diapers, budgets & paint

stay-at-home mommy by day
program manager by night
children's painter somewhere in between

day 12: in the mood to eat

thanks for all the recent crafty kudos, ladies! yes, em's recent photos have shown her sporting some kiddie clips, and yes, i did design those birthday party invites! i do so adore photoshop and would probably curl up under the bed if i ever lost my copy. between that and the nifty printing services of vistaprint, we're usually set for party time. since this is emmy's last solo birthday year, i figured i might as well make use of my "extra" time to design something fun. i'm just thrilled that she picked the bug theme herself; i'm guessing the era of pink and princessy parties is right around the corner so i'm enjoying the gender neutral goodness. next up: baking and decorating the caterpillar cake, to be modeled after our famous hungry literary friend. (i found some good pics online as inspiration and will post photos after the party!)

speaking of food, today's cold, rainy weather has me craving warm soups and giant hunks of crusty bread. unfortunately, our cupboard is bare until i drag our butts to the store - which i usually save for em's preschool time. instead, i've decided to share one of my all-time fave soup recipes today. i have no time for cooking anymore but this rachael ray recipe is super EASY and pretty quick; the most time consuming part is just getting to the store for the fresh seafood. i also skip the celery and occasionally an herb or two (or even the mussels), based on what we have on hand or what's in season. it's an amazing crowd pleaser and i can't wait to make it for my little seafood eater. enjoy!

Seafood Cioppino

1/4 cup (3 turns around the pan in a slow stream) extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 to 3 flat fillets of anchovies, drained
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup good quality dry white wine
1 (14-ounce) container chicken stock
1 (32-ounce) can chunky style crushed tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed (about 1 tablespoon)
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 pounds cod, cut into 2-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
8 large shrimp, ask for deveined easy-peel or peel and devein
8 sea scallops
16 to 20 raw mussels, scrubbed
A loaf of fresh, crusty bread, for mopping

In a large pot over moderate heat combine oil, crushed pepper, anchovies, garlic, and bay. Let anchovies melt into oil. The anchovies act as a natural salt, the pepper flakes will infuse the oil, providing heat.

Chop celery and onion near stove and add to the pot as you work. Saute vegetables for a few minutes to begin to soften and add wine to the pot. Reduce wine a minute, then add chicken stock, tomatoes, thyme, and parsley. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to medium low.

Season fish chunks with salt and pepper. Add fish and simmer 5 minutes, giving the pot a shake now and then. Do not stir your soup with a spoon after the addition of fish or you will break it up. Add shrimp, scallops, and mussels and cover pot. Cook 10 minutes, giving the pot a good shake now and again.

Remove the lid and discard any mussels that do not open. Carefully ladle stew into shallow bowls and pass bread at the table.

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day four: what to eat

i'm totally digging citymama's NaBloPoMo daily recipes - very inspiring. the recipes that i've tried from her site so far have been delish and super easy, so i totally want to try my hand at some more.

but as for tonight? what did i eat for dinner, you ask?

one bear claw.
one box of apple juice.
one package of neoguri ramen.
and some ben & jerry's neapolitan dynamite ice cream.

just call me the very hungry caterpillar. or a crazy pregnant woman... you pick.

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tasty tidbits

life's gotten too busy lately for a proper post, so here are a few tidbits to tide you over...
  • i think we've started to hit emmy's "word explosion" in the past week or two. she's suddenly repeating multiple words at a time and stringing 2 to 3 words together to talk to us. right now, as she's tossing around in her crib, i've been listening to her practice many words like her fave "mommy up." she's picked up "blue is the sky" from a rocknoceros tune, plenty of useful phrases like "daddy come home," and has even invented a funny new game to play with us!

    emmy: "know what?"
    you: "what?"
    emmy: "what?"
    you: "what?"

    and on and on... really, it's loads of fun, even on the 632nd time of the day.

  • emmy's loving the "happy birthday" song right now. however, she insists that you fill in the name with "robbie" about 95% of the time, and will occasionally let you slip in "allie" or "andrew." we've tried to show her that it can be anybody's birthday, but apparently our friend robbie's first birthday overshadows all others. (or does she have a thing for cute little hapa boys? heeheehee, one can hope!)

  • emmy's so wonderfully korean when it comes to eating! she can't gobble down the chapchae and kong namul fast enough, and will literally try to self-serve from all the little panchan dishes. but the best part? i frequently give her rice rolled up in those flavored nori sheets. last weekend, she decided to take a lettuce leaf, carefully place it on her tray, methodically fill it with rice, roll it up, and toss it back! i never knew that the art of ssang-chu was so innate!
    on a similar note, she really likes cinnamon shikhye (cold, malted rice punch). while the regular stuff is okay, i think the cinnamon variant is a horrible ending to a lovely meal - it reminds me of christmas potpourri! at least i know where my serving will go from now on...

