It has been SO BEAUTIFUL these past few days. But I’m still a little skeptical that winter is fully behind us. We’ll probably have another freeze, knowing New York. I saw this infographic (meme? Is this a meme?) earlier in the month and it’s so spot on:
What We’re Cooking
- Tweaking crispy chili oil. We’ve been devotees of Alison Roman’s Spicy Crispy Chili Oil (in Dining In), because it was the first time we encountered the recipe and it was so goddamn delicious. But I’ve been rethinking my relationship with it through the many conversations about race over the past year. Last summer, there was a really thought provoking conversation specifically around crispy chili oil with Eddie Huang & Dave Chang (listen here), where Eddie criticized Momofuku’s Chili Crunch for not calling out its inspiration from Lao Gan Ma’s chili crisp. The conversation goes through the many origins and inspiration of crunchy chili oil and Dave & Eddie also talk about the considerations of exposing white people to your food – in that, is it better for white people to be exposed (no matter who it comes from) so they start to love your food & culture, or can the food only be shared by people from its own culture? Not sure there’s a right answer here – but at the very least we should give credit & cite inspirations. Which I think Alison Roman has started to do (through her newsletter), but I wouldn’t say was very good about it in her cookbooks. But what I do know is that spicy crispy chili oil is f*ing delicious and you should check it out in all of its incarnations (I’ve been liking Café China’s chili oil for the winter). You’ll be hooked.
- Mapo Tofu – Zak and I have been making this for years, we first saw the recipe in Cooks Illustrated (again, see discussion above…) and it is downright incredible. The sauce is spicy and savory, with some pork for flavor / texture / everything that pork does, and then you have soft pieces of tofu that soak up all that goodness. It makes a pretty solid amount too so you have leftovers for dayssss. I have to actively pace myself from having it for every meal once I know it’s in the fridge.
- Digaag Qumbe – my sister Grace recommended this to me, and then I saw it In Bibi’s Kitchen and thought to myself, “oh that looks good”, without realizing that the idea had already been planted in my brain from Grace lol. But this was so good! This was probably Zak’s favorite thing that we’ve made over the past month – it’s saucy and substantial and super flavorful from all the spices. We should definitely make this again before winter is out…
- Bagel & Lox – we finally checked out Adam’s Fairacre Farms in Kingston which has all the bougie groceries our hearts so desire, including a banging fish department; which on the Friday evening I was there, was poppin. I also had random conversations with two different women there that made me happy just talking to strangers. So friendly up here!
What’s Happening with the House
The house is our life’s work that will never be complete. All right, a little dramatic, but it needs a good amount of work that is sometimes overwhelming to think about. Here’s what we did recently:
- Installed Mass Loaded Vinyl sheeting over the door between our side of the house & the tenants’ side for soundproofing. The tenants are pretty quiet but it was getting to the point where we could hear their podcast through the door. So they could definitely hear my Bridgerton / Lupin binging. Just adding a little extra padding between the houses – and it actually works great!
- Took down wallpaper, skim coated the damaged walls, and painted one of the guest bedrooms. And then we decided to take down the closet wall so that we could fit a queen size bed in there. Demo’ing the wall was a fun one – Zak’s parents came up to help us demo this wall (even while Cyndi was feeling the effects of her second COVID vaccine shot) and it came right down! We’re in process of skim coating it and then will paint and turn to the floors.
What’s Happening Upstate
We’ve become old people who take a Sunday drive to get out of the house, check out some nearby hikes and comment on the upstate scenery. We also have regular bouts of buyer’s remorse (very typical us) over all the cute houses on windy country roads. We were driving through Millbrook and were like “these houses are amazing!!” and then Google’d Millbrook and saw that it was “one of the most affluent towns in the US. Welp, that makes a little more sense why that didn’t come up in our house search…
Anyway, we checked out three hikes this past month, first up was Dover Stone Church which is this incredible cave / waterfall combination that was all frozen over when we were there. Next up was Red Wing Recreation Area which was cut a little short because our friends’ car got stuck in the snow and we had to get back for the tow truck (whoopshies) – which was honestly fine because it was very snowy & a little steep for the snowiness. Then we went to High Falls Conservation Area outside of Hudson which was beautiful! Very icy – so you need spikes, but was also pretty empty so you could wander around, sit at the edge of the stream undisturbed. Was very relaxing, highly recommend