I forgot it was Valentine’s Day until I looked at the calendar, but that’s okay. Kramer and I aren’t the biggest Valentine’s Day people, though we’ll probably hit up a bar tonight and eat some chicken fingers. That’s romantic as it gets, as far as I’m concerned. We’re also headed to Austin tomorrow for a working vacation. Kramer has meetings, and I figured I’d tag along and shoot some video while he works. I’m planning to hit up some really delicious spots, so make sure you’re following all my adventures on INSIDER Food and INSIDER Dessert, if you’re not already. That’s my real-life grown-up job, for those of you who didn’t know! Now you do. Anyway, I’m really excited for Austin. We went once last year and really loved it. I feel like I haven’t felt warm sunshine in…well, a while. New York winters, man. So I’m ready for a little rest and relaxation…in between doughnuts and barbecue and breakfast tacos, of course. That’s why I figured I’d post these ribs today. They’re not traditional barbecue, of course, but they’re pretty good for a small Brooklyn kitchen. You just rub ’em down, cover them, and pop them in the oven for about two hours. That’s it! They’re as tender as can be and I promise they’ll disappear before you can count to ten.
I was inspired to make these ribs by my friend Jeena’s mom. I’ve never met her, but she is an angel who always sends Jeena back from her home state of California with lots of goodies for me. I’ve gotten a big tub of gochujang, which is a sweet and spicy Korean pepper paste, a bag of gochugaru, which is a Korean chili pepper, toasted sesame seeds, different kinds of pickles and banchan, and more. It’s awesome. Jeena even once brought me a tub of some kind of paste that I can’t remember the name of, but it’s pungent and sweet and sour and spicy and all of the good things you want to use as a base for a soup or a marinade. You can, of course, get gochujang and gochugaru at a local specialty or Korean market, but it really makes me feel special to get these little packages from Jeena and her mom, especially because there’s always something new that I’ve never tasted before in there somewhere, and what’s more exciting than that? These ribs are fall-apart tender, but they’ve got that punch that you expect from Korean food, which Kramer and I love. I added a little honey for sweetness near the end of the cooking time, just to caramelize the tops and give the ribs a bit of crispiness, but otherwise, this simple four-ingredient marinade is all you need to make wonderfully delicious ribs.
How’s everyone holding up? It’s scary out there, but thank you to everyone that’s been protesting, calling, sharing information, and not backing down. Now, more than ever, it seems easiest to just retreat back into ourselves and be quiet. Quiet sounds so peaceful, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, we don’t get to do that anymore, because there are people out there that need our help, from immigrants trying to get to the United States to make a better life for themselves and their families, to legal citizens who are just trying to get back to the lives they’ve already built here. Could you imagine detaining a woman and her young children, without food, at an airport for 20 or 30 hours? What kind of a monster lets that happen? My privilege is more glaring now, more than ever, but I hope that you will join me in using that privilege to do something good. Please continue to call and write to your representatives and voice your opinion on all issues, from immigration to Steve Bannon’s National Security Council appointment to Betsy DeVos. Continue to donate your time and money. If nothing else, if you are fortunate enough to be able to give, the best way to make a difference is still with cold, hard cash so that people can keep working day and night to stop these horrible things from happening. Set up a monthly donation to the ACLU or the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Council on American-Islamic Relations, even if it’s just a small amount. I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but honestly, this is what matters right now, and we should all be thinking about it constantly. We don’t get to sleep well at night until everyone gets to do the same, and I don’t foresee that happening any time soon with this administration. If you do want a little comfort, honestly, I suggest listening to President Obama’s last interview in office that he did with Pod Save America. I hadn’t listened to it until yesterday, and it just made me feel like we could do this. Give it a listen on your way into work this morning. It definitely reenergized me.
