Monthly Archives: June 2013

Windy City Welcome: Part 2 (Korean Edition)

First and foremost:

CONGRATS!!! to my sister/”wombmate,” Mikala, and her fiance, Kyle, on their engagement!!

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This all went down a couple weeks ago during their recent trip to Madrid, Spain where Kyle proposed at Puerta del Sol, which is (appropriately) the very heart of the city.

We’re very excited to be officially welcoming Kyle into the family.  I’ve already pinned about 10000 things onto Mikala’s Wedding Pinterest board.  Let’s just hope she likes navy blue, coral, and antique gold for her wedding colors…

Around the time Kyle was plotting his proposal a few weeks ago, my brother Jihoon, his wife Bora, and their friends James and Joy flew here from Texas for a visit.  All four are originally from South Korea but moved to Texas last January to study theology.

In honor of their stay, we decided to do a cookout (and by “cookout” I really mean crowding around the grill on our tiny balcony).  I introduced them to the wonderful world of Whole Foods, where we picked up some pricey necessary provisions.

DSC03945Joy + Bora demonstrating the art of slider-making

DSC03971_01Patrick grilling while representing both Nat Geo and NASA

DSC03955Jihoon supervising from afar 🙂

As tempted as I was to turn this into Korean BBQ night, I knew this was their first time (except for Jihoon who was here previously for my wedding) in the Midwest, so we wanted to keep it simple and classic.

On the menu:

DSC_0203Grilled Salmon

DSC_0204Mushroom Caps

DSC_0206Grilled Asparagus

DSC_0207Corn on the Cob

DSC_0208Jamaican Jerk Chicken

DSC_0205 (1)Sliders

Not pictured: Roasted Potatoes

And of course there was plenty of kimchi!

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Unfortunately our kitchen table only seats four, so we crowded around the coffee table.

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Later that night, we followed up with some Andy’s Frozen Custard to treat Jihoon + Bora for their well-earned Yahtzee victory.

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On Sunday, we checked out Willow Creek Community Church (their main branch in South Barrington, IL) – definitely the biggest church I’ve been to as evidenced by the fact that there is an information booth when you walk in along with escalators leading up to the second level.IMG_1887

Since Jihoon is a pastor in South Korea, I expect his church to be this size one day.

IMG_1889IMG_1890Willow Creek_01

One of my favorite Korean snacks is kimbap, which is sort of like the Korean version of Japanese maki rolls but the flavors/ingredients are slightly different and it is consumed more casually as a snack.

I love eating kimbap at picnics, but the problem is that you kind of have to make a significant amount of kimbap to make it worth buying all of the ingredients and putting forth all of the time and effort.  Most people in Korea can buy it by the roll for $1 or $2 each from stands, convenience stores, or restaurants, but unfortunately we don’t quite have that luxury in the U.S.

That said, having a group of Koreans staying at my house seemed like the perfect excuse to make kimbap.  So I bought the ingredients in advance hoping they would oblige me… which thankfully they did!

Bora seasoned the rice liberally with sesame oil and salt.  We just used regular sushi rice.

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Joy helped prepare ingredients, which included imitation crab, ham, eggs, spinach, carrots, and pickled radish.  Other popular ingredients for kimbap include canned tuna with mayonnaise, kimchi, bulgogi, and cheese (not all on the same roll.. that would be interesting.)

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Somehow we managed to coerce the guys into helping us roll.

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Enthusiasm points go to Jihoon and Patrick 🙂

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Ideally we would’ve enjoyed our kimbap with a picnic on the beach near my house under the sun.  The beach, however, was charging $8 per person for admittance and the sun was nowhere in sight.  So we settled for this grassy area which was not a bad compromise as it allowed us to play frisbee and watch the ducks.

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Speaking of ducks, later that night, for their farewell dinner, we took everyone to Sun Wah for some rather phenomenal Peking Duck.

Jap Chae_488

This place is always super crowded with ridiculously long waits, even with reservations.

DSC04173Sun Wah

They recommend ordering the duck in advance to make sure they don’t run out.  The duck is then brought out whole and carved tableside.

Peking Duck

Peking Duck

You stuff the duck inside these little buns with some carrots, scallions, and hoisin sauce.

Sun wah

Nom nom.

Sunwah Duck

Thanks for coming out guys!  Can’t wait to visit you in Texas sometime soon 🙂

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It appears I am behind on my updates so I am going to try to catch up this week!  Expect more posts soon 🙂

Monica

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It’s Not That Easy Being Green…

… just ask Kermit the Frog.

A few weeks ago, Kelli and I took a container gardening class together through the local ecology center.

We picked up some great tips on how to assemble our pots with the proper ratio of “thrillers,” “fillers,” and “spillers.”

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Since neither of us get much sun in our apartments, we selected most of our plants from the “shady” plant section, which included begonia, vinca vines, polka dot plants, and torenia (also known as “wishbone” or “clown” flowers).  Really though, I was just grabbing for the prettiest colors on the table.

