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my apologies

yesterday’s words were a bit too harsh… i think an apology is in order.

now don’t go thinking this apology is directed towards you. no no, i still kind of hate you. (however, if you are willing to send me some sort of baked dish that involves setting the oven to 375 °F, sprinkling said dish with any cheese that is NOT kraft single slices, and letting that shit simmer for a good hour or so, well then i am obviously willing to forgive you).

but instead, i think i owe my “kitchen” an apology. (for the record, i am using quotations because i still don’t feel comfortable with labelling that area of my room as anything other than that-corner-where-dishes-and-other-garbage-pile-up).

i’m apologizing because yesterday, after i gave my “kitchen” shit for being a piss-poor excuse of a room, something pretty magical happened.

to be frank, these lil no bake balls of delectableness pretty much saved my relationship with my “kitchen.”

tb and i have been tinkering and trialing a couple different no-bake/raw/vegan/other flashy search-engine word recipes to try to come up with something that could treat our tastebuds AND didn’t require preheating, oven mitts, or any fahrenheit degree settings.

now this alone can seem like a pretty difficult “kitchen” task. but don’t forget that we’re dealing with extremely limited access to most things necessary when making any sort of bake/no-bake goodie. yes there’s the notorious okpo foreign foods shop which specializes in selling salsa for $11 a jar. but the short supply of “foreign foods” makes me feel obliged to toss quotations onto this store label as well . oh yes, don’t forget to factor in a nut allergy for good measure and you’ve got yourself a recipe for failed recipes.

with odds stacked against us, these no-bake balls came out good. like, really really good.

here’s what went down…

1/2 cup soy milk

1/4 cup margarine (i don’t really think it is margarine but instead, some korean cooking hybrid)

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar

all the cocoa powder in the world (give or take 2 tbsp)

2 cups oats

1/2 semi-ripe banana…you could probably use a whole banana but i dont have the self-control to not eat the fruits of my labour (oh god. i kill myself)

4 rice cake cylinders, mashed to itty bitty pieces (k-town readers: the deliciousness of the lil no bake balls will increase if (AND ONLY IF) you buy a jumbo pack of cylinders out of the back of a pick-up truck. i suppose regular rice krispies will also do just fine…)

i started by boiling up the sugar, soy milk, brown sugar, and margarine hybrid together in a pot. i stirred for what felt like a millisecond before tb raided the spoon and accused me of having a heavy hand when stirring. this back and forth went on for maybe 2 more minutes. then we peered into the pot and agreed that the stirring process was complete. (this part of the recipe is NOT OPTIONAL. do not make substitutions or you will end up with a no-bake ball that felt ignored because the stirring process was not a topic of conversation for an unnecessary and agonizing 20 minutes…) 

dump in yer oats and STIR. (this stir was a mutually agreed upon step)

add in your cocoa powder, half banana, and crushed up bitties of rice cake cylinders/ rice krispies

let it cool down (and obviously lick the spoon)

make some lil balls with the mixture to really hit home the whole lil no bake balls winning title

because i am not a colourist, i melted some white chocolate and then dipped those lil guys in the hopes of merging whites and darks

put in the fridge overnight (or for however long you can exhibit enough self-control for the lil balls to firm up their lil ball shape)

peer into the fridge in the morning, scream with a lil no bake ball delight, and smile to yourself for creating more “blog-worthy” content.

anyways “kitchen,” i’m really sorry. i s’pose you’re not so bad after all…

maybe you’re reading this because you have a slight interest in my daily haps and scanning this post is another procrastinating scheme in which you are avoiding starting whatever else you have that is (surely) more important than watching my desperate attempts to fill every paragraph with brackets (seriously kids, choose a handful of posts and you will see. my batting average is probably about 6 or 7 per page. discontinued and choppy thoughts in its purist form).

or maybe you’re reading this because you want to hound me out for taking three months to respond to your thoughtful and caring facebook message. please recall my pre-meditated “i’m awful at keeping in-touch with people” excuse. i thought i was vague enough that i covered all my bases on that one.  either way, i read your emails. and i’ll seriously write back……later.

whatever the case may be, i just want to put this out there:

i kind of hate you.

but before you start assuming that korea has molded me into an even surlier dickhead, let me explain.

