Gobble, Gobble

We had some evening visitors strolling through our yard last night.

Gobble, Gobble

Korean Style Fried Rice

I am addicted to a Korean rice dish called Bibimbap and I wanted to try making it at home.  I got a Korean cookbook called, The Korean Table, and perused the recipe. Bibimbap is a fried rice dish cooked in a stone bowl, served with various toppings and Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), and then a fried egg on top.  All of the little toppings, things like seasoned bean sprouts, seasoned shredded carrots and seasoned daikon radish, would take some time to prepare.  I read in the book that instead of the authentic bowls, you could use a cast iron pan to get that crunchy rice bottom.  But first things first, where in small town Maine was I going to find Gochujang??  The cook book was clear that there was no substitute.  Thankfully, we made a trip down to Portland last month and checked out Sun Oriental Market on Congress St.


Since finding the Gochujang, I have made a few things from the cookbook.  It’s a great book.  Beautiful photography and a really nice ingredient section in the front to teach you about the various ingredients used in Korean cooking.  There is also a section called “Your starter kit for Korean cooking” which goes through making various base sauces, pastes and stocks.  I was making a beef stir-fry dish a few weeks ago, and needed to make some Sweet Soy Sauce Base and a Seasoned Red Pepper Paste.  Both are good for several months in the refrigerator, so they recommend making a larger batch and saving it.  I have to say that it’s much easier to just have it sitting there and ready.  Makes putting a dish together much quicker!

In any case, while having made several things, I have STILL not made any bibimbap!  Bad Tina!  We have just been so busy that I haven’t had time to prepare all the little vegetable toppings that are included in the dish.  However, I have been experimenting with my Gochujang, and when I saw a recipe for Kimchi Fried Rice on Serious Eats the other day, I decided to adapt it for what we had on hand, including that Seasoned Red Pepper Paste!

I love to make fried rice.  Simple and use up the leftovers in your refrigerator!  I’ll frequently make it for lunch when I have leftover rice in the refrigerator.  I did make a special trip to the grocery store to buy a new jar of Kimchi.  My store only has one brand (I’m happy there’s at least one!) and it’s a mild version.  It works for me.  The seasoned red pepper paste adds plenty of heat.  It’s on my bucket list to try making homemade Kimchi one day.  Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish (usually napa cabbage), and can vary by region and season.  It can also vary greatly in how spicy it is.

I also had a leftover pork chop in the fridge, and some mixed vegetables that had been leftover from dinner the other night.  And of course, we have plenty of eggs for the topping!  Fried rice is definitely best made with one, or even two/three, day old rice.  Since I hadn’t planned on making this fried rice, I didn’t actually have any rice in my refrigerator.  No problem!  I made up a batch of jasmine rice with just a little bit less water than normal, spread it out onto a baking sheet into a single-ish layer, and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  Pulled it out and let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes and I was good to go.  Not ideal, but works in a pinch.

Seasoned Red Pepper Paste, adapted from The Korean Table

The major adaptation with this recipe is that it calls for Korean coarse red pepper flakes.  Although they state in the book that this is a “must-have” and can’t be substituted, I did it anyway because I didn’t think to buy them on my excursion to buy the Gochujang, and there is nowhere around here to buy them.  I substituted normal McCormick’s crushed red pepper, but used less than called for with the Korean flakes.  You can vary the amount you add based on how spicy you want it to be.

1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 Tb. Gochujang
1 Tb. crushed garlic
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger (about half an inch of root)
1 tsp. oyster sauce
1 Tb. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tb. light brown sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

Mix together.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Korean Style Fried Rice
(serves 4)

3 cups dried jasmine rice
4.5 cups of water
2 Tb. vegetable oil
1-2 leftover pork chops, diced small (or other cooked meat that you have on hand)
Any sort of veggies that you have kicking around the fridge
14-oz jar of mild kimchi (or your heat preference)
1 Tb. butter
2 Tb. seasoned red pepper paste (see above)
1 Tb. sesame oil
2 Tb. low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tb. oyster sauce
1-2 eggs per person

1. Prepare rice ahead of time, preferably 1-2 days.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Dig through refrigerator for leftovers.  I like leftover pork chops that I dice into about 1/2 inch pieces.  Frozen peas or other veggies.  Some shredded carrots.  Maybe you have some green beans or pea pods.  This time I solely used some leftover frozen mixed veggies (peas, corn and beans) from a previous dinner.

