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.

Kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) which won a prize in the Korean food photo contest

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.

collard greens
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)

broccoli pickles

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!


  1. Feralthinker Austin joined 1/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Sandy! Somewhere on this Web site you answered a pressing question of mine: how long does miso paste (or maybe I was asking about gochujang?) stay good opened but refrigerated. I really appreciate your taking the time to answer that question (which had been previously posed by someone else, but Google led me to the right place). We have some things in common: I lived two years in Daejeon, Korea, where I taught English as a Foreign Language at a college. That was so much fun. And of course I loved Korean food. Indeed, living in Korea made some great changes to the ways I approach cooking and eating, but every now and then I get a craving for the real thing and go to a Korean restaurant for some sundubu jjigae. I love that stuff!

  2. Hana Canada joined 9/10 & has 12 comments

    I just love Sandy’s story. I’m very proud of you, Sandy! By the way, I’m just wondering what kind of side-dish you prepared for the rest of the week. Could you tell us? I would be very happy if I see some side dish preserved in my fridge :)

    • unchienne Georgia, USA joined 10/08 & has 15 comments

      Sorry I took so long to respond. Holidays mean a lot of travel around here. This weekend I made seasoned beansprouts, seasoned eggplant (though I make mine differently than Maanchi’s recipe b/c I only have access to the thicker skinned Italian eggplants…I boil it down to make a paste similar to Thai nam prik), vinegared spicy radish, stirfried zuchinni in sesame oil, sauteed gailan with oyster sauce and chili oil, stir fried baby bok choy with garlic, stirfry bitter melon and pork, beansprout soup and cabbage/clam/miso soup. I don’t usually make so many stir fries but I just came back from a grocery trip to Atlanta and had to cook most of the green, leafy vegetables asap. Some of the items, like the soup and sections of blanched cabbage quarters, I froze for use in the coming weeks. In addition to what I made, I also have large jars of baechu kimchi with oysters and yul moo kimchi that I purchased from the International Farmer’s Market. I will probably use the seasoned vegetables to make some bibimbap later on in the week.

      It seems like a lot of food, but most days all I do is cook a pot of rice, heat some soup up, pull out some side dishes, maybe pan-fry a small fish or make some quick cucumber kimchi and chow down. Then I put whatever is left back in the fridge and call it a day. No real cooking or anything like that for the rest of the week, unless my mother visits and wants something in particular. She’s a huge carnivore whilst I’m more of a tofu girl, so whenever she visits, I try and stock up on beef/pork ribs, ox tail, and pork chops.

  3. powerplantop Louisiana joined 6/09 & has 70 comments

    Great looking pics!

    • unchienne Georgia, USA joined 10/08 & has 15 comments

      Thanks. I just love digital cameras. This is just a point and shoot one…no fancy filters or anything, and it takes pictures 50 times better than my previous cartridge camera.

      Btw, I’m making your soy pickles again this weekend. I’m so addicted. ;)

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