Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Recipe for Egyptian Koshary

Koshary is one of the best, cheapest meals in Egypt. Almost nobody makes it at home because it is so cheap to order it and it is labor intensive. I used Samia Abdennour's recipe from her book, Egyptian Cooking, A Practical Guide. Then I made some additions to make it more like I had at the restaurant.

1 cup brown lentils
1 cup rice (I used Basmati. It is a long grain rice that they use or a combo)
1/8 kg macaroni (dittalini pasta is the closest but use whatever small pasta or elbow macaroni you have)
2 large onions, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups tomato sauce
hot chili (optional), salt

Cook lentils in salted water until tender. Strain. Cook rice in salted water until tender. Strain. Cook macaroni, preferably the small, round variety, strain, rinse, and strain again.

Place these three ingredients in a cooking pot. Fry onions (in a separate pan) to a rich brown (almost black), then remove the onions onto absorbent paper and strain the oil into the lentil mixture. Return the pot to the flame and cook for 7-10 minutes, tossing often to prevent sticking.

Serve by topping each individual plate with tomato sauce and fried onions. Sprinkle with hot chili.

Recipe for Samia's Tomato Sauce

2 cups tomato juice (or any tomato product, I used whole peeled tomatoes b/c I got a ton of them on sale and then just pureed later)
1-2 onions, chopped very finely
5-7 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon vinegar (white vinegar)
cooking oil, salt, pepper

Saute onions until soft, then add garlic and fry to a pale brown. Add tomato juice and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until sauce is cooked and becomes dark. Add vinegar and seasonings and cook 2-3 minutes longer.

This dish is usually served with two side sauces: a cumin, vinegar, garlic sauce and a spicy, tomato/chili sauce. I decided to just add some red pepper flakes to the dish, but I did make the cumin, vinegar, garlic sauce:

Take garlic cloves and hit the with the end of the knife, but don't break them up. Add into white vinegar. Add some cumin and coriander into the vinegar. Stir and let the flavors meld. I think they use whole seeds because when you get the sauce, you can definitely taste the cumin, but it just looks like a clear, slightly yellow liquid.

The keys to this dish are the fried onions and that cumin, garlic vinegar sauce.

I combined everything together and it tasted pretty authentic. It can be spicier in the restaurant, but I didn't spice it up too much so that Ian could eat it. Also, unlike other areas, Egyptians don't like things very hot anyway. As I was looking around for recipes, I saw one that said their was hot paprika in that chili sauce as well.

I added some extra salt to the lentil mixture. Egyptian cooking is all about oil, salt, onions, garlic and cumin. You can't have too much. I also added chickpeas which are usually in this as well.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's for Breakfast? Deviled Eggs

I decided to make deviled eggs to mix up my daily egg routine. I found this website devoted to making the perfect deviled egg. I didn't follow all the steps since I was just making them for myself but this is great information if you were going to make them for a party and wanted them to look pretty. I just made the classic filling, but several recipes are listed and it would be easy to create your own variation.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

English-Speaking Chiropractor in Seoul

I just had my first appointment with chiropractor, Dr. Philip Yoo. He is an American, trained in the US, who came to Korea to learn Korean and liked it so much that he stayed. He also speaks Korean and Spanish.

I am going because my baby is breech and I want to do some body work to try to correct that. I did it with Ian, but didn't start soon enough and it didn't work. Plus, I know I am out of alignment and so it will be good for me anyway.

Today, he did a digital body analysis (38,000 KW). I also stood on this scale that measures how you carry your body weight. I carry most of my weight on my left side. He then gave me a treatment plan (including costs) and the option to start treatment today. I decided to go ahead and have a treatment since I was there.

Treatment involved laying on a massage table with an automatic roller thing. Then he did some adjustments. Treatments cost 48,000 KW, but if you pre-pay for 10 treatments you get 10% off, so that is what I did. This is more expensive than in the US, but not ridiculously so and I am hoping insurance will cover some of it.

The receptionists also speak English so making an appointment was pretty easy. You can also make appointments online, but I haven't tried that. I sent an e-mail but didn't get a response so I think calling is best.

