We took Charlotte on a cruise of Boston harbor mid-week as part of an end-of-summer celebratory outing with David’s company. The weather was a bit spotty with a mid-ride downpour, but we had fantastic views of the amazing skyline and brilliant clouds and sunset because of it. It was, ultimately, a low-key week and a fairly relaxed weekend, which feels nice in the middle of all these weekends where the news and the environment seem so tense and intense. Things are gearing up for next week, which looks pretty full, at least in our work and personal lives.
Here’s what I’m eating and reading this week:
Weekly menu plan (in case you need ideas or inspiration)
Sunday: Steak tips, corn chowder salad from SmittenKitchen.com (This made sooo much, and we had leftovers for days. Also, I felt like it was super vinegary; I’d scale back on that ingredient next time to let the other flavors shine through.)
Monday: Steak tip leftovers with roasted broccoli and salad
Tuesday: Carrot-ginger lentil soup, leftover corn chowder salad, and pan-seared chicken
Wednesday: Leftover chicken and soup
Thursday: Dinner out on a boat cruise we took with David’s company
Friday: Late night at work and hand’s full – we ordered take out from Dumpling House
Saturday: Radiatore pasta with kale and bacon (from Back Pocket Pasta cookbook)
Here’s what I’m reading and loving this week:
A trend towards tahini desserts, including this tahini-berry cake and these cookies from Bon Appetit. I also saw (but haven’t yet made) a tahini-swirl brownie recipe in the new Milk Street cookbook by Christopher Kimball’s new team. I tried the berry cake (which was just OK) and haven’t yet tried the others. My friend and I were having a conversation about how sometimes the presence of just one ingredient blocks you from attempting a recipe because it just seems a bit intimidating or like too much of a hassle to buy that one ingredient (even if you’ll use it again). For her, it was fish sauce. For me, it’s been tahini. There’s a bunch of recipes out there I’ve been curious about but ultimately skipped because I didn’t know how or didn’t want to mess with getting tahini. Now, I’m really trying to see what I think of it and whether I like it. So far, I’m finding it a bit overwhelming; each time I use it, I wish the flavor and quantity were scaled back a bit.
I’m pretty excited for a few fall releases in the cookbook world including Alice Water’s new memoir, Kristen Kish’s cookbook, and the Cherry Bombe cookbook (by the team of one of my favorite podcasts).
There’s also been a few duds in the reading world this summer. I’ve picked up a few books but just couldn’t get through to the end. Some I might try to pick up again, but others were just disappointments. Here’s what I started but didn’t finish so far this year:
Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
This was one of the books I expected to like the most this summer, and I picked it up and set it aside multiple times, each time thinking I’d return and get engaged, sucked in, and stay with it. Never happened. Part of the reason it was so highly anticipated was because of the decades-long gap between Roy’s novels. I read The God of Small Things back around my college years and enjoyed that book. That novel seemed a bit luxurious and playful in terms of how the narrative structure was set up and how it was interesting and engrossing but didn’t feel urgent or that the novel pressed you forward. This one seemed so much more lumbering, and despite the fact that I really thought I’d connect with some of the character presentations, I didn’t finish the book.
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
Initially, I was a bit thrown in just the first few pages because the writing style is so unconventional. It took a little bit of sticking with it to get used to the cadence and the just-barely-formed thoughts standing in as dialogue. There’s a lot of essence and feel and the style does, I think, capture the sentiment of being young, in a new place, experiencing new things and trying to get a solid handle on life around you. So even if the writing style isn’t your cup of team, it does accomplish what it sets out to do. Then, there’s the actual rest of the book. I put in a good, solid effort through the first hundred pages before getting a sinking feeling that I was stuck in a bland, unimaginative representation of the challenges of a transitioning young adult. There were tired gendered story lines, and by the second time the central leads cycled through a repetitive and oppressive relationship conversation, I was too bored to finish. To be a good sport, I flipped through to the 200- and 300-page mark and found snippets of conversations repeating these same themes and conventions, so I abandoned my effort. While there are other books I started and might pick up again in the coming months, I probably won’t with this one. I received this book from Blogging for Books for review.
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
This might be one that I return to. It’s received good reviews and was recently on the short list for the Man Booker Prize. I was initially intrigued because it is set in Northern Minnesota and came highly recommended. I put it down because it was bumming me out a little too much and made me feel a little too cold for a summer read. It all felt really ominous. Am I going to want to be bummed out and feel cold later this winter (like February or March, when everything’s gray and slushy and we’re just waiting for summer)? Maybe not, but it’s not a book I’m out-and-out dismissing. It’s more like I wasn’t in the mood for this book just yet.
This book has been a best-seller for weeks now. I also liked Towles’ earlier novel, Rules of Civility. What am I missing here? Why didn’t I like this one?
Maybe it’s because it’s all dudes, all the time — at least the part I read. I guess I’m not surprised I need more than that to keep me interested.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Another best-selling title pulled from the top of the charts. This one was much more interesting, at least initially, but ultimately it all felt a bit unmoored. There was so much there that’s just fascinating (like how the big bang all began and how we don’t know anything about what came before it and how we measure all this messy stuff to try to get a sense of what happened since). He does a good job of translating these super abstract concepts into a (more) relatable discussion, almost personifying forces of nature like gravity before it becomes gravity. It reminded me a lot of a physics class I took at the end of high school that was more of a philosophy of physics class, introducing concepts like quarks (which make an appearance here, too). In the end, it wasn’t a high priority for me, and I had to return it to the library before finishing it, and I’m not sure I’m overly eager to check it out again.