Weekend Reading, 8.6.17
August 6, 2017

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’m just back from a short trip to D.C., where I was visiting family. I had just enough time to walk through my old neighborhood haunts, catch up with a couple friends, and simply enjoy being back in the District.

I expected the memories of my D.C. years to feel weighty. My time in Washington was eventful: it started with a breakup, was enriched by a lot of unexpected friendship and camaraderie, closed the door on my ambitions of being a doctor, and ended with my meeting Steven. I moved to D.C. with one purpose in mind—to get into medical school—and by the time I left I’d come to understand my years in the city as having very little to do with doctoring at all.

There were some little waves of emotion, to be sure, but for the most part the nostalgia I felt was warm and glad. I was reminded of how much I love the city, how many good times I had there, how many friendships I made. I spent a lot of time wandering, not exactly aimlessly but without an agenda, either, and at times the sights were so familiar that it was as if no time had passed at all.

Just as I couldn’t have predicted how my time in D.C. would turn out before I moved south, I would never have imagined, when I left the city with Steven, that our relationship would end the way it did, or that transitioning back to life in New York would be as complicated as it has been. But that’s life. It’s humbling to look back at one’s expectations and marvel at their distance from how things actually turn out. And I guess there’s plenty to learn from the miscalculations 🙂

New York City is undeniably my home, but it’s nice to be reminded that I have another home in the world, too—a city that totally defied my expectations and took me by surprise with its welcoming arms. After a year of lots of alienated sensations, it’s also comforting to be reminded that belonging can find us anywhere, even when we least expect it. Lately I’m starting to feel as though I’m coming home to myself in small ways, and somehow this little trip felt connected to that process, though I’m having a hard time articulating why.

Hope you’ve all enjoyed a happy, restful weekend, and that you’re ready to feast your eyes on some very tasty vegan recipes.


I don’t think I can ever get enough of quinoa salads, let alone those that are Mediterranean-inspired and bursting with color. I love this simple recipe from Lauren Caris.

Speaking of quinoa, the idea of a tofu quinoa taco meat is new to me, but I think it’s pretty genius. Here, Alexa combines her tofu quinoa taco meat with a simple tahini kale slaw, and the result is a recipe I’m dying to try.

…and if you happen to need something to top your tacos with, how about Lisa’s grilled corn salsa? Simple, juicy, and delicious, and you don’t need an outdoor or indoor grill to make it happen! Lisa uses the burner to get a nice char on her corn (it’s a technique similar to some recipes for charring eggplant), then tosses it with red onion, cilantro, and cherry tomatoes.

I’ve never loved silken tofu—usually I save it for dressings and use the meatier stuff in my cooking—but Elyse’s silken tofu bowl with spicy mushroom sauce has me excited to try it in a new way.

Aimee’s vegan peanut butter chunk pretzel cookies are finding me exactly at a time when I’ve been enjoying crumbled pretzels in homemade trail mix and thinking about the possibilities for baking. Can’t wait to make these.


1. A really cool article about how rogue planets—also labeled poetically as “solar exiles”—are roaming the Milky Way. The animation alone is sort of mesmerizing, and worth checking out.

2. A new smartwatch, which emits a high-frequency ultrasound wave that bounces off nearby objects, has been designed to help blind people navigate. The band is sensitive to the strength of proximity, and its vibrations are stronger or weaker depending on how close a body or an object is. Pretty cool.

3. Also on the topic of tech breakthroughs in medicine, a Florida resident named Johnny is getting the most advanced robotic arm in the world. This article shares all of the details, including some very cool images and video footage of the prosthesis in action.

4. Emily Gould interviews Laura Shapiro, whose new book, What She Ate, tells the “food stories” of six women: poetry muse Dorothy Wordsworth, pioneering restaurateur Rosa Lewis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, consort Eva Braun, novelist Barbara Pym, and Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown. Shapiro “chose these particular wildly different women because they were all, in contemporary parlance, ‘influencers’ — of art, culture, politics, and women’s roles in society. The only thing they all have in common besides that is that they all ate food.”

I tend to feel that what we eat tells a powerful story about our inner lives—not to mention our culture, habits, and so on—and I love the idea of biography through food.

5. If you’ve thought about starting a journal for any reason—be it highly purposive or an exercise in self-expression—this article has some good tips.

It suggests picking a focus as a way of getting started, which I think is helpful, but it also notes that journaling can be an opportunity to let the mind wander, for seemingly disconnected ideas to dance on the page. This state of “flow” is often the most valuable part of the whole enterprise. I don’t journal consistently, but I do it cyclically, in phases, and creating a space for my untidy thoughts is part of what I like.

Happy Sunday to you, and I’m excited to arrive back here in a couple days with a tasty, Middle Eastern inspired recipe!


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  1. I will certainly have to add What She Ate to my reading list. My wife and I have been getting in to many of these types of books and love adding to our collection. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Hi Gena, It was so powerful to read of your return to DC and what it meant to you, how it felt. It’s always powerful to return to places that have shaped our lives and our hearts. It has to be when the time is right, and it sounds like that happened for you. I especially loved that you had the time to “wander” and just let the atmosphere wash over you and remember and reflect. On another note, oh my goodness, those peanut butter cookies you posted! They just might have to be made for my son’s birthday treat! xoxo

  3. I just want to say that What She Ate sounds like an AMAZING read! Food/diet can definitely say a LOT about a person, and I’m super excited to read the book as soon as I can get my hands on it 🙂 Honestly, it sounds like my kind of feminist/foodie combo! 😉 Much love your way. I always look forward to your weekend reading post.

  4. I’m so glad you had a lovely visit to DC 🙂 I always love wondering around the hood you’re referring to, and did so today without agenda. It was a gorgeous summer day in the District and though I live over the river in VA now, I go back every chance I get. It never fails to charm me. It’s also where a lot of my formative 20-something years took place, so it feels like going home. Like the places you learned to really be yourself, before you knew what that meant. Where you were brave without realizing your bravery, and strong before you knew you had that strength.

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