Monday, October 24, 2016

Seaweed, rice cakes, Christine, Paterson . . .

delicious rice cakes
Korean persimmon tea is simmering on the stove as I type and the whole house smells like cinnamon and ginger. Very cozy and autumnal.

Korean dishes cooked this week:

*Sauteed tofu. From Robin Ha’s Cook Korean! Sauté tofu, top with a sauce of soy and sesame oil. Nice. Bland. Simple. Little else to say. Recipe here.

*Seaweed salad, also from Cook Korean! You rehydrate dried seaweed, mix with julienned cucumber and carrot, dress with a sugary, vinegary dressing, and eat. Or don’t eat. This recipe does not yield the dainty, finely shredded seaweed salad you’ll find at sushi restaurants, but a salad with biggish, dark, slippery leaves. (Though obviously you could go ahead and shred the seaweed.) I liked it. Mark: “It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t taste good. I think I might have fatigue from challenging meals.” 

*Spicy rice cakes. I’ve tried two recipes for Korean spicy rice cakes now, Maangchi’s and Robin Ha’s. They look almost identical, but Maangchi’s recipe is more precise and better.* The dish consists of wonderfully chewy cylindrical rice cakes cooked in a light, easy fish broth and spiced exuberantly with red pepper flakes and gochujang. Traditionally, it calls for fish cake but I have learned that I don’t like Korean fish cake, which is flat, with the texture of fabric. So for my second try at spicy rice cakes I omitted the fish cake and fried a half pound ground pork, salted it, and folded it in to the rice cakes at the end. Ravishing. Those are the changes I made to the recipe here. (Although Maangchi says otherwise in her headnote, you could use chicken stock if you are not prepared to track down dried anchovies and kelp. However, keep in mind that both ingredients are readily available at Asian markets and the broth could not be easier to make.)

*Butter dumplings from Koreatown by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard. So outlandish I had to try this recipe which you’ll find along with a little backstory here. This is basically the standard formula for Chinese and Korean dumplings except that in addition to ground pork, cabbage, ginger, and garlic, it calls for a pound of butter. 

You read that right, friends. A pound of butter. Hardcore.

You knead that pound of softened butter into the meat the best you can and stuff your dumplings. Some of the butter leaked out in the cooking, but there was plenty left inside the dumplings and you could see it and taste it. I watched the butter run down Owen’s chin after he bit into a dumpling and there was congealed butter on the plates when I went to put them in the dishwasher. Yes, it freaked me out. The dumplings were buttery and delicious, but not delicious enough to outweigh my qualms. Fun. Never again.

I have to take a short break from cooking Korean food this coming week, given that both Mark and Owen are rebelling. But I’ll be back to it soon. 


On another subject, I’ve seen lots of great movies in the last few weeks, thanks in part to the Mill Valley Film Festival. A couple of these haven’t opened yet, but here are my recommendations, both whole-hearted and qualified: 

American Honey, directed by Andrea Arnold, got under my in in big way.  It’s about a crew of kids who drive around the country selling magazines, drinking mezcal, falling in love, getting in trucks and convertibles with strangers, dumpster diving, and other good stuff. It’s long and meandering and I can see all its flaws but I could have sat there all day watching the story, such as it is, unfold, and listening to the music. It was like being inside a strange yet mysteriously familiar dream.

Christine, about a Florida newscaster who shot herself on air in 1974 just before her thirtieth birthday, was like being inside a strange yet grimly familiar nightmare. The nightmare of those rancid moments/days/weeks in your life when you couldn’t seem to do anything right, when you were at war with yourself and your mother and the world and increasingly sure that nothing good — not professional success, not love, not peace of mind — was in your future. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, count your blessings!) The film featured an incredible lead performance by Rebecca Hall and was the most deeply unpleasant good movie I’ve seen in recent weeks with the possible exception of A Quiet Passion. 

