I know I'm preaching to the choir here, of all places, about miscommunication and its affect on, well, EVERYTHING. Family get-togethers that include my husband AND mema usually have something along this line happen: mema says something (anything), husband says “oh, but that's not actually correct, it's this...”, mema doesn't understand the correction only that she's being corrected and she considers the gauntlet thrown and she will not be defeated, husband didn't intend this reaction (debatable, if you ask me), but he will not be defeated either, so they continue back and forth. Really, you guys? Husband – she has no idea what you're talking about & you're fully aware of that, doesn't that mean, on some level, you already won? Just shut up & celebrate in silence. Mema – you have no idea what he's talking about, so why are you arguing an argument for which you have no basis to argue? Just ignore him entirely, go poke the baby & enjoy at least ONE moment in life.
When I was growing up, I always associated holidays with cooking. Even when my parents were working 13 hour days, six days a week, my mom always took the time to cook a few special dishes for the holidays.
When my sister and I were in college, we would always go to my parents' dry cleaners on the day before the holiday, sometimes for the whole day but more often, just for the afternoon. We would walk about 45 minutes from my parents' house to the LIRR station in Port Washington, and ride to Little Neck. From the Little Neck station, we would either walk or my dad would come pick us up to take us to Mayflower Cleaners, located where Northern Boulevard meets Great Neck Boulevard. There, we would help my parents finish up their labor for the day: handling customers as they came in, sorting the clothes, removing the lint from each of the items, bagging the clothes in plastic, putting them on the conveyor belt, restocking all the supplies for the next work day, vacuuming, and wiping down the counters.
How does a 1st generation Korean family do Thanksgiving? I remember the first few times, my parents and I quizzically poking at dry cafeteria turkey breast and grimacing at the new herb flavors in the stuffing. I remember my uncle good-naturedly trying to swallow down mashed potatoes on his first Thanksgiving with us, then eventually caving in and asking for some kimchi to go with it.
However, as the years passed and the more America we absorbed, we learned to adore this holiday and its feasting. And we have blended it with some Korean favorites, which actually go really well with the more traditional dishes.
Kimchi instead of cranberry sauce...
Kimchi fried rice (try it with gravy on top)...
Korean moonshine made from backyard grapes and soju...
Three generations of silly, brilliant people
What are some elements of your own Korean American Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments below!
Did you know that we have our own day? Here are some tips from World Vision on how to commemorate this special day.
1. Save a woman’s life in child birth: Did you know that in countries like Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and Bolivia, having a baby is one of the most dangerous things a woman can do? By helping train local midwives in remote communities, you could save a life. Visit StrongWomenStrongWorld.org to learn more.
2. Mentor a girl close to home: A growing poverty rate, poor-performing schools, and teen violence make it tough to be a girl growing up here in our own country. Reach out and influence the life of a young girl in your own community by volunteering as a tutor or mentor. Get connected at BBBS.org.
3. Use your voice to stop trafficking: Human trafficking and sexual exploitation affects girls and women in horrific ways all around the world, but the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in the US Senate can help end the practice. Contact your Senators and ask them to renew this bill to protect women and girls, both here in the US and around the world.
4. Invest in a small business owner: Websites like WorldVisionMicro.org or Kiva.org connect you to hardworking women entrepreneurs, waiting to realize their dream of a dressmaking business, chicken farm, or food stall that will help them provide for their family. Even better, when the loan is paid off, your donated funds are loaned out again and again to make a bigger impact.
5. Provide the ticket to education—clean water: One of the most common reasons girls in poor communities miss schooling is the lack of clean water in their village. Millions of girls and women spend several hours each day fetching water—often dirty and dangerous to their health—instead of attending school. Give the gift of clean water, and open the door to education for a young girl.
6. Band together with like-minded women: Whatever your passion for helping other women, you’ll do it better—and have more fun doing it—with other women excited about the same cause. National movements like Women of Vision can connect you to a network of resources while allowing you to grow your own local group of women who want to make the world better for girls and their mothers.
7. Tell the women in your life that you care: Empowering women starts right in our families, workplaces, and neighborhoods. Celebrate this International Women’s Day by writing a note of thanks to that teacher who encouraged you years ago, picking up coffee for that new mom in your office who’s struggling to balance it all, or telling your own sister, daughter, or mother how much you appreciate them.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.
