502 swan song + ribs

last night, one of the most unique and magical places in brooklyn, or maybe even ever, had its party swan song. it was a fitting ending; ripe with emotion, energy, and fireworks. the house itself, while in its last tumultuous throes, was still beating - radiating the same eerie confidence it always did.

i was glad to have known this house and its members during various iterations, and although i never spent a great deal of time there, i was saddened to hear it would be changing hands. places, especially homes, can become imbued with such strong emotional resonances- seeping into the walls, buried into the plaster- that leaving can mean losing access to huge swaths of our inner landscape. i know i will be similarly devastated upon our inevitable move from this apartment; let's hope it will be under less contentious circumstances. although, hopefully, there will also be the flip side of excitement, fear, and opportunity that comes with embarking on such a momentous change.

i wanted to contribute something to this night, and since i'm talented in no other way than in the kitchen, i thought i'd make some food. some ribs, to be exact. they'd been made at 502 before, so they're no stranger, but i was hoping to perfect them for this special night. i'm not actually sure if they were great, as opposed to just being good, but maybe the speed in which they were eaten should be an indication? let's re-christen them in commemoration!

ribs 502 style, inspired by my mom

for the ribs
2 racks pork baby back spare ribs
2 heads garlic
1 bunch parsley

roughly chop parsley and 2 heads (12 cloves) of garlic. combine. salt and pepper the ribs and spread them with parsley garlic mixture. wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 24 hours.

for the bbq sauce
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar

combine until sugar is dissolved throughly.

grill meat with garlic and parsley over open flames for 20-30 mins, until meat has a charred on both sides. brush bbq sauce on meat while still on grill and leave on 2-3 more minutes. take meat off grill and brush additional bbq sauce on, rest for 2-3 minutes and serve while still hot.


i realized of all the things i've listed as favorites, i've never really made any mention of puppets on my blog. i love puppets, especially ones from folkmanis. they are super funny and come in a mind-blowing assortment.

this is lucy. she was wishing me a happy birthday. thanks lucy!

new year + pig candy

it's my birthday tomorrow and it feels perfectly right that i'm turning 26. a lot has happened in the past year, and hopefully this new year will bring exciting and heretofore unknown delights and challenges. last year, i was given THE BEST PRESENT EVER and i'd like to formally recognize it here and bestow upon its creators an additional ever more grateful thanks.

so, in case you don't know, i have a potato. he was an abandoned stuffed toy from my days working with children who have terminal illnesses at the ronald mcdonald house in high school. i, being a sucker for anything abandoned, took him in and christened him edgar allen poe-tato- a rare stroke of genius, right? edgar and i have been friends for many years now, and he is probably my single most important possession. last year, when i was out of town, a photo-shoot was arranged for edgar in the traditional poses. the photo above turned out to be the starting point for a hilarious and touching tribute portrait, in pastels, titled "edgar allen poe-tato in repose, with carnations." hope and jen, you are both genius darlings and my forever friends.

also, grace made me some eyeball cupcakes. which, in addition to being slightly menacing, were really delicious.

even though it is my birthday, boy, do i have some present for you. unless you are a vegetarian. if not, these next two words are going to blow your mind: candied bacon.

yes, candied bacon, aka pig candy, is a totally legitimate foodstuffs. so legitimate, in fact, that it has been received at two recent brunches with perfect decorum. at least at first. at some point there will be swooning, and a total lack of restraint. and, i'll warn you, it can get ugly with the last piece. don't worry, it's easy to make.

1 package bacon, preferable thick-cut and applewood or hickory smoked
1/2 cup light brown sugar
cayenne pepper optional

line a large baking sheet with foil. place a cooling rack on top. line bacon tightly nested together on top of the cooling rack. pack brown sugar on top of bacon. sprinkle cayenne pepper on top. cook in a 400F oven for 35-40 mins.

sadly, this new discovery conflicts with the traditional goals of "many more birthdays to come!" oh! but i also have wii fit! those balance each other out right?

in full swing

summer's upon us now and while this weather would be much more becoming in, say, bermuda, i'm enjoying taking advantage of all the perks of hot, sticky days- like ice cream. if you're in brooklyn, you should check out a new place in prospect heights called blue marble. the sweet-tart strawberry flavor deserves its endearing name.

in the past month, i've discovered my love of flowers, re-painted a room, learned how to sew, and planted what probably amounts to a jungle of tomatoes on my fire escape. a productive month, i suppose, but it somehow it still feels on the precipice of something. there are only a few more days to go, so we'll see what they bring.

in the meantime, in addition to these lovely flowers, i wanted to share with you one of my newest little secrets. i've made mention of my dislike of breakfast before, but this spring it was getting dire. often, i would not eat anything until lunchtime, which obv. didn't bode well for my poor co-workers who asked me anything before noon. in search of a palatable breakfast that involved minimal work and was marginally healthy, i stumbled upon this NPR article with nigella lawson. in addition to the avocado bruschetta, she describes the most ingenious breakfast idea-homemade granola bars. since, grace and i have made these practically every week- each time a little bit differently. in addition, poor planning on my part led to an accidental wonderful discovery- the original recipe is much improved if you use granola instead of oats.

