This weekend, we drove into Boston to take Bertram to the French Bulldog Meetup at Peter’s Park, and hang with my friend Melissa and her pup Bentley. If you haven’t seen dozens of French Bulldogs having a total snort fest; well… it’s an experience! What I lack in extroverted-ness, this little dude makes up for as quite the social butterfly. He makes human and canine friends pretty much every where he goes.
Aside from my role as Bertram’s human, life these past few months has been overwhelmed by business ownership work-mode, a big family loss (my grandmother passed away), and the general craziness of spring time. It’s been hard to sit down to make time for reading, but in a re-commitment to self-care, I made a concerted effort to do so. Here’s a snapshot of my weekend reading.
My friend Traca turned me on to the author Dorie Clark, and I’ve been diving into her writing on marketing, branding, and thought leadership. She’s highly prolific on the internet, but I’m a fan of hardcover, so I picked up her 2015 best seller – Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. I have a bit of an elevator pitch problem as a Jill of All Trades, and have been trying to improve my own messaging around what I do and who I can help – lots of nuggets of wisdom in this one to set me further down the right path.
Truthfully it has been more than a few months since being able to really curl up and dive into a new cookbook, but I’ve been lucky to read my way through two incredible ones over the past few weeks that I can’t not mention here. Both fall into the long-anticipated cookbook category, and neither have disappointed.
The first – Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life – is an incredible team effort by Emily Thelin, featuring Paula‘s incredible life story and recipes, compiled by Toni Tajima, edited by Andrea Nguyen, and shot by Eric Wolfinger. Over a year ago I backed the project on Kickstarter, and had been waiting patiently for it to arrive. (In the mean time, in anticipation, I managed to score a dozen or more Turkish cookbooks from Paula’s own collection which she’s been paring down on eBay…)
Part biography – part recipe book greatest hits; Unforgettable is my favorite type of cookbook – one that I can sit down and read like a novel, featuring tried and true dish inspiration that connects deeply with time and place. The biography gripping – as a pioneer of middle eastern and mediterranean cookbooks, Paula has long been one of my heroes. Her cookbooks are almost all on my shelves, and yet in each page of Unforgettable I learned so much more – from her persistent reinvention, to her struggles with early onset Alzheimer’s. Truly thankful to Emily and team – this book is a gem. (As is Paula – if you aren’t following her on Twitter, you should be!)
The second – is Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering The Elements of Good Cooking, which I’ve been waiting patiently for since she’d come bounding into Omnivore around seven years ago telling me all about how she was going to write this cookbook, scheming, and dreaming.
Now, I’m actually fairly certain we had one such conversation in November of 2010, right around the time that I was working with my friend Karen on her cookbook Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It because in that conversation I was so amazed by her energy and enthusiasm that I distinctly remember going home feeling empowered and writing the ENTIRE outline, syllabus, and recipe index for my Turkish cookbook. Which.. of course is sitting in my Google Docs.. and hasn’t been written yet. Alas, c’est la vie!
But I mention this not to feel sorry for myself, but because seven years is quite a long time to wait for a cookbook, but this book does in fact, live up to the wait.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is part textbook (in the best way possible), part master recipe guideline and inspiration. And filled with Wendy MacNaughton’s cheeky hand drawn illustrations. The entire first half of the book is Samin being Samin – an incredible teacher and guide, with infectious enthusiasm for food, good cooking, and good eating. While I consider myself an adept cook, each section was filled with new easy ways to think about cooking – written in a manner that would teach and inspire novice and expert alike. How she *actually* manages to pull this off, I have no idea – this is so hard to do and it’s brilliant. (You’ll likely want to grab a copy, and go ahead and buy a second one to give to someone as a gift.)
And most importantly for me it provided a wealth of inspiration for this week’s meal plan! The best reminders from the book this week – the power of salt – and how important it is to salt your food early. In two weeks, it’s changed my habits completely – and the food all tastes more delicious.
:: The Weekly Meal Plan : Week of May 21st, 2017 ::
This week’s prep: hard boiling eggs for snacks. I bought myself a new gadget – despite committing to avoiding the purchase of uni-tasking – a bright turquoise Dash Go Egg Cooker. Cute, no?
Fitness and nutrition: I’m heading into week 4 of my online fitness bootcamp; going strong! We follow a carb cycling plan, which focuses on timing meals to match our training days to ensure we are eating enough to support our fitness levels to allow for both fat loss and muscle gain. It’s a more mindful way of eating to support athleticism.
