- Sam and I leave for our desert vacation TOMORROW! Along with the standard pre-travel checklist, you can usually find “library!!” scrawled at the top of my to-do list. I take a tapas-inspired approach to libraries, checking out huge, unwieldy stacks of books, curling up in bed, and delving into the first chapter of each before deciding what to read. For our Arizona trip, I’m bringing The Comfort Food Diaries, which is the story of Emily Nunn’s cross-country quest for the perfect comfort food (and the cure for a broken heart). Looking for a light read with romance and recipes? Here are a few of my fluffy food-related favorites:
- Speaking of books, does anyone else keep a running cookbook wish-list? Here are a few at the top of mine:
- Black Girl Baking: “Good food is the most powerful way to connect, understand and heal,” says author
- Eat Up: Great British Bake Off runner-up Ruby Tandoh takes on the dangerous implications of the so-called “wellness industry,” encouraging us to enjoy food and eat what we want
- Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: According to Bon Appetit, “Just reading [this book] will make you a better cook, adept at seasoning, balancing, understanding what it really is you’re doing and why.”
- Finding Yourself if in the Kitchen: I tend to feel most present and peaceful while cooking and baking. Food writer Dana Velden writes about the kitchen as a “place of awakening and joy” and “explores what cooking can teach about intimacy, failure, curiosity, and beauty.” Yes, please!!
- Healthyish: Turmeric and rice milk are all well and good, but let’s not get too healthy…
- I’ve always been fascinated by other people’s kitchens. Far more than bedrooms or bathrooms, I see kitchens as an intimate glimpse into someone else’s life. What spices do they keep by the stove? Which cookbooks are shabby and stained with use, and which ones look as if they’ve never been touched? Which photos adorn the fridge? Enter Pantry Confidential, a website that documents NYC kitchens large and small, opening a window into the city’s coziest cooking spaces. One of my favorite kitchens belongs to Yossy Arefi, a food photographer and blogger whose perfectly-swirled cakes and crisply golden pie crusts make you weep with delight. You might imagine her cooking in some sleek stainless steel kitchen with marble surfaces as far as the eye can see. On the contrary, her kitchen is small, light-filled, simple, and undeniably lovely.
- Sam and I celebrated Valentine’s Day by cooking together. It may seem mundane, but given my tendency to commandeer the kitchen at all hours of the day, this was a welcome change. Sam came up with the plan, and asked what I wanted to cook. As if reading each other’s minds, we agreed simultaneously, “pasta carbonara.” Because, well, it is perfect. With the NYT as our trusty guide, the main course went off without a hitch. We drank wine, ate on the living room floor, and had an Elton John dance party. But then it came time to check on the rice pudding, which I’d cavalierly tossed in the oven two hours prior. (Why, you may ask yourself, did we choose a dessert that called for the exact same ingredients as our entree? I have no answer for you). The pudding was a pale, gelatinous mess. The custard separated from the rice, which itself wasn’t particularly tender, and the whole thing jiggled vaguely when prodded. Which just goes to show you that sometimes you have to throw the whole thing in the trash and eat girl scout cookies in bed.
- I loved this quote on cooking in medias res: “I have always found that recipes make food preparation feel staccato: they begin where their writers are, asking that you collect the ingredients their writers have… But cooking is best approached from wherever you find yourself when you are hungry, and should extend long past the end of the page.” —Tamar Adler, An Everlasting Feast. Scribner, 2011.
In the picture: apricot jam and walnut-studded rugelach ready for the oven! Recipe from the beautiful Sweet, by Ottolenghi & Goh