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[Dramas and Food] Comfort food


Oh My Ghostess

By @ChinguMode

My mother nearly died three times this year.

That was a depressing start to this post, wasn’t it? I bet you thought the food theme would be fun!

The fact is, my mum had a stroke three years ago and is severely physically and intellectually disabled. She has all her language and memories but the cognition of a child and she needs full-time assistance to do basic things like going to the toilet or showering. She can’t feed herself unsupervised and is regularly in danger of a second stroke or a heart attack. Earlier this year, she contracted cellulitis, which then turned into a systemic infection. In fact, as I’m typing this she’s still in the hospital being treated for her third bout. And while she will be fine this time, she could be in this situation again next month or even as early as next week.

Last year, Dad was diagnosed with stage 9 prostate cancer and had successful surgery. He’s now in remission but the cancer could recur at any time.

I’ve had a lot of leave from work and have spent a lot of time in hospitals and at home. Possibly the worst part of family illness like this is the endless, almost unendurable waiting. It’s probably not surprising that I have watched a lot of dramas in the past few years. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of escapist fantasy and I have consumed dramas like the characters in them consume food.

And boy do they consume food.


Boys Before Flowers

While American shows tend to portray meals as a rushed necessity, a rare overindulgence or an excessive symbol for privilege, in Korean dramas meals are about family, friendship, and connection. And nothing symbolizes that more than porridge.

Simple and nourishing, people make porridge for family or friends when they’re sick, unhappy, or in need of comfort. They bring it to hospital beds or sickbeds as a symbol of care. From Oh My Ghostess to Healer and innumerable others, people make porridge more than any other meal as a way to cheer or support those they love. And while I’ve often had Asian friends joke that their families prefer to feed them than say they love them, there is no simpler expression of caring than cooking for somebody.


Dear My Friends

Like a lot of men of his era, my father does not cope well if my mother is unwell. She did everything for him — and I mean everything. All the cooking, cleaning, scheduling, and even managing his social life. When she’s unwell, he doesn’t sleep or eat. He lives at the hospital and refuses to take care of himself. Every meal is a meal he should be eating with her. Every coffee is a coffee she can’t drink. If he enjoys himself, he feels guilt that she can’t experience that enjoyment.

The last three years have been an ongoing and exhausting battle to try to get him to see Mum’s condition as something to be managed within the context of a normal life. And that includes little things like making sure he eats breakfast rather than racing out the door to the hospital every morning.


Dear My Friends

Like a lot of Australians, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Southeast Asia over the years. And my dad, former Australian Army, was stationed for three months as a liaison officer to the South Korean troops. He came out of it with a smattering of Korean, a tendency to add -yo to sentences, a love of breakfast soup, and an utter aversion to soju, which he calls “white lightning.” So both he and I have eaten a lot of rice-based meals over the years and we prefer it to bread. In fact, we probably share the same gastrointestinal microbiota or gut flora as bread makes us bloated and we’d happily choose rice over it any day. Dad often says he misses having rice soup for breakfast, although he’d be happy if he never has to drink soju again.

Which is an awfully technical and long-winded way to say that porridge seemed like it was the perfect dish to make for my dad while Mum was in the hospital this year. I looked online and found a recipe for chicken porridge and then realized my local supermarket carried kimchi. Luckily for us, the intensive care unit kicked Dad out of the hospital at 8 p.m. and wouldn’t let him back in till 8 a.m. So I got up at 5 a.m. and spent the next two hours making porridge from scratch. While various family members were rather bemused at me boiling a chicken that early in the morning, they nonetheless opted to try the porridge for breakfast as well.


Boys Before Flowers

Dad tried to head to the hospital as soon as it opened, of course, but I waylaid him with the promise of Korean rice porridge and it worked. We sat outside on the deck as a family and ate it with kimchi. Dad loved it, of course, eating two bowls and nearly all of the kimchi. But to my surprise, my brothers also loved it, and since there were buckets of leftovers, they had it for breakfast the next two days as well.

The only unexpected problem was the kimchi. Having never tried it before, all my brothers nonetheless decided they loved it and kept complaining I hadn’t bought enough. I kept having to make supermarket trips for more kimchi and wished there were a nearby Asian grocer that sold it in bulk.

Last weekend, with Mum in the hospital again, my dad asked me to fly up and make him porridge. So I did. But this time I bought enough kimchi.


Answer Me 1988

 
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Beautiful beautiful piece of writing and such a meaningful way to care for your loved ones, whether they are healthy or not. Take care of yourself as well!

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Thanks @delsatu. Yes sometimes taking care of the carer is just as important.

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I too used kdrama as a welcome escape when my dad was ill. I wish I could go over there and make you gallons of porridge. Thanks for the post and I pray for your strength and peace while you’re caring for your parents.

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Thanks @blnmom. I accept your gallons of virtual porridge. In fact, I might make some for myself this weekend, especially now it's coming into winter.

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That was beautiful, @leetennant, thank you for sharing. I understand your situation just a little. My Mum finds it difficult to cook now - I've been making my meals since I was thirteen - and now I have dishes I just need to make sometimes. Often simple things, like vegetable couscous, are enough to make me feel comfortable and at home.

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Thanks @frabbycrabsis. You're right, it's the simple things that remind us of home rather than the elaborate ones. Sorry to hear about your Mum.

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Thank you for sharing this with us! :)
I hope that food continues it healing for you and your family. :)

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Thanks for commenting, @rket593

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Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. You and your family have endured much in the past few years. I don't know if you pray or not so I'll just say I'll send out positive vibes into the universe for you and your family. Stay strong.

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It's certainly been a difficult few years @tspmasala and will be that way for a while yet as well. We don't pray so I appreciate your thoughts and positive vibes.

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Amazing post as usual, @leetennant. Iwish you and your family the best. Having one parent in the hospital, let alone two, is difficult beyond words.

I’ve actually never had or attempted to make rice porridge before, but the temptation to do just that will surely be there next time I’m going through a rough patch—and if it’s a success, then surely to make it for loved ones in the future.

As a food-lover, I’ve always loved the importance that food plays in dramas. I often find that the right dish is just the thing I need to make me feel a bit better when I’m down in the dumps—and a good drama, of course.

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Thanks so much, @mindy. Food is such an important thing in dramas, isn't it? I'm thinking of writing a less personal and poignant one about my ramyeon addiction as well because watching people eat all the time makes you want to eat too. Don't get me started on watching Pushing Daisies and having them drink martinis all the time!

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I'm not much of a drinker, and was much too young to drink when I watched Pushing Daisies, but those pies...

And I don't even like pie that much.

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My niece and I drove all over town trying to find decent pie the day after we watched Pushing Daisies. She was just old enough to have a few martinis as well.

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After premier week of Pushing Daisies, we had to have pie on hand for all further episodes. Still bitter about its cancellation.

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I've heard their plan for S3. It wasn't great. I was a bit tired of the love triangle anyway.
But, yes, even if I didn't love S3 it would still have been better than 95% of the other shows out there. That show was so quirky, so heartwarming, so morbid and so weirdly romantic. The interlinking relationship between food, sex and death wasn't original but the way they executed it was.

In fact, all this talk of it is making me want to do a rewatch even if I have a 'to watch' list that I need an entire website to manage.

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You are super awesome! Well wishes to your parents.

Cheeeeeeef (in Park Bo-young voice). I miss "Ghostess" OTP.

Koreans are so generous with food. Everytime I eat at my friend's house they feed me well and send me home with more food and kimchi for my family.
Selfish little me doesn't always share my Korean food especially when a Korean mom cooks it.

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Thanks for your well wishes, @kiara.

I really liked the OTP in Ghostess. That show wasn't very well paced but there was a lot to like in it (and not just Jo Jong-suk, Korea's best kisser!). That was the first drama where I really noticed the porridge thing as something that connects family and people. In particular, the fact he rejected rice but then made porridge for her was such a meaningful act. The use of food was very poignant.

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@leetennant For impressive, emotionally-powerful writing, do you accept cash, credit, hugs, or the collection of tears that you caused with your words?

Oh, comfort food. Chicken rice porridge - whether we called it “arrozcaldo”, “juk”, or any other name, has been a staple throughout my life. My dad would always make it, and eventually, I learned too. Whether it was for sick family members, rainy days, or just a pick-me-up.

Thanks for sharing. *hands you my full bucket*

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Amazing how I can take a personal piece and make it completely about me, isn’t it?

The other part didn’t paste :

Best wishes, health, and happiness to you and your family.

