Tag Archives: Korea

Birthday Celebration

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For baby R’s 1st birthday party, Momma and Papa bear threw an epic birthday bash!

Check out all of the fabulous little Pinterest and Etsy details! So many details! Everywhere you looked! Eek! Even fun colorful camping themed food! Too cute!

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There were tons of babies just bobbling all around running or scooting from room to room. We all had so much fun celebrating this little baby bear and her special day!

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Thank you for inviting us! Wishing you a very happy birthday sweet baby R!!

Backpackbees

Blueberry Coffee Cake

A friend recently mentioned in passing that my photos used to be mostly foods we cooked or baked and hasn’t been lately, but with good reason, and she missed reading about it. (Admittedly bumblebees photos filled my entire iPhone and I need to clear space now). This post is for you Leibe!

It does seem like ages the last time I REALLY got to sink my hands and teeth into something I baked out of our kitchen. Yes, yes I’ve baked oatmeal cookies almost weekly now…but I mean really baked something with the kitchenAid and all! So I found myself jonesing one Sunday morning and took advantage of the “free-time” and whipped up the most scrumptious Dahlia Bakery’s sour cream coffee cake (so kindly introduced to me by our dearly missed friends).

Imagine a nice thick blueberry sour cream coffee cake topped with just an irresistible cinnamony crunchy streusel topping. OKAY! Now STOP imagining and go bake it!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel
Serves 12
Recipe from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients:

Streusel:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter

Cake:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 cups berries (blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries)

Directions:
Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 pan and set aside.

Make the streusel: combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Dice the cold butter, add it to the mixture, and blend with your fingers until crumbly. Set aside.
Make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda into a bowl, and set aside. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each and scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Add the dry ingredients a third at a time, mixing until just blended. Fold in the berries.

Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over the top.

Bake 45-50 minutes, until a tester comes out mostly clean. Cool in the pan in a wire rack.

Backpackbees

First Mother’s Day

Yesterday marked my very first Mother’s Day. My coffee cup and heart were filled to the brim with such good stuff! The weather was straight out of Mr. Rogers neighborhood perfect! I’m talking clear blue sky, the sun shining, birds chirping happily, and the evening sunset was one of the most beautiful we’ve seen to date in Korea! See! Perfection!

Olivia and Mr. B made my day so very special and absolutely memorable. Outside of the fact that I get to wake up every single morning to my best friend and my daughter, seriously is gift enough, but I also had a lovely prepared breakfast, freshly brewed coffee, the sweetest little message from “Olivia”, as well as two beautiful charms to add to my Pandora bracelet.

Sipping on my coffee that morning, I couldn’t help but think about the past several years, the Mother’s Days that passed, that my heart waited, ached, and longed to be a mommy. To experience life being a parent with my husband. I didn’t realize that there was a bigger plan eventually in store for us, it just wasn’t our time. It was a hard pill to swallow and I just didn’t understand why. So this very morning, like all my mornings since becoming pregnant and having our bumblebee, meant so much more to me than anything in the world. As I said on our Instagram account, my husband and daughter are the greatest gifts on this side of eternity to me!

We continued our afternoon with a stroll, snapped some fun photos and picked up potbingsu from a local cafe.

It didn’t just stop there! The Mr. continued right on spoiling and making the day special by cooking the most deliciously moist grilled chicken, Israeli shiitake mushroom flavored couscous, spicy crushed tomatoes, and bread with homemade dipping oil….. I scarfed it down, I had to grab this photo off of the Mr.’s cellphone.

These past few weeks, two months, this very morning, life as a whole has become so much more meaningful to me. There has been no greater miracle than this one to me. So many heartfelt thank yous to my husband and bumblebee for such a beautiful day.

Backpackbees

Charlie’s Wok

Typically I brown bag it everyday at work, however a building mate asked me if I’d like to join him for lunch nearby at a friends restaurant. Although my peanut-butter, banana, topped off with local honey on whole wheat sounded very satisfying, lol, I said sure!

So we went to Charlie’s Wok, an American Chinese restaurant, where I was introduced the main man himself, Charlie.

The restaurant is located off the Main Street and tucked away in an alley near the Bosan subway station and US Army installation Camp Casey. When we pulled up to park, I quickly realized why I had never seen the restaurant before, it was because of the discreet location.

