Korean ‘Lucky Dduk’ Rice Cake Soup

I love this dish. Hands down, one of my favorite Korean meals as a kid, and nothing’s changed. It’s savory and chewy and it’s got this powerful subtleness to it, if that makes any sense. Not to mention nostalgic. And if made right, you can eat it every week and never get sick of it. Mark and Els are salivating right now, just by me writing about it. And it’s a sure meal for even the pickiest toddler, like mine.

Koreans eat it every New Year to bring forth luck and fortune. Hence why I call it, lucky ‘dduk’ soup! But we don’t treat it as a seasonal dish in our house. It’s in our regular repertoire. I can’t even imagine having it only once a year. That’s just loony.

The recipe actually looks more daunting than it is. I can whip this up pretty quickly and if I had to scale its difficulty from 1-10, ten being the hardest, it would be like a two and a half. Seriously, very easy.

Here’s how:
(This is a meatless version by the way.)

INGREDIENTS:
*All ingredients can be found at your local Korean Mart

 1 Pack of Organic Rice cakes
One handful of dried medium-large anchovies
2 Squares of dried Kelp aka: Dashima
8 cups of water
3-4 cloves of garlic (you can use less, we are just out-of-hand garlic lovers)
One onion
3 eggs
2 Green onions
2 Sheets of dried roasted seaweed
1 tablespoon of soup soy sauce aka: guk ganjang (You cannot substitute with regular soy sauce.)
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
A pinch of salt (You can add more according to your taste. We are just salt conscious because of our toddler.)
Lots of ground black pepper!

PREP:

1. Soak the rice cakes in water for 20-30 minutes. I usually do this first and by the time everything else is done, it’s a good amount of time. If the rice cakes are fresh and unfrozen, they don’t need to soak as long. 10 minutes would be fine.

2. Put the anchovies, kelp, onion and whole garlics in the pot of water and bring to boil. Turn it down to medium-low and let it simmer for another 15-20 minutes.

3. Take the eggs and separate the egg white and the egg yolk into two separate bowls. Whisk it quickly with a fork. (You can add a smidgen of salt in each bowl if you like)

4. Put your pan on medium-low, pour a little bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, and smooth the egg white onto the pan to make a thin crepe-like egg.

5. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Once the egg becomes well formed, use a spatula and go around the edges. Be very delicate with the egg and start to fold it over slowly. You don’t want to overcook the egg, because you don’t want it to turn brown. A nice egg white color is the goal. It should look like this at the end.

6. Do the same with the egg yolk. Here’s what it should look like side by side.

7. Once cooled, using a sharp knife, slice the egg in strips. At this time, also chop the green onion into fine pieces. And using scissors, cut the dried roasted seaweed into small strips as well. These will be the toppings or garnish if you will, to the soup. This is how it should look!

8. The broth should be ready now. Take the broth and strain out the anchovies, garlic, onion and kelp. Put the broth back in the pot and add the rice cakes, the soup soy sauce, a little more than a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper.

I throw away the anchovies, kelp and onion. But I put the garlic back into the broth. Like I said, we are hardcore when it comes to garlic, and eat them whole if we find them in our soup. But that is your choice. You can throw it out. Or if whole garlics are too intimidating, you can add a clove of minced garlic back into the broth for more flavor.

9. Put the broth with the rice cakes back on medium high, and let it go for 3-4 minutes. Once the rice cakes rise to the top it is ready! Now add a drizzle of sesame oil into the broth and serve!

10. Scoop the rice cakes and broth into a large bowl. Add some egg yolk strips, egg white strips, green onions and some dried seaweed on the top. Crack more black pepper on top. Serve it with a side of kimchi and ENJOY! The perfect meal for today. Happy New Year!

*SIDE NOTE: If you are pressed for time and want a quick version and don’t care about the ‘look’ per say, you can skip the entire egg part and just crack two eggs in the broth  after straining out the anchovies etc. It still tastes amazing, just doesn’t look as pretty! You may also add dumplings to this dish to make it a ‘dduk mandu guk.’ Yum. Yum!

2013: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Last night, (New Year’s Eve) my husband Mark and I, while our baby was in deep slumber, decided to be really fun and exciting and sit down with a glass of champagne and write down our New Years Resolutions. We chose to write: five things we want to accomplish, five things we want to work on, five things we are grateful for, and five things we are looking forward to.

Here are mine:

I am grateful for:
1. My spunky, compassionate, clever, always surprising and endearing daughter, Els.
2. My patient, kind, pure-hearted, forgiving, caring, mighty husband.
3. My life here in LA, no matter how much I complain of the perpetual sun and suburban aberration.
4. Our new car. Solely because I hated abhorred our old one. So much that when we finally threw it away, it made it to my top five list of ‘best feelings of my life.’
5. That I am able to be a stay-at-home mom.