as you read this, you are probably sitting in the comfortable comfort of your own home. a home that probably has some sort of central heating, and maybe even a room or two with carpeted flooring. a home where you do not live next door to your boss, a man that without encouragement or any interest from yours truly, finds it beyond necessary to narrate daily activities, meals, and choice of inner/ outerwear (“yes, i wear moccasins in the winter. and yes, this apparently also means that EVERY SINGLE CANADIAN wears moccasins in the winter. the orange moccasin dye on the bottoms of our feet is practically a racial identifier…”).

maybe you are lucky enough to have walls which seperate one room from another, but even if that is not the case, surely (and for your standard of living, hopefully) your kitchen has a kitchen.

i hate you because you probably have an oven. i hate you because you most likely have counterspace where you can chop onions and carrots freely without running the risk of flinging your plastic drying rack into the open flame of your gas stove top. i hate you because you can plug-in your microwave, kettle, and coffee maker ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

i’m harbouring a lot of jealousy right now. it’s probably best i hold off on that facebook response for another month or two.

tournament of hearts

as a reckless undergraduate, i often took it upon myself to reason ridiculous nights of cheap lagers and free buses home. my rat didn’t die in psyc class today. let’s celebrate! i thought i lost my jacket but then remembered i was still wearing it. let’s get another round! i failed my driving test for the third time today. hello last call!

somehow, valentine’s day also squeezed itself onto that list of “reasons to excuse surliness.”

without much thought (and probably out of yearly habit), i shot off some loose-laid plans about pints and nachos to open tb ears. but then, just as it always seems to, okpo happened.

the whitening crunch and cancelled transit system meant the postponement of pints.

instead, i helped a wackload of 16 year old korean boys decorate semi-burnt cookies for their giggly and over appreciative girlfriends.

and as i finish off this post, i took a sip of what i expected to be chai tea. and what should have tasted like a blend of cinnamon and delicious indian spices, was actually a watered-down whiskey from dinner. i guess i got my excuse after all…

anthony bourdain (foodie and verging silver fox) once proclaimed that taiwan has some of the best food he has ever tasted.

now i can’t say for sure, but i am fairly certain that mr. silver fox was referring to the shortlist of stranger-than-strange themed restaurants that occupy the streets, lanes, and alleyways of taiwan.

from airplane take-out meals to hospital diners with wheelchair seating, the novelty of these opportunities are almost as attractive as both the second-largest ferris wheel and free-standing building that landmark the city of taipei.

but let’s be honest, nothing can compete with a toilet-themed restaurant. (i mean come on, no one really has a fair shot when you’re talking about drinks being served out of mini urinals).

and just like that, suddenly “eating off a toilet seat” quickly surpassed “climbing mt. cising” for the top spot on my must-do list while in taiwan.

and naturally as it goes with any must-do list, i would promptly deem this trip an epic fail if i was unable to put all of my potty humour jokes to use while celebrating the year of the rabbit. and perhaps the food delirium had something to do with it, but other facets of taiwan (and more specifically, taipei) were also all kinds of impressive.

they’ve got this ridiculously efficient transportation system that costs pennies (no, really) to take.

 

their temples are all kinds of colourful and have these well-hidden designs that once discovered, make you feel like you have just found the ‘x’ on a pirate treasure hunt.

 

 

they’ve also got this extremely urbanized cityscape that couples with this slighty seedy (in a good way) miami-like landscape that almost seems passable as a backdrop from a scene in dexter.

where was i?

oh right. they also have a restaurant all about poop.

and i as whined my way through my last night in taipei, i spotted the iconic blue pants man and pink dress girl. those recognizable symbols you would hope to see on a stretch of highway after a big gallon of gatorade, much less an underpass in downtown taipei.

 

it didn’t take much convincing before i was enjoying a cereal-decorated sundae, served in the culturally relevant squatter toilet. maybe the ice cream wasn’t that noteworthy. but in modern toilet’s defense, when you’re seating customers at sink basins and using toilet paper for napkins, the actual meal may have the tendency to take a back (toilet) seat.

