Good Things 2020: Week 19

If we can clear the air with the Pandemic, all the terrible things going on in this world, and 2020 just being a general dumpster fire – without further ado, I’ll jump back into my regularly scheduled Good Things posts for 2020.

Spring Tulips

Good Things: an acknowledgement of things that are working well, the little things I’ve noticed, moments that I’ve paused to savor. A combination of my weekly wins, gratitude practice, curiosity and observation.

Good Things Week 19:

I’m kicking off the warmer months with a new fitness challenge – the #GVRAT1000k virtual race across Tennessee. It ends up being about 5 miles a day roughly of walking and running, so not too far off from my usual distance, but still an admirable challenge. One of the things I’m going to enjoy is learning more about the state of Tennessee as I go. I have a couple of thematic audio books lined up. For anyone curious about the genesis of this race, it’s put on by these folks. (Recommended watching.) I’ve taken quite a bit of pleasure heading outside and watching spring unfold.

{Good Reading}

This week, I’ve taken to working through finishing half read or listened books on my Kindle/Audible over the past few weeks. I had a good chuckle when I found myself with Radical Focus (Christina Wodtke), Radical Candor (Kim Scott), and Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach) all on the docket.

I’m currently loving Arlan Hamilton’s new book It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage.

Embracing Re-Reading: Last year, my focus was on both reading and watching new to me books and films, rather than re-reads as a way to inspire, intrigue, and shake up my routine. With the general progression of 2020, I switched to seeking comfort where I knew it would could be found: my evening reading shifted largely to re-reading my favorite stand-bys. (This coping strategy was well honed from seasons of finals periods in high school and college, when I’d switch back to re-reading for comfort.)

In Fiction over the past few weeks, I finished my epic re-listening journey of all the Harry Potter books – the ones read by Stephen Fry (not Jim Dale). I then moved onto a re-listen of Garth Nix’s Sabriel, one of my fantasy favorites. Not everything was old hat: I also read Leigh Bardugo’s The Ninth House, and have commenced Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch.

{Good Eats}

My cooking has been relatively simple – things that require really limited prep time, mostly a minute or two of chopping and then roast in the pan, or that have developed flavor by a long bath in a marinade. In added kitchen excitement, I treated myself to a long-desired Thermapen in my favorite yellow. One of the best tools in your kitchen.

This week in good meals:

  • Chicken thighs with Elotes, tomato salad with lime and cilantro. (pictured above) – cheat’s special with Trader Joe’s Mexican Corn from the freezer section.
  • Herby chicken, ramen, and garlic yogurt sauce. Ive become a fan of Trader Joes savory herb chicken thighs – they have a nice woodsy-mint taste. I served them on fresh ramen from Valicenti pasta company, with a garlic-yogurt sauce.
  • Rancho Gordo Vaquero Beans – my bean pot of the week. I cooked these simply with a few bay leaves and some garlic cloves. Looking forward to my next Bean Club shipment!
  • Greek-style three ways: one of my favorite combinations is the Greek tray bake with potato, tomato, and whatever protein you are using. I did this three separate times. Pork chops with fennel, potatoes, and tomato; a second time as Greek Fish with Tomato, and a third as Chicken with lemon, tomato and potato. There’s not much I like more than a good tray bake and these flavor combinations.
  • Lamb chops roasted over potato. My fennel and cumin seeds have been doing overtime this week. I ate the dinner with a trio of sauces: garlic aioli, shaved truffle mustard, and seafood cocktail sauce (because I’m classy.)
  • Cuban pork tenderloin with lime and grapefruit marinade over cauliflower chimichurri rice. The marinade is perfection: olive oil, lime, grapefruit and white vinegar with garlic. I’m not strict about the proportions, but the original recipe is one for Chuletas de Puerco from the Versailles Cookbook that my mom uses quite frequently. It’s just so good.
  • Banana Curry Fish over rice with lime. Another comfort food that reminds me of my mom’s kitchen. It’s a super simple combo of butter, bananas, and curry powder.

