Weekend Reading
November 7, 2021

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

In the past few days I’ve been reminded of how powerful it is to step away from things.

I’m just back from Denver, where I was earlier this summer. I’m working with Ashley on cookbook photography, and we had a few big pieces of the project to finish this week.

To shoot the food, we needed to cook the food. I hadn’t eaten some of the dishes in over a year, thanks to the time it has taken me to work on the book.

I was not-so-secretly terrified that the recipes wouldn’t work, that they’d taste funky or fail to stand the test of time. Much to my surprise, everything tasted good.

I rarely reach an end point with recipe development. Just when I think something’s as good as it can be, I tweak it or add something that changes it. There are a few recipes that I’ve made time and time again, and now they’re so beloved that I won’t touch them. But most of my other recipes are perpetual works in progress.

Even so, it’s really nice to reach a point where a recipe is decidedly good enough. And that’s most of what I experienced this week. A few recipes still need work, but it’s time to let go of most of them, which is a relief. (A little scary, but a big relief.)

It’s funny to think that my last trip to Denver was less than five months ago. A lot has changed since then, not in an apparent way, but interiorly and in the daily workings of my life. The contrast is sharp, and it makes me a little sad.

Yet the time between then and now has had some good effects. It has given me perspective and taught me something about letting go. As far as this book is concerned, I can now cook the recipes that took me so much work and second guessing, and I can appreciate them. I’m starting to trust that maybe someone else will, too.

Time, distance, pauses, releases, returns. Such powerful forces.

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


Sausage oatmeal pancakes?! Leave it to Isa.

I’m 100% in the mood for Sophie’s butternut squash harissa dip.

There are plenty of potato gratins making the rounds at this time of year, but I’m really intrigued by this zucchini gratin.

Two words: tofu mozzarella.

Living alone, I could often use a recipe for a small batch dessert. What could be more enticing than these small batch brownies?


1. Daniel Engberg has crafted such a sensitive portrait of James and Lindsay Sulzer and their daughter, Livie. Livie’s traumatic brain injury in May 2020 has changed the work of her two parents, who had previously devoted their respective careers to rehabilitation-focused medical technologies. The article brings up challenging questions about faith, optimism, and acceptance.

2. A look at the complexities and controversy surrounding a blood test that is purported to diagnose fibromyalgia.

3. A nuanced look at the role that cemeteries are coming to play in contemporary life and how our entire approach to handling remains might be shifting.

4. The New York Times Magazine takes a very cool look at how the pandemic afforded us an unprecedented opportunity to study dreams.

5. I was touched by an interview with young naturalist Dara McAnulty. I especially loved this comment:

The entire battle of the book for me—people take different things away from the diary, but the one that I resound with the most is this inner struggle in me about whether or not art or writing or music is worth it. Can it make a difference? Can it change people’s minds? Can it change the world? I think at the end of the book, I realized that yeah, it can. It’s done it before. It changes people’s minds. It shows people the way that the world could be, in spite of the way that it is now. And only by seeing that future can we work towards it.

Have a nice evening, everyone. I’m back in NYC and happy to be here today. I’ll return with some new food this week!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    1 Comment
  1. Thanks for these thoughts and offerings, Gena. I can so relate to that relief that time and distance brings when we finally can accept that what we’ve created is worthwhile in a lasting way. On a small scale I make it a practice not to decide what I think of a piece of writing or a drawing until I’ve at least slept on it. Even if it needs work, it always looks better in the morning. This view, though, is from my 60’s; when I was your age I didn’t know how to do that at all. So I salute you for noticing and embracing the grace of it. Really loved the article about cemeteries and look forward to the interview with the young naturalist. Love you xo

You might also like

Hello, hello, and happy Sunday. It’s been a week of highs and lows here: September’s customary temperature swings, some ups and downs in mood, and some recipe testing triumphs followed up by a couple of spectacular fails. It’s all keeping me on my toes. On Monday evening, a friend invited me to check out a new play, called Aubergine. It’s the story of a chef, Ray, whose father has recently entered hospice care. In nursing his dying father, Ray is forced to confront…

Those of you who’ve been reading for a while might remember that 2017 was the year of bread baking around here. It all started when my friend Ali published her (wonderful) cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs. I’d wanted to get serious about homemade bread baking for a long time, but everything I’d read until that point made my eyes glaze over: it was all so technical and intimidating. Ali’s peasant bread technique—which involves no kneading and almost no dirtying of hands at all, in…

I might as well call this “weekend reading, express edition!” I’m buried under deadlines tonight, so this one has to be short and sweet, friends. Here are the recipes and reads that have my attention this week. My idea of heaven: Sherrie’s avocado toast with cilantro lime cashew cream. I’ve got a taco/tortilla recipe coming up this week, but in the meantime, check out these awesome lentil tacos with tomato radish salsa. Substitute cashew cream or soy yogurt for the creme fraiche in this…

I had a funny Christmas. It was sweet and peaceful in a lot of ways. Lots of quality time with my mom. But weird things kept happening. I walked over to a friend’s apartment on Thursday morning to drop off a gift. She’s not big on celebrating Christmas, but she knows that the holiday is special to me. “How’s your Christmas?” she asked.  “OK,” I responded. As I did, I surprised myself by starting to cry on the street. Something similar happened on Christmas…