Beach Sunsets and Bad Photos
Plus, the eggplant recipe you convinced me to make
Newsletter writing is a fairly solitary pursuit, which is why conversations with fellow writers always feel so refreshing. Alicia and I chatted for her newsletter about the challenges being a food person online and the pressures of making beautiful content in the midst of living (and doing many other jobs). Real life is famously not picture perfect and capturing photos (and videos) from moments you want to share is another layer of work, both conscious and unconscious. It’s a type of work I deeply respect but it’s a different skill than writing or reporting. I’m flattered Alicia included me in her essay and our conversation helped connect a lot of dots.
When I spent weeks trying to pick new dishes last year, I wasn’t only thinking of the photos I’d take on them, but I wasn’t not thinking about that either. I’ve been sending out this newsletter for almost five years and while it has almost always included images, photography (and video creation) has never come naturally. I include photos to help tell the story and to show you that food does not always have to be perfectly shot and styled to do its job and bring joy. I aim for approachable, not aspirational and I thank you for coming on the ride with me. If you have thoughts on this topic, I’m all ears! Reply to this email so we can chat!
Something else on my mind has been the nights when we choose takeout over cooking, which I’ve done as recently as Friday. Over on Instagram, you all shared your reasons with me, which include dishes, fatigue and wanting a food you can’t cook yourself. I’m diving into the topic on Thursday with a kind of decision tree to help tackle some of these issues if you want to cook more.
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
I challenged myself to make a low dishes dinner and landed on frozen dumplings panfried with spinach. The dish total was one pan, one wooden spoon, a bowl, and a fork.
Leslie and Izzy had a baby and I made them some food. I approached it like a mini meal prep and made banana bread, black bean burgers, and an orzo salad that’s in Meal Prep Made Simple. I also got to meet the baby which was the best!
Ali Stafford’s roasted eggplant involtini made back to back appearances in the cooking recap on Instagram so I had to give it a go (the cooking recap is a weekly series where you share the best things you’ve cooked that week). I’ve made eggplant parm before and it’s so much work. This is a lot easier as long as you have two sheet pans (line them for easier cleanup) and you get to play with your food as you roll the eggplant. It turned out really well even though my eggplant was not perfectly sliced (I used Rao’s sauce and storebought ricotta). I served it with warm bread and I’ll be eating the leftovers all week (Dale says he doesn’t like eggplant but I’m going to see if this changes his mind).
Something to order:
Erica and I had a belated birthday dinner and sleepover (it’s still virgo season). We went to Colonia Verde, which was delicious and the space is really cool. We sat in the greenhouse and there’s also a lot of outdoor seating). Get the pão de queijo, the baby eggplant with mole, and the churro doughnuts. I repeat, get the churro doughnuts with ice cream. They also have great cocktails and natural wine.
We had our final beach day of summer on Saturday at the Rockaways and naturally had to get Rippers. I love a drive to the beach with a great soundtrack (Hillary, Amy, Dale, and I jammed to some serious throwbacks) and the day was really special. Rippers also has some new merch that’s very cute (Dale got a shirt and I’m wishing I did too). The Rippers veggie burger is made in house and you should order it with american cheese if you’re not vegan. Also get the cheese fries with the cheese on the side. The fries are so well seasoned and crisp—I always eat a few while carrying the food from the stand to our spot on the sand. And the Beachtender makes the best nutcrackers! Look for the guys wearing shirts with the logo.
I worked from the West for a few hours this week and was reminded of the pleasures of coffee shop working (the eavesdropping, the espresso, the ambient music). If you go, get a breakfast burrito or avocado toast and settle in. I started going to the West in 2017 or 2018 and it holds lots of special memories.
Something to read:
If you want more reads (and extra commentary), upgrade your subscription
The Queen Represented Racist Violence As Much As She Did Glamour (Hitha shared this fantastic article)
Workers with monkeypox struggle without paid sick leave. We’ve learned the wrong lessons from Covid.
I had Zac Efron posters on my wall for many years so I am obligated to share this profile. He’s looking and feeling good.
As a vegetarian, I’m not a huge tasting menu fan, but I am happy to see a new wave of more affordable ones (maybe next they will accommodate dietary restrictions).
The recipe convention that dooms home cooks. Does this instruction confuse you?
As a former Philly food reporter (at a college magazine), I was fascinated by this look at Philly food influencers and the PR executive who is also an influencer.
An environmentalist gets lunch. Sometimes the most environmentally friendly option isn’t what you think.
Ideas for packing lunch (for kids or adults)
There’s no question this week, but if you’re able to do one thing after reading this, call or text someone you love and remind them that you love them.
Thanks for being here!