Korean Cooking: Baby Back Rib Stew (돼지 등갈비찜)

Korean Recipe: Baby Back Rib Stew (돼지 등갈비찜) by LifeOutsideofTexa... #korea #koreanfood #recipe

A few weeks ago at cooking class we learned how to make an amazing rib dish. I’ve never really been a big fan of ribs, but this completely changed my mind. They were tender and full of flavor. I can honestly say that it’s my favorite thing we have made at cooking class.

Here’s the recipe so you can all try cooking them at home! Continue reading

The Happiest Place in Hong Kong

After spending most of the afternoon hanging out with Big Buddha, we decided to go to Disneyland. We took the subway to the end of the line and waited for the Disney train to come. It was covered in Mickey heads!

I was really excited about going to Disneyland because I have never been to a Disney park back in the States.

Continue reading

Yonggungsa Temple – Part 2

Yesterday, I left you wondering what crazy thing I could have possibly done as I was leaving the temple. Today is the big reveal, but I’ll let the pictures tell you…

We ate silkworm larvae.

Can you believe it?!

It was disgusting!

Pancake Day

Tuesday, March 8

When my friends talked about having pancakes on Tuesday, I honestly thought it was just because they were missing pancakes. I had no idea there was a reason behind it until that night. I stopped by the store on the way and picked up real maple syrup, which was super expensive (18,000 won, which is about $16.50 USD), but you can’t have Pancake Day without syrup, right?? Apparently there’s a super cheap Korean version of syrup that isn’t bad. I’ll know for next time.

Anyway, Pancake Day is an actual thing. My friends from the UK all celebrate this day. They didn’t really know how to explain the significance other than on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) you get together with your family and eat pancakes. Apparently, many people in the UK really only eat pancakes on this day.

So about 10 of us all got together in Beth’s apartment and had pancakes. We ate them British style, with a squeeze of lemon and sugar sprinkled over top. We also had chocolate chip pancakes and we had regular pancakes with syrup. It was such a great time.

* Click on the pictures above to see the full size image *

Food in Korea

When I told people back home that I was moving to Korea, one of the questions that was asked the most was, “What are you going to eat?!” I really didn’t know, to be honest. I knew Busan was a coastal city so there would be lots of seafood so I was just hoping that there would be options for me since I am not a seafood lover. I do tend to take a lot of pictures of the food here because I know everyone back home is curious about what I’m eating.

I’ll have to admit that when I first got to Korea I was worried that I was going to starve. I wasn’t impressed with the food at orientation and my neighborhood didn’t really seem to have a lot of options. I definitely craved Western food.

I do have a few options close to my house. I have fallen in love with a bakery called Paris Baguette. The one by my house is quite small in comparison to other locations, but I have found some things there that I love. There is also a Caffe Bene close by. They have tiramissou!

I have become great friends with one of the English teachers from my school. She took me to Home Plus to help me find some things I need for my apartment and treated me to dinner in the food court afterwards. It was different, but pretty good. We had some sort of fried pork. It was nice. The salad was good also. I still don’t know how I feel about the rice stuffed omelet thing, but it was a nice meal overall. The longer I’m here, the more the food grows on me. There are a lot of really great restaurants in Busan and it’s fun trying new things.

I was pretty pleased when I went to the movies in Korea for the first time. I saw Rango (in English with Korean subtitles) and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was also quite lovely because I got to eat nachos!

My friend Faith and I went to Seomyeon one Friday night to meet up for dinner. Seomyeon is like the city center and has loads to see and do. There are also many restaurants, including several Western options. We opted for TGIFridays. It was so yummy. I had a burger and Faith had fajitas.

I don’t just eat Western food here. There’s a lot of really good Korean food, as well. One weekend I got together with my friends Cilla and Sonal and went for lunch. We ate at a really great chicken place. The chicken was lovely, but it was quite spicy.  The waiter scared us a bit because when we ordered this dish, he did his best to warn us that it was spicy and even pointed and something different on the menu. I really enjoy the spiciness here. We all shared the spicy chicken and then did some walking around before we dropped by Angels in Us Coffee for some dessert… hot chocolate, cheesecake and a blueberry waffle.

Care Packages

I’m just going to put this out there…

If anyone wants to send me a care package, I would love some seasoning packets! My top choices are fried rice, guacamole, fajita and taco seasoning, but I’m open to anything else you can think of. Also, Kraft Mac & Cheese would be lovely, as would instant mashed potatoes (and maybe a brown gravy seasoning packet). And what kind of Texas girl would I be if I didn’t mention Minute Rice and Ranch Style Beans.

