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.
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!)
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.
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.
I’d like to commit to an hour a day reading throughout November. This means an hour a day that I’m not spending watching television. (Caveat that books on tape count, in my book.)
I read fiction to escape. Particularly Swedish mysteries, young adult novels, and other fast paced books. I also like literature that makes me think critically. I like the hard stuff, but it takes me a while to get through.
I read to learn. I read to grow.
I read nonfiction business books, because for every book I read, I latch on to a golden nugget, and drive myself into action.
I like the blog the millions. Do you know it?
For the past several years, I’ve used Goodreads.com to organize my reading. Today I re-organized my shelves with some inspiration from a few friends. I added several categories including business, design, psychology, tech startups, and writing. I also added two categories for female and male authors. My goal is to have the tally swing towards female authors by the end of the year.
Tonight I have a date with #Girlboss before I go to bed. What are you reading?
It’s a wet travel day on my way to Texas, and while I’ve finally arrived in the Lone Star State, unfortunately, I’ve arrived in the wrong city, and we’re currently sitting outside the gate waiting for a new pilot to get us from Austin to Houston. I spent a good long while chuckling as the gate manager has been ever so politely dealing with my fellow passengers, but there are oh so many times you can listen to someone say “I’m sorry ma’am, I really can’t control the weather,” and then continue to get berated by a irate traveler without starting to feel a little crazy yourself. So I thought this would be a good time to talk to you about some of the great books I’ve been reading lately!
At the end of the month I finished an early galley copy of Jess Fechtor’s Stir, and last night I had the pleasure of attending her spectacular author event at the Harvard Bookstore.
I’ve been reading her blog Sweet Amandine for nearly as long as I’ve been writing at The Second Lunch. We started writing the same month in 2009, albeit for very different reasons. I was feeling very lonely in my new city, San Francisco, and she was finding something to do after a devastating brain aneurism left her very, very sick. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time that I started reading her blog, and it wouldn’t be until much later that she started sharing more with the world. (Incidentally, I started reading her new blog in 2009 because she was writing about food from Boston, and I missed New England. It’s been delightful seeing this book come into fruition!)
Her book, which I worked through in one whirlwind sitting (I didn’t get up for five hours) is spectacular. Beautifully written, will make you cry, AND there are recipes! Go read it!
I’d also like to say that as a book lover, the amount of people who came to this event gave me ALL of the warm and fuzzies. But duly deserved, because Jess is just as lovely in real life as she is on the Internet.
West Coast friends! She’ll be speaking at Omnivore Books on July 16th! Go!
In Fiction, I just recently finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, another book that I’d held off on for absolutely no reason other than I thought that the popular obsession couldn’t possibly be warranted. I was wrong. It’s a great book!
A few other titles on my bookshelf include Americanah, and Jonathan Galassi’s Muse.
And of course by the end of this travel debacle, I’ll likely have finished the ENTIRE 530 pages of All The Light We Cannot See. I’m on page 363, and I started this morning after take off, after picking it up on a whim for David Leite’s new book club. I had absolutely no idea what the book was about before starting, and it hooked me from the first 10 pages.
Hello! We are in full springtime mode here in New England. Things are starting to feel right again. I’ve been walking everywhere as much as possible, riding around the city with Hubway (Boston’s bike share program), wandering, and exploring. My weekends have been consumed mostly with cooking, reading books, and triathlon training, which is pretty much exactly how I want a weekend to be spent.
This week, instead of dreary lunch hours, I ate out with co-workers – a lobster roll eaten on the greenway! – grabbed a green juice with lemon at The Juicery, went for several brisk walks, listened to podcasts, met a friend for a Pimento cheese at the Clover truck, and picked up a new library book (Amarcord, by Marcella Hazan). It just feels so good to be able to be outside and doing things again.
Now, cookbooks. Where shall we start? First, I must mention that I won a contest that has left me rich in tea, teapots, and olive oil, rice, and generally speaking a number of California goodies. After pre-ordering my friend Annelies’ new cookbook Steeped, all about cooking with tea, I entered a raffle with the publisher, Andrews McMeel, and won! The cookbook is really just as lovely as I expected it to be. Shiny and pretty on the outside (it would make a great gift), it’s full of unexpected tea related recipes – including many dishes that I’ve book marked to try: Earl Grey Yogurt Parfaits, Chamomile Corn Chowder, Forbidden Chai Horchata, Cauliflower steaks with tea umami sauce, and California tea leaf salad to name a few.
Fortified with my new tea stash, and after several triathlon classes (a duathlon last weekend, and a sprint tri this weekend) as one does?!, I spent the rest of my past few weekends reading through several of my new acquisitions.
The top of the stack there is my friend Adeline’s new cookbook: Global Meatballs. We met in San Francisco, just around the time that she started working for Tartine bakery. Which, on that note, did you see the news a few weeks ago about the Tartine and Blue Bottle deal? I must admit that I was gobsmacked. Adeline’s blog, Kitchen Roots, highlights her vegetable forward cooking style, and is a total pleasure to read. She has a lot of paleo and generally dairy-free recipes, but the focus is on vegetables! Which, of course, go particularly well with the dinner-time favorite: meatballs! Some of the recipes I put in my notes to try include the lamb meatballs with baked yogurt sauce, pistachio lamb meatballs with sweet and sour pomegranate glaze (I really love lamb!), and Scandinavian fiskeboller. There are actually a large selection of vegetarian balls in here as well. Good stuff!
Vegetables really have been at the top of mind, because I took the plunge and re-signed up for my favorite work-share farm CSA again this year. Unlike the urban CSAs where a sanitized box is dropped off at your house, this farm requires that you actually come *pick* about half of your weekly (or bi-weekly share). While I don’t really have the time or resources to garden on a regular basis, I’ve been yearning for time spent in the dirt. I’ve already started stocking up on Ziplocks, pyrex, old yogurt containers, and plastic bags to deal with my forthcoming haul. In anticipation of a glut of vegetables, I read through Sarah Britton’s My New Roots, and have been thrilled with the truly phenomenal a modern way to eat by Jamie Oliver protegé Anna Jones. It’s currently making the rounds on the food blogs, and for good reason. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this cookbook.
And finally, one last book to note: the brand new Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule. Cheryl is an internet friend who I was longing to meet in real life – and finally had the pleasure to last week on her book tour! This was another first for me – I finally made my way in to Boston’s very own cookbook shop – Farm & Fable. (Long story short, before working in startups in Boston, my dream had been to open my own cookbook store – when Farm & Fable managed to beat me to it. I had spent a year fretting about going in, thinking that I might have a meltdown, but not only was it lovely, but now I can’t even be grumpy anymore, because Abby Ruettgers, the owner, is pretty much the best.) If you like yogurt, you must buy this book.
I occasionally link to products using affiliate links, including Amazon. I get a small commission if you purchase something from that link and this helps cover hosting costs (I use DreamHost and have been a happy customer since 2009). Thank you for supporting The Second Lunch!