don’t tend to make a big deal out of it (and sometimes actively hide it, like at work). But I do like to use it as an excuse to enjoy a few sweets! So last night as a pre-birthday treat I baked a few homemade chocolate chip cookies. This morning I actually cooked breakfast (instead of bagels or oatmeal) with cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, and yogurt. And this afternoon, I’m going to make myself a birthday cake! After all that I’ll take it easy on the cooking through the weekend and then try a few new recipes.

This week’s meal plan:

Do you usually have a big birthday celebration, or enjoy a quiet day?