Category: Uncategorized

A Recipe for Growth

SamgyetangHere is a visual collection of #hungrytohappy and #haeinskitchen highlights over the last year… 

Nearly a year has passed since my last post; a lot can change in one year. In fact, so much can change in the blink of an eye, that if you’re not careful, you’ll miss it. Life waits for no one.
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Totoro Musubis

Totoro Spam MusubiSpam is a local staple in Hawaii, and musubis (quick rice balls or snacks) are the ideal vehicle for this versatile mystery meat. It’s something I kind of grew up knowing and eating as a kid, despite not being born and raised here, and in its prevalence and simplicity, it has quickly become a go-to, comfort food.

I could’ve left it in its “natural” form (just the spam over rice with some nori), but I couldn’t resist. The kid in me still likes to play with my food. And, this was way too cute to keep to myself.

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Strawberry-Chipotle Turkey Sandwich with Spinach

I hate to break it to you, guys, but I get rather idle come summer time. Granted, the weather has been much less than perfect lately, but nevertheless, it is still summer and I live in Hawaii (yup, there I go again, rubbing it in). And it’s sunny out (for the most part), it’s too hot inside without AC, and I sure as hell don’t feel like turning on the stove. Seriously. Unless, it’s to toast up these babies. Because these babies are, simply-put, amazing.
I truly kid you not. These glorified simple sandwiches are the perfect balance between sweet and savory, light and decadent. It’s the easiest (but more importantly, tastiest) on-the-go sandwich to avoid being cooped up in a hot kitchen on a sunny summer day.
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Salted Caramel Shortbread

I’ve been on something of an extended “vacation” post-Guatemala. Seriously. Guatemala spoiled me – just a little bit. I’ve been m.i.a. from the kitchen and temporarily preoccupied with other interests and endeavors (like this). I can’t help it! I have a tendency of becoming completely and irrevocably consumed in spurts by the things I love.
But that isn’t to say I’ve forgotten about you, loyal and lovely readers, whoever you are. This is still my first baby, after all. Continue reading

Guatemala

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I’ve recently returned from an amazing and eye-opening trip to Guatemala. And, boy, do I have lots to show and tell!

But what better way to recap than to simply show you a mass of vivid photographs and tell you a compiled version of the “7 Things You Must Know about Guatemala,” according to my own unforgettable experience. Continue reading

Biggest Project Yet: “Strawberry Spree”

Guys, I did it. It’s finally over. Mother’s Day 2012 at Shokudo Japanese Restaurant & Bar was a huge (and not to mention, all-consuming, body-exhausting, & mind-blowing) success! A widespread brunch/lunch buffet of Japanese fare was followed by “Strawberry Spree” Sweets buffet (by yours truly), where 460-something voracious, yet surprisingly pleasant, guests devoured 1800-something servings of 12 different types of strawberry-themed desserts within a span of 5 hours and 3 full-seating turnovers. Let’s not forget that this was, believe it or not, after these bottomless bellies were stuffed with mountains upon mountains of sushi, tempura, udon, salad, chicken, king crab, and God knows what else. All I really want to know is, who are these thoroughly inhuman people with such exigent appetites and where on earth did they come from? Because I have this ever-growing hunch that I must be related to them. After all, there is a most uncanny resemblance between my belly and theirs.Stomach resemblance aside, there may have been little else alike between these wonderful guests and I. Though the picture doesn’t show it (thank God), I slept for a very true-to-saying, painstakingly short-and-sweet 45 minutes. The grueling fun-filled hours leading up to that nap and the even more agonizing joyous hours that followed were wholeheartedly dedicated to baking and assembling a mass amount of the greatest (and most practical) homemade desserts I could muster up and create from scratch. Exhausted as I may have been, and trust me when I say exhausted is a euphemism for the physical state I was in at the time, this project was my absolute pride and joy from unshaped, prenatal beginning to expectant, postnatal forthcoming. It was Mother’s Day, for crying out loud, and this project was my beautifully overweight newborn. Continue reading

Seoul

I’m sitting at my desk, trying to write this post, but I keep getting distracted.
First, there’s the restlessness I can’t seem to shake off. I’ve been graduated and out of school for about a month now and despite the ample time I may seem to have, in reality, there never seems to be enough time on any given day. Without the once perpetual schedule of deadlines and due dates ascribed to assignments, projects, and papers that used to govern my somewhat tighter itinerary, I seem to have unhinged myself and seamlessly fallen into a state of lazy confusion.

Then, there’s the noise. From my desk next to the window, I can hear everything beyond the rustling leaves and chirping birds. Cars are zooming past and repeatedly driving over what I presume to be is the same manhole, ending in the same reverberant clunk clunk. The occasional vehicle rambles along to the deep, rich bass tones of its subwoofer, only leaving a familiar but unwelcomed beat stuck in my restless head.

