We’re mid-way into January, and so far New England has seen a smattering of flurries. I’m not sure if we should all be concerned, but I’m enjoying the temperate enough weather and trying to get out as much as possible. I have an amaryllis that’s blooming which is a joy to watch, and a fresh bouquet of Irises.
I’ve been doing morning yoga every morning to start my day, and pairing with a liquid vitamin (MaryRuth’s Organic Liquid Morning vitamin.) I’m historically intermittent with vitamins, and not really sure they do much, but even the placebo in the winter is a nice ritual.
My stairwell and living room bathroom painting is done! The stairwell looks SO FRESH! (This unintentionally set off a saga with fire alarms, and another with a pup with an itchy eye; but we’re rolling with it!)
I went to the gym to participate in an off-session Barbell Betties, and lifted a back squat PR for myself unintentionally. It’s so nice to lift with barbells.
Acquisitions of note:
I “stocked up” on fresh undergarments. Friends with tatas, I’ve switched over almost exclusively to the True + Co Body Boost V Neck. (One of my yearly intentions was to continue with the undergarment refresh.)
I got myself a season pass to the Weston Ski Track, which is conveniently less than 11 minutes from my house, and offers night skiing! My first go was a little bit harrowing, as it’s been about 20 years since I last skied, and somehow I found myself in the MIDDLE OF A SKI RACE! I’m going to be taking a few lessons and looking forward to it.
I went to my friend Nat’s small business and friends mixer down the street. It included ice breakers (the best being – what piece of media have your recently enjoyed!) and a harmonica!
I went to a Female Founders and Funders event downtown at SVB. (Thank you Kristen and Meeta!) I also made it a point to connect with another founder in the same general space, and was kicking myself for not doing it sooner.
Good Reads: finished Ann Patchett’s lovely book The Dutch House. Took me about three years of audiobook to finish it, and still thinking about it. Picked up Danny Licht’s Cooking as Though You Might Cook Again, on Bettina’s recommendation list, which is a small and mighty little book to inspire you to cook and eat. Finally, a RomCom a month late – The Matzah Ballby Jean Meltzer – was delightful (and being turned into a film!)
Watched: Fire of Love– a National Geographic documentary on Disney+ about a pair of famous vulcanologists, Katia and Maurice Krafft. While I loved my geoscience and volcano research in college, I’m… also glad that I didn’t opt for a life of chasing live volcanos. (Their death is not a spoiler – you learn about it in the first 20 seconds of the film.) The footage is really quite remarkable.
Another great week in food! I’m still reading the 60-minute Gourmet Cookbook (Pierre Franey), Smitten Kitchen Keepers, and The Woks of Life. One of the fun things I did was crowdsource some favorite recipes from my Wellesley food people, so I’m compiling that into a list now. My Turkish recipe of the week was Kabak Tatlısı – a kind of candied pumpkin dessert. I also made myself a quality avocado toast.
Kabak Tatlısı: the recipe is very simple, you cut approximately 2 lbs. of pumpkin (or squash! I used a Japanese squash this time) into squares in a wide shallow pan. You cover with 8 ounces of sugar, about 1/4 pint of water, and the juice of half a lemon (I use a whole lemon because I like it lemony). Cover and poach gently for an hour, basting every ten minutes or so. I usually turn the pumpkin over mid way to make sure it’s all cooked. You then leave it to cool in the pan, and sprinkle with walnuts.
Sardines Rice Bowl with Tomatoes, Cucumber, Pickled Ginger, and Furikake I each a version of this regularly – it’s one of my most satisfying meals. Sometimes I use tuna, or salmon, but I truly adore sardines.
Broccoli with Blue Cheese and Balsamic, tossed in some leftover Chicken + Kebabs: I get addicted to a combination, and then can’t stop eating it. Broccoli, blue cheese, balsamic, and toasted walnuts (if you remember) is really a perfect combination. I find myself eating the entire bag of broccoli this way.
101 Cookbooks: Christmas Lima Stew– this is a truly stellar recipe, and I cook up Rancho Gordo Christmas limas. This time around, I was planning on cooking the soup the day of, but I ended up taking myself skiing at the last minute, so when I came home, I simply made all the ingredients into a bean salad! Celery, Caraway, Olives, Lemon, Parsley. All delish.
