Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ggureomi - October 27th

I can't believe a whole month has passed since my last Ggureomi post!

Highlights from September's package included vegan cream of leek, sweet potato, and leafy greens soup (a.k.a. "this wilting kale will be thrown out over my dead body" stew); experiments in Korean-style Pad Thai using the eggs, bean sprouts, and some domestic whole grain noodles I bought at Natural Dream; breakfasts of sautéed tofu and fresh, crisp "vitamin peppers;" and amazing baked lotus root chips.  
I nearly flipped out on Monday when I got a text message announcing this week's Ggureomi contents:

I seriously think the box must have weighed 10kg. 

- Tofu, made with primarily domestic, organic soybeans (but not 100%, so no ceritification), free of antifoaming agents, emulsifiers, and preservatives.
- Antibiotic-free hard-boiled quail eggs
- Organic broccoli
- Organic giant leeks
- Pesticide-free "pumpkin sweet potatoes," so fat that they had burst  through their bag.
- Pesticide-free oyster mushrooms
- 6 Organic sweet persimmons
- 6 Pesticide-free apples

I'm going away for the weekend to participate in the First Korean Food Tour for Foreign Foodies (please check out the link and follow my team's trail of face-stuffing around Jeonju) but am looking forward to getting back and enjoying:

Boiled, steamed, or roasted sweet potatoes with raw vegetables and spicy dip for breakfast.

Sauteed tofu, broccoli, noodles, and maybe some home-raised bean sprouts in a bit of Lo Mein, or Chow Mein, or whatever for lunch.

Crisp fruit for a snack in the afternoon.

Something ingenious with the mushrooms at some other point.

Anyone know what to do with oyster mushrooms or quail eggs?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Put This On Your Front Door (If You'd Like)

Few things annoy me more than coming home to find a giant newspaper-sized HomePlus advertisement or a book of fried chicken restaurants attached to my door.  Thanks but no thanks!  Sure, I could just leave them there, and eventually the cleaning ajumma would take care of them.  But would she recycle them?  Given how glossy they are, could she if she wanted to?  And even if she did, how about the fact that if you do a thorough and honest lifecycle assessment of just about any product, you find out that recycling can reduce the total damage done by about one percent, and that the other 99 percent comes from harvesting, processing, and transporting all the raw materials, building and operating the machines and devices that do so, and disposing of the wastes that result from those processes. The item itself is just the tip of the iceberg.  There's a reason that Reduce and Reuse both come before Recycle.

So, I made up a little sign that said "Please don't leave any advertisements."  It seems to have been working nicely, except, I came home yesterday to find yet another HomePlus monstrosity sitting atop my bicycle.  I checked my translation and realized I had written "Please don't stick on any advertisements" in Korean.  I've gotta give whoever left the ad credit for reading the sign, I suppose.

Anyway, here's Version 2.0.  It's a very, very, very, very tiny thing, but hey, it can't hurt, can it?

...particularly not if you print it out on the back of something else^^

Thanks to my two most recent Couchsurfers, Yuma and Vineta, for telling me they liked my sign and suggesting I share it.

Buy the Book

If you're currently looking at this, chances are you already know all about Buy the Book.  You know, that awesome place downtown where you can buy and trade used books, play free board games, check out the local theater group in action, or watch one of Daegu Green Living's eco-films?  All while enjoying a steaming cup of organic tea, a big plate of nachos, or one of a million other things?  I've been meaning to write a little introduction the store for a while, but for now, please content yourself with:


Note: Events may be changed from time to time, and, in particular, people such as myself who can't get their stuff together two months ahead of time may request to add events.  To stay up-to-date, check BtB's Facebook page regularly.  

Speaking of which: Daegu Green Living will be showing another eco-film on the evening of Sunday, November 13th.  Keep an eye out for more details closer to the date!

Not sure where it is?  Check out our Green Guide.  BtB is located just a little bit south of 2.28 Memorial Park downtown.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Eco-Film Night: If a Tree Falls

What: Read the Title!
When: Sunday, October 23rd, 6pm.
Where: Buy the Book, Downtown Daegu

Come join Daegu Green Living for our 11th Eco-Film Night (maybe it's time to stop counting?). This time, we'll be showing "If a Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front."