There are two locations: Itaewon and one outside of Osan Airbase (Osan clinic has limited hours). The Itaewon clinic is located on the 1st floor of the green Hannam Building which also houses the International Clinic and the Seoul Global Center. It is across from the fire station.

Another service they offer is personalized Pilates training.

Stocked Up for the Weekend

Ian had his Flu Mist on Monday and then had flu-like symptoms on Thursday as did I: weakness, tiredness, I threw up, he didn't eat, both had diarrhea, he had a fever. We both seem to be better today, but since it is just before the weekend, I thought we'd better take precautions. I went to the hospital to see if I could get Ian in, they said I could go to the ER if he really needed to be seen, but otherwise I should just give him Tylenol and fluids. I also wanted to see the doctor so I could report the reaction to the Flu Mist. Not sure that is what did it, but it was very close.

I picked up some more Tylenol, Pedialyte for Ian, Gatorade for me, bottled water, milk (because we were out) and a few other snacks, the healthiest of which were string cheese and strawberries. Lots of crap, especially the Pedialyte and Gatorade, but Ian didn't eat anything yesterday and I could only get down soup so it is better than nothing. We have water delivered (in those big jugs for the dispenser) as part of our lease and we ran out of it. I tried to drink the tap water filtered through the Brita but it tasted like the river. Our water was tested this summer and they said it was safe to drink but the timing of the illness coincided with us drinking the tap water so I started wondering if that was the other cause. Plus, with the taste, I know I can't drink enough. I don't like buying individual bottles of water because of the waste, but we need to stay hydrated.

I was debating whether or not to get a flu shot this year. Now that I think I've had a mild case, maybe I don't need to, but I will be pregnant throughout the entire flu season. I think that if they have the mercury-free shot, I will do it, but if not, I won't. I don't think I even want the shot with the trace of mercury. There are enough heavy metals in the air here in Seoul that I don't want to add to it. Plus, there are lots of studies that show the flu shot doesn't work.

I have my chiropractor appointment today. Hope it goes well. I will have to take Ian with me, but that is the way it goes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hot Crab Dip

I made myself hot crab dip with a portabello mushroom. I just threw real crab, cream cheese, pepper jack, sour cream, hot sauce, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice. mayonnaise and chives together and baked it until hot and bubbly. I looked at some recipes online and then just threw in what I had. Ian was not in a dipping mood so it was just me. It is a bit wasteful, hope I can eat it all, but I just wanted it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sweet Innocence

Today, Ian took some legos with him as we took the dog outside. He dropped them and when he picked them up and re-formed them, they were in the shape of a gun. He didn't realize it, though. He doesn't shoot things. I have to comment on this because I know the day is near where everything will be a gun. Little boys tend to do this as soon as they discover the concept. It is just nice that we made it until he is over 2 without guns.

Other examples:

1. He sleeps with a baby doll. He doesn't know that "dolls are for girls".

2. He chose a purple balloon with theatre masks on it at the Yongsan Fall Fest. He doesn't know that "pink and purple are for girls".

3. He went to the doctor today to get his Flu Mist. He isn't afraid of the doctor.

4. He only knows Signing Time, Sesame Street, Barack Obama and John McCain from television (the last two, mostly like from the Daily Show/Colbert Report). People ask him about Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, and the Wiggles and he just stares blankly. He doesn't know any of the Disney movies and has never watched a movie. Again, I know this is coming to an end soon. However, I appreciate the fact that I can dress him in my style, with almost no licenced character clothing, bedding or paraphernalia. He has a pair of Elmo overalls and a Barack Obama t-shirt. He has Elmo pjs but he outgrew them.

5. He doesn't feel excluded or ostracized or inferior in any way to any kids. I know that, too, will end shortly. Three and four year olds are mean! Today at the playground an older boy yelled at him and he yelled back louder. The boy went crying to his mother, but later pushed Ian off the steering wheel on the play structure. I didn't see it but Ian was crying and the kid had a maniacal look in his eye. Still, he got over it very quickly and was re-directed. He was upset but didn't take it personally. Sweet innocence.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mystery Baby

The baby had its legs crossed so the tech couldn't tell the sex. We should be having another ultrasound before we leave so we might find out then. Guess I just need to start thinking of names for both sexes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pregnancy Preparation Tracking