My First Day of School

I got sick the weekend before school started. I didn’t go to the doctor, but I had something that resembled a sinus infection. It wasn’t fun. I spent a few days in bed watching shows on Hulu and eating pieces of bread. On Monday I met up with my co-teacher to go to the immigration office to apply for my Alien Registration Card (ARC). I saw quite a few people there that I had met at orientation. When you walk in you have to take a number, then go fill out the application form. The place was packed, but the line was moving really quickly and we were in and out in about half an hour or so.

There was no school on Tuesday because it was Korean independence day. School officially started on Wednesday. The day was quite interesting. Let me start off by saying that I was a bit embarrassed on the first day. At school the first thing we do when we come in is change our shoes. We wear slippers or indoor shoes all day and then we change our shoes when we leave the school. I didn’t feel well on the days leading up to school starting so I never ventured out to buy slippers for school. The only shoes I had to wear were the two pairs of slippers that my co-teacher gave me to wear in my apartment. I decided to wear my shower slippers. I think the teachers got a good giggle out of that. I definitely brought different shoes for my second day on the job.

The first thing I did on Wednesday was go to the Broadcasting Room with all of the new teachers at the school. The principal announced us all, one by one, in Korean. I wasn’t really sure what to do so I just followed the lead of the other teachers. The tricky part was knowing when to bow. All of the other teachers could understand what was being said, but I just had to listen closely and try to find a cue word to tell me when would be an appropriate time to bow. I think I did okay. I ended up doing two bows. It was a little awkward, but I wasn’t the only teacher that did that so I don’t feel too bad about it.

Next, I had to help with the first day of school ceremony. Some students came out in matching outfits and sang and danced to some really cute songs, then the principal and vice principal said some words. All I really know is that I was in charge of handing out balloons to a class of 6th graders so they could pass the balloons to the incoming 1st graders. I was a little afraid that I was going to lose my grip and all of the balloons were going to fly through the air, but I only ended up losing one. It wasn’t really my fault… the string was really short and when what I assume was the Korean national anthem started playing, I wasn’t sure what I, being a foreigner, was supposed to do with my hands. Anyway, when it was finally time to hand out the balloons, I must have been going too slow because 4 other teachers rushed to my aid to hurry along the process. All in all, the ceremony was pretty neat. After the balloons were handed out, they were released into the air. The ceremony is supposed to welcome the 1st graders into the school. I am pretty sure the students were allowed to leave school after that. It was an easy day.

It was recommended to us at orientation to make PowerPoint presentations (PPTs) introducing ourselves and our country. A lot of my friends had prepared theirs before school started. I am so thankful that I didn’t because that was basically the only task I was given to do all day Wednesday. I couldn’t imagine what I would have done if I didn’t have that to work on. I was bored enough as it was!

Lunch time was a little confusing for me. My co-teacher told me it was time for lunch and then we started down the stairs. She acted like I was silly when I didn’t change out of my slippers. Honestly, I had no clue what was going on. I was a little confused, but I changed out of my slippers and then all of the teachers started leaving school. I was informed on the way that on the first day of school all of the teachers go out to eat. My co-teachers asked me if I had ever eaten tofu and they were excited when I said I had. They explained to me that we would be eating beef stew. I was a little nervous because I would be eating in front of all of my co-workers, including the principal and vice principal.

As soon as we walked in, the restaurant greeted us with a really pungent smell. I later found out it was some sort of fermented bean soup that is supposedly very good for you. I don’t doubt it, but I have noticed that people in Korea say lots of things are very good for you. We walked upstairs and had an entire room to ourselves to eat. We all took our shoes off and sat on the floor at long tables. Each table had a burner and was full of side dishes. The beef stew that my co-teachers told me about turned out to be seafood stew. It had all sorts of sea creatures in it, like shrimp and octopus (tentacles and all) and other things that I couldn’t identify. If you didn’t already know, I do not like seafood. I mostly ate rice and mixed a bit of the broth in to help the seafood stew go down a bit easier. I sat across the table from my principal. He was very interested in how I liked the food, as was everyone else. It wasn’t bad, but I’m sure I would have eaten more if  it wasn’t seafood stew. I did end up trying the bean stuff. It tasted a lot like it smelled so I only had a few spoons full.

At lunch I was asked by two different people if I am good at/like to play volleyball. The answer to both is no, but I agreed that I would play with everyone. I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. I later found out from other people that have already worked in Korea for a year that the elementary school teachers take their volleyball pretty seriously. They have matches against other schools and they are super competitive. I just thought it was for fun. I am wondering if I can retract my offer to play. I am not the competitive sports kind of girl. My hand-eye coordination is pretty much nonexistent. I don’t want to seem antisocial, but having me on the team doesn’t seem like a very good idea.