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LOL. I'll take hugs along with the best wishes! It's ok sharing your story as well. It's hard to write personal pieces like this. But then when it's out there, people feel they can share their stories too and I think that's great.

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Alrighty! *hands you my hugs and wishes in a basket*

It's wonderful to have that comfort - the courage of one person to share something, even if it's small can cause a community to speak out and heal, or just have fun. So thanks again. :)

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I'm so sorry to hear about your mom but hope the best for her and you and your family! I can relate to you on dad having prostate cancer as same thing happened to my dad and he was cleared from cancer after successful surgery too! I also relate to you as I have a very ill little brother and I started watching kdramas just as his health started to decline and I found so much comfort in kdramas. That year when I felt like I could start crying at any moment because of how sick my brother was, I had kdramas to cling to.

My brother is still sick but I haven;t lost hope that things can get better. i hope you continue to find comfort too. I've never tried korean porridge but have been curious to try it sometime. My little brother likes for me to take him to korean bakeries to buy breads though and we buy red bean filled buns to enjoy. I also got his birthday cake last year from his favorite korean bakery.

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@ohhaeyoung I'm so sorry to hear about your little brother. I'm glad you can help him feel better with pastries. It's good to be able to do little things when we know we can't do big things. Illness can make us feel so helpless sometimes. I know that when I'm not home at the moment I feel like I should be. But then when I go I feel useless because there's nothing I can really do.

I don't know what's wrong with your brother but I hope it's something he can recover from and that he does so soon. All the best!

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Yes so my little brother is on dialysis and is in need of a kidney transplant. Like you said the waiting is the worst part, we've been waiting over a year just to test two family members to see if they are compatible to donate to him. It sucks that either my mom or brother or I are going to undergo surgery to donate to him. But we want him to live a life off dialysis so we want to do this for him.

I know some kdramas have featured dialysis and one of them is While You Were Sleeping with the little boy on dialysis. It had me crying so hard. My little brother was just 20 years old when we found out he needed dialysis and he is now 22. When I was his age, I was graduating college and starting my life with bright eyed wonder but he has to be at a clinic three times a week for many hours just to live and it breaks my heart.

I can only imagine how hard your situation with your mom is....I hope the best for you and your family! And thank you for your recovery wishes for my brother <3

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Wow, i actually use the time i spent in my hospital bed to catch up on the dramas i missed during all the checkups and the fightings against medical procedures. I lost the fight to the guilt trip that i would’ve left my mom all alone w/ my kids should i die of the tongue cancer i had (seriously, who actually died of oral cancer?) so i gave in to have surgery. I had to endure all the nasty side effects that come w/ the various treatments i was getting. The only escape i had from my reality was dramas. Beautifully written and well said. Even though i couldn’t eat anything for 6 months after my surgery, watching Let’s Eat actually ease my cravings and my resentment towards those who pushed me to get surgery.

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Thanks so much for sharing with us, Ima. I'm so sorry to hear about your tongue cancer. You know, trying to get my Dad to have surgery for his cancer was really difficult. I think part of him thought dying of cancer was preferable to living with the possible side effects. I'm glad he did it in the end and I'm sure your family is too.

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Aw, saying “I love you” with food is universal. I’m happy to hear your dad let you care for him with a hearty porridge and kimchi meal and that he allowed himself to enjoy it. Thanks for the thoughtful drama and food post .

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Thanks for comments @owl22. Yes cooking to say 'I love you' is pretty universal.

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wow, your story is one full of LOVE -- that's fabulous!! it is true that meals are the grounding connection for family and friends. while my mom would shoo us 5 kids outside during summer, we most definitely had to be home by 5pm to eat dinner. i don't recall eating over at anyone else's house during my youth, if they weren't direct family.

both of my parents died of drawn out illnesses, so i can relate to the many hospital stints and dealing with recovery at home. jook (or okayu in japanese) is one of those dishes that we feed to our babies, eat when we're sick, and serve to aging parents who need soft foods...

regarding the kimchi -- you should try to make it with a friend or two (or your brothers!)... *winks* you can make it the way you prefer - more vinegary, more sweet, etc.

what you are doing is wonderful, your family is so lucky to have you! hope you are taking good care of yourself, as well!!

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@spazmo,

What a great idea! But where is @leetennant Chingumode going to find ahjumma pants for her bros in Oz?!? Maybe she'll have to shanghai Se-hee to do a kimchi demo for them. (Kitty not included.) ;-)

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Umm... I'm not sure I'm up to making kimchi. And as @pakalanapikake points out, I'm not sure if I'd be able to get the outfits! But my brothers would love ahumma pants, I think. In summer they live in Thai fisherman trousers.

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Thank you for sharing your juk story, @leetennant Chingumode!

Chicken soup in all its variations is balm for body and mind. How touching that you were able to finagle your Dad into eating breakfast by ambushing him with juk. And sharing the joy, and kimchi, with your brothers, too. ;-)

When my mother-in-law's brain tumor became terminal, my husband and I camped out at the family home halfway across the country for a month after getting a call that she wasn't doing well. One day it occurred to me that for many years she had avoided eating chocolate because of the seizures for which she had to take Dilantin. That got me thinking there might be other favorite foods that she had not had in a long time, or been able to make for herself, so I asked what she had a hankering for.

A grilled cheese sandwich. Not lobster. Not a thick, juicy steak. A humble and homey grilled cheese sandwich. Whomping one up for her made me happy at a time when there wasn't a damn thing I could do about the brain tumor that was slowly killing her. And she was happy to enjoy an old favorite.

The other food she had a yen for was "kolache," the fruit-filled pastries beloved of her Bohemian-American family. This Irish girl was in the dark, but Mom's best friend called up another Czech friend, who kindly shared her family recipe. Which fillings did she want? Raspberry and apricot. Done and Done. Mom's hospital bed was in the family room open to the kitchen, so she got to smell them baking. We had a kolache-fest.

I hadn't thought about this episode in 20 years. Thank you for reminding me that there were moments of happiness and quiet satisfaction during that trying time.

With best wishes for the health and well-being of your parents -- and you, too, my friend. ;-)

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Oh, what a sweet story. I can't believe you home-made kolache! I grew up smack in the middle of the Bohemian-American part of Chicago and we were surrounded by bakeries where you'd go and take a number on Saturday mornings for kolache and treats from the old country. Of course, even our grocery stores carried kolache in apricot, raspberry and poppy seed. Your MIL had good taste, the poppy seed are 😖

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@bbstl,

ROFLMAO!

Them's fightin' words, madam. I LOVE poppyseed strudel. Mohnkuchen or bust! You can just donate all your poppyseed baked goods to me. ;-)

I envy your access to such wonderful bakeries. I must have been a Central European in a past life.

I don't know how well the kolache turned out, but they seemed to be okay. I didn't have a basis of comparison.

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LOL. I'm a bit that way with the porridge and that one time I made jjangjangmyeon. Was it good? I... guess???

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Gosh I was so confused, in Polish kołacz is basically a round bread-cake. My family always makes makowiec for Christmas so I can't eat poppy seeds without thinking it's winter.

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Bohemian kolache (ko-lahtch-kee) are kind of a cross between a cookie and a sweet roll. Flat, soft, circular and with fruit in the center on top. Or, the (dreaded) poppy seed filling 😂

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@vivanesca Liquidsoap,

Ah, so that's the name of the yeast-dough version of poppy roll! Yep, I love that, too! We have a great Polish butcher & grocery that brings in all kinds of delicacies from a Lithuanian bakery in Elizabeth (just outside Newark) and Brooklyn. Back in the day, Newark was heavily German, with lots of breweries. There were big populations of Poles, Ukrainians, and other Eastern Europeans in surrounding areas.

My first introduction to poppyseed roll was at the county fair where I showed my 4-H rabbits. Julia's Hungarian Bakery had a booth there every year. My entire family anticipated her cherry cheese cake and Mohnstrudel (with paper-thin fillo-like dough) with glee every August. Dad had been stationed in Vienna at the end of WWII, and was a big fan of poppyseed. I rapidly acquired a taste for it.

My first boyfriend was of Polish/Russian-Italian descent, and introduced me to the joys of cheese babka, as well as the San Gennaro feast in Little Italy, NYC. And chruscik from White Eagle Bakery in Buffalo, NY.

