Grilled eggplant -gaji namul

eggplant produce

A simple yet delicious recipe for eggplant.  If you think of eggplant as just a bland mushy vegetable your mom made you eat, think again.  Marinated and grilled, these purple beauties have a perfect soft texture and great flavour.

My yobo has fond memories of eating eggplant.  Every time we see them in the store, he reminds me of them.  I don’t have many memories of eggplants, and the ones I do have, haven’t left me pining for purple-ness on my plate.

So when my yobo’s customer offered him some eggplants from her garden, he enthusiastically accepted them and brought them home hoping I could remake his childhood eggplant dreams.  I haven’t eaten eggplant in Korea so I did some research.  Even my favourite Korean recipe blogs did not have anything that made me want to jump up and eat eggplant.  But then I started looking at non-Korean recipes and I have to say that I think we got something on these Koreans in this department;  lots of fabulous recipes for grilled eggplant.  And those recipes, had me up on my feet.  So I took the marinade from a Korean recipe and grilled these babies!  Oh boy, were they delicious.

eggplant grill

So when I went to serve them with dinner, my yobo looked aghast!  What had I done to his eggplant darlings.  They were not looking at all the eggplant dishes of his long gone youth.  Sceptically he tried them; and then he admitted they were delicious.

So if you have an eggplant growing in your garden, or your loving neighbour hands you one, try this recipe.  You’ll thank me.

Grilled eggplant

Grilled eggplant


  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp gochu garu (red pepper flakes) - optional


  1. Heat the bbq
  2. Slice the eggplant thinly
  3. Mix together the remaining ingredients
  4. Marinade the eggplant in the mixture for a few minutes
  5. Place the eggplant slices on the grill
  6. Flip when browned and grill the other side for a few minutes (depending on the thickness of the eggplant)
  7. Remove and serve hot.

Kimchi and sausage bibimbap

kimchi bi bim bop

A delicious rice bowl topped with kimchi, sausage, seasoned vegetables and a fried egg.  A dollop of spicy Korean paste tops it off and you mix it all up in your bowl for a tasty twist on a traditional Korean recipe. Translated to mean
“mixed-up rice”, this traditional Korean dish has been moving mainstream.  It has been spotted on the menu of a popular chain restaurant and now you can make it at home!

But this fabulous kimchi and sausage bibimbap has a little story.  This summer one of my comics was published an I was paid a small honorarium.  How exciting!! I can now call myself a published cartoonist.  :)  So how does one spend the Amazon gift card that was given as a token of appreciation from the magazine?  A book of course; a cute kids book by the same name, Bee-bim-Bop! by Linda Sue Park. I have been eying this book for a while, it is written about Korean food by a great Korean-American author. (Kyah did a book review on one of her books here.)

Take a look!

Bee-bim Bop!

It’s an adorable tale of a little girl helping her mom shop and prep the food making bibimbap for dinner.  My kids love bibimbap and love to help me cook; it feels like the book could be written about us!


So after reading this book, who wouldn’t be inspired to make bibimbap?

Kimchi and sausage bibimbap


  • 5 cups hot rice (we did a mix of white and brown)
  • sausage cooked and cut into bite size pieces
  • 6 eggs fried
  • 1 zucchini sliced into thin pieces and quickly fried and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 red pepper sliced into thin pieces and quickly fried and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 cup kimchi cut into bite size pieces
  • Sesame spinach - mix together these ingredients:
  • 150 g blanched and drained spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tbsp sesame oil
  • Korean red pepper sauce, gojuchang (from Mix together:
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp gochujang
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced ginger


  1. Assemble the bibimbap by first putting rice in each individual bowl
  2. Add zucchini, red pepper, kimchi and sausage
  3. Top with a fried egg
  4. Spoon a scoop of gojuchang sauce as desired by spice level
  5. Mix it all up in the bowl - this is the part the kids especially love! "Mix like crazy"
  6. Enjoy!

We usually make dolsot bibimbap, which is cooked in a hot pot with a raw egg, just because I think it is fun.  But when I served this to my yobo, he said it tasted like normal Korean bibimbap because it wasn’t so fancy! :)

Zucchini pancake – hobuk jeon

zucchini pancake

A simple savoury recipe that tastes like the summer garden!

