Monday, February 28, 2011

Doenjang Jjigae Recipe

Doenjang is basically Korean miso (jang means sauce or paste) and doenjang jjigae is Korean miso soup, if you will.  I only make comparisons because most folks are more familiar with Japanese food than Korean.

Ian and I made a trip to Hana Mart in Tigard on his birthday and he requested this soup last night for dinner.

"Cho gochujang" (vinegared red pepper paste)

"Doenjang" (fermented soy bean paste)

It's good just to dip veggies into, too, as it's full of flavor and nutrients.

"Jjigae" (soup or stew, there are about 10 Korean words for soup, all slightly different)

I was hoping the purple potatoes would turn it purple, like they did in Korea (link), but they did not.

Doenjang jjigae is soup, so you can pretty much put anything you want in it.  It must have the pastes, garlic and tofu.  The veggies are totally up to you.  Here's how I made it last time.  I didn't measure, so it's all approximate.


3 large shiitaki mushrooms
1/4 purple onion
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup white vinegar (I didn't have rice vinegar)
2 tbsp soy sauce

1 block tofu (rustic if you've got it)
6 purple fingerlings
1/2 head cauliflower
1/4-1/3 cup doenjang
2-3tbsp gochujang

Do this:

Cut/chop mushrooms, onions and garlic coarsely and drop them into a medium sauce pan.  Add soy and vinegar and lightly mix.  Add enough water to float the mushrooms off the bottom of the pan, but don't over fill.  Bring to a boil until it's a broth.  While it's boiling, chop tofu, potatoes and cauliflower into bite size pieces.  Fill the pan the rest of the way with water (with room to boil) and add the veggies and tofu.  Bring it to a boil again and then add the pastes.  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve piping hot (Korean style!) with rice.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's not a Banana

It's rice cooked with coconut meat in bamboo.

What I mean is that it's delicious.

We first ate these in Cambodia. That one had beans in it.  The label on this guy (purchased from Pacific Market) said it had beans in it, but it didn't.  Still great. 

I just poured over my photos and we don't have a single one of that particular experience.  I have a photo of me eating spicy corn.  Ian eating potato candy.  Me eating dragon fruit.  Ian eating dragon fruit.  Me eating lemongrass soup.  Fish eating my feet...

None of that glorious coconut rice stick.

But, it's alright, because we have this photo:

You win some, you lose some.

Kitty Comes Home

My cat, Ava, went to live with my mom while we were in Korea.  I wanted us to be moderately settled in before we brought her to Portland, so she was with mom for a few months after we got back.

I drove up to Mom's on Monday night after work.  I stayed the night there and left with Ava in her Humane Society cardboard carrier in the morning after Mom went to work.  I was sure that Ava would have a rough go of our three hour journey, but she slept the whole way, only quietly poking her nose out to investigate a couple of times.

All of her stuff is set up in the back bedroom/office/random room, I took her right in there when we got home.  I left the door closed and let her get acclimated and build a comfort zone for about an hour.  Then I opened the door and went about my chores and things, knowing she would come out when she felt comfortable.

Ava is a backwards cat.  She felt comfortable being out and exploring when we were in the room, but hid as soon as we left.  She stayed in the bedroom until my friend came over for dinner, when she came out and sat on the floor next to him.

She goes well with our decor.

So do her dishes.  She doesn't eat any artificial ingredients, either.

She watches joggers and dog walkers out the windows.

And she follows us everywhere we go and cries at our closed closet doors and the glass block window in the entryway.

Ian made this bed for her out of a suitcase that we bought at a vintage store.  She slept in it some yesterday, which, if you know how cats can be about things you do for them, is a little remarkable.

Belated Valentine's Day Out

Ian and I celebrated Valentine's Day on the 16th, partially because of our schedules and partially because we started dated (5 years ago) on February 16th.

We decided to go the day without driving.  To start with, we walked down to the New Deal Cafe for biscuits and gravy.  Upon dissecting my gravy this time, I found it sans soy, just lots of mushrooms, spices and a little celery.  It's probable that I was just being neurotic last time.

After breakfast we hopped on the Max and spent the day downtown window shopping.  I have only two pictures from the whole day.  I'm obviously already out of the habit of documenting everything.

This is the first time I've ever had someone make a design in my latte.  It was at a cafe called Public Domain Coffee.  We also had pastries there for lunch.