 

the fact that my visit to the loo was a taiwanese highlight, perhaps reveals something more about one’s maturity level. but for me, the consolation is knowing that mr. silver fox himself was probably making the same shitty puns (ha!) in the exact same (toilet) seat. all the while grinning to his foodie buddies after making some half-assed (double ha!) joke about taiwan being the shit.

me and renegades go together like bread and butta.

i kid you not, whenever i meet a renegade i basically lose my shit and get all kinds of sorority-girl giddy.

now i am by no means self-labelling myself as a “renegade,” but what i can attest is that when two renegades meet and share similar ideals in which they (we) have no ideals well then that there my friend, is a whole new ball game (or war zone…depending on their (my) blood alcohol level).

and renegades often find each other in this cosmic synergy kind of way. maybe its outside of a bar, as they (i) plead to the bouncer that they (i) simply confused the tip jar with those ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ dishes you would find at rural convenience stores. or maybe you make quick eye contact with another renegade at your local ihop as you catch each other thrifting new silverware for your forkless kitchen.*

*okay so maybe it was a forkless, spoonless, cupless kitchen. but i gave the waiter a hefty tip. AND i didn’t steal the tip back to pay for my next pint. so it all works out in the end… see what i mean? cosmic. synergy.  

it was this type of synergy that presented itself in the form of a cheap plane ticket during one of south korea’s busiest flying times. for all us expats, lunar new year basically means a fury of days off to escape the less-than-ideal winter conditions of the korean countryside.

maybe the flight was so cheap because it is during this country’s onset of typhoon season. or maybe it’s because this country is currently on the outs with south korea after a recent taekwondo diss at the asian games. or maybe, just maybe, it’s because this country has been nicknamed “the renegade province” of planet earth and cosmic synergy chose to pull through in the clutch and offer me a window seat and a lacto-vegan meal.

whatever the reason may be, taiwan stands as one of the defiant forefathers for all us amateur renegades. it has been stirring up political and country-identification controversy for years but at the same time, remains quietly under the radar as any sort of highlight on any sort of travel itinerary.

the fact that the most recent lonely planet on taiwan is over 4 years only further supports the country’s renegade status within the tourism industry.

now we all know that taiwan is NOT part of mainland china. this distinction is what has obviously earned taiwan it’s renegade nickname. but is it part of the massive china china? i mean, taiwanese hold taiwanese (not chinese) passports , they show up with their own team to the olympics, and  the whole country (or province) considers themselves independent from the big guns of chinese prime minister, wen jiabao. but even some recent stats said something like 46% of taiwanese people still consider themselves “chinese.” (i realize that tossing in an actual link to actual valid statistics would be far more supported, but i’m trying to uphold my credibility with the ‘gades.*)

* ‘gades=renegades. (just making sure you’re still with me here.)

in a couple of days i’ll be taking on taiwan solo (because apparently, that’s how a genuine renegade roles). i don’t have much of a plan (i’m letting lonely planet take the blame on that one), or really any vague idea on what it’ll be like.

but i can only imagine i will feel right at home.

admittedly, i am often a user (and abuser) of extremist language.

never, ever, always, best, worst, all of it, none of it. these are the words that practically pollute my vocabulary.

now in cases of extremist talkers, the whole boy-cried-wolf scenario is often assumed. was that really  “the best brunch EVER?” and come on let’s get serious, “you’re never drinking again?” these same assertions are heard again and again so can any of my claims really be taken seriously?

probably not.

but in my defense, things just seem a lot more certain if they are falling off either end of a spectrum (especially when discussing brunches and hangovers).

with that disclaimer in mind, i am pretty sure i may have very well experienced my worst week ever in geoje. now sure you can take this with a grain of 50% less sodium salt but hear me out….

recall my last post about the efficiency of pharmacists and over-the-counter medicines in south korea (and more specifically, okpo). all gravy right? wrong.

soon after i hit “publish” on that post, i started to notice some serious blurry vision in my right eye. not cool eyeball, not cool.

thinking i just needed a switch up in eye drops, i visited an actual eye doctor and hoped that this time, i could actually follow through with my whole award-winning charade skit. but instead, things took a turn for the ophthalmologically worst. (extremist alert).

after photographing my eyeball, doctor okpo let out a sigh and started saying “terrible” over and over and over again. at this point, i truly believed that i had met my extremist match. not really taking him too seriously, i quickly ran through my charade request for a better prescription or some cure-all formula for the double-double tricks of my eye. but then doctor okpo started getting real time serious. he was struggling to find fitting english words for his diagnosis (because we all know that “terrible” just doesn’t cut it in the medical world) and finally, probably out of pure translation exhaustion, settled on the word “permanent.”

permanent.

now that’s not one of those extremist claims that can be altered the next time you have a delicious bout of hollandaise sauce or a tasty microbrew.

i don’t think “permanent” can even be considered adequate vocab by us extremists. but confident with his choice of words, doctor okpo repeated this diagnosis for what seemed like ages.

