EAT | READ: Kristen Iskandrian and Amy McDaniel

EAT | READ will be a weekly beat on the new website RealPants.com (more info here). It will be produced by our Food Editor, Kristen Iskandrian, and Executive Editor, Amy McDaniel. We will feature an EAT | READ post here on EAT GENIUS every Tuesday as a lead-in to the Real Pants launch on January 1. Kristen's intro to the beat is below, followed by today's post.

In this space, we're going to tell you what we've been reading and what we've been eating, and we're going to ask other people what they've been reading and eating, and we might, from time to time, include a recipe or a meditation or a grocery list. On most days, the only thing I like more than food is books, and on other days, the only thing I like more than books is food. But on all days, I ingest a lot of words and a lot of calories. We at Real Pants are eager to explore the wide and always-changing intersection where we find ourselves ever-hungry, never full.

What We've Been Eating: Kristen
Two standouts in my week of eating were the english muffins toasted toward burntness and then topped with ricotta cheese and a swirl of honey--that was breakfast a few mornings--and a homemade macaroni and cheese that did not take much longer than the boxed kind. I used orecchiette and made the sauce by first making a slurry of flour, milk, nutmeg, and dijon mustard, then adding it slowly to a bit of butter melted in a pan. Let it bubble and thicken, mix mix mix out the lumps, dump in your pasta (having reserved some of the cooking water), then add a handful of grated cheese and a big plop of greek yogurt. Mix and mix some more. Add pasta water as necessary. Salt and pepper and maybe a dash of hot sauce.

What We've Been Reading: Kristen
I am re-reading two books that I dearly love: Maggie Nelson's BLUETS and Diane Williams's VICKY SWANKY IS A BEAUTY, a phrase my older daughter loves to sing-song. I am enjoying the pairing of these books, the way they seem to speak to one another:

"The most I want to do is show you the end of my index finger. Its muteness." (Nelson)

"We are a family. There's a point to it and to the dimmer switch in the foyer." (Williams)

What We've Been Eating: Amy
I made a Sunday roast (really a braise, and in a Crockpot, but it had a roast's Sundayness): short ribs in homemade beef stock with turnips and carrots, accompanied by buttered rutabaga and steamed green beans.

Making a roast on Sunday is the kind of thing that, when I do it once, then I decide to do it every week (only I don't). Another thing like that is roast chicken. I'll roast a chicken every Sunday! Or a batch of cookies, or a pie, or a pot of stock, or bolognese for handmade tagliatelle or lasagne with béchamel. Every Sunday! And it's forgotten by the very next week. But so what? The part that's cognitively soothing is to make the resolution in the first place, while biting into a cookie or a shred of beef robed in gravy, and to imagine the long stretch of pleasantly routine Sundays ever after.

What We've Been Reading: Amy
I read THE PAYING GUESTS by Sarah Waters, and it made it easier to clean house while the short ribs simmered in the Crockpot because the narrator in the book has to do all the cleaning in her house, while I had help, and houses in England right after World War I sound much harder to maintain than my bungalow. Also the book has an impossible moral dilemma and well-done sex scenes. Now I'm reading THE SECRET PLACE by Tana French, a mystery set in a Dublin girl's school. Just right for Christmas.

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