Some families have traditions like morning 5Ks and camp-outs, we have blind food tasting. Every time I visit Jonah's family, we select a different food category to test. In the past, we've tried vanilla ice cream (which we did in the office, too!), butter, and honey. This weekend, over the course of an eight-hour (yes, eight) brunch, we diligently tasted cheddar and dark chocolate. Over the course of our "research," we discovered there actually is a pretty noticeable difference between grocery store and cheese shop varieties (Prairie Breeze was our favorite), but dark chocolate was much more decisive. Of the eleven we tasted, Tony's Chocolonely was the sleeper hit, and I surprisingly put a chocolate I've always loved, Hu, at the bottom of my list (though I still love their puffed quinoa and almond butter flavor). Honestly though, the fun is in the test itself—next time, we're thinking of trying red wine. Here's what else I'm loving this week:
As soon as I finished Sally Rooney's novel, Normal People, I went back to the first page to read it again. The plot is deceptively simple—it follows the roller coaster relationship between two friends from high school through college—but it's heart-wrenching, nostalgic, and beautifully written. Believe the hype, then pick up the first novel that put Rooney on the map, Conversations with Friends, and the literary journal she runs, The Stinging Fly (I also love their podcast, which you can listen to here!).
Okay, I'm fully aware I've been averaging one Bon Appetit link per list the past several weeks, but they're killing the content game. Latest in their too-great-not-to-share posts, is this tip for making your own spreadable butter. In the past, I've tried keeping butter spreadable by leaving it out in a French butter dish, but the promise to "seal out" bacteria never quite worked for me... This option, from Amanda Shapiro is way more fail-proof:
"The recipe calls for equal parts room-temp butter and canola oil blitzed in a food processor then chilled. (My grandmother, who was way ahead of her time, used olive oil instead of canola.) Because of the oil, it was always miraculously spreadable and delicious, even straight out of the fridge."
I've been using her tip of swapping the canola for olive oil and love it for toast, sandwiches, and every place that could use a smear.
Have you ever come back from a walk and felt worse? Chances are you've felt more clear-headed and creative. As a recent TED Radio Hour episode, "Jumpstarting Creativity" reported: Just as a good night's sleep can help you find the solution to a problem, so can a walk (learn more here). I recently picked up the guided journal, Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking which includes simple prompts for walks: Consider the meaning of borders, pretend to see your neighborhood as a tourist might, leave your phone at home and reflect on how technology impacts your well-being. It's a simple exercise, but made me fall even more deeply in love with my daily walks.
👋 I'm in a food rut. Since I've been traveling most weekends, I've gotten lazy about planning meals ahead, so I've relied on an old default: rotisserie chicken grain bowls with roasted vegetables. They're delicious and easy, but far from creative or challenging. Last week, Jonah and I decided to make like Julie & Julia, and pull ourselves out of the rut by cooking all our dinners from one cookbook. We selected Food52's Genius Recipes, written by my friend Kristen Migliore, largely for its wide variety, quality, and the fact that every recipe includes one simple technique or ingredient that's, well, genius. So far, we've made several delicious salads, salt-baked salmon, and on Wednesday we're inviting friends over for some inventive burgers. You can easily do this with any cookbook, or site! Radio Lab producer Tracie Hunte shared in their newsletter a few weeks ago that she recently cooked her way through Bon Appetit's Feel Good Food Plan.