September 27, 2018 § 1 Comment
I might be one of the very few individuals in the world who actually wanted to be laid off.
I was in month 10 of a long-distance marriage that was taking an increasing toll on my mental health and physical well-being by the day. When they say that the distance makes the heart grow fonder, they also failed to mention that distance can also make you:
- Severely depressed
- Severely anxious
- Dead inside
“Oh,” you’ll say, “Why did you stay in New York then? Why not move to Tokyo to be with your husband?”
Because, dear reader, when you have a dear husband (DH) who works in finance and whose very compass in life is centered on Warren Buffett’s thesis on compounding interest and value investing, you have to stay for the money. It’s one of those rare qualities that make me love him and hate him (my DH, not Warren Buffett, I only have love for Warren Buffett) at the same time. I love that DH works so incredibly hard to make sure our lives are comfortable and that our future is even more financially secure. I hate that it makes him question every time I buy a “superfluous” purchase–”did you really need to get a $500 blazer for work?” (the answer is yes, obviously, it fit me like a glove and I can wear it forever)–but also grounds me because I know in my heart that perhaps I didn’t need one that was quite so expensive. But again, I’ll wear it forever.
There was quite a bit of money lingering around and at the time, and I was able to be convinced that sticking it out for a year or so via long-distance was the best decision for our financial security longterm. The jury is still out on whether or not it was…but it definitely wasn’t worth the emotional turmoil!
[Without getting too specific or ruffling too many feathers on money (yuck!) and finances (yuck!) and lifestyle choices and dollar amounts, I feel the need to add a disclaimer that these are my own thoughts and opinions and you will most likely disagree with me on these concepts. That’s okay, there’s no right or wrong answer! There’s nothing more divisive than money (yuck!) which is probably why people don’t like discussing it, especially with strangers, so let’s agree to disagree without getting too heated. This is simply my story and experience.]
In short, I was making a mid-six-figure-range salary in a position I really loved in New York. I was very lucky to find a great company to work for and we were able to afford a comfortable one-bedroom apartment and most of the perks of living in Manhattan (paying off our student loans in full, shows, gym memberships, vacations, eating out at delicious restaurants, etc). My DH was in business school for two years (and a fabulous Househusband during that time) and I was able to support us and our two cats and dog while he went to school. My job was also the type that the longer I stayed, the more equity and investment grew and I was very pot-committed to the company, which made it all the more harder to think about leaving. When DH found his dream job for a company based in Tokyo after graduating from B-School, it was a sacrifice we both thought was worth making for the long-term, especially since the plan was for him to come back after a six-month(ish) training in Tokyo. Short-term pain for long-term gain! We made arrangements for me to visit once or twice during his scheduled training and so we began our long-distance marriage.
Unfortunately plans change and that six-month timeframe was no longer in play shortly into his training, long story. We decided that I would stay in New York until I received my annual bonus, and then play it by ear on timing. After I received my bonus, in which I received an even more robust equity compensation in my company, it pained me to think about walking away from everything I had worked so hard for over the past five years. Upon my next visit to him in Tokyo, we made the decision to continue playing it by ear until he had more clarity on his own work timing, and I begrudgingly returned back to New York.
And then sometimes, miracles happen.
My company was acquired by another company and consequently, my position was eliminated and my chance to be reunited with DH was finally in sight! So that is why I really wanted nothing more than to be laid off, and when it happened (after a scary and grim and super dark experience), I packed up our life in New York and moved it all to Japan.
Now I start my new journey in Tokyo.
Why “Career: Housewife”?
It turns out there are a lot of forms that you have to fill out when starting a new life in a new country. On all of them, I consistently noticed that under the “Career” or “Occupation” pre-selected fields, there is no option for “Unemployed”. It’s just “Housewife.” And I am completely okay with that. It was a little shock at first, maybe because I had never really noticed it in the States, but I began to proudly label myself as a Housewife in all of my documents and introductions.
Being a professional housewife is HARD WORK! I am still going to work just as hard at being a Housewife in Tokyo and learning how to be me in this new stage of life. There are so many things I have to learn and solve and challenge myself with, and learning Japanese is just one of the many items on that list.
I do have a lot of thoughts on this term alone that maybe I will elaborate on at a later date. I am still navigating my way through the vibrant and still very-foreign landscape of my new home.
Thanks for reading the long version of why I am now a Career Housewife and why I am going to live it to the best of my ability.
I am very much writing and filming from the perspective of a childless housewife. So yes, I have relatively more free time than a mother of a human child. (Fur babies count for a little at least though, right?)
