With only three more weeks of school left and tons of research papers, presentations, and finals coming up, I'm trying my best to finish strong because that's what I do ;). So yes, I've been in "Persevere" mode lately. On top of that, Tim and I have been driving down to Houston every weekend to spend time with my in-laws. My father-in-law (appa) seems more determined than ever to win his battle with cancer, and we want to be there to support him every step of the way. Even though these frequent trips are wearing us down (not to mention how much we miss spending quality time just by ourselves), we wouldn't have it any other way.
This time when I saw appa, he appeared a lot more fragile and tired. He lost 5 pounds during his 4 day hospital stay but is slowly gaining weight now that he's back home. What's been the toughest for all of us to deal with has been his lack of appetite and taste aversions. He doesn't want to have anything to do with sweets, which is a shame since there are sooo many high-calorie sugary choices that are sure to increase his weight. There seems to be a disconnect between his memory and his present sense of taste. He'll say he wants something, but when he actually tastes it, he gets upset that it's not what he had on his mind and will sometimes stop eating all together. It's so sad to see...He used to never complain about food. He's a man that could eat the same meals over and over for a week with no problem (a wife's dream come true!). Just rice and kimchi? "Why not?" he'd say.
Through all this, my mother-in-law (umma) has surprised me more than words can describe. What a strong woman she is! With a dedicated caregiver, supporter, and prayer warrior like her, cancer, you've met your match! She's simply amazing.
She has a lot on her mind, of course. One of the ways she's combatting that is by keeping herself busy. It's quite amusing to watch this 5'-nothing woman with uncombed "wild" hair shuffling around the house in her slippers. She's like a ninja - she'll pop up out of nowhere at a moment's notice. The majority of her time is spent
feeding forcing food down appa's throat, thinking of what to cook, cooking, cleaning, cooking....
One of her beloved specialties is her mul kimchi or non-spicy Korean radish kimchi. It was one of appa's favorites (now not so much), and Tim craves it a lot more now than ever before. He's been feeling a lot more reminiscent lately. So of course I had to obtain this "recipe," which was no easy task, let me tell you. I tried my best to get her to give me exact measurements, but of course like any other Korean mother, she told me it varies from time to time and that you just have to add a pinch of this and a splash of that and taste every step of the way. However, being the persistent one that I am, I kept shoving measuring spoons at her, which I think may have irritated umma a bit. Even then, things didn't go so smoothly. My excitement at her using a measuring cup came to an abrupt end when she poured in the fish sauce from the measuring cup without actually checking the marker on the cup! It happened so fast that I couldn't stop her. She's a ninja, indeed. Anyway, after much of "umma! how much of this? that? no I don't want to hear a couple of shakes of this!!!," I was able to comprise an actual recipe to share with you.
- Korean radish 1 large round one or 2 smaller ones, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces *
- Garlic whole bulb, sliced
- 1 med carrot sliced
- Green onion 3 stems, sliced roughly
- 1 Tbs salt
- 2 teaspoon Korean red chili powder or gochoogaru
- 2 teaspoon toasted sesame seed salt
- ¼ cup fish sauce **
- * Korean radish and daikon are not the same even though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Korean radish is rounder larger, and has a pale green color at the top. It tastes spicier, too.
- ** This is what makes her kimchi different from others as salt is normally used. Also according to her, it MUST be the one with the picture of the 3 crabs on the bottle as you can see below.
- Chop the radish. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 Tbs salt and let it sit for about 30 min. Toss halfway through.
- Add gochoogaru or red chilli powder. Mix. Add carrots, garlic, green onion. Mix. Add toasted sesame seed salt. Mix. Add ¼ cup fish sauce. Mix. Let it sit for about an hour.
- Transfer to a jar. With the liquid that formed in the bowl, taste it first. If too salty, add more water. If not, add a bit more salt to taste.
- Place saran wrap on top before closing the lid. Leave out overnight and put it in the refrigerator in the morning.
- I cannot tell you exactly when it will be ready, but you'll know once it is. So I advise you to sneak in a bite every other day. It's best when served cold.
The rest of the weekend was spent lounging around in our pjs. Umma is actually scared of dogs as she got bit by a large one many years ago, but she seemed a bit at ease with Kona. He has that kind of effect on people ;). I was extremely hurt when my sister-in-law told us that his face is one that only a parent could love. I made sure to cover Kona's ears! Blasphemy, I tell ya!
We had another blessed weekend with them. On our way back home, we saw a field of bluebonnets. 'Tis the season for this beautiful state flower. We made a brief stop to snap some photos. We were craving a lil' fresh air anyway, not to mention we had no feeling in our butts. These blue beauties made us happy. The greatest challenge in taking these pictures was getting Kona to look at the camera. As you can see, we failed miserably. He was wayy too stimulated and distracted. Better luck next time...
