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Lent Update

I guess it’s a bit late to be updating about Lent seeing how it ended in March. But this year has gone by pretty quickly hasn’t it? We’re more than halfway through 2016! Some years feel faster than others. This is one of those faster than usual years.

I studied the Japanese alphabet (hiragana). I memorized (and then promptly forgot) the alphabet. So now I know nothing. I never even got to the talking part or grammar or anything. Just dropped off at the very fundamental alphabet. So yeah, that was a bust. I didn’t even study it for 40 days straight. It was maybe for 3 weeks.

Hajimemashite – Nice to meet you.

Yup. That’s what I have left.

I killed my fish and shrimp!

Last night, I changed the drinking water filter in our sink and used the first 5 liters of it to top off my tank thinking it was freshly filtered water. And even though I knew it was filter flush water, I figured if it was good enough to water plants with then it was good for my planted fish tank too. Apparently not. This morning, I found both of my fish dead. And some shrimp too. I don’t get it! People put carbon filter media in their aquarium filters too. Same basic principle of drinking water filters. How did my fish die?

I still have some tough survivor shrimp hanging about, chowing down on their dead brethren so at least there’s that. And the plants seem okay as well. I don’t know what’s in the water filter but now you know, animals should not drink new filter water. Especially small animals.

On a side note, I learned that some locations of Whole Foods or Mom’s Market will accept used water filters. Look up Preserve Gimme 5 for your nearest collection site.

I think I took how easy it was to maintain my fish tank for granted. I started to think they were indestructible because of how the shrimp and plants were flourishing. Invertebrates tend to be more sensitive to water quality. But they really handled my low tech, minimal intervention/work methods well. I didn’t really so much change the water as just used the tank water to water house plants and then top it off with regular untreated tap water. Chloramines and all. At most I would let the tap water sit for a week before using it, but not always. So they did well with infrequent water changes using untreated water. What’s kind of scary is, I put 5 liters of this Union Carbide water in a 100 liter tank. That’s only 5%. What am I drinking?!

On the plus side? If there is one :( my cherry shrimp which are usually always hiding because of the fish are now always out and about. Their predators are gone and they feel safe. So I may just leave this a planted shrimp tank.

Kimchi Rice Bowl

Since I made kimchi last month, I’ve been having it all the time. I’ve already finished 2 big jars of it – one napa and one cubed radish.

Here’s how I enjoy it sometimes.

I cook beans in the steamer cooker (my rice cooker) and then I cook them again with rice to get:
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Rice and beans.

I add any kind of vegetable side dishes I have.
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This time it was mung bean sprouts.

In goes the kimchi and also a cut up avocado. Mmm-mm! A filling and delicious meal.
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The kimchi and kimchi juice provides all the flavoring.

If I don’t have cooked rice ready to go, I’ll boil noodles which takes no time and make a noodle bowl instead.

Shopping at Ikea

For years I’ve “stored” a pile of dried foods on the floor between the pantry and the washer/dryer. Oatmeal, rice, rice noodles, dried fruits, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, mung bean noodles, wheat pasta, quinoa, and the list goes on. Like a spillover of stuff from the pantry. It looked like a mountain of stuff. So I’ve been wanting to get a cart of some sort to organize this mountain since last year. I’m okay with disorder to a certain extent but I have my standards too! Said disorder needs to be lifted off the floor.

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And here it is. The Ikea BYGEL. It was between the Raskog or the BYGEL. They’re both small enough to fit in the corner and $30. If I was more diligent about checking Craigslist, I could’ve probably gotten one for much less. I ended up picking the BYGEL because it was slightly larger. Putting it together was a little challenging. Some of the screw holes weren’t drilled properly so the screws only went in part of the way. As long as it can hold my kombu seaweed.

While I was at Ikea, I also picked up more than a dozen kitchen rags.
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I’ve gone through boxes and boxes of virgin paper products to blow my nose. For a while I got recycled tissues but they hurt after blowing through a box in a day. So I’m now using dishrags as snotrags. The handkerchief is coming back! I considered making my own with old t-shirts, but that meant I had to cut my old t-shirts which I couldn’t bring myself to do. They are the most comfortable and have many holes for ventilation during the summer. It took over a decade to get them this soft. So I plan on sewing old shirt buttons on my kerchiefs to differentiate them from kitchen rags. They get washed regularly no matter what but I figured for the kimochi of it, I should keep them separated. What do you think of handkerchiefs? Gross or thumbs up? I used one today and liked it. I felt a little embarrassed whipping it out on the metro but then I got used to it after a while. Today wasn’t a bad allergy day so one kerchief was enough. I will probably keep 2 in my bag and 1 at work at all times and washing each after a day’s use. I blow my nose over 100 times(?) on a bad day. Today it was maybe 30 times. Yes, my nose has killed many many trees. I feel like I should have done this a long time ago. It’s very absorbent by the way. I wonder if people use these for cloth diapering or as burp rags.

Baked Ripe Plaintains

I’m not sure what this is. A snack? A dessert? It’s anything. It’s good. My coworker told me this is how she eats plantains, but she emphasized that they must be ripe. Like spotty black ripe!

I washed the plantains first.