Check out our final masterpieces:

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I must say I’ve grown quite attached to my container plant these past few weeks.  It would be impossible to name each flower individually and keep track, so I’m thinking of going with just one family name, like The Jetsons or The Robinsons.  Thoughts?  Whatever it’s called, it’s bound to be a step up from the plant Mikala and I shared when we lived together in LA which we lovingly called “Planty.”

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A couple days after I brought my container plant home, I decided to set it outside on the balcony in the morning for some fresh air.  When I returned home from work, in just a mere 8 hours or so, the cold wind had transformed my lush, beautiful plants to this sad sight:

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The leaves were shriveled and crumbly, the stems were snapped in several places – no longer able to hold the pods up – and the blooms had completely withered and disappeared.

I was devastated.

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I considered cutting my losses and just throwing the whole thing away.  But for whatever reason, I continued to nurture them just to see if any sign of life reemerged.  I removed all of the dead and shriveled leaves and stripped it down to whatever was salvageable.

And it’s a good thing I did because look at them now!

IMG_2021 IMG_2022What a difference a smidgeon of sun and warmth can make 🙂

Moral of the story:

keep the faith/hope exists/miracles happen

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Windy City Welcome

Well, we just concluded three consecutive weekends of visitors here.  Not quite sure what to do with myself now, so I’ve taken to annoying entertaining Patrick while he tries to study for his finals.

We love getting visitors here in Chicago as it allows us to get some quality hometown tourism in!  Of course, you can’t visit Chicago without partaking in some delicious Chicago deep-dish pizza… and we had the great excuse of eating it three weekends in a row 🙂  Our favorite places to frequent are Gino’s East and Lou Malnati’s.

LouSource

Patrick’s parents, Bill & Sue, were the first to grace us with their presence.  During their visit, we wandered around the farmer’s market near our house and then made our way down to Old Town, one of Chicago’s 180+ official neighborhoods.

Old Town

We ate lunch at O’Brien’s, which has been in Old Town for over 30 years and also has locations in O’Hare International Airport and along the Chicago River.

O'Briens

We had a lovely outdoor seat situated just behind this O’Brien’s sign, which gave us the perfect position to spy on people walking by without them noticing… as Patrick demonstrates here.

DSC_0005O'Briens

Following lunch, we made our way downtown to take an architecture tour with Wendella Boats.

Wendella Boat Rides

On the architecture tour, you get to ride a boat along the Chicago River while a tour guide talks about the various buildings you pass along the way.  It’s quite relaxing and fun to learn a bit about Chicago’s architecture and history.

Wendell Boats

Despite the long line, we somehow found prime seating, front and center.

Wendella Boat Rides

Wendella Boat Rides

Here are some lovely structures we passed…

Architecture Tour

Architecture Tour

Architecture Tour

After the tour, we walked around downtown and admired the lovely flowers (or “Salboos” as Patrick’s mom would call them) along Michigan Avenue.

Tulips

We stopped at Ghirardelli’s Chocolate & Ice Cream Shop for some ice cream and then checked out Weber Grill for dinner.

weber grillSource

Everything on their menu sounded delicious so we decided to split three entrees, like the BBQ plate featuring brisket, ribs, and pulled pork…

BBQ Plate

and the steak kebob with a medley of vegetables and rice.

Steak Kebobs

But ultimately we all agreed the best was the beer can chicken… how can you go wrong here?  I must try making this at home!

Beer Can ChickenWeber Grill

Luckily Patrick picked up some good grilling tips from this guy.

Weber Grill

On our drive home, we hit up some Sweet Mandy B’s for second dessert.  The decor here is really cute and their desserts are out-of-this-world.

Sweet Mandy B'sGingerbread CookieM&M and Gingerbread cookies

Confetti CookieSugar cookie (Patrick’s favorite)

Sweet Mandy B'sConfetti Cupcake (my favorite)

Good thing we did a lot of walking that day…

After church the next day, we had brunch at Walker Bros. The Original Pancake House… definitely the best brunch place in the area (I also wrote about it in this post).

This restaurant was even featured on Food Network’s show The Best Thing I Ever Ate where Melissa d’Arabian (winner of “The Next Food Network Star” who also happened to be a J.V. like me whose husband attended Kellogg!) talked about their Bacon with Cheese Oven Baked Omelette.

I’ve never had their Bacon with Cheese Omelette but Patrick and I split their vegetable omelette this time, which I think is every bit as good.

Vegetable Omelette

And best of all, it comes with a side of buttermilk pancakes.

Buttermilk Pancakes

In fact, in addition to their omelettes, they are equally as known for their pancakes.  They have a wide variety to choose from like their German and Dutch Baby pancakes, bacon pancakes, Swedish pancakes, and potato pancakes, which Patrick and I also shared.

Potato Pancakes

But their speciality pancake is the apple cinnamon pancake which Bill ordered.  This pancake was massive in size and in taste.

Apple Cinnamon Pancake Pancake

Me and Patrick

Thank you for visiting, Bill & Sue!  Come again soon!

Sue & Bill