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 tsp Korean red chili powder or gochoogaru
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seed salt
- 1/4 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 1/4 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…