From the official website,

"December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front-- a group the FBI has called America's "number one domestic terrorism threat."

For years, the ELF—operating in separate anonymous cells without any central leadership—had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at Vail, Colorado.

Witith the arrest of Daniel and thirteen others, the government had cracked what was probably the largest ELF cell in America and brought down the group responsible for the very first ELF arsons in this country.

remarkable story of the rise and fall of this ELF cell, by focusing on the transformation and radicalization of one of its members.

Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thrilller, the film interweaves a verite chronicle of Daniel on house arrest as he faces life in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his involvement with the group. And along the way it asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

Drawing from striking archival footage -- much of it never before seen -- and intimate interviews with ELF members, and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them, IF A TREE FALLS explores the tumultuous period from 1995 until early 2001 when environmentalists were clashing with timber companies and law enforcement, and the word "terrorism" had not yet been altered by 9/11."

The movie will start at 6:00PM. There will be a group dinner afterwards (location yet to be chosen), or you can order a tea, smoothie, snack, or meal off of Buy the Book's awesome international and largely-organic menu. All are welcome, entrance is free! Hope to see you there.

For directions to Buy the Book, check out the Green Guide button above. BtB is right smack-dab in the middle of downtown. To visit the facebook event page, head here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The She-Bears' Den, Beomeo

On Wednesday, I set out on my trusty cycle and, thanks to some hints from friend and reader and fellow Green Liver (ok, maybe that's not the best title) Mary, I managed to find not one, not two, but THREE shops selling primarily local, organic, and healthy edibles.

First and foremost, 곰네들장터 (The She-Bears' Marketplace), itself an offshoot of 곰네들누리터 (The She-Bears' Den).

Modest from the outside, there's a lot going on here. The name comes from Korean mythology, according to which a she-bear and a he-tiger asked the gods to be turned into humans. To do so, they were told to eat mugwort and garlic for three weeks. The bear managed to do so, became human, begged the gods for a son, and gave birth to Dang-gun, Korea's first human king.

There's more to the story, but in essence, the women behind the She-Bears' Den intend it to be a nurturing space for people of all ages and interests, and thus, for the Earth as well. They offer courses in dream therapy, art therapy, counseling, health, and in making soap, candles, cosmetics out of eco-friendly ingredients. They also offer study space and eco-experiences for schoolchildren on the weekends. Most accessible to foreigners, though, is probably the Wednesday morning temple food preparation class "반청", where you can learn to cook authentic, delicious, traditional Korean food from a professor and activist (I didn't get her name) from Daegu Catholic University.

As unfortunate as it is that we're all busy and that it's so difficult for foreigners to really get involved in places like this, I'm always happy to find these places where people are doing their best to restore health to individuals, society, and the planet. If you go looking, there are little specks of hope everywhere.

And giant ones, too. I had a fantastic discussion with Jae-hak Seo, manager of the She-Bears' Marketplace located on the first floor, just under the Den.

"Green life, Green Community, Green Future"

At first look, the Marketplace looks more or less like every other organic store I've written about so far. Wooden cubbyholes full of organic snacks, fair-trade goodies, vegetarian ramen, and all-natural cleaning products. Bags of local and organic grains and beans, a fridge full of fresh produce, and a freezer of antibiotic-free meat.

There's something different about this place, though. A feeling of closeness, related not to the modest footprint of the shop but to the lack of pretense and the sheer honesty of the enterprise. When an organic coffee shop opened up down the street, Mr. Seo stopped stocking some of his coffee in order to help them out. The rice here is sold in plain, clear bags with simple labels, not the fancy, bulky bags you see at other stores. Some eggs have no labels at all, and you can get a 200 won refund for returning the cartons for reuse. These are the surface details of something deeper:

"The Community of Life"
The Community of Life, now twenty years in the making, is a an organic farming cooperative with producers at its heart . Founded in 1989 and originally composed of 9 villages in Andong, Yeongju, Sangju, Mungyeong, in North Gyeongsangbuk province, it now contains member farms in Uiseong, Yech'eon, Seongju, and Mungyeong's Gupung, Twoegang, Chukdeong, and Sancheon communities. It was founded in order to create a world in which we can all live together, and it works towards this goal by growing and sharing organic produce, facilitating exchange between city and countryside, and creating a healthy local society. The She-Bear's Den purchases and sells rice, grains, vegetables, fruits, eggs, sesame oil, and more produce by The Community of Life.

