For Christmas, I gifted my partner, Quinn, a cookbook written by a favourite YouTuber of ours, Andrew Rea. The book and channel both are called Binging with Babish, each episode recreating iconic dishes from our favourite movies and TV shows. Missing the holiday food you have come to know, love, and crave? Try Ross’s Thanksgiving sandwich from Friends! (Yes, that sandwich.) Or, for something sweeter, Buddy the Elf’s delicious (?) dessert pasta! Want to “leave the gun, take the cannoli”? This cookbook has you covered, Coppola fans. Buon appetito.
As part of a sort of fun, communal New Year’s resolution, Quinn and I decided to make one recipe from the book every other week. Sounds manageable, right? We love cooking! We might love cooking even more than we love Uber Eats (marginally)! Continue reading
I know we left 2020 in the dust (not that 2021 is looking all that much better so far), but forget that for a minute—let’s look back at the top titles borrowed from Overdrive and Hoopla in the past year, and see what kinds of trends have emerged in these, dare I say, unprecedented times.
As the outside world closed up, forcing us all to turn inwards, what sort of activities did you find yourself doing? If you found yourself reading a ton more than normal, you’re in good company (conversely, if you found yourself unable to concentrate on books, you are also in good company). While plenty of people found themselves in a reading rut thanks to the existential crises caused by COVID, the general trend of reading during lockdown actually increased overall. A study out of the UK reported an almost doubled rate in reading, from 3.5 hours a week to a reported six. From the same study, “A third said they read more printed books, 18% consumed more e-books, and 9% listened to more audiobooks”. A third of people reading more paper books in a single year is nothing to sneeze at.
But stats like this are actually not surprising; there is historical precedence for this kind of thing. An industry analyst for NDP (a market research firm) notes that historically, book sales are resistant to economic downturn; even the Great Recession of 2008 saw a year-over-year increase in book sales. While on the surface this may come as a shock, it makes sense if you consider books for their personal value rather than just their financial cost. When the going gets rough, as it most certainly did in 2020, people often turn to books not just as a form of entertainment, but also for escapism, distraction, and for mental wellbeing.
Whether you’re more into New York style bagels or Montreal bagels, apparently Bagel Day was yesterday (Jan 15), and though we’re a little late onto this train, you can learn about the history of the humble bagel in The Bagel by Maria Balinska – yes, an entire book dedicated to it – along with a variety of recipes you can use to try your hand at making your own, so you can put whatever toppings and seasonings you like!
For a variety of different ways to make challahs, babkas, bagels, and more, check out Modern Jewish Baker by Shannon Sarna. The bagels in this one are New York-style bagels, and they come in a variety of incarnations, from plain bagels and whole wheat ones to jalapeno cheddar bagels and sweeter varieties like blueberry (classic) and cinnamon raisin, you’ll have enough bagels for all your sandwich desires! What I really like about this book is that it also contains lots of step-by-step shaping photo instructions, guiding you through how to shape your bagel dough, yes, but also the different ways you can braid your challah (in addition to the many-numbered strands, there’s also stuffed challah. Stuffed with delicious filling challah) and a clear demonstration of how to shape a babka.