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Gentle January is back
Plus a sale, green spaghetti, and a very good happy hour
Welcome back and happy new year! This will not be the place for dramatic resolutions or diet culture (the rest of the internet has that covered). I’ve made exactly two successful New Year’s resolutions in my life and both of them were pretty low stakes on the surface (I’m diving into that more in Thursday’s newsletter for paid subscribers).
For summer babies like myself, winter can be a really challenging time, especially January which is just long (and usually cold, climate change permitting). Last year, I discovered a concept by Karlee Sisler Flores (follow her on Instagram) that actually made January a lot better. It’s called Gentle January and it’s a game changer. Instead of making big changes this month (or in addition to doing so) you focus on being gentle to yourself, in small daily rituals and in bigger ways too. For me this means lots of candles, soft fabrics, walks, making more time for yoga (does anyone have a studio they like in Williamsburg? All my pre-pandemic spots have closed), getting a physical, and giving myself grace. It’s about being intuitive not obsessive when I make decisions. It could means spending lots of time with friends or spending lots of time alone. It’s personal to you and you can join the party at any time. I keep the concept in the back of my head when I get tempted to be mean to myself or over schedule every minute of my day. It’s Gentle January and we don’t have time for all of that.
On the food front, January is a great time for cozy soups, baked pastas, and even a hearty shepherd’s pie (I like it with regular potatoes). Watch movies, watch Emily in Paris, watch your houseplants grow (I repotted a plant over the break and it made me feel very accomplished). If you want to spend less time thinking about what to cook, our ebook Meal Prep Made Simple is a great resource—it’s full of menus, grocery lists, and game plans to turn a few hours in the kitchen into a week’s worth of meals. And (shameless plug alert), Erica and I are running a January sale! Use code GENTLE to save 10% on your copy until January 10th.
I’m wishing you a very gentle January and I’m so glad you’re here.
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
I got Smitten Kitchen Keepers for Hanukkah and have flagged so many recipes to make. I started with the cover star, which is also online, and it was so good. I’ve been frustrated by the process of peeling roasted garlic before but Deb has you cut the head of garlic in half and roast it in butter, which means the cloves really do slide right out. I used spaghetti for this and it justified taking out the blender (I really hate cleaning a blender even though it is not hard). Dale and I loved it and I’ll definitely make it again. I served it with roasted honeynut squash because I didn’t want to turn on the oven just for some garlic.
Frida brought me a few of these gochujang caramel cookies and they were incredible, like a snickerdoodle with extra punch.
Julia and I cooked a comforting dinner one cold night: pasta with vodka sauce (I love this recipe so much and use one can of coconut milk instead of the heavy cream) and roasted broccoli with nutritional yeast added at the end. We ate and watched Glass Onion (so good).
I spent a few days with my parents after Pop Pop died and we ate pretty well all things considered. One night we had a little cheese plate appetizer with dried apricots and then made butternut squash risotto (easier than you think) with brussels sprouts on the side.
Dale’s mom cooked us lots of delicious Jamaican food (I don’t have any of the recipes) but I especially loved the callaloo and rice and peas.
Longtime readers might remember a New Year’s day breakfast taco tradition. I didn’t have corn tortillas this year but I made breakfast quesadillas with scrambled eggs, cherry tomatoes, grated cheese, and avocado. Per tradition, this meal must be eaten after noon in something comfy.
Hillary, Julia, Julianne and I did a candle exchange last night and watched The Holiday. We made a spinach ricotta baked pasta (the recipe is Erica’s from a meal prep class), a greek-ish salad with feta and cucumber, and garlic bread. It really helped combat the Monday scaries.
Something to order:
Leah and I had a delicious dinner at Thai Diner that I will always remember because we talked to our grandpa for the last time while waiting to get a table. We had the vegetarian khao soi and the baan salad with crispy rice and then walked to Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels for a glass of wine.
While in Queens, Anjali and I got Dani’s for lunch. I love their sweet sauce and have the best memories of going there as a kid.
Inday is an Indian fast casual spot that I used to go to when I worked near Penn Station many years ago. They recently opened a full service restaurant in Williamsburg and I got a delicious lunch from there with saag paneer, daal, rice, and raita. The space is beautiful and has Martha Stoumen wines on display—I’d love to go back for dinner.
The Flex Mussels downtown location continues to have one of the best happy hours in the city. It’s a whole separate menu, available until 7, which has slightly smaller mussels pots, appetizers, oysters, wine, and cocktails. You can order your whole meal off of it and you should! Hillary, Julia and I got the classic and fra diavolo mussels and had a lovely catchup.
The end of 2022 was pretty rough. Dale really brightened things by suggesting we try to walk into Lilia on a quiet weeknight. I got ready very fast, we went over and had bar seats within 20 minutes (the bar is the best place to sit there). We hadn’t been since 2019 and it was still so good. We started with spritzes and my favorite focaccia with green garlic butter and then got the mafaldini with pink peppercorns. They open at 4 if you’d like to do a walk in (you can tell them what time you prefer for the bar).
Tilden and I saw the Mugler exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum (well done but very crowded, get tickets in advance) and then walked up Franklin for dinner at Ras Plant Based. I love Ethiopian food and the azifa, a green lentil dip with jalapeño, was particularly good. It comes with fried injera chips.
Oset and I had brunch yesterday at Edith’s Eatery and it was so good! My favorite items were the dips, especially the carrot dukkah and the labneh, and the space is also a grocery store with lots of spices and pantry treats.
Something to read:
Alicia Kennedy’s book is officially available for preorder! Can’t wait to read.
Such an important piece: What does it really mean to rest?
For Bustle, I spoke to some wonderful chefs and food people about nostalgic holiday foods. The answers will make you hungry!
I hope you’re hanging in on this Tuesday that feels like a Monday! Be gentle (and grab the ebook with code GENTLE if you’re looking for some dinner inspo).