The last month has positively flown by! To summarize, life has been good—we are healthy and happy, just a little bit crazy with school. If you want the details, read on.
The last few school projects have been both awesome and stressful. For one class I’m supposed to design a phone app for a subculture. I chose Harry Potter Nerds as my subculture and spent way too much time making icons for the Hogwarts houses, but at least I enjoyed it. Sadly, the app won’t actually be created, but if I can figure out how to build it I will let you all know. Another project that I recently finished was for my Graphic Novel Memoir class, for which I had to make a comic about a story told often in my family. I decided to make mine about the infamous Tea Set story told by my dad—there’s a little sneak peak below. If you haven’t heard it Dad will be happy to tell you, but just beware Mom’s wrath when he starts acting hurt to get a reaction.
After class on Thursday I officially started Spring Break! I spent the first day of my holiday cleaning the whole apartment, since apparently that’s what holidays are for when you’re an adult. After this break I only have five weeks left of my junior year at Otis—that’s scary and cool at the same time! Jonji just finished his second year at UCLA and now embarks on the month-long study period before the big “Step 1” test at the end of April. He has done extremely well in medical school thus far, so I’m not too worried about him. Once he starts his rotations in May, we’ll be halfway through our four-year projected time in LA!
This weekend my mom and dad came down to visit, hitting the worst of the traffic on Friday but still making it to Depot on time to see Jonji do the fourth Open workout. From there we caravanned back home, where I had pre-prepared dinner. Mom and Dad showered us with gifts in the form of pork shoulder from El Salchichero, chocolate, and dates. We had some Companion Bakery appetizers and then sat down to feast on chicken in milk, mashed potatoes, and chard, a wonderful recipe first introduced to us by Danielle. I baked bread and made everyone way too warm while we did the dishes (worth it). We finished off the night with a game of sequence that everyone was too tired to get super hyped up on, but which Dad and I still won. Jonji and I had altogether too many chocolate cookies and stayed up most of the night regretting that late-night caffeine consumption.
The next day we woke up and found Kitty snuggling with my parents. We made coffee and a small breakfast, then journeyed into Venice to get breakfast burritos from The Rooster, a food truck that parks outside of Blue Bottle on Saturdays. After scarfing down the avocado-and-tater-tot-filled burritos we lumbered down the street to check out Tortoise, a store that stocks high-quality Japanese household items. My mom went crazy for the fabric and ceramic ware, and we eventually had to leave so as to avoid buying the whole store. At noon we went to Depot, where we slogged through a workout that threatened to show us those breakfast burritos again. In the evening we drove back to Abbot Kinney for cocktails at The Tasting Kitchen, which were excellent. Mom took it upon herself to tell the server that the amount of lavender in the lavender-infused cocktail was much less than the last time she had it (which, to be fair, was true), to which the server replied with a good-natured, “Okay.” Quite the succinct and appropriate response, I thought, since there was no way he could possibly infuse the drink more at that moment unless he dunked a whole lavender plant into her glass. After two drinks each, we picked up sandwiches from Gjelina Take Away and ate them in the waning light in their milk-crate-filled courtyard. That finished, we were ready to go see Zootopia. I had heard fantastic things about it and was not disappointed! Definitely recommended.
On Sunday morning we had a huge breakfast and then walked to the Farmer’s Market where Mom charged around looking for feta cheese and Jonji tried to stay above the Farmer’s Market-induced gloom that follows him in every market. After the walk back home, Mom made lunch and threw sprouts all over the kitchen while Dad took on the dishes. After that, they had to leave. Their visits are always full of good food and lots of laughter, but they’re always too short and the goodbyes always tough—they are made even harder by the fact that Jonji and I know that we have at least another two years before we can live closer to family again. One day we shall return! Until then, we’ll cherish the short, but sweet, moments that we do have.
One thing that made the rest of Sunday afternoon better was a celebrity sighting. Jonji and I went to a drone racing event in an abandoned mall in Hawthorne and randomly signed in right next to Matt Bellamy of Muse! Pretty dang cool. Later that night we went to our friend Eric’s birthday at a Korean BBQ restaurant, which I had never eaten before. Jonji and I were the last ones standing (by which I mean sitting, but still eating). The company was excellent, as always, and so we ended another weekend in good spirits.
The rest of my week will mainly be devoted to homework and cooking. The best part about breaks from school is the fact that I can expend so much more energy on planning and making dinner. That, and snuggling with Kitty. One dish that I will be making is braised short ribs, which isn’t very hard to make but which requires you to be home for several hours of the day. These ribs are the most delicious, succulent pieces of meat that I can cook. If you like fat (which you should, because fat is what gives food flavor), you’ll love these.
Braised Short Ribs
4 beef short ribs (get the ones with less bone and more meat)
1 tbsp thyme leaves
2-3 tsp salt
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 thyme sprigs
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups red wine
1 cup port
4 cups chicken stock
5 parsley sprigs
Rub the short ribs with the thyme leaves and 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. Remove from the fridge half an hour before cooking and season all over with the 2-3 tsp salt.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and pour in 2 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is hot, sear the short ribs on each meaty side. Once all sides are well browned, remove from the pot and set aside.
If the pan is looking dry, add another tbsp olive oil and then cook the onion, carrots, celery, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf over medium heat until the vegetables start to soften (about 6 minutes). Add the balsamic vinegar, wine, and port, and bring to a boil. Reduce over medium-high heat for another 6 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and add the short ribs back to the pot. Tuck the parsley sprigs around the meat (not over it). Cover the pot with tin foil and then a lid, and braise in the oven for 3 hours.
40 minutes before the meat is done, start the mashed potatoes and the chard.
Once the meat is done, let it rest for 15 minutes and turn the oven up to 400°F. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove as many of the vegetables from the sauce as you can using a slotted spoon. Once the ribs are done, place them back in the sauce. Serve them, hot, over fluffy mashed potatoes and sautéed chard*. Enjoy!
*To make the chard even better, sauté it with a spoonful or two of the ribs’ juices.