Vegan's Chronicles + [Vegan]

Picnic-Perfect
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Last week while I was in Cheonan, my family decided to take advantage of this perfect fall weather by going on not one, but two picnics! Picnic #1 was at Taejo Mountain park, which in fact, is the exact same place we went during last year's Chuseok picnic! I reckon this could become a new family tradition. :)

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For our picnic, my mom and I made some yubu chobab. The store-bought tofu skins included a packet of vinegary sauce for the rice, as well as an herb-mix which was not vegan (the ingredients list included eggs, milk, and shrimp flavoring). So we nixed the package of herb flakes and just added some carrots and sesame seeds for color and flavor. We finely diced a tiny bit of carrots, lightly sauteed them in a bit of oil, and mixed it in with the rice, along with the vinegar sauce and some toasted sesame seeds.

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Ideally, we would've used black sesame seeds to contrast the white rice, but we only had regular sesame seeds, so they're a bit invisible.

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The tofu skins, with the excess juice gently squeezed out.

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I got to practice my tofu skin-stuffing skills.

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Here's the completed batch~

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The rest of our picnic spread included a big salad of baby greens and cherry tomatoes,...

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... more bab...

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... and a few banchans that my mom had already made beforehand: sweetened kidney beans, 2 different types of pickles, and ggak-du-gi (cubed radish) kimchi.

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Spectacular, spectacular!

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Dessert included fresh fruit, rice puffs, and roasted peanuts.

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My mom was too cute and actually packed this teacup set so that I could take a pretty picture of my coffee and dessert, for this blog!

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It was such a delicious lunch, and the weather was a perfect blend between the warm sun and the crispy fall breeze. After filling up and laying down on the grassy lawn for a quick siesta, we went up the Taejo mountain for a little hike.

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We started up a winding road...

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... passed by some scenic chill-out spots,...

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... picked up some pine cones along the way...

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... and climbed a set of stairs...

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... til we got to this pagoda lookout point.

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The view from the pagoda. You can see downtown Cheonan in the distance.

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The ceiling. I love these colors.

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All this lush greenery will soon turn into a glorious mix of fall colors. :)

Picnic #2 was completely random in that we had originally planned on just going to a restaurant for lunch, but in the end, none of the restaurants in the area were inspiring our appetites. And since it was another amazing day outside, we figured, 'hey, why not go on another picnic?' Afterall, there's no rule against going on picnics two days in a row~ In fact, it would almost be a sin to waste the perfect weather by eating indoors.

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This time, we headed to the Independence Hall, which is really close by.

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Since it was a Saturday, it there were a lot more visitors than usual (mainly families with kiddies), but we were able to find peace and quiet at the Unification Monument:

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This Unification Monument is a huge structure of towering arches, meant to symbolize the hopeful reunification of the two Koreas.

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The view from the other side. Below the arches, in the very center, sits the Unification Bell.

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A sign explaining the monument.

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My family goes to the Independence Hall pretty often because it's so close to our house. It's practically our back yard- awesome, right? We come here to play badminton, or just to go walking in the mornings or evenings. We especially love going to this Unification Monument because it's separate from the main Independance Hall area.

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People either don't know that it exists (it's kind of hidden), or people can't be bothered to climb the flight of stairs to get to it, so it's always fairly empty and calm. Basically, it's one of my favorite places in Cheonan, as it's just so peaceful. I also find the monument to be quite beautiful and moving.

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Around the site, there are random eating/resting areas for people like us to enjoy their picnic lunches. Most picnickers just stay near the parking lot to eat their food, but we are hardcore. Carrying our picnic loot up a bunch of stairs in order to have a scenic lunch was definitely worth the extra effort. No work, no food!

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Here's the random selection of foods (mostly leftovers) that we quickly packed up in containers for our last-minute picnic.

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My "plate" included rice, sweet potato, kabocha squash, beans, sprouts, tofu, and pickled garlic cloves.

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Dessert was a cuppa soy latte (my mom made sure to pack the pretty teacup again! lol), grapes, and puffed rice snacks.

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Can you believe this sky was for real?! This was our view while eating our meal. Not bad. Not bad at all~

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My dad made me stop and photograph these flowers.

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Unfortunately, before I knew it, it was time to catch the KTX back up to Seoul (didn't want to risk being stuck in highway traffic).

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I love the KTX!

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Some views from my window~

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So that pretty much sums up my Chuseok holiday week in Cheonan. It was a wonderful time spent with family, eating comforting home-cooked food, and enjoying everything that Cheonan has to offer that Seoul does not.

And now it's back to life in the city!