Two bolo cheese sandwiches with açili I picked up these Portuguese sweet breads, and ended up making myself a late night cheese sandwich. My neighbor had given me a jar of her tomato and pepper condiment from her garden in Turkey, and I’ve been hoovering it this week.
Baked Fish with Crunchy Miso Mayo + Green Salad with Honey Goat Cheese. I usually eat fish on Wednesdays when I get it fresh from my farm share. This time though was Red’s Best Skate wings from my freezer. (The goat cheese was from the event I went to.)
Chicken thighs with tomato and bulgur (riff on the chicken and rice dish in Smitten Kitchen Keepers) – I always love homey dishes like this that are sort of stove top casserole and low effort. I ended up cooking some leeks and garlic with smokey Rancho Gordo paprika, cumin, chicken thighs, and then tomato, little honey vinegar, and Turkish bulgur with vermicelli.
Another year, another excuse to go back to “Week One” – which is a satisfying way to start again and renew for the year. One things I try to do at the end of every week is a pause for gratitude – taking a moment to do a little review of the week, how I felt, and what I experienced. Every time I do this activity (*every* *single* *time*) I’m reminded just how many really lovely moments I’ve had.
I spent a little bit of time on “systems upgrades” – reviewing my “Let’s Eat” spreadsheet, adding new recipes to my list to try, reviewing my “list of lists“, my January Intentions
I’ve kept a movie watching spreadsheet since 2019 (and an unorganized Letterboxd of most everything I’ve watched) – but this week as a gift to myself, I made a to-watch movie list with options for my favorite genres – primarily classics that I’ve missed.
I ran my first 5k of the year – I’ve run the Needham New Year’s 5k maybe for the past decade? (This year I had to tie both shoelaces..)
My stairwell and living room bathroom are being freshly painted
I’ve gone to bed by 11:30, and woken each morning to do some yoga or lift (I’m not usually a morning movement person, but I realized that I could get in 20 minutes without disrupting my morning coffee and reading.
My ProHort gardening and horticulture class kicked off! Looking forward to getting my gardening to the next level. (I also “accidentally” acquired some dahlia tubers from Five Forks)
Acquisitions of note: I sprung for a month of Youtube premium to see if it makes a massive experience difference.
Good Reads: we kicked off the year with The Bodyguard – Katherine Center (very fun romcom), 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman (2021, 129 pages) – strongly recommend!
Watched: The Menu (HBO) if you like watching Chef’s Table and dark comedic violence, you’ll likely be mostly satisfied. Wasn’t perfect, but enjoyed.
Chopped off about 5 inches of hair! And now it’s swishy!
Ottolenghi Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Arak I’ve made this recipe maybe a dozen times over the past few years, and it’s always good. It’s also forgiving – you can swap different citrus out easily, and it’s a very simple recipe to make – you can marinate all the ingredients in a ziplock or even in the baking dish and just pop in the oven.
Cauliflower Gnocchi Deconstructed “Manti” (Turkish seasoned ground beef, yogurt sauce) I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi, and this makes me feel virtuous. You really simply season the ground beef (usually cumin, oregano, chile, or köfte seasoning). I air fried the gnocchi, and then tossed it in when the beef was done. You make a little yogurt sauce with some garlic to top it, and some more pepper on top.
Pierre Franey Mustard Mayo Flounder; leeks with red wine vinaigrette + tomato. Super simple mix of mustard, mayo, and parsley. You coat the fish and broil or bake. I had flounder from Red’s Best in my farm share. (The leeks were leftover from boiling a chicken over the weekend, and I made a red wine mustard vinaigrette to douse over everything.)
Pork Chops + Salad with Burrata, Tomato, Avocado, Dill Dressing. The air fryer makes perfect pork chops every time. (8 minutes or so at 390 and I let rest.) Big salad of everything in the fridge. Trader Joe’s vegan dill dressing.
Lemony Shrimp + Bean stew with Christmas limas and Argentinian red shrimp from TJs, lemon parsley + sour cream. This is a great stew base recipe! You really want to add extra lemon and parsley at the end.
