Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day Trip: Bongeunsa

On Saturday, my friend Breda and I, and her friend Bo Seul, went to Bongeunsa temple. It's kind of deep in the heart of Seoul, right across the street from COEX (of the aquarium fame). Despite being in the middle of one the loudest, busiest, most crowded cities in the world, Bongeunsa still retains a very quiet and isolated atmosphere. I'm pretty sure there's some kind of force field (powered by super secret Buddhist voodoo?) keeping out all of the sound and chaos of the city around it.

This is part of a display in the main courtyard of the temple. The white flowers are left in memory of people who have died. The other plants are left with wishes. On the other side, you can light an incense stick and leave it burning there as a wish. I guess the idea is that the smoke or the scent carries your wish up to heaven?

Pretty sure this is related to some expression about enlightenment and the tail of a tiger or some such. Too lazy to look it up.

While we were there, they started the call to evening prayers.

After a couple hours of traipsing about the temple grounds, we sat here for a rest and a bit of zen.

And we ended the visit with spring water from a fountain.

We wandered around the long way to find it. Even though all the signs at Samsung Station point you towards exit 6 for Bongeunsa, it's probably easier just to walk all the way through COEX. Bongeunsa is right across the street. And best of all, it's free to visit. All in all, a great way to spend a free afternoon!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Science Saturday: Zombie Rats?

More like mind-controlled. The parasite Toxoplasma gondii actually alters rats' brain chemistry so that they'll be eaten by cats.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Music Monday

Day 16 - A song you used to love but now hate.

This is tough because my taste in music doesn't really radically shift over time, merely expands. As far as I can tell, this may be the only song I know that fits this criterion. (And, it's Celine Dion. I'm sorry in advance.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Music Monday

Day 15 - A song that describes you.

There's any number of songs that capture what I would like to be, or what I hope people would want to say about me, like this one.

But that actually describe me? I typed "lyrics I don't give a" into Google to see what would come up, because I guess the best way to describe is that I don't give a $noun. This is the first hit, and I have to say, I'm surprised I didn't think of this myself.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Great Pierogi Reckoning

One of my kindergarten students went to a farm over their three-day hagwon vacation and picked some potatoes. ("On my vacation, I found out what it was like to be a day laborer!") Her mother, in a gesture you see far more often in Korea than in the US, gave both me and her "homeroom" teacher a giant shopping bag full of potatoes from the trip.


And as far as I'm concerned, there's only one thing you do with potatoes: starchy Eastern European goodness! Unfortunately, my kitchen in Korea is pretty much a short corridor with a fridge, four burners, a microwave, and a sink that takes up all the counter space. Making anything in large quantities is a bit of a challenge.

While I can more or less make pierogi by heart, I did keep this pierogi recipe open while I worked. It's extremely detailed with lots of tips, and recipes for a few different fillings as well.

Step 1: Assemble the other necessary filling ingredients.

The above-linked recipe recommends making the filling on one day, and then making the dough and packing up the little pierogi on the second. In addition to things like bowls and a hand mixer, on my first trip to HomePlus I picked up two important other ingredients for the filling:



Step 2: Filling Prep.

Chop onions, grate cheese, peel potatoes. Peel a lot of a potatoes.

peeling potatoes

Yes, I am doing this on my stove. I wasn't exaggerating when I said I didn't have any counter space!

This part took the better part of my day.

Step 3: Dough prep.

This is probably the easiest part: nothing more than flour, water, an egg, and some salt.

Step 4: Putting it all together.

For most labor-intensive step, this and prepping the filling are just about tied. This part is definitely the messiest, though, which is why I only have a picture of the final product (which will stay frozen for now):

Twenty down, one hundred and eighty to go!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Science Saturday: The Science of Food!

The Exploratorium (where I've never been, though I desperately want to) has a really slick page on the science of cooking just about anything; I've been perusing the bread section in preparation for The Great Pierogi Reckoning this weekend. They also have some cool experiments you can do at home, like this yeast activity.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Music Monday (on Wednesday):

Day 14 - A song that no one would expect you to love.

This one is tough. I don't think there's any ONE song that no one would expect me to love. Under the right circumstances, I could be taken for a fan of ANYTHING: Christian rock, Norwegian death metal, salsa, acoustic lesbian folk balladeering, etc.

I guess this is one that might be the most surprising, in that it's so old and kind of obscure.

And I do love it, because it's cute and also because of this amazing gag in my personal favorite Marx Brothers movie, Monkey Business:

"No, I'm Maurice Chevalier!"