Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kalbi Ribs

I've always been a little intimidated by the grill.  I'm comfortable with all manner of kitchen tools, and I make pasta from scratch, in fact, I'd like a blowtorch just for the kitchen, but that little outdoor kettle fills me with dread.  I have a cheap grill that I used about five times  five years ago, and it has been sitting, neglected in my shed ever since.

For some reason that grill has been nagging me this summer, begging to be let out and used.  I have access to basically any cut of beef or pork I could want thanks to an Amish butcher, and I'd been reading about Kalbi ribs.  They seemed easy enough, and a good way to get over my grilling fear.

Kalbi ribs are beef short ribs cut flanken style (long and thin lengthwise, resulting in multiple bones per piece).  I get mine cut 1/2 an inch thick.  While not really a recipe, but more of a process, it goes like this:

You want about 1 lb. of ribs per person.  Place the ribs into a large plastic container with a head of minced garlic and about 1/2 cup or so of soy sauce.  Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes on one side, then flip and marinate for 15 minutes on the other side.

In the meantime, you need your grill preheated to high.  Put the ribs on the grill grates for about three minutes per side for medium-rare and around 6 minutes per side for well-done.  Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes before cutting between the bones for bite-sized pieces.

These are a finger food, and you will get messy.  The meat is salty and fatty in a really pleasant way.  My husband looked on in terror as I devoured these ribs, throwing the bones haphazardly on the empty bowl in front of me.  I eat leftovers straight out of the fridge.

On a completely unrelated note, I usually don't buy flowers for myself, but I need to start.  I saw these sunflowers at a market at they made me happy for days.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Strawberry Lemonade Cake: On coming to terms with ugly cakes

Have you ever watched any of those cake decorating shows, the ones where a team of people have 12 hours to make a life sized version of the Taj Mahal or 1,972,231 perfect grains of rice in a wicker basket all out of cake?  What about all the pictures of beautiful cakes out of home kitchens?  My cakes don't look like that at all.  I even took a cake decorating class, but my cakes lean, the frosting is bumpy, and I make a mess on the cake boards.  I have a cake esteem problem, or at least I used to.
Like women who grow up feeling self-conscious about their bodies because of the air-brushed, photo shopped pictures of models, I never felt good about my cakes.  (I've never been self-conscious about my body though, go figure.)  You see, my cakes look, well, homemade.  I make a cake for my husband's co-worker's birthday every year, and I always send it with apologies for its appearance.  In fact, last year I learned the cake was going to a family dinner party, and I had a minor panic attack because I knew the cake was not a party-worthy centerpiece.

Finally, something clicked.  I thought back to how many weddings I had been to where the cake was beautiful, but dry and overly sweet or had too much almond extract.  Fondant, while smooth and gorgeous is not something I want to eat.  I have had a few cakes that were both beautiful and delicious, but these have been few and far between.  The man who gets a cake for his birthday every year is thrilled to have something homemade.  He's not looking at the flaws.

So, my cakes, while homely, bumpy, lopsided, and always leaning are delicious, and I'm fine with that.  I will no longer apologize for my ugly cakes.  I feel like there's a life lesson here, but I don't want to get all after school special on you, so I'll close with this: love your ugly cakes.

For those of you who want to know more about this cake, it's a strawberry lemonade cake.  So, the cake is lemon, and the frosting is vanilla butter cream with strawberries whipped in.  I got the recipe here.  I think this would be excellent with any berry.