It’s getting chilly over here in Montreal. Our first snowfall happened a week ago, but until then, I had been in denial about the winter. The turning point was when I asked my mom for an electric blanket for Christmas, and her response was – why should you need an electric blanket when you have central heating??
I have since turned up the central heat in my room – and stocked my closet with oversized sweaters I can climb into. Yes, winter is here.
Perhaps it’s the nature of the season, but I’ve spent a lot more time in the kitchen than normal. I may or may not have stood in front of my oven after baking brownies with my hands hovering over the oven door I had cracked open 😉
So, on that note, here’s a round-up of the books (and articles) I’ve been reading these past few months:
I love making bread, and especially sourdough. Read more from Addie Zierman on the spiritual work of learning to make bread! But I’ve had variable success with the sourdough starter I have (as my sister can attest to :P), from rock hard to soggy.
To be fair, the woman who gave the starter told me to just estimate the amount of flour, oil and water I need to add. You just add until you feel the dough comes together, she said. But I decided it was finally time to up my sourdough skills – hence this book.
And with the recipes plus my trusty measuring scale (I’m learning to use a scale to measure mass, instead of cups which aren’t as accurate), I did produce a lovely pumpkin sourdough loaf, as well as a “friendship loaf” which I then appropriately gave half of to some friends 🙂
So, I went all out into my Korean phase for the month of October. It started with borrowing these cookbooks, then post-iting all the pages based on which ones had colorful, tasty-looking photos and ended with a trip to my local Korean supermarket.
I would say I made some pretty successful bulgogi, spicy pork, and banchan consisting soy bean sprouts, dwenjang spinach, eggplant and tofu.
My most ambitious project, though, was to make my own nangmyeon broth from the radish pickle, having never even eaten nangmyeon before (the picture looked scrumptious though!)
After following the recipe religiously (including diligently fermenting the radish for a couple of days), I ended up serving the nangmyeon twice – to my city group and a friend from lab (result: not bad at all, but VERY spicy, especially when I paired with the spicy pork as shown in table center)
More of a fusion between Korean and New York high cuisine, Koreatown is more of a documentary of an American’s journey into the complexity of Korean flavors. It was filled with full-page glossy photos of crispy pork belly that required more ingredients than I could cobble together, so I ended up taking more notes on its commentary on the particularities of Korean cuisine compared to American. Still useful, though.
So, I love Jodi Picoult’s writing. The first book I read by her was “Small Great Things”, but am in the middle of her latest release (since October of this year!) which immediately hit the NY Times bestseller list when it came out.
In classic Picoult style, she starts her book with a hostage crisis at an abortion clinic, then brings us back in time in the subsequent chapters, where she tells the back-story of each of the characters in the crisis – from the gunman to the hostage negotiator to the abortion doctor.
I get so caught up into the narrative, that I have to be careful not to miss the McGill metro stop 😛 but every time I read her, I’m reminded that we all have a story, and we need to be just a bit more compassionate to people.
A textbook for seminary students, this classic is not for the faint in heart. Craig thoroughly overviews each philosophy pertaining to typical apologetic questions starting from the existence of God all the way to the resurrection, and critically evaluates each one for their logical consistency.
I basically forced myself to crack open this book and read a few pages of it before I fell asleep on the metro ride home, but even a few pages have enough material for you to chew on for a while.
I really enjoyed Yankoski’s later book called “The Sacred Year” – his writing was refreshing and authentic – and after finishing that book, I promptly looked up any other book that he had written.
His other popular book “Under the Overpass” was on his voluntary journey of homelessness through six cities in the USA from Washington D.C. to San Diego – a topic that conveniently also interested me.
His perspective from the eyes of a homeless person was both revealing and convicting – definitely would recommend for anyone curious about what it’s like to live on the streets of America.
On the Biblical word “Hope”, this video recently released by The Bible Project is part of their Advent series:
If you want to hear Jodi Picoult actually speak, this is her class day commencement speech at Princeton 🙂
And finally, some Christmas music to usher in the season! Our worship team has been caught up with the Hillsong Peace Project Album released last year, and especially with the song “Arrival” (listen to the lyrics carefully!):
Small things that make my day
My ballet shoes.
I recently restarted adult ballet classes – still can’t get over the feeling of slipping on my worn shoes that still fit me (apparently my feet haven’t grown since I was 17….) and ending my day with slow plies at the bar.
The three-wick sweet balsam candle from Bath and Body Works.
The mission of the trip was to pick up a candle for Leah’s birthday, but the place draws you in with its delicious scents and not long after, I was walking out with a candle of my own (the very first I have every bought).
What can I say except that it’s been a game-changer. I light it on special nights (only one wick at a time, and if I’m being generous, two) and even after 10 min, my room smells like fresh forest with deep, woody undertones.
My homemade chai tea spice mix + coffee frother.
I found this amazing recipe online – which I will now share with you for a caffeine-free chai tea spice mix. The best part is that it uses all these random spices like nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and ground ginger that I never use except for the very rare time that I bake a pumpkin pie.
My morning routine is now to make some coffee in my moka pot, while I heat up soy milk over the stove. Then I dissolve a teaspoon of my chai spice mix into the milk, and once the milk reaches 60 C (yes I have a little thermometer that’s supposed to be used for turkeys :P), I then froth it up with my handheld frother and attempt some sort of latte art. But yes, this chai latte with a shot of espresso is making my mornings just a bit more beautiful.
This is Us.
I watched the last episode of Season 2 last night – and each episode does not fail to disappoint (except the Superbowl Sunday one was definitely my favorite…ended it with tears streaming down my face but a heart very full).
The way it portrays the reality of human relationship – parenting, marriage, foster care, sibling rivalry – and yet beauty through brokenness, PLUS Mandy Moore’s acting is just.
Ok I’ll stop now 🙂 I tend to blabber on about This is Us during city group and how we can learn valuable life lessons from it, and people have to remind me not to divulge spoilers haha.
Anyway, that’s been me over the past two months. I’m supposed to be grading final reports, but have taken a bit of a break to write this post. I shall now be a good TA and get back to my job 😛 But before I go, happy Advent everyone! My next post shall be on advent and this season of waiting, as I am starting my discovery of what it means to keep the liturgical calendar this year. Until then.