Cooking and Booking IV

Although I’ve already checked off my 30 books and 30 recipes before turning 30, I am keeping up my “cooking and booking” post series, as a way to easily find these recipes when I want to make them again, and because who can’t use more book and food recs? One slight change: Rather than logging ALL the new recipes I try out, I am only going to post recipes that were good enough that I have made them multiple times or plan to do so. Any recipe below has my hearty recommendation! As for the books, I am continuing to list all of the books I read with no particular rating or recommendation, just a tl;dr book summary in parentheses. Enjoy!

Here are the recipes! The first three I made for a tapas party.

31. Easy Spicy Pork Meatballs, from Pinch and Swirl

32. Gambas Al Ajillo, from Genius Kitchen

33. Chickpea and Spinach Stew, from Food & Wine

34. Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, from Chowhound

35. Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, from Food Network

… and the books!

31. Beth Kobliner, Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties. (Want to adult like a pro? Get this book.)

32. Daniel Branch, Kenya: Between Hope and Despair, 1963-2011. (Postcolonial Kenyan history. Title sounds overly dramatic and pessimistic, but I recommend it.)

33. Markus Zusak, The Book Thief. (WWII historical fiction. Probably my second favorite in that category, after All the Light We Cannot See.)

34. Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy. (Nonfiction/memoir. Young lawyer helps free an innocent man from death row in Alabama and highlights the injustices in our justice system.)

35. Emma Straub, The Vacationers. (A book for the beach. Or a book for the winter when you hate winter and wish you were at the beach.)

 

For more recipes and books, see Cooking and Booking III.

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Cooking and Booking III

Well, I can officially check goals #9 AND 10 off my 30 before 30 list! Since making the list, I have cooked 30+ new recipes and read 30+ new books.

I’ve already listed 30 recipes in previous blog posts, but here are a few additional recipes that I’ve recently discovered and fallen in love with. These are seriously good and have officially made it into my regular recipe rotation!

 

And now for the books:

21. Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove. (Lonely, grumpy old man finds joy and a reason to go on living. Will seriously warm your heart.)

22. Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See. (My favorite book in the gigantic category that is WWII fiction.)

23. Brock Clarke, An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England. (Comments on the back claimed this book was “funny” so I feel like I should warn you that it was actually a lot darker than I expected.)

24. Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train. (Dark psychological thriller. Reminded me a lot of Gone Girl.)

25. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar. (A young woman’s mental breakdown. Probably semi-autobiographical. Definitely brilliantly written.)

26. J. D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy. (Memoir. Reflections on growing up in rural white working-class America.)

27. Paul Fleischman, Seedfolks. (A community garden brings a neighborhood together. Kid lit, but I think every adult should read this one too.)

28. Garth Stein, How Evan Broke His Head. (Father reunited with long-lost teenage son. Coming to terms with secrets he’s kept inside for years.)

29. Sarah Gruen, Water For Elephants. (Drama and intrigue in an early 20th century American traveling circus.)

30. Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner, Find Me Unafraid. (Nonfiction/Memoir. Overcoming adversity and working for social justice and community empowerment in Kibera.)

And a bonus: The book I’m currently reading, which by the way I highly recommend to anyone and everyone in my (millennial) life stage…

31. Beth Kobliner, Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties And Thirties. (Title says it all.)

 

Check out Cooking and Booking I and Cooking and Booking II for more recipes and books, and My 30 Before 30 List for the idea behind these posts.

My Two Favorite Recipe Hacks

In the spirit of goal #10 on my 30 before 30 list, here I am in the kitchen again! These are not recipes of my own, but rather, two easy and fast adjustments to recipes that already exist.

(1) Rosemary Cheddar Biscuits

Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary to the Food Network’s “Almost-Famous Cheddar Biscuits” before the kneading stage. I promise you, the rosemary will take them from almost famous to most definitely famous. These are easy to make and always a big hit.

(2) Best Ever Scrambled Eggs

Follow whatever method of egg scrambling you typically use, and just add a little bit of cream cheese when the eggs are almost done. Ta-da, the loveliest creamiest scrambled eggs you’ve ever tasted. Seriously, cream cheese, the secret ingredient to perfect scrambled eggs.

Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto

In the process of working on goal #10 on my 30 before 30 list– cook at least 30 new recipes- I ended up combining elements of a few different risotto recipes with some tweaks and additions of my own. The result was delish and I definitely want to get this recipe in writing for future reference, so here it is!

To give credit where credit is due, I drew some inspiration from this recipe by Cookie and Kate and this one from NYT Cooking.

Ingredients:

1 lb cubed butternut squash

1 tsp rosemary

2-3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp minced ginger

10 sage leaves

1 cup rice

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

2 tbsp cream cheese

 

Toss the butternut squash with the rosemary, salt, pepper, and just enough olive oil to lightly coat it (1-1.5 tbsp). Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 375 for about 50 minutes.

Start the risotto when the squash is about halfway through roasting. Finely chop 4 of the sage leaves. Melt the butter in a dutch oven. Add the chopped sage and cook for about a minute. Add the onion and cook for two minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stir, and cook for another two to three minutes. Add the wine and cook for two minutes. Add the rice and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low heat until the rice is cooked, about twenty minutes. If it starts looking too dry and the rice isn’t quite done, throw in an extra half a cup of water.

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan and fry the remaining sage leaves until they turn a darker shade of green but not brown, just about a minute or two. Stir the cream cheese and parmesan into the rice when it’s done. Keep the heat on low and stir until the cheese has melted into the rice. Stir in the roasted butternut squash. Garnish with the fried sage leaves.

I served this along with a spinach salad and mussels cooked in a garlic butter white wine sauce. Yum!

30 before 30 update: cooking and booking

Since I first wrote up my 30 before 30 list and hung it on my fridge back in June, I have made it a third of the way toward accomplishing goals #9 and #10: Cook 30 new recipes and read 30 new books before my 30th birthday. Here are those recipes and books, for the record, and in case anyone’s interested in checking them out!

I’ve rated the recipes on a scale of one to five stars:

* = yuck, ** = meh, *** = okay but nothing special, **** = pretty good, will probably make again, ***** = yum, yum, delish, will definitely make again

  1. Greek chicken stew with cauliflower and olives from NYT Cooking ****
  2. One Pot Red Lentil Chili from Minimalist Baker *****
  3. Poulet a la creme from Sur La Table ***
  4. Asian lettuce wraps from allrecipes.com*****
  5. Pork tenderloin steaks with wilted cabbage and apples from the Food Network ***
  6. Blueberry Baked Oatmeal from Cookie and Kate ****
  7. Creamy tomato basil tortellini from TipHero *****
  8. Cajun Chicken Pasta from allrecipes.com *****
  9. Shakshuka from Tori Avey *****
  10. Salmon Alfredo Pasta from RecipeTin Eats *****

 

Books I’ve read since making my 30 before 30 list:

  1. Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad. Read this if… you read The Great Gatsby in high school and found yourself thinking, “Every character in this book is a dysfunctional hot mess but I can’t look away and I don’t even know why I like this book but I kind of do.” (I should point out that you will find more punkrockers than roaring twenties speakeasiers in Goon Squad.)
  2. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah. Read this if… you want to dive into complicated questions about race, culture, and identity while reading the work of an author who writes so beautifully that you’ll almost feel disappointed when you get to the last page.
  3. Malcolm Gladwell, Blink. Read this if… You like learning more about what drives human behavior and this fascinatingly weird world.
  4. Esmeralda Santiago, When I Was Puerto Rican. Read this if… you love beautiful memoirs that read almost like fiction.
  5. Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake. Read this if… you’re wrestling with questions about identity, or you’re interested in stories about immigration, coming of age, navigating multiple cultures, and finding oneself.
  6. Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men. Read this if… you’re into fantasy, fairy tales for grown-ups, and/or funny phrases in Scottish accents.
  7. Terry Pratchett, The Shepherd’s Crown. Read this if… you liked The Wee Free Men and want to find out what happens next. (It’s not quite as good, though.)
  8. Lois Lowry, The Giver. Read this if… you like dystopian novels that make you think. This book is basically Brave New World for kids.
  9. Jean Kwok, Girl in Translation. Read this if… you like stories about immigration, coming of age, and overcoming challenges. The last couple of chapters will have you cheering out loud, then holding your breath, and then feeling all the feels.
  10. Ngugi wa Thiongo, A Grain of Wheat. Read this if… you want to know more about African history and literature because it was woefully neglected in your high school curriculum.