The Kickstarter Blog

KSR IRL: Jonathan Mann's 1,000th Song & Song-A-Day Album Release!

  1. Guest Recipe! Oma & Bella's Rugelach

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    Oma & Bella are two elderly Jewish women who live together in Berlin, where they spend most of their days telling funny stories, cooking traditional Eastern European Jewish food, reminiscing about times from their shared childhoods, and remembering the Holocaust, which they both survived in Germany.  Oma's granddaughter, Alexa, is a filmmaker and Berlin native who has chosen these two women as the subject for her first feature-length documentary. We couldn't help but fall in love with Oma & Bella from the moment we met them (in the project video, above), and since a lot of the film's themes — heritage, identity, memory — are brought to light through these ladies' skills in the kitchen, we wrote to Alexa hoping she could share a recipe with all of us.

    Lucky for us, she agreed to not only share Oma's recipe for rugelach, but to translate it from German to English! Also included are some screenshots of the documentary-in-progress, from the scene where Oma & Bella make the prized rugelach I can only assume all of us will be spending our Sunday afternoons making from here on out.

    Enjoy! And if this sounds good, remember that the rewards for Oma & Bella include everything from a thank you card with a cookie recipe inside to an Oma & Bella cookbook.

    Rugelach

    30-35 pieces

    Approximate time: 2-3 hours

    Dough:

    1 cup of crème fraiche
    2 and ¼ sticks of butter (Oma: “I don’t like to eat fat, so I usually bake with oil. But rugelachs need butter; you can taste and smell the difference.”)
    1 cube of dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons)
    4 well-packed cups of flour
    4 heaping tablespoons sugar
    3 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (can be substituted with vanilla extract)
    1 egg

    Filling Option 1: Marmalade

    2 egg yolks
    4 tablespoons of marmalade (can be any flavor; strawberry or apricot are recommended)
    ½ cup of coarsely chopped hazelnut

    Filling option 2: Chocolate

    2 egg yolks
    5 tablespoons of bittersweet cocoa powder
    ½ cup of brown sugar
    ½ cup of coarsely chopped hazelnuts

    For Dough:

    Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and vanilla sugar in processor until mixture is consistent. Add egg, butter and then creme fraiche. Mix until dough clumps together. Form dough into a ball and place in large bowl. Lightly dust with flour and cover with plastic. Place in refrigerator for a minimum of two hours.

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

    Roll out dough on floured work surface until thin (approximately half a centimeter).

    For Marmalade filling:

    Spread jam evenly on dough. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts evenly on top of Marmalade. Cut dough into approximately 30 long, narrow triangles. Roll each triangle starting with side farthest from the point. Place each rugelach on greased baking sheet, then brush tops with egg yolk. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Transfer rugelach to rack and let cool completely.

    For Chocolate filling: Sprinkle brown sugar, then cocoa powder, then hazelnuts evenly across the surface of the dough. Roll each triangle starting with side farthest from the point. Place each rugelach on greased baking sheet, then brush tops with egg yolk. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Transfer rugelach to rack and let cool completely.

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  2. Creator Q&A: Brandon & Wendy on The Epic Adventures of Princess Moonface

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    "The moon is one of the nine planets," my Chinese teacher once informed me. Needless to say, I did not learn much from her. Even though I can speak it, I've never really learned to read or write Chinese better than a six year old, which has caused problems when I've spent time in China. People treat you with a special kind of confusion and disdain when you are in your twenties and illiterate. 

    In my defense, Chinese is a particularly tricky language to try to learn, because it's not phonetic. Unlike French or Spanish or Korean, if you haven't sat down and literally memorized thousands of characters, you won't be able to read. Any kind of Chinese lessons I've begrudgingly attended in my youth used textbooks that were in 100% Chinese, which meant that if I didn't recognize a character, I would either have to ask someone what it meant or face the unique horror of dealing with a Chinese dictionary. 