I managed to discover potato and cheese pierogi (mandoo) on my own. I never met a carb I didn't love. ;-)

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Hahahaaa trust me to put my foot in it! But poppy seed? I'm a real Give me Apricot or Give me Death kind of Bohemian, I guess 😉

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@bbstl,

Don't get me wrong, Sis. I'd arm wrestle you for apricot anything -- any day, any time, anywhere. ;-)

But the dissing of the noble poppyseed... No way! ;-)

[Teasing Mode fully engaged.]

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This conversation gave me life since I am Bohemian. I will look for some good recipe and post it for you. Though the best kolache is with crud (Quark). Did you try buchty (would sound more like [buk-tee], maybe)? It's from the same dough, I think, with jam or similar filings.

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@allphryne allphryne,ye!,

I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Isn't it weird where Kdrama sometimes leads us?! ;-)

I didn't know that kolache is also made with Quark, which I also like.

Buchty made with preserves sounds similar to raspberry and apricot jam-filled cookies I used to make. I think the recipe came from one of my great aunts, but she was Irish. Dang, I hadn't thought about them in about 30 years. They also sound a little like hamantaschen. Forget the prune filling. It's poppyseed or bust!

One of my favorite events in world history is the Second Defenestration of Prague, which unfortunately contributed to touching off the Thirty Years' War. But the good thing about it was that the guys who were tossed out the window all survived (unlike the ones launched during the First Defenestration). While some attributed their surviving a fall from the third story to the intercession of angels, other parties claimed that a dung heap made for the soft landing. (In which case they may have wished they died.)

The moral of the story: Do not mess with Bohemians. And I say that with the utmost respect. ;-)

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Oh yes, quark with a few raisins on top,yum.
You know quite a lot about history, @pakalanapikake. I am more of a modern history girl though 2nd defenestration sounded fun at school. Nowadays Bohemians are sadly more qrumpy complainers then active participants. Most visible it is on our relationship with EU. Hardly any political party would outlive positive statements towards it, many populists are strongly anti-EU. Which is absurd, what Britain can survive we surely would not. Defenestrations are luckily out of the questions.

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@pakalanapikake, @allphryne,
You guys are killing me with all this info! For the record, I love poppy seeds (and poppies) just not poppy seed filling. I've never heard of crud or quark 🤷🏻‍♀️
I'm half Bohemian but grew up in the German half of the family, so didn't learn anything about Bohemian cooking , just going to restaurants and eating. @allphryne, my family name is Brabec 🐦 And @pakalanapikake, I grew up with Greek best friends so I know my way around a few of those specialties as well (with sesame seeds in their case). I think you're wise to modify the baklava.
The 2nd Defenestration story was memorable to me as well particularly because before going to Prague, I thought defenestrate was a synonym for being decapitated.
Boy, this sure turned into an odd conversation.

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Haha, totally weird, but boy did I enjoy it, @bbstl 😊

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@allphryne May 13, 2018 at 9:02 AM

I've been interested in history, geography, and archaeology since I was a kid. I probably get it from my Dad, the armchair linguist and ancient history nut.

I had a couple of excellent history teachers in high school and college. At one point I wanted to major in Russian, but when faced with two more cases (four is enough!), I couldn't wrap my head around the concept, so stuck with German. I took a year of Russian history, and was fascinated with the role the vikings played there and in the Ukraine.

I watched Sergei Eisenstein's IVAN THE TERRIBLE when I was in high school. Looking back on it, it would have made a great sageuk with all the skullduggery and the tsar's wrangling with the boyars/yangban.

I think that if I had taken a couple more classes, I could have had a minor in history, but I was already working on a double major and just wanted to get done with college.

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I was interested in history myself but since I lack consistency I gave up quite soon.
If I should choose between German and Russian, I would still choose German. But that might be because I learned Russian only for 1,5 year.👍
I can't believe I still haven't seen Ivan the Terrible since I was once obsessed with black and white movies.

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@bbstl,

When I was in high school, for a world history class, some of my classmates made Greek food, including bakalava. That inspired me to give it a shot, and I used to crank it out pretty often. I didn't stretch the fillo myself, however. I bought the frozen kind. And buttered every single sheet. I wasn't wild about walnuts, so used almonds. I made the syrup less sweet, too. Talk about addictive.

My Dad had a co-worker who was
Armenian, and he and his wife introduced my parents to the joys of stuffed grape leaves. We had wild fox grapes growing in our backyard (not sprayed with any pesticides, either). I used to use them early in the season when they were still nice and tender. They were so much better than the preserved ones. I didn't like grape leaves myself, but most of the rest of my family did, and I enjoyed making them for everyone. It's so much better when you roll your own. ;-)

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Yoo hoo... @vivanesca Liquidsoap and @allphryne...

@bbstl cracked me up with her wild and crazy dream here:

http://www.dramabeans.com/2018/05/open-thread-551/#comment-3239914

which may have been the result of one poppyseed bagel too many. ;-)

Anyway, the kolache discussion warmed my heart, and I wanted to pass along this lovely article, with its background on Slovakian agriculture and folkways:

http://www.mofga.org/Publications/MaineOrganicFarmerGardener/Winter19971998/BreadseedPoppy/tabid/2414/Default.aspx

They are magnificent plants, which I used to grow in my flower garden. See other thread. ;-)

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Thakn you for sharing @leetennant .
Like @spazmo said, your family so lucky to have you, I don't think I could be as filial as you but I wish, and I'm trying.
Chicken porridge is one of my favourit meals, you could add some fried onion which already thinly sliced as topping to bring the flavour even more.
Stay healthy and be stronger my friend!
Stay healthy and be strong.

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That sounds like a good idea, @soohyang.
I did add sesame seeds and sesame oil to the recipe and I quite liked that too.
Thanks for commenting.

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What a lovely post. Thank your for sharing your story. It's not a coincidence that so many rituals, holidays, and gatherings are grounded by food, or that when we are at our highest and lowest points food also plays a central role in the shared experience. Your porridge, and the kimchi, both honor your father's memories, and create new ones. Food does so much more than fill our stomachs. I wish your family well, and hope your kimchi supply stays strong.

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Thanks, @egads. I make sure I bring a jar of kimchi whenever I go home now. I knew Dad liked it but was surprised by how much my brothers' ate or that they agreed to try the porridge at all. People can still surprise you.

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Thanks for sharing your personal story with us. Hope your mum gets better soon!

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Thanks, @delphy010

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Thank you for taking the time to share such a personal story with all of us. Wishing you and your family strength and health.

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Thanks for the well wishes, @korfan

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Oh ChinguMode, that's so heartwarming and the tears are streaming down my face. My aunt, to whom I was like a daughter, died a year ago and she would have loved your story. I will think of you, your dad and brothers enjoying your juk and kimchi out on the deck in sunny Australia and I wish the best for your Mom's speedy return home. I've had it, and cellulitis is no joke!

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I'm so sorry to hear about your Aunt @bbstl. It's such a recent loss too - I hope everything's going ok. Thank you for your thoughts. Eating on a deck with the kookaburras in the sun is the best thing about living here - except the deck keeps the sun off because skin cancer is no joke.

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Beautifully written and very well said.

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Just lovely.
Agree, the waiting is horrible.

I want to say it was Boys Over Flowers is where I first saw mention of porridge. I had to look it up. Though hard to get the idea of oatmeal put of my head.

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They used to mention it a lot but I didn't realise it was like congee (which I've eaten a lot of). So the first time somebody said "cabbage porridge" I went... what? Then I watched a few porridge scenes and realised it was rice and then I connected it with congee and had an epiphany. Here in Oz we eat long-grain rices with our meals. So long and medium-grains are all you can buy unless you're making sushi. So the hardest thing about porridge was realising that you need a short-grain rice so it breaks down properly. All short-grain rices (apart from aborio) are sold as sushi rice here. So once I got the right rice, it was fine.

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Ah, @leetennant, if only I could write as beautifully as you to express how much I love this!
"Possibly the worst part of family illness like this is the endless, almost unendurable waiting." I second this! It's awful for everyone involved, I'm glad there are things like Kdramas to keep us entertained ^^
I'm sure your mom also deeply appreciates you making porridge for your family. One thing I hate about people having to look after me is that they forget to look after themselves. It makes me feel guilty, and crappy, and all sorts of terrible, so I'm sure your mom has one less burden upon herself knowing that you're there being awesome. I hope you also remember to take care of yourself as well, though!
Have you ever tried sweet porridge? That's the only one I've ever made, I think it had walnuts and it was quite tasty, it felt like my soul was being given a hug.
I hope everything turns out well and you can have your mom next to you soon! <3

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No I've never tried a sweet one. I did see a few recipes when I was looking, especially one for red bean porridge that looked quite nice. I quite like red bean as it's not too sweet.

