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October 4, 2010

Parents’ Secrets Exposed!

At a family dinner this weekend, I was telling the grandmothers how Jemma comes up with every excuse not to go to sleep. She keeps coming out of her room and asking for things, or complaining about things. Lately, her most frequent complaint is, “Oma, I’m hot and I’m cold.” (it sounds like: Oma, I’m hhhhot and I’m code.)

Then Luke said, “Chiara, what do Oma and Apa say to Jemma?”

Chiara replied, “‘OK, Jemma, go be hot and cold in your bed and I’ll come in a second.’ But then you never come.”

Busted!

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Chiara with Halmoni’s blush dabbed on her cheeks.

jeanhee @ 12:57 am

September 30, 2010

Pumpkin Spice bread

This is what I’m making tonight:

Pumpkin Spice Bread from the Post-Punk Kitchen

www.theppk.com/recipes/dbrecipes/index.php?RecipeID=55

prep time: 10 minutes (this was kind of a joke because I don’t have a sifter so I pushed flour through a sieve for about 20 minutes!) | cooking time: 1 hour | makes about 12 slices

Equipment:
8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan

Ingredients
2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup apple butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup golden seedless raisins

Directions
Preheat oven to 350, mist an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan w/ nonstick cooking spray

In a large mixing bowl sift together the first 7 ingredients (the dry ingredients).

Combine the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together very well

Pour the wet into the dry ingredients until everything is evenly moistened (the batter will be stiff). Fold in the raisins.

Spoon batter into loaf pan, distribute evenly along the length of the pan but don’t spread the batter to the edges, that will happen as it is baking. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour until a knife comes out clean.

Remove bread from oven and turn the bread out of the loaf pan onto a cooling rack. Wait until bread cools before slicing. If you have left overs, wrap in plastic and it should keep for about a week.



 
This delicious treat is also suprisingly low in fat. I like it smothered in apple butter. Warning: your kitchen will smell insanely good while this is baking, so lock your doors lest your neighbors try to invade

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jeanhee @ 12:49 am

April 20, 2010

Snapshot of our mornings

One morning a few weeks ago, Luke and I were still in bed. The alarm had gone off but we hadn’t quite gotten up yet. Chiara comes running into our room, full of energy and brimming with excitement:Chcloseupbackgrmural.0110.lores1.jpg Oma, Apa! Can we visit Antarctica?

Then, she ran out of the room and that was that!

jeanhee @ 9:53 pm

April 8, 2010

When Being a Parent Collides With What You Want For Your Kid

En route to school this morning my daughter was lamenting that her Dora band-aid fell off and the cut on her finger hurt. I suggested she ask her teacher for a band-aid when we get to school. She then complained that they only have plain band-aids at school. A moment later she said, in singsong, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset!”

The inherent contradictions of being a parent with ambitions for my kid, and also being the disciplinarian who frequently says no, came to me all at once. What I felt most keenly, though, was sad for my daughter, and a little indignant.

I figured I risked confusing my four-year-old, but I had to let her know in some small way that accepting whatever you are given is not necessarily the path to fulfillment.

Chiara, it’s sad to me that you’ve said, You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

But my teachers say it to us all the time.

Well, it’s the job of teachers and omas and apas to say that, but it’s your job as a kid to want exactly what you want, to want the best thing you can possibly have, and to cry if you don’t get it. Do you understand? It’s my job to tell you you can’t have some of those things and then, each time, you’ll learn a little bit about what you should cry about not getting and what you can be okay with not getting.

Whether she meant it or not, Chiara said, “OK.” My hunch is if she learned anything it was simply not to repeat that standard teacher’s line.

Our conversation didn’t end there, though.

Now that i’m thinking about it, I said, a plain band-aid is probably not something to get upset about. At least it covers your cut.

And Chiara smiled and said, How about a Princess band-aid? Can I have a box of Sleeping Beauty band-aids?

Um, no. (Yes, I really did say no.)

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jeanhee @ 10:29 pm

March 26, 2010

On a roll!

Tonight, before going to sleep, Chiara asked me to buy her a tiara (ha!). Being a mean mom, I said that I wouldn’t buy her a tiara. “But Oma,” she said, “I get jealous of the girls in my class who have tiaras.”