Also this week? I remembered how easy it is to make good popcorn in the microwave?
It’s here! I’ve been doing a Q1 reading list for the past several years that has somehow turned more into a book list for the whole year. (I have a lot of holdovers from last year that I’m keeping on here.) You can take a look through previous years here: (2022) (2021) (2020) (2017) (summer 2010) (Summer 2014) (Fall Cookbooks 2011)
Having a reading list helps me make decisions about getting in quality reading without falling into decision making slumps. I aim to have a large percentage of my reading written by women, POC, and international writers; and typically read a handful of Man Booker short list titles. I typically make a list of my favorite categories, and then will supplement or swap as I find reading that calls out to me.
I make room for the synchronicity of just picking up any random title, but I always have a backup!
One thing that I’ve learned after a lifetime of reading: it really helps me to have series that I can blow through – long books that don’t require me to continuously learn about a new world and a new set of characters, as well as a smattering of very easy read books (usually middle grade fantasy, or RomCom) – things I can read reliably for a half hour or hour before bed even after an exhaustive day.
A few notes and observations:
Audio Books: yes, I definitely count audiobooks as reading. I process information better when on my walks and runs, and thus prefer listening to memoirs or non-fiction this way. It’s also easier for me to stay engrossed and follow along while I’m moving physically.
Don’t forget FOOD! For the past several years, I read almost zero food memoirs, literature, or history – some of my favorite topics. So I made this one of my kitchen resolutions this year! (Again.) I’m also re-reading cookbooks.
The library is your friend. While I always try to support local book stores – I’m also a huge fan of my local library – grabbing things off the Speed Read Shelf is my jam. Plus you can leave with a large stack and it always feels like I’ve won something. (You can also get Kindle books from the library through Libby. Having a list allows me to put more things on hold, because sometimes there’s a longer wait.)
As always, still working my way through my list of Personal Leadership Development Books, and the BBC Big Read. I also read quite a few business books for work – whatever I need to expand my ideas and sharpen my skills.
I’m always interested in reading things that stoke great minds. I read for entertainment, to rest, to inspire, learn, and to stoke my curiosity. Whenever I listen to a podcast episode, I’m always curious about what kinds of things the guest is reading (particularly when the book is completely outside of their topic, or very niche in their topic.)
New: I’m trying to engage with my reading more by reading criticism, and more importantly, writing.
Categories to choose from: (I often choose outside these, but I find that when I’m in the mood for a particular feeling, it breaks down by this type of category.)
Book Categories I Enjoy:
Fantasy (Adult, YA Fantasy, Middle Grade)
Scandinavian Crime (or Noir crime in general)
Fiction (catch all)
Memoir (particularly: comedy, leadership, business or political)
Non-Fiction (Psychology, philosophy)
Nature (and generally Science Writing)
Work (Product Management, People Management, Sales)
Every year I sit down and make some resolutions for the kitchen. Given that food is one of my favorite sources of joy, novelty, and connection, it’s a favorite practice of mine to spend a little bit of time making this space more useful, and my time spent in the kitchen more meaningful. Having people around my table (even figuratively) is how I show love, and bring people together – and although we can’t do much of that these days, I’m thankful to be able to take the time to feed myself well.
I’ve been writing these resolutions for more than a decade, and some of them pop up year after year – affirm doing good things that work – and a handful are new each year. You can take a peek through previous years here: (2012) (2016) (2017) (2018) (2019) (2020) (2022)
Re-Commit to Consistent Kitchen Habits:
Particularly the habits that keep me consistent in other areas of my life. I find that most things in my life depend on me eating well.
Weekly Meal Planning: one of my home court habits in my “Let’s Eat” spreadsheet. I also make a weekly Evernote note with my shopping list on there as well.
Update my “Anytime Shopping List” ie: regular groceries list (favorites, protein, don’t leave the store without this!) — got a head start!
Update my “New Recipes To Try” list (with at least 52 stellar recipes for the year and beyond); and a weekly Turkish recipe
AND: Dishes cleaned before bed, coffee maker set. Coffee cup next to the coffee maker, ready to take on the day. (After a year + without a working dishwasher, this is now so much easier with a working one! Another reminder to tackle nagging tasks!)