Since I started very early, I am taking my time with the Hypnobabies program. It is designed to start about 32 weeks and take each chapter one week to complete before you go in maintenance phase. It is a big commitment. especially starting early, which is why I think they suggest you start later. Since I will be without my husband for the last two months, I wanted to go through the program with him before I leave. That involves listening to one script and one affirmations cd a day, over 30 minutes each. The next chapter, I have to practice the "finger-drop technique" for going into self-hypnosis, 5 times a day. It just takes about 2 minutes each time, but still, a commitment to everyday. As I've said before, the difference in how successful people are with the program seems to be directly related to the amount of practicing they did. I want to get the most out of the program, so I want to do it every day. So far, I've only missed one day of affirmations, but done the script everyday.

I've also been very successful with exercising. Still need to get my workout in for today, though. I was planning to go to yoga but my husband is not feeling well so I let him sleep and stayed home instead. I was able to get Ian to nap and listen to my script, so the time was not lost.

This next chapter of Hypnobabies covers nutrition and recommends 75-80 grams of protein per day. Yikes! that is a lot, I have glanced at the Brewer Diet before and have been eating eggs (started with one and now I am eating two) almost every day for breakfast. I've also tried to drink milk for lunch and dinner. Milk has a lot of protein. Still, I don't know how much I am getting. I am going to start tracking it on the handy protein tracker sheet, but it is like my spending, I am afraid to track because I am afraid to see the results. Got to suck it up and do it (for the protein and the finances).

Then that brings me to the pregnancy specific exercises like Kegels (50-300 per day) pelvic rocking (20-40, 3 times a day), squats and tailor sitting. I haven't been doing much of these, except in yoga class or what is in the dvds. It seems overwhelming. I did not do any of this in my first pregnancy, except for yoga in in the third trimester and by then it was too late. I need to keep my ligaments loose so I have a better chance of proper positioning, instead of breech, like last time.

I am going to make a master chart for all of this. My housekeeping has virtually no chance of improving during this pregnancy, or probably for the 6 months afterward, but I am not totally giving up on that, either.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Stage Parents

It is interesting to watch parental reactions (including my own) to children's lack of cooperation in activities. When your child misbehaves, it is embarrassing, especially because you might start to think the other parents are thinking that you should have better control. And sometimes they are thinking that. And sometimes they say that.

Ian had his first gymnastics class with the new teacher and he was horrendous! He had been crazy these past few weeks so I felt additional internal pressure to try to control him. During the warm up, I tried to hold him and make him do the tasks. He fought me and screamed. Then, the rotations started. He did well on some apparatus and not well on others. I got control of myself during the rotations and just moved him through. If he didn't want to do a particular station, we kept moving. Towards the end of the class, I just let him run. You can harp and yell and restrain and then you are both miserable.

He's only two.

But, we just had a moment of sweetness. Ian took my hand and said,"Come see the moon." He led me to the window and showed it to me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Let There Be Poop...

On the potty!

Ian pooped on the potty for the first time tonight and he did it as Curt was walking through the door so he got to witness. Curt preserved Ian's dignity by telling me,"No pictures." I was going to take a picture. Yeah, that's gross.

My approach to potty training is very laid back. We've been talking about the potty for awhile and this summer I bought a potty. We keep it in the livingroom and he sits on it when he wants to. He pooped on it once before because I caught him doing it and put him on it, but he hasn't peed, yet. Today was the first time that he said,"I need to poop." His diaper had been falling off so I told him to take it off and try to pee on the potty. He did that and then came back and said he needed to poop so I said,"Go sit on the potty!" We went over together and he sat down. I put his feet up on the seat so it would be easier to find the muscles to control the pooping and said,"Push the poop in the potty." He pushed and got a little air. We cheered and he said,"More?" and did it a few more times before the poop started coming out. Curt walked in the door just as he was doing it, We cheered again, he carried it to the big toilet, dumped in it and flushed.

I don't expect him to start pooping on the potty regularly, but that is definitely progress. It would be really cool if he did, though!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Yongsan ICE Site (Interactive Customer Evaluation)

I can and do complain A LOT, along with lots of other moms about a lot of things on the base. There is a forum to air complaints called the Interactive Customer Evaluation or ICE. Supposedly, all the complaints are seen by the Garrison Commander.