Don’t let the unassuming exterior and location fool you, once we stepped inside my nose immediately told my belly that I was in for a treat. I learned that the food is always freshly made after you order, so be prepared for a bit of wait. You do have the option to place a take out order, as well as call ahead to place your order to eat dine in. If Charlie isn’t available, the restaurant does not open, it is a one man wok show. You see the pride Charlie takes in his food quality, the prices are very reasonable and you are served generous portions.

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I ordered a 2 entrée combo meal because I couldn’t decide between the beef with broccoli, and General Tso’s chicken. With the combo you also decide if you’d like fried rice, or chow mien. I ordered chow mien based off of recommendation. The recommendation was spot on!

^Building mate’s garlic chicken and General Tso’s chicken

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Overall, I was pleasantly pleased with my order. The menu offers a small variety of standard Chinese American staple choices and price points. Sure, this isn’t a gourmet 5 star restaurant, but it definitely is a great little neighborhood find!

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Enjoy!

Give Charlie a call! 031-866-8656

Backpackbees

Cheers To The New Year!

Whew! It’s officially 2016! I know each year I say this…but… where does the time go?!? We just keep blinking and years are flying by. Is this another adulthood realization/moment that stinks? ….I think so!

We, much like you, have got so very many blessings in 2016 to look forward to! Perhaps our best baked goods yet…

So, What exciting things did you do to ring in the New Year? Did you get all dolled up? I was loving the sparkly dresses posted on Social media! How about making it until midnight to snag that good-luck kiss? Wink-wink. Tell us!

Well…we loved living in our own little world this New Years Eve. We went out in style New Years Eve. Yep. Total party animals here! HAHA…We celebrated by cooking up a storm in our cozy kitchen at home. An outstanding homemade four course dinner. We toasted (way before midnight) with sparkling cider and Belgium beer.

So what was this dinner we devoured and taunted our friends and family on Facebook with? Oh boy! Glad you asked, because you are now going to get a play by-play!

The first course up was hot bacon dressing using homemade mustard, bacon, shallots and vinegar. For those of you not familiar with hot bacon dressing, it is a very nostalgic memory of Sunday dinners in our families Pennsylvania kitchen. We modified and tweaked a bit to feature Korean pork AKA Samgyeopsal. It was excellent if we may say so. If you’re curious, this cut of meat is thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat. Oh and it just melts in your mouth when grilled to perfection too! Order this next time cut of meat when you find yourself in a Korean restaurant.

The second course was sous vide tarragon butter lobster tails (yep, here we go cooking our condom foods again). The lobster tails were seasoned with fresh parsley, chervil and of course melted butter. Much like its friend escargot, it’s an amazing little vehicle for melted butter! Mmmmm!

The third course, seared ahi tuna crusted with sesame seeds and black pepper. The marinade was sesame oil, soy sauce and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Just when I thought the meal couldn’t get any better the tuna made its cameo and completely blew our minds.

Drum roll please…..vanilla bean crème brûlée with fresh strawberries. No further description needed.

Now that we’ve left you with a grumbling belly, cheers everyone! Wishing you all a happy healthy New Year!

Backpackbees

Product Review: Artisana Raw 100% Organic Coconut butter

My grandparents will be the first to attest that I despised coconut anything growing up. Any cakes or baked goods with the flaky shreds of coconut I’d proclaim, “taste like soap.” Clueless where I came up with that one? Thank goodness our taste buds mature and develop with us into our adulthood. Fast forward to my adulthood and I couldn’t even image not liking the taste of coconut. Missing out on coconut cake, coconut frosting, piña-coladas, coconut water, coconut milk, the list goes on and on.

How about you, do you like coconut or coconut flavor?

So I came across a product on Amazon for raw coconut butter and after reading the reviews of so many happy owners we decided we wanted to give it a whirl too! Artisana Raw 100% Organic Coconut Butter, have you tried it yet? (GET ON THIS!)

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(Photo taken with iPhone)

This is the moment I wish we had some smell-o-vision from my screen to yours. We opened the jar and immediately were reminded of a tropical island. No, not the super potent car air freshener that gives you a headache when you first open it and can taste it in your mouth. More like the coconut smell that transports me when I can close my eyes and almost feel a light sea breeze blowing while lounging on a tropical beach (it could just be our fan too). Regardless it’s certainly hard to fully describe in words how divine the smell is! Folks just trust us on this one.

When we first got our jar of coconut butter it was in solid form, however with the recent change in temperature it is a liquified butter that just like natural peanut butter can separate and just needs a good stir to eat.