if you, like i, need a little help getting into the full swing of your day, having a homemade breakfast bar studded with dried fruit jewels will most definitely give you a hearty push.

breakfast bars, adapted from nigella lawson

1 can condensed milk
2 1/2 cups granola
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup dried fruit (i usually use cranberries or cherries, but what about pineapple?!)
1 cup mixed seeds (i usually use flax seeds, pumpkin and sunflower)
1 cup nuts (slivered almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts are all good)

preheat the oven to 250 degrees and spray oil a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. warm the condensed milk in a pan. meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients together and add the warmed condensed milk, using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute. spread the mixture into the oiled pan and press down with a spatula or, better still, your hands (they will get really, really sticky!) to make the surface even. bake for 1 hour, remove, and after about 15 minutes, cut into four across and four down, to make 16 bars. when cool, these keep for a week and a half and are amazing.

condensed milk: $2.50
granola: $3.50
coconut: $1.50
dried fruit: $3.50
nuts: $3.00
seeds: $3.00

total: $17.00
okay, so it is a little expensive, but when you consider you get 16 bars out of this, it amounts to a little over a dollar a bar. this is about 40 cents more than what you'd pay at the grocery for a bar that's probably 2/3's bigger and much, much tastier. i'd say it's worth it.


hammy likes to watch grace and i budget

did you get your stimulus check yet? did you spend it? i'm not going to berate you about spending it - don't worry! but maybe it's a good time to start a little experiment: tracking your expenses. (am i beating a dead horse yet?)

here's what you should do. start tomorrow. monday is a great day to start!

1. get a little plastic bag and put some sticky notes and a pen in it.
2. put it in your purse. (or if you're a dude or lady that doesn't use a purse, use your pocket)
3. every time you make a purchase and you get a receipt, put it in the bag. this includes printouts of online receipts.
4. if they don't give you a receipt (like at the coffee cart), write the amount on the sticky note with the pen.
5. next sunday, take all the receipts out of the bag. open up excel. start a register for your expenses with the following columns:
date, type of expense (food, entertainment, personal, etc), name of expense (cup of coffee at gorilla) and amount. the last column should be the running balance. (if this is confusing, i can send you an already made spreadsheet- just email me at letsalleatcake at gmail dot com)

this whole process will maybe take you an extra hour over the whole week and is a great way to start becoming more aware of your finances.


i can't help but re-post this very dear story of a lost japanese parrot who found his way home by telling local authorities his name and address. it's every pet owner's dream to have a lost pet return, and by such a cheap and foolproof method no less! additionally, it was very touching and hilarious to hear that the parrot refers to himself as "mr. yosuke nakamura". i definitely spent a couple of minutes imagining my cats having surnames- would francie be a "miss" or a "ms."? (okay, i'm officially crazy now)

it seems like there is some cosmic force drawing me to parrot-related things: a feature article in the new yorker about alex, the african gray who just died, and who was also a pretty prolific communicator; the wild parrots of telegraph hill, a heartbreaking movie about wild parrots in san fransisco (apparently there are wild parrots in nyc too!) and this article- all in a pretty short period of time, despite having basically ignored all parrot existence for 25 years.

now i realize how amazing parrots are: smart, emotional, funny. hopefully soon the taunt "birdbrain" will mean something totally different.

summer light

every year there comes a point right around the edge of may when summer finally announces itself. today was that day, and as i woke up with the light streaming through the curtains, all i could think about was a line from one of my favorite poems, the ivy crown by william carlos williams:

Daffodil time
is past. This is
summer, summer!
the heart says,
and not even the full of it.

lately, i've been taking long walks, eating barbeque, and trying to keep to my promise of spending more time outside. last weekend, grace and i went up to new jersey to visit her aunt. while there, we spent a lovely lazy day outdoors, rummaging our way through yard sales, and looking out over lonely fields populated by only buffalo. for lunch, grace's aunt terry prepared a light and delicious shrimp ceviche which perfectly matched the mood of our day. i'm going to add it to my summer staples because it meets all the requirements for a good meal: easy, impressive and delicious.

shrimp ceviche

2 lbs medium-small shrimp
8 limes, juiced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 serrano chile, chopped
1 seedless cucumber, chopped
1 avocado, diced
(try and chop everything into roughly the same sizes)

in a large pot of boiling, salted water add shrimp and cook until just pink. drain and cool shrimp in a bowl of ice water. cut shrimp into 1/2 inch size pieces, transfer to a bowl and cover with lime juice. refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 6 hours.

stir in the tomatoes, onions, cilantro and chile into the shrimp-lime mixture. let sit at room tempuratre for about 30 mins. add cucumbers and avocado right before serving. stir gently.

you can serve this on its own, or atop a salad, with a side of chips.

2 lbs shrimp: $25
8 limes: $3
2 tomatoes: $3
onion: $0.50
cilantro: $1.50
chile: $0.50
cucumber: $1
avocado: $1.50

total: $36
by far the most expensive thing on this blog! however, terry said she only made half the recipe and it comfortably served 4. so if you imagine this serving 8 people, then the price per serving is only $4.50, which is much, much cheaper than you will find ceviche on any menu. if you want a summer splurge, this is it!
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