So, in the spirit of working towards the common good, a group of food bloggers decided to get together and share some stories about immigration from our own friends and families. Obviously, American food has been hugely influenced by immigrants. We really wouldn’t have the various foods we eat on a daily basis here without immigrants. Sadly, we certainly have a history of denying entry to people from a wide swath of places throughout America’s history, but for those that were able to come to the States for a better life, with them, they brought their food. My great-grandfather was Irish (though he went to Canada first before my mom’s parents moved her and her siblings to the US in the 60s/70s) and my great-great-grandmother was Italian. My husband’s family came here from Eastern Europe during the pogroms in the early 1900s. They came here and started a rope-making business, eventually turning it into a robe (yep) business, if you can believe that. Kramer’s grandmother still has a few of them. My own great-grandfather was from Poland, which is why I’m sharing with you this recipe for Szarlotka, or Polish apple pie. It’s sort of a combination of a cake, a pie, and a cobbler, but it’s not-too-sweet and perfect for breakfast or a light dessert. The top has a sort of biscuit quality to it, which I personally find to be irresistible and so did the people I shared it with. We never fully embraced the Polish side of our family as we did the Italian side, but I always loved hearing stories from my grandfather about growing up with a Polish father in America. My favorite story was about his class pet. Remember having a class pet in elementary school? Everyone would have to take turns watching it over the weekends or on long breaks. We had a hamster and I remember my mother absolutely hated it when I brought that thing home for the weekend. I was thrilled then, but now, if someone tried to make me take care of a hamster for the weekend, I’m not sure how stoked I’d be. Either way, my grandfather excitedly brought the class rabbit home for summer break. He put it out back and then left to play with his friends. When he returned, he discovered that his father had taken a liking to the rabbit…so much so that he decided it would make a delicious dinner. He cooked the rabbit before my grandfather could explain that it was a pet, a concept my great-grandfather was not familiar with. Dogs are pets, cats are pets, rabbits are dinner. For the rest of the summer, kids from school would see him on the street and bring him discarded vegetables from their gardens to feed to the rabbit. My grandfather didn’t have the heart to tell them what had happened, so he accepted their vegetables and gave them to his mother to cook. This was during the Depression, after all, so he felt extremely guilty for taking even these discarded bits of lettuce and carrots. He said that, eventually, after a month or so, the kids forgot about the rabbit, as kids are often wont to do, and he kept the secret to himself for years. My grandfather went on to fight in World War II, earn a purple heart, become a mason, and build his own typical American life for himself, but he always remembered that rabbit (and I will, too). I remember him talking about fitting in and feeling a little different than everyone else because his family ate food that others found weird, or that his parents didn’t speak the best English, but that also made him who he is today. Now, I think about who I’d be if my great-grandparents hadn’t been able to come to America in the early 1900s. Where would I be, if at all?
This past weekend was (and still is) a truly dark time in American history. It’s certainly kept me up at night. The audacity of this ban on “people from Muslim-majority nations” is beyond me. It makes me feel numb. When I look at pictures of people finally being reunited with their families at airports across the country, I want to cry, both tears of joy for them but also tears of anger and sadness because they had to go through SO. MUCH. already, and then to be put through this additional gauntlet is just heartbreaking. These are human beings. The United States should be a place of refuge, a place where people can feel safe, not a place of fear and hate-mongering. And of course the countries where Trump has business ties have been left off of his list. We are a nation of immigrants. We know that. Everyone knows that. And to turn people away, people that need our help, people that are already legally residing in the country, people that have put their lives on the line to help our military and government abroad, is sickening. I implore you to please donate to the ACLU on a monthly basis, if your budget allows. Go to protests (you can easily find them in your area by searching on Facebook). Find your local chapter of CAIR and look for volunteer opportunities. Call your representatives. And for those of you who have left comments about how you don’t like my politics (or worse), you are welcome to go elsewhere, because this is important and if you’re going to turn a blind eye to the world right now because it’s too hard or you just don’t want to deal with it, then I feel ashamed for you. This is about people and they deserve every chance and opportunity that every American deserves. We have to keep having these tough conversations, especially with people who disagree with us or people that voted for the current president. These recent actions are indefensible. Even Republicans think so. This is not the time to just wait around and “give him a chance” and see what happens. It’s clear what this administration’s priorities are, and we cannot stand for it.
