You know what I did this weekend?

Ate a lot of great food.

As the finishing of my job looms ever closer, I've been cracking down on my budget. I need to get myself within a certain means of living if I expect to make it through the next three years without a proper job. But that doesn't mean I have to go back to eating egg sandwiches, like I did during the lean college years.

A friend and I spend the afternoon having coffee and dinner yesterday, and as she's moving into a budgeting period of life as well, we fell on the topic of how, theoretically, cooking Korean should be cheaper. The problem is, to get enough variety with Korean food, or to really eat it well, you need a lot of different ingredients. Fresh ingredients, which are often only available in bulk. Which doesn't work well for a single person, or even, really, a couple. Green onion, for example? I've never not thrown out at least half.

So I've been looking for cheap alternatives. I've heard a lot of talk around the internet amongst foreigners about iHerb, so I finally decided to check it out, and placed my first order last Sunday. On Tuesday, I got a phone call from customs to collect my passport number, and then the package arrived on Thursday.

This weekend, we had chicken curry and brown rice, hummus and pita bread, honey and almond butter and jelly sandwiches on homemade bread, and homemade popcorn. Busan's thrilled. And it was all dead cheap.

Last weekend, we had the above banana bread for breakfast, and I've been keeping a loaf of the herb bread around at all times. The pitas are also homemade, as is the hummus. That's what keeps it all so cheap. Other than the banana bread, it's essentially just yeast, flour and water. I can even pick up packets of cheap instant yeast at the little green market that's a five minute walk from my place.

This week sometime, I hope to get some homemade yogurt going, which if you don't know, is just milk combined with a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt with active live cultures.

I know there is a lot that foreigners in Korea feel limited by without an oven, but my little oven is something I picked up at a secondhand store for 25,000 won in my neighborhood a few years ago, and it's served me really well. These days, more and more baking equipment and supplies are popping up at the marts, and I even got the bread pan I've been using lately at the Daiso in my neighborhood's subway station (along with a few other random baking utensils).

B's pretty happy with the influx of foreign food, and happy enough to stay in and eat curry for about six thousand won, rather than go out for 40. The truth is, I've just set into motion my diabolical scheme to start convincing him to be more choosy about the kitchen space when we start apartment hunting in a few months. If B thinks he's going to get good food out of a situation, he'll agree to just about anything.

Anyway, I put of iHerb for a long time because I usually can't be bothered with internet ordering things. There's something unsavory about it for me. But I'm completely converted now, and will probably be placing an order every couple of weeks. If anybody wants the code I got, which will give you $10 off your first order, just let me know and I'll pass it on.

Oh! And one more thing I forgot to mention: Herbal coffee (aka decaf that doesn't taste like dirt). I've been drinking it all day, and it's not a problem. And real, quality espresso which doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I'm fucking hooked.


Sidney said...

can i ask how big your oven is? keunseok is making me a nice island-style table for my kitchen so i'll have room for an oven w/o it being in the way, and i CAN get a large one, but you make amazing thing with yours.

I'm no Picasso said...

Mine is just teeny tiny. I can't even fit an average sized six muffin pan in, and had to go to the baking market to buy a smaller one. It's smaller than my microwave (much) and weighs about five pounds.

Things to consider are that it takes forever to do cupcakes/cookies/multiple layer cakes because everything has to go in shifts. But I haven't found it to be too much of a bother, personally. Two dozen cookies is a two hour nightmare, though.