But most of all, there’s the longing. On my screen is a collection of images from my recent trip to Korea. Clicking through them, I see a string of blurry photos that inadequately try to capture the breathtaking city I grew up in, a city I once called home.
But now, I’m blogging from my home in Hawaii where a 15-minute car ride is deemed “far,” 2 a.m. is considered “time to go home,” and all of the island’s lights during Christmas combined could never come close to the way Seoul illuminates on any given evening, every single night of the year.
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My 7 Links

Even with my sporadic updates and posts recently (shame on me), I have been graciously tagged and asked to participate in the “My 7 Links” Project by Jessica from Jessica’s Dinner Party! As a fairly inexperienced blogger, photographer, and self-taught baker and cook, you can only imagine the thrill I felt to open an e-mail from a long-time schoolmate and fellow food blogger (whom I’m an avid follower of) inviting me to join in on the fun of reminiscing about my previously archived achievements and connecting with other food bloggers elsewhere. To see a different example of what “My 7 Links” Project is all about, check out Jessica’s 7 Links post which highlights not only her skillful photography, but also her most beautiful works and posts.

The categories are as follows:

1. Most Beautiful
2. Most Popular
3. Most Controversial
4. Most Helpful
5. Most Surprisingly Successful
6. Most Neglected
7. Post I Am Most Proud Of

and here are my corresponding links:
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Quick Blurb.

As you should already know, or at least semi know by now, I love to cook and I love to eat. The huge down-side of this for me and for everyone who shares this passion is that it burns huge holes in your pockets. I mean, it’s an expensive hobby. I can’t help it though, I would much rather spend my paychecks for this particular pursuit of happiness than spend it on other ephemeral or useless things. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Well, even if I was, I try to find short-cuts here and there to save some extra cash while still satisfying my needs. One of these shameless money saving tricks include canned and instant foods. Not always my favorite, but they give me what I need for less dough. It’s also helpful that my sheltered boyfriend grew up on a diet of instant saimin (ramen noodles) and boiled eggs which therefore makes everything I prepare ‘amazing’ to him. He even praises me during my most irritating culinary disasters, which only adds to the irritation, albeit cute. Lucky for me, he’s simple and easy to please, so I don’t have to go all out with the best ingredients all the time. Yet, it’s funny how much he has taught me about food. We come from very different backgrounds and cultures, which inevitably means we have different palates.

For example, he prefers to have all his food salty. By salty, I mean he adds even more salt to instant noodles, something that is already overloaded with sodium. On the other hand, I prefer most my foods on the sweeter side. I guess we make the complimentary blend of sweet and salty, no? However, our ‘blend’ has been leaning more towards the salty side since I’ve been acquiescing more often than not to his requests for saltier foods. His most recent food discovery encompasses everything he loves, which I find entertaining and fascinating despite its unhealthiness. Lo and behold,

It was a great deal, 2 for $5 at Don Quijote and it made a really great lunch (except for the fact that it’s a little on the saltier side).

It took only a few minutes to heat in the microwave. We fried a couple eggs, sunny side-up, and placed them over a bed of rice and topped it all off with the steamy curry. We then generously sprinkled some shredded cheddar cheese over it all a la ‘Curry House’.

And yup, it tasted even better with my kimchee.

A Fresh Start.

I suppose food for thought can always be fresh, right?  Although this endeavor may, perhaps, not be as fresh. Yet again… another food blog. However, I have excitedly assimilated myself into the blogging community (an achievement for which I am overtly ecstatic about). Despite being an avid follower and student of anything pertaining to food, I’ve been outdated and behind. Let’s just say I’m a little old-fashioned. After what seems like an eternity of pondering and procrastination, I have finally decided to put my gastronomical adventures to good use. More importantly, I think my lazy fingers have finally decided to exert the exercise my diligent mouth and stomach have been doing all along.

Each morning I look forward to a day of either cooking or eating out. If I’m lucky, both. Recently, I have been taking pictures of every dish I have prepared or every dish my friends and I have ordered. To be honest, this is actually because one of my New Year’s resolutions was to begin this food blog. As we can see, a third of the year has flown by and finally, we have a first post.

Anyway, as a food lover living in Hawaii, I have access to a wide range of cuisines and ingredients. Luckily for now, my Korean-American palate has found a ‘home away from home’ in this cultural melting pot where I have been exposed to and have become aware of so many different tastes and textures. Therefore, as a tribute to Honolulu along with my food-loving family and friends, I present to you “Hungry to Happy”, just another food blog to record my learning journey here and to hopefully help enlighten the culinarily curious everywhere.