 The tradition lives! Party photo with random art mannequin horse outside of some shops.

That night we saw a movie at the art museum.  The Portland International Film Festival is going on now.  We wanted to see A Barefoot Dream, but it was a little earlier in the evening and we wouldn't have had time to eat dinner before hand.  So, we saw Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives instead.  That film is the first that I've seen in a long time that I didn't understand.  At all.  I'm not even comfortable telling you whether I liked it or not.  I don't know.  This is partially because the cultural gap and partially due to film style.  According to analyses, the film is supposed to be made up of vignettes.  But, for me, it was more like there were parallel stories (that I couldn't comprehend) dropped into a linear story (that I didn't understand).  In interviews, the director discussed that he purposed transitioned between cinematography styles through the film, adding to my puzzlement.

It did give me some pretty interesting dreams, however.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I love the patterns on the tops of shiitaki mushrooms.

I also love buying them for $3/pound at Pacific Market across the street.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


...Or missteps if you're being nice about it.

I got sick with a crappy chest bug on Tuesday.  It became an actual issue for me on Thursday and I had to call out from two days of work.  Huge bummer.

Well, with being ill and feeling low I had a couple of failures with the challenge.  I said I'd admit to them if any happened, so here they are.  I won't call them mistakes or accidents, because I actually knew that it was against my goals, but I continued anyway.

  1. Nyquil
Why is it a failure?  It contains high fructose corn syrup.
Why did I take it?  I couldn't breathe and therefore couldn't sleep.  It's the only cold medicine we've got.  I hate the stuff.  I'll be soon looking into a better option.

     2. Blue Bunny Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Why is it a failure?  It contains two or three chemical preservatives.
Why did I eat it?  I wanted ice cream and it was the only brand available at the closest store (read: lazy).

     3. Oreo Cookies

Why is it a failure?  They contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial vanilla flavor.
Why did I eat them?  They were the only cookies Pacific Market (an Asian shop) had.  I had been asking Ian for cookies.

I wouldn't have an appetite all day and then I just craved junk at night.  Good news, things are getting back on track.  I'm human and I have some really bad habits that are super easy to fall back into.  But, honesty is far better than perfection.

From Scratch

This meal is from awhile back.  I've been sick with a chest flu, so I haven't had much energy to devote to blogging.

I was really proud of this.  Everything on this plate is from scratch.  Chickpea burgers, hamburger buns, and sweet potato oven fries.  The only exception is the mustard.  I wanted to use the homemade bbq sauce that Ian made for Christmas, but his base uses a ketchup that has HFCS in it, so no go.  The mustard turned out to be amazing on the sweet potatoes.  I definitely recommend that you try the combination.

Homemade frozen yogurt with berries.  So good.  If you're making your own froyo, use full fat yogurt.  It makes a big difference.  I also read that adding a dash of vodka to the mix helps keep it from getting icy.  But, we didn't have any liquor on hand, so I haven't tried it myself.

This weekend (Tues-Thurs) I'm going to post several recipes, including:

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (the one with cumin)
Chickpea Burgers
Peanut Sauce

Keep an eye out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lunch Splurge

I've decided that every other Sunday (a work day for me) I'm going to treat my self to lunch at Whole Foods.  Yesterday was the first of these.

I have a penchant for mineral drinks, obviously.  Though, what Chelsea said on the Viso post has made me think that I should stay away from large magnets and Magneto.

Good stuff.  Kale, artichokes, spring mix, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes... the list goes on.  I had it with oil-free miso dressing.

On Choices

I'm really glad that a couple of folks took some time to share their opinions on their impression of Viso.  It makes me happy that people not only read the blog, but they actually take the time to think about what I'm posting.  


But, in this case, I do feel it's necessary to elaborate on my opinion of Viso and clarify some things.

Viso is not something I would recommend having everyday.  I also find the use of the word "supplement" on the can a little amusing.  For me, Viso is a caffeinated treat.  One I consume once a week at maximum and I wouldn't recommend anyone go for it more often than that.