I spent the rest of the day in the teacher’s lounge/office working on my PPT. I was having a difficult time figuring out how I was going to talk about myself for 20 minutes. Lots of my co-workers were interested in my PPT and wanted to see it. They were a bit disappointed because I had to finish the PPT at home. The pages about my family didn’t have any pictures on them yet because all of my family pictures were at home on my laptop.

I work Monday through Friday from 8:40am to 4:40pm. My school is just a 10 minute walk from my apartment, which is nice.

Mary, I know you’ve been asking about the food we were eating at orientation was, but the truth is, none of us really knew. They didn’t label any of the food so we really just had to get food and guess what it was. Most of the food was a bit cold and I really didn’t eat a whole lot at orientation.

Meeting my Co-teacher

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday I woke up regretting going out the previous night. I’m not sure why we thought it was a good idea to stay out so late the night before we were supposed to meet out co-teachers and move into our new apartments. I still hadn’t even packed yet! I hurriedly packed my things, but was starting to feel that same overwhelmed feeling I felt the night before I left for Korea. I decided to go get some breakfast with the girls and then come back and pack. I couldn’t eat. I went to the EPIK office to get a large sack to put my dirty clothes in. The only one they had was absolutely massive, which was fine because I had a lot of dirty clothes. I didn’t want to pack them so I thought the huge sack was a good idea. So now I had 2 large suitcases, a laptop bag, a backpack and a gift bag from EPIK.

At 9:00am we all headed over to the classroom to wait to meet our new co-teachers. Mine greeted me with an outstretched hand and a smile. We made small talk as we walked back to the dorm together. The dorm is about a 10 minute walk from where we had class. We went up the elevator to get my bags. On the way, I asked “Is school very far from here?” She said, “Yes, very far.” I was kind of disappointed and she said, “It’s about 15 minutes.” Then followed up with “By subway.” Wait… What??? We were told that our co-teachers were going to pick us up in their cars and then take us to school to meet the principal and vice principal. I didn’t even imagine being met by a teacher that didn’t have a car, especially with as much stuff as I had. When she saw all of my stuff she changed her mind about the subway. She said we would take a taxi, but we still had to get all of my things from the dorm room to the street, which was, again, about a 10 minute walk. It was such a struggle. That giant bag of dirty clothes (plus my pillow and jacket) weighed a ton. We were fortunate enough to find a taxi before we hit the street because it was graduation day at the university we were staying at and someone had just been dropped off. My things barely fit in the taxi. We had to put one of my suitcases between my co-teacher and I.

I know I was warned to take Dramamine before the car ride (thanks for looking out for me, Mary!), but I was just too busy to take it before I left for the classroom and didn’t anticipate being so rushed afterwards. On top of being prone to carsickness, I was already feeling pretty awful. The taxi ride to the school was torture. I was very close to getting sick, but fortunately I didn’t. What a first impression that would have made! I felt so much better after getting out of the car.

Meeting my principal was an interesting experience. I waited in the teacher’s lounge/secretary’s room and then I was escorted into the principal’s office with my head co-teacher and the former head co-teacher. My principal didn’t speak much English to me other than “Nice to meet you.” The co-teachers and principal spoke to one another about me in Korean and occasionally they would ask me questions about my age, family and what I learned at orientation. I was only in the principal’s office for about 5 minutes, then the co-teachers and I went outside. The former head co-teacher (of last year’s guest English teacher) had her husband come pick us up to take my things to my new apartment. Last year’s guest English teacher was still here when we got here. He was packing up his things and getting ready to head to the airport. He left the place in good enough condition. He left a lot of things here. Some I threw away, some I kept and some I gave away (like his giant collection of Magic The Gathering cards).

I left my things at the apartment and my co-teacher took me out to explore my neighborhood and to get supplies for the apartment. We walked from my apartment the closest subway station (which takes under 2 minutes), then to school (which takes 7-10 minutes), then we walked to the Dongnae Station, and then to a giant grocery store, which I would compare to Super Wal-Mart. She bought me bedding and these rice cake things and I bought some food. Then, we took the bus home because we had a lot to carry.