Sunday: Braised beef, tiny baby potatoes, and sprouts. This meat and potatoes dinner is the ultimate comfort food. (Cheat sheet: buy the Braised Beef with Demi Glace from Trader Joe’s. It’s divine.)
Monday (low carb): Samin’s citrus salmon, avocado salad, and steamed broccoli. I get wild salmon, either frozen sockeye, or if the fresh catch looks good and is on sale, treat myself to King salmon.
Tuesday (low carb): Samin’s glazed five-spice chicken + bright Asian slaw. I’m always a sucker for five spice.
Wednesday: Turkish taskebab with tomato rice. This is a family favorite – a meaty tomato-ey braised stew.
Thursday: Jamie Oliver’s Aegean Kakavia. Fish stew from his travels cookbook. As we creep onto summer, I find myself consistently craving Mediterranean food.
Friday: I have a credit to Sweetgreen; I’m likely to pick up a salad; but honestly, I’m treating Friday like a free spot this week.
Saturday: out! We’ll be at a wedding. Bonus, they’ll have Middle Eastern catering, which is pretty much my jam.
We’ve launched ourselves well into spring here in New England. This winter was only moderately oppressive, but still, when the days become warmer, I always feel massive relief. I can breathe again. This weekend I went to my first Red Sox game of the season – a perfect 80 degree day with seats in the shade. The stadium was filled with what felt like the entire population of Chicago rooting for their Cubs. We sat in a sea of cheering Cubs fans, as our multiple run head start was wasted. They caught up and then hit after hit we fell behind, and ended up losing 7-4. I would have been sadder for the loss, but the game was good, both teams played with zest, the stadium was packed, and the air was warm with a breeze. A great day for baseball.
This coming week is a full one, and to get a head start, I’m sitting on a Sunday planning out my meals. In the spirit of springtime, I’ve made a short list of things I’d like to eat.
spring vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, celery root, leeks, scallions, spinach herbs: tarragon, parsley, chives, dill
spring fruits: mango, passion fruit, strawberries
recipes of note: a second batch of Nom Nom Paleo’s matcha gummies, the stunning Gjelina strawberry rhubarb polenta crisp
:: The Weekly Meal Plan : Week of April 30th, 2017 ::
This week’s prep: hard boiling eggs for snacks. I have a tray of wilted fennel salad to incorporate for the first few days of the week, and green beans, and leftover beef tenderloin. I have some kabocha and cauliflower rice in the freezer that I’d like to use up.
Fitness and nutrition: For the next six weeks I’ve started a new training cycle opting for an online boot camp to keep my fitness level up until triathlon and racing season start. We follow a carb cycling plan, which focuses on timing meals to match our training days to ensure we are eating enough to support our fitness levels to allow for both fat loss and muscle gain. It’s a more mindful way of eating to support athleticism. While my normal meal planning balances macronutrients more generally, when I’m carb cycling, I’ll have lower carb days on more cardio focused fitness days, and higher carb days when doing heavier strength training, which I’ve noted below in my meals. (If you have questions about carb cycling, feel free to ask!)
Sunday: salmon, roasted potatoes, and green beans. Mostly leftovers, I’ve been picking up frozen wild salmon from Trader Joe’s to keep for days that I don’t have time to shop.
Monday (low carb): stir fried chicken thighs, with sliced leeks, mushroom, and asparagus. Getting several seasonal vegetables in at once.
Tuesday (low carb): cobb salad with avocado, chicken sausage, tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon, and lime vinaigrette. It has finally become warm enough for salad for dinner!
Wednesday: pork bolognese over spiraled carrots. Grabbed a batch of spiralized carrots from the Trader Joe’s freezer section to test out.
Thursday: ground beef and beans. Usually topped with an egg.
Friday: leek and cauliflower frittata.
Saturday: out! We’ll likely head up to Maine for some lobster for the Coloradan house guest to get her summer time fix.
I added a new list to my list of lists this week: one of my kitchen resolutions for this year – a thousand new fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, stretching both my culinary chops, shopping habits, foraging opportunities, and encouraging and indulging my travel bug. I suppose this is more of a lifelong quest to eat with curiosity. I don’t exactly plan on trying a thousand new foods this year, but hopefully I’ll get a good start. Game, on!
The full list (or at least the start!) is here.
Have you gone on any epic culinary quests? Traveled the world to try a new food? I want to hear about it!
Well yes, it’s that time of year again! I’ve spent the better part of the weekend taking stock of my kitchen resolutions – really, the only resolutions I make each year!
Some of my 2016 and previous years’ kitchen resolutions included:
:: to use my large/fancy appliances more often (done!)
