Here is my interview with Sandy and the photos of Korean dishes that she made. She is one of the winners on the 2010 Korean food photo contest! She cooks Korean food almost everyday.
Sandy has been emailing me photos for a long time, but I never knew much about her real life. I’m fascinated by her family story especially her 102 year old grandmother in Korea who is still working! Sandy must come from an energetic and healthy line of Korean women!
1. What is your name and where do you live?
My name is Sandy Prater. I was born in Incheon, South Korea; however, my father was in the U.S. Air Force, and we moved to the States when I was very young. I currently live in what I consider my “hometown” in South Georgia
2.What do you do and how many family members do you have ?
I am a 10th grade English teacher (please don’t judge my grammar too harshly…I’m off-duty, LoL). I’ve also taught 7th grade for a few years, but I prefer working with high schoolers.
My parents divorced when I was young, so now it’s just me and my mom. I’m an only child, but I do have two uncles, five cousins, and a grandmother back in Korea. One of my uncles has a farm while the other is a government official in Seoul. Probably the most fascinating detail of my family is that my grandmother is 102 years old and still has a job! She works part-time shucking clams. Her children have all tried to talk to her into retiring, but she credits the hard work for her longevity and refuses to “lay about the house doing nothing.” I wish I had her energy.
3. How often do you cook Korean food following my recipes?
I cook foods using your recipes every week and eat them daily. Usually I’ll make a huge batch of banchan (side dish) during the weekend and use that for the rest of the week.
Mine is definitely a typical Korean household. I was raised eating nothing but Korean foods, and now I’m the primary cook. Oh, I’ll splurge now and then on a cheeseburger or some pasta, but on most days it’s rice and kimchi for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That’s why your site is so important to me.
Cookbooks are great, but they’re no substitute for seeing a dish being made. My mother has never been comfortable in the kitchen, so she really couldn’t instruct me in making the traditional meals. It’s been such a treat to make your dishes and see the pride in her face as she eats them and shares them with others. A lot of her friends’ children haven’t held onto their Asian backgrounds, preferring to be identified as American rather than Korean American. There is nothing wrong with what they’re doing, but I don’t want to give up my multi-cultural identity, and your foods have brought me closer and connected to my heritage.
She says, ” … Living in the South, I love collard greens, but usually have to forgo them because all the seasonings used are really high in fat and calories. And collards plain (without the hamhocks) just taste nasty to me. Not anymore! These are ssooooooo good. I’ve already ate about a 4th of them. The taste is similar to radish tops (had that meaty flavor) but have a twinge of bitterness that works really well with the miso.”
4. What are your favorite Korean dishes? Choose 3, please!
There are so many to choose from, and my tastes change with the seasons. However, if I had to choose, I’d say my favorites (for now) are: fresh oisobagi kimchi, kimchi jjigae, and naengmyun (cold noodles).
oisobagi (spicy stuffed cucumber kimchi)
baechu doenjangguk (cabbage and soybean paste soup)
bugeoguk (dried pollock soup)
miyeok julgi bokkeum (sauteed sea plant stems)
5. What’s your best Korean dish, the one that everybody compliments you on when you make it?
Everyone loves my doenjang jjigae. Made from your recipe, of course!