    That's why I was excited to see Brandon Bailey and Wendy Yang Bailey's project, The Epic Adventures of Princess Moonface, which puts fun and artistry into learning Mandarin. It's a multimedia box set with an adorable graphic novel, CDs, workbooks and practice books. The narrative is about a spunky Chinese-American delivery girl in Queens, illustrated beautifully, using English, Chinese characters, and pinyin all together. We asked Wendy and Brandon to tell us a bit about their project.

    What were your experiences with learning Chinese? Why'd you decide to learn it in the first place?

    Brandon:  I've been working on learning Chinese ever since Wendy and I started dating 4 years ago.  I had always been curious about the culture, so I felt I was fairly motivated to learn. But after a few weeks of study I would loose motivation. I'm working now through Princess Moonface. Putting the book together has definitely helped me understand a lot more.

    Wendy: I'm half Chinese, born in Hong Kong and raised between Hong Kong and the States, so I'd been studying Mandarin on and off in school since I was a little kid. My Chinese is far from perfect, but as I got a little older my desire to become fluent grew.  

    So where did the idea of the story behind Princess Moonface come from? I'm curious about your decision to use Chinese-American characters and New York City as a backdrop, instead of, say, a fully Chinese character in China.

    W:  Princess Moonface grew over time from a cute little story that Brandon made up to a fully fleshed out adventure. At first we incorporated characters & events from our lives.  Mei has to save the moon before Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival, the same day that we got married. The white dog in the story is our dog. Lots of little things like that came together to create the world of Princess Moonface, but eventually the story took on a life of its own.  

    B: We're both from military families and moved around a lot as kids, and both ended up sort of settling down in Brooklyn for some time. Our familiarity with and love of  New York is really why we chose to set the story there. Flushing also has such a rich Chinese culture - lots of our favorite shops and restaurants are in Flushing, so we were there all the time. Going to Flushing always made it feel like a quick trip to Hong Kong was just one train ride away, kind of a home away from home for Wendy.  

    W:  We wanted to keep our protagonist, Mei, relatable to American (both Chinese-American and not) teenagers as well. We didn't want to dumb the series down by creating a This-Is-Life-In-China type of narrative. Diverse cultures abound in this country, a lot of people just forget to pay attention. 

    Your idea to use English, Chinese characters, and pinyin is pretty brilliant, I have to say. Why the hell hasn't this been done before?

    It actually has been done before, just not very well. There are plenty of bi-lingual books out there, they just aren't teaching you anything because you're left staring at the page trying to figure out how this:
      "Oh yeah, How did that go?" became this: “噢,对呀! 见面怎么样?
    Without further explanation, it doesn't really mean anything. Synchronous Translation is a full system that helps the reader understand how the language works. 

     In my own experiences with Mandarin learning books, I've never seen anything that comes close to having a compelling storyline or beautiful images. Why are these elements important for this project?

    Because learning Mandarin, or any language, is HARD! Self study is difficult too, so you really need as many reasons as possible to keep on track.  We think an engaging story and beautiful illustrations are just the thing.  We both come from creative backgrounds, so incredible illustrations and the overall look and feel of the book were essential elements. Qian Qian Liu is the illustrator, she's created a really appealing style that's a little softer and looser than traditional anime.

    I gotta ask. What's with the name "Moonface"?

    B: Well, Wendy has a beautiful round face.  

    W: Her circular face is something Mei is embarrassed of, at school some of the jerk kids call her "Moonface".  I think it's something a lot of Asian girls can be self-conscious about - my best friends and I used to always argue over which of us had the biggest/roundest/flattest face. (SPOILER ALERT) Mei eventually embraces her big face and is proud of the name that comes with it when she discovers that her mother is the Moon Goddess Chang-E .

    What are your plans for the future of the series?

    After this book (chapters 1 - 5) goes to print, we'll be finishing the series with books 2 - 4 (chapters 6 - 20). After that - who knows? There's potential to do something similar in other languages, or create more stories around Mei and Sam. A bi-lingual tv show that's not geared for the five-and-under crowd would be incredible!
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