So onto the taste…..drum roll please! We’d like to describe it to you as naturally sweet and packed full of incredible coconut flavor! We’re finding every excuse to slather or drizzle the stuff on our meals. Suchhhhh a delicious treat and it’s healthy too! Just like their product marketing states, no additives, only pure, unadulterated coconut!

This little butter babe has certainly jazzed up our breakfast routine and I don’t see us giving up on it anytime soon. Stay tuned for more featured debuts in our cooking and recipes.

Backpackbees

Click, Ship & treat yourself!

Best Belgium Waffles

I just might be a bit bias here, but hands down, these are the most delectable homemade Belgium waffles we’ve ever had! You may just have to add these little guys into your regular weekend breakfast routine.

The waffles had the best crispy outer texture, were very flavorful and just the right balance of moistness on the inside. Bonus, there is a secret ingredient too! I’ll give you a clue….it gives off a very subtle nutty-cherry flavor… any guesses? Almond extract!

Go ahead get a little crazy, let loose on your Sunday morning and top those waffles off with your favorite maple syrup, some powdered sugar, or fresh fruit and enjoy! Don’t forget to let us know what you think.

Best Belgium Waffles
Makes roughly 8-10 waffles

2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup sugar
2 Large eggs, separated
1/2 Cup coconut oil
2 Cups lactose free whole milk
1 Tablespoon almond extract

Directions:

Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl with easy to pour lip.
Separate the large eggs.
In another bowl, beat large egg whites until they are stiff.
Mix together the following: egg yolks, lactose free milk and coconut oil, almond extract and stir slightly.
Add all but egg whites to the dry ingredients and mix well.
Lastly, fold in beaten egg whites.

Backpackbees

Click, Ship & treat yourself!

H2s Handmade Burgers

We have lived in Dongducheon, South Korea for almost 5 years. Believe me when I say it is really hard to find a good burger here. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some excellent burgers…..but in Seoul. Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by the ever growing monster fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Lotteria, and soon to be Burger King. Sigh. These just aren’t real burgers, or even food for that matter.

On our regular evening walk last week we strolled by what looked to be a quirky little joint with a small outdoor patio situated conveniently right outside one exit of Jeihang subway. To say we were surprised is an understatement. This place not only met the burger challenge; they superseded it! The restaurant takes a step further and features a foreigner friendly menu, or as I refer to it, the meat-lovers masterpiece! It’s creative specialty combos are generously portioned are incredibly tasty, the staff were quick, attentive and friendly, plus the prices that won’t break the bank! To the owner the hygiene factor of this place was paramount, as you could easily see right into the open style kitchen. Also in case your curious about the origin of the meats, the beef is from Australia and the chicken is from Korea. Well done H2s Hand Made Burgers, well done!

Our group ordered 4 different burgers, the Hawaiian, spicy chicken burger, onion Eiffel burger, and the H2s special burger. The Hawaiian was a beef patty, pineapple, bacon and pineapple sauce. The spicy chicken burger was grilled chicken, tomato, lettuce, and 3 kinds of sauce. The opinion was to hold the mayo next time (non mayo lover in the group), or ask for a tad less. The onion Eiffel burger was a beef patty, fried onion, tomato, American cheese goodness. The H2s special burger was a beef patty, hash brown, grilled onion, bacon, and tomato. We ordered combos so each meal came with French fries and a drink. We also ordered a basket of onion rings to split at the table. Let’s talk about the french fries and onion rings….these were golden, crisp and cooked to absolute perfection! Mmmmm!

From the four of us, we give 8 thumbs ups for this burger joint! We’re eagerly planning a return and deciding what burger we will try next! Better yet….we’ve been inspired to create some of our own homemade patties. Stay tuned…

Now it’s your turn…describe your ideal burger. Medium-rare, medium, well-done, as our dear friend Mandy prefers…charbroiled? Also are fries or onion rings a must? Do you always order them?

Backpackbees

Direction: H2s Hand Made Burgers is located directly across from exit 3 of Jihaeng Station. Look for the big burger as pictured above.
Phone: 070-4151-0778
Website

Springtime in Korea

It wasn’t that we had a lot of snow this past winter, it was that winter seemed to last so terribly long. We along with 50 million other Koreans have been patiently awaiting warmer days. The chance for new beginnings, a fresh start, a spring clean!