What a touching post. I'm making the kimchi as my Korean radishes come up! I'm so excited!
Brittany Trentham (@batrentham) says
Praying for you and your family friend! Your mother-in-law sounds like a strong woman!! I've never had kimchi. Maybe one day you can introduce me?? 😉
Yay!! Another Kimchi lover 😉 In Korean cuisine, the common ingredients in spicy dishes are "gochugaroo" or red chili powder and "gochujang" which is a fermented red chili paste. Check out this recipe (https://sooheesun.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/happy-new-year/) for the spicy version! Enjoy! And another yay to connecting with another dietetics students!
Bite Into Nutrition says
What a beautiful and inspiring blog you have! I love Asian food, and have recently taken an interest in Korean cuisine. I love to order Kimchi at a Korean restaurant. I would like to try this kimchi recipe, spicy style. What spices would you recommend to make it more spicy? I am also a Dietetics student!
Hi Linda. It is just as the name implies - mixture of sesame seed and salt. You can find it in Asian grocery stores and it's in a jar like the one pictured above. Hope this helps 😉
Can you tell me what is sesame seed salt?
HealthyDiva (@HealthyDiva31) says
Thinking of your father in law and sending love and prayers! I know he will fight it! I just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you and your family!!
Semester almost over, yay! You will finish strong! Love you Min!
Aww Katie! Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! You are so sweet. Yes, he is a fighter alright. As for me..one more week! Let the countdown begin! 😉
Hi Min! Thank you for sharing the recipe for kimchi. Growing up in Russia's Far East I used to love it. There is a large Korean population there.
Send my best wishes to your father-in-law.
I am glad to have found your blog as a fellow Texan. You've got a new reader!
I miss you sis!! ^^
Unnie!!!! welcome ;). Miss you too....
Continued light to you, Hubby, Appa and Umma! Thanks for sharing Umma's recipe! How can I make my version spicy?
Umma has another Prayer Warrior here in Maryland.
Wow..thank you, Trudy! And yes..I couldn't agree more. Cancer Sucks!
So you are a fan of spicy food I see 😉
What you can do is add some red chili peppers or chili powder (gochoogaru) along with the carrots and green onions. However, understand that "mul" kimchi is not suppose to be spicy. There's another kind called Kakdugi, which I think may be the one you're looking for. My friend has a great recipe on her site: https://sooheesun.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/happy-new-year/
Laurie @ Love, Laugh, Laurie says
Love all the pictures of your beautiful family (Kona included!). I will keep your appa in my prayers! If you need anything at this time, let me know!
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
Sending you and your family lots of well wishes Min...you sound like you are managing a difficult situation with such strength and courage. I hope the trips aren't too draining but know you'll be glad you made them, there are things in life that are just too important not to do.
Continuing to pray for your father-in-law...for strength and renewed appetite and healing! It's wonderful that you and Tim can go and visit them every weekend. I hope the time together in the car has been a blessing to you both...I often find that Patrick and I have great conversations when we are driving together 🙂
Kalee Sorey (@KaleeSorey) says
I'm so glad appa is fighting. It sounds like your umma is amazing! I am always inspired by how strong people can be even when faced by something hard. I haven't ever heard of kimchi, but I love everything it! I can't wait to try it and love that you shared the story behind the recipe.
This was such a beautiful post and so heart warming (and belly warming) in every sense of the word! I'm so sorry that Tim's father is battling such a horrible disease, but I can't help but wonder what amazing things the Lord is going to do through it all. Ummuhnee sounds a lot like my mom! She's lilke a ninja too, lol. Your in-laws sound like wonderful people!!!
And omgshhh I loooooooooove mool kimchi, I'm getting hungry now! And I think a craving is starting to form....:P
i'm sorry to hear about your father-in-law. i can't imagine how tough that is on you and the fam. i love that you called your mil a ninja!! hehe
dixya@food, pleasure, and health says
sending lots of prayers to your appa. My parents were here visiting and i had same issue you are having with your MIL - she has no recipes yet food come out delicious. It always surprises me..I love kimchi in general and theres always a jar in my kitchen.. have a marvelous week
Min, soooo glad that your appa is willing to fight against his cancer! with all your love and support and plenty of prayers, I'm sure he will win this fight!! And it looks like u had a great time bonding with Tim's mum making this favorite dish of Tim's!!
Say hi to Tim for me and tell him to stay strong! 🙂
love lots & big hug!