I don't know when my love for cooking started. I mean, I've always loved eating food. Duh. But, I don't remember my mom sharing any awesome recipes with me. Perhaps the only recipe I really enjoyed was my grandma's goulash, and even then, it was basically macaroni noodles, canned tomatoes, beef and sugar.
We were never too fancy. Spaghetti and meatballs. Pork chops and mashed potatoes. Fried chicken and fried potatoes. If it sounds like it could come from a Cracker Barrel menu, then we probably made it.
Rather than a specific moment, it was a collection of small events that made me realize I loved cooking. I recently threw away the recipe book I made in the third grade. It was comprised of recipes I cut out from my mom's magazines. When all my college friends were getting cool jobs as barmaids and making money, I was squirreling away my paychecks to buy a 10-piece All Clad Stainless Steel cookware set. I worked at Williams-Sonoma for nearly four years, and I remember actually getting giddy over winning an All Clad butter warmer during a sales contest. It was so cute! And when I got married, I didn't have anything to register for except some new bakeware because I had bought practically everything - including my crystal - before I turned 22.
Over the years, my love for Korean food has also blossomed into a healthy obsession. It started with Korean BBQ (also known as bulgogi) and then turned into anything and everything. My tastebuds still can't agree with some of the fish dishes, but I think that's the traditional Midwesterner upbringing in me. Dried anchovies? Not if I can see their eyeballs.
This weekend, I have the most wonderful opportunity to share my love of food and Korean dishes with anyone and everyone for free! I'll be at Carolina Farmin' this Sunday in Wilmington at 4 p.m. I'm going to use an old recipe of mine to make bulgogi, but I think I'm also going to make a lot of traditional side dishes. Cucumber kimchi, cabbage kimchi, mung bean pancakes, japchae, fried seaweed and mandu all come to mind.
I love Korea...its people...and the food. I'd love to tell you about my travels and my family. Plus, I'd love to show you that Korean food is as easy and delicious as apple pie.
In the meantime, here's one of my favorite recipes for cucumber kimchi. If your'e familiar with the side dish, it's NOT the stuffed kind. I think I actually got this recipe years ago from a book called Flavors of Korea. If you like vinegar and cucumbers, you'll probably like this! It's great with rice, too.
2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Korean red pepper powder or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 medium seedless cucumbers, peeled an cut lengthwise into thin, 4-inch long slices
1 medium white onion, cut in half, then cut into thin slices
In a large jar, thoroughly mix together the salt, vinegar, sugar, and Korean red pepper powder. Add the cucumber and onion slices, then mix. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.