Once we got back to my apartment, the former guest English teacher was gone and my co-teacher helped me clean up. She also had me make a list of things I still needed for my apartment. I couldn’t think of much because my apartment was stocked pretty well. By this point it was almost 3:00pm and I still hadn’t really had anything to eat or drink all day so I was starting to feel awful. My co-teacher said she was hungry so she made us some ramen and we sat on my bed and ate. I didn’t really eat much ramen because it was too flavorful for me. I really just wanted a piece of bread or something. I ate enough to make it seem like I ate. Afterwards, my co-teacher left. I went down with her so she could show me how to sort my garbage and recycling. I had such a long day so I was looking forward to coming back up to an empty apartment. When I got back upstairs, the landlord was in the hall and he followed me into my apartment to set up my TV for me. I communicated to him that I would also like for him to setup my internet (my apartment has free internet!), and he happily started working on my computer. After about 30 minutes of trying, he asked me to follow him to his and his wife’s apartment so he could try plugging my computer into his ethernet port. After an hour at their apartment, it still wasn’t working. I told him that it’s okay and went back to my apartment with my computer. About a half hour later, he rang my doorbell and started speaking to me in Korean. I guess I should have mentioned that my landlords don’t speak English. Anyway, the only two words I could make out were computer and tomorrow. I figured it couldn’t hurt so I handed him my computer and off he went. I figured he’d bring it back tomorrow, but in about another 30 minutes he was back with my computer. This time, Google was pulled up so I knew that he had fixed it. I thanked him and then I finally had my apartment to myself.

Since I still didn’t feel well, I spent the rest of the night in bed watching Grey’s Anatomy and eating bread (finally). It was a good night. haha

I should also mention that my co-teacher came back around 8:00pm with a box of gifts from the school, and she had also personally gotten me a gift… a giant package of toilet paper. It was all very sweet. Below is a video of me opening my gifts I was given by the school…

EPIK Orientation Part 2

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday was Field Trip Day. We went to see an amazing martial arts show/play called JUMP. It was soooo sooo sooooooo good! We weren’t allowed to take pictures during the show, but I found a short video on youtube to share with you.

After JUMP we went to eat  a buffet lunch at a hotel that was right across the street from Haeundae beach, which is the most popular beach in Busan.

The second part of the field trip was a trip to Posco, a GIANT steel mill that the Koreans are VERY proud of. POSCO is in Pohang, which is about 1.5 – 2 hours from Busan. We all loaded back into the bus to get ready for round two.

Unfortunately, I started feeling really carsick on the way to POSCO. I stuck it out and was so relieved when we made it to Pohang. It took awhile to maneuver through the city and actually get to POSCO. When the buses stopped, we all got out to go to the restroom and take a group picture in front of an old furness that they had displayed. Afterwards, we were all told to get back on the buses. My bubble immediately burst. This was a bus tour! Not only was I going to be stuck in the bus for two more hours, but our tour guide didn’t speak English… oh my! Our orientation leaders had to translate it into English for us and it was really too complex to get a good translation. Plus, a lot of the things they were telling us to look at were covered with fences that were lined with vines and shrubs. We were able to get off the bus once during the tour. We went inside of one of the buildings to watch a giant block of flaming hot steel going down the line and being washed off and molded into a longer, thinner sheet of steel. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures for “security purposes.” We were taken back to the building with the restrooms and we were allowed to go to the bathroom, and then we were stuck on the bus for another two hours. Being carsick for 6 hours was definitely one of my least favorite things about orientation.

The girls all went to eat at a traditional Korean restaurant that night, but I stayed in because I was still feeling bad. I ended up eating snacks from the convenience store again. I also took some Dramamine to help me feel better/sleep. I must have been pretty delirious because I ended up putting my Coke in the shoe closet when I meant to put it in the refrigerator.

Tuesday & Wednesday

I forgot to bring my camera on Tuesday and Wednesday, but we were very busy during these two days. We were back to the breakfast, lectures, lunch, lectures, dinner, Korean class schedule. After all of this, I met up with my group to prepare for our lesson plan presentations on Thursday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday we had our group lesson plan presentations. My group was great. We all worked really well together and our lesson was voted second best by the class. The presentations were all really great and gave me a lot of ideas for my classroom. We were all so excited to be done that we jumped for joy!

Later in the day we were introduced to the head of our metropolitan office of education (MOE). Everyone was very anxious because afterwards we finally were able to find out where in Busan we would be and what level we would be teaching.

Then we had the Closing Ceremony & Dinner.

After the week we had, we all decided to go out and celebrate.

We started at a place called WTF? That had specials for the EPIK teachers.

Priscilla and I tried soju for the first time… Cilla hated it!