  • for all you northern virginia locals, the washington post had a great article about some local playground gems today. we decided to check out discovery park in sterling this morning and loved it for the 45 minutes or so that we could stand the heat. it doesn't have the wow factor of clemyjontri, but it's still a cool, more cozy alternative.

  • i'm off to work on the. baby. book. yup, emmy's over 19 months old and silly ol' mom has been VERY delinquent with this project. my goal is to have her first year scrapped over the next 2 months, while blair's around to give me the occasional bit of free time. i hope i'm not the only slacker out there... i feel like if i don't do it right this minute, it will never, ever get done. at this rate, any and all future kids will be lucky if i manage to remember their birthdate(s).

  • when i tire of the book, i'll just go slink away to the tv and immerse myself in my lovely sam-soon, the bridget jones of seoul. while i can't believe i've gotten sucked into this cheesy soap opera, i love the fact that a non-korean-speaking hapa actor, daniel henney, has risen to fame from it. wonder when that will happen to me... lol.

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pearls of wisdom

okay, i lied. i share with you some *sticks* of wisdom, courtesy my yan yan snack.

deep, eh? but seriously, stag beetle? um, love what? oh well, hope everyone's having a wonderful week!


super tasty super h

we took a family trip to super h today, our local korean-asian-everything mart. it really is like going to heaven, with all of the delicious foods (samples!), knick-knacks (samples!) and hello kitty paraphernalia. the best part is that it's so much more than just a grocery store; there's "momo cafe" with its sweet rice cake desserts (and paht bing soo in the summer, mmmmm!), a bakery with more sweet bread-y goodness, a cafeteria eatery that makes awesome tang soo yuk (my special comfort food dish), a fresh sushi/sashimi area, another prepared foods section with kim bap and chiges to go, a crazy seafood department, a fresh kimchi-making aisle and, of course, the requisite non-food section (filled with korean soap operas on vhs, toys, rice cookers, kimchi refrigerators, etc.). it only takes about 15 minutes to get there, but we actually don't go all that often. today, however, mama needed a good korean lunch fix. and what a perfect time to introduce emmy to the subject of one of her fave books: bee bim bop!

i'm down with this, yo!

emmy gobbled it down like a seasoned veteran AND i even mixed in a little gochujang to ease her into the world of korean spice. next up: kimchi! muahahaha... anyhoo, afterwards we did a little shopping. our first stop was at the mom-and-pop run pung twi gi stand. bags of the puffed rice "cookies" are sold for $2.50 each (or the advertised 2 for $5.00 - uh, duh?) and em demands lots and lots of "pung!" here's a pictorial of our adventure...

snackin' by the bakery department

thoughtfully pondering the history of pung, near seafood

taking a break to examine durian... and yes, we've eaten that too
(verdict: blair likes it, i think it tastes like burning rubber)

still eating, while the ajumma make fresh kimchi

upon arriving home, em went down for a nap... and blair and i dug into some snacks of our own. i love me some ddeokbokki! and i found a type of rice cake that i haven't had since i was a kid visiting my family in pusan ages ago! the label translates it to charggurthang (wtf???), but the korean characters are more like chal-kuul-dukk. i just know that it's sticky and honey-ish with black beans and dates on top. yummy.

every korean meal tastes better with sweet tea, duh!

i dedicate this post to all of my blogging friends who can't get this stuff where they live. if you're ever in the d.c. area, let's meet for lunch! (and dinner! and leftovers! and...)

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i'm a weirdo too!

for the first time EVER, i've been tagged by lien for the "six weird things about you" meme. since i'm a newbie, i've decided to be gentle on myself. unlike motherhood uncensored's version, i'm bringing you...

six weird things about me: food edition

1. this goes horribly against my korean roots but... know what i consider the perfect comfort food? a bowl of sticky white rice, a plate of crispy hot bacon strips and a pile of ggaktugi kimchi. i know it's freakish, but there's something delicious about getting that mix of hot, sticky, crispy, salty, spicy and crunchy in my mouth all at once. (and re-reading that sentence makes me wonder if people will start to randomly find this blog via googling gone astray. ew!)

2. growing up, i thought tang was actual, honest-to-goodness orange juice. when people would give me real, fresh-from-an-orange juice, i would shudder at how sour it tasted. i have no idea why my parents decided to buy tang instead of regular oj. it was only during college that i was forced to face the horrid truth: tang really isn't that good for you after all, with all of its sugary goodness. since then, i've switched to real juice for my health... but every once in a while, i'll dip into the sunny d california (smooth) style for a quick hit. btw, if tang was good enough for astronauts, it was good enough for me, right?

