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I’m writing this on our way back from Washington D.C., where we were visiting friends and investigating the baked good scene (more on that later). Rob is graciously driving while Lilly and I hold down the fort in the back with plenty of snacks and light-up toys.
Reading: We get the New York Times every weekend and I’m ashamed to admit we rarely make it through more than a quarter of it. The exception: T Magazine. Ever since Hanya Yanagihara took over (a brilliant editor and novelist I was lucky enough to work with in a past life) it’s been equal parts surprising, thought-provoking, and fun. This week, I was entranced by Dean Banquet’s interview with Jay-Z, featuring annotations and original art by Chantal Joffee and others (opening line: “My conversation with Jay-Z began with O.J.”)—and the photos of Jenna Lyons shoe closet.
Listening: I play NPR’s Up First podcast almost every morning, usually when I’m feeding Lilly or making breakfast. It’s a ten-minute-long overview of major news happenings, everything from the latest Senate insanity to on-the-ground reporting in Zimbabwe.
Stocking up: While we were in D.C., I was absurdly happy to find Soom tahini—an amazing and hard-to-find brand—at a great local market. We bought three jars, and I would have gotten more if Rob hadn’t given me a you’re-a-lunatic look. It’s incredible on toast with butter and honey, and our go-to for salad dressings and sauces (see below).
Cooking: The simplest recipe in Andrew Tarlow’s Dinner at the Long Table (which I highly recommend) is probably the one we make the most frequently. You don’t actually need a recipe for the yogurt tahini sauce but you do need great ingredients. We use Siggi’s whole milk yogurt and Soom tahini; mix equal parts together, salt to taste, and serve with everything. It’s perfect with roast chicken, and alongside any and all vegetables—grilled green beans or zucchini, roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cauliflower.
Eating: We made a trip to D.C.’s just-opened Seylou Bakery, which makes all its breads and pastries from whole grains that are milled daily. The whole wheat croissant was “a triumph,” according to Rob, but my favorite thing was the wheat-free, sorghum flour brownie. As an alternative flour enthusiast, it made me want to experiment more this holiday baking season (one of my recent successes was swapping all whole wheat flour in these salted chocolate chunk cookies—even my dad loved them!).
Organizing: Our nanny share starts in January so I’m thinking about how to keep things tidy with double the baby paraphernalia. My strategy: baskets. I just ordered this simple bookshelf and a ton of colorful baskets for storing extra clothes, diapers, and toys.
Weirdly proud of: Branching out beyond skinny jeans with my cropped, kick-hem (learned that term from my endlessly fashionable friend Nandita) Madewell jeans. While maybe not practical for winter, they’re super cute with flats and tucked in blouses.
And your questions!
Melinda requested savory oatmeal ideas. Yes, please! I am needing a break from sweet breakfasts too. Two favorites:
- Coconut Oat Pilaf: This is an amazing combo but too many components for a weekday—I skip the spices and just use grated garlic and ginger, and top with cilantro and/or scallions and toasted coconut. (Looks good, right?)
- Eggy Oatmeal: Prepare oatmeal your favorite way (I like steel cut oats sauteed in coconut oil, then simmered with a mix of almond milk and water) and about three-quarters away through, stir in 1-2 lightly beaten eggs and a giant handful of chopped spinach. Cooking until the eggs are set the greens are wilted, and top with nutritional yeast if you want to get all crazy.
- Also! Do not skimp on the salt. Under salted oatmeal tastes like sadness.
Juliette wants gift ideas for new moms. Baked goods are always nice but you get a lot of that as a new parent; here are some things that were very welcome in the early days:
- Ways to feel like myself. Treat her to a mani/pedi and come along to hold the baby, or book her a postnatal masseuse who does house visits.
- Not-pregnant-anymore treats. You can’t go wrong with a great bottle of wine or her favorite spirit (I was gifted at least two bottles of Campari), and we also received a memorable cheese and charcuterie platter.
- Real nourishment. If you’re a cook, make freezer-friendly dishes that they can eat now or later (turkey meatballs, soups) or pick up a roast chicken and some healthy sides. My friend Emily made us genius smoothie packs with pre-portioned frozen fruit that came in handy on crazy days.
- Easy perk-me-ups. My friend Susan gave me these aromatherapy tablets that you can use in the shower and I swear they made me feel more centered. Fancy hand creams are lovely too since you’re constantly washing your hands.
Now a question for you all: I’m itching to get into the holiday spirit (tough when it’s 50 degrees out)—what are your favorite albums? Next newsletter, I’ll share the playlist Rob made me last season!