Aside from the processed stuff up front, Mr. Seo explained to me, most everything comes from the Andong Catholic Farmers' Association (안동카톨릭농민회), a local group dedicated to preserving the health of rural communities and the land that sustains them. While other eco-shops, iCoop in particular, are in the business of bringing cheap and healthy food to consumers in the city, Seo emphasizes that we should try to see things from the standpoint of the producers, many of whom need more support than the big chains are currently giving them. He visits his producers frequently and does his best to make sure that their relationship with consumers is a balanced one that promotes the health of all parties involved.

Mr. Seo is the friendliest and most available of all the managers I've met so far. Lately, he's been working on attaching English tags to items, and says he's happy to take requests for items such as organic olive oil, balsamic vinegar, prune juice, or whatever our hearts desire.

...though be careful not to confuse the 된장 with peanut butter...

Here's what you need to know in order to stop by, say hi, and support this amazing place:

The She-Bears' Marketplace, probably the eco-shop most accessible from downtown, is located just west of Beomeo intersection, about 30 seconds away from exit 3. Open Mon-Sat 10AM-9PM, and from 1PM-9PM on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month; fresh vegetables are delivered on Mondays and Thursdays. No membership is required, though if you do sign up, you can earn 3% store credit on each purchase.

To see it on a map, check out on DGL's Green Guide.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Perilla: Food of the Gods

Don’t ask why, but in mid-February, 2010, I left the vegan reforestation eco-commune in southern India where I had been living for about four months and returned to Daegu for a second stint.  One day, I was living in a thatch hut, planting trees under a sweltering sun, rewarded for my labor with daily doses of fresh pineapple, papaya and guava; the next, I was trudging around in dirty snow worried I might have frostbite.  I was also wondering whether I’d be able to sustain my veganism here, given that, while India is known as a vegetarian paradise (restaurants there proudly paint labels such as “ vegetarian”, or “pure veg” right under their names), Korea is well-known for serving up stuff as far-out as dog meat and live octopodes.

It was my first night back: empty apartment, empty fridge, empty stomach.   My friend and I stepped out of my new little concrete box in Bokheon-dong and into the piercing wind.  I didn’t know the immediate area at all and prayed that we could find somewhere serving something tasty, warm, and not too meaty before the cold could settle into our bones .  Now, I’m not one throw around words like “destiny” lightly, but it turns out that within three minutes we found a restaurant serving what I’m convinced is the most delicious, nutritious, filling, and off-the-radar vegetarian delight in all of the country: perilla noodles.  
Imagine: a giant bowl of thick, formidably chewy noodles, in a sauce that reminds you of Alfredo, only slightly thinner and minus the greasiness, indigestion, and regret.   Steamy, creamy, and oh-so-filling, the broth is made by adding powdered perilla seeds into a savory stock (most restaurants include meat in the broth, but all you need to make a purely vegan version at home is a bit of vegetable boullion);  the perilla seeds are packed full of good stuff like plant protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and E, and dietary fiber, all of which are important nutrients to have in your diet, vegetarian or not.       
If you've ever smelled it, then you've probably also guessed: the Perilla plant itself (들깨 / Deulkkae in Korean) is a member of the mint family.  It seems like there are about a million uses for every part of the plant.  The leaves in raw form can be used to wrap up meat, rice, and garlic and send them down the old alimentary canal; they can be blended together with sunflower seeds and olive oil to make pesto; they can be battered and fried to make mini-pancakes; or they can simply be sliced up and thrown in a salad to add a little bite.  You can slathe them in red pepper powder and make them into  "perilla leaf kimchi" (깻잎김치), which is, contrary to popular belief, not actually made with sesame leaves.  You can quickly roast the seeds and them to salads or side dishes for a little extra crunch and nutritional boost.   Powdered seeds make for an amazing broth in their own right, but can also be added to soybean paste-based soups to mellow out the saltiness, to stir-fried tofu or vegetables to make rich, hearty side dishes, or, for the intrepid among us, to pancakes and breads to sneak in a little protein and increase fluffiness.  Perilla oil (들기름) is widely available and is great for low-heat stir-fries.   And, if you don’t mind tempting the OD fates, you can mix perilla oil and perilla powder into a rich dressing and drown your favorite salad in it.
You can find perilla-broth noodles (들깨칼국수) at many noodle shops, particularly now that the summer is over and iced bean-broth noodles (콩국수) are off the menus.  Grain/bean/seed stalls at traditional markets usually have the seeds (들깨 씨앗, or just 들깨 for short) by the bucketful, and the oil and powder (들깨가루) are available at most of the organic shops around Daegu,as well as, of course, at the megastores.  Ah, and one more thing: Deulkkae is traditionally known in Korea for helping people fight off colds and sore throats. Go find yourself a source before the winter sets in!