Seriously, I was in an impatient, somewhat irritable mood. It’s been a long week of late nights getting our taxes done (yay, all done before Friday so my weekend won’t be ruined with tax homework). I just wanted to leave their room and relax. “Chiara, jealousy can be a good thing. You can’t have everything you want. You have to examine your feelings and decide whether this is really something you want and then make it happen if so. Or let it go.”

Chiara replies: “Give me money and I’ll buy it myself!”

jeanhee @ 10:11 pm

Deep Thoughts by Chiara

In her habitual bedtime postponement routine, Chiara starts to ask lots of questions, or suddenly remembers something that happened that day even though she previously said she remembered nothing.

So tonight, Chiara asks, “Oma, how did the first person in the world know everything?”

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jeanhee @ 12:38 am

February 5, 2010

MMMMM Good

What’s this blog for, anyway? Sometimes I just want to remember something that happened — in great detail! So this will be boring to everyone but me, someday, when I read it:
Tonight we had Judy, Ed and Dani over for a casual family dinner. I think word has gotten out that Chiara and Jemma are really cute and everyone wants to see how they grow!

I decided to make Mark Bittman’s Minimalist “A Lighter Gumbo” recipe and a vegan cornbread instead of rice. Last night I made the roux, stirring olive oil and flour for 10 minutes straight until the scent turned nutty and the color turned a nice hazelnut brown. Chopped green peppers, onions, celery — “the holy trinity” — went in next, until the onions looked translucent. Next went garlic, and once I could smell it cooking I poured a can of diced tomatoes and a half quart of vegetable broth. I stirred in two herbs that were about to go bad in my fridge: cilantro (so inauthentic, but I couldn’t bear to throw it out) and parsley, and two dried bay leaves. When the pot came to a boil. I turned it off, put the lid on, and left it overnight.

On my way home from work, I asked my colleagues Karin and David what I should serve with the gumbo and cornbread. I wondered whether I should have a green vegetable, garlic kale or collards maybe? roasted broccoli? Karin suggested asparagus, or roasted brussel sprouts. David wondered whether I could get away with just a salad. That made me think about the salad I saw Giada de Laurentiis make on tv once: bitter greens like arugula, radicchio, endive, with granny smith apple, cubes of provolone, cubes of avocado, toasted pine nuts and a lemon vinaigrette. I think she had cubes of pancetta in hers, but I omitted and adjusted (had cheddar in the fridge so I used that instead of provolone, for instance. And the avocados I bought were so hard they weren’t worth cutting into prematurely.) That seemed the perfect accompaniment.

I stopped by Citarella on my way home from work. I love the fishmonger there. He has never steered me wrong, even telling me recipes for the fish he is selecting for me. He once told me, when I showed up and said I want whatever’s fresh, to saute onions, and when they are translucent, splash good balsamic vinegar in it, add a teaspoon or two of capers, and then place a swordfish steak on top and cover the pan. Wait 5 minutes and turn the fish over and cover the pan again. That was heavenly — really really sweet, salty, sour and oily/meaty which I guess is the same thing as saying “umami” but I can’t say that because it sounds too trendy/snooty! I have to wait until someone says it on The Simpsons before it’s OK for me to use it in conversation!

Anyway, the fishmonger today suggested the sea scallops. I had heard once that bay scallops have more flavor, so I was choosing between them and he asked what I was preparing. When I said gumbo he didn’t hesitate to recommend the sea scallops. I got a half pound, and had about a half pound of deveined and peeled shrimp, tail-on, in my freezer.

Of course, just as I was walking into the apt. I remembered the okra! It is not part of Bittman’s gumbo recipe but I just thought the gumbo might need okra. I had never bought it nor cooked it before but I just felt it would be missed. So luckily, Luke was able to pick it up on his way home from work (helps to work in Chelsea Market!).

Dinner was delicious. If I didn’t have small kids, I would have pumped up the cayenne factor, but Chiara really won’t eat spicy food at all, so I left it mild and put a bottle of pepper sauce on the table. I added corn to the cornbread recipe, and it was mildly sweet, browned and crusty outside, moist inside. A winning recipe! I had been nervous because it called for mixing soy milk with apple cider vinegar, then adding oil and maple syrup, stirring with a whisk “until it got foamy and bubbly.” That sounded like a chemistry experiment gone wrong. But it really worked.

