After weeks and weeks of temperatures in the fifties, we’re finally starting to get some warmer weather. I’ve been back in the kitchen with a little more energy, gusto, and creativity, though sometimes my plans for a spring dessert (strawberry-rhubarb butter crumb bars) were thwarted by not wanting to turn the oven on in 90-degree heat. Despite the frenzy that has been our national political news, it’s been a good week for us in the refuge of family dinners and spending evenings together at home.
Here’s what I’m cooking and reading this week:
This past week’s menu plan (in case you need inspiration):
Sunday: Spaghetti bolognese (Mother’s Day brunch with family was the focus of the day)
Monday: Pan-seared steak, rice flavored with pan drippings, roasted potatoes and broccoli
Tuesday: Peanut Tofu Noodles (a favorite of Charlotte’s, too)
Wednesday: Curry-poached cod via Cooking Light (we didn’t love the raw flavor of the vegetables – I’d recommend adding them to the poaching liquid for a few minutes to take the edge out of it)
Thursday: BBQ Chicken and black bean tacos (worth making, a pretty uncomplicated dinner)
Friday: Tortellini with burst cherry tomatoes, spinach, and cream sauce
Saturday: Broiled lemon-parsley cod (from Small Victories cookbook) with roasted broccoli and potatoes
A young-adult novel, this was still a fascinating and captivating read. It’s a book I’ve heard about on more than a few podcasts, both for it’s merits as a book and its relevance as an exploration of the experience and consequences of police violence. Starr, the 16-year-old protagonist, navigates the two worlds of her home life (she lives in Garden Heights, where gang activities and culture permeate the community) and her school (one of two black students at a school forty-five minutes away from Garden Heights, where she’s dating a white classmate). Quite early in the book, Starr is the only witness to the death of her childhood friend, who is pulled over and fatally shot by a police officer.
There were a few times when the fact that this was a young adult novel felt kind of jarring to my tastes (an adolescent-like focus on shoes, decoding the emotional meaning of text messages and Tumblr follows to glean what it all might mean for your relationship), but for the most part, the narrative, style, and vision translated well for adult readers.
There was so much here that resonated on a really emotional level, and not just about the brewing anger around the death of black people and absence of consequences for those responsible. Some of the best and most moving parts included the descriptions of Starr and her family in their roles as outsiders to the gangs themselves, but how their lives are still seriously touched by these big players in their neighborhood. Equally absorbing was Starr’s relationship with her parents, and her parents’ struggles and tensions around trying to raise their kids to ensure a safe, prosperous future without deserting Garden Heights and its people. Right alongside the very real violence of guns (wielded by cops and gang members alike), is the idea that voices can hold their own power. This power is complicated, as calling out the crimes that occur within the community (snitching) has consequences, and Starr certainly struggles (as any 16-year-old would) with the weight of giving voice to what she witnessed (in a police report, to the DA, to her friends, to relatives of her dead friend) and what her friend’s life really meant.