Odds and Ends:

  • Morning Coffee. Black. On my little second floor porch. (See above. Big mug thanks to the folks at SurveyMonkey.)
  • A large bowl of broccoli, beans and pesto. Looked virtuous, tasted delicious. When summer comes along I tend to make my own pesto, but until the plants are copious, I buy Bear Pond Farm from Whole Foods.
  • Naan with really good hummus, soft boiled egg, and tomato. Or a second iteration with hummus and the above pesto.
  • A bowl of soaked oats with milk and seville orange jam. I needed to finish up the last few spoons of jam, and this seemed like a worthy pairing. (It was.)
  • Really good popcorn. It’s absurdly easy to make good popcorn at home. I usually don’t even bother to stove-top – I just microwave a few spoonfuls dry in a large pyrex with a heavy plate on top.

With this, I conclude this week’s Good Things. Let me know what you’ve been up to – I’ll be back for more. Of course before we part ways: I’d be remiss to send you off without your weekly Bertram. This little buddy turned FIVE last month. He’s the happiest dude. <3 Here’s to a good week.

2020 Q1 Reading Ideas

Sam Tackeff 2018 Personal Development Reading

Coming off of a great year of reading (who would have guessed, 2019?), I’ve been keeping up the momentum with a list of books to start with in 2020. 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. I typically make a list, request books from the library a few at a time, and then will supplement or swap as I find reading that calls out to me. 

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! Last year 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!

The library is your friend. Grabbing things off the Speed Read Shelf is my jam. I aim for one a week. Not two, because I can never finish two in 7 days and will get fined. (Plus, if I have a list, I can reserve things in advance.) 
Still working my way through my list of Personal Leadership Development Books, and the BBC Big Read. 

Here are some of my next reads (vaguely categorized):

YA fiction

  • VE Schwab – Villains Series
  • Tomi Adeyemi – Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) 
  • S.A. Chakraborty – The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy) 

Leadership / Business:

  • Marshall Goldsmith – What you got there won’t get you here 
  • Dr. Spencer Johnson – Who Moved my Cheese?
  • Danny Meyer – Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
  • Tom DeMarco – Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams
  • Bill Aulet – Disciplined Entrepreneurship

Mindfulness / Brains:

  • Dr. Oliver Sacks – Musicophilia 
  • Nicholas Cook – Music, A Short Introduction
  • B.J. Fogg – Tiny Habits
  • Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk – The Body Keeps the Score
  • Jenny Odell – How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
  • Louise Aronson – Elderhood
  • Bill Bryson – The Body, A Guide for Occupants

Audio Books:

  • Ann Patchett – The Dutch House
  • Dr. Jen Gunter – The Vagina Bible
  • Kate Moore – The Radium Girls
  • Casey Cep – Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

BBC Big Read (1-100, 101-200)

  • Joseph Heller – Catch 22
  • Sebastian Faulks – Birdsong
  • Louisa May Alcott – Little Women

Memoirs / Non-fiction Reporting 

  • Patrick Radden Keefe – Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
  • Bill Browder – Red Notice
  • American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind

Books Started But Unfinished 

  • Atul Gawande – Being Mortal
  • H is for Hawk
  • Yuval Harari – Sapiens 
  • Philip Pullman – The Secret Commonwealth (done!)

Others to get to if I get to them: 

  • Joe Biden – Promise Me Dad
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates – The Water Dancer
  • Rebecca Solnit – A Field Guide to Getting Lost
  • Sally Rooney – Normal People 
  • Alex Michaelides – The Silent Patient

Anything great on your reading list? Do you keep a list?

Good Things 2019: Week 52

With our year coming to a close, one of my favorite cozy winter activities is to snuggle up with a mug of coffee spiked with eggnog, my 2019 calendar, and my phone’s photo album, and sit and review the year coming to an end. I work to make a list of the things that were meaningful, and then do a deeper dive of the things that I’d like to improve. Without posting the entire novel, here’s a little bit about how I went about doing this: 

I start out with general buckets to note things in:

