[The Labyrinth] Chapter 2: In Search of Lost Time

Story

Chapter 2: In Search of Lost Time

I woke up feeling the grass underneath my body. My head was spinning a bit, but I was able to get up and pull myself together. I don’t remember much other than the fact that I was clubbing, and then I woke up somewhere else. It was quiet, and the cold wind was blowing everywhere. Darkness overshadowed everything, so I wasn’t able to see much in sight. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I was able to see a few feet around me. All I could make out were bushes to the right, left, and behind me. The bushes ran down creating a path, but I was only able to see a few feet of the path.

I yelled out “Alice, anyone… Is anybody there? Hello!” but there was no reply. I started to feel scared and alone because I didn’t know where I was or what was going on. I stood up and tried to reach for my phone. All my belongings were still in my pocket, so I quickly grabbed my phone and dialed Alice. The phone rang and then someone picked up. I asked “Alice… Where are you… What’s going on?” Soon after, the words I just uttered on the phone played back to me. I hung up and quickly dialed the police for help. After someone picked up, I quickly shouted “I don’t know where I am or what’s going on, but please help me!” Right after, a soft female voice said “Look forward and walk.” At first I questioned “What do you mean? Can you see me? Where am I?” The voice replied, “Jay, you have no choice but to proceed forward.”

I proceeded to walk the dark path that seemed to be shrouded only in darkness with my phone screen being the only light I have. Then it occurred to me that my phone has a built in flashlight. I hung up and quickly turned on the flashlight. Once the light started to illuminate my path, the ground shook with much force and my phone dropped onto the floor. As I reached and tried to grab it, it got pulled into the ground. I tried to feel around the grass, but I eventually came to accept the phone was absorbed by my surroundings.

At this point, I didn’t have any choice but to walk down the path that was set. As I walked down a few minutes, I saw a single light in the midst of all the darkness. I ran towards it thinking I had reached someplace with people. As I ran towards that light, I noticed the size of the light remained the same. While that did confuse me, I continued to run towards that small light until I saw a shroud of pink. I knew right away that the light came from a phone. And that phone belonged to Alice. The pink color was from the pink shirt she was wearing. If it’s one thing I knew about Alice, it was that she loved the color pink to the point that her skin is the only non-pink thing about her. I shouted Alice’s name so loud that she recognized me and shouted back “Jay, where are you? I’m over here!”

Finally, I gave Alice a giant hug and asked her if she knew where we were. Alice replied “I’m not sure… but we need to get out of here soon.” I asked her if she remembered what had happened at the party. She nodded her head no, so it just made me a bit more worried. Alice said “let me turn on my phone’s light so we can see what’s around,” and I quickly grabbed her phone and said “NO! We can’t do that…” I remembered what had happened to my phone. After explaining that to Alice, she understood.

I realized that I could use Alice’s phone to check the time. Her phone displayed 9:53am. I thought to myself how that might be possible because it’s so dark. Then I looked at Alice, and I noticed she looked extremely scared. I asked her “Alice, what’s wrong… We will be okay.” And Alice said “Jay, look up at the stars, what do you see?” Ever since we were little, Alice had always been fascinated by stars and constellations. She even folds paper stars every day out of her passion for those burning balls of gas above. I stared at the sky and told her “nope, I don’t see what’s there.” Alice then told me “I don’t recognize any of the star patterns or constellations… They aren’t normal…” Then I started to panic a bit because I suddenly had a quick flashback with the same star patterns I saw in the sky. I’m not sure if I really lived the flashback, or if my mind just made it up. I kept thinking to myself and wondering what had happened in the past few hours that we can’t remember.

I recalled a story I read in class by Robert Proust that was titled “In Search of Lost Time.” There was a moment in the story when a character ate a madeleine, and the eating experience triggered a certain memory. Was my flashback a similar experience compared to the madeleine? I’m not sure why, but I felt uneasy and worried about what was to come. I looked over at Alice and told her “Let’s go! We need to find a way out of here!” Then Alice pointed in the darkness and asked me “what should we do?” I looked at what she was pointing at, and I replied “I don’t know…”

[The Labyrinth] Chapter 1: The Darkness Approaches

Story

Chapter 1: The Darkness Approaches

I stared down at my watch, and it was almost 3pm. I got out of bed and went to the restroom to brush my teeth and wash my hair. I squeezed some toothpaste onto my toothbrush and started to brush away. After rinsing my mouth, I paused for a second to think about what I had to do that day. Then it quickly came to me that I have a party to attend tonight.

