On the other hand…

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge is so super cool… I won’t have time for sure to make it this month, but I am definitely planning to try this month’s challenge in Jan.

No time to make it this month, cause in a week I go back to China! Yay, Beijing. Just for 10 days, cause I’ll be taking  Korean class in Jan.

I have my eticket, but my passport is somewhere in the process of getting yet another full page visa attached to it (oy, my poor passport), which I’ll only get back two days before my flight. Eep!

I think getting a new passport will have to be on my list of things to do in January. I’ll still have two full pages left, but then I figure I’ll need another half page reentry permit for Korea for next year, so I think this passport’s pretty much done for. Either that, or I can maybe hold off until summer when I’ll go back to Montreal probably (it’ll probably be faster, easier and cheaper that way).

More thinking: Daring Bakers

So maybe some of you (Yes, you hiding behind the tumbleweeds.. does anyone even read this anymore?) are wondering where the Daring Bakers post is. “Lisa, you are three days late! What are you thinking?!” You might wonder.

Truth is, this month I was thinking a bit about it. I’m considering leaving the group (I’ve done this for exactly two years now). Daring Bakers is still really awesome, with challenging recipes and talented bakers who are willing to help people who constantly flub up challenges, and get less than stellar photos like I do. But… when I started out with the group (Mmm potato bread!), we were maybe 200 bakers, and we used a private blog for members hosted on Blogger, which around the time I joined started to be over capacity in terms of members  all posting on one blog (it was probably me and my big head, har har). But the cool thing, and what originally drew me into the group to begin with, was that because everyone saw everyone’s posts about everything, you saw everything from great successes to equally great flubs, stuff from the alternative daring bakers, kitchenney news (like a new oven in someone’s kitchen, say), totally off topic things, birthday greetings, and everything in between. It was really like a community. And some daring (har, har) people would even try to visit all the blogs on the bloglist and comment on all of them!

Then the blog began to slow down and become more and more of a hindrance. I remember trying unsuccessfully to post something about a gazillion times before it finally graciously allowed me a post (or 5 posts of the exact same thing; thanks, Blogger). Finally we moved to a forum instead of the new blog. And everything is still there. There are baking/cooking blog events listed somewhere, there is a sub forum for the alternative daring bakers. There are more successes, flubs, tips and tricks than you can shake a stick at. But it’s all scattered here and there and there are too many posts to keep tabs on it all. There are also so many daring bakers (and now daring cooks on top of it all), who has time to try to see most of the blogs? Impossible.

So I feel like I’m getting less of a community feeling and am slowly losing interest in the group. This could be just me, and maybe if I spent more time on the forums it would change, but I think that right now Daring Bakers is just too big for me. I still love the idea.. I just also like the idea of a smaller group.

On top of it, I’m travelling occasionally, usually for longer periods like a month or two at a time (which makes it harder to do challenges, though I have done some on vacation *danish bread*). Plus, I’ll be moving to a smaller place in March and will probably not be able to keep my oven. I’ll try to get a countertop oven, but I’ll probably be ovenless for a while.

So I’m thinking I might take a break from Daring Bakers for a month or two and see what I feel like doing after that.

All this is to say, there is no Daring Baker post this month. Haha, am I long winded or what?


For a while I felt bad about not really adding anything food related other than  Daring Bakers stuff, and then I remembered that it’s my waste-of-time blog, so I should just not worry about it and post what I like. So maybe now there will be more regular posting, but it might not be food related. Or not. :p

Lately (other than starting to think about next year; and yes, I’ll be staying in Korea for another year for sure) I’ve been focusing more on my Korean language skills (or more accurately, lack thereof). Actually, even I have to admit that I’ve come a long way from my awfully limited Korean at the beginning of the year, and there is still constant improvement, BUT it still really sucks.. ha!

So to keep up my motivation, here’s stuff I’m doing, should be doing, or am planning to do.

  • I started going to a free Korean class on Saturdays maybe three months back (well, maybe 4, but then I was away on vacation pretty much right after I started going, and I was gone for a month). I recently got moved up to 중급반 (intermediate class), where I am THE lowest student in the class. I swear I was lost for the first 15 minutes. Thankfully by the end I was alright. This class has a teacher and tutors sitting next to each student. So you have someone next to you helping only you during the whole class. Pretty cool. And free!
  • I started reading Le Petit Prince in Korean (어린 왕자). I’ve read the whole thing and I’m re-reading it more slowly to get more vocab out of it
  • I started watching some Korean dramas. Cheesiness abounds! But it definitely helped. I watched them at first with English subtitles, now I watch them sometimes with both English and Korean subtitles.
  • I need to stop being embarrassed and talk more in Korean. I joined a group on Facebook recently that’s basically a bunch of foreigners (and some Koreans) who get together to speak Korean and eat Indian food. Haven’t gone to a meeting yet, but who can object to Indian food and Korean language practice? It should also help knowing others who are learning for motivation. Right now I know some foreigners who don’t know any Korean, some who know a little and are not trying, a couple who know more than I do but don’t seem to be actively learning as much anymore and a bunch of Koreans who I mostly see at swing dances (not the ideal place for talking).
  • I also need to stop being embarrassed by my Korean writing. The other day, my Korean co-teacher at the school I work at saw my Korean lesson papers from my Saturday class, and there were questions about the text where we had to write answers (eg, whether extra curricular learning/classes/hagwons were necessary or not), and she started reading out the stuff I wrote while moving around the classroom to stop me from taking it back. But if Koreans don’t read my writing and suggest improvements, how am I supposed to get better at it? So I started a blog on Cyworld in Korean. Unfortunately, I’m too embarrassed to tell any of my Korean friends where it is. Fail.
  • I plan to take the next TOPIK test (Basic level). That’ll be early/mid April. It’s a Korean language proficiency test.

