četrtek, 18. oktober 2012

Ginger Tea for a Cold Morning

Last night the temperature dropped to zero, according to the weather report. I don't have a thermometer to check it, but when in the middle of the night my bladder woke me up and made me run outside, I surely felt uneasy while the freezing air was grabbing for my balls. So, when I woke up few hours later, first thing I went to my field and took one plant of Zingiber officinale, commonly known as ginger. Traditionally ginger is used as a remedy for various illnesses, ranging from common colds, cough and flu, to dyspepsia, nausea and arthritis. Recent studies show that it may ease muscle pain and to treat nausea caused by seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy.
I use it because I like the taste. I used to make ginger tea with honey, but this time I choose to try it with the rice syrup that one of my neighbors made. It was a good choice. Homemade rice syrup, homegrown ginger and hot peppers (you may not put them in the tea if you don't like them). Unfortunately I had to buy lemons at the supermarket, a half-hour ride with bus (and yes, the nearest bus station is an hour walk from my home).
Cut the ginger roots (when you want to look smart you don't say roots but rhizome) in thin slices and put them in cold water. The amount? Your choice, depending how strong the taste you want. Boil them for good twenty minutes. Don't be afraid it's too long, here when we make ginger tea as preserve for sale, we cook it for 10 hours or more. If you're a fan of hot peppers, add them in the last minute of boiling. Before adding the lemon juice wait for a minute or two so it cools a little bit. And then rice syrup. Or honey. Or even sugar, in China they traditionally make it with brown sugar. Drink it as hot as you can. On the other hand, you can make a lot of tea and first drink it hot, then wait and when it's cold it makes a superb refreshing drink.
A tasty variation is to use orange juice instead of lemon. With a dash of cinnamon.
A new thing I learned is that you can use also the leaves, for tea making or as spice. They have the same taste as the roots, just way milder. I'll dry them and next time try a tea with a mixture of ginger and mint leaves.
Another tea that will be ready for cold days is Rosa canina - dogrose or witches' briar. I was really surprised that the folks here don't use it and I'm the only idiot that is picking the fruits. Why idiot? Because the thorns on the plant are the same size like on the European species, while the fruits are five times smaller, even smaller than a coffee bean.

sreda, 03. oktober 2012

추석, One Year Later

"Uncle Dag surely loves to drink a glass of beer, doesn't he?" 
"No, he prefers to have the bottle all for himself and he doesn't need the glass." 
Last week I was hired, together with little Guryun, for a day of work on the Poet's fields - the man is actually a poet, but he's a farmer, too. Guryun's duty was to pull the weeds on the radish fields, while I was prepairing some other fields for planting the garlic. During our first break Guryun ran to the Poet's house and brought us chestnuts, boiled sweet potatoes and a bottle of beer. That was the moment when the Poet asked Guryun: "Uncle Dag surely loves to drink a glass of beer, doesn't he?" 
And Guryun replied: "No, he prefers to have the bottle all for himself and he doesn't need the glass." 
As you see, my Korean improved a little, but only when I hear a sentence including my name and the word beer.
It's been quite a long time since my last post here. Actually nothing spacial happened. I had a party for my first anniversary here, lots of delicious food, beers and laugh.

And this is how my kitchen looked when everybody left.
And a strange coincidence happened again. The day after my previous food festival (as my neighbors call this dinner events), we had a typhoon roaring above our heads. And this time again. Maybe I'm some kind of a typhoon god or my dinners are cursed?
It was after this one that I was looking for my tomatoes and peppers in the surrounding woods.
And than came 추석, the Korean harvest festival, usually referred to as "Korean Thanksgiving Day". I came here last year for 추석, so, according to the lunar calendar, it was another anniversary. But, since 추석 is a mass exodus and everybody goes to visit their relatives (dead or alive), I stayed the only one in our village. King of the Mountain, as they call me at such times. To not be bored I busied myself pretty much and also consumed massive amounts of alcohol. I was still fighting my abnormal obsession with anime - I made is safely for eight full days, but today I had just enough of this crap. With a terrible hangover I realized that in this time I spent so much money on alcohol that with it I could buy me a plane ticket for the Phillippines. One way, of course. In another week it would be a return ticket. Now don't get me wrong, I have absolutely no intention of quitting my beer joy, just to reduce it  to a somewhat normal grade.
 I still want to take advantage of this beautiful autumn weather to take a stroll on the hill behind the house and relax like this, two days ago:
I said I was pretty busy during 추석. And also the boars took care of it. One night they attacked our shiitake mushroom plantation and made a horrible mess. The logs that ure used to grow the mushrooms were all scattered around, the mushrooms all trampled on the ground. Huh, I gues that this description makes it look like a smaller disaster, but all in all it wasn't that bad. It was a few logs, a small part of one plantation (we have two), but enough to make you angry. I was especially pissed off because the mushrooms weren't eaten but trampled. I picked what looked still usable, a full big box of them, and some ended up drying, others preserved in olive oil.
Even if the typhoon damaged my fields, here and there I can still pick a few tomatoes and make some sauce.
Next thing I did was dye some shirts. With clay. The allmighty Korean hwangto. It's really easy, I mixed the clay with little water, just enough to make a thick paste, and then dipped the shirts in it, making sure every square inch is well covered with the stuff, from both sides. Then I hanged them to dry for one day.
The next day I went with them to the stream neraby to wash them properly.
You may wonder why I did in the stream.. For one, it's easier. Second, I'm not the type to waste tap water if it can be helped. And third... the most important... this is how the downstream looked like. I really wouldn't like all this clay to clog the pipes.
The results? Like in the picture. For comparison I added a brand new white shirt, while the left one is the shirt that I dyed two months ago and wore practically every second or third day, so it has been washed at least twenty times, probably more.

For the next time I'm making kaki-shibu, I haven't learned the Korean word yet. It's a tannin dye made from unripe persimmons.