While some people find a perfectly spotless and minimalist kitchen ideal; I actually need to be able to see appliances or pantry items in order to be inspired to use them.
Do a systems audit for blockages
Make what I want to use more obvious
(New) Schedule a quarterly KITCHEN PURGE.
Quest for Best:
This is one of my personal values – I get a lot of satisfaction out of keeping track of the “best of”, like your own neighborhood consumer reports.
Do a pantry audit, and re-stock pantry with “best of” items, update my spreadsheet
Seek novelty: Bean of the Month Club, Spice Club, new item at Trader Joe’s or one new item at Formaggio each trip! (NEW: Noma R+D club shipments, an Omsom Everything box.)
• Get your knives sharpened. Just do it! (China Fair does it for a dollar) • Review storage containers for more sustainable options • Re-Read a classic cookbook every month • Read more food writing (and memoirs) – added to reading list!
AND: Write a new travel (and local!) bucket list of restaurants. (Currently in my Ideas Doc)
Make Memories in the Kitchen
Update Friends + Family Favorite List so I can cook in honor of my people and think about them (or cook for them!) If I haven’t solicited some from you, drop your favorites in the comments for me!
Monthly: Update Seasonal Favorite Cooking List (in my Ideas Doc)
Monthly: Update my list of “Big Cooking Projects” (in my Ideas Doc)
Zoom Cooking classes with friends! (In 2021, I had a great time taking a truffle making course, and a Lamb Biryani from Pondicheri – looking forward to choosing a few great options to take with friends and family!)
NEW: Pick two signature cooking gifts (something to perfect and send to people)
NEW: “The Weekly Bean” – I have a subscription to the Rancho Gordo Bean Club that leaves me with a very large stash of beans to eat. I aim for a bag a week. I was very inspired by a picture in the Rancho Gordo Bean Club facebook group of a woman who had a nice running list in a bullet journal of her weekly beans.
At the end of December, I spend a few weeks in self review mode. I spend a lot of time thinking about what went well, what didn’t, and dreaming up what I want to improve. It’s part gratitude, part exploratory, part strategy. I write about my full process here.
I make it a point to look through my entire roll of photos (I take many!) and one of the most fun parts of my review is simply writing out a list of all the food that I’ve eaten. (This isn’t as difficult as it seems, because I keep regular journals, a “let’s eat!” spreadsheet, and meal plans for just about everything.) Since the pandemic upped my delivery frequency, I look through my various apps for a history of what I ordered from where as well.
Making a grand old list of food is a wonderful way for me to re-live a great meal. It also helps me to expand on what I’d like to eat in the new year and is a great way to help me meal plan. I start seeing patterns (you’ll notice a lot of butter chicken). (You can see last year’s list here.)
One day I aspire to write a kitchen diary cookbook as robust as Nigel Slater’s, or something like Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year. For now, there’s this list!
In 2023, I’m hoping to be a little bit more creative in the kitchen! More recipes, more projects, more cooking with friends and family. More Turkish cooking. (I’ll be working on my kitchen resolutions this week – but here’s the 2022 version.)
It’s broken down a few different ways: Good Things I’ve cooked (very few recipes, but when I use them, they are linked). WeCo Meals (a local prepped meal delivery service) gets it’s own long section this year. Good Takeout (roughly once a week). A section for treats eaten at any time. And a miscellaneous section at the bottom.
I’m sure I’m missing lots of things in here, but here’s the non-exhaustive list:
WeCo has absolutely saved me for the better part of the year. I lived for a LONG time without a working dishwasher, and having prepared and delicious “home cooked” food was a lifesaver. Bolded some of my favorites! Most times I’d order a dinner and a kid’s meal for lunch the next day, or split a meal over two lunches. I’ll note that WeCo’s vegetarian and pescatarian meals are *awesome*.
One other thing to note: from the end of March for many months, I experienced a near total loss of taste from COVID for some time, and dampened for several more months. I was mildly afraid to cook lest I burn the house down, and gravitated towards as bright colors and textures as I could. (WeCo totally delivered!)
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