Coronavirus Diary: November 1, 2022

I am fully boosted, got my flu shot, and yet I was sick as a dog last week with terrible sinusitis. Every time I get sick, it hits my sinuses, and usually a few days of allergy meds, decongestants, sinus rinse (AKA what feels like waterboarding!) and Excedrin every six hours gets me through it. But this time instead of clearing up, a new symptom appeared – terrible dizziness, and at times, bed spins (which I haven’t had since my college drinking days and DID NOT MISS AT ALL!) If I turned my head too fast, well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. At one point, I heard what sounded like sloshing in my ear but then that went away. I was waking up during the night when I rolled over, which caused me to feel like the bed was spinning, which would cause me to wake up, curse, and grab onto the bed and/or my husband so I would stay grounded. No one got good sleep. I had some Amoxicillin in the house so I took that for a few days, and it didn’t seem to help much. Then I started getting worse again six days into this thing. I finally went to the doctor, and she prescribed a Z-pack (antibiotics) and a Medrol pack (steroids,) and 48 hours later I felt human again. The miracle of drugs! I also did a couple of Covid tests, just in case, but luckily they were negative.

All that said, there is always more to worry about:

Book News

New Right to Read Bill Expands School Library Access, Students’ Rights to Read [Book Riot]

The Trash Library of Ankara: Another unlikely library — this one made from books salvaged from the garbage of Ankara.

Food News

Two of my favorites have new cookbooks!

Smitten Kitchen Keepers: New Classics for Your Forever Files by Deb Perelman

BON APPETIT BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR! (preorder; available Nov. 15)

“For her third cookbook, Perelman has taken the wisdom she has accumulated in the 16 years since she created Smitten Kitchen and funneled it into “keepers,” i.e., recipes deserving of a place in her “forever files” and yours. That means, for example, a towering broccoli cheddar quiche baked in a springform pan, deli pickle potato salad that makes smart use of both pickles and brine, and chocolate peanut butter cup cookies that I can personally attest merit the “keeper” designation. Perelman, as is her wont, employs her trademark warmth and humor as she shepherds you from breakfast to dessert and beyond, making this both a fun and practical read.” –Rebecca Flint Marx, Eater

“Recipes become regulars when they’re fast, reliable, and deliciously worth the effort. In her third book, Smitten Kitchen founder Deb Perelman offers 100 recipes for oft-requested favorites like a fuss-free lemon poppy seed cake and “an epic quiche” sure to become some of the last you’ll ever need to learn.” –Jacqueline Raposo, Epicurious

 “Every cookbook creator makes a dish again and again so that we don’t have to, and Perelman ( Smitten Kitchen Every Day, 2017) just seems to have more fun doing so. With us strangers in mind…she shares recipes that withstand the most important test: folks will actually want to make and eat them over and over. For breakfast, a bodega-style fried-egg sandwich can be yours in three minutes, and a salad-topped frittata cooks entirely in the oven. Vegetables get their own chapters, organized by size…Meat dishes are balanced and homey, like a skillet-chicken parmesan that promises crispiness and sauciness and fail-safe, 10-ingredient pulled pork. Repeat-worthy cookies and unfussy cakes fill out the sweets chapter before Perelman invites readers to host more parties with a tight edit of crowd-pleasing drinks (alcoholic and non) and snacks. There’s a reason readers are still smitten, and this ode to “Weeknight Greatness” confirms it.” –Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)

“In her third cookbook, Perelman returns with a gathering of the best versions of her key dishes—recipes that she has tested, trialed, and tweaked until they became what she wants her kids and readers to learn by heart and cook with delight…The book is a joy to read, with Perelman’s confiding, cheering voice showcased in short prefaces and recipe notes. She writes as if she were dashing off a recipe on a napkin for her best friend, while at the same time telling them what to do to really make it work. It is pure pleasure. The book covers breakfasts (which Perelman says are good at any time of day), salads, soups, vegetables, meats, sweets, and even a few drinks. Vegetarians and gluten-free eaters will find plenty of options and can adapt many of the other recipes…Essential for all collections. The cookbook, like the recipes it shares, is a keeper.” –Neal Wyatt, Library Journal (starred review)

Go-To Dinners: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

America’s favorite home cook presents delicious, crowd-pleasing, go-to recipes that you’ll want to make over and over again! (available now)

Coming out of the pandemic with a renewed appreciation for dishes that can be frozen and prepped in advance as well as simply assembled, cookbook doyenne Garten (Modern Comfort Food) serves up a delicious, no-nonsense collection of weeknight recipes that are “simple to follow and work every time.” Those features—plus a “rethink” about leftovers (she never liked them) and what constitutes a worthy meal—are amply celebrated throughout. Boards composed of store-bought and homemade items—such as balsamic-roasted baby peppers with Italian cheeses, cured meats, and breadsticks, and a dessert board with small tarts, fresh and dried fruit, chocolate bark, and slices of pound cake—are her new go-to, she writes, because “cooking fatigue is a real thing, even for me.” For a fresh and flavorful twist, the author applies cacio e pepe treatment to scrambled eggs and roasted asparagus, while hot dogs are wrapped in mustard-swiped puff pastry. Garten also draws on the wisdom of other accomplished cooks with such dishes as a potato salad à la Julia Child; a one-pot chicken with orzo from Nigella Lawson; and molasses baked beans and dark chocolate tart from Erin French of the Lost Kitchen in Maine. Practical and practically faultless, this is a real treat. (Oct.)Publishers Weekly

Kitchen maven Garten (Modern Comfort Food) returns with a cookbook born of the pandemic. These recipes are low stress, comforting, and, of course, delicious. Garten believes an invitation to dinner is an expression of love, but unlike her past lavish dinners, the pandemic helped her discover that simple can be just right. Garten offers creative ways to re-create leftovers into new and exciting dishes and encourages challenging oneself to make a meal with whatever is on hand. Hotdogs in pastry were the result of her own success at making do; the recipe became a keeper even after grocery shopping became routine again. Simple can yield sophisticated flavors too, with recipes like caramelized butternut squash with burrata. Garten’s helpful notations, such as “make ahead” and “two-fer” (make into two different meals), guide readers. She also includes other useful tips (store roasted vegetables in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel to keep them crisp). Each recipe receives one photo on the adjacent page, and several full-page spreads add to the enticement. VERDICT Another pleaser from Garten; sure to be in demand.P.J. Gardiner, Library Journal

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.

*Thanks to The New York Times for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to these articles, a lovely perk for subscribers.

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