Vegan Cornbread from The Post-Punk Kitchen
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups soymilk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350, line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper or spray the bottom lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, wisk together the soymilk and the vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt).
Add the oil and maple syrup to the soymilk mixture. Wisk with a wire wisk or a fork until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

Pour the wet ingredient into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon or a firm spatula. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice into squares and serve warm or store in an airtight container.

The Minimalist: No Oxymoron: A Lighter Gumbo (February 3, 2010)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Salt and black pepper
2 to 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
2 cups chopped tomatoes with their juice (canned are fine)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves
Cayenne to taste
1 pound scallops
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish.
1. Put oil and butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. When butter is melted, add flour and cook, stirring almost constantly, until roux darkens and becomes fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes; as it cooks, adjust heat as necessary to keep mixture from burning. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and raise heat to medium. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables have softened, about 10 more minutes.
2. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaves and cayenne. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat so soup bubbles steadily. Cook for about 20 minutes or until flavors meld. Add scallops and cook until they are no longer translucent, about 2 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve, garnished with parsley.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

For the salad, I chopped arugula, some red-leaf lettuce, endive, radicchio, granny smith apple, cheddar cheese and added toasted pine nuts. The vinaigrette was juice of 1 large lemon, olive oil, pinch of salt, squeeze of agave nectar, dash of sherry vinegar because I like my vinaigrettes really sour, stirred vigorously until it emulsified.

Buon appetito! Laissez les bons temps roullez!

jeanhee @ 12:35 am

January 21, 2010

Favorite Kind of Day

Last Wednesday I had a spectacular day. I’m going to try to remember what I loved about it so much. Oh! I had planned to take the morning off from work because Chiara’s preK class was going on a field trip and I had signed up to be a parent monitor. But when we arrived that morning at school, the director said he was postponing the trip because it was simply too cold. It must have been in the 20s or low 30s that day, and windy. A bitter, biting cold.

It was not good news for me, though, because I had no plans to take the morning off with nothing to do, plus I was just a mere 5 minute walk to my office, and about 20 back to my apartment. I decided to go to work and take the afternoon off instead. I switched around my afternoon appointments, too. Things were looking better now.

I worked a productive half day and headed home at around 2 pm — only half an hour longer than I planned to stay. When I got home, Ahjuma had lunch leftovers that I ate ravenously. And then we strategized the afternoon. I decided that heading to the gym — what I usually do on my half-vacation days, would not do today. I wanted to spend some time with my kids. So I took Jemma to a makeup class for Toddler Gym at the Y.

What a hoot! Jemma was so excited and played with absolutely everything. She tumbled, she scooted, she did puzzles, she ran the obstacle course, she picked up objects, she dropped objects, she bounced inside a bouncing castle. I was carefree and having fun, too, wiggling through the Thomas the Train flexible tube, running alongside the obstacle course. Then Chiara joined us after her yoga class. She said she didn’t get to have her foot massage at Karma Kids because she was wearing tights — mental note: don’t let Chiara wear tights to yoga class!

There’s a constant debate in my head: time with the kids versus time for myself. Lately I’ve been making more balanced choices. I chose to skip the gym this week and just hang out with my kids the way kids like to hang out: massive amounts of quantity time, instead of short spurts of “quality time.” We giggled, we played, we were silly and unself-conscious. It was absolutely perfect. I hope I can do it again, soon!

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Jemma multitasking with big wheel bike and cones.
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Chiara doing tree pose

jeanhee @ 1:57 am

Just words

Jemma is my mini mute. She clearly is observing everything around her, her mind is working furiously to process everything, but she barely speaks. Her words are only recently spoken with intention, including Oma for me and Apa for her dad. Useful words. She doesn’t seem to have a word for big sister yet but the word she’s been using a lot lately, emphatically, and clearly, is Mine.

Open also gets put to work on occasion. And made-up words that nonetheless are effective, such as Noma, which means No, Oma.
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jeanhee @ 1:40 am

January 4, 2010

Counting Cute

Before going to sleep tonight, Chiara was processing her thoughts.

Oma, Apa is 100 cute. You’re 102 cute. And Jemma and I are 300 and cute. Jemma is the cutest in the whole family.

OK, Sweetie.

Oma, how much in hundred do you love me? 100?

More.

102?

More

300?

I love you so much no one can count that high. Just count and count and count and count and never stop. Time to go to sleep.

I love you.

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Waiting for the Guemes Island Ferry, September 2009

jeanhee @ 10:37 pm