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Report from the spring picnic meetup in Connecticut

By Maangchi

On May 19, 2012 we had a springtime meetup in Connecticut. I was so excited  that I couldn’t sleep much the night before, just like a young child. On the Saturday morning I got up early and prepared the last things I needed before going.

First I’d like to thank the meetup organizers Kristi and Ryan. We exchanged many emails and met via Google+ hangout to plan the event. Without their help, the event would not have been possible. Thank you so much for your time and effort Kristi and Ryan!

Secondly, I’d like to thank all of those who came to the meetup. Some took a chartered bus with me and some came by their own transportation. Some people came from other states like New Hampshire and Rhode Island which took 4-5 hours! Since it was a potluck picnic, all of them woke up very early in the morning and made or packed fresh food to bring all the way to the meetup.

There are definitely some common points among everyone who came to the meetup. All of them love good and delicious food and love to cook homemade food the best. Having a potluck party is natural for a group like this. I can add 1 more important ingredient that made us connect to each other instantly: passion!

In advance I had made acorn jelly  for dotorimuk (acorn jelly salad) for my cooking demo and for all of us to eat, and bottled lots of makkoli (Korean rice alcohol) for us to drink. Oh we were going to have a great time! : )

We chartered a bus from Manhattan, so New Yorkers could come easily if they wanted to. The bus was organized by Kristi, check out her cool hat!

On the way to Connecticut! Some people drove their own cars, and are waiting there for us already!

Putnam Park was the perfect spot for a picnic. Fresh air, chirping birds, and perfect weather that day. All living creatures like flowers, trees, & water were welcoming us! Also, local guy Ryan was waiting for us. Check out the table setting: he even put some flowers  on the table.

“Hey everybody, gather round for a photo!” I realized some people were missing in the group photo. ; ) “I went to the rest room and found out you guys took the group photo”

Oh well, always stick to the group. lol

I did a cooking demo to show them how to prepare dotorimukmuchim. “I pre-washed all these vegetables…” We started the day with an appetizer of dotorimuk and makkoli! Check out how focused everyone looks! They won’t miss any of my demonstration!

“Hm, this makkoli is not bad at all…” Someone said, “I will pay tons of money for your makkoli if you sell it.”
Yes, I admit this makkoli was a perfect batch. I will post the recipe someday. I need to develop the recipe even more.

Oh, it’s someone’s 1 year birthday today! The cake says “clay: 클래이”  in Korean. Clay’s mom Genia emailed me. “Maangchi, my son Clay’s 1 year birthday is May 20, but the meetup picnic is 19th. I like to celebrate my son’s special 1 year birthday with all Korean food lovers!”

Of course, I liked the idea and couldn’t wait to meet Clay! Genia said her own mother is Korean, so she was raised on her mother’s delicious Korean food. She had never had a chance to learn Korean cooking from her mother. She found my website and she has been cooking all kinds of Korean dishes with my recipes. So you will understand why Genia wanted to celebrate Clay’s birthday with us. She came with her husband, her other son Jose, and mother-in-law.

There is a funny story about this cake. Genia emailed me and said, “Maangchi, I ordered a large cake from a bakery store in my area. I wanted to put my son’s name in Korean. They told me that ‘clay’ in Korean is ‘jeomto (점토)’ and they said it may not be a good idea of putting this on the cake. What shall I do?..”

Actually, jeomto means “mud” in English, so the bakery translated his name literally as “clay,” as in “dirt” or “mud.” I couldn’t help but laugh, and I suggested they translate his name into Korean as it sounds: “keul-lay” that will be “클래이” in hangeul. I asked her to send this to the bakery. So on this cake it says: “첫돌 클래이” which means “Clay’s 1 year birthday.”

Oh, Clay, it’s your birthday! Happy Birthday! I guarantee Clay will grow up as a man with everything because he got good wishes from all of us. Our good wishes for special 1 year old birthday boy is long life, health, success, richness…

Beautiful and delicious cookies.

Everyone was pretty hungry by the time we started eating.
“What is it?”
“Yeah it’s a kimchi pancake!”
“Oh it is very tasty!”
We kept asking questions about how they made their dishes.

It can’t be better! Good food, beautiful location, and surrounded by lovely foodies!

Lovely gimbap!

Steamed pork buns

Japchae

Kimchi and multi-grain rice made by me

colorful pasta salad

Kimchi quiche

sweet and super soft flan

Pasta mixed with  herbs and vegetables

Kimchi sliders. Juicy meat patties with chopped kimchi inside! Brilliant and creative idea!

“Multi tasking! No place to put my cup except to bite it.”

Under the tree! Allo allo! : )

CJ Foods was nice enough to donate a box of gochujang to everyone. Thanks CJ, you are awesome! Ryan is giving the gochujang to Ms.Jeon: “Thank you for coming!”

It looks like a painting and the title could be “Men with gochujang” : )

“We came from New Hampshire to join this event!” Mary Beth Jones and her 2 daughters. She left a little earlier than us because it takes more than 4 hours to get home. That night she posted on Facebook at 9:30pm that she made it home!

 

“Yes, we belong to sunglass club!”

Getting to know each other and more eating!

Wow, you guys look very close friends! When did you meet? “Just now!” : )

“Ho ho ho, we brought a nice blanket to sit down comfortably!”

“Wow, I’m a little drunk now. This makkoli is awesome! BTW we are living near here Maangchi, come again, please!”
Yes, I will!

Happy happy! We could make good friends very easily!

“Hello, do we look cool?” : )

We went foraging. We couldn’t find anything edible but enjoyed the hiking!

Ryan’s Mom tried to find a mushrooms or ramps.

Cathy M.Beauregard living not far from this place gave us a little lecture about edible mountain vegetables. She is the sister of one of my readers, Charles Beauregard. She had never tasted Korean food before but she heard from her brother about it many times. She said, “My brother told me to attend this meetup!” She loved the Korean food that she tasted that day.

Cathy went back to her house while we went hiking. She brought purple perilla leaves seedlings for us and ramps from the area. As you see, the ramps are withered and all gone. Cathy’s explanation and her generosity and effort were very impressive. Thank you Cathy!

Ryan’s mother and Mary Beth Jones. Nice meeting you!

Just before saying goodbye to everybody, we got some watermelon!  “Have some watermelon! Be well forever and see you someday again.”

I’d like to visit this place again someday. The calm river runs so slowly. It will remember our visit and say: “Thanks for coming!”

 

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