I had been hoping to find a quiet moment to sit down and write–really, write–before September faded away, but luck wasn’t on my side. Between trips to Carmel and New York, a bad respiratory virus mid-month and my grandpap’s not being well in Pennsylvania, September simply passed by too quickly and I couldn’t quite find either the time or the energy to write. But now that things have stabilized on all fronts, I’m hoping to be appearing here more regularly, producing at least one new post a week. While this may seem optimistic given my track record of late, what I’ve always found appealing about fall is the promise that, with the changing colors of the leaves and the gradual cooling of the air, things might slow down…even if just a little. 
For now, I’ve got some links and various food for thought for you all.
As you can see from the picture above, I’ve been on a real dumpling kick recently. Or maybe that’s a lie; the simple truth is that I never say no to dumplings (is this even possible?). Only recently, however, did I start making them at home. It’s been a real learning curve, too, but both Andrea Nguyen’s book on dumplings and blog are wonderful resources. I decided to start with a seasonal dumpling to use up the pumpkin that we got in our CSA box and Nguyen’s recipe for Roasted Squash and Vegetable Dumplings is out of this world good (proof: I’ve made about 4 batches already). Even better, dumplings are versatile and very substitution friendly.
My other recent culinary preoccupation has been revisiting my collection of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks (Plenty and Jerusalem), which always inspire me to go to the kitchen. In part, I’ve gone back to these books because I’ve been excitedly reading about his forthcoming Plenty More, his second ode to vegetables. The preview in The Guardian was so good (the extremely styled photo of Ottolenghi at the top is a minor masterpiece unto itself) that I immediately decided to cook something from it for dinner last week; I opted for the baked orzo, which is Mediterranean comfort food at its best. But if apricots had still been in season, the apricot, walnut and lavender cake would have easily been dessert. 
If an Ottolenghi recipe proves to entail too much chopping and too many ingredients for a weeknight, I highly recommend a simple and pleasing Italian dinner; there are many charms to cucina povera, especially a dish that combines chickpeas, tomato sauce and tagliatelle.
On the State of the Selfie. (Confession: I’m really posting this because the photo of the dog at the top of the article is adorable). 
We’ve been doing a lot of redacting at work recently, which is the kind of task that requires listening to music or to a good podcast to make the time pass more quickly. While I haven’t always been a huge fan of short stories, I think I’ve started to understand their charm in the past few years, especially because of The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. My two recent favorites were Akhil Sharma reading “The Night in Question” and Nathan Englander reading “The Enormous Radio.”
A glimpse into the decadent (and sometimes austere) world of Scandinavian baking.
I’ve recently been reading a lot of Italians: Elena Ferrante (I’ve mentioned her before on this blog and I will continue raving about her, too–possibly forever. Whenever I read a new book in her Neapolitan series, I vow that vow to learn Italian so that I won’t have to wait for the next installment to be translated into English), Francesca Marciano and now, thanks to a friend, Diego Marani, who writes what The Guardian has called “linguistic mysteries.” I think this explains the attraction. 
Although my heart, in my post-Slavic studies world, seems to currently belong to the Italians, I’m also really looking forward to Hilary Mantel’s new collection of stories. If I can’t have the conclusion of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, this will have to do.
The (secret? not so secret?) truth about blogging–a topic that I think about a lot. In fact, I’ve been mentally writing a post on this very topic for the past few months and, in light of this article, I think it’s finally time I had my say (if nothing else, it can be my blogging manifesto for 2014-2015). On that note, I leave you until the weekend!

2 thoughts on “Food for Thought

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I hope you made the dumplings; they really are great for fall and so delicious, too! I've found that if you do a lot of the chopping the night before, it really makes the process easy–even on a weeknight. And Andrea Nguyen's book is a wonderful guide to all of the ins, outs and folds of dumplings; it gets a lot of use around here!

    “Jerusalem” and “Plenty” are really different, but I like both of them for different reasons. The former seems like a cultural and culinary study in one, whereas the latter seeks to challenge our notions about vegetables in a really interesting way. “Plenty More” is a lot of fun, too; I've been enjoying it. There are lots of Persian flavors, which I love.

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