It’s honestly hard for me to even put a recipe up right now. It’s hard to think about anything other than the current political climate and all of the horror that is being inflicted upon people, from this ban to the struggle of so many other people in this country, but it’s important to rest and stay focused and spend some time re-energizing yourself. If that means going for a run, watching a movie, meditating, or, in my case, baking or cooking, then that’s a good thing. One of my friends sends out a weekly email blast with various calls to action and ways to help, and one thing she mentioned was that it’s easy to burn out, so find the things that you are passionate about and make sure you take care of yourself while you work on them. I’m trying to do that as best I can. I am obviously very lucky and I am in a position where I am able to donate, protest, and try to spread information to others. Not everyone is so fortunate, and I realize that. That’s why I feel a responsibility to use this blog and whatever reach it has to try to do some good. But at the end of the day, it is a food blog, and I do want to share some recipes with you, if anything, to help alleviate some of the pain everyone has been feeling. And bread is a great way to do that. Kneading the dough together is soothing and therapeutic, and there’s really nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread. This is a simple rye bread recipe. It’s perfect for sandwiches or toast or even just snacking with some butter and salt. We made a brisket a few weeks back, had some friends over, made sandwiches, and watched a movie. This bread was wonderful slathered in mustard and piled high with tender slices of meat, pickles, and onions. If you’re new to baking, especially to baking bread, then this is a wonderful place to start. Bake some bread, take care of yourself, and while it rises, give your representatives and senators a call. Thanks to everyone who has been working tirelessly to make a difference, and thank you especially to all of the people around me who are inspiring me to be better and work harder.
Today sucks. I’ll say it. Today really sucks. He-who-shall-not-be-named is being sworn into the White House, and I’m thankful that I have back-to-back video shoots to go on today so that I won’t have to look at televisions all day and see it happen. Nobody deserves the inevitable destruction this man is about to reign upon so many people. Just take a look at all of the important programs he’s already planning to cut. Violence Against Women Grants? Really, dude? The Minority Business Development Agency? Seriously? What’s your deal? The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and so many other programs committed to helping stop climate change? Do you hate the planet (answer: apparently, yes)? Ugh. It makes me sick. If you follow me, you probably feel the same way at this point, because I sure as shit haven’t been particularly quiet about my opinions on this matter, so I urge you, please do not tune into the inauguration. Please don’t add to the ratings. If you are marching or protesting this weekend, you’re a sweet baby angel and then you so much for your hard work. I know it’s going to be cold and crowded, but you’re doing something to show that we’re not going to sit back and do nothing during this presidency. If you can afford to do it, please join me in donating $20 to Planned Parenthood today. I already donate a small amount monthly, but if you are fortunate enough to be able to do give an extra $20 today, together, we can make a big difference. In a similar fashion, if you’d rather, the Southern Poverty Law Center is another excellent place to give your dollars if you can. Donate, volunteer, spread knowledge, be strong. Go out and have a strong drink or a piece of pie tonight. You deserve it. The next four years are going to be tough, but remember that midterms elections are in 2018 and your vote counts now more than ever before. Thanks for all you guys do. I know we’ll make a change.
My happy place is cooking, as you all know, and in particular, lately, it’s cooking from Anthony Bourdain’s most recent cookbook, Appetites. I’ve made at least five things from it so far, all of which have been phenomenal, and I’ve read it cover-to-cover. I even plan to get a tattoo of some of the artwork from the book at some point. That’s how much I love it. The book covers simple, straight-forward recipes that you can easily put together and readily make substitutions as necessary, if needed. It’s great, simply put. I recommend it to all of my friends. These pork chops are no different. They are incredibly flavorful, crispy as all hell, and are as wonderful between two simple pieces of white bread as they are atop a bunch of cooked greens. We ate them both ways. The five-spice and two kinds of vinegar are really what do it for me here, as well as pounding out the pork chops extra-thin so that you get the perfect ratio of meat to breading. If you need some comfort food this weekend, don’t worry. Tony’s got you.
New Year, new me, new us. Welcome to 2017. I hope everyone had the chance to enjoy at least a day or two of rest and relaxation before diving back into work and reality and all that. Reality is all too real, isn’t it? All of a sudden it’s January, and if you’re like me, you’re trudging through snow and braving icy cold winds on your way to work, preparing yourself for another year. But what makes that better? You guessed it: food. Food makes everything better. I really went head-first into eating as many big bowls of warm noodles as I could last week. I figured I should start eating like a normal human again at some point, but last week I just let myself live my best life. That means ramen, and lots of it, as well as heaping piles of rice with spicy, porky things on top, and frosty mugs of beer that I will truly miss now that I am trying to hit the gym and drop some of this winter cushioning that I seem to have picked up. Whatever, worth it. I live my life one bowl of noodles at a time. Until I can’t.