fine dude. so this double, blurry, hazy vision is really “permanent” (i felt the need to mock doctor okpo by using hand quotations for his albeit wrongful diagnosis). up my prescription, give me a new batch of swan touch, surely something can be done to fix this whole mirror-in-a-hot-steamy-room vision thing.

but doctor okpo was insistent. with my permanent double-vision, nothing could be done. this was actually permanent. i would spend the rest of my life thinking there were two cans of pbr in front of me. for the rest of my life, i would not be  able to see the finer details of my belgium waffles. this was more than a bummer. this was the worst.

although this event on its own would be enough of an excuse to drop some extremist bombs, geoje had to up the ante a bit and toss out a bitter cold front that caused all the water tanks in our poor lil building to freeze. any turn of the tap meant nothing. no running water.

us extremists would deem this the worst week ever.

why you ask?

because now (with my permanent double-vision), im staring at not one, but two frozen water tanks.

between passing out on christmas eve while still wearing my toque and mittens and waking up on christmas morning in a hot mess of sweaty hands and a matted scalp, i developed some sort of serious business with my right eye.

it looked like i had stuck a q-tip under my eyelid, went digging for a bit, and then thought it would be a good idea to just you know, sleep on it.

pictures overstep personal boundaries. but the drawing is realistic enough.

now when it comes to any sort of ailment… i’m a self-proclaimed internet diagnoser. there’s probably even some correlation between the invention of google and my frequency in visiting the doctor. 

doctors make me feel careless. i just know they judge me when i tell them how i think i might have broken my elbow while running with a hot pizza. but empathetic google does not lower its glasses to me. instead, dr. google is always reassuring me that things will be okay. and if they aren’t… i just use different search terms. 

on top of that, google’s batting about a 90% accuracy rate with me right now (save for the time they told me i had bed bugs. that diagnosis ended with me hysterically piling everything i owned into three large garbage bags. but because i didn’t know what to do next,  i just kinda lived out of those bags for the next two weeks. it was a nice and compact style of living and in the end, my prescription was just a change in laundry detergent.)

so through a steady on stream of tears from my right eye, i got to work on my condition. google told me i had a scratched cornea. but also advised me that it could be something worse. and then all of sudden OUT OF NOWHERE google rears its judgemental head and starts lecturing me on the fact that i only have two eyes and i need to seek the immediate advice of a medical professional (um, i am google. it’s called “you”). and that if things don’t change in the next 24 hours, my eyeball could slide into the back of my head and my body would digest it forever. (it’s hard to say if the last part of the prognosis was accurate. did i mention my vision was increasingly blurry?)

since google’s scare tactics were successful, i decided to visit a korean pharmacist. (my moderate-to-severe level pain just didn’t quite warrant an actual doctor’s visit).

now in case you didn’t know, okpo is a city dedicated to the kinds of foreigners that love things like strip clubs and getting sick…a lot. those black-tinted “foreigner clubs” and “pouruners welcome” signs (translation: foreigners welcome) crowd the streets of okpo. (i haven’t decided if the pharmacists employed at pouruners are the witty play-on-words type or just boastfully proud of their lackluster customer service).

worried about my soon-to-be-pirate status, i entered the first pharmacy i could find (unfortunately, pour-run is closed on sundays). in preparation for the communication barriers that would occur at this pseudo doctor’s visit, i had pulled out all the stops and created a three-step charade game to share my google diagnosis findings.

 first word…

now i’m not exactly sure what i expected but i s’pose that i just assumed the pharmacist would take a mini flashlight to my cornea and search for the missing q-tip in my eyeball abyss.

but instead, he took one quick glance at my eye and simply tossed me a bottle of swan touch and confidently sat back down to continue his pixie cup of “milk-coffee.” the instructions only read japanese but the packaging did boast: the sleek design and curve is sure to be successful.

pharmy chuckled when i wanted to finish out the game of charades with words two and three. i just wasn’t convinced that this man knew my eye better than me (or google. same thing). sure the package said it would be successful, but pharmy didn’t seem at all concerned that my eyeball could slide into the back of my head if i blinked for too long (again, the details on this symptom are a bit shady).

did pharmy just outsmart google?

it’s true…two days later my eyeball was as white as a ghost.

from now on, dr. google is taking a back seat to my main man pharmy and his sharp-shooter pourun service.