  • My year in fitness: any races run, programs taken, favorite classes, PRs.
  • Favorite movies, tv, and books. 
  • Favorite podcasts (Dolly Parton’s America!) 
  • Review my reading list: how diverse was the range of authors and thinking? 
  • Favorite Eats: restaurants, recipes, and purchases (I’m looking at you bucket of Maldon and Rancho Gordo Bean Club) 
  • Review of Travel: in 2019 relived highlights from Disney in March (that JIKO tasting and Safari! Dole Whip!) Turkey in June, Stratton in July, Houston in September and New York in October. 
  • Creative Dates: my weekly journey into culture – museums, plays, and more. 
  • What I learned (courses, projects, etc.) 
  • Fun Random Things
  • New Things Tried
  • What didn’t work so well, and low points
  • People I met / re-connected with / spent time with

This year, I had two fun “consumption” goals – rewarding myself for relaxation that I got quite a bit of satisfaction out of. I set my Goodreads 52 books goal, (surpassed!) and 52 new to me movies. (This year I’m also planning on tracking my TV watching – it seems to improve my overall quality of choice when I write down what I consumer. I also plan on tracking my music listening with a focus on albums.)  

Because this is theoretically a food blog, here were some of the highlights of my year in food, done middle school yearbook style:

A deeper dive into food superlatives of 2019: 

  • Favorite Takeout: Shan-a-punjab butter chicken, Cava, Wegman’s California Rolls
  • Best Cookbook: Alison Roman’s Dining In (my cookbook of the year) 
  • Best Soup: Samin’s Ribolitta from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
  • Most Liked IG Post: Lobster avocado salad
  • Best Salt Craving Fixes: IKEA Kalles Tube, Whole Food Cheese Crisps
  • Best Recipes: Chrissy Teigen’s Cacio e Pepe, Anita Lo’s Red Cooked Duck
  • Best Turkish-ish: deconstructed cauliflower gnocchi Manti
  • Best Condiments: Patak’s Tikka Masala paste, Branston Pickle
  • Best Food Purchases: 3lb Bucket of MaldonRancho Gordo Bean Club!
  • Best Throwback Recipes: Chicken Marbella, Fettuccini with Spring Veg.
  • Best Porch Snacks: pesto mozzarella toasts, cherries and wine; Whole Foods Cheese Crisps
  • Best Family Meal: 4th of July Ceviche
  • Favorite Ben and Jerry’s: Pucker Upper; Justice Remixed
  • Best Fast Food Item: McDonald’s Stroopwaffel McFlurry
  • Favorite New Trader Joe’s: Kunefe, Peppermint Hold the Cones; Cinnamon Rugelach, Aqua Kefir, Italian Bomba Fermented Pepper Paste
  • Best Apple: Topaz
  • Favorite Method: marinating in mayo (thanks, Kenji!
  • Best Evening Snacks:
    • Whole Foods Chopped Mango
    • Cottage cheese with olive oil, salt and pepper.

As for this week’s Good Things: 

I’ve been wrapping up the last week of the year with reading, cooking, work (yes, we have some incredible things in store for us at Ompractice), at least three miles a day outside for my Race Menu Winter Warrior challenge, and more.

{Meals of Note:}

Chinese Tomato Eggs: soft scrambled eggs with shaoxing wine and sesame oil; with some smoked salmon. I wanted Chinese/Jewish/Turkish comfort food and this is what I came up with.

Pulled Pork with Arugula Salad: with cucumbers, lime juice, and a side of nectarines. I was going to have some baked beans with this, but I forgot.

Vietnamese Ginger Chicken Thighs: a great recipe from Melissa Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game, over arugula salad with cucumber (sense a trend?) A good reminder that marinating meats overnight is always a good idea! Looked like this:

Refried beans with Chicken: a forgotten staple. This is one of my favorite comfort foods. (All it could have used were some HEB tortillas… but I’m due for another trip to Texas since I’ve eaten my freezer stash.

Pork Tenderloin with Peperonata: (top photo) arugula salad with cucumber. I love Peperonata – stewed peppers, onions, and tomato, with a nice hit of red wine vinegar at the end of cooking. It’s versatile and can be made days in advance and only gets better.

Turkey and Cranberry Bean Fagiole with Kale: defrosted a batch from my freezer, and ate for several lunches in a row.

I’ll be finishing up the last day of the year closing out loose ends, but I’m ready and excited for 2020! Thanks for sticking around here, I appreciate you all!

Here’s to a great new year!