Weekend Reading
August 29, 2021

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

On Tuesday, after more than eight hours of cooking on a piping hot day, with my windows closed and AC unit running, my carbon monoxide alarm started wailing.

I spent the following two hours with the New York Fire Department and Con Edison. It was determined that I needed a new oven. I’m still waiting on said oven to be cleared for use. Great timing with my cookbook manuscript deadline—Wednesday of this week—and my frantic attempt to test the last few recipes.

As soon as my oven was deemed unusable, I started panicking. Writing this book has been an ordeal, honestly, and I wasn’t prepared to have my fire taken away at the 11th hour.

The firemen who answered my 911 call were kind enough to stay with me for almost an hour, while we waited for CO levels to drop and Con Edison to show up. One of them pointed out how lucky I was that my carbon monoxide monitor had gone off when it did. “Sometimes they don’t,” he said. “They’re out of batteries, or they just don’t work.”

As soon as he said that, everything snapped into perspective. I felt absolutely fine as my CO levels climbed indoors. There was no odor or fume that would have alerted me. Had the alarm not gone off, I’d have gone to sleep a few hours later.

I’m more stressed about work than I have been since my post-bacc. And of course getting the oven replaced and checked for safety has been a hassle, a lot of waiting and making pesky follow up calls. But this stuff isn’t life-or-death, whereas high carbon monoxide levels can be.

I’m carrying my stress into this new week, but I’m bringing my gratitude along as well. I’m grateful for my home, for the monitors and alarm that kept me safe, for the firemen who helped me to ventilate my space and monitored my air, the ConEd engineer who diagnosed the problem and stayed here till 11pm, when my CO levels were completely normal again.

I’m especially grateful for the friend and neighbor who has allowed me to show up at her doorstep with bags full of groceries in the last few days, loaning me use of her oven so that I don’t fall critically behind with my recipe trials.

I have so much fortune and support. The universe has an odd sense of humor sometimes, but life is good.

Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.


I could use some (baked) mac and cheese right now! My friend Britt just posted a gluten-free version that looks terrific.

A colorful, refreshing summer Southwestern chopped salad.

I’m eyeing Sadia’s chickpea rice tortilla soup.

I can’t get enough cold cucumber salads at this time of year. I love the looks of Lisa’s pickled cucumbers.

Who doesn’t need a pick-me-up chocolate cupcake from time to time?


1. An essay on slime that is so much more. “We are made by, and for, one another.”

2. Tulare Lake in the San Joaquin Valley gives us a peek into the history of modern food production.

3. “We are all exposed and we are in all of this together”: the challenges and difficulties of distributing vaccines in conflict zones.

4. Honestly, I know next to nothing about knives. But now I know a little more.

5. In my online work I come across a lot of what could be classified as either “toxic positivity” or spiritual bypassing. I’m intrigued by the notion of “tragic optimism,” a determined search for meaning that doesn’t ignore darkness or pain.

Stay safe and well, friends. Take good care of your home detectors. And I’ll be back soon.


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  1. Gena,

    I am so glad that you are safe. God bless our first responders too who do the unthinkable for us every day.

    Good luck this week with finishing your book. Don’t forget to give yourself a huge pat on the back for even having a carbon monoxide detector. Many people don’t. (And if you don’t have a fire extinguisher consider getting one. That might be a nice peace of mind thing too.)

    Stay safe!

  2. GeeZ, Gena, So glad you are alright! I know first hand what a scare that can be and how it puts things in perspective. I had an issue with a leak at my little house on Van Buren Street back in Moscow and didn’t know it. I had a CO detector but it was a small leak and didn’t detect it. But I was sitting right next to it most of the time and developed headaches, mouth sores etc. If I hadn’t committed to getting the gas fireplace cleaned I never would have discovered what the heck was going on. That appointment saved my life. It turned out the stove had a crack and could not be operated safely. It also turned out there was a small gas leak from where it came in at the wall to the stove. So I get it. But what a time for it to happen. Blessings to your neighbor for giving you a place to finish testing your recipes! Sending you a big hug. Oh and I read that piece about tragic optimism recently–I loved it. And love you too xoxo

  3. So scary. Glad you are safe and alive! Happy to hear you had such kind person helping you. Keep up your perspective on the big picture.

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