I haven't used ICE before because I didn't know where it was and didn't think it would make any difference. I still don't think it will make a difference, but like voting, you have to participate. Bitching with other moms may relieve stress but it definitely won;t change anything. Submitting a formal complaint, which you can do anonymously, might. If the right person sees it, it might make a difference. And, at least you can say that you tried to do something productive with your experience.

So, it is on my List of Pain, to put my complaints into ICE. Some of them are about horrible customer service and specific individuals. Others are more suggestions like, CDC Hourly Care. It is available from 8-3pm for toddlers and preschoolers. The spaces are so limited that you have to call two weeks ahead in the early morning, to get in. The morning slots fill fastest because the afternoon slots aren't long enough to do anything. ACS offers free Korean classes at 5:30 and there are exercise classes at 5:30, but I can't do them because Curt doesn't get home early enough and there is no Hourly Care that late. Now, the CDC is only open until 6pm, so childcare for ACS classes or workouts couldn't be provided in that way, but at least Hourly Care could go from 6am to 6pm when the regular CDC is open for the full-time kids. There was an OB orientation starting at 1pm which was scheduled to go until 4pm. I had to take Ian with me because Hourly wasn't open long enough. It ended up only lasting until 3pm, but that was still too late to be at the CDC by 3pm. Extending Hourly until 6pm would have solved that problem.

Maybe there could be another option for the exercise classes. When I went to Jazzercise in VA or to the YMCA in PA, they had a childcare center for working out. There was a two hour time limit and they could not feed or change your child (different regulations and requirements kick in if they do). If your child cried too much they would come and get you, but it worked for some people. It didn't really work for me at the time, but I think it would now.

My List of Pain goals for this week are ICE and dealing with the computer and the composter.

Crying in Public

I'm not a very emotional pregnant woman. I don't get emotional in relation to my periods, either. I am a pretty passionate person and have been known to cry in public when under stress or extreme frustration (When Bush got re-elected in 2004, I cried for a week in public, multiple times a day). But today I had an episode of crying in public that was probably pregnancy related.

I went to yoga because I have 21 classes to use up before I leave in December. The schedule changes every month and since I didn't go this weekend, I didn't have the new schedule. Additionally, getting into Hourly Care is so difficult that you have to schedule two weeks in advance in order to get in, meaning, I have to schedule before I know the yoga schedule. The schedule is online and you have to have a Korean registration number to register for the website. So, I went to my husband's office to call to see what classes they were giving at 10:00am and 12:00pm because my babysitting covered both. 10:00am was Vinyasa and 12:00pm was Hot Yoga. I decided to go to Vinyasa, because, although it is still in heat, it is not as hot. I bought two bottles of water (after realizing I forgot my water bottle and phone at home) and figured I would drink a lot and take breaks if it got too hot.

I got there and the teacher, got another teacher to tell me that I couldn't take Vinyasa because it was too hard for pregnancy and dangerous. I could only take Heal class. Before I bought this latest bundle of 30 classes, I had asked the owner if I could take yoga during pregnancy because I was trying to conceive. She said,"Yes, no problem. Yoga is good for you". So I bought 30 classes and then conceived immediately. This same teacher who told me I couldn't do Vinyasa said I couldn't do yoga in the first trimester. The owner hadn't said that, but I guess she must have assumed that I knew that. So, I took the summer off from yoga, but now I need to get these classes done before I leave. I prefer to go to Heal or Hatha, but I think I can do Vinyasa with modifications. The owner might have a different perspective, but she wasn't there so I thought I was going to have to leave without going to class. So I started crying.

I explained to the other teacher that I had to use these classes and it was hard to get babysitting and I wasn't going to be able to get through them. I went upstairs to change and then they came up and said they would do a Heal class today for me so I could take class today. That was very nice, but I was really embarrassed for crying I am glad that I got to do the class, only 20 to go! I was sobbing. I couldn't control myself.

Factors complicating me using my classes:
1. Limited number of classes at times that I can go to.
2. Times I can go are limited by limited hourly care hours, husband working late, nannies that we know are only available nights and weekends and with the uncertain emergency services, I don't want to leave Ian with just anyone.
3. Appointments, Ian's classes, etc.
4. Korean holidays (I need to find out which ones result in studio closure).
5. Curt's traveling.

