Cheesy Scalloped Vegetables

7 Aug

This delicious dish combines a vegetable mix (Potatoes, Onions, Green Peppers, and Carrots) with a delicious, and extra cheesy sauce. My family tends to prefer vegetable dishes while I prefer potatoes. ๐Ÿ˜‚ This was a nice medium and was completely gone by the end of the meal. Several people complimented the dish, including my uncles — so it’s a good dish all around!

I’ll make another version later and include a photo — unfortunately, this one was gone before I remembered to grab the picture ๐Ÿคฃ

Filling Ingredients

  • 3-4 Large Potatoes or 7-8 Small Potatoes (Peeled or Unpeeled to preference)
    • (Yukon Gold is preferred. but Red Potatoes are acceptable)
  • 4-5 Medium Carrots (Peeled)

Clean the vegetables. Slice thinly so they will cook through.

Put vegetables in a sauce pan and cover with water. Boil on a stovetop on medium heat about 25 – 28 minutes. You should be able to easily stab them through with a fork. Work on the sauce while you wait.

Use a strainer to dump the water and set aside to cool for handling.

Cheesy Sauce

  • 1 Medium Fresh Onion
  • 1 Large Green Pepper
  • 2-3 TBSP of Butter
  • Fresh Garlic or Garlic Power (to taste)
    • My family prefers more garlic so we use 4-5 cloves, but it’s up to you.
  • 1/4 Cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Cup of Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 1 tsp of Ground Black Pepper
  • 16 oz (1 lb) of American Cheese
    • Other cheese varieties are acceptable. But it must melt well and spread (e.g. not mozzarella).
    • Shredded is fine, but not necessary. Just make thin slices.
  • Spices to taste
    • Add 1/2 tsp of other spices as desired (Paprika, Chili Pepper, Thyme, etc)

Peel the Onion and Garlic (if using fresh). Slice Onion, Green Pepper, and Garlic thinly and in small pieces. Cook in a skillet with Butter on Medium Heat until cooked and browned.

Add Flour and stir until vegetables are covered (about 3-4 minutes).

Add Milk and Sour Cream. Cook until boiling on the edges, stirred frequently. Should be thickening.

Add Salt, Pepper, Spices, and American Cheese. Cook until cheese is thoroughly melted and the sauce is creamy. Stir frequently to spread the cheese and avoid clumps.

Combine and Bake

  • 1/4 Cup of Parmesan (Optional — add as a topping)

Set Oven to 400F.

Oil a 9″x13″ baking dish (or spray with oil / Pam). This keeps the vegetables from sticking.

Include a base layer of potatoes and carrots. Cover with sauce.

Repeat until all vegetables are used — make sure it is completely covered with sauce on top.

If desired, spread the Parmesan on top.

Bake 30 Minutes. If your oven usually requires more time, continue cooking until the top is nicely browned. Just remember to check every 3-4 minutes!

Scrumptious Chocolate Cake

2 Aug

Ingredients & Instructions

The Cake

In a large metal bowl sift together the dry ingredients listed below. A fork should work – just lightly blend together , don’t over-stir.

  • 1 Cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup of Cake Flour
  • 2 Cups of White Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup of Natural Baking Cocoa
  • 2 tsp. of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp of Espresso

In a separate metal bowl, mix together the wet ingredients listed below. Again a fork should work.

  • 1/2 Cup of Buttermilk
  • 3/4 Cup of Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Cup of Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 tsp. of Vanilla
  • 1 tsp of Table Salt

Slowly add the wet ingredients mixture to the dry ingredients using a hand mixer. You may need to shift the mixer to a higher setting as you do so — it becomes a little tough. Just blend until well combined, don’t over-mix.

Slowly (using a fork) add in the following ingredient to give the cake moisture and break down any remaining sugar or cocoa lumps.

  • 1/2 Cup of HOT water (I nuked it in the microwave for 1:30 minutes).

Oil three 8″ round metal pans. Put parchment paper on the bottom. Pour the cake into the pans spread equally throughout each.

