Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #47: Irish Car Bombs, K-Pop, and the Sesquicentennial State Park

This week we got to celebrate our friends Sam and Laura who are both in Jonathan’s program and both happened to have birthdays this past week. We had all of the first year students in Jonathan’s discipline over for dinner, which sounds magnanimous of us, but there are only four of them, and also Sam cooked dinner even though it was his birthday. I did make fancy Irish Car Bomb cupcakes in celebration which were delicious if I do say so myself although they led to me gaining 3 lbs in the week before Thanksgiving – not ideal timing.


Then we made our friends watch K-Pop videos like this one for hours. (Side note: I miss Korea so much).

Fall is in full swing here in South Carolina and I have been pleasantly surprised by how much the leaves have changed colors. Where I grew up in Louisiana (which is even further south for you non-Americans) the leaves don’t really change colors. This is partially due to the large amount of evergreens that grow there and partly because the weather stays relatively warm all year round with just a few cold spells instead of properly changing into a whole season of new temperatures. When we lived in North Carolina a few years ago, the falls were exquisite. The days were crystal clear and crisp and the leaves were brilliant. I wasn’t sure what to expect from South Carolina which feels more similar to my hometown than to Raleigh, so I’m excited to report that South Carolina does indeed get a bit of fall -at least my part of it does.


We’ve been meaning to check out some of the parks in our new homeland for a while now. In Korea we enjoyed hiking and taking walks on the weekend which we were able to do even though we lived in a big city. Here there is more nature all around, but as far as I know there aren’t trails or lakes within the city that you can run on or around the way there were in Raleigh and even Daegu. This means going out to enjoy nature requires an intentional trip.


After church on Sunday we drove for about 25 minutes to the Sesquicentennial State Park. There aren’t any mountains or even significant hills there so we took a walk more than a hike, but it was still lovely to get out on a such a beautiful day.



I was very proud of how tall I looked next to this tiny tree…if only you couldn’t see those slightly bigger trees in the background…



Jonathan was grumpy. I don’t remember why, but I’m sure it was my fault. I’m super annoying sometimes.

The one downside to the Sesquicentennial State Park is that we had to pay $2 per person as an entrance fee. I know that’s not a lot of money, but I still think it’s lame since that’s something we theoretically pay taxes for anyway. Also it sort of rules out the possibility of using it as a regular running spot.

There are lots and lots of pine trees in South Carolina (and in this park in particular) which don’t do anything in the fall except make a great mess of pine needles, but there still enough red and orange and yellow trees sprinkled in to make it scenic. We’ll have to check it out in other seasons and report back.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about my trip to Sparkletown and celebrating Friendsgiving, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #5 : Making a King Cake

I was born and raised in South Louisiana in the very heart of Cajun country (though many people are surprised by this because of my lack of Cajun or otherwise southern accent). Although I haven’t lived in Louisiana for eight years or so, my roots are still there and in Louisiana this time of year is King Cake Season.

A King Cake is a traditional Mardi Gras/Pre-Lenten food that is basically a Danish or sweet-bread type dough with a filling (commonly cream cheese, cinnamon pecan, or cherry bourbon) that is baked in the shape of a braided circle and topped with a glaze and green, purple, and yellow colored sugar. Traditionally a small plastic baby, representing Baby Jesus is baked into the cake and there are various traditions for the person who gets the baby in their slice of cake. The name “King Cake” comes from the biblical three kings who followed the star to Jesus at Epiphany. Kingcake Although my family wasn’t all that enthusiastic about Mardi Gras, we always had at least one King Cake. I especially remember the smell of them and the way the scent seemed to flow out of the bakeries and into the streets themselves in February and March.

I don’t remember the last time I had King Cake in Louisiana – it’s probably been eight years or more. So for my Week 5 adventure I decided I’d try to make one.

I’m an avid baker, but I’ve never attempted a King Cake before. Here in Korea I don’t have a full-sized oven, just a large convection/toaster oven. I’ve also had a lot of trouble with yeast here – something about the dampness/dryness and temperature fluctuations seems to make it extra finicky. But I decided to give it a go. I followed this recipe as closely as possible though I think I’d try a different one in the future.

First I made the bread dough and put it near the space heater to let it rise. (We don’t have central heat so it’s hard to find a spot warm enough for the yeast to activate).



Next I made a cream cheese filling which I admit to sampling generous amounts of before using it (I’m a sucker for anything sweet and creamy). I rolled the dough into three pieces and spread the filing over each piece.


Then I rolled each piece up long-ways and sealed the edges. I braided the three pieces together and formed them into a circle. I let it rise a bit longer. It rose sort of unevenly and closed up the hole that was supposed to be in the middle, but oh well! I painted an egg and milk wash over the top after it was finished rising and then baked that sucker!


In the end, it was hard to get it cooked all the way though the center without burning the edges cause my little mini oven isn’t the greatest. But I was still pretty proud of how it turned out.



There was a lemony icing that went over the top, but I didn’t get a picture of it. I also didn’t have any colored sugar crystals so it didn’t look that impressive anyway.

Overall it was a good experiment, though kind of a lot of work. The whole process (with rising time) took about 4 hours. It wasn’t as good as a King Cake from home, but it was a decent first try. If I make it in the future I might try a different recipe for comparison. After several weeks of traveling I knew my Week 5 adventure would be low-key, but I’m proud of trying something new and finding a way to connect to my home from far away.

As we say in Louisiana, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” – Let the good times roll!

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