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Very, very, very lovely your writting! Thank you so much for sharing also personal family matters. I agree with you, it is beautiful when Food is about sharing with family. And having lived for a while in the U.S., now living in Germany, but coming originally from Southamerica, I can tell you, for me Food is something in the middle. Sometimes I have to eat it in a rush, sometimes i have to eat alone, sometimes i can eat a banquet with friends, but since i am an immigrant, few and fewer i have the chance to eat with family. Meditating about it, I have to agree with you so much, because i wish we would have been more like koreans and enjoy food with family so that i could have my memories now. But growing up poor, i also dont remember having enjoyed too much family life! :( Nevertheless, when we grew older and mature, we managed to meet at least once a year with my father in order to eat together and take pictures. We did that for some 7 years consequently, before two of us left the country. Now we are dreaming to get together in another country as well, since our older siblings also left out home country this year, and i hope, since I love cooking, I can be able to cook for them.
Your post, and in general, the theme of this month, made me eager to try to prepare a Korean dish, because I really really love cooking. Porrige may not be the deal, Kimchi maybe, as long as I don´t prepare it spicy, becaue I don´t like spicy food, and... Well... Maybe next post will be mine sharing with you all how i prepared my first korean dish ever!
I really hope, @leetennant, that your mother recovers. By the way, a good, plant based (if possible organic) nutrition is highly important for the recovery of any illness.

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Thanks @javinne I hope you're able to reunite with your family and cook them something very soon. Maybe jjangjangmyeon (if you can get the black bean paste?).

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Thank you for this lovely piece @leetennant & I'm sorry to hear about how difficult the past few years have been for your family. *sending you bowls and bowls of porridge* My parents are approaching the legal senior citizen age, and lately the effects of age are starting to show. There's nothing major to worry about, but the tiny things I notice here and there - high BP, difficulty bending the knees, etc -worry me anyway. Your post has given me an idea for something I could do for them every once in a while. As an only child, I'm afraid I've been rather spoiled my whole life and cooking is not a skill I've developed. But off to the kitchen, I shall go.

I do agree that the depiction of food & family in dramas is absolutely wonderful. And with the way you write it, I now think of it as a character in and of itself.

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It really is. I can't think of a single kdrama where food isn't a big part of characterisation or even plot. But the number of Western shows where this is the case is small (everybody's mentioned Pushing Daisies but I'm struggling to think of another). Actually Bryan Fuller does love using food in his shows, although the other thing he produced was Hannibal and that had an important role for food - in haute cuisine cannibalism. Which brings me to the only other thing I'm watching now with a strong food theme - iZombie.

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HAHAHAHA that comparison has me rolling in laughter. We went with food in the context of family and social settings, to Hannibal! ^^; And a show I don't know but is clearly drawing upon Apple and Zombies. I suppose Apple employees turn into Zombies (no offence to any Apple employees reading this) OR a poisoned and expensive Apple turns people into Zombies?
OR Zombies on one's iPad come to life a la Kang Chul? Regardless.

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LOL. Actually the 'i' part is a reference to I, Robot. It's about a Doctor who gets turned into a zombie and then becomes a medical examiner. She helps solves murders by eating people's brains because when she eats them, she gets some of their personalities and memories.

Each episode she cooks their brains into a meal that is a pun about the personality of the person she's about to 'become', although some of them I've never deciphered (sometimes they're obvious, sometimes they're obscure).

As more and more zombies are turned and there's more and more demand for food, there develops a clear class system with a corporation providing 'brain tubes' of mushed up generic brain while expensive restaurants serve brain haute cuisine. Because a zombie experiences the memories and personalities of a brain and brain tubes are lots of brains mushed up together, there's no 'hit' so it's like cheap fast food. While the best restaurants offer single brains of exceptional people - for a hefty fee.

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Oh this is interesting! So it does tackle food from a major angle - a politcal and classist one at that. What a way to make a statement! I'm...interested in checking it out now, but I haven't watched anything (TV shows) not from the Eastern parts of the world in years now.

And here I thought you were going to say it's all one big Apple PPL.

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@greenfields It's on Netflix, not sure what jurisdictions though.

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@greenfields, @leetennant ChinguMode May 11, 2018 at 6:34 PM

My husband has been watching iZOMBIE, and I peeked at a couple of episodes. It is bizarrely and darkly hilarious. I expect nothing less from the creator of DEAD LIKE ME. The medical examiner angle makes it that much more over the top for those of us who've watched a gazillion forensics shows. ;-)

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@leetennant
ChinguMode
May 11, 2018 at 6:34 PM

Duh! Meant to add that we're watching iZOMBIE on Netfliz in the US.

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@pakalanapikake - Oh hey! I LOVED Dead Like Me. It's nothing grand, but it's one of my fav shows in the realm of English language television. Hmm.. I am currently running out of dramas to watch, maybe I can go English for a while. ^^

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@greenfields May 13, 2018 at 10:18 PM

There are several things I loved about DEAD LIKE ME: Mandy Patinkin as Rube, Georgia Lass getting taken out by a toilet seat from a deorbiting Russian space station, and the Happy Time Temp Agency run by Delores Herbig Brown Eyes. I worked as an office temp for about 10 years -- specifically so I could work on a wide variety of computer systems and software.

Oh, wait, I also loved Jasmine Guy inventing leg warmers and writing parking tickets. And Georgia's uptight mother misnamed Joy (no she wasn't, nor did she have any), especially when she used an ice cream scoop to portion out mashed potatoes at dinner... Arg! And Kiffany giving side eye while taking breakfast orders at the waffle emporium. And the gravelings wreaking havoc everywhere. And Mason in his perpetually altered states.

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I was surprised that you said that iZombie was by the same people because as far as I'm aware the show runner is of Veronica Mars fame, while Dead Like Me was created by Bryan Fuller - aka Pushing Daisies, Hannibal, American Gods.

It's been a very very long time since I watched Dead Like Me. It got cancelled early (of course) and I remember they made a terrible film that was supposed to kickstart the series. I think Bryan Fuller left the show quite early so that may explain why it lost a bit of its appeal.

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@leetennant ChinguMode May 14, 2018 at 3:27 AM

Oops! I must have misread something about the writer(s) and crew somewhere. But the lunacy in iZOMBIE definitely reminds me of DEAD LIKE ME. ;-)

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Thank you for sharing your personal experience with us beanies. You are such a great daughter and your parents are so fortunate to have you. It is so hard to look after the sick ones and I applaud you for your stoicism, strength and endurance.

Speaking of porridge, it reminded me when my young daughter fell ill a few months ago and had to eat porridge to help her recover. Despite being of Chinese descent, my daughters have been brought up in a more Westernised environment and porridge is something that we hardly ever have (yes I suppose I'm partly to blame too). So when she was ill, I was advised by well-meaning relatives to let her have porridge - it would be easy on her stomach, said them so I read various recipes and cooked her some porridge. Apparently my young daughter was not too keen on porridge because after a few times, she complained, "Porridge again? Who ever invented porridge? Urghh...they are making my life miserable!" To that, I quipped, "Mothers who love their children despite their ingratitude, obviously". And now, I have to show her your article and I hope she gets the hint that when her dear mother is old and sick, she knows what to do... kee....kee...kee...

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Heh heh heh, start now with the guilt trip @suriyana-shah. That's the only way I see porridge in your future.

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@suriyana-shah KdramaAhjumma, Time to commence not only with the guilt-tripping, but the Palate Reeducation Program and the Porridge-Maker Initiation sessions. Does Dad like porridge? If so, they can make it for him as a treat, not as a remedy for a sick person. Come to think of it, why not have them make it with you as a treat for YOU?! Because YOU DESERVE IT. ;-)

Turn it into a game so they become proficient at it long before you hang up your apron and pass the torch to the next generation. And then one day in the distant future, when they have sick kiddies of their own, they'll automatically whip up a batch of healing gruel. But first you have to infectinoculate them with the realization that it is tasty ancestral "soul food." -- Says she who cannot stomach the thought of eating haggis! ;-)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haggis

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🤣🤣🤣

@pakalanapikake I will do my utmost best to re-educate their palate - I suppose this what happens when they've been fed too many spaghetti bolognese, spaghetti aglio olio and spaghetti vongole (mmmm...I sense a pattern). I guess I'm also partly to blame for this failure to love one's ancestral soul food since the porridge I made was pretty bland but hey, she was sick. Anyway, I'll give it a few more months before I spring on her a much tastier porridge (oh well, one can always hope my culinary skills will improve by leaps and bounds by then) for her to enjoy 😂

And coming from someone who can't even bring herself to eat chicken feet nor frog's legs - both popular delicacies where I'm from - I totally understand your hesitancy on haggis 😆

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@suriyana-shah KdramaAhjumma

"Anyway, I'll give it a few more months before I spring on her a much tastier porridge (oh well, one can always hope my culinary skills will improve by leaps and bounds by then) for her to enjoy"

Heh heh heh. That's right, make it seem like you were withholding the really good porridge from her. Kind of like the King of France posting sentries around the potato fields to encourage the peasants to steal them. There's nothing like a little reverse psychology. ;-)

Are there perhaps any adult schools or summer schools that offer mother-daughter cooking classes? Maybe you could take a class together and learn to make some basic dishes together.

