065: Maison Louis Marie is 25% Off
Finally, an MLM we can get behind; plus, recipes for girlbossing your way to the presidency, one colonoscopy at a time
(SB) Hey hi hello dear readers! It looks like we’ve made it past several festival(s) of light and autumn and firmly into a glittering and gilded season of over-indulgence. Boyfriend of the letter Willis and I have been upstate visiting his mom for the past few days, and let me tell you: the sun is setting even earlier and the temperatures have prompted me to take the plunge and finally purchase a winter coat. (Thank you to friend and potential marketing director of the newsletter Andrea for facilitating this transaction.) I have always found it difficult not to let my anxiety about the depth of winter overwhelm me; the days are too short, obligations are many, and even the most determined good cheer can falter in the face of widespread breakthrough COVID infection and/or a bad boss and/or frustrating news. If that’s where you’re at right now, I see you and I’m sending my love your way. It feels like a particularly good season to remind ourselves that we are mere mortals, prone to bad moods and exhaustion. We have been living through a global pandemic. We deserve to be healthy, content, and lead lives beyond our work. The academic job market is not your fault. It’s okay to heat up a Trader Joe’s frozen meal and call it a day. It is really, really okay to buy a pie of your choosing and eat slices of it for breakfast.
Please write in and tell me about the everyday indulgences in your life these days! Mine this week have included purchasing an individual sleeve of Land O’ Lakes hot cocoa and watching the tail end of The Drew Barrymore Show. Not to mention, the way I’ve been eating since we last spoke:
An early and vegetarian holiday meal with mushroom dressing, Vadouvan mac n cheese, scalloped potatoes, and a large pan of brownies. We didn’t use any recipes, but did finish a whole gallon of half and half.
Sara DiGregorio’s farro and cauliflower parmesan, spiced up with a fair amount of Calabrian chile pepper.
Some sinfully tasty tacos at Tacos El Bronco following my ~*booster*~ at Brooklyn Army Terminal. Get your booster! Winter is coming!!
(JS) Sweet readers, I write to you from sunny but slightly less warm than expected South Florida. Despite the change of locale, I have little of worth to report since we last spoke. Friendsgiving came and went – in keeping with our collective pandemic-borne “we must not return to normal” ethos, this year we skipped turkey in favor of Korean wings and pork bulgogi (more on that menu below). Urban Dictionary has somehow managed to find new relevance in the form of a generally uninteresting and inexplicably popular meme (I say this as someone who “probably has a lot of drama in their life, but deals with it pretty well”). And of course, we stand at the precipice of America’s most controversial consumer ritual. Your humble narrators are itching to do their part to support small businesses and stave off our depression with material things. We’d also offer a friendly reminder to you and yours that 15% off is not an especially good sale – know your worth!
Here’s a taste of what I’ve been eating:
This Hungarian-style fish stew with red wine and paprika, a deeply flavorful alternative to Mediterranean tomato-based versions
A riff on the Tartine All Day granola bark, swapping in oat flour instead of hazelnut/almond flour and malted milk powder instead of coconut sugar, and finishing with a good pinch of aleppo pepper; it’s giving spicy Nature Valley in the best way
A whole ass friendsgiving feast, including but not limited to buffalo chicken dip (excellent on focaccia), Japanese potato croquettes, fish sauce brussels sprouts, P**l* D**n corn pudding, leek and kale gratin, mac and cheese, thee Via Carota salad, and cocktails aplenty; kladdkaka, pecan pie, and Dorie Greenspan’s tall and creamy cheesecake for a restrained in quantity but respectably rich dessert spread
Before we dive into things, some quick housekeeping: Our much beloved and thoughtfully curated gift guide will hit your inboxes next week, so keep your eyes peeled (family followers, this is for you especially). We know you've been waiting with bated breath. Digestivo will also take a wee hiatus for the rest of December while SB makes a (fully boosted and yet still anxiety inducing) pilgrimage to the homeland (that’s Mother India, to be clear). In the interim, we’re sending best wishes for a holiday week as sweet as you are.
PRETTY AS A PICKLE(D EGG)
I’m not sure when in my formative years of voracious reading I first encountered the phrase “suck an egg”— Jerry Spinelli? Maniac McGee? Chaim Potok’s The Chosen? — but it has certainly stuck with me through time. Regardless, the phrase has been rattling around my mind as I’ve become increasingly compelled by the idea of eating some pickled eggs. I’m not sure when these turmeric-tinted cuties came across my newsfeed, but I was quickly convinced that I had to try my hand at making some myself. Plus, having upgraded my turmeric stash handily over the past year (Dr. T? Are you reading?) I have quite the stash of second rate yellow shwag laying around.
I followed Heidi Swanson’s recipe pretty much to the letter (shocking, I know). I started by boiling six eggs, using Heidi’s method of covering them with half an inch of water, bringing it to a boil, and covering the pot for about ten minutes before plunging them into an ice bath. My eggs were pretty firmly hard-boiled, and I might experiment with a seven-minute version next. While the eggs were cooking, I simmered a pickling liquid made of apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, turmeric, and a few peppercorns until the sugar dissolved. Next, I attempted to artfully nestle my boiled eggs and four sliced shallots into a large mason jar and poured over the pickling liquid. I added a few more peppercorns, but otherwise kept things simple this time around; I think that sliced or whole garlic or a few jalapenos would actually make a lovely addition.