3. in another hit to my korean pride, i went through a short phase where i thought peanut butter and jelly tasted great when mixed with... kimchi and rice. *shudder* sorry about that one - i have no explanation. all i can say is that i was young and foolish.

4. if you take a look at zenkimchi's list of strange korean foods, i've eaten numbers 11, 10, 7, 5, 4, 3 and kinda 1 (see #5 below). personally, i'd rather eat live octopus in a pusan seafood warehouse than ever taste fresh, raw sea cucumber or sea squirt (mung-gah) ever again... one mouthful of salty water, gushing out of squishy sea flesh, was more than enough for moi.

5. back in late spring - summer 2004, the rare 17-year cicadas emerged from their lengthy underground hibernation in many areas of the united states. i think one of their club hideouts was directly under our front yard tree, as the front wall of our house was COVERED in the buggers. the local news carried many stories about how local chefs were "harvesting" and serving the cicadas. blair, being the uber-adventurous eater that he is, suggested that we try it too. after much convincing, we conducted our own cicada harvest, plucking the white cicada nymphs off the wall and quick-killing them in the freezer for a few minutes. after that, they were breaded, fried and eaten by us and several friends. it went over so well that i did a fear factor-esque "cicada cook-off" at work; co-workers actually ate ALL of the cicada scampii (fried without batter), chicken-fried cicadas and cicada sashimi (raw!!!). my verdict: a little nutty but not that great. and anything breaded and fried will just taste... breaded and fried. NO, i did NOT eat the raw ones. yuck!

6. after #5, i'll end on an easy one. i do not have much of a sweet tooth (except during pregnancy). my idea of a perfect dessert (or heck, breakfast) is a leftover hot dog, cold slice of pizza or the like. anything, pretty much, that's savory and filling. (and on the breakfast note, i had a streak in high school where i ate microwaved corndogs for breakfast before school. mmm... what a way to start an academic day!)

if you had the patience to read this loooong post, i totally ought to treat you to something yummy. i tag halfmama, beloved and superha - let's see your weirdness too!

oh goodness, did my mommy actually eat all that stuff???

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new year yummies

happy lunar new year, everyone!

in true lee family fashion, we decided to celebrate today with food - and lots of it. since we always do the traditional korean new year's gathering / sebae on january 1st, the day was wide open... and our tummies needed some fillin'!

for an early brunch, we met up with our old friends abbie and jack and enjoyed yummy dim sum at mark's duck house in falls church. it's a good thing we had reservations because the place was packed. the restaurant is definitely a hole in the wall in your typical strip mall, but the washingtonian always gives it good reviews, both for the quality of its food and its affordability. even better, it's filled with asian folks - always a good sign. we all pigged out and enjoyed a relaxing lunch, and even emmy had more than her fill of dumplings, tofu and turnip cake.


as we parted ways after lunch, blair and i looked at each other and shared one simple thought: banh mi! so we drove around the corner to eden center and arrived just in time for the vietnamese new year festivities. the lion dancers were in the midst of going from store to store, lighting off firecrackers at each entrance. emmy enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the crowd, as well as the dancers, but she was a bit perturbed by the loud (and lengthy!) firecracker banners. we ducked into song que (the deli owned by the huong que / four sisters family, i believe) and got some yummies for the car ride home. you just cannot beat their crispy grilled pork banh mi, especially when each one is only $2.50 - what a steal! between that and our taro boba, our tummies were finally topped off, yum!

if you were in the celebrating mood, i hope you all had a wonderfully tasty new year too! i'll leave you with today's message of the day, brought to us by our lovely boba "lid": Some People. Example is better than precept. it's accompanied by a picture of a sassy nurse holding a very large syringe. i'll let you figure that one out - we still haven't!

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food, fashion and fun stuff

dinner was quite the success tonight: we had a delicious meal of sole stuffed with scallops and crabmeat, julienned carrots in a light maple glaze, whole green beans with red peppers and a side of rice. and the great part? not only did blair and i like it, emmy gobbled it all down like she'd been starved for days. that girl loves her food! and know what's even better? i didn't have to do a darn thing except heat the oven and serve the food! want to know my secret? shhh... come closer... closer... i totally cheated with a la zing! they're an off-shoot of the omaha steak company, and i had randomly run across some specials right after the holidays. we got 4 full meals for 2 people (well, 3 since i share with em) for less than $50, including shipping. i figured it would be way cheaper than eating out, so what the heck? now i'm excited to try the other dishes we received, but i'll save them for days when i have zero time to cook. (btw, i totally recommend googling for a la zing introductory specials before you order from their site - you can get lots of food for cheap, and sometimes even free knives! lol)

so that solved today's dilemma of what to feed emmy... from my previous post's comments, it looks like we're all running out of interesting, tasty ideas for the kids. perhaps i'll make that a continuing series of this blog - and i would love to hear from you if something yummy has crossed your table recently! last night's thai red curry chicken was super easy and em seemed to like it, but i did have to rinse some of the spices off first. (growing up, i fondly remember my mom doing that with kimchi for me... oh, the memories!) i'll try to post the occasional recipe too, once it earns the emmy-stamp of approval, of course.