Any language learning experts around who could give me more tips on what I can do?

In the meantime, for those who know some Korean, here’s a joke:

Q: What did the small tissue say to the large tissue?

A: You’re Huge-ee!

Hehehehe. For those who don’t get it,  Huge-ee is both Konglish for huge (Koreans add ee to the end of a lot of English words, like lunch-ee) and the Korean word for tissue — 휴지.

Find the missing logic

Most of the time I love Korea. Sometimes, though, things make me want to hit my head against a brick wall.

Please find the logic disconnect (from an article in The Korea Times), October 23rd, 2009:

Title: Foreign Pedophiles to Face Permanent Deportation

By Park Si-soo
Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Justice said Thursday it will revise immigration rules to ban foreigners found guilty of raping Korean children from re-entering Korea permanently.

This is the latest in a series of government measures to keep sexual predators away from society.

If endorsed, it will become the toughest discipline against foreign rapists. The plan was made public during a parliamentary inspection of the ministry held in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province.

The government has announced a package of measures against sex offenders after the Supreme Court upheld a lower-than-expected prison term handed down to Cho Doo-soon, a 57-year-old man convicted of kidnapping and brutally raping a nine-year-old girl.

Cho, given a 12-year-term, is now in prison for class-A criminals in North Gyeongsang Province. The victim, widely known by her alias Na-young, suffered incurable physical and mental damage.

In the inspection, Rep. Lee Joo-young of the ruling Grand National Party urged the ministry to tighten the rule on E-2 visa issuance, arguing it’s so lax that many convicted foreigners attempt to cross borders with legal residential status. The legislator did not disclose the exact number of foreigners caught for the violation.

Under the law, E-2 visa applicants are mandated to submit records on their criminal histories and health checkups particularly on AIDS and drug use, which are issued by their country of origin.

But the legislator said it still falls short of thoroughly screening out the entry of rogue foreign nationals.

“Many foreigners have been caught attempting to pass through the immigration process with forged documents, indicating rules should be intensified further,” Lee said.

In a related move, lawmakers are making bipartisan efforts to establish tougher punishment against such criminals.

Earlier this month, a group of lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) proposed a bill, which will make it impossible to reduce the punishment of sex offenders on the grounds that they were drunk at the time of the crime and thus unable to make sound judgment.

It also aims at removing the statute of limitations on rape cases. At present, it ranges from one to 25 years depending on the seriousness of the crime.

The ruling Grand National Party is also fueling the amendment attempt. Rep. Ahn Sang-soo, floor leader of the ruling party, has urged party members to collaborate to revise the law.



Here’s a hint in case you didn’t find it. Cho Doo-soon, the man who raped the Korean child (and who I agree needs a much stricter sentence; it’s ridiculous, he only got 12 years) is a KOREAN MAN. Yet the article talks about foreign pedophiles and making E2 visas harder to get. E2 visas are for foreign language teachers. You already need a criminal check and a health check (drugs, AIDS) test and a college degree. Can someone explain to me how stricter rules on E2 visas are going to stop Korean men from raping kids? HEAD -> WALL.

For  the record, I think that ANYONE (foreign or not) who is raping kids, (Korean or not) needs very strict punishment. I just also have never heard of ONE case of a foreigner (E2 visa or not) who was convicted of raping Korean children. The closest thing was CPN who was teaching in Korea (not on an E2 visa, though) and got arrested for pedophilia in Thailand. That was why E2 visas needed criminal checks etc. starting a couple of years ago. The irony that he was not on an E2 visa and that he had previously had a clean criminal records check anyway was completely lost on anyone who had a say in the visa regulations. I think it’s good anyway, but I wish that Korea kept better records so I didn’t have to submit things every year I want to work here. I haven’t been back to Canada since I came here in Feb, you’d think that maybe they would just require a Korean criminal records check? Or how about not having to prove your degree is legit every year (in case, you know, I UNgradutate or something). So I really hope they don’t make E2 visas even more difficult to get, because it’s just going to be a lot more hoop jumping for me with no actual change where it really counts.