It is that time of year again where the garden is overgrown and the zucchini are in abundance.   I mentioned that this year my garden has been unloved and is in desperate need of attention.  Normally I dote on my garden and faithfully water it and daily check in on all the treasures growing under the leaves and on the vines.  With life having gone sideways earlier this summer, the garden has been neglected.  So much to my delight and surprise, the other day when I was mumbling my apologies to my garden, I discovered several huge zucchinis growing.

We have a real love affair with zucchini in our house.  We eat it multiple times a week and I shred up the excess from the summer and I put in almost every soup or stew imaginable in the fall until my supply runs out. So discovering these beauties was a score.  We got right down to grating them and produced 6 loaves of zucchini bread, copious amounts for the freezer and these fabulous pancakes for dinner!

And I was happy to note that there were a few more zucchinis hiding amongst the overgrown weeds in the garden… :)

So however you get your zucchini, whether it is from your garden, from a friend’s garden or the fruit and veggie stand, do yourself a favour and make these!

girls and zucchini

My girls and their green babies…

boys and zucchini

and my boys and their green weapons!

Zucchini pancake – hobuk jeon

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 large or 16 small

Zucchini pancake – hobuk jeon


  • 1 zucchini
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • oil for frying


  1. Slice the zucchini finely (or grate coarsely... which ever works for you)
  2. Cut the green onions into 1 inch pieces
  3. Mix together the remaining ingredients and add the vegetables
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat
  5. Add desired amount of batter
  6. When browned, flip and squish down the pancake as flat as possible
  7. Flip again and squish
  8. When deliciously brown, serve hot with soy sauce

Linguistic confusion

Apa in Korean

My kids are not fluent in Korean <hang my head in shame> but we speak a few Korean words and expressions around the house.  The kids say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and other simple phrases but they know that they are Korean.  They call their grandmother ‘Halmoni’ but they know that is the Korean word for grandmother, likewise for uncle and aunt.  Apparently this one did not realize that “Apa” is the Korean word for “Dad”! :)

I grew up in a Dutch Canadian home and similarly there were a few Dutch words that we always used and it wasn’t until I was a teenager did I realize that they weren’t English!

Did you grow up in a multilingual home?  What words did you think were English?


Baked sesame spinach egg

Baked seame spinach egg

Go big or go home.  That is my yobo’s policy on most things.  Not for cars or boats or anything like that, just things that grow.  When we first decided to get chickens, he came home with thirty one of them!  I wanted to have some blueberry bushes, now we have over thirty of them.  Grapes; all the fences are covered in them. Raspberries; two and half long rows. So when I decided I wanted a garden, I should have know it would be big.  Now granted it isn’t huge, but considering it is in our front yard, it is a good size.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my garden.  In the spring I eagerly weed it and turn it.  I empty several of our compost bins on it.  I spread out all the new top soil and sow my seeds with great excitement.  But then June comes.  I am a teacher so June is just as crazy as it is for most people with report cards, field trips, and graduations.  So by the time June is over, so is my beautiful garden.  It is overrun with weeds again and things are growing all over the place.

So my garden is lacking love this year (again).  But in the midst of it all, it grows.  And this spinach plant provided me what I needed for this great dish. (ignore the weeds!) Actually, aside from the sesame oil and seeds, the rest of this dish is all from our homestead.  Look at us… urban farmers! :)

spinach in the garden

Baked sesame spinach egg

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 6

Baked sesame spinach egg


  • 6 eggs
  • 1 green onion chopped finely
  • spinach chopped into pieces
  • sesame oil
  • sesame seeds
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. Preheat the oven at 350F
  2. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or coat with oil
  3. Lay spinach in each cup
  4. Sprinkle with green onions
  5. Crack on egg into each cup
  6. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each
  7. Bake for 15 mins
  8. Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes
  9. Carefully slide the eggs out of the oven tin
  10. Drizzle sesame oil on top and garnish with sesame seeds


Berry Picking with Kids

Berry picking with kids

Despite the lapse between expectations and reality, I still go berry picking with my kids multiple times during berry season.  I like a good deal just as much as the next person and U-pick is always substantially cheaper than picked berries.