Been eating a lot of ramen, rice, and poached eggs recently. Life is good. You can always see what I’m up to on Instagram!
In the spirit of healthier eating, I present to you this super, super, SUPER easy garlic-lemon chicken. All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker, set it, and depending on whether you decided to cook it on low or high, four to eight hours later, you’ve got incredibly tender, extra garlicky chicken, ready to be devoured. I grated a little cheese on top for some added richness, and served the chicken thighs alongside some roasted veggies for dinner. The next day, I sliced the leftovers up and ate them on a big, green salad. This is the kind of thing that makes New Year’s resolutions a little bit easier, I promise. Thank you, slow cooker gods, for being there for me when I need you most.
I feel like 2016 started off pretty okay and ended in total disaster. I had a lot of good things happen to me personally this year, but I really feel like the horrible things that have happened plus the cherry on top of Trump being elected president have really overshadowed anything else. Oh yeah, and the passing of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds? I have no words for that. BUT I will say that I’m energized to make 2017 a year where change happens, where progress happens, and where I do not sit back and assume that the right thing or the good thing will happen because it seems like the logical choice. Clearly that’s not how the world works. Again, you can find great places to donate here, read about some causes near and dear to my own heart here, or just do a little research and find an organization that speaks to you. Don’t let 2017 be another year of complacency. I was all too happy to sit back in 2016 and not do enough because I lived in a bubble where the things I wanted to happen happened and I didn’t think enough outside of that. But instead of wallowing or writing a think piece on Medium or whatever else, I am going to donate, volunteer, speak loudly, and make sure that this Trump bullshit does not become normalized. And to everyone who has commented, emailed, or reached out in some capacity to talk about this with me: thank you. Thank you so much. It warms the very cockles of my cold, black heart and gives me hope for the future. Thanks for continuing to read and continuing to be a source of inspiration for me every day.
But, personally, on an individual level, yes, there were a few shining moments in 2016. I started working as a video producer for INSIDER, to start. I get to go to restaurants and kitchens all over New York and film chefs and entrepreneurs doing what they do best, then share those videos with the world. It’s pretty awesome. I travelled a ton, from Thailand to China to Japan, to Austin and Houston, to Denver and Phoenix and Virginia Beach, to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and probably a few other small trips that I’m forgetting. 2017 has a lot more of travel in store, including Vietnam and Singapore (!!!). We also want to go visit my brothers in Atlanta and Cincinnati, maybe hit up Canada and Seattle, we still have to check out Chicago (as adults, I lived there as a kid)…there are so many places I want to go and definitely not enough time! But I’ll get there. I want to keep getting better at my job and keep making videos and, of course, keep this blog going. It’s where I get to go to be me, to share my photos, to talk about issues that matter to me, and interact with tons of people that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to connect with. This is the eighth year I’ve been maintaining Crepes of Wrath, and I definitely don’t plan on stopping any time soon!
Oh, and quickly, yeah, there’s this cake. I bought two giant tubs of cranberries in December, hence why you get two cranberry recipes in a row. But I’ve got to say, this cake was insanely delicious. I put it out on Christmas Day when some friends came over after a dinner of spicy Sichuan food, and we all ate it up. By the end of the night, it was totally gone. It takes a little extra effort, because you’ve got to whip the egg whites separately from the egg yolks, and you’ve got to caramelize the sugar before adding it to the cranberries, but all in, it’s worth it. The cake is impossibly fluffy, but still wonderfully rich. The cranberries pop in your mouth with each bite, and I added a quick lemon glaze over the top to make it look a little more wintry. Why not? We’re not counting calories in the last days of the year, are we? That’s for 2017. For now, I’m going to have a piece of cake and a glass of champagne and tell 2016 that it’s been real. I hope you’ll do the same.