It's a treat because it does have a lot of sugar in it.  Compared to the average American (with whom I share culture and access to groceries and products) I consume very little sugar.  I still think I eat too much of it.  That's why one of the challenges is to spend a month away from it.  I, personally, agree with the research that says that HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) is metabolized and treated differently by the body than other forms of sugar.  Most, if not all, modern soda pops contain HFCS or aspartame if they're diet.  So, I stay entirely away from the stuff and lean more toward cane syrups and plain old sugar.  I do understand, however, that sugar (or, better put, simple carbohydrates) equal fat.  Sugar isn't good for you, but there are worse things (I happen to believe animal protein is one of those things).  So, it's good to make note of the grams of sugar something contains.  I also don't think it's good to drink 20% or more of your daily caloric intake.

Caffeine is a tricky beast.  I think that natural sources of caffeine are easier for your body to handle than artificial ones.  And everyone metabolizes caffeine differently.  I don't have a problem with it.  I drink three shots over ice without getting jittery.  I also come from a coffee drinking family, but I don't know if that makes any difference.

I sure hope that people don't consume Viso for nutritional support.  I'm definitely behind the research saying that vitamins and minerals really need to come in naturally through food choices.  But, because of my vegetarian diet, I'm happy for any minuscule amount of B vitamins I can absorb.

I love Viso.  But, I know that it's candy in a can.  I work in an industry where folks are constantly dosing themselves with caffeine.  Some of the drinks of choice?  Redbull.  Rockstar.  Mountain Dew.  If we're talking about replacements (which is something I don't do, as far as my eating habits are concerned), I think Viso would be a step up.

Being healthy is about making choices.  We're not all or nothing people, so you'll never see us exclusively condemn or praise something.  Which is why there will be a "cons" section added to all Product Spotlights going forward.

And, don't stop commenting your opinions.  I really like the opportunity for discussion.  That's what this is here for, after all.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Toast and Coffee

But first, a note:  I've seen the well thought out rebuttal comments on the Viso post.  There was some serious care and thought there, so I'll address those (valid) concerns in a separate post.  I'm not sure when (I work a 12 hour shift tomorrow), but I won't forget you!


This whole wheat bread recipe calls for cumin.  Which, for some reason, makes it excellent with blackberry jam.


My doppio (two shots, no water, milk or sugar) over ice and Ian's soy douple latte.

A very simple, but great way to start the day.  Mostly, I wanted to post this in contrast to the excess that was our breakfast at New Deal Cafe and probe that we are mostly reasonable folks.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Product Spotlight: Viso

(Dynamo Energy) purified water, certified organic evaporated cane juice, organic concord grape juice from concentrate, organic grapefruit juice from concentrate, citric acid, natural caffeine, calcium, natural; concord grape essence, potassium, vitamin c, magnesium, vitamin e, vitamin b-3, zinc, pantothenic acid (vitamin b-5), manganese (natural mineral), vitamin b-6, vitamin a, vitamin b-2, vitamin b-1, vitamin d, folic acid (vitamin b-9), biotin (vitamin b-7), vitamin b-12 

Why it rocks:
It's local (Portland)  It has 100% of your B complex vitamins and A, D, C and E.  That's not to mention the minerals.  It tastes great (it isn't super sweet).  It's all natural.  It has   This particular kind is loaded with natural caffeine.  I know, a lot of people consider caffeine the enemy.  But, I work 10 hour shifts.  Sometimes I work 12 hour shifts.  And I have to be nice to people, the whole time.  By the way, it isn't carbonated.  So, you can drink it as slowly as you'd like.  Viso has low calorie flavors, but they are currently flavored with Splenda.  According to their website, that should eventually be switched to Xylotol or Stevia.

About Viso:


Not all varieties of Viso contain caffeine.  They're intended as a boost in vitamins (B vitamins help regulate energy levels).  I like the Organic Strawkey and Dynamo Energy the best so far.  I'll be excited to try the natural low calorie options when they are available.  From the website:

"VISO was founded in Portland, Oregon in 2001. Our mission at VISO has always been to provide consumers with the best tasting and most nutritious beverages on the market. VISO beverages are primarily a vitamin, mineral, and electrolyte delivery system, and are formatted in Energy, Organic, and Low Cal options. VISO Beverages now comfortably partake in the Vitamin/Mineral, Energy, and Organic Juice Beverage segments, offering customers a unique perspective on modern beverage architecture. For most of our history, we produced the beverage ourselves at our own tiny bottling operation in North Portland. Recently, we decided to begin flavoring our drinks primarily with Organic fruit juices at the Portland Bottling Company, a much larger, Organically certified facility in Portland. Our beverages are now available in 16 oz, environmentally friendly cans, and the beverages we design and produce are light years ahead of anything else available. No other beverages can compete with the Organically fruity flavors and great taste of VISO! We are currently available in the NW, but we will be expanding nationwide in the next three years with our constantly evolving product line."