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@pakalanapikake of course I'm withholding the really good stuff from my daughters, don't all mothers do that?

🤣🤣🤣

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What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your story.

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This is such a warm post and wish happiness for you and your family. I am sure mum is going to be fine soon. ☺️

And also food really is the golden way to share our love to our dear ones. 😋 I undoubtedly agree with you regarding that.

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Thank you for sharing this beautifully written essay. My father also had a stroke a few years back, and we are still learning to juggle regular lives and ongoing parental health issues as well. In our case, my dad was the one who did all the cooking in the family. The first sentence my father struggled to say at the hospital was, "Don't forget to drink the soup I left on the stove!" Because apparently, that's how important soup is.

Hoping for the best for you and your family during this challenging time!

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Thanks so much for commenting. I don't know what kind of stroke your Dad had or how bad it was. For me the hardest thing about stroke is that it takes away your loved one while they're still with you. So you're expected to celebrate that they're not gone while simultaneously grieving that they are.

I'm still really grateful for the extra three years I've gotten but it doesn't mean I don't wish I'd lived them with my "real" mother. That's sometimes the hardest thing to come to terms with.

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@leetennant,

I have an inkling of what you mean about stroke taking away your loved ones while they're still alive. Alzheimer's and dementia do it, too. My Mom lived with probable Alzheimer's for about 15 years after being diagnosed, and it was like losing her twice.

My father-in-law had dementia, but it crept up slowly while Mom-in-law's brain tumor was kicking up for the final time. Sometimes her memory was better than his, which was pretty shocking. And because we live halfway across the country, we had no clue what was going on until the neighbors called and told us to come out.

I just wanted to mention a book that helped me a lot when my mother-in-law's final illness approached. My best friend's mother had been in terrible shape with ovarian cancer, and was on and off of hospice care several times, ultimately recovering and living a good many years. One of the hospice nurses told her about Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying (1992) by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley. It has since been updated. (ISBN-13: 978-0671700065).

My friend told me about it, and it was a life and sanity saver. All I can say is that it gave me wonderful and useful insights into the dying process, and prompted me to ask if there were unfinished business Mom-in-law needed to take care of. There was, and we did. It gave her peace of mind, and me satisfaction from being able to do something to ease her transition. Later, when my father-in-law and my own mother headed for the last roundup, it came in handy again. I'm grateful to my mother-in-law for giving me the opportunity to deal with such a situation before I was faced with my own mother's passing.

PS:
Final Gifts was what prompted me to ask if Mom-in-law was missing any favorite foods, which led to the kolache fest (above).

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Thanks @pakalanapikake. That's very helpful. I can't express how endlessly grateful and impressed I am by how many people have shared such beautiful and personal stories with me about such a painful topic.

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Aloha, @leetennant,

If we can fangirl like crazy over fiction, shouldn't we be willing to lend an ear or a shoulder or a hand when it comes to the joys and sorrows in real life? We all have mothers, and we're all mortal. All of us will face this situation. I'll gladly throw a lifeline to whomever needs one. Sometimes just knowing that others have been through a similar experience and come out on the other side makes all the difference in the world. It is survivable. Really. ;-)

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@leetennantnant Aww the love and the bond between your family is so sweet. I hope your parents get better and love that comfort food played a role in letting the enjoyment of small moments like eating together get magnified.

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Thank you, @leetennant for your heartfelt, beautifully written, warm essay. I am touched by the story of love that you have shared.

I hope that your mother comes through this crisis quickly and regains her health. My heart goes out to your whole family. It is so important to remember to take care of yourselves as well as each other.

I could picture you making the porridge starting so early in the morning... You've created a warm memory and shared a loving moment with your family during a hard time! Surely this is a gift that will warm their hearts (and yours!) for a long time.

May you always find the kimchi (or other ingredients) you are looking for and may your table be a place of sharing and love.

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Thanks so much, @rukia. I'm afraid there's no coming through this for my mother. This is her last year. As hard as that is to come to terms with, this year is really about making sure my Dad is ok after she's gone. As hard as the last three years have been, caring for somebody gives you something to do. Once that's gone, it's hard to find a way to keep going.

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@leetennant, I hope that you are taking care of yourself as well as your mom and dad. This is a hard time for all of you and it is wonderful that you can find ways to help your dad now.
I don't know what else to do, but to send you encouragement, kind thoughts and wishes.
If you want something sent from France, please let me know.
I wish that I could support you and your family.
From my heart.

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Thanks @rukia, I'm not sure "all the cheese in France" would get through Australian customs but thanks for the offer anyway!

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If you want to give it a go, I'll send some. But it might be super runny by the time you get it!
My email is rukiaruby (Gmail)

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Thanks @rukia but getting food into Australia is a fraught process anyway and it's likely to get held up. As good as French cheese is, I don't think it'll survive three months in customs. Our bio-security is no joke.

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Umm.... cheeeeesssse.....

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*sigh*

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Welp, I'm not tearing up at all. I gotta call my parents. Dammit.
My comfort food is always disgustingly sweet but the porridge in OMG looked amazing.

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❤️❤️❤️

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I just lost my mum in Jan & I dont know how my dad will cope with this when fasting month come. For years, most of the time only 2 of them fasting together. I only can with them only in weekend. This year I need to work in weekend because something happen in my office. I dont know how I can handle this. But the most thing I will really miss when fasting month come is my mother's porridge.

So sorry for my bad English. 😊
Hope you will also take a good care of yourself!

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Your English is good. I am so sorry for your lost and I hope your family will cope with this better one day. My prayer to you.

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I'm so sorry for your loss, @eynay. Even though my Mum is still with us, most of the person she was got lost when she had the stroke. It was really small things that used to set me off after her stroke. Her old cake tins (she'll never bake again). Movies I know she'd love but could not watch now because it would be too hard for her to follow. Sitting by the water watching kids feed ducks (she'd be down there with them). Swimming at our favourite beach.

Still, your Dad might surprise you with how resilient he is. And no matter how much we want to be there for them, we have our own lives to live as well.

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@eynay,

I'm sorry to hear that you lost your mother a few months ago. My Mom died a little over six years ago. Dad and my brother took care of her at home, with limited assistance from Visiting Nurse service, until very late in the game.

Do you have any siblings who could help out your Dad? Are there other relatives, friends, or close neighbors nearby with whom he could fast? What do widows and widowers normally do? Might there be a social club, bereavement group, religious charity, or volunteer organization that helps elders in such situations? Your father is not the first person to find himself in such a situation, and won't be the last. Maybe there's a way for people to find buddies or partners to support each other, perhaps via a self-help group for the bereaved.

I hope I'm not suggesting anything inappropriate or offensive. I don't know what fasting entails, or how private a practice it is. Please forgive me if I've put my foot in my mouth. As someone who has found great solace, encouragement, and spiritual support in fellowship with others, I wanted to mention the possibility. This may be something your Dad might not think of on his own. But you might be in a position to help him. And it would give you peace of mind, too. ;-)

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Porridge, or “chao” in Vietnamese, is certainly a comfort food for me personally as well. As we all get older and more of our loved ones grow ill, your piece reminds us of how important food is in our healing, both physically and emotionally. You are a wonderful daughter. Thank you for writing this.

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Thanks @ally-le.

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thank you for sharing your story! i'm amazed with people who really knows how to cook & seems like your family love the food that you make also:) food = love, i believe it that, coz food not only nourish their bodies but sustain their daily lives as well!

fighting!!!

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Thanks @bugsbunny! In my family, you were expected to learn how to cook for yourself. That came from my Mum, of course, since my Dad can barely boil water. (Poor Dad, I shouldn't bag him out on websites!). But in his defence, he's gotten a lot better since Mum's stroke and even made all our Christmas cakes the last two years (Mum used to make about 10 cakes for various friends and family).