Bake on 350F for 15 minutes. Turn the pans. Bake another 10 minutes and then test every 2 minutes with a toothpick. When the toothpick comes out clean, the cakes are finished.

Rest the cakes on cooling racks in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife gently around the outside edge to avoid sticking. Put the Cooling Rack over the top of the pan and gently flip. Tap the bottom of the pan lightly to make sure the cake has come out. Remove the parchment paper. Set to cool completely.

The Icing

Start by blending the butter with a hand mixer until creamy (about 3 minutes). Then add the other ingredients until thoroughly mixed (about 2-3 minutes).

  • 2 &1/2 sticks of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tsp. of Vanilla
  • 4 Cups of Powdered Sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. of Whipping Cream
  • 3/4 Cup of Baking Cocoa

This is enough to ice thinly between each cake layer and substantial icing left for a thick coating for the top and sides.

The Ganache

Heat the whipping cream in the microwave (1 minute) and add in chips when it starts to boil. Leave in the microwave for about 3-4 minutes. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over the sides and top of the cake.

(Borrowed from Lindsey’s “The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe“)

  • 7 ounces of Chocolate Chips (flavored chips are a great addition)
  • 1/2 Cup of Whipping Cream
  • Add nuts or sprinkles to flavor

The cake is best served warm!

The Ocean

28 Mar

The Ocean has its silent caves,
Deep, quiet, and alone;
Though there be fury on the waves,
Beneath them there is none.

The awful spirits of the deep
Hold their communion there;
And there are those for whom we weep,
The young, the bright, the fair.

Calmly the wearied seamen rest
Beneath their own blue sea.
The ocean solitudes are blest,
For there is purity.

The earth has guilt, the earth has care,
Unquiet are its graves;
But peaceful sleep is ever there,
Beneath the dark blue waves.

‘The Ocean’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Story Tale Ocean View

20 Mar

Stepped into a storybook scene along the trail of #Jeju southern coastline. ๐Ÿ’•๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿš Sitting together & watching the waves crash, the sand blow in hypnotizing patterns, the gulls swoop in for a landing . . . . it was absolutely breath-taking and soothing

Withstand the winds of time

18 Mar

Reaching up to the sun. Twisting in the wind. A lifetime of pages turning in a neverending ages. Grasping at storms. Sunning bare arms. Shelter for man and creature and memories. Hardened with history, hiding the mysteries of time.

By the Deep Blue Sea

20 Feb

Life Update!

School is starting online on the 24th. ๐Ÿ™„ I’m totally blessed – Jeju Island doesn’t have many tourists right now. Found a pension by the ocean for $15/night (cheapest place in Korea with private bed)๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ’• Hiking is FREE! ๐Ÿค‘

Corona Virus Updates (Timeline) from an Expat’s Point of View

16 Feb

There is a lot of disinformation out there, so here is a day-by-day series of updates from an Expat who works in China and is currently a roaming nomad in Asia.

Our Situation

January 22 – My family left China anticipating a two week vacation – we each packed one suitcase.

January 22 (later that day) – Faculty was warned not to visit Wuhan or ‘epidemic areas’ for the holiday. The office began gathering information about where people were and travel plans.

January 27 – The school announced it would be delaying Spring semester ‘until further notice’. Faculty are warned to delay their return to China if possible. We are informed we will be paid in February, but March is uncertain as the staff are delaying return to the office.

January 29 – China Aviation Authorities issue a notice that flights booked before January 28th shall be refunded for free if passengers apply before departure. It’s not clear whether these statements include all airlines or just domestic airlines.

CTrip announces it is refunding free of charge all flights within Mainland China booked before 28 January 2020. It’s not clear whether these statements include international flights as well.


January 29 – At the advice of the employer and under the new flight exemptions, we request to delay our return flights (China Southern, international flight into China) until Feb. 18th. CTrip online chat had more than 1000+ people waiting in line – we emailed them instead. Response was within 48 hours – changed for free. We book a new hotel (even cheap, it’s pricey on our budget)– we are now officially nomadic.

January 30 – All returning faculty are expected to undergo 14 days of self-isolation when returning.