More than that though, I love the nostalgia of it all.  My mom took all of of us kids berry picking when we were little and one of my first jobs was berry picking with my fabulous younger sister. (I do remember more raspberry fights than cash in my pocket though!) My yobo and I have picked together with the kids every year. He is a great picker and has our buckets full in no time!  My girls have become excellent pickers as well and the boys in the comic are still in training. Soon I can just sit in the shade with some lemonade and watch them pick…. right?  :)

Best of all, my freezer is full of fresh berries!

4 reasons why your kids should eat with chopsticks

chopsticksYears ago, when our little ones were wee, my yobo and I were out for dinner with an Asian family who had just moved to Canada and their 8 year old could not use chopsticks.  I thought it was scandalous!  I was determine to teach all my offspring to master the Asian utensil.  Along with my many things I was sure I would do as my children grew, such as teach them Korean fluently, have them well behaved, good mannered geniuses, use of chopsticks was high up there on the list.

As parenting goes, I have not been able to follow through on all my lofty ambitions.  They have temper tantrums like the rest of them and their Korean language ability is severely lacking.  But I am proud to say, that they can use chopsticks (phew!).  So though their rooms are messy, they can hold their own in a chopstick challenge.  Well, the ones over 8 at least.


So besides pride, there are some good reasons why you should teach your child to eat with chopsticks.

1. Improves fine motor skills

You know those skills that help kids write their letters, numbers, and their name.  These skills make for great colour-in-the-liners!

2. Improves hand – eye coordination

This will help make your child a future baseball champ or a knitting pro.  I’ve also heard the best surgeons are also those who grew up using chopsticks.  Hearsay, of course.


3.  Builds new pathways in the brain by learning a new skill

With all the talk of neuro-plasticity these days, and the advancement in brain development, why not forage a new pathway or two?  A growing brain could always use an extra trail.

4. It takes longer to eat

(which may not seem like a benefit) but it reduces overeating.

Have you ever tried to wolf down a bowl of ramen – or m&m’s for that matter – with chopsticks?  It definitely takes longer!


We started with all the kids around 3 and they graduated up through various trainer chopsticks to being able to use the wooden ones.  Next step: Korean metal chopsticks!

Osaka Sushi – near Children’s Hospital BC

Osaka Sushi, South Cambie Street Pictures

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being at Children’s hospital in Vancouver, whether for an appointment or an extended stay, you may find yourself wishing for more than coffee shops and cafeterias.  When you need some fresh air but don’t want to travel far, you are in luck.  There is a decent sushi shop just blocks away.  The exercise might do you well, the walk is good for body and mind and the food is better than the vending machine.

We had the regrettable opportunity to visit Children’s hospital more than once in the last little while and needed a place to go and eat.  When I asked the six small children in my care what they were interested in for dinner, they all yelled ‘sushi’.  I was proud considering the options I had presented included pizza and Mcdonalds.  So on recommendation from the ICU doctor, we made our way (read: ran) a few blocks down to Oak and King Edward and found Osaka Sushi.  The kids rushed in, I smiled sweetly and we piled all 7 of us in a little booth.

We ordered a copious amount of cucumber rolls and teriyaki chicken rolls and the children gobbled them all down. I am not sure if they are the most discerning eaters, but they all gave them thumbs up.  What is not to like about cucumber or chicken rolled up in rice and dunked in way too much dipping sauce? I ordered a dynamite roll which was OK.  I don’t like lettuce in my rolls, but aside from that it was good.  My sister joined the party and she had a spider roll which was also average.

The service was quick and friendly.  They accommodated a whole bunch of munchkins and quickly made extra rolls when ordered.  The restaurant was busy and by the time my sister joined us, there was a line up out side.  So either all the doctors recommend this place, or it is just a local favourite.

wasabi nose trickMy sister arrived in just in time for the post dinner antics of our 6 year olds putting wasabi up their noses.  :)