Exactly one week ago, I received an invitation to an exclusive party at a club called VIBE that only the finest and richest of the social class can attend. It is believed that the club was started by the rich for the rich. The invitation didn’t have a return address, but after reading the card, it was clear what the invitation was for. It was common knowledge in our city that the only other way to attend VIBE without being filthy rich was to be invited. On my commute to work each day, I pass by this club and I can see the giant letters overlooking the parking lot that seems to be always full. And one thing I’ve noticed about this club is that I’ve never seen anyone go in or out, yet the building is always brightly lit and loud every night. Even the bouncers are nowhere to be seen during the nights when the club is active. But regardless, I was excited to finally get a pass to go to one of the most exclusive clubs in the area. And as an added bonus, I received an extra pass to bring someone else. Upon seeing that extra ticket, I knew exactly who I would give it to.

I planned to give the extra ticket to my best friend, Alice, who is coming over in a few hours. Alice is an interesting girl who seems to attract attention wherever she goes. She is very tall and thin and seems to be pushing away guys who can’t seem to keep their hands off her. Her skin is caramel-colored, and her black hair reaches down past her elbows. We have been best friends for so many years, so it only makes sense that she is my plus one to attend this event.

In the few hours I have until Alice arrives, I decided to take a shower and nap. While I was showering, someone knocked at my door. I jumped out of the shower and took a look at my clock. It was 3:37pm. Someone kept banging at my door, so I got a bit worried. Alice told me she would arrive around 6pm, so I was wondering who it might be. I quickly grabbed some towels to dry off and rushed to put on some shorts and a t-shirt. After checking through the peephole in the door, nobody was there. I walked away and there was another bang on the door, except it was louder this time. I just took a deep breath and opened the door. Alice yelled “Surprise!” and asked me “Jay, did I scare you?” I reacted by closing the door on her.

Alice opened the door and said “don’t be uptight; I just came early to hang out.” So I proceeded to get my clothes ready, so we can go out to do something before the big event. I quickly changed and got my keys to go out the door. Before we could get out, Alice’s boyfriend, Aiden, had called her phone. After Alice had hung up, we walked out the door to the car. She decided to drive as she wanted to go somewhere I haven’t been before. We ended up going to karaoke which was one of her most favorite things to do. We started singing some songs from the 90’s. Suddenly, I looked down at my phone and noticed it was already 5:32pm. I realized we were going to be late, so I told Alice to hurry up and pack. After leaving the karaoke room, I went to pay at the counter.

We rushed to her car and headed to VIBE. The drive was quite short since Alice started speeding. Once we arrived, there was a valet who offered to park our car. I quickly looked at the sky and noticed it was strangely dark at a time that should not be so dark. But regardless, I thought nothing of it and decided to just enjoy my time with Alice. Once we approached the entrance of the club, there was a line of people. We just waited our turn, and we were behind about twenty people. The wind was blowing a bit, and it was getting colder.

When our turn approached, the doorman asked for our invitation which I pulled out from my pocket. It was a bit crumpled, but it was still legible. When we got in, one man handed us wristbands with various neon colors and numbers printed on them. He told us to put them on. Since everyone else was doing it, we figured this is one of the club’s traditions. Upon putting on the plastic wristband, we started to feel a bit drunk. The drunken feeling was very similar to having a headache from being dehydrated.

Alice and I eventually made our way to the dance floor where we started to dance a bit. The dance floor was lit by the hundreds of spotlights from the ceiling. The DJ was playing all the latest hits we hear on the radio. And it seemed people were just enjoying the upbeat and freeing nature of being at the club. I told Alice “something doesn’t feel right; I think we should go…” Alice replied “what’s wrong? Are you okay?” I didn’t know what exactly was off entirely, but I wasn’t enjoying this experience. Then suddenly, the music got more intense and the lights starting blinking more and more frequently. I fell to the ground and saw the room spinning until I blacked out.

[Snack] Homemade Organic Steel Cut Granola

Snack

Lately, I have been on a hunt to make healthy and easy to take snacks. Recently, I’ve wanted to get some granola at the store, but I realized that many are unhealthy. Most problems with granola these days are the high sugar content and the “cane sugar” ingredient that’s in all of them. Also, many recipes call for pure sugar or maple syrup in high quantities. Here is a recipe that is both healthy and sweet. It was requested by an awesome person I know who also enjoys the healthy things in life. For my particular recipe, everything was organic and I only used what I could find in my cupboard.

Here are a few notes about granola when you make your own:
– You can put in any dried fruits or nuts when preparing your granola
– When you use steel cut oatmeal, you have to keep liquid amount low
– When steel cut oatmeal is used to make granola, it gets sticky and thick so less liquid is needed

Ingredients

2 cups steel cut instant oatmeal

½ cups walnuts

½ cups sliced almonds

½ cups cashews

½ cups dried blueberries

½ cups sliced toasted coconuts

3-5 tbsp coconut oil

3-5 tbsp honey or honey powder

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 325F and prepare baking pan with parchment paper

Mix the oatmeal, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and blueberries

In a separate bowl, melt the coconut oil

Mix coconut oil with honey and vanilla

Mix the liquid mix with the oatmeal mix and stir thoroughly

Spread evenly on the baking tray and bake at 325F for 32-35 minutes

When it’s done, let it cool down until it is no longer warm or hot
* If you mix or break the granola before it’s cool, it won’t be chunky

Sprinkle or add the toasted coconut on top and mix once it’s all cooled down

Then you can store the granola in plastic or glass containers.