January 30 (later in day) – Faculty and international students are asked not to return for ‘the near future’ until further notified. All returnees with or without symptoms must be isolated.

January 31 – the school is officially closed and under lock-down. All people entering must undergo a health check, register at the gate, and bring ID.

February 1 – Please inform the employer of the exact number of masks, disinfectant fluid, and gloves, and protective suits you need.

February 4 – Reaffirm that faculty should not return until further notice.

February 4 (later in day) – Faculty ‘shall not return to school in advance before the first-level response of major public health emergencies is cancelled’. Those who do return must have a heath checkup, must inform the employer 2 weeks in advance, and must self-isolate for 14 days. Psychological counseling is being offered to help foreign staff ‘isolate and channel their psychological anxiety, panic, and other emotions’

February 5 – ‘Don’t return.’

February 6 – It’s better not to return. Many businesses are closed and shopping is difficult. You will be required to take your temperature, but thermometers are difficult to find and expensive. To buy thermometer and medicine, you need to provide your ID.

February 7 – Do not return until further notice. . . .

February 8 – School will resume with online courses likely around February 24. Faculty should not return until further notice.

February 12 – CTrip changes our flight from Feb. 18th to Feb. 20th. After concerning rumors about the spread of the virus, availability of supplies, etc. we decide to reconsider our return again. 650+ people in line on CTrip Chat, I waited more than 5 hours to talk to someone. Gave up.

February 13 – All returning teachers much inform the hiring department of their itinerary for the past 2 weeks. Teachers will be picked up at the airport and driven immediately to the hospital and then to housing for quarantine.

February 15 – The community service center announced all people must be quarantined for 14 days and are not allowed to leaving the house for any reason at all. For some, food (enough for 2 weeks) must be purchased in advance. For others, ‘vegetables‘ will be provided by service people. You must report to officials your temperature twice daily. Anyone from or laying over in Guangzhou, Hubei, Zhejiang, and Henan will be quarantined elsewhere and are not allowed on housing site.

February 15 – We formally cancel our flights back to China, and prepare to hunker down for the duration. 42 people in line on CTrip chat. Flight cancellation immediately processed – refund due within 2 weeks according to agent.

February 16 – The suits, gloves, masks, etc that were requested on Feb. 1 have still not been delivered.

February 17 – I again book a new, cheaper hotel . . . money is getting VERY tight (less than $20 per day left). Supplies starting to run out – had to buy new deodorant. Good news – I’m losing weight from stress ๐Ÿคฃ Still no new information about March salaries — informed there will be more information hopefully on Feb. 19th. . . .

Twilight Sun

13 Feb

In the cool of the twilight sun . . . . along the Han River in Seoul
Directions (๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ): Take lines 5 or 9 to Yeouido Station. Exit 3. Walk straight until you come to Yeouido Park (maybe 1 block). Turn right and walk the park to the end where it reaches the riverside.

CoronaVirus and the Plight of the Expats

8 Feb

If you have friends or family who are expats stuck in the middle of the virus situation right now, please reach out. They’re not okay.

The news is filled with stories about the corona virus currently hitting China and other countries around the world.

What many people aren’t aware of is the plight of the expats who live and work in China. There are an estimated 600,000+ expats (1) and their families living in China, many of whom live in the harder hit city areas like Shanghai and Beijing.

Then there are the tourists, students, and other temporary visitors who got caught up in the situation. Not to mention the concerned relatives and friends at home.

china expat population
Expats in China by region – (2018)

So today, we wanted to give you a little insight into the concerns and issues facing your friends and family abroad, using our own situation a bit as an example.

Continue reading

Mr. Cutie is Waiting for You!

7 Feb

Want your picture with Mr. Cutie? ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚
Anyone know who he is (Korean Star).
Where(๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ): #StreetArt in alley by the Starbucks on Garosu-gil Street in Sinsa-dong.
Directions (๐Ÿ›ฃ๏ธ): Exit 8 at Sinsa Station, about 1/2 way down Garosu-gil.

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