You can find exact locations for the organic shops and for the restaurant that whipped up the above (hint: it's not far from KNU) on the Green Guide, our map of all the eco-goodness around town.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ggureomi News

It's been about a week since my September delivery came in, but I'm still neck-deep in fantastic organic food.  Here's what was in the box:

1) Ten antibiotic-free, fertilized eggs from Bo-eun, Chungcheongbuk-do
2) 340g of softish tofu, made from domestic beans.  No preservatives, antifoaming agents, or emulsifiers.
3) Pesticide-free lotus root from Dalseong, right here in Daegu!
4) 300g "Vitaplus" crisp peppers from Cheongju.
5) 1kg "pumpkin sweet potatoes" (as opposed to "chestnut sweet potatoes") from Haenam, Jeollanam-do. 
6)  300g pesticide-free bean sprouts
7)  800g pesticide-free Korean apples

All for 30k a month!

I've been enjoying the apples as-is (or maybe as-are), steaming batches of sweet potatoes in advance and having some ready for quick breakfasts, eating the peppers raw with Ssamjang, and boiling the bean sprouts together with noodles before adding them to a tofu/veg/egg stir fry to make some fantastic, domestic pad Thai.

And, I'm proud to post Daegu Green Living's first-ever fan/friend contribution.  This one comes from Margaret, who recently received her first Ggureomi:

"I got my first box yesterday! And cooked with some of the ingredients once I got home.  So here's what I made with some recipes and pictures...

"What I was happiest to see in the box was lotus root, since I've never cooked with it before. So i decided to make a quiche yesterday, using some of the eggs, peppers (which after trying them are definitely my favourite from the box) and lotus root.

Butter crust recipe (small batch):
1 cup of flour
1/3 cup of butter
2 or so tablespoons of cold water.
I combined the flour and butter and added water until it started holding together. then chilled it in the fridge.

Cream-less quiche recipe:

egg mixture:
3 eggs
1 cup milk
salt and pepper

Vegetable mixture:
lotus root

To prep the lotus root, I peeled it, washed it and then sliced it. As I sliced it I put the slices in a bowl of water with some vinegar added so they wouldn't start to brown.

I chopped up the onions, mushrooms, garlic and lotus root and cooked them for about 5 minutes in a frying pan.Then added the peppers and cooked for a bit more. I rolled out the chilled dough, and cut out and filled a 6 cup muffin tray and 1 aluminum tray with dough. I scooped in the vegetables and then poured in the egg mixture and baked them for about 30-40 minutes on 175. I'm not a big fan of eggs, so I added a lot of vegetables and used less egg mixture. They turned out great, to have at dinner with sides, or great the next day as a quick breakfast.

Looks fantastic!  And, there's more good news: Heuksalim is so happy that foreigners are enjoying the Ggureomi (so far about fifteen individuals, getting a total of 40 or so boxes a month) that they're cutting us a special deal.  Anyone who signs up to receive once-monthly Ggureomi shipments at the regular price of 30,000 won/month will automatically receive a 5,000 won discount if they stick with the program for more than 3 months.  This deal is available only to those who sign up through Daegu Green Living!  Please share the news!