October 18, 2016 § 1 Comment
Every time I am in Korea, my first restaurant stop is Myeongdong Gyoja. They have the best kalguksu I have ever had, which is perfect for me because kalguksu is my favorite food! Kalguksu literally means “knife noodles” and fortunately, they taste delicious in just about any broth. Myeongdong Gyoja uses a beef broth, but I make mine at home with chicken broth. I love kalguksu because I can’t turn down a good bowl of noodle soup. Ramen, pasta, pho, the list goes on, but my absolute favorite is kalguksu. Yes, your breath will smell like garlic for a few hours, but let’s be honest, is that really so bad?
You can freeze the leftover broth or use it as a delicious base for other soups. It will also make a fantastic shabu shabu base broth.
Chicken Kalguksu (Knife-Cut Noodles) Recipe
Serves 4 generous portions
Broth (adapted from Maangchi):
- 4 quarts water
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 inch piece ginger, smashed
- 10-20 cloves garlic, peeled, trimmed, and left whole
- One onion, halved
- Two green onions, cut into thirds
- 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)
- 2 dried jujube, dates (optional)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Fish sauce
- 1 tbsp shirodashi (optional)p dried red chili rings
Garlic and mushroom paste:
- Garlic and mushrooms reserved from broth
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Optional toppings: mushrooms, chives, green onion, red pepper flakes
- Broth: Bring everything but fish sauce and salt to boil then reduce to medium and cover. Cook 1 hour. Remove chicken to a bowl to let cool. Scoop out garlic and mushrooms as much as possible to separate into a separate bowl. Discard the rest of the vegetables.
- To the garlic and mushrooms, add sesame oil and salt. Mash together and set aside.
- Shred chicken when cool enough to handle. Throw away bones (if using bone-in chicken breast). Toss the shredded chicken in the garlic paste and set aside.
- To the broth, add salt and fish sauce (and shirodashi, if using) to taste.
- 3.5 cups flour
- 0.5 cup potato starch
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp veg oil
- 1.25 cups water
- Noodles: Mix together flour, starch, salt, vegetable oil, and water. Knead for 5 minutes. Let it rest 30 min, knead again 2-5 min, let it rest 10 minutes.
- Roll out as thin as possible. If using a pasta maker, roll out the dough on the first setting, then move to second setting and roll out again. Then, use a tagliatelle or pappardelle cutter to cut your noodles.
- If rolling out by hand, dust the dough with flour evenly on both sides and roll the dough into a loose roll. Using a sharp knife, cut slices around 1/8-1/4″ thick and unravel the noodles with a toss of flour so they don’t stick together.
Dadaegi (chili sauce, yangyeomjang):
- 2 tbsp Korean red pepper flakes gochugaru (cannot be substituted with any other chili flakes!)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 green chili pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, minced finely
- 1/2 cup green onion
- 1 tbsp shirodashi
- 1/4 cup chives (optional)
- Dadaegi: Mix together all the ingredients. Let it rest for 10 minutes, mix again until it is a thick paste.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high. If using vegetables or mushrooms as toppings, blanch them and then remove using a slotted spoon.
Add noodles to the boiling pot and stir well so they don’t stick. Boil for 4 minutes on high.
Drain the noodles and add them back to the pot. Add a few ladles of the broth and add salt or shirodashi, and pepper to taste. It shouldn’t be too salty, since the dadaegi is very salty.
Divide the noodles and broth into bowls. Top with shredded garlic and mushroom chicken, mushrooms, chives, and other toppings if using. Serve with dadaegi sauce on the side.
I like to use a separate bowl and add the dadaegi a little at a time to each bite of noodles. But you can put the dadaegi directly into your bowl if you’d like as well!
May 25, 2016 § 1 Comment
There are some dishes in life that can affect you in a profound way. For me, this was THE dish. This dish redefined what pasta meant in my life. That sounds incredibly dramatic, but it serves to illustrate the level of mind-explosion that I experienced when I first tasted this dish. It was most definitely food DEFCON 5.
My husband first made this for me about a year ago and I can remember the exact moment these flavors touched my tongue. It was salty, savory, deep, and umami-laden with incredible flavors of golden garlic, a touch of heat from chili peppers, and intense depth of mushrooms. I fell in love. With this pasta. And pretty sure I felt like I fell in love on another level with my husband.
I am sharing this recipe here after trial and error (and quite frankly, my desire to send this dish out into the world so that others can taste the amazing-ness as I did). Kahn worked so hard on this and I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Wafu pasta is a Japanese-style pasta. I know what you’re thinking…SOY SAUCE?! DASHI?! PASTA?! But believe me. This is a journey of food you only wish you took earlier in your life.