Then sliced them in half lengthwise.
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Then baked at 350 fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
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That’s it!

Is this even a recipe?? It’s like boil a potato. Or boil water. 1 ingredient. Add heat. Enjoy.

Mukbang

I have been resucked into the world of mukbang – broadcasted food eating. For a while I was watching videos on YouTube featuring eaters speaking Korean and even though I didn’t understand what they were saying I still loved watching them. The enjoyment of food needs no translation or explanation. They ate some pretty bad garbage though. American cheese, ramen, fried chicken, fast food burgers. Often enjoyed with kimchee. (That’s what inspired me to make kimchee actually. It’s been a long time since I’ve fermented any vegetables though. I’m still eating my way through a large jar of fermented cabbage.)

Anyway I stopped watching Korean mukbangs for a long time and recently rediscovered it on YouTube when I stumbled on this English-speaking mukbang hosted by MommyTang. She’s a loud-mouthed, opinionated, stay-at-home mother of 4 and I love her. Her children are often featured in her videos, which is entertaining. Oh and she also happens to be vegan and I’ve picked up some good simple vegan recipes. Asian cuisine really lends itself well to being vegan. So I am hooked! Also, true to mukbangs that I’ve seen, she eats kimchee with almost every meal, even Dominoes pizza. It fired up my desire to make kimchee once again. A meal just isn’t complete without some good ol’ kimchee! So that’s what I did last weekend.

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Pink Phone

Pink Flippy is 8 years old and still going strong. It’s done quite well for being 8 and having never been couched in a protective cover. Do they even make Sanyo Katana covers? Well even if they did mine doesn’t need one. Every chipped paint or scratch is a story, or something.

Hot Sauce Mania!

We got a lot of hot sauces as a gift which was just in time for a dinner with some friends (chili night!) so we had a hot sauce tasting evening. 
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Aside from a few others we have already, we tried 2 of these new ones. The Calypso Sauce was the favorite of the evening. It was hot with a hint of mustardiness. It’s almost empty actually.

The Yellowbird is also very good. Not as hot as the calypso so I use it less cautiously.

I’m gonna pop some tags

I’ve always had a weird thing about wearing secondhand clothes from people I don’t know. I don’t mind if it’s a friend’s or a friend of a friend’s or even Kevin Bacon’s, but if it’s anonymous’ clothes, I feel weird. So I’ve gone in and out of many consignment/secondhand clothes stores and never gotten a thing due to my weird heebiejeebies about it.

Then one day, a friend told me that her stepson only buys secondhand to reduce consumerism. She told me she tries to do the same. I guess that was what convinced me to finally try it. I’ve been trying (not always successfully) to cut back on shopping for clothing items and shoes and stuff but eventually my work clothes start to look worn and lately, I’ve felt like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel in the mornings.

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So yesterday, I started on Craigslist and looked for yardsales and cleaning-out-my-closet type sales. When that didn’t pan out for me (granted I emailed exactly 1 person), I went to the local Goodwill Store. I’ve been to this store before in the past where I walked in and then right back out when my weirdness kicked in. This time, I went through the racks and actually picked out some items and bought 3 tops. They were running a 50% off everything sale too, so I paid a little less than $10 for all three items. I could get used to this thrift store/second-hand shopping!

Everyday-for-the-rest-of-my-life chili!

It’s really just called white chili. Or maybe it’s white bean chili? There’s no tomato sauce or chili powder so it’s not one big pot of spicy hot redness. But it does have a kick to it.

This is so freakin’ easy to make and addictively tasty that I’ve already made 3 batches in the course of 2 weeks. We served it to guests, packed it for lunch, and are now enjoying it for dinner. It’s so flavorful!

The star guests:

  • Great Northern beans (5 15 oz.-cans or roughly 4 cups of dried beans or a little less than 2 lbs, cooked)
  • Garlic – 5 to 6 cloves
  • 2 large onions diced
  • Cooking oil
  • 2 cans of diced green chili
  • Vegetable broth – one box
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 tsp cayenne powder (or more)
  • 2 cups dried TVP (texturized vegetable protein) (or use a package of frozen)
  • 2 chopped Jalapenos (optional)
  • 2 diced tomatoes (optional)

I use cannellini beans because I couldn’t find dry great northern beans. The original recipe calls for great northerns. I used to think they were the same but they are not. Cannelini’s are a little bigger.
IMG_0324-001I soak before cooking beans if I plan ahead. Otherwise I just cook the shit out of it without soaking. This time I did the latter. Stir fry the onions, garlic, and fresh jalapenos until the onions are soft. IMG_0326

Add tomatoes if you want (it won’t turn the chili red). And canned green chilies.
IMG_0336Add the spices. IMG_0345

Add the TVP.
IMG_0348And the beans. IMG_0349

Basically put everything into the pot.
Simmer for 30 minutes.
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The beans make the chili thick and the vegetable broth and canned green chilies are enough to salt the whole dish.

Serve with nutritional yeast, diced avocados, and corn chips if you want.

If you have a slow cooker, this works really well. After browning the onions, just dump everything into the cooker and leave it all day. My slow cooker is too small to fit everything so I just cook it on the stove.