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hats of to your dad for learning how to cook! i needed to learn as well when my mother suffered from stroke and we needed to eat healthier food. living in the city that doesn't sleep it would be so much easier to order-in or do take-out, but the dreaded salt will kill you, hahhahahaa... i would characterize my cooking as a survivalist, nothing fancy, just getting by...

do take care of yourself as well:) so you can't cook more porridge for your loved ones!

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😊 Such a lovely story of family and food ~

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Those are memories you, your dad and your brothers will always cherish, I’m sure. Your family will be in my prayers, hwaiting @leetennant !!

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There no way I can find red bean here, but that sounds delicious!!

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It is a wonderful piece of writing. Thank you very much dear @leetennant.

By mentioning porridge, it really brings back my memories. I was born in Thailand and have spent most time of my life in my home country. Thailand has a lot of different food, and we love to eat. As my grandfather came from China, we had to go to my grandparents' house every once in a while to celebrate a number of traditional occasions, and my grandfather just love boiled rice with different types of side dishes. I love it too.

By mentioning porridge and illness, I also have a personal story to tell. This is very special since I have never told anyone before except some who are extremely close to me, but I think your story some ways encouraged me to share this with you. About 5 years ago, I went to London to do my LL.M. at one very prestigious university. Before that I just graduated one LL.M. from a very good university in Scotland, but to be a judge here in my country it requires me to do 2 LL.M.s abroad. What I didn't know was that during the time I did my first LL.M., I somehow suffered from prolonged stress and some kind of trauma. Every signs of illness showed when I started my study in London. I spent the first 2 months in London practically lying in my bed, with some people coming to look after sometimes, and went to see a general practitioner provided by the university. I had irritated bowel syndrome as well as bad thoughts of harming myself which I didn't tell the GP. I didn't do it, just for your information. During this time, one of my flatmates cooked me a dish of porridge and that warmed my heart. He was not close to me, but he did this for me even I hadn't asked him for it. As my health got so worse, a housemaid from my country who was working at the dorm I was living in told me to call my parents immediately as she thought I was about to go insane. I had to drop out of the school and went home abruptly. Strange enough, I didn't have a chance to see a psychiatrist but somehow got recovered after staying in bed for 3 months and practically at home for the next 6 months. During the time I was lying semi-conscious in my bed, there were these dishes of porridge made by my mother and one house maid we hired. At the time I was weakest, I realized that love is never shown by words, it showed by actions. So I learnt to look at people's actions instead of hearing their words. I love porridge ever since.

Just for your information, my illness has already gone away and I value every minute from my life from that moment on. Life is indeed fragile, and everything EVERYTHING can happen any minute. Your story warms my heart, as the love among you guys is so evident. Please take good care of your parents AND yourself. You have to take care of yourself first in every situation to be able to take care of others. Please take care of others proportionately, just to the limit but not exceeds it. That's the only way you can regularly care for them (in my opinion...

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(in my opinion.)

And yes, I spent time when I was at home cooking food. When you suffered an illness which was the result of overthinking for a long period of time, cooking things according to the books/recipes help you navigate your mind/thoughts to what's happening before you instead of dwelling in your thoughts. Cooking really helps me. I've made a lot of dishes I'm proud of but porridge hasn't been one of them YET. I hope things get better for you.. and pls know that this community has a lot of love to give to you, your family and all beanies who need our hugs.

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Thanks so much for sharing this story with us @mmmmm. I'm so glad to hear things are better for you these days. I also cook when I'm very stressed or not well. I feel like it uses a different part of my brain and allows other parts to rest. Since I cook for myself most of the time I get a bit lazy so it's also nice to cook for other people once in a while.

Sharing a personal part of your life like this is very challenging so I'm so glad that both you and I decided to. I think it helps to know that other people also go through hard times and how they dealt with those hard times - especially in a Facebook world where everybody's pretending to be fine.

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Thank you. By sharing this it helps me too. : )

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Thank you very much for sharing your story with us, @mmmmm.
I am so glad to hear that you are better now. I am rejoice in the fact that you treasure each moment and just being alive.
I am honored to be able to read this. Thank you. 💕

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Thank you @rukia. It was difficult, but I would say that I was given a new life by receiving so much love from many people. By having them treasured you even when you couldn't treasure yourself was something I just can't explain in words. I basically owe them my life. I will pay this debt by treasuring every minute I breathe.

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I had a life changing operation 2 years ago and I understand exactly what you mean. I am finally healthy for the first time in many years and it is an amazing gift. I too have been loved and cared for by people around me. I have new friendships that are rock solid, the kind where total trust is evident...
I hope that you continue in good health, surrounded by love and support.
💕

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Thank you. It's a bit strange but I found comfort in hearing that people do have it difficult too. Not that I wish they do. I wish you all the very best too regarding your health and having best people around you. If there's at least one thing I learned from my experience, it is that there are only some people who were with you in the most difficult time of your life, and those people are the ones I'd cherish for the rest of my life.

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@mmmmm,
Wise words indeed. I only asked to see one of my friends while I was in hospital. We weren't even very close at that time. But somehow I knew that I could trust her completely. She came to visit me regularly (and my family as well ^^). Later on, she had some health problems and I was the friend who was there for her...

I treasure our friendship very much.
With many good wishes for you going forward, and true friendships that last a lifetime. <3

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LOVE reading you're doing so much better now!! <3 <3 <3 sending you many virtual hugs!

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I hope that you are getting better.
Many hugs and good wishes!!
💕

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Thank you @natzillagorilla. I'm receiving your many virtual hugs.

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@mmmmm,

"I will pay this debt by treasuring every minute I breathe."

Thank you for saying that.

You are also repaying your debt by telling your story and sharing the gift of your experience and hope with others.

By posting it here on DramaBeans, you are casting your bread upon the water. You don't know who will read your story today, tomorrow, or months or years from now. It's not for you to know, actually. You've released a message in a bottle that will be waiting for someone somewhere in the world (or maybe on a space station far above it) who needs a word of encouragement. They will find it when they least expect it. You have no idea how fate will guide a person to find the exact message they need to hear from a beautiful soul when they need to hear it. But I am absolutely certain that this can and will happen. It happens every day. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard/read exactly what I needed to hear/read. God works in mysterious ways, be it via an uplifting Kdrama, a touching lyric in an OST, or an insightful post from a Kdrama fan in a faraway land whom one could never meet in the flesh.

There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word. Why need you choose so painfully your place and occupation and associates and modes of action and of entertainment? Certainly there is a possible right for you that precludes the need of balance and wilful election. For you there is a reality, a fit place and congenial duties. Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right and a perfect contentment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: "IV. Spiritual Laws" in: Essays, First Series (1841)

Thank you for finding the courage to share your story.

Thank you, @leetennant ChinguMode for writing the juk essay that has inspired so many fellow Beanies to share their stories. And thank you to DramaBeans for posting ChinguMode's article.

With warmest aloha, PakalanaPikake. ;-)

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Dear @pakalanapikake, it's been my pleasure receiving such a full of heart comment from you. I actually read your comment quite a while ago but I couldn't think of appropriate words to write my reply. I actually dropped a couple of tears reading your comment, (as well as @rukia). It touched my heart when I'm consoled by words of understanding from some beautiful hearts in the world. What I've been through made me judge people quite harshly, in order to protect myself from being disappointed by their actions. I think one reason why it was difficult for me to ask for help, or to tell others about my story, was the fear that no one REALLY understand the harshness of it, and how much I did suffer. And you just changed my believe. I was courage to post my story here on DB, and the result I got is worth it. I can't thank you enough for the message you've sent me. It warmed my heart to learn that there is indeed kindness in the world.

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Thank you for telling your own porridge story, @mmmmm. I shudder to think of a native of the tropics freezing for a year in the land of my ancestors. The sunlight deprivation alone would have been murder. I imagine the change in food would have been pretty drastic, too. It could have contributed to your digestive issues, as if homesickness and the stress of studying in a foreign land were not trying enough. I'm glad that you were able to go home and recover, and that you are well again. I bet that coconut milk and lots of garlic and chilis helped kill off any pathogens after you got back to your normal diet at home.

After graduation, I studied in northern Germany during the fall semester in a work-study program. I lucked out and was placed in a translating internship at a machinery factory with customers in North America, so I actually got to work in my field of study. I translated operating manuals for machines that converted raw paper into spiral-bound notebooks. It sometimes entailed watching the machinery in operation to accurately describe how the parts moved.