3. Heat large skillet (I use my 12-in cast iron pan), add 1 Tb. oil and heat on medium.  When oil begins to shimmer, add the diced meat and heat for 1-2 minutes.  If the veggies that you are adding are raw (not previously cooked leftovers), then add those first and saute until about 75% cooked.  Then add the meat.

4. Add a little bit more oil if necessary and then the Kimchi, and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.  If the Kimchi is in big pieces, you might want to chop it up a bit beforehand.

5. Add the butter and seasoned red pepper paste, thoroughly incorporate.

6. Add in the veggies if you haven’t done so already.

7. Toss in the rice.  I don’t usually use all of the rice that I cooked as that overloads my pan.  So, just add in as much as your pan will tolerate, and save the rest to add into the leftovers.

8. Break up any rice clumps, and stir well into the Kimchi mixture.

9. Add in the sesame oil, soy sauce and oyster sauce and mix in well.

10. Let sit in the pan for 2-3 minutes to develop a nice, crusty bottom.

11. Serve into individual dishes.

12. Prepare fried eggs.  I like two eggs on top of mine, but you might rather just have one.  You’re just making fried eggs and you want the yolk to still be runny (like sunny-side up eggs).  So, I just heat some oil/butter in a small non-stick skillet, toss in the eggs, flip very briefly, and then place on top of the bowl of rice.

13. Serve with additional seasoned red pepper paste so people can kick up the heat if they want.

I love to mix in my runny egg yolks into the rice.  Mmm….

The Start of Christmas Crafting

Now, what do we have here!?

I received an order from Casey’s Wood Products yesterday.  Amazing how many little wooden things they can fit into a small priority mail box.  Lots of little wooden peg people.  Most of these little ones are the “little boy” size.  I also got some of the big people size, some blocks, and some mini and small clothespins.  I have Christmas present crafting plans!!

The boys got right to work however with my stash this morning before school crafting together a ninja army.

And a ninja flying army.

I don’t have any plans for the big people.  They are just good to have around and I was placing an order anyway.  Likewise on the clothespins, but I’d like to try painting them for some art wire displays.  Now the little boy people were my main motivation for the order.  That I have to keep a secret for the time being, but no worries, I’ll be sharing if it all works out!

Do you need any creative inspiration for your Christmas crafting projects?  Sometimes I think that I have too much inspiration!  Seriously though, I highly recommend Pinterest if you are a visual person (or even if you think you aren’t!).  I was just scrolling through it to find something that I had pinned on my Crafty Ideas board, and I was once again blown away by all the ideas swirling about my head when I saw all those lovely pictures!

And just for fun….the puppy wants to say Hi.  Is he still a puppy when he’s three?  He still acts like one.  Unlike our “old-man dog” who tore his ACL six weeks ago, poor guy.  Trying to keep up with the puppy!

Happy Fall!

Yes, it’s fall in Maine!  Look at that beautiful color in my backyard.  I especially love that dead tree sticking up above it all.  It’s a favorite place for the crows to hang out, and I have even seen a juvenile bald eagle there once!  It has been busy this fall with the normal start of the school routine, and of course fall sports for the boys.  K started travel soccer this fall and it has kept us busy.  He’s having an awesome time and has improved a lot with the higher caliber of play and coaching.

The girls are doing wonderfully.  We have 1 barred rock and 5 golden comets.  They have been pretty consistently giving us 4-6 eggs per day.  I need to discover some new frittata recipes or something!  Too….many….eggs.  My friends are going to begin to be the lucky recipients of fresh eggs.  K loves hard boiled eggs, but I’ve discovered that you can’t hard-boil the fresh eggs.  Well, I knew that to be true, but I have also proven it several times.  Last time I hard-boiled some, I let them sit for about 10 days before boiling them.  That still wasn’t quite long enough.  The shells are really difficult to remove and you get a mangled egg.  I’m going to try 2 weeks next time.

I made a great kim chi fried rice with fried eggs on top last night for dinner.  I’ll share the recipe this weekend.  The kids don’t like fried rice, but Hubby and I loved it!

My annual Halloween display needs some new additions this year.  J wants to make more ghosts.  I’m not sure what to make though.  Hmm….maybe a floss wrapped bendy doll in the shape of a skeleton?  That might be fun.  Some mini hay bales?  Or maybe these hay bundles?

