I know it’s Father’s day this weekend. But I want to talk about grandparents. My grandparents. Nana and Papa.
Yeah, they were as adorable as they sound.
Their house was filled with knick knacks and chachkis from around the world. Shoots and Ladders. Tons of crossword puzzles. Books by Shell Silverstein. PBS programming. Origami paper and party hats for crafting. And re-crafting. And then fashion shows for everyone after dinner.
The kitchen was filled with Hansen’s soda (because it was natural). The smell of toasted wheat bread. And a rotating schedule of cornflake crusted chicken parmesan and some other chicken dish with cheddar cheese–what it was, exactly, is still up for debate. There were pistachios. Drawers that held scissors (pronounced: skizzers), rubber bands, and of course, hard candies. Bowls full of berries picked from the patio garden. Soy, on everything — a habit leftover from years living in Japan. A fridge covered in pictures of cousins, visits to the local donkey, and trips to the beach. A step ladder for me to crouch on while Nana cooked. And at some point, a parrot. Not to be eaten, of course, but to be squawked at.
There was a lot to love about being near them.
But beyond these memories, here’s what stuck with me most: Nana came in a small package filled to the brim with spirit. She was independant, creative, and always pushing boundaries. She was ahead of her time, ahead of the curve, and ready to shake things up. Whether it was parmesan chicken or a local protest.
Then there was Papa. Quiet, gathered, an engineer through and through. And sneaky silly. On one hand, he kept elaborate records of his crossword puzzle answers, which he called “Thesalmonaries” (unofficially trademarked). On the other hand, he enjoyed switching names around. Like his neighbor, Dot Hogan. Whom he called, Hot Dogan.
These two love nuggets let me be me. They encouraged my messes and curiosity, my inner spunk and silly monster. They taught me how to actually smell roses, how to lovingly put someone to bed, and how to turn an old party hat into the best toy. Ever.
They taught me to make the world gooder and do my bestest. And this weekend, I celebrate them with a meal I know they’d love. Because they were truly grand. Parents and people.
So let’s be full of spirit and goofiness. Let’s grab a party hat and some vegertables. And let’s make some cole slaw and spareribs. Or sole claw and rare spibs, as Papa would say.
SPICY ASIAN PEA, CARROT, FENNEL SLAW (…& CHAR SUI SPARE RIBS)
adapted from SteamyKitchen’s Asian Slaw with Ponzu Dressing
- 1 cup snow or snap peas (about 1/4 pound)
- 1 small fennel bulb, outer layer and fronds removed and sliced as thinly as possible
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, pre-sliced or cut into thin matchsticks
- 2 tablespoons orange marmalade (or plum jam)
- 1 tablespoon dark or toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 orange
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1. First things first, slice up your vegetables so that they are thin matchsticks. You know, like slaw.
Then, in a small bowl, mix your dressing by whisking the jam, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, orange zest and juice from half of the orange. Mix until well combined and then add the chili pepper flakes and the sesame seeds.
Grab a medium bowl and mix the vegetables together. Add the dressing a little bit at a time, tasting along the way until everything is slicked with dressing to your liking.
Keep the slaw cool in the fridge until it’s party time, give it another good mix to wake up that dressing, and then top with impossibly juicy, salt-free Char Sui spare ribs (RECIPE HERE) before serving.
Cause you can.
+ Sodium Count: Carrots: 42mg per medium carrot; Fennel: 45mg per cup, 122 per bulb; Pork spareribs: 92mg per 1/4 pound