Proverbs 31:14 “She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.”
While our family was stationed in South Korea for two years, I met an older Korean woman who was just as curious about our American family as I was about the Korean culture. She knew enough English for us to be able to communicate fairly well, and after meeting together a few times, a friendship was well on its way. Because it is poor manners to call an older Korean by their first name, my children and I were instructed to call her Halmoni, which means grandmother.
Early in our friendship, I learned that Halmoni loved to cook. She often would invite me to come sample something she had made. I would arrive at her home with homemade bread, pie, or some other baked goods, which she would receive with much appreciation, due to the fact that most Koreans don’t own an oven. In return, I would enjoy a taste of a Korean food, or some other foreign dish. Although sometimes I was not sure what I was eating, that didn’t matter to Halmoni. She was pleased that I was willing to try what she prepared.
On one occasion, when my husband was able to stay home with the children, Halmoni took me shopping to show me where I could find the freshest food. According to her, the local market was “no good,” so she took me, by taxi, to a different town where the best fish was sold. On another occasion, I was instructed to bring a 5-pound bag of rice (because American rice was cleaner than Korean rice), she would bring the raisins (because American raisins were “no good”), and off we went, by taxi, to “who knows where”. When we arrived at our destination, I was brought into a little building full of machines that were unfamiliar to me. The workers took our rice and raisins, and once again I was whisked away to do a little shopping at the nearby market. When we returned to the little building, our rice and raisins had been turned into the most delicious steamed rice cakes! These were, by far, more delicious than the rice cakes one could purchase locally.
Halmoni was very generous, and often came bearing a crate of the freshest strawberries, or a carton of farm eggs. To show me how fresh the eggs were, she would crack an egg into a bowl and point out how to tell it was from a free-range farm.
I learned a lot from Halmoni about the importance of good taste and nutrition. I admired how she would take the time to travel a little distance to get the best food for her family, instead of settling for the ease of shopping at the local market. Her example caused me to be somewhat selective as to where to get my food. I do have to admit, when I have been questioned or teased by friends about traveling a distance to a farm to get raw milk, fresh eggs, and grass-fed organic beef,and for paying more for these items than if I bought them from a store, I doubted myself and even prayed to the Lord, asking if I was not being a good steward of His money. After much consideration, reassurance from my husband, and also a reminder of the example of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:14, the Lord gave me peace that traveling and spending a little more for healthy food was not being frivolous or foolish. I truly believe that nutritious food and healthy eating pay back in the long run. One cannot put a price on good health, while on the other hand, a poor diet most often leads to a costly end as far as health care goes.
This month I wish to share a marinated Korean beef called Bulgogi. This is delicious served with rice, and if the rice is “sticky,” then it is a true Korean experience.
1 pound chuck roast, sliced very thin*
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp water
2 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil**
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
Dash of black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and let marinate a few hours or overnight. Heat up a skillet on medium/high heat and stir-fry just until meat is no longer pink.
*Your local butcher can slice the meat very thin.
**Toasted sesame oil can be found in the ethnic section of your grocery store.