You probably know that Emily Dickinson had a hard life but if you didn’t A Quiet Passion will fill you in on all the sad details, from the romantic frustrations to the seizures. (It also shows the rapturous joy Dickinson took in her work, which she did in the wee hours of the morning, by candlelight, before the rest of her family got out of bed.) Like Christine, it features a powerful performance from a lead actress, in this case Cynthia Nixon. Like Christine is its wrenching to watch. If you have a robust appetite for harrowing movies, see both of these films. If you have a limited appetite, just see Quiet Passion. If you have no appetite skip these two and go see Paterson, about a sweet-natured New Jersey poet/bus driver who finds grace in everyday life. Paterson, set in Paterson, New Jersey, is lovely, offbeat, and droll. Fans of Adam Driver will want to see this for sure, as will fans of William Carlos Williams.

Another lovely movie: California Typewriter, a documentary about a typewriter shop in Berkeley, California and the universe of typewriter enthusiasts, which includes Tom Hanks and Sam Shepard and a lot of delightful weirdos. I dragged Owen to this one and I was pretty sure I was going to have to do something nice to make it up to him afterwards, but we both loved it. We both want a typewriter now.

Everyone I know who’s seen Certain Women thought it was boring but, as with American Honey, I wouldn’t have minded if this film, which stars Laura Dern and Michelle Williams, had lasted all day. It tells the stories of three women dealing with crushes, careers, and construction projects in wintry Montana and I concede, it was kind of boring. For me, it was the right kind of boring. 

Not at all boring: Moonlight. As all the reviews have argued, this movie about a sensitive black kid growing up in the projects, is brilliant. If you think you might have trouble getting inside the head and tender heart of a silent, muscle-bound drug dealer with gold grillz and a do-rag, you haven’t seen Moonlight. You should. The Terry Gross interview with the writer and director was fascinating.



  1. You wrote that you are not going to make the butter dumplings again; don't you think you might like them if you put in half as much butter? Loved reading your movie reviews.

  2. Thanks so much for the movie reviews. I was just researching movies this weekend, but I didn't find much. Where do you get your ideas for movies?
    As to butter, it is a much maligned fat. It is a medium chained triglyceride, and it is used for energy much more than storage, that is if you move enough, and if you are still doing crossfit, you have nothing to fear! I eat tons of the stuff, and my cholesterol numbers are not bad. Not nearly as good as olive oil, but not nearly as bad as most animal fats. All that to say, I use olive oil when I can, and butter when I need that flavor. I also buy pastured cow butter when I don't feel guilty about paying for it, since the lipid profile for pastured butter is so much better than industrial butter. Why do you feel guilty eating butter? Do you know something I don't?
    I'm sorry to hear that I will have to wait and see if you make that pumpkin porridge! But better you give the boyz a break.

  3. I haven't seen Certain Women yet, but I live in Montana and everyone here is super stoked on it.

  4. This is also a very good post which I really enjoyed reading. It is not everyday that I have the possibility to see something like this.

    monkey go happy | superfighters 2 | bloons td | happy wheels 3

  5. I love all the posts, I really enjoyed, I would like more information about this, because it is very nice., Thanks for sharing.

    defend your nuts 2 | atari breakout | atari breakout game | cat mario

  6. Korean food has never been at the top of my list so I've really appreciated hearing about your recent meals, which have broadened my sense of it. I can't say I feel further enticed to give it another shot, but this is entirely about my own preferences and has nothing to do with your efforts, which I naturally applaud. I would probably be in Owen's camp!

    Did you see this?

  7. I'm Paterson born - can't wait to see how right, or wrong, Jarmusch got Silk City. I've already heard some *bloopers* in interviews...

  8. I can't wait to see Certain Women, and I'm obsessed with Moonlight.

    Typewriters are wonderful objects. I finally got rid of mine in a move a few years ago, but for several years I used it fairly regularly.

  9. I love Yakult! Some of the Korean restaurants here serve it after the meal and I'm always happy to see it!

  10. I really enjoyed, I would like more information about this, because it is very nice.Thanks for sharing.
    swords and souls 2 | strike force kitty 2 | swords and souls game | red ball 4 | swords and souls 2 | strike force kitty | ninjago games | swords and souls

  11. OK, Jennifer, time to come back to the blog. Lots of us are "gutted", but we must go on. Let's talk food, movies, and books! We need comfort where we can find it, and this is the place!