The early winter darkness really got to me. It was also my first time away from home for an extended period. Luckily, my guest family was a college student a few years my senior who was studying to be an English teacher. She made me speak good German, but if I needed to, we could speak in English. That helped a lot with the homesickness. Back then, there was no internet, and international phone calls were incredibly expensive. My boyfriend and I wrote many aerograms.

Some of my best memories of my time in Hamburg were of cooking and eating at home. G was a terrific cook. Her ex-boyfriend was from Turkey, and she made wonderful Turkish food when he came over for a visit. Occasionally we went to her parents' home in the Lüneburger Heide for Sunday dinner. Mutti got me totally addicted to Rotkohl (red cabbage with apples, whole allspice, whole cloves, bay leaf, and vinegar to keep it from turning blue). She cooked two roasts (beef and pork) and all the fixings, along with torte. Holy cow! After eating our way into a stupor, a little snooze was in order, and then a stroll in the fresh air along the sandy country roads to make room for dessert and coffee.

Alas, this orangkae from New Jersey did not know that one does not cut one's potatoes with a knife. It is simply not done. One breaks them with the side of one's fork. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why Vati was getting so flustered. G explained my faux pas, and all was forgiven. LOL! We still laughed about it decades later.

Whenever I cooked Rotkohl, I thought of G and her folks, especially Mutti, who made me feel like one of the family, and not a stranger in a strange land.

PS: I first discovered Thai food in Nuremberg, in a restaurant near the Frauenkirche on the Hauptmarkt, IIRC. I had a tasty noodle dish which must have been Pad Thai. ;-)

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Mutti got me totally addicted to Rotkohl (red cabbage with apples, whole allspice, whole cloves, bay leaf, and vinegar to keep it from turning blue).

Wow! Now I want a proper recipe for this...!

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@rukia May 14, 2018 at 2:41 AM

Wow! Now I want a proper recipe for this...! [Rotkohl]

I'm writing it up for you, Chingu. Stay tuned. ;-)

BTW, when I finally got back to Hamburg in October, 1997 with Mr. PakalanaPikake, G drove us down to the Moseltal to visit her organic vintner, taste the new wine, and place her order for later delivery. It was a blast to see the nearly-vertical plots climbing up the hillsides. Hugo Schorn's vines had wildflowers (better know to the uninformed as "weeds") growing under them, while nearly all the other vines I saw on that trip were growing out of bare earth. All I could think of was "Roundup-ready" wine. It was depressing to see how heavily sprayed wine grapes are. So usually I prefer organic wines. I don't need the herbicides and pesticides, thankyouverymuch. I'm sure my liver thanks me for abstaining from them.

I got my first taste of Federweisser / Heuriger / new wine at Hugo's establishment, which operated a B&B for his patrons' convenience. We later took a cruise up the Mosel to Trier to check out the Roman Porta Nigra, and somewhere along the way stopped off and chowed down on Zwiebelkuchen (onion and bacon tart) with Federweisser. Needless to say, we hauled home an extra carry-on packed with Hugo's finest Mosel whites, some of them made from varieties of grapes that dated back to Roman times. It was like drinking history. ;-)

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.........you had me at Zweibelkuchen😋

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I second everything which involves recipes, and those German dishes you mentioned. 🍰🥧🍦🎂🍮🍩🥛🥦🥗🥟🥞🥪🍖😘

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Even before I went to the UK I had always like talking to foreigners. I liked to improve my English and I found western people quite straightforward in their opinions than Asian people. I never thought studying in Scotland for a year would cost me such price. I think stress and darkness played the major role there. I had no idea how darkness would be such a ‘murder’ for people not accustomed to it, but I can assure you that I recovered much much better under the sunlight. This is not from any research articles, it’s from my own experience. Sunlight warms your heart and soul. It is the most tangible evidence of hope, and it drives away darkness inside your mind.

It must have been difficult for you too when you were alone in a different country. Though Germany is one country I do like, I can imagine how life would have been for me putting myself in your place. I’m glad that you found people you could trust there, and that you managed to be happy regardless of your circumstance. I used to be an exchange student to Norway for almost a year which happened around 5 years before my study in Scotland took place. I remembered how sad it was not to be able to contact your people constantly. During the time my family members were very new to email, so I had to call them. The calls were expensive and I wasn’t allowed to call them often. Luckily, just like you, my host family was understanding and could be my source of trust. We still hold contact until today.

If I have a chance to go to Nuremberg I would have to go the the place you mentioned. And YES Pad Thai is one of the most amazing Thai dish if made properly.

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I'll say honestly, I really stopped for a few moments at the first few lines.
But as I read on, I realized just how strong you are & probably a very big moral support for you parents.

Amidst all this, your idea for a simple porridge with kimchi was so thoughtful. It must mean so much to your father. ^^ And ofc, glad your brothers loved it as well.

What a nicely written article @leetennant , thank you for sharing your story.
Wishing you lots of comfort food & good health to you & your family :-)

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I mean I stopped with surprise, not with the intention of stopping to read as my comment seems to be...

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@leetennant—Thank you so much for sharing this tender, relatable story.

When my mother suddenly died April 2014, my younger brother and I spent four weeks together as we dealt with the estate and packed away our mother's life.

Our Chinese Malaysian-born mom was not overtly affectionate but was always happy to cook for us. She was a marvelous cook who was strangely coy about her recipes. You'd ask her how she made something and she's always say, "Well you know ..." as she gestured vaguely to her stash of unmarked sauces.

That month was the worst time, but our meals—Mom's recreated recipes that we shared as we reminisced and mourned together—were some of the best moments I've ever had with my brother.

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Thanks for sharing such a poignant story, @tsutsuloo. My Mum also cooked by instinct and she often used recipes merely to remind her of her own version that was in her head. It's driven my Dad crazy trying to recreate her stuff as it bears no resemble to what she put on paper. Also, she taught me to cook so I'm exactly the same. I generally see recipes as just a broad guide.

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I did not expect a story about illness to be so heartwarming. It's nice to know you better, @leetennant.
I might understand my mother's recent food obsession a little better after reading it. It can be hard to say I love you, we don't do it often. Although I cannot eat more, I will not judge her so harshly.
Now I want to try me some porridge.

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This was lovely! I am giving you the biggest virtual hug!

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Thanks, @sweetiepie54. Virtual hugs are almost as good as the real thing.

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@rukia May 14, 2018 at 2:41 AM

“Wow! Now I want a proper recipe for this...! [Rotkohl]”

Your wish is my command, but I cannot guarantee that it's a “proper” recipe. It's more like a guideline. Personal taste is the order of the day. Please read through the notes before jumping into the recipe. ;-)

Auntie PakalanaPikake's Rotkohl Recipe
Inspired by Mutti S., Buchholz in der Nordheide, BRD

Page 1 of 4

INTRODUCTION

Red cabbage is a fall and winter crop, and is well suited to the hearty, warming meals that help us withstand winter cold. Its amethyst color contrasts beautifully with pureed or baked golden butternut squash. Rotkohl goes well with main courses consisting of fresh and smoked pork such as Kassler Rippchen and ham; sausage such as Bratwurst, Knackwurst and kielbasa; Wiener Schnitzel, beef stew, Sauerbraten, roast chicken, roast beef, and quiche Lorraine [or Zwiebelkuchen (onion tart) – washed down with frothy Federweisser (new wine) if you can get it during the fall harvest]. Serve with Spätzle dumplings or boiled or roasted potatoes on the side.

For a switch from ramyun and kimchi while watching Kdramas, snack on Rotkohl while munching on a pair of Landjäger. I discovered these air-dried smoked sausages in Austria on my first trip to the German-speaking world when I was in high school. As our tour group traveled all over, I found the ideal road food to stash in my bag. With a couple of Brötchen (rolls) and a couple of pairs of “hunter sausage,” conveniently designed to hang on one's belt, I was good to go and fortified against hunger.

Mahlzeit!
Eat deliciously! ;-)

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Wonderful!! Thank you!! I will copy all 4 parts down...

Merci ! Danke! Gamsahamnida!