UGHHHHHHHHH I AM GETTING HUNGRY ALL OVER AGAIN and I have been eating this for 3 days in a row. That’s what happens, when I make it, I literally cannot eat anything else for the next few days because it is THAT GOOD.
- If you want to get a little fancier, use pancetta instead of bacon.
- If you want to cut the bacon out, that’s fine too. (I just love bacon!!)
- Don’t be mad/angry/upset/sad about throwing out the bacon fat. The first time Kahn made this, I got really upset about this, but after I tasted the richness and deliciousness of his final dish, I got over that REAL FAST.
- If you want to make this vegetarian, use mirin or a very, very reduced kombu-dashi instead of hondashi.
ENJOY and let me know what you think!
Wafu Pasta (Japanese-style pasta) Recipe 和風 PASTA
Serves 2 generous portions
- 4 thick slices of bacon, thinly sliced
- 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried red chili rings
- 1 lb fresh mushrooms, washed and trimmed of tough root ends (you can use shimeji, shiitake, maitake, button, portobello, cremini, enoki, whatever you’d like!)
- 1 lb green vegetable, cut into thirds and the bottom ends reserved (asparagus, chinese broccoli, spinach, watercress, kale, anything!)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp hondashi granules
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 lb spaghetti
- 3-4 tbsp pasta water, reserved
- red chili rings, for garnish
- Heat bacon in a skillet on medium-high heat until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Discard all the bacon fat and wipe skillet with a paper towel. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red chili rings to the oil and toast lightly until garlic is golden brown.
- Add the tough bottom ends of your green vegetable and stir-fry for a couple minutes.
- Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for two minutes.
- Add butter, then add the leafy or tender end of your green vegetable.
- Add your spaghetti to the boiling water and set timer for two-minutes shorter than what the box says for al dente. For me, this is usually 5 minutes. When your vegetables are wilted and mushrooms are lightly golden, your pasta should be ready.
- Add spaghetti to the skillet with the vegetables and mushrooms and add 2 tbsp of the soy sauce mixture (you will have around half of the sauce left over). Add 2-3 tbsp pasta water and toss to combine evenly. Taste one strand of spaghetti for doneness and taste and add 1 tsp more of soy sauce mixture if you want more flavor.
- Serve, with bacon pieces and red chili rings on top as garnish.
April 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
I posted my previous kimchi jjigae post FIVE YEARS AGO. Wow.
Since then, I have tweaked and updated my original recipe to something entirely elevated to a new level, with a lot of help from the QUEEN herself (Maangchi). I honestly love her videos, personality, ability, and spirit so much and have been infinitely inspired by her creativity and passion on a weekly basis. This new kimchi jjigae recipe is an adaptation of her recent update to her recipe here.
Here is a new video I made for this updated recipe:
1. You can use either pork or beef, but pork definitely imparts a more velvety-flavor that goes hand in hand with kimchi. Mmm….
2. Pork belly is also great for this, but perhaps a little more fatty (is this a bad thing?)
3. If you are using the last of your kimchi, don’t just throw away the jar! Pour some water in there and pour the little juices/spices into the stew. The more flavor, the better.
4. Must eat with rice.
5. Feel free to add tofu or vermicelli noodles!
Kimchi Jigae Recipe – Kimchi Stew
- 6-8 dried kelp squares
- 8-10 dried Korean anchovies (heads and guts removed)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cups water
- 2 lbs pork ribs/bones
- 4 ounces thinly sliced pork loin
- 4 cups ripe kimchi, sliced (with juices)
- 3 green onion stalks, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2-1 tsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
- 1 tsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
- 1 cup thinly sliced rice cakes* optional
- green pepper* optional
- Add kelp, anchovies, radish, and onion to a medium pot. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes. Strain, and reserve the broth.
- To a large skillet, add pork ribs/bones and cover with kimchi and then pork loin. Top with green onion. Add reserved broth.
- Bring pork and kimchi mixture to a boil on medium high heat. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sesame oil, gochugaru, and gochujang.
- Cook for 30 minutes, then taste to adjust for additional seasoning (if necessary).
- Add rice cakes (if using), green pepper, and green onion for garnish.
- Serve with rice.
April 16, 2016 § 7 Comments
If you love candles as much as I do (and maybe spend a little too much on them), this is a must-read.