on a totally different note, head over to beloved babbling and check out a great future gift idea for your little multi-culti cutie! i knew that the american girl doll company lets you customize a doll to look just like you / your child, but this just takes the cake! emmy already has 2 hanboks of her own (one inherited, one just sent from my korean relatives) and will inherit several more from my childhood collection, so i can totally see getting her a doll and this outfit when she's a bit older.

for now, she already has this awesome build-a-bear hanbok - we got it for her first birthday last november. i have to say that i was mighty impressed with the amount of detail that went into that outfit. just from browsing online, it looks like all of their international collectiwear is very well done, from the traditional red cheong-sam to the boy and girl kimonos... and even to their arctic fisherman(bear?)! as you can see, we totally love our toys in the lee household. :)

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these boots were made for walkin'

okay, so maybe there are no boots... but baby is upright and mobile! that's right, as of today, emmy has taken her first steps!!! and best of all, our thoughtful toddler waited until both mommy and daddy were at home together - that's right, blair didn't miss out on anything! she seems most motivated to walk towards remote controls and cell phones (she takes after her daddy), but is oddly not overly motivated to head towards food... unless i'm just not offering anything enticing enough. she's up to 6 or so consecutive steps before she gets side-tracked by something else; i'm excited to see how her newfound skill progresses in the coming days! go baby!

in other news, i just got back from my first cooking club group. it's an off-shoot of my local moms group and it was lots of fun! i usually can't make their meetings since they're frequently on weeknights (my work nights, boo!) but i finally made it a point to go. tonight was "ethnic cuisine" night; i made my thai red curry chicken and it seemed to be a nice, spicy hit! i was really intrigued by the north african stew (lots of sweet potatoes, beans and nuts) and chicken biryani with raita sauce. i can't wait to get the recipes and try 'em out - i'm so darn inspired to get in the kitchen and test out some new dishes on emmy and blair. hey, does anyone else out there feel like they're in a rut when it comes to feeding their toddler / child?

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books, hanguk style

in honor of the upcoming lunar new year (february 18), i've updated "what emmy's reading" to display some of her current korean books. we just got while we were out and yellow umbrella today - thanks amazon marketplace! although we already celebrated the new year with blair's family on january 1st, i'm hoping that we'll go out and have a nice big feast for the occasion. mark's duck house or ilmee anyone?

and while on the topic of food... emmy ate her very first hot dog today. now, now, before you wag your finger at me and exclaim things like "nitrates!" and "sodium!", i did buy the healthier, less fatty turkey hot dogs at least! i had previously let her taste my hot dog when we were at the national zoo in december, but she quickly spat it out and begged for more crackers instead. therefore, i was very surprised to see her gobble down an entire dog* at lunch today... and then ask for veggie booty too! i swear she ate more than i did! and since we were snowed in (barely) with no car (blair borrowed mine), i made chocolate chip cookies too. yum. fun was had by all... especially after we took that 2.5 hour nap together!

* perhaps emmy is taking after mommy... i didn't have too many cravings during my pregnancy but hot dogs (better yet, corn dogs!!!), strawberry ice cream and chick-fil-a breakfast combo #1 with sweet tea were my mainstays. and i'm not the only weirdo!


on a book-related note, check out the rice daddies and their first anniverary contest:

To celebrate our first blogaversary, we're having a contest. Send us a review of your favorite book from your own childhood that you want to share (or have already shared) with your own kid(s) and we'll publish them as we get them. Each reviewer [you can submit more than one review, but you'll only be entered once] will be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win some awesome books from Kane/Miller Book Publishers. With the motto "open-minded books opening young minds to the world," Kane/Miller has been bringing acclaimed international children's books, often in translation, to a U.S. audience for years. You probably know them for such classics as Japanese author/illustrator Taro Gomi's "Everyone Poops," and they have titles from countries on every continent except Antarctica.
you have until the end of the day friday, february 23, to get your submissions in. i, for one, will be submitting at least a couple of reviews of my fave childhood books. heck, maybe emmy could benefit from adding everyone poops to her collection before we start potty training!

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