    1. beckster, I feel like the British press did when Diana died and they were pleading with the Queen to make some sort of statement: "SPEAK TO US, MA'AM!"

  12. A very good and informative article indeed . It helps me a lot to enhance my knowledge, I really like the way the writer presented his views. I hope to see more informative and useful articles in future. starfall | barney | minecraft games


  13. نحن شركة تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة نقوم بتقديم خدمات التنظيف فنحن
    تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة
    نقدم خدمة تنظيف فلل, تنظيف بيوت, تنظيف شقق بالمدينة.نقوم بتنظيف المنازل والفلل باستخدام افضل انواع المنظفات وباحدث اجهزة التنظيف التي تقوم تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة بالاستعانة بها عند تنظيف جميع محتويات المنزل
    شركة تنظيف منازل بالمدينة المنورة
    من تنظيف مفروشات, تنظيف الاجهزة الكهربائية, تنظيف كنب, تنظيف سجاد, تنظيف موكيت, تنظيف مجالس بالمدينة المنورة. وتقوم ايضاً شركة تنظيف منازل بتنظيف وتعقيم الحمامات, التنظيف بالبخار, تنظيف وتلميع الارضيات.اسعارنا
    تنظيف منازل بالمدينه المنوره
    لا تقبل المنافسة مقارنة بباقي شركات التنظيف بالمدينة المنورة كما لدينا عمالة مدربة جيداً على خدمات التنظيف .

  14. Tipsy, you're posts are missed! Hope you haven't been stunned into silence by the election!

    1. ETA: "your" posts

      {I hate accidental grammatical typos like that}

  15. Jennifer, I miss you, and I hope things are well with you and yours. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and thank you for all the intellectual and culinary stimulation this year from the blog. And thank you to Jennifer's blog community for lively discussions. I'm grateful for you all.

  16. Hey, Jennifer, I know it feels pointless to blog about anything besides politics and/or heartbreak right now. Selfishly, because your voice is one of my favorites, I wish you would go ahead and blog about politics and heartbreak. Of course, I also hope nothing else is wrong personally. Quiet or not, sending you hugs from a stranger.

  17. Wondering if you had a chance to read this:

  18. Tipsy, come back!! Your posts are missed!

  19. Dear Jennifer, We miss you and we understand. But we cannot retreat from the world, we must continue to build community, to connect, to make things, to create, to nurture one another with our words, our foods--whatever gifts we have to share. Yours is a platform that allows us to appreciate the wonderful magic of difference and deliciousness in the cultures of this world--please don't underestimate that as a contribution toward making this a more tolerant, appreciative world! We are all looking forward to your next post!
    Alphabet Soup

  20. Just a short note to say, I miss you and your wonderful posts! I know it's hard to obsess over cookbooks and recipes since the election. I have that trouble too. But we all need to eat.

    On another note, have you read the Elena Ferrante novels yet? I'm just on the first one, but I like it so much. I think you would enjoy it too.

  21. Rice cakes look so yummy, and the flavor i love the most is spicy. Thank for an informative article

  22. In the name of many affordable Louis Vuitton handbags in front of some people with the big slip, but in vain to back the brand Chanel handbags name is still aunt street; and smart fashion fine they will know how to use the same money to buy the noble fashion Rolex Air King section .If you have determined to get rid of Aunt, promotion of fashion fine, then first look at the luxury entry five best?Original Rolex Watches?and the most worthwhile investment in five international Omega Watches Replica big bar.As if the brand of Replica Tag Heuer had to recommend, can not find a reason not recommended.?

    Louis Vuitton handbags

    Rolex Air King

    1:1 Replica Breitling Watches

    Chanel handbags

    Original Rolex Watches

    Omega Watches Replica

    Replica Tag Heuer

  23. Please come back, Tipsy! You are missed.

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Please come back! We need your wit more than ever.

  26. Hi. Longtime reader here. I'm sure you've read Barbara Kingsolver's post election essay by now:
    Miss your posts. Take care, Karen