This week's list
Since college, I've enjoyed cooking and learning new recipes and techniques. I've come a long way from when my college roommate and I tried to make one of his mom's recipes, for Persian fesanjan. It called for using a rolling pin to break walnuts into smaller pieces, but we didn't have a rolling pin. So she'd added, "you could also put them in a Ziplock bag and smash them with a boot." That became our favorite recipe to cook. Several times a month we'd be hammering away with a boot on the kitchen counter. I have since upgraded my kitchen supplies (I now own a rolling pin AND a boot!) but I still get intimidated when it comes to baking desserts since everything has to be so precise. But for Thanksgiving, I made Smitten Kitchen's rugelach, which were shockingly easy, very delicious, and felt festive without being an overwhelming amount for just two people. I also loved this interview with Smitten Kitchen herself, Deb Perelman, about sharing credit and being one of the few remaining pieces of a friendlier, less corporate internet. Deb Perelman is Thankful for Tacos
When I think of the live comedy shows where I've laughed the hardest, there are handful that immediately come to mind. They were all in small, dark, crowded theaters and, almost always, something was going wrong technically. In 2018, I was crying tears of laughter at Tommy McNamara's holiday comedy concert because his mic stand kept falling down so he was having to bend almost all the way over to sing his parody lyrics while playing keyboard. Tommy made it part of the show and committed hard. When you combine that with his "covers" where he sang a famous song and semi-randomly added Christmas lyrics, it got me going in a way that very little else has. Here's a video of him covering 4 Non Blondes. Tommy's annual holiday concert couldn't happen at Union Hall this year, so he released an album of Christmas tunes instead. I'm so grateful for the new soundtrack to my December. I Think I'm Starting To Like Christmas by Tommy McNamara
Recently, I have been on a relaxation kick of watching YouTube nature videos. A calm corner of the internet where nothing much happens and you can let your brain take a break. My friend Greg Hochmuth recommended this series by a woman in rural China, Li Ziqi, where she plants vegetables, watches them grow, harvests them, and then cooks a meal. It's incredible. Also, her grandma makes occasional appearances and she's frequently wearing elaborate hats. Here's a good recent one: The Life of Taro. For more background on Li Ziqi and her surreal videos, Tejal Rao has a report: The Reclusive Food Celebrity Li Ziqi Is My Quarantine Queen
That's it for this week. Thanks for reading! If you're enjoying these emails, please forward to a friend or spread the word. If someone forwarded you this email but you're not yet on the list, you can subscribe here.
Stay safe out there,