Granola tastes exceptionally good on greek yogurt and honey!!!
That’s what I had for breakfast at work today!!!

Always cook from the heart, and your food will always be delicious!

[Journal] Cornbread and Kimbap

Journal

I made kimbap and cornbread today. The cornbread is my 15th try… So many ones went to waste… My coworkers were so kind as to eat most of them as they were great scones according to them. But today was a breakthrough. As I was about to give up, I tried a few things. It turns out that it paid off!! I finally got the color right. I have an idea of how to proceed but I’m worried how many ingredients I’ll waste. If my guess is correct, I will need to up the amount of dry ingredients and butter. 

I also made a lot of kimbap and fruits. Most are for my mom who was recently diagnosed This past week with tendonitis, arthritis, and something I can’t even mention… I feel so bad that I’m not able to do much and there is no surgery available for her. But if I can make her day better by making some good Korean food with quality ingredients and my time, I will do so. 

Here are pictures of my cooking experience. 

   
       

  

  

  

  

  

  

   
 

[Bread] Korean Style Cornbread

Bread

After a tiring 5 batches and over 100 breads, I have come up with the recipe I am satisfied with. This recipe is close to the Korean style cornbread I really like based on flavor, but the texture is too close to American style cornbread. Korean style cornbread tends to have a spongy center with a crispy outside. Also, the bread has to be almost golden in color. It should look like http://postfiles10.naver.net/20111231_137/baby0817_1325303268416nNLbh_JPEG/12.jpg?type=w2. Cornbread is not easy for me… It’s the one thing I truly struggled to make… Even more than Korean style cheesecake which took me one year to get it perfect!

I think I will settle on this recipe until I figure out how to get the edges right. A nearby bakery makes this bread as exactly as how I like it, but they charge nearly three bucks a piece. And this is partly because the owner imports the cornmeal from Korea directly. Korean cornmeal tends to have a stronger corn taste with a deeper yellow color.

Ingredients

4 tbsp butter (50g)

1/4 cup sugar or honey powder (60g)

1/5 tsp salt (5g)

1 egg

1 cup cake flour (110g)

5/6 cup cornmeal or corn powder (100g)
* DO NOT use corn flour because regular flour is added

1 tsp baking powder (5g)

1/3 cup milk (50ml)

1/2 cup corn (OPTIONAL)
* Adding the corn makes the bread more spongy and soft

Directions

Melt the butter add mix in the sugar and salt and whisk

When the batter is slightly cool, beat in one egg

Whisk well until it looks like pudding

Add in the cake flour, cornmeal, and baking powder

Use a spatula or baking spatula to stir ingredients thoroughly
* The cornmeal will start to absorb the liquid ingredients

Slowly add in the milk and stir frequently
* The batter should start to look like a really wet, sticky dough

At this point, you can add the corn (OPTIONAL) if you want

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Grab a baking tray and put parchment paper on top.
* If you don’t have that, use aluminum foil and grease it up

Put some oil on your hands and shape the dough into little balls

After you put the balls on the baking tray, I usually like to cut a line down the middle of the bread (see pictures for what it looks like)

Then brush on an egg wash (1 egg mixed with 2 tbsp water or milk)
* When you brush the egg wash on the bread, it turns the bread golden

Bake for 25-26 minutes

After it’s done, go ahead and pull it out and let it cool off somewhere

This bread is very good by itself. But like many people, if you eat it warm with butter or jam, it tastes even more amazing! In my house, I live with one kid who is a very picky eater. He even dislikes macaroni and cheese!!! After making him this cornbread, he thoroughly enjoyed it. And he even asked for me to save some for him.

While this recipe was very difficult for me, it is part of the process of becoming a better cook and baker. After many tries, I got better in making this recipe. And the day that I can make it exactly how I want, I know that my efforts will be worthwhile. And the most important thing to remember is… Cook from the heart, and your food will always be delicious. 

[Bread] Korean Style Cornbread

Bread

This is… frustration… Currently, my most favorite bread is the Korean style corn bread. Americans sent over tons of cornmeal to war torn South Korea back in the day. 

Koreans made tons of this awesome cornbread which seems to be the one thing I can’t make. I was desperate as to use other people’s recipes which all failed. Rather than sharing my recipe, I will just post pictures of ingredients, process, and outcomes of my efforts. 

After making more than 70 breads, about 20 of them had right flavor but wrong texture. And 50 of them were completely bland due to no sugar… 

I may post recipe once I perfect it. This bread is very similar to American cornbread but the edges are harder and the outside has almost a crunch like texture. While the inside is soft and fluffy. Best bread ever made.