:: to do a weekly assessment of fresh produce in my refrigerator (done, and was significantly less wasteful!)
:: to cull the pantry (did a decent fridge cull, pantry is still overwhelmed)
:: to take better care of my cast iron (nope, yikes!)
:: to not use the wrong lid on the wrong pot (learned my lesson and stuck with it)
:: to not season directly into the pan (took this one to heart!)
:: to read my new cookbooks cover to cover before buying several more (fail)
:: to wash all dishes and wipe down counters before going to bed each night (mostly)
:: to keep a running kitchen journal (for the most part, electronically this year)
In 2017, I’m doing things a little differently. My word of the year is share, and so this year I’m focusing my kitchen activities on content creation. I thought it would be a good year to get a head-start on two of my cookbooks that I’d like to write. I’ve had these bubbling for the past decade, and thought that it’s a good time as any to get crackin’.
This year I’d like to write two cookbook proposals – one for a Turkish cookbook with family recipes and a love letter to Istanbul, and another for an everyday eating cookbook, in the style of Nigel Slater, Anna Jones, or the Leon cookbook.
Create two seasonal healthy cooking e-books – with meal plans to take advantage of the seasonal bounty, fresh produce storage tips, easy dinner ideas, and suggested pantry upgrades.
Continue with my weekly meal planning – I was quite consistent in 2016 writing my meal plans, and I’d like to continue the trend. I’d like to write more about how I go through the process of meal planning, the resources that I use, and how I simplify the process of making weeknight meals.
I’d like to start eating my way through some restaurant bucket list restaurants – as part of an overall goal to start traveling more. Since moving back from California, I can count my exquisite dining experiences on about one hand these days. We’re not talking all Michelin, but really experiencing the work of some notable chefs and global cuisine to continue my lifelong education in food.
Start working my way through at least 100 new fruits and vegetables – and come up with my list of 1000 to try. This is more complicated living in New England, but it occurred to me that I’ve been lacking in novel food experiences lately and need a good place to start. I’m going to be compiling a list by sitting down with Elizabeth Schneider’s Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables, Alice Waters’ fruit and vegetable tomes, Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, and some of my River Cottage Guides, and researching vegetables and fruits unique to specific global cuisines in some of my regional cuisine specific cookbooks that I already own.
Write out a list of challenging cooking experiments to try, and add in a good weekend cooking project at least once a month. My default in the kitchen is quick weeknight meals, and there are some great projects that I’m missing out on.
A short list of cookbooks that I already own and love that I’d like to re-read and cook a recipe from this year:
January – 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer
February – Zuni Cafe by Judy Rodgers
March – The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson
April – French Feasts by Stéphane Reynaud
May – The Italian Baker by Carol Field
June – Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen
July – Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
August – Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
September – The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert
October – My New Orleans by John Besh
November – Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji
December – Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan
Do you have any kitchen resolutions this year?
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I am a voracious reader. One of my favorite ways to transition to a new season is to making myself a list of great books to read. I see it as a personal syllabus – you are what you read (and subsequently act upon). The syllabus in itself is a great art – What do I want to learn? Who is the best person to teach it to me? Whose words will inspire me to act? I usually sit down with a list of topics that I’d like to delve into, and take great pleasure in searching for the perfect book to add. I’ll take a second look over my list to make sure that I have representation by women and POC’s.
Here’s what is on my list in the coming months. A few are re-reads related to projects I’m working on, another note is that I don’t typically list out my cookbooks, and I read dozens of them a season. I typically use this as a starting point for requesting books from the library, and usually manage to squeeze in a handful of last minute un-planned reads as well. After each read, I spend just a little bit of time debriefing: writing out my takeaways, and acknowledging the things that resonated and piqued my curiosity.
We Should All Be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi
Couple Skills: Making Your Relationship Work
by Matthew McKay
The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy
by Lewis Howes
Personal Kanban: Mapping Work Navigating Life
by Jim Benson and Tonianne Berry
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
by Oliver Sacks
H is for Hawk
by Helen Macdonald
Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook
by Dana Velden
by Marcus Samuelsson
Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa
by Haruki Murakami
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
by Simon Sinek
The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success
by Darren Hardy
The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity
by Ryan Holiday
Designing Your Life: Build a Life that Works for You
by William Burnett
Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley
by Antonio Garcia Martinez
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez
Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
by Angela Duckworth
A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life
by Brian Grazer
Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want
by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
Shaping Success (dog training)
by Susan Garrett
What are you reading this winter?
Is there anything brilliant that I should add to my list?