In Korea, Valentine's Day is celebrated a little bit different. On February 14th, the women give gifts to their significant others. Only the women do the giving on this day. March 14th, called White Day, is when men give gifts to their significant others. Leave it to the Koreans to separate everything based on gender.
And the coolest day? It's Black Day. On April 14th, those who are single get together to eat 짜장면 jajangmyeon or noodles with black bean sauce.
I kind of like this idea. Even though I'm married, I like any excuse to eat 짜장면, even though it's like 1500 calories. No wonder it tastes so good. It tastes amazing with a dash of red pepper flakes and pickled daikon with vinegar.
Random tidbit: I love this Korean song and it references 짜장면.
I hope everyone had a restful time off and spent lots of time enjoying their families... although I gotta say that taking care of both kids all day is way harder than being at work. Even if one of them looks this cute:
Anyway, anyone got resolutions for the new year?
I'm not one to make resolutions (anymore, since I never seem to be able to keep them) but I have one word themes for the entire year. The simplicity of one word seems to work for me. My word for this year is humility. I hope the lessons aren't TOO painful. Humble pie can taste rather bitter some times.
My word last year was love. I feel like I still have no clue what love is all about, but I think in some strange way, it helped me to show love to my kids more intentionally.
Oh, did ya'll eat ttuk gook? 떡국? I swear, it's the easiest meal and we probably eat it at least once a month. Leftover rotissarie chicken carcass makes the best soup base too!
The Holiday Season is upon us and we, the Kimchi Mamas, are caught up in the Spirit of Giving! I was out the other day doing some Christmas shopping at a Korean Toy store when I came upon these pretty Hanbok dressed Fashion Mimi dolls (the equivalent of B.arbie dolls here in Korea.)
These two are especially for YOU, our readers! We will be picking two lucky winners from the comments section below and I will be sending them off personally all the way from the motherland. How do you get yourself one of these beautiful dolls? Just comment in the section below what you think this store (sign pictured below) in Korea might be selling:
You will be entered to win a doll just by commenting whether your answer is right or wrong. Two winners will be chosen randomly from the comments left in exactly one week, on 12/6/11. The answer to what the store actually sells and the winners will be announced on the 7th. Happy guessing!
I know I am late getting this out, but even on the East Coast, this may not be too late. I was speaking to an coworker whose family had moved here from elsewhere in the world. They've been here a few years, and each year I asked if they were taking their son trick-or-treating. The mom wondered if he wasn't getting too old anyway, as he was already 8 years old.
Heck, back East, I remember trick-or-treating well into high school, but I've heard some parents on the west coast cut their kids off at middle school. And I do, as a homeowner, find it odd when roving gangs of teenage boys taller than I am ring the bell after 9pm still looking for candy. ("Get a job!")
But 8? That's still in the heart of the age of trick-or-treat. My kids are beside themselves anticipating the candy binge that begins on this last day of October, to continue through the Christmas holidays.
Anyway, talking with my friend, I realized it might be a little intimidating to join in this all-American holiday tradition if you did not grow up with it, so I wrote up some pointers for her. I am publishing here for new Kimchi Mamas who may not be familiar with how this all works if you are new to the holiday. Everyday stuff that most American/Canadian parents take for granted:
When to go? Between dusk and 8pm. After 8pm is older kids/teenagers
Where? A neighborhood of homes. Skip apartment or condo complexes--they don't get much traffic, and are usually not prepared. And you do not have to live in the neighborhood--any child in costume is welcome.
What equipment? Costume of course, bag to hold candy, and a flashlight is a good idea.
Which houses? Porchlights on, and halloween decorations are a good sign. Skip if the house looks dark.
Does the parent go with them? Usually yes, especially children under 10. You can stay on the sidewalk, or go with them up to the house. The key is your child should be in front, facing the door when the it opens.
What happens next? Child should say loud and clear "Trick or Treat!" and open their bag. Parents do not need to speak. The person who answers the door may ask your child what their costume is, so prepare them for that. They may drop in candy or offer a bowl the child can pull candy out of. I remind my kids to say Thank You, before they run to the next house to pillage.
What else might happen? Some adults get into Halloween and try to scare the kids a little, so beware of that--if the house looks too scary, skip it.
How many houses should we go to? As many as you or your child have stamina for.
What do we do when we get home? Inspect candy for opened or unwrapped--toss these. Remove anything that your family is allergic to. And your call on how much candy to let them eat. At our house, we dole it out over the coming weeks.