Category Archives: Holiday

Ribs on the Roof

Sunset view from our new roof!

I’m a first-generation American. My mom and dad are Chinese, born and raised in the Philippines. So I don’t have any relatives to celebrate on Memorial Day, but my family was affected by war. Before my mom was born my grandparents’ home was taken over by the Japanese during WW2. They turned the basement into a dungeon of sorts, with shackle-adorned cells. Creepy! So, thanks to all those WW2 vets for getting my mom her home back. We called it “Vi Ma Pa” though I have no idea what that means.

Ironically one of my favorite books is Johnny Got His Gun, which got Dalton Trumbo blackballed during the McCarthy era. Go figure. (I am just pointing out the irony, not trying to make a political statement.)

Since Ryan had to work, we didn’t have any plans to get out of town or go to the beach. Instead I prepped ribs that we’d bought on Sunday – whenever we have one of these Monday holidays I am grateful because I have the time to do big projects like bake, marinate, or slowcook ribs in the oven while he is at work. These are a riff on Ryan’s ribs, which he glazes with Coca-Cola and jalapeños.

For the rub I used Chinese 5-spice which is just cinnamon, anise, ginger, cloves, and fennel. I mixed that with brown sugar, salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and some garlic powder, then rubbed it all over the ribs and let it sit overnight in the fridge. This was a 1am project that was foisted  upon me in an effort to make me tired enough to go to sleep.

To cook the ribs you will need:
1 large oven bag
1 large roasting pan
1-2 large jalapeños, sliced
2 (ish) tomatoes, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4-6 cloves of garlic, smashed
Beer – I used Innis & Gunn because it’s my favorite. It’s aged in whiskey barrels and has a caramel-y taste, so it kinda goes with the 5-spice and brown sugar.
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 250-275 degrees. In a large sauté or sauce pan heat some oil. Add the onions and garlic, then the jalapeños and tomatoes. Cook until softened, season with salt & pepper. Then add one bottle of beer and a little bit of water (about 1/3 – 1/2 bottle). Bring to a simmer then kill the heat.

Cut the rack of ribs into two large pieces (or however many sections you need to have them fit in the roasting pan, laying flat). Put an oven bag into the roasting pan, then put the ribs inside the bag. Carefully pour/spoon/scoop the roasting liquid you just made into the bag, then use the tie to secure it. You want to make sure all the air is out of the bag before securing. Place in the oven for 4 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, pull the pan out of the oven. Cut the bag open and make sure to cut away enough of it so the ribs are exposed, or you can do away with it altogether. Turn the oven up to 400 and place the ribs back in for another 30-45 minutes to caramelize them.


That’s it – they should be falling off the bone when you pull them back out, and then you can slice them into individual ribs.

I added all the sides into the oven (corn, Japanese yams) before turning up the heat. Just use common sense – yams/potatoes take longer so you should give them at least 45 mins to an hour to cook. Corn is faster and doesn’t need to cook that long so you can wait a bit.

Rooftop ribs

We hiked onto our roof with folding chairs and ate while watching the sunset. For the record, a bottle Innis & Gunn fits nicely into your front pocket.


We gobbled

Thanksgiving this year was a small affair, on account of my being a cripple. I’ll back up but not too much, I got into a mini bike bender with a friend and ended up banging my knee up pretty badly. It’s only in the past few days that I can put some weight on it, but I can still feel it ready to give way at any second. Still awaiting MRI results from my doctor but until then, trying to take it easy and still on crutches (soon to be pimp cane, hopefully). Just hoping it’s nothing serious. In which case, I would’ve paid hundreds of dollars to find out that it was a sprain. Could’ve been worse.

Anyway, I decided to give Ryan the day off on Thanksgiving and this is what we ate:

Brie en croute with almonds & apricots
I made an appetizer of sorts. Brie en croute, which is an entire wheel of brie cheese wrapped in puff pastry and baked in the oven. In my version, I sliced it in half crosswise and filled it with diced dried apricots, almond slivers, and brown sugar. We had this with a Petite Sirah from Madrigal, which we had just received in the mail. Wine clubs are the best present you can gift yourself.

Thanksgiving by candlelight
Our spread consisted of a honey baked spiral ham (just heat in the oven!), cranberry sauce (cranberries, water, sugar, orange zest and juice…I simmer/reduce with the orange halves tossed in there also), green bean casserole (with jalapenos, cheddar, Crystal-marinated onions), and pineapple bourbon sweet potato casserole. Also a raw kale salad with a lemony anchovy vinaigrette, topped with Asiago. I made everything from scratch, save for the ham of course.

Black bottom bourbon pie
For dessert I made a black bottom (chocolate) bourbon pecan pie and some fresh whipped cream. So stuffed! And the next day too, we had leftovers for dinner.

Monte Cristo with leftovers
On Saturday I decided to make a Monte Cristo sandwich with the leftover ham and cheddar. I assembled a dry sandwich and made an egg wash. We have a quart of bacon fat that Ryan has collected from cooking off bacon at work, so I used that to fry it up in. It’s basically like stuffed French toast. I didn’t really know what I was doing or what really went in it, but it’s my dad’s favorite sandwich so I went off his description. I ate it with raspberry preserves. We also had it this morning, for brunch.

For Sunday dinner I wanted something a little lighter. I’d taken all the ham off the bone and saved everything, so we decided to make split pea & ham soup. Ryan got all the ingredients and I got to work on the stock. Basically, one large sweet onion – chopped and sweated/caramelized in bacon fat. Two carrots in half inch “coins.” Threw those into the pot, along with 5-6 cloves of garlic, small handful of white peppercorns, a few pinches of salt. Then I put the ham bone in, and let it sit like that for about 10 minutes, then filled the pot with water. Added a couple of bay leaves. Simmered until it reduced and tasted ham-y, then strained all the solid things out.

Split pea & ham soup with leftovers
Meanwhile I’d been soaking my split peas (about half a pound) in hot water, so they wouldn’t take a long time to cook. I threw those (drained) into the stock and brought it up to a simmer, until the peas were cooked and soft. Immersion blender > diced leftover ham > sour cream. The only thing we needed was some thick country bread and butter.

I kind of can’t believe we’ve been eating ham for 4 days. My body is screaming for salad, and I’ll be glad to lighten up my eating load a little bit.

Very thankful for Ryan who has been awesome these past couple of weeks, taking care of me and helping me get around to and from my doctors’ appointments.