Of course, the month is getting away from me.  So we’ll see if I end up with time to make anything.  I have a project to make for a fundraiser auction for J’s old school, and of course I haven’t even started on Halloween costumes yet!!  K wants to be a red ninja, and J wants to be Yoshi from Super Mario Bros.  Ninja is not so hard.  Yoshi…..hmm…..more difficult.  I’m thinking this dinosaur tail, plus a hooded fleece cape with some spines down the back.  That’s my project for this weekend.

This has absolutely nothing to do with anything but how super-cool are these mushrooms growing up a tree in the woods behind our house??

Crochet Striped Fingerless Mitts

Stripey Happiness!

So, I have been working on these fingerless mittens for quite awhile (well it was only a month, but it felt like a long time).  All those stripes of color and ends that I keep forgetting to weave in as I go along!  (No seriously, I did most of them as I went along, I just forgot a few.)  Here is my Ravelry page for it.  I used leftover Knit Picks Wool of the Andes that I have from the hexie cushion that I’m making.  It doesn’t take a lot of yarn to make the mitts.  The pattern is based on Lucy’s mitts from Attic24.

I started off with a chain 34, as Lucy did, but they turned out a little big for me.  Not really in the start of it (I did try them on as I went along), but I have really thin wrists.  I think I would need to modify the pattern if I made another pair to go in a bit at the wrist.

Flat piece - not really straight, but no worries, you don't notice once you seam it up the side!

They are very simple.  Just make a flat piece that is the right length and width.  This is half double crochet (hdc) with Lucy’s bobble-shell edging on the top and bottom.  It would be even simpler using one color of yarn or variegated.  Each color consists of two rows of hdc.  Then, I just used single crochet to join it together along the side.  You could also do it so the seam doesn’t show, but I like the stripe of yellow color.  And you just leave a space for your thumb as you go up the side.

J loved them though and wants a pair of his own!  Not sure he would actually wear them however.  I think he just likes them because they are Mommy’s.

Pot Roast in the Dutch Oven

I made pot roast the other day and it’s so amazingly simple that I felt I needed to share!  (And I want to try to win a Dutch Oven from My Baking Addiction.)  Of course, I forgot to take pictures of the finished product.  I will take pictures next time and update the post!  This is super simple and really good.  I don’t say that about a lot of things.  I use my Le Creuset oval dutch oven (in flame) because I can brown the meat on the stovetop and then throw it in the oven.

Tina’s Simple Pot Roast

3.5-4 pound beef roast (rump, etc.  something cheap because this long, slow cooking works well for those meats)
1/3 cup flour
3-4 Tb. butter
ground black pepper
1 medium onion, sliced
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup dry vermouth
4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes, chopped medium
3-4 medium carrots, chopped medium

1. Put your flour on a plate and sprinkle liberally with fresh cracked pepper.  Mix up the flour mixture, and dredge the roast on all sides.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter on a medium-high heat in your Dutch Oven.  Add in the sliced onion and saute for a few minutes.

3. Add in the roast and brown the roast on all sides, 3-4 minutes per side or so.

4. Mix up the sauce — mushroom soup, vermouth and soup mix.

Sigh, my only picture. Ready to go in the oven.

5. Pour over roast, put on the lid and place in preheated 325 F oven.

6. Cook for about 2.5 hours.

7. Prep potatoes and carrots.  (Cut into bigger sized pieces, maybe about an inch.)

8. Add potatoes and carrots after 2.5 hours.  Mix into the sauce so they get covered in the gravy.  Cook for an additional hour (for a total of 3.5 hours).

Yummy carrots from my garden!

9. Feel free to add other vegetables, sometimes I add peas towards the very end, or add in parsnips with the carrots.

10. Serve with biscuits, bread, side dish of peas, etc.

Total comfort food!  The vermouth really makes the gravy.  Don’t leave it out.  If you don’t have any, I have substituted a mix of white wine and sherry before.  But, I usually just try to always keep vermouth in the liquor cabinet, just for this recipe.  I’d say it takes about 10-15 minutes to get the roast in the oven, then another 15 minutes to prep the potatoes/carrots.  The rest of the time is just oven time.  Great result for little investment!

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Exchange sponsored by Le Creuset.