Tuesday, November 20, 2007


So, a friend of mine emailed me this morning to ask three things I'm thankful for. Thanks, Michele!
At the immediate moment, I'm just really thankful I finished my paper that is due for grad school today! :) Since that happened around 4:30 this morning, I'm not at my clearest, but some other things I'm thankful for:
#1 ---God is teaching me how to walk in His grace. Sometimes the lesson feels slow, and I have a hard time breaking old performance/achievement/perfectionist/workaholic tendencies! But I can see Him shaping me, and the moments of feeling that grace pour over me and replace my sense of who I need to be are very sweet.
#2--The opportunity to learn and enjoy grad school. I am feeling such renewed passion and vision stirring in my heart through the amazing program I'm able to be a part of. It redeems so much from past educational experiences, and God is using it to just grab hold of my heart for His kingdom in a whole new way!
#3--A loving and wonderful husband. I know it sounds a little cheesy, but I'm so thankful for John. I see so many struggling and truly difficult marriages around me, even in the church, and I am so thankful for the way God has blessed us to really enjoy life together. I learn a lot from John, and I am very thankful to be married to him.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Food Journeys!

So, one of my very favorite things about Los Angeles is that you can find pretty much any kind of ethnic cuisine you can think of. (In defense of the Midwest, the "Old World" immigrant groups like Irish, Italian, Polish, German, etc. are lacking. There are a couple of good places, but the quantity and quality can't even compare to Chicago area.)

Anyway, I really LOVE experiencing a new kind of food from a new place. And, note, it is not just eating but really experiencing the food.

Well, I realized last week that it has been quite awhile since I had actually had a truly new food adventure. I have found new places within familiar realms and have had tons of wonderfully enjoyable food journeys, but there is something very thrilling about a brand new food expedition! Love feeling like a world traveler and, better yet, an explorer, all without leaving the city.

My parents recently visited and are fellow food "explorers"! So, I try to always hit new countries/ethnicities that they haven't experienced before. Well, for this trip, I got to actually experience two that were brand new for me as well! I love it!

I have a dear friend I used to teach with who is Korean, and after 7 years of being in LA, it's actually a little appalling that I hadn't really experienced Korean well. I had Korean bbq, but Michele (the friend) would talk about so much more to Korean food. My Hawaiian friends in college used to offer some yummy samplings (like kimchee), but I needed to really dive in! So, Michele took my parents and I to Koreatown (which I have been around but not ever made the connection to really go and eat there). We went to some tiny little place where my parents and I seemed to be the only ones who didn't speak Korean (love that!). Michele just ordered some typical dishes. It was amazing! I saw them bringing out all these little bowls of side dishes to people, and I thought maybe you had to order some sort of mixed dish or something, but they bring it to everyone! Perfect for someone like me who is not only indecisive but also loves to try a variety of things. You all just use your chopsticks to eat out of the same bowls. Very communal. We had this amazing fish dish (good thing John didn't have to eat with us!). I have seriously never tasted fish that was so flavorful in my life! It was on top of this special kind of radishes and had a delicious sauce. We also had this sizzling rice pot that was very cool and a stew that had tofu and stuff. Then Michele took us for this fruit and shaved ice and red bean dessert, which they served in one big doggie dish (that part's not traditional!). It was really great!

Then, another night, I found an Afghani restaurant online that is in Pasadena. I recently read the Kite Runner (mind-blowingly good novel, by the way) and have been dying to try the food. (Side note: Noticed that several of the whole Balon crew are listed on their blogger profiles as living in Afghanistan. What's with that???) Because of a history with so many foreign conquering powers coming in, they have a mix of several influences in the food, but it is still uniquely theirs in a great way. The Moses family joined us as well, which was fun. Love that their kids were up for the food adventure! The food was delicious! I had these dumplings (the name of the dish is "mantu") that were one of the best tasting dishes I've had in a long time!

I could go on and on! I love food journeys, and I realized how much it made me excited to have some brand new ones! Here are photos of the group at Azeen's Afghani restaurant and my mantu!