I let my eggs sit for a good 24 hours before sampling the first, and was extremely pleased with the results (though, Heidi actually insists that they’re good to go in just a few hours). They’re especially tasty paired with the pickled shallots for topping a coconut-rich curry bowl or smashed onto buttered toast. Happily, they also last a couple of weeks in the fridge, making them the kind of easy and satisfying lunchtime treat I’m always on the hunt for. Suck an egg? With pleasure!
NAUGHTY FUSION: Pizza Tteokbokki
(JS) Sometimes after a day full of Zooms, you just want to enjoy a little alone time with the ladies of Bravo and a pan full of baked mac and cheese. And sometimes, if you’re not one to keep a ton of non cultured dairy in the house for digestive reasons we don’t need to get into at this moment, that plan can go slightly awry. But when poking around my kitchen last Friday night, I came across a frozen bag of Korean rice cakes, plus half a stick of pepperoni and a block of mozzarella, and in an almost epiphanic moment of clarity, I experienced visions of pizza tteokbokki – spicy rice cakes in a loosely Italian inflected sauce, generously finished with a bubbling layer of melted cheese.
As I patiently waited for my rice cakes to partially thaw, I distracted myself with twentyish minutes of the Erika Jayne “or what?” episode of RHOBH, then heated some olive oil in cast iron pan. A cursory google suggests cylindrical tteok are often boiled in stock before saucing, but I took a tip from sliced rice cake recipes (e.g. Maangchi’s buldak) and Chinese niangao preparations, and instead skipped straight to stir frying – a little culinary high drama to accompany the reality high drama. I sautéed my tteok, turning them semi frequently in an attempt to crisp things up. Mine didn’t quite brown so much as turn golden from the olive oil, but eventually I could feel the change in surface texture with my tongs. I removed the rice cakes to a bowl and added some diced pepperoni to the hot pan, rendering out some of the fat and allowing it to crisp up. While this was cooking, I prepared a quick sauce – most tteokbokki recipes I’d come across featured some combination of gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce, garlic, and water or anchovy stock. Chasing my vaguely pizza vision, I went with a combination of gochujang and tomato paste, thinned with a bit of soy sauce and seasoned with gochugaru, oregano, and crushed fennel seed. I added this to the pan along with a couple tablespoons of water and the rice cakes, giving everything a good stir to coat. Finally, I threw some torn low moisture mozz on top and broiled the whole thing on high for a few minutes until good and browned. To finish, I added a flurry of chopped scallions and parsley, plus a shake of furikake for added color and crunch.
Honestly, this hit all the right notes – crispy, chewy, spicy, and just cheesy enough, it scratches the same itch as a baked pasta with less prep work and oven time. And given the considerable shelf life of nearly every item, save for the mozz, I suspect this may become a permanent rotation hanger remedy, particularly as winter ramps up and the SAD sets in.
TMYK: DAIRY MARINATED CHILI
(SB) Once or twice a year, there is nothing I crave more than a ground beef chili, preferably rich with complex spices and loaded with plenty of fixings on top. In the before times, I happened to find myself at a fair number of chili cook offs that scratched this itch, and as a result, let myself remain blissfully unaware of many of the battles that rage in chili land. Beans or no beans? Dried or fresh chiles? Ground meat or short ribs? Sell me a flat rate ticket and let me sample it all, I say.
Well, those heady days of buffet-style dining are over and I have since been forced to confront my own ignorance when my chili craving hits. Since I have also been trying to buy my meat from reputable and locally sourced purveyors when I do, ground beef has become the far more accessible choice for a meal meant to serve (primarily) me and my beloved. And, like many chili making novices, I have been somewhat underwhelmed by the textural output of my forays into chili making thus far. That is until I sniffed out some clever little tricks from Jenn de la Vega via Food52. I followed her recipe in broad strokes, subbing in some of my own dried chile stash and adding in a rehydrated mushroom broth in lieu of beef stock, but the real take-away gem was the instruction to marinate the ground beef for about four hours (or overnight) in heavy cream (about a tablespoon a pound) and some rehydrated chopped chilis. I subbed in yogurt for the cream (have we met?) and added a little bit of garlic, and have since become a (JS: decidedly unkosher) convert.
I will spare you all a half-hearted Nik Sharma cosplay, but suffice to say that the science makes sense: dairy tenderizes meat by speeding up enzymatic reactions that allow proteins to break down in the fridge. While ground beef often loses moisture when crumbled on a pan — resulting in spongy or tough morsels-- the yogurt marinade helped my beef stay tender, resembling a nice bolognese. As far as I’m concerned, you could dress up and spice the rest of the recipe any which way you want — I’m a real fan of chipotles in adobo and beer; chocolate and fennel might be a nice twist as well. Either way, you’ll be sure to be crowned victor of your personal chili cook off.
PERMANENT ROTATION: Our sole “traditional” Thanksgiving rec – double down on proteins with a good old, New England-style corned beef.
(JS) After nearly seven years with the adequate but not especially interesting bath towels, I’m tempted to replace them with the lightweight and quick-drying waffle weave styles from Onsen, which are currently 30% off.
(SB) On one hand, fingerless gloves are kind of silly. Fingers get cold. On the other, I do want to live in these cute furry fingerless mittens and feel like a little bear all winter long. (JS: Sliving.)
(JS & SB) Our attention spans are constantly circling the drain these days, but we’re eager to stretch a little (growth) and check out Mayukh Sen’s Tastemakers? Excerpts abound in The New Yorker, for those who are also tempted. (Plus, here’s your regular reminder that the Friday conversations From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy are well worth the subscription price.)
We’d be thankful and even grateful if you followed us on Instagram this week. And of course, you’re very much welcome to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org