Welcome to April, the month where we’ll experience every season within the span of one day here in New York. To say I’m over cold weather is an understatement, and all this flip-flopping is making it challenging to get back into any kind of outdoor routine aside from walking the pup a few times a day.
I’ve been busy with more behind the scenes work around here, so you’ll see a few more new staple recipes in the Kitchen Basics section of the newsletter. It occurred to me that some of the recipe friendly printer links I’ve added might not have been open for public view, so if you click on a link and it doesn't work, just leave a comment on the post, and I’ll update it. But please, please, please be patient and realize that this little corner of the internet is managed by one person, and one person alone–me, and I work a full-time job, in addition to my work here. So, responses can take a little bit, sometimes a full day–how did we ever manage to live in a time when you had to wait for messages to come via a letter in the post?
This should go without saying but you’d be surprised at some of the emails I get from readers. Most are super kind and polite, and I try to focus on those. Last week a new monthly subscriber sent me three frenzied emails all within the span of a few hours demanding her $5 back because she couldn’t access the site. I know from my own experience with other Substack newsletters that it can be annoying and fickle sometimes. I don’t know what the reader’s troubles were, so I gladly refunded her monthly fee and canceled her subscription on my end, but also let her know her tone was not polite. She wrote back thanking me and apologized, saying she didn’t realize she came off as rude. Oftentimes, it’s never the thing you’re complaining about that’s the real source in my experience.
Then there was the reader who signed up for one month to get my beloved waffle recipe, the most popular from my original site, then immediately canceled with a note that she was extremely disappointed to see a free recipe she used for years was now behind a paywall. A FREE RECIPE. Need I say more? I did not bother to reply to that email.
I share these stories because while tone is hard to convey in an email, it’s important to remember to be kind. And when people aren’t kind it’s equally important to bring it to their attention in a polite manner. We’ve become so desensitized to the human experience in this age of living behind screens.
While we’re on the subject of paid subscriptions, I’ve got some exciting news to share. This little newsletter has finally attained enough paid subscribers for me to settle on a more stable rate of $5 per month and $30 annually (that’s like getting 6 months free!). I started out with an exceedingly ambitious rate of $90 annually last May, and while I stand by the value of my work and am incredibly thankful to everyone who signed up at that rate, I really wanted to make it feel financially accessible to everyone.
As a thank you to everyone who signed up at higher rates, I’ve edited your accounts to do two things. First, a coupon code has been added for the lifetime of your subscription to reflect the new annual or monthly rate, depending on how you signed up, meaning all renewals will be at the current price–no work necessary on your part. The second thing I did, which felt very fair and important to me personally, is I’ve extended some subscriptions free of charge to compensate for the higher rates some of you may have paid. If you signed up at the annual rate of $90, I’m extending your subscription for an entire year, so paid renewals will not be due until 2023 (so far I’ve gotten through renewals due in May, and will tackle the rest in coming weeks). Subscriptions at other levels, both monthly and annually were also extended free of charge at pro-rated levels from 1 to 6 months, depending on what the rate was when you signed up.
This was a very manual process, so if you think you should’ve received an extension but did not, just send me an email and I’ll look into your account. What I would be incredibly thankful for is if you can continue to spread the word of my work here at Simmering, in hopes more people will see the value in a paid subscription. Gift subscriptions are available, too (see the link below).
And now, without further adieu, here are my field notes for the week. I hope the weekend has been filled with pockets of peace. Remember to be kind. –xo, j.
The Real Betty Crocker this article sheds light on the real women in the test kitchens that brought the persona of Betty Crocker to life. It was a fascinating read, albeit a little maddening because for as far as women have come, on average, we still only earn 84 cents for every dollar a man earns. That gap is even bigger for women of color, who average 20% less than white women. Although the gap is considerably less for women ages 25 to 34 giving me hope for future kick-ass women in the workforce who demand to be compensated for their worth.
Is It Cake? Friday night I wanted some light TV watching to end the week, and This Is Us definitely didn’t qualify. When I turned on Netflix, the first show that appeared on the screen was a new reality baking competition called Is It Cake? I’d heard an interview about it on NPR earlier in the week, so decided to see if it was worth a watch. Three episodes later I peeled myself off the sofa and tucked into bed. It’s most definitely B-level production-wise but I appreciated the pure fun aspect and getting to see some very talented bakers create edible versions of objects like a purse, sneakers, conch, cocktails and even a croissant breakfast sandwich. The show isn’t life changing or even as great as others in the same genre but it most definitely puts my mind in a lighter, relaxed mode when I want to watch TV but not get too preoccupied with anything heavy before bedtime.
Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott This was the first book I read in 2022, and I’ve been wanting to write about it since finishing the book in late January. It centers on the story of Dasani Coates, a young girl from Brooklyn, NY. It’s impossible to tell Dasani’s story without sharing the history of her parents, grandparents and great grandparents because all of their stories are inextricably bound to each other and the larger narrative of race in America. Journalist Andrea Elliott followed Dasani’s story for eight years, chronicling the realities of how families end up in NYC homeless shelters, an apathetic system filled with abuses of power and disregard for human dignity. Elliot’s assignment morphed into a deeper exploration of systemic racism through the lens of one family’s experience. Read a review on NPR
LoveStack may have been my favorite April Fool’s Day joke last week, and one of those jokes that leave you thinking “hey, that would actually be a great idea!”. I honestly thought this was real until I went to bed last night, and realized it was actually an April Fool’s joke. A dating app that pairs like-minded soulmates based on their reading preferences? Sign me up if I weren’t already married. Second place for April Fool’s jokes that should be a real thing is Martin’s Potato Rolls picnic pack.
An Easy Chili-Garlic Oil I’ve been enjoying making reels on Instagram even if everyone is lamenting the death of still images (it’s a free service, need I remind anyone who uses it). This recent video of my go-to flavor booster has record views of close to 6,000 and has been saved and shared far and wide. Give a watch, then make sure you’re never without in the pantry.
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