It’s been a minute. I can hardly believe a whole semester has passed since I last posted here – time seems to stand still yet fly by all at once these days. Now 10 months into the pandemic and nearly two million lives lost worldwide, we are all faced with myriad challenges, and try to find peace and solace where we can. As I look back on 2020 and wish it a hasty goodbye, I feel such a mix of things – gratitude for what my privilege has allowed during this time, sorrow for the suffering and loss we have all experienced and witnessed, and hope that tomorrow will bring us something better. Happy New Year, Welcome 2021!
Though life has looked far from normal from all of us and my daily existential crisis of being a performing artist at a time when the world is standing still is very real, we all have soldiered on as best we can. Rather than attempting to wax poetic into the already inundated world of internet reflections, I will leave you here with some highlights and the only thing that seems fitting right now: kimchee. This is a “recipe” that I’ve played with and tweaked over the last couple of years, and have fallen in love with – it’s a combo pack of some old Kim family secrets, a couple of tricks I found online, and some good ole AK improvisation.
I’ve become obsessed with using red nappa instead of the usual – it was a gamble that I took when I found this beautiful head at the Ithaca Farmers Market earlier this fall, but turned out to be a more complex, slightly sweet, wonderfully refreshing cousin to its green relative. Here’s the not-so-complicated gig, if you’re interested in trying it out:
Step 1 – slice one medium-large nappa head into bite-size pieces and soak in salted cold water, giving it a toss every 30-40 minutes for about 2 hours
Step 2 – in a saucepan, whisk 1 cup of water with 1/8 cup of sweet rice flour (chapsaal garu) and bring to gentle boil until viscous, about 6-7 minutes on low; sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of sugar – let that hang out and cool
Step 3 – in a food processor, throw in all the good stuff: 1/2 to 2/3 cup (depending on how spicy you like it) of Korean hot pepper flake (gochu garu), 4-5 cloves of garlic, 1/2 an onion, 1/3 cup of fish sauce, and a tsp of fresh ginger
Step 4 – buzz that all up into a fine puree adding a little water if needed to loosen it up, then transfer to a large bowl to combine it with the cooled sweet rice mixture – fold together until totally smooth
Step 5 – drain and rinse the cabbage several times under cold running water and shake it dry, then dump it into the big bowl of goodness, coating every piece generously by hand
Step 6 – put it all in jars/containers with tight-fitting lids, place a stone or plate over it to help everything stay submerged…let it hang out on the counter for 1-2 days, then pop it in the fridge to be ready anytime =)
September brought about a very special world premiere of a multimedia piece for solo violin + spoken word in honor of George Floyd that I put together with beloved Minnesota artists Lou Bellamy, Sarah Bellamy, and Steve Heitzeg. We were able to present it virtually, followed by a round-table discussion with the artists and our audience members. If you weren’t able to catch it and would like to have a watch/listen, please visit the links below:
“How Many Breaths? In Memory of George Floyd and Countless Others”
The piece itself (no password necessary):
The full event, with panel discussion (password: justiceforgeorge):
My folks came out to quarantine with me in New York for nearly 2 months, which was stellar. I built a plexiglass barrier for my office (yes, believe it or not, Cornell wouldn’t provide one), played a drive-in bluegrass show, gave some more curbside concerts, and saw my students through their first pandemic-live recital. I leaned into some backcountry living and my love for rock climbing grew into a mild obsession (did my first trad lead at Thanksgiving!). Countless Zoom meetings, backyard hangs (even a surprise birthday party for Papa Kim), long walks, and improvising with my new looper pedal kept the docket healthfully engaged. I’m now prepping for the recording of my second album, and getting ready to move to Korea for the year (!) shortly.
And, here’s a photo diary, if you’d care to have a gander…
And finally, a somber farewell to a dear friend – Leslie Volker, who departed this world too suddenly. You left House of Note in beautiful hands, and behind a legacy of spirituality, kindness, and laughter. You will be so very missed.