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
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.
CHAR SUI SPARE RIBS from Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 3 tsp honey
- 2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar (unseasoned, 0mg sodium)
- 1 cup apple or orange juice
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 lb pork spareribs
In a plastic container with a lid, mix the first 8 ingredients (everything but the meat) until well combined. Add the spareribs and using your hands, make sure the meat is covered in the marinade. Put on the lid, close tightly, and give it a couple of strong shimmy shakes. Place the container in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 to 24 hours, turning the meat over at the halfway point. The longer it marinates, the stronger the flavor.
Just before cooking, preheat the oven to 325 dg F. While temperature climbs, take the meat from the refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. Place the ribs in an oven-proof pan or baking sheet with rims, and reserve the marinade. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, place the ribs on the middle rack of the oven, and cook for 30 minutes.
As the ribs are getting juicy, pour the reserved marinade into a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to low so that the liquid is gently simmering. Cook, uncovered, until the liquid thickens and reduces by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the glaze from the heat and set aside.
Remove the ribs from the oven, take off the foil, and baste the meat with the glaze. Return the ribs to the oven without the foil and cook until the meat is tender enough to fall off the bone, 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve warm and be sure to top it off with a drizzle of glaze if there is any leftover.
+ sodium count: Molasses: 10mg per 1 Tbsp; Pork spareribs: 69mg per 3 oz, 92 mg per 1/4 lb