I do have time to get the classes done, but I don't want to be cutting it close. I wish I could guarantee that I could go three times a week at the same time, but that is hard to do. I think that will be my goal. If I can do that, I will be done in 7 weeks. I have about 10 weeks to go. The owner said she would extend the time I have to use them, but since I will be gone for so long and then have to get childcare for two kids, I don't want to have a lot of expensive classes hanging out over my head. I invested a lot in these classes and if I get to use them, it will be worth it, but if I don't, I will feel terribly guilty about it.

In other news, I got Ian signed up for Gymnastics with the new teacher because he needs more activities. I didn't think we would miss it as much as we did. I found a little suit for Ian at the Thrift Store. It was $12 which is high for the thrift store, but it is cute, nice material and I walked away on Friday. I told myself if it were still there, I would get it, so I did. Now I need to find a shirt for him to wear with it. It is Korean and I've seen them for much more than that, so I am o.k. with the deal.

Friday, October 3, 2008

So, How Do You Like It, Here?

I hate that question when I am relatively new to a place because I hate transition (but I love change after it has happened). Someone asked me today at an office picnic.

The day to day life here is fine. I don't love it. I don't hate it. I am pretty happy with my family. Just wish Curt worked fewer hours. But as far as the things I like about Korea, I like the food. That is really it for the moment. And, because of pregnancy and US government guidance my food indulgences are restricted. I am not usually as strict as the Embassy suggests, but during pregnancy I am extra cautious.

The incident with Ian locking me in the laundry room and no Koreans, not even the building security helping has really disturbed me. What if there were a medical emergency? What would I do? Would the base ambulance come? How would they know how to get to my apartment building? No one seems to know where it is. I said that to the guy who asked the question and he said he saw a street vendor getting electrocuted in Itaewon and all the Koreans just stood there watching. No one helped until this guy (an American) grabbed a 2 x 4 and broke the connection of the faulty wire and stopped the guy from getting totally fried. Yikes.

I need to find out about that. What to do in case of emergency.

We are going to try to do some MWR trips in November. Curt will be gone most of October and then we leave in December, so we need to go do some things. Public transportation with a toddler is not convenient. Driving and parking without a good map is not convenient. I just have to accept that, especially with a family, you can't wander around Korea like you can wander around Europe. Going on some tours will give us some more experiences and help us figure out where things are and hopefully how to get back. Some of this is just me. I don't like to be in the position of cluelessness. Some people are a lot more go with the flow in this area and therefore have an easier transition.

When I think back to getting used to Cairo, two things helped: learning to read Arabic and making friends. I need to learn to read Korean but just don't have the energy right now. I have a few friends so that area is getting better as well, but it is still hard.

The common factor between my experiences in Cairo and Seoul is that we do not have a very supportive organization. It makes a big difference. There is no one to ask for the policies written down as to what we are supposed to get. People are just not that helpful. Mainly because, they don't need help. In both Cairo and Seoul, most of the people in the organization have been here for many years and are either first generation Americans with roots to Egypt or another Arabic speaking country or in the case or Seoul, the roots are Korean or they are married to a native speaker. They don't need to know what we need to know and they aren't very good (or interested) in helping us. That is hard. The military and State Department are much better organized to support families because people move a lot more frequently. So I stumble around (and I hate stumbling) and grow even more resentful because other organizations are so much more supportive of their people and they don't stumble quite as much.

Thinking about our housing situation, our lease ends when I am in the States having a baby. The complex is nice but the community is non-existent, the building management is not helpful and no one knows where it is. Staying would be easier, but I think we should move to a more convenient location that is better dealing with foreigners.

Ugh. I want to positive. I do not like to be negative, but I like to have more control than I have right now.

Belly: 18 Weeks, 1 Day

I was hoping to get my face in this time, but Curt leaves before the sun is up and comes back after it has gone down and today, Saturday morning, I am not photo ready. So the belly-only, belly shots continue.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Roxxy Love

Ian loves Roxxy.



I Voted!

Ian watching the Katie Couric interview of Sarah Palin