Like many things in life, making candles at home was never a thought that came into mind. That is, it wasn’t until one day I came across a fantastic blog post on DIY soy candle making and it looked like a possible fun weekend project. I promptly ordered a basic set of supplies from Amazon, and I got started. (I ordered all of my supplies for candle making on Amazon.)
Little did I know that I awakened a candle-making beast inside of me and my “fun weekend project” became a new near-daily obsession. (You might be able to see my crazy-eyes in the video…that’s how much I love this new hobby!) For how much I spent on candles per year (you don’t even want to know…) this is an excellent, cost-effective way to make a lot of candles. The best part about it is being able to make candles for people near and dear to my heart because they are wonderful homemade gifts. The most expensive part about this process is the essential oil, so if you’re unsure of what scents to try, start with my below combinations since they’re tried and true. Then, as you feel more comfortable, you can try using different oils.
Making candles at home is incredibly relaxing and fun. Plus, it will make your home smell AMAZING always.
Here is a video tutorial on how to get started on a very fun, relaxing hobby.
To get started, you will need the following:
- Bag of soy flakes (wax) – I used 444 blend
- Heatproof melting pot
- Glass jars
- Plastic drinking straw
- Disposable spoons
- Tablespoon measure
- Mixing bowl
- Essential oils
- For the 3 scent combinations in my video, I used the following essential oils:
- White Musk
- For the 3 scent combinations in my video, I used the following essential oils:
- Paper towels
Directions (for one 8 ounce candle):
- Heat a medium pot of water to a boil and add melting pot. To the melting pot, add your wax. For the wax: 2 cups (16 ounces) of solid wax = 1 cup (8 ounces) melted wax, so for three 8 ounce candles, I used 6 cups of solid wax (48 ounces).
- Once the wax starts melting, use your spoon to take a few drops of wax and add to the bottom of your jars. This will be the “glue” you use to secure the bottom of your wicks to the bottom of your jar. Act quickly because the wax hardens immediately!
- Use clothespin to secure the cotton wick to the center of the jar. If using wooden wicks, no need to secure it (it will stay in place due to its rigid shape).
- Once the wax is melted to at least 180 degrees, reduce the heat on the stove so that the wax will stay at a constant temperature. Melting the wax to 180 degrees makes sure that the wax will stay warm enough when poured into the mixing bowl.
- Pour 1 cup of melted wax into the bowl and add your desired scent.
- Lavender/Rosemary/Thyme: Add 1 tsp each of lavender and rosemary essential oils and 1/2 tsp of thyme essential oils.
- Bergamot/Lemon/Cedar/Fir: Add equal parts bergamot, lemon, cedar, and fir essential oils to measure 1 tbsp total.
- White Musk/Sandalwood/Vetiver/Jasmine: Add equal parts white musk and sandalwood, (around 1.5 tsp each) and then add 10 drops each of vetiver and jasmine.
- Stir thoroughly for at least 30 seconds so that the essential oils bind to the wax and blend evenly throughout the mixture.
- Pour slowly into prepared jar with the wick, and then leave undisturbed for at least 24 hours before moving/burning. Your candles will be ready to enjoyed after 24 hours!
Cost breakdown (approximate):
- 10 lb bag of soy flakes (wax) – I use 444 blend $25.00
- Heatproof pouring pot $12.00
- Essential oils
- Lavender – $12.00
- Rosemary $12.00
- Thyme – $22.00
- Bergamot – $18.00
- Lemon – $13.00
- Cedarwood – $15.00
- Fir – $15.00
- White Musk – $20.00
- Vetiver – $20.00
- Sandalwood – $25.00
- Jasmine – set of 6 floral notes for $20.00
- Mason jars (12-pack) – $7.00
- Wicks (around 200 cotton & wooden wicks) – $24
Total: ~$250 – $260
I have probably made around 40 candles so far and I have barely made a dent in my essential oils. You will need to buy soy wax/flakes frequently as you will go through one 10-lb bag quite quickly, along with the mason jars.
You may notice different fragrance oils online to be a lot cheaper, but I recommend staying away from those synthetically produced oils. Essential oils are pure, distilled scents extracted from organic ingredients and there are no synthetic chemicals involved. Since these are candles and flames are involved, I personally want to reduce as much chemical exposure in my life as much as possible so it is much, much cleaner to use essential oils rather than fragrance oils.
January 23, 2016 § 1 Comment
Lately, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to find the time to pursue what I truly love doing – cooking. And like everyone else who is busy working and living in this world, there aren’t enough hours in the day (or weekend) to devote to epic cooking projects. Between balancing my desire to cook and my lack of time, I have developed an upcoming series of posts for making delicious meals in a fraction of the time it usually takes, without sacrificing taste and quality.