A Walk and a Concession

The weather was beautiful today.  See that?  That's the sun washing out that picture of our neighborhood.

When Ian and I awoke to find that it was sunny for the second winter day in a row, we decided to celebrate with a walk.  Our destination was the New Deal Cafe over on Halsey Street.  It's not very far.  It was chilly, but it felt so nice to use our feet for transportation again that we didn't care (we walked almost everywhere in Korea).  Plus, it's a whole heck of a lot colder over there, so (for the sake of our buddies Ben and Amy) we'll keep the temperature complaining to a minimum.

The cafe is a simple place with a simple menu.  We ordered the vegetarian biscuits and gravy.  It comes with eggs, but I ordered fruit instead.

Housemade biscuits, mushroom gravy, breakfast-style russet potatoes and "seasonal" fruit in the background. Apples and oranges, sure, but bananas and kiwi?  In February?  Who are we kidding, there is no "banana season" in the US.

Ian's cage free eggs.  The yolk is a pretty good color, but nothing beats Mom and Bruce's chickens' orange-yolked eggs.  Those are so healthy it's just silly.

Overall, I was really impressed with this place.  I'm into simple foods.  One thing bothered me a lot, however.  In the mushroom gravy, there seemed to be a minuscule amount of soy sausage.  I don't eat processed soy products, especially this month.  They have weird things in them, like "soy protein isolate/concentrate."  I wished it had listed that ingredient on the menu.  It was too much gravy for me anyway, so I scraped it off and avoided the soy-sauge bits.

That brings me to our concession.  Eating out during this challenge needs to be extremely limited in order to reduce the chance of making a mistake and becoming entirely frustrated.  It's all too unpredictable.  It took me 15 minutes to buy soy milk at Trader Joe's today and I could see the ingredients.

So, if and when we're eating out, online menus will be perused before hand and we'll mostly be sticking to soups and salads.  Luckily, natural and handmade food is big here.  But, honestly, Ian and I need to limit our eating out on our weekends.  It's a vice of ours.  If we're firm on this it will be good for our bank account balance and our eating habits.

On a lighter note, my coffee mug had a coffee mug on it at the cafe.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Here we go!

It's February 1st.

It's the beginning of Black History Month (USA).

It's Hula in the Cool-a Day.

It's Clark Gable's birthday.

It's the first day of Spring in Ireland, Imbolic Day.

It's the day to celebrate San Cecilio, the patron of Granada, in Spain.

It's also a Feast Day for many other Catholic saints; but with over 10,000 of them, that actually happens everyday.

The weather is beautiful.

Most importantly (not really), it's the first day of Challenge 1: No Artificial Ingredients.  I'm actually really excited.  I figured I'd start by posting what I'm eating.  I grabbed a banana before the gym, but that's entirely uninteresting.

For an early lunch post gym and pre-errands I stole a recipe from Mipa.

Pumpkin oats.  I have left over pumpkin puree in my freezer (canned, but only one ingredient) and I've been craving good oatmeal.  I've never been  someone who likes fruit, nuts, or really anything but sugar, sugar and more sugar (okay, maybe a little salt) in their hot cereal.  That really started to change while we were in Korea.  Our selection had a lot to do with it, but I also started reading a lot of food blogs.  I got braver.  Significantly so.

This bowl of cold weather sustenance is super easy to accomplish:

1/2 cup dry oats (steel cut or rolled)
3/4 cup water
salt to taste
3-4 tbsp pumpkin puree
~1 tbsp natural brown sugar (or other natural sweetener)
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc. to taste
1/4 cup organic soymilk
2 tbsp raisins

Cook the oats on the stovetop to your desired texture.  I like mine pretty dry. When they're almost there, add pumpkin puree and sugar.  Finish cooking and pour into a bowl.  Top with soymilk, raisins and spices.  Mix until frothy and consume readily.

If you have a microwave, I might recommend you warm the soymilk before adding it.  I don't have one, but I didn't want to cook the milk in, so it cooled down my oats a little too much.