Are we all in the ~spirit of the season~ yet? I love the holidays mostly because I tend to stay local in New York, and everyone else leaves. I know it’s a touristy time of year for Manhattan, but in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, things get pretty quiet, and it’s awesome. It feels like I have the whole place to myself. That means I can listen to Chance’s new mixtape in peace without hearing people yelling at each other downstairs. It’s glorious. This year, we’re seeing Why Him? (because it’s on-theme), then getting dinner at Mission Chinese with friends. I’m super excited. Tonight, I’m gonna hit up Maison Premiere (or at least try to, those lines get crazy) and * fingers crossed * start watching Mariah Carey’s new show, because that sounds pretty xmas-y to me. Am I wrong? 2016 has been long, and 2017 is clearly not going to be any easier, so let’s all take a breather, relax, eat some good food, have a few drinks, and get ready for the uphill battle that will be 2017. If you still need to get someone a gift, may I suggest donating to a worthy cause in their name? It’s a present you can both be proud of. Here’s a list of great places to donate if you need a little help.
So, about this pie. I adored it. It was so perfect. Ever since I saw Yossy post about pie with rye crust on her blog, I’ve wanted to make one, but I bought a bag of rye flour and it sat untouched for months. That happens a lot. But my friend Anne was having a potluck this past Sunday, so I was like, “Hey! This is the perfect opportunity to make a pie. A RYE CRUST pie.” This crust is a little different than your average crust, in that it seems a bit drier than usual, but you just need to add a tiny bit more ice water and the dough comes together like a dream (and bakes like one, too!). The finished crust was perfectly golden and flaky. Kramer and my friend Jeena both commented on how much they loved the crust, picking off end pieces with their fingers and holding it up to my face to show me. I’ll take that as a great sign of approval. The filling was sweet and tart and delicious. If you’ve still got fresh cranberries in your fridge or freezer, this is what you should do with them. If you don’t have apples, you can definitely sub them out for pears, more cranberries, or cherries. This is definitely a winter pie, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little ice cream on top. Happy Holidaze!
If you participated in my last post and donated to a charity, then 10 of you should have received an email from me asking for your address so that I can send you some cookies! Thanks SO much to those of you that donated. It means so much to the people that you’re helping, especially this time of year with the political and social climate that we find ourselves in. It gives me hope to see how much everyone cares and how hard you’re all working. If you’re interested in yet another worthy cause, I recently saw a new film called Jackson, about the last abortion clinic left in Mississippi. It was definitely painful to watch, but it’s re-energized my commitment to women’s health and a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body. If you’re able, I encourage you to look into hosting a screening in your town if they haven’t already had one. This is a powerful documentary about the scary future of our country and how women’s reproductive care is being torn away from those who need it the most. If you’re in New York, I’ve also recently signed up to volunteer with the NYAAF. It’s a great organization and it needs all the help it can get, so please sign up if you’ve got the free time and are so inclined. I’m going to continue to do what I can to spread awareness and make sure we don’t forget that progress and change only happen if we work towards it. The right thing doesn’t just happen because we will it to happen. It’s only been a little over a month since Donald Trump was elected president, if you can believe it. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday, and other times it feels like it’s been a year. I know it’s exhausting and hard to fight every day, but there’s a lot of work to do and we’re the ones who need to step up and do it. Thank you all for being supportive and for all of your amazing comments. I love hearing what you guys are up to and how you’re bettering your communities and worlds. Don’t stop!
Okay, so, while you’re out there changing the world and fixing the mess that this country is in, make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, too. That means trying to get enough sleep, eating well, and, most importantly, treating yourself to a little something now and again because you work hard and you deserve it. May I suggest this gingerbread cake? The recipe comes from the New York Times and let me tell you, damn! This cake is incredible. It’s made with real grated ginger, freshly brewed black coffee, and a little bit of beer. Throw all that together with lemon zest and a lemony glaze, and boom! This is going to be your new go-to cake for the holiday season. It smells like fake gingerbread, but it’s the real deal. When I was mixing the batter together, I made Kramer come over to the kitchen and smell the bowl because I was in awe of the aroma. It must be the combination of the hot coffee and the ginger. It’s just wonderful, and it only gets better as it bakes. This cake is rich, moist, and perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning or maybe with a little port or red wine in the evening. It took all of my willpower not to eat this cake all by myself, if I’m going to be honest with you. It was truly phenomenal, and best of all, I didn’t need to spend hours decorating it, which I really hate doing. Nope! Just throw some glaze over this sucker and get ready to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks, NYT. You’ve done it again.