I love summers in Korea. They are incredibly hot and humid, but something about warm temperatures even at night and constant sunshine makes me feel all happy and cozy.
Here are my favorite things to survive those hot days on Jeju Island and make them enjoyable.
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One quick tip for anyone trying to draw in a humid country: Beware of your paper absorbing air humidity or even the tiniest amount of sweat! I use a textile or at least tissue paper to cushion my hand while drawing, so my skin never touches the paper itself. I also use a plastic pouch to put my sketchbook into when going outdoors in humid weather. Once the paper absorbed some level of humidity, watercolors will get splotchy results.
Sweet and Delicious Vegan Summer Treats
Who craves sweets in summer? Winters have me go for stews and savory soups, but as temperatures rise, I develop a sweet tooth. And since out kitchen gets unbearably hot (as in, 40 degrees celsius during the day...) baking something myself isn't an option. I've been gravitating towards all kinds of nut milks in ice cold smoothies, and baked treats from all those vegan bakeries that have popped up in both Seoul and on Jeju.
I'm not sure if it's related to veganism or just plain old lactose intolerance, but there are a lot of new cafes and bakeries offering dairy-free cakes and breads. I even found brownies made with silk tofu instead of butter in a small, unassuming bakery on Jeju. Nut milks are on the rise, too, and I've been drowning in walnut milk, hempseed milk and pistachio milk, which couldn't be more delicious!
Intermittent Fasting on busy summer days...
I still plan on doing a longer blog post about intermittent fasting, but wanted to throw it into my summer favorites anyway. The mentioned SUPER HOT kitchen temperatures are one more reason to cook less in summer, and combined with automatically drinking more water during fasting periods, I just find the whole eating pattern of IF very suitable for summer. While I do crave more sweets in summer (ice cream, anyone?) I have less of an appetite when it's too hot overall, so this goes well with the one (or two) big meals a day pattern.
I'm also still amazed at how much time intermittent fasting saves. Working from home can make frequent trips to the kitchen way too tempting... And even just cooking, preparing, and cleaning up after several meals a day always took up too much time and mental space for me. I found it so much easier to just get started with work in the morning and to tackle all those smaller, annoying tasks right away with only a (large) mug of coffee as my companion.
I found my way back into Korean Dramas thanks to this!
Oh, Forest of Secrets. My K-Drama obsession from this summer. Maybe it was the pitch-perfect tone and directing, or the tight and riveting plot that didn't rely on cheap thrills or "Makjang", or the nuanced acting from the whole cast, or just the timeliness of the subject (bribery, intrigue, political favoritism) after the clusterf!@# of recent events in South Korea, this drama shot to the very top of my all-time favorites list. We watched the last two episodes with friends and cold makgeolli under a starry summer night sky and the whole experience was cathargic.
If you want to get a (relatively, it's still TV after all) realistic sense of life in Korea, of its business structures, and the bleakness one can feel when faced with large-scale corruption, while at the same time getting the suspense of a well-made crime thriller AND some truly lovely and hilarious characters and relationships, Forest of Secrets (or "Stranger" on Netflix) is the way to go!
Cold and Mysterious Book Recommendation
Forest of Secrets had a cold atmosphere to it, with its somber color palette and bleak setting, and I took that theme and ran with it for my reading choices. Books set in the north, in wintery landscapes or fantastic ice worlds are the perfect mental air-conditioning when it's blazingly hot outdoors!
Some of my all-time favorites like the His Dark Materials trilogy or good ol' ASOIAF feature northern settings, and I've found a new book series that fits the same snowy bill. "The Bear and the Nightingale" is the first book in a new series based in Russian myths and fairytales. I didn't expect much (had the book in my Audible library for a while...) but the story had very interesting, nuanced characters, a lot of different and engaging POVs, a coming-of-age angle with all the time that went by, and it interweaves myth, religion, history and magic with a deft hand. I can't wait for the next part of the series!
K-Beauty Summer Skincare Favorite
Every. Single. Summer. Innisfree's Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask is my favorite exfoliating wash-off mask. I use it about once a month in winter, and weekly during summer. Even on my desert-dry and sensitive skin, this mask provides just the right amount of gentle exfoliation, removing gunk and dirt (TMI) while leaving my skin soft and moisturized.
Innisfree came out with multiple versions over the years, and while some are more convenient (mousse based) or have additional effects (their new color clay masks with purposes like brightening and calming) I always come back to the Super Volcanic Clay Mask in the end.
Behold, the volcanic rocks of Jeju Island. :)
More food favorites!
One is simple: FROZEN blueberries. I never get the fresh ones but buy large frozen bags to stuff into my freezer. A handful of ice-cold blueberries are the perfect topping for muesli, oatmeal, smoothies or.... I just eat them. Like tiny fake icecream balls.
And then there's a tiny chocolate shop in our village Sehwa on Jeju Island, selling freshly roasted whole cacao beans and a delicious selection of handmade chocolates. The beans come directly from Ecuador and are roasted in the back room, leaving the air scented...
While I love cacao nibs, my first bite of actual freshly roasted cacao beans was a whole new world of taste! I might have a bit of an obsessive problem with these by now.
That's it for my summer favorites. Lots of food, cold fictional and not-so-fictional worlds, and fasting for more free time and less time spent cooking.