Springtime in Korea has got to be one of my favorite times of the year! The cherry blossoms are so beautiful! The walking paths and streets are covered in the tiny pink and white petals every time the wind blows. I drive Mr. B crazy insisting that I need to stop and smell or photography almost every flower that we come in contact with. Especially the cherry blossoms and lilac bushes. I can’t help myself. I.am.obsessed.with.flowers. Luckily for the most part he doesn’t mind and even pauses for a moment and points out a flower if he sees something that I will swoon over. That boy of mine, what a catch!

This year we got to experience the cherry blossoms from another view because we moved into a new place at the end of the summer last year. These photos were taken after I had come home from work and the sun was setting with that beautiful warm orange glow. Looking at these photos now, I feel like these photos don’t even do the trees justice. We instantly fell in love with our new place because of the greens and blooming trees just outside of our windows. The daily drive or walk in and out of our little neighborhood just fills my heart and continues to remind me that even in our crazy messy world, there is still so much beauty around us.

Are you seeing buds of greens and new blooms popping up wherever you are located? What is your favorite thing about spring?

Backpackbees

What Is A Wedding Like In Korea?

Ahhhh weddings….The Beatles said it best “All You Need is Love” and I couldn’t agree more. A few weeks ago we were part of being witness to that kind of love that the beetles sang about, yes, in my book the most wonderful feeling a human can experience, LOVE! It’s just as good sitting in the wedding hall on the sideline in the crowd and getting to take it all in at its most optimistic and perfect form. Swoon!

The day was filled with smiles all around, loving glances shared, and laughter! This was the first time we had been to a Korean wedding and friends told us we were in for a treat. We wanted to share our experiences in the event you too find yourself in Korea invited to a friend’s wedding.

Are you ready? Lets just jump right into it…

There were many differences when comparing a Korean wedding to a western wedding. The first thing that comes to mind is the location. Most Korean wedding and ceremonies are held in a wedding hall where many other couples are also having theirs. This wedding hall was located in downtown Seoul. Let’s just say that there was a close call with a traffic cop so from one friend to another… give yourself ample time to find the location beforehand. The entire day (couple of hours) is every prompt and efficient with everything being timed down to the last second. There are no casual drinks, toast being given by the best man and no reception dance party afterwards. Sorry folks, no getting down with the chicken dance on this side of the world.

Before you enter the area of the hall that your friends will be getting married in, there is typically a table set up where they are taking money. Forget the gift cards, coffee pots, or toaster you might so graciously gift the happy couple, instead you need to take an envelope and give the gift of cash. Guidance given on gifting cash is centered around your closeness to the couple. If you are family or close friends they say 100,000 or more, acquaintance or co-worker 30,000 – 50,000 won is well received. Once you give the money you will be immediately handed tickets. These tickets are your meal card. Basically the money you just gifted purchased your meals for the wedding buffet (spoiler alert more on that in a few). Pretty clever when you think about it.

Next you will quickly notice that guest are dressed in whatever they want. The whole philosophy of being overdressed rather than under dressed absolutely isn’t applying here. The attire ranged from jeans a tee and sneakers to a more formal style of dress pants and tie… I think I might have even seen hiking gear?? The ceremony is very informal when doing the comparison. There were people walking in and out during the service, talking or playing games on their cellphones, chit chatting, laughing, etc. I was stunned coming from a culture where you can probably hear a pin drop during our ceremonies.

Getting to witnessing a wedding in another culture is just so interesting to me! This wedding the bride and groom wore western style wedding attire, both rented. The dress was beautiful and the bride looked stunning! After the ceremony, the couple do a quick ensemble change into a traditional hanbok to show respect to their past generations and go to greet their family and friends at the dinner buffet.

After the ceremony you are ushered into the elevators to head to the hall’s gigantic dining area and large buffet. You will quickly see now that there are a lot more people here and that is because you are now dining with all of the other wedding hall’s guest. Just seek out an empty spot because there are no assigned seats, or table numbers.

Our friend that teaches in Korea told us that the children in her class say that the best thing about Korean weddings are the buffet. Some even just show up to eat and leave. LOL! Honestly, the children had it right! The spread is incredible! Tons of dishes and tons of Korean desserts to choose from …BUT… no sweet icing laced traditional wedding cake to be found. (Hands down my other favorite part of a wedding).

Another feather to add to our culture caps! The day was a lot of fun and we really appreciated the opportunity to be apart of our friends special day and learn more about the Korean culture and also have the opportunity to share it with all of you.
Have you ever attended a wedding within a culture unlike your own? What was it like? We’d love to hear!

Backpackbees