Failing, Persistence, Romanticism and Kimchiguk

I fail a lot. I wanted to put that out there so you didn’t think this was one of those blogs where I do everything easily and perfectly all the time. You know, like all those other people you read about online. Heh. A great deal of the time, I fail at what I do. I failed this weekend, letting fear guide a decision and missing an opportunity to connect with others. I recently wrote about how I did not want fear to hold me back and then I let it. I also failed this weekend in regards to making healthy food choices. I have not been feeling terrific and decided it would be a good idea to have salted caramel and chocolate chili ice cream for dinner. With salt and vinegar potato chips. And a nice glass of iced whisky to wash it all down. As someone who makes it a priority to eat nutritious foods, that was a pretty epic fail. Although, I must say it was a very delicious fail and I do not regret it. I made a better choice the next night. That is very important to me, to move forward with no regrets. Seventy-one days ago I failed at making kimchi. The thing is, even with all this failure, I keep trying. I am persistent.

Kimchi when I first made it on 6/9/13

Kimchi when I first made it on 6/9/13

Years ago, my mom gave me a small clipping with this quote from Calvin Coolidge on it: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Looking at that everyday, year after year, by osmosis, I have developed this unwavering persistence.

When first meeting me, you probably wouldn’t categorize me as an optimist. I’m not the always smiling, cheery and sunshine-y type of stereotypical optimist. I am a quieter optimist. I have faith that people and the great, big universe want the best outcomes possible for everyone. I consider myself a Romantic (note the capital R), which puts me in good company. Although not easily defined, I like this description from Isaiah Berlin: Romanticism embodied “a new and restless spirit, seeking violently to burst through old and cramping forms, a nervous preoccupation with perpetually changing inner states of consciousness, a longing for the unbounded and the indefinable, for perpetual movement and change, an effort to return to the forgotten sources of life, a passionate effort at self-assertion both individual and collective, a search after means of expressing an unappeasable yearning for unattainable goals.” This idealism sometimes gets me into trouble. I am frequently disappointed and I frequently fail and that is okay. Because like the Chinese proverb, [if I] fall seven times, [I] get up eight. At this point, I’ve probably fallen seven billion times. I still get up. Sometimes it takes me a while to gather myself. I still get up and even more crazily; I still believe the best in people and circumstances.

In the tradition of Blake, Byron, Shelley and me, Vlad is also a Romantic. He enjoys watching me cook.

In the tradition of Blake, Byron, Shelley and me, Vlad is also a Romantic. He enjoys watching me cook.

So today, in an effort to help rectify my failures, I am making kimchiguk. I know that I made kimchi 71 days ago because today marks the tenth week since my accident and I made the kimchi that Sunday. I got up from the fall that caused my accident and have persevered in my recovery so I wanted to see if I could ‘get up’ from the over salted kimchi. I had a friend ask her Korean friend if she knew what I could do with too salty kimchi. I hate throwing away food and the kimchi has good flavor and texture, just too much salt. Her friend suggested I make kimchi soup. You basically brown some meat in sesame oil, add the kimchi and some liquid then serve over rice. I decided to use pork and my home made chicken stock. I thought this would be a very healthy meal since bone broth and ferments are supposed to be extremely good for you. Weston A. Price would be proud! I quickly looked up a recipe online and found this from the always fabulous Maangchi. It is pretty much what my friend’s friend described except it has tofu in it. Since I have no tofu I am leaving it out and doing my own version.

I started with heating some sesame oil.

I started with heating some sesame oil.

Added pork

Added pork

And onion

And onion

After it browned,

After it browned,

I added the broth

I added the broth

and Kimchi.

and Kimchi.

I cooked it until I remembered it needed to stop cooking.

I cooked it until I remembered it needed to stop cooking.

I tasted it and it is still pretty salty. I put a raw cut up potato in it to see if that will help. If not, I can always add more liquid to dilute it. You are supposed to serve it over rice so if I do that it will probably further reduce the salt taste. I don’t really eat rice so will probably just eat it as is. Perhaps I should learn how to follow a recipe, but I prefer to combine recipes and make my own concoction. I have a tendency to overdo things, a frequent motto being ‘some is good, more is better’. As you can imagine, this gets me into a little bit of trouble from time to time as with the salt in the kimchi. The positive of this is I have great enthusiasm for the things I do. Yes, I fail a lot. This assures that life is never boring and there is always more to learn. Sounds to me like fail=win!

The final product: not too shabby. I ate the entire bowl. We'll see if I live.

The final product: not too shabby. I ate the entire bowl. We’ll see if I live.

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