Fairly tasty failure

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I think from this experiment, I can conclude 3 things:

1. Macarons are hard to make.

2. I suck at making them.

3. They were pretty tasty anyway.

I’ll have to try again in a few months when my baking pride has recovered.

I think my problem was that I overbeat it. My macarons didn’t crack, but they did end up fairly flat, had no feet and were too chewy.

The changes I made to the recipe were to use ground hazelnuts instead of almonds (don’t like the sweetness + almonds combo), and to add some cocoa powder to the shells. The filling is a dark chocolate ganache, and I dusted some of the shells with cinnamon before they baked.

As for the taste, I found it good, but too sweet.

I’ll post pictures tomorrow, I’m going to eat, rest up a bit and head out dancing tonight. Pictures coming soon, sorry, but I made them super last minute (today, challenge reveal date. Oy!).

In any case, this was a real challenge, and I have to try again. I won’t admit defeat! 화이팅!!!

Back from the dead! Also, Daring Bakers time again

First, this blog has been dead for too long. So here is the eye candy of my last Daring Baker challenge that I’ve owed you since forever.

Not the most photogenic cookies, but they were tasty, so that’s good.

And introducing this month’s challenge: Vols au vent!

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

This was my first time making puff pastry, though I have made Danish dough for the June 2008 challenge. Danish dough is pretty similar to puff pastry. The main difference is that the Danish dough had yeast in it, and the puff pastry dough relies only on the layers of butter to make the dough rise. The actual making of the dough was really similar, and I didn’t have any issues. Because I made this at the beginning of the month it was still pretty humid and hot, so I made generous use of my air conditioner and sent the dough on many trips to my fridge in between turns.

I’m glad I made the full batch of dough. I’ve already used 2/3 of the dough and have another 1/3 in my freezer that I can’t wait to break out again later and marvel at how quickly I’ll be able to have fresh puff pastry treats.

And for the eye candy:


After cutting out shapes for the vols au vents

After cutting out shapes for the vols au vents







the caps, baked

the caps, baked

Mmmm flaky

Mmmm flaky

Could have gotten more rise, but it came out nicely

Could have gotten more rise, but it came out nicely


Cooling on the tray

Cooling on the tray


Dressed for success. Banana cream and banana slices.

Dressed for success. Banana cream and banana slices.


Another beautiful vol au vent

Another beautiful vol au vent




The vols au vents were delicious, light and flaky. The banana cream filling only slightly sucked because Korean dairy is so bad that it tastes like plastic. I had used imported butter, but not imported cream, and I could really taste the difference. The banana in the cream at least hid some of that.

After this first batch I made a second batch for my teachers/fellow students at my Saturday Korean class. It was really well received.

I am already thinking of other ideas of what I can do with this dough. I still have a third of it left in my fridge. Hmmmmm… ;)

Thanks for the great challenge! Don’t forget to check out the other Daring Baker blogs here.

Next month’s challenge will finish up my second year as a Daring Baker. Can you believe it’s been almost two years now? Time flies!

July 2009 Daring Baker Challenge: Milan cookies

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Actually, the challenge was flexible enough that we could choose to do only one of the cookies if we wanted, and so I did only the Milan cookies. I would have liked to do the marshmallow ones just for the interest in how to make them (I don’t actually like marshmallows; too sweet), but I actually had no idea where to find agar agar in Seoul, and with my friend Amanda visiting me, and with me travelling half the month (I’m typing this from Herräng, Sweden right now), it just didn’t seem practical. I went for the easier thing and made only the Milan cookies.

Unfortunately, this will be a little on the short side, cause I have no pictures to show you (I have some, but they are on my computer in Seoul and not yet uploaded) and because I have 18 minutes of internet left. I will upload pictures in mid-August when I get back to Seoul. If I forget, remind me!

The cookies came out tasting really good.  The cookies themselves were a little on the sweet side, but the chocolate ganache sandwiched between them took some of the sweetness away, and I put lemon zest in both the cookies and the ganache, so that also helped cut the sweetness a bit. In any case, it was a success and I loved them and so did my friends.

As I travel Sweden (and Dennmark, and wherever) this month there probably won’t be any posts for a while. In the meantime check out some of the Daring Bakers’ blogs here.

For swing dancing friends: I just got a couple of the new Cangelosi Cards’ CD, and it is really good. I also got to be one of the first 10 people besides the band to listen to Gordon Webster’s new swing CD. He has a blues one, but just recorded a swing one last week. There’s actually no CD yet, but he’s got the MP3s on his iphone.  The CD is SOOOO good. Plus, the songs are all of the happy bouncy kind that I love most. I’m not sure when the CD will be released, but I’ll let you know once I do.

Happy summer!