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@rukia,

You're most welcome. Make it and eat it in good health, and think of all your Beanie friends while you're at it. ;-)

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Auntie PakalanaPikake's Rotkohl Recipe

Page 2 of 4

NOTES

(1) The size of the cabbages varies, so I don't really use measurements. I eyeball it.
(2) If I'm going to the bother of cooking, I make a large batch. I freeze some, and give some to my family who live nearby. Mr. PakalanaPikake and I savor it for days. It is one dish that gets better with the passage of time as the flavors marry.
(3) I use a large, heavy stainless steel stock pot. Shredded cabbage takes up a lot of space until it cooks down. A large, deep, enameled cast iron casserole would work well, too. Do not cook this in bare cast iron or aluminum!
(4) I like strongly aromatic spices for their digestive benefits, and tend to have a heavy hand. Call it Ayurvedic Rotkohl. Your mileage may vary. Adjust to your taste, bitte (please).
(5) I use traditional animal fats to aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Preservative-free lard is wonderful as it holds up well to higher cooking temperatures. (I often serve Kassler Rippchen [smoked pork loin] with Rotkohl. It's also great with pot roast or Sauerbraten, in which case you could use beef tallow instead.) Butter burns, so you have to be careful. Rendered chicken fat (Schmaltz), duck fat (YUM!), and goose grease are all wonderful fats for this dish. Olive oil cannot withstand the same temperatures as lard and tallow, and the flavor is all wrong for Rotkohl. I do not advise using coconut oil because of the flavor; otherwise it is a superb oil that can be heated to high temperatures. Its monolaurin content is beneficial to the immune system (it exhibits antibacterial, antiviral, and other antimicrobial action) and is a natural constituent of mother's milk.
(6) For those unable to tolerate yeast owing to Candida infection and thus needing to avoid vinegar, use lemon or lime juice, preferably freshly-squeezed from organic fruit. (Do it yourself in a couple of minutes and pour it right into the pot.) Bottled organic lemon and lime juice is available. I like lime juice because it is slightly sweet in comparison to lemon, which sometimes feels as if it's dissolving my tooth enamel. (Lime juice is terrific in tuna salad, BTW.)
(7) I have seen recipes that call for sugar and cornstarch to thicken the juices. I use a passel of apples instead of sugar. I skip the starch. If you really want to use a thickener, try arrowroot flour, which is used in Chinese cuisine. It is one starch that actually has some mineral content. Plus you'll avoid corn, a common allergen.

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Auntie PakalanaPikake's Rotkohl Recipe

Page 3 of 4

NOTES

(8) APPLES: I prefer tart Granny Smith, a cooking variety, but I use whichever varieties are available, in season, plentiful, on sale, etc. Yellow Delicious gives a nice pear-like scent. Macintosh, Rome Beauty, and Stayman Winesap are some of the tasty older varieties. My Mom liked Macoun. Local heirloom varieties are worth seeking out. Modern varieties designed to withstand shipping and months in cold storage often lack the unique flavors, fragrances, and textures of such oldies as Cox's Orange Pippin, Roxbury Russett, Rhode Island Greening, Northern Spy, and Thomas Jefferson's favorite, Esopus Spitzenberg from the Hudson Valley. https://scottfarmvermont.com/heirloom-apples/collection/
(9) PEARS: Sometimes I use Bosc pears with or instead of apples.
(10) How to pick a good red cabbage: It should be heavy and dense for its size, and without cracks, which indicate to me that it was harvested or stored incorrectly. It's okay if the outer leaves are somewhat beat up; you'll discard them. Look for shiny skin with vibrant reddish-purple color. Red cabbage is hard. It should not be squishy!
(11) Because I come from a family of chemists, I am acutely aware of the pesticides used on crops, and buy organic and biodynamic produce whenever possible.

FOOD CHEMISTRY

(1) Pears and apples are traditionally cooked along with pork in many German dishes. The fruit acids tenderize the meat. Prunes and apricots are cooked with some meats, too.
(2) When the cut or broken leaves of red cabbage are exposed to air they turn blue (instead of brown the way an apple or banana does). To prevent oxidation, add vinegar or lemon or lime juice to the pot and stir well to coat the shredded cabbage.
(3) Use fat when cooking to keep food from sticking to pans, to transfer heat to the food, and to aid in the assimilation of vitamins and minerals.

RESOURCES

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Not just a cook book, but an encyclopedia of traditional and ancestral foodways and preparation methods from around the world. Entertaining, educational, and packed with delicious recipes. It inspired me to make easily-fermented delicacies such as fromage blanc, crème fraich, and beet kvass.

Food and Healing, The Natural Gourmet, and The Book of Whole Meals by Annemarie Colbin. I had the great pleasure of taking a class with her about 25 years ago. She was a great writer and teacher, with a lovely sense of humor. This will give you a taste: https://naturalgourmetinstitute.com/remembering-annemarie-colbin/. I am saddened to learn of her passing.

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Page 4 of 4

Auntie PakalanaPikake's Rotkohl Recipe
Inspired by Mutti S., Buchholz in der Nordheide, BRD

Equipment

1. Large pot with lid
2. Chinese chef's knife, sharpened
3. Mandoline slicer or slaw board [Krauthobel] (optional)
4. Stirring utensile (I use bamboo.)
5. Cutting board, large
6. Vegetable peeler
7. Crock Pot / slow cooker (optional)
8. Lemon reamer or juicer (optional)

Ingredients

1. Red cabbage – 4-5 pounds
2. Apples (Pears optional) – one-half (or more) of the amount of cabbage
3. Fat: lard, chicken fat (schmaltz), duck fat, goose grease. See NOTE 5 when deciding which fat to use.
4. Acid: vinegar (apple cider, rice, mirin) or lemon juice or lime juice (of 2 or more fruits, depending on the amount of cabbage; if it stays blue, add more citrus juice or vinegar)
5. Apple juice or cider
6. Cinnamon sticks (2)
7. Bay leaves, large (2-3 or more)
8. Allspice [piment], whole (6-8 or more)
9. Cloves, whole (12 or more)

Preparation

(1) Over low heat, melt enough fat to generously cover the bottom of the pan.
(2) Juice lemons or limes; remove pits and reserve juice and pulp for when cabbage is added to pot.
(3) Add cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves, stirring occasionally. Adjust spices to taste.
(4) Red cabbage: Remove dead, damaged, unappetizing leaves. Chop off exposed stem. Rinse head. Stand head upright, and cleave it into quarters. Slice out the dense heart from each quarter. Chop them finely and toss into pot. Thinly slice each quarter with the knife, or use a mandoline or slaw board; chop to make shorter segments if desired. Turn up heat to medium or so to drive water out of cabbage [“sweat” it]. Toss cabbage directly into pot as you finish cutting each quarter, and stir to coat with fat and juices.
(5) Add bay leaves and vinegar or lemon/lime juice to pot, stir to coat cabbage. Add a little apple juice or cider to prevent burning. Cover pot while cutting the rest of the cabbage.
(6) Stir in each quarter of shredded cabbage to coat with juices and distribute spices. Check that there is enough liquid to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom. If necessary, add more apple juice / cider.
(7) Peel and core apples and/or pears. I usually slice apples as if for pie. I quarter pears, then cut them into chunks. Add to pot as you finish each one and stir to coat with antioxidant liquid.
(8) After the last of the cabbage is added, lower heat and let it simmer while cleaning up.
(9) Cook until cabbage is tender and the apples have turned soft and purple.

(10) Alternatively, you can cook Rotkohl in a slow cooker, which frees up a burner on the stove. Start out on high, then lower the temperature to simmer after all the ingredients have been added and have started cooking down.

Guten Appetit!
Auntie PakalanaPikake

-30-

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I just remembered that Rotkohl goes well with lentil soup containing smoked pork on a cold night. I also used to make pureed yellow split pea soup, another warming winter meal. I used kala jeera in it instead of the usual cumin, which I dislike. It's entirely possible that back in medieval times, kala jeera could have been brought along the Silk Road. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. ;-)

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Thank you again!
I am truly touched that you would undertake this task and share this with me/all the beanies!!

This is a work of love and I will enjoy making it while treasuring that. <3<3<3

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You're welcome, @rukia.

It's still cold enough here in New Jersey at night to enjoy eating this dish. There's still a danger of frost into late May. It's not too late to enjoy it. ;-)

I should note that with all the apples I put in my Rotkohl, it's almost like a savory dessert instead of a vegetable. A very tasty, high-fiber dessert. It's got all the spices you'd use in apple pie, but no crust or sugary, goopy filler. Rename it "Apple Compote with Red Cabbage." LOL!

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@pakalanapikake,

It's getting warm here in the Paris region, I'm not sure if we'll have any more cold spells very soon...
I've put it with my savoury recipes and look forward to making it as soon as it gets colder here again.

It is tempting, I might just make it this weekend regardless of the weather...!

Thank you so very much!

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