I want to accomplish:
1. This blog. Kick-start it. Do it. Be it.
2. Become an expert photographer/editor.
3. Read Read Read.
4. Learn how to play the guitar.
5. Reach my goal weight. By eating clean. Eating healthy. And eating healthy portions.

I want to work on:
1. Waking up early. I know I have a baby, but it doesn’t mean I like it. I want to like waking up early.
2. Going to bed early. I know I have a baby. I would be mad not to sleep when I can. But I am a night owl by nature. It has become one of my biggest flaws.
3.  Be more patient.
4.  Floss everyday.
5. Wash my face day and night followed by skin care routine. (Can you believe I actually had to write that?) That’s how much things change once you have a kid.

I am looking forward to:
1. Being Present.Watching Els grow. Learn. Become.
2. More date nights with the hubby.
3. Going to the Oscar’s. (I really am going!)
4. A nice, peaceful, enriching family vacation.
5. Having readers follow my blog!

And lastly,

Someday, everyday, always, I want to:

 

DIY – Hot Cocoa Mason Jars and Homemade Cookies

My life is pretty simple. And simply put, there was a life: PRE-PINTEREST and then a life AFTER PINTEREST.

It’s ridiculously addictive, time ceases to exist, and afterwards, you feel like a well-schooled crafty machine.

Which comes to how I made these little beauties for our lucky neighbors for Christmas, who besides my home and daughter, happen to be my Pinterest guinea pigs for the moment.

I saw a lot of different versions floating around for DIY Hot Chocolate gifts. It’s pretty self-explanatory. I used a mason jar and layered some Hot Cocoa, marshmallows, and crushed candy canes and put a ribbon on it. So pretty! (To get the crushed candy canes, I just crushed whole candy canes in a big ziplock with a hammer). I also saw these Martha Stewart cookie boxes at Michael’s and grabbed a pack since they were on sale, (yay!) and baked some homemade ginger snap cookies. (Okay, they were break and bake, but come on! At least they were from Whole Foods?) Besides the fact, more importantly, the package came together nicely, and the layering of each cookie with a piece of square cut tissue paper really made the difference – aesthetically speaking that is.

With these, you can fool anyone into thinking you’re a clever, crafty little thing. Which in fact, is what Pinterest precisely is.

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A Little Bit of Sugar. A Little Bit of Spice.

SO, my name is Jane. And I am a Leo. My daughter Els, is a Capricorn. I would consider myself more sweet. Els, definitely spicy. And so it goes

I like to eat dessert before dinner, but if I had to choose between dessert or dinner it would always be dinner. Els – she chooses snacks.
I love everything stripes. Els loves polka dots. Together, we sometimes look like a walking hot-striped-polka-dotted mess.
I have this thing where I can’t resist looking at a vending machine in passing. Especially in other countries. Els can’t resist them either. She finds extreme joy pushing quarters into the slot one by one and pressing the giant, lit-up buttons.
It seems that everyday, I surprise myself at how much I DON’T know, and Els surprises me everyday of how much she DOES.
For instance: did you know that sunflower seeds come from sunflowers? And that clouds are nothing but condensed water vapor? I bet you Els does. Well maybe not the cloud thing, we both just call them giant fluffs.
I would consider myself the absolute antithesis of what people would call a ‘snob.’ In fact, I would seat Valentino, Descartes and Charlie Brown all at the same table and be okay with it. Els is the same. She hosts sit down parties with zebras and lions sharing tea biscuits. Not to mention Cookie Monster and Barbie sharing a bath.
Lastly, I have an extraordinary selective talent/memory for remembering everything I wore on every occasion. Same goes for everything I ate. Els – she remembers everything I tell her I am going to buy her – next time.

And that is that. My 22 month old, and I.

My husband and I can’t help but laugh when we think of her. Just in that zesty, hilarious kind of way.

Indeed, we are very much: attached at the hip, similar yet so different, best, true love, good old bosom buddy, forever and ever and EVER, friends…

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Everything but the…

Before I had a baby, I had what seems like – ALL the time in the world. I could do anything. I could do nothing. At anytime. Any day. I could be. Not be. And be again. That was my life. Easy breezy. Sleepy lazy. Time.

It’s funny and kind of, unfunny all at the same time, that I choose now as opposed to then to start this blog. Specifically because my time is now defined by cold and unbuttered half eaten english muffins and a barely there shower if you will. But I guess, just like deciding to have a baby or quitting smoking or starting your first novel — there’s never the perfect time to do it. You just gotta do it.

So here I am! A recent transplant from the Great White North to the sunny Southern coast. From single to dating to married. Childless to with child. From toques to sombreros. And long johns to sunscreen – Welcome! As I fervently brave the land of everything mommy and baby, food and frenzy, calm, stupor, creating, living, love and all its findings…

So what’s this blog about, you ask? I guess, it’s kind of like Ben and Jerry’s ice cream – Everything but the

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