Things I Read This Week: December 23, 2016

2016-12-19 12.13.18.jpg(via Glamour)

How was your week? Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I’m really looking forward to a few family traditions — in true French-Canadian fashion, we have dinner at midnight, followed by opening presents until the wee hours. Exhausting, but so fun! Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Glamour – Gwen Stefani: “I Feel Like I Got Woken up This Year”
I bought the print version of Glamour’s December 2016 issue so I could read this feature on Gwen Stefani. She says, “Sometimes to be woken up again in life, you need to go through some really bad, hard times. I feel like I got woken up this year.” Preach, Gwen. I can’t wait for 2017.

The Washington Post – The secret life of cemeteries: Go for a stroll, meet your book club, visit the dead
My parents recently moved to a small town of about a thousand residents and a truly beautiful cemetery. No one we know is buried here, but I was drawn to how pretty it looked and had a nice stroll through the grounds when I last visited in October. I admit that I didn’t really think I was allowed to walk through as one would cross a park — I worried that someone might run out of a neighboring house and yell at me for doing so — but I’m glad I did. I liked this article, too. “It’s easy to forget that cemeteries were made for the living.”

2016-10-11-11-21-28
The old town cemetery, across the street from the new town cemetery.

Here are three of my favourite stories from the Bloomberg 2016 Jealousy List:

GQ – Kim Kardashian West on Kanye and Taylor Swift, What’s in O.J.’s Bag, and Understanding Caitlyn
At the time that she invited me to touch the upper-left quadrant of her left breast, I was merely an unkempt person Kim Kardashian West had met one time. And yet, on just our second short meeting, I felt comfortable enough to ask her to “please describe what your boobs feel like.” That’s how we got here.

The New York Times – Swim. Bike. Cheat?
What motivates athletes who seem to cheat systemically, with forethought and planning, rather than, say, indulging in one-off opportunistic lapses? How can they justify it to themselves? And how, exactly, did they pull it off?

Eater – Twilight of the Four Seasons
In the beginning, there were beefsteak tomatoes carved tableside and French woodcock flamed in Cognac and Dover sole and the extravagantly titled “YOUNGEST CARROTS in Butter”; in 1995, Buffalo steaks and Olympia oysters and Chinese egg rolls and French terrines and Dover sole and whole duck for two; the 2016 menu boasted tuna carpaccio and asparagus agnolotti and Dover sole, still. Forty dollars bought dinner for two, once; seventy-five today buys a diner a single bison filet. But the food was never the point.

And here are a few of my favourites from Saveur’s equivalent list:

Washington Post – The sinister, secret history of a food that everybody loves
Spoiler alert: this is a deeply nerdy history of the potato, and it’s fantastic.

michelleobama

Politico – Michelle Obama sets her garden in stone
Pictured above: Michelle Obama, boss lady gardener, worthy of a million muscle arm emojis.

Advertisements

Squash Soup for the Shortest Day of the Year

squashsoup.jpg

December feels like it has flown by. I’m leaving town for the holidays tomorrow morning and there’s still so much to do — baking, packing, and assorted errands that somehow get edited out of Christmas movie montages, like getting new keys cut or going to the dentist. (That scene didn’t make it into The Holiday, for some reason …)

It’s also freezing in Toronto, which adds a layer of complication to running errands. I keep arriving home covered in slush and frozen to the core, and I have a craving for soup that cannot be denied. I’m also trying to use up all the food in the house before I leave, so I set out to make a version of my mom’s Thanksgiving squash soup that would use up all my orange vegetables and up my vitamin count before I spend a week in a house with ten other people.

I was not disappointed by the resulting soup. It requires some prep work, but the end result is so worth it. It’s so easy, keeps well, and reheats like a dream. You can freeze leftovers, if you have any, and eat soup anytime you like. Besides, it’ll be dark out by 4pm today. What else are you going to do? Continue reading “Squash Soup for the Shortest Day of the Year”

Believing in Big Magic

2016-12-19-13-08-52

I don’t often read self-help books, because they tend to proffer earnest advice like “think positive!” as a remedy for basically everything, which generally does not work for people with depression and anxiety disorders (namely, me). So when I checked Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert out of the library a few weeks ago, I admit that I didn’t want to like it. I figured it would probably tell me that the cure for writer’s block was to think positive, sit down at my keyboard, and let the words pour forth from my fingers. I was already annoyed by the book before I even opened it. Of course Elizabeth Gilbert believes that creativity is magic! She’s a millionaire who had a book on The New York Times Best Seller list for 4 years. What advice can she possibly have for me?

Why bother, then? A friend had strongly recommended that I read it; also, I am on a quest to make 2017 better than 2016, and seeing as I did not read any self-help books in 2016, maybe this was the place to start. Fine: I would read the book. It deserved a chance.