We didn’t stay long at WFT? But here’s what we found once we left…

So after WTF? we went to a place called Bob Marley, but didn’t stay long. Then we went to a place called Thursday Party. It was an absolute blast. Not long after being there we met a table of Korean university students that were having a great time singing pop songs in English. Megan found free pizza… I swear she has a pizza radar. We all just mingled and had fun chatting with a lot of people we knew we probably weren’t going to see for awhile.

Right before we left the bar we stumbled across something quite interesting…

Popcorn seasoned with curry

Also, it looks as though some guy left his phone on the seat of his motorcycle while he went out to party. I wonder if it was there when he got back…? In the US I would say absolutely not, but in Korea, it wouldn’t surprise me if he found it right where he left it.

Cellphone left on motorcycle

I think that’s enough for now! I had originally planned to write about Friday also, but once I started writing I realized that I had enough to say about Friday that it deserved its own post. It will be up tomorrow so be sure to come back to take a look!

EPIK Orientation Part 1

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Once I got settled into orientation, it was time for lunch. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing either. The same can be said for all of the meals here in the dorm. After lunch, a large group of us went to walk around and explore the city. Half of the group ended up wanting to go to the bars and half just wanted to explore so we ended up splitting up. We walked around for over two hours and had a lot of fun. We went to a local coffee shop called Angel in us Coffee and took loads of pictures. My roommate is from Chicago and she had a pizza craving the minute she got off the plane so we thought it was really funny when we ran across a pizza delivery scooter on the sidewalk. We also ran across an Outback Steakhouse.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday was our first official day of orientation. It was also the day of our medical checks. We had to fast so we couldn’t eat or drink anything after 9pm Thursday. The medical checks were quite an experience. They made us go in by class number so I couldn’t go until 10:20am. I didn’t end up getting done until noon. We were STARVING! The auditorium where they were doing the medical checks was FREEZING! We had to wait over an hour just to begin.

I was a bit worried about the hearing test because about a month ago I ruptured my ear drum and my hearing out of that ear isn’t that great. Fortunately, they administered the easiest hearing test I’ve ever had. They also tested us for color blindness, measured our chests (no one really knows why), took our weight and height, gave us the most difficult eye exam I’ve ever had, took our blood (with no gloves!), and took a urine sample. They also had us do a chest xray, which involved the girls having to take our bras off and then we were all in line to get on this bus where the xray machine was. It was really, really odd.

Here’s a funny story about the urine tests… I overheard someone saying that the urine test was traumatizing and I turned to one of my friends and asked, “What was so traumatizing about the urine test…?” She said, “Well, don’t you think it was a little weird having to do it over the squatty toilet?” Apparently a lot of people didn’t realize that there were regular toilets in the bathroom too. I guess I would have been a little traumatized by that too!

After our chest xrays we were given orange juice and a small snack, then we all went back to the dorm for lunch. The pictures below are of my lunch… before and after I ate. Needless to say, I wasn’t in love with the cafeteria food.

After lunch we had the opening ceremony, which was great. The first picture below is a picture I took as everyone was walking from the dorm to the auditorium. We were asked to wear our new EPIK hoodie sweatshirts to the opening ceremony. I sat by Beth & Megan and we took our first pictures doing the very typical Korean picture pose.

We saw several different traditional Korean dances, and a really neat drum show.

Afterwards, we all went to dinner. It was very crowded.

The first picture is the plate of food that I got. Unfortunately, I didn’t eat more than a few bites. Everything was cold. I went back and got a new plate and ate all of it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday was our first day of lectures. They kept us EXTREMELY busy during orientation. We had lectures from 9:00am – 12:20pm, then lunch and then more lectures from 2:00pm – 5:20pm. We would then break for dinner and after dinner we had Korean lessons from 7:00pm – 8:10pm.

A very typical breakfast for me was toast with butter and strawberry jelly. Sometimes I would eat cereal also. The second picture above is lunch. I think on this day I really just ate oranges. Some of us went down to the convenience store on the first floor and got snacks. Here’s Megan and I with our snacks…

Dinner was much better…. 🙂

McDonald’s tastes the same in South Korea, in case you were wondering.

Above are pictures of some of the things we saw on the way back to campus.

After Korean lessons we ventured back out to a foreigner bar called HQ. It was full of people from orientation. We had a great time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On Sunday we did more of the same… toast for breakfast, lectures, lunch, lectures, dinner, Korean lessons… BUT….

We ventured out for lunch…

We were on a quest for pizza!


Pizza Hut in Korea

We were all VERY excited, but no one was more excited than Megan (aka Chicago). And look how how they wrap up your leftovers… cute!

That is it for Part 1. I will post about the rest of orientation very soon!

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