This is my 10 minute jja jang myun. My original jja jang myun post is here, for those who want a more “traditional” recipe. But I’ve got to say, this quick ten-minute version is amazingly quite comparable and dare I say, even more delicious.
- My husband mentioned a very valid point the last time I made jjajangmyun. He asked me why all the ingredients are cubed because they always seem to end up all at the bottom of the bowl and don’t get slurped up with the noodles? Besides tradition, I can’t find a reason why the vegetables have to be diced. So, for this 10 minute version, I cut all the ingredients length-wise and similar in shape to the noodles. And you know what? It was a genius move. THERE ARE NO LONGER A PUDDLE OF VEGETABLES at the bottom of the bowl. You will get even distribution of pork and veggies with every bite of noodle!
- To help you cut the pork, freeze it for 30 minutes before using.
- For slicing the cabbage, a mandolin helps tremendously, as this is undoubtedly my all-time favorite kitchen tool.
10 Minute Jja Jang Myun (Noodles with Black Bean Sauce) ‘짜장면’
Serves 4-5 (with leftovers), Prep Time: 5 minutes, Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- 6 ounces/155 grams pork loin or shoulder, sliced thinly into strips measuring 1/8″ wide and 1″ long
- 1 tbsp mirin or rice wine
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided
- salt and pepper to taste, around 1/4 tsp each
- 2 large onions, sliced thinly into 1/8″ slices
- 2 medium squash, sliced thinly into 1/8″ slices
- 1/2 head (around 2.5 cups) green cabbage, shredded thinly into 1/8″ slices
- 1 cup of radish, cubed into 1/8″ slices
- 1 carrot, sliced lengthwise into 1/8″ slices (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 185 grams/~7 tbsp (around 3/4 cup) of roasted Korean black bean paste (bokkeum jja jang)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp potato or corn-starch
- 1 tbsp water
- salt and pepper to taste
- cucumber slices, to garnish
- hand-pulled noodles, per serving cooked according to package instructions
- Marinate pork, rice wine, ginger, 1 tsp garlic, and salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to a large pot over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork and stir fry quickly until the pork is browned, around 2 minutes. Remove the pork to a small bowl and set aside.
- To the hot pot, add the remaining garlic and add sliced onions. Cook for 2 minutes until slightly wilted and browned and then add the remaining vegetables and cook, stirring frequently for one minute. Mix the jjajang paste, chicken broth, and oyster sauce in a small bowl and then add to the pot.
- Add the noodles and cook according to package directions.
- Once the sauce comes to a boil, add the slurry of cornstarch and water and bring to a boil. It should thicken immediately. Turn off the heat.
- Drain the noodles thoroughly and rinse once with cold water. Divide evenly amongst bowls and serve, topped with around 1-2 cups of sauce.
- Garnish with cucumbers.
November 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
I make this gyeran jjim around 2-3 times a week. I eat it as a side dish (banchan) for dinner or sometimes by itself with a bowl of rice. It’s one of my favorite dishes because it is so simple, absolutely delicious, and best of all, healthy.
For people who have never tried this before, don’t be put off by the name of the dish. I guarantee that you will find yourself addicted to this because after one spoonful, it’s impossible to stop eating it.
- I personally love the slightly toasty bottom that happens when you cook this in a ttukgaebi (earthenware stone pot) on the stove. It fills the entire dish with this richness and deepness that you can’t achieve from microwaving or using a regular pot. You can find this bowl here: Earthenware Pot. If you prefer a non-toasted flavor, decrease cooking time by 1 minute.
- Use any lid you have that covers the top fully to create a seal.
- I like a very mild gyeran jjim because I love the subtle flavors. But if it’s not salty enough, you can add more salt to taste at the end.
Gyeran Jjim – (Steamed Egg) 계란찜 Recipe
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp Asian-style chicken stock powder
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 scallion, chopped finely
- 1/4 tsp gochugaru flakes* optional
- Heat water in a small earthenware bowl directly on the stove on low, and gradually raise the heat as the water heats up. Add chicken stock powder when boiling and mix well.
- To the beaten eggs, add fish sauce, black pepper, and scallion (and gochugaru flakes if using).
- When the broth is boiling on high, slowly pour the egg into stock while mixing constantly with chopsticks. Stir a few times until the egg and broth mixture are well mixed.
- Cover with the lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and set the timer for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, remove from the heat but keep the lid on. Let it stand for 2 minutes before removing the lid and serve.