Of course, as often happens with these things, I loved it. I could not have read Big Magic at a better time. The book is written as a series of tiny chapters (often 1-2 pages long), with titles like “Nobody’s Thinking About You,” “Done is Better Than Good,” and “Do Something Else” — all good advice for someone who writes and often gets tripped up in the editing process before a sentence is even complete. I wrote those three statements down on an index card and committed them to memory, because in order to rid myself of perfectionist tendencies, I really need to learn to believe in the following: when the stakes are low, who cares? Just do it. If it sucks, fine; nobody cares, and you learned something. Now try again.

Continue reading “Believing in Big Magic”

Things I Read This Week: December 16, 2016

pantry(via The Kitchn)

How was your week? My 31st birthday was this past Monday, so the whole week has been dedicated to celebrating with friends and eating loads of good food. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

The New York Times – The Woman Who Might Find Us Another Earth
Sara Seager is on an obsessive quest, and I am fascinated by her work, even though I don’t understand it in the slightest.

Glamour – Christine Lagarde Shares Her Tips for Demanding Professional Respect
“If you think that you’re going to feel miserable in any particular environment, don’t put up with it—just run. They don’t deserve you. And that’s exactly what I did.” Yes! This is good life advice — we’re conditioned to think that you need to stay in a job/relationship/place forever, and that leaving means you’re a quitter, but that’s not true. Christine Lagarde wants you to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

CTV – Viola Desmond to appear on new Canadian banknote
Viola Desmond will be featured on the $10 bill starting in 2018, marking the first time a women is featured on a Canadian banknote (other than the Queen). Desmond stood up to segregation in 1946 by refusing to be relocated to the “blacks-only” section of a movie theater in Nova Scotia. I think we need this now more than ever.

The Kitchn – This Pantry Has a Very Inspiring Amount of Countertop Space
I’m jealous of whoever gets to cook in this beautiful (and HUGE) kitchen, pictured above. Their pantry has has more available countertop space than I have in my entire kitchen. Alas! We do what we can with what we have, or something like that.

Damn Delicious – Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas
I made this recipe for my birthday dinner earlier this week and it did not disappoint. Pro tip: if you’re at home while your pork is cooking, set your slow cooker to HIGH for a shorter time rather than LOW for a longer time, because the smell of cooking pork will be so insane that it’ll be near impossible to wait for it to be done.

The Wall Street Journal – From Street Rapper to Motivational Figure, Gucci Mane’s Radical Makeover
Did you ever think you would be reading about Gucci Mane in the WSJ?

A Few Days in Montreal

IMG_8396.JPG(Pâtisserie Rhubarbe in the Plateau)

Although I grew up in the suburbs of Montreal, I never quite understood why people seemed to love and revere the city so much. “Montreal is so cosmopolitan! It’s just like Europe! Why would you ever leave?” people would exclaim upon meeting me. If it was, I had never seen it; my entire childhood consisted of soccer fields and attending school across from a nature reserve deep in the far reaches of the West Island. We went downtown once a year to do our Christmas shopping, but with the city all lit up for the holidays, it was difficult to get a sense of what it was really like.

I think I had to leave the city behind in order to learn how to love it. It wasn’t until I moved back to Montreal as an adult to attend university that I finally started to get the hype. I attended Concordia, located squarely in the middle of the downtown core. I worked on Ste-Catherine Street and in the Old Port. Suddenly I could start to see the appeal: everyone was speaking two languages interchangeably, there were cafes on every street corner, and amazing bread and croissants spilled out of every bakery I passed.

Continue reading “A Few Days in Montreal”

Things I Read This Week: December 7, 2016

catskills
(via The Kitchn)

This post is a bit late because I spent last week traipsing around Montreal, eating croissants and generally ignoring my computer. (More on the croissants later.) Here’s what I’ve been reading:

The New Yorker – A Lost “Glass Menagerie,” Rediscovered
Jane Klain goes on “archival treasure hunts that sometimes last for years” as part of her job as research manager for the Paley Center for Media, and I’m fascinated by her somewhat obsessive quest to find a 1966 one-time broadcast of “The Glass Menagerie.”

The Daily Mail – ‘That was the thing at the time’: Rapper Nelly FINALLY explains why Kelly Rowland tried to text him using excel spreadsheet in Dilemma music video
This could have been the scoop of the century, but spoiler alert: he explains nothing of the sort. The mystery continues!

Rolling Stone – Inside OK Go’s Latest Record-Breaking Music-Video Marvel
When I first saw the video for “The One Moment” by OK Go, I immediately looked up the director to see who could possibly created such an insane thing. Turns out the video was designed and directed by frontman Damian Kulash. I’ve watched it a few times now and I just have one question: how???

The Kitchn – A Bite-Sized Guide to the Catskills
Immediately adding the Catskills to my list of must-visit places within a 6 hour driving radius. I need those apple dumplings.

Smitten Kitchen – Spaghetti Pangrattato with Crispy Eggs
I can’t wait to make this for dinner. I’m telling you: eggs for every meal.

Bonus: this holiday season, annoy your family with these many facts about the history of candy canes, courtesy of The Kitchn!