Happy Christmas! As we look back on a year that was highly disruptive and full of baby giggles, toddling steps, and general chaos, a few recipes, books, and places stand out as our favorites from 2022.
Top 6 Books
1) Bringing Up Bébé – We have read a whopping number of parenting books, having one child who is only just starting to speak, we feel relatively confident in exactly how very little we know about the care and cultivation of little souls. But t
his book made us laugh and ask questions about which aspects of parenting are cultural or even relatively new and gave us confidence to ask other people for wisdom. It also empowered us to have cake (with Evie) once a day.
2) Kurt Wallender series – Marieke’s mystery book club meets once a month to discuss different mystery authors. The Kurt Wallender series stood out as a weighty and thoughtful reflection on man’s sinfulness and the reality of confronting evil in a cul
ture prone to denial and respectability. M. L. Longworth was another favorite, a mystery series set in Provence.
3) Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year — Anne Lammott’s diary of her first year of parenting was a zany alm of hysteria and tenderness. She is unflinching about the pain, confusion, and difficulty of the first months but also the desperate love that comes with having a child. It’s funny and raw and was a great postpartum read.
4) The Bitcoin Standard — Too late for those awkward Thanksgiving conversations with extended family asking you if you regretted investing in fake money, this book is a philosophic and historical context of the evolution of money and why bitcoin is not a scam. A great primer that is Brent’s go-to giveaway book for Bitcoin skeptics.
5) The Thursday Morning Murder Mystery Club, #1 and #2 — A group of old age pensioners solve mysteries in their spare time, pulling in members of the community into their antics and revealing their own history in the meantime. Laugh out loud funny at times, poignant and sweet as well.
6) Book Lovers — Emily Henry’s book about literary editors was the perfect book for what it is. There is play on literary tropes, there is a sweetness without it turning completely saccharine, and it is funny without being overwrought. A fun and slightly nerdy book-lovers’ romance.
Evie’s Top 3 Books
1) Goodnight, Gorilla — Evie’s emphatic contribution to this list is a short and sweet mostly picture book with some excellent subtle humor.
2) Always — The first year of life was an incredible lesson in unconditional love. This simple children’s book is a bedtime standard at our house. “Sometimes you’re scared, sometimes you’re brave, sometimes you misbehave… But no matter what you say or do, I will always love you.”
3) Opposites with Frank Lloyd Wright — If reading books to infants has taught me anything it is the more interesting the book to the reader, the higher the likelihood of parenting sanity. This is a fun take on an opposites board book, there are textures, there are flaps, there is architecture. Get thee a stash of books thou mindest not a thousand times to read — Parenting Advice from 1800.
Top 5 Recipes
Anyone knows that a year is just 730 opportunities to try new recipes! Here are some of our finely-honed favorites from this year.
1) The Stew — Former NYT Food Writer Alison Roman has a way with unexpected and comforting flavors. Her chickpea stew is a great example on our monthly rotation. Even Evie approves.
2) Citrus Braised Pork — Ashley Rodriguez’s cookbook Date Night is outstanding and includes several favorites, including this citrus braised pork. Orange juice, lime zest, and 10 yes count them 10 garlic gloves go into the marinade for this phenomenal dish. If 6 hours in the oven is unmanageable, it also works with 1.5 hours in the Instant Pot. We eat this in salad, on tostadas, as nachos, it all works.
3) Chicken Tortilla Soup — If you live near us and had a baby or surgery this year, you probably ate this chicken tortilla soup. Ree Drummond’s mostly-canned recipe is easy to throw together and absolutely delicious, but no skrimping on toppings. Brent insists I admit that we often buy rotisserie chicken to make this soup even easier to make. It’s true.
4) Costco Brownies — Costco’s six pack of Ghiradelli’s triple chocolate brownies are a staple in our household. We’ve swirled lingonberry jam atop, crushed candycanes, flirted with caramel strands, and always top with Maldon salt.
5) Crispy Chicken Burrito Bowls – This one-pan wonder is from Caroline Chambers, a mom who knows how to maximize flavors with excellent culinary skills and minimal clean up required. We make a version of this almost every other week, cooking rice etc. in salsa verde and chicken broth. Outstanding.
Top 3 Games
1) Splendor – Splendor is an addicting game of gem collection with some real insights into wealth creation. It is deceptively simple. It is higly addictive.
2) Scrapple – After some highly-contested Scrabble games, we decided to create our own version of this classic board game. Pick an accent or a dialect and then play words in that accent or dialect. (Phonetics for the win!) Scrabbles abound and the arguments deteriorate quickly into laughter.
3) Bocce Ball — After playing Bocce at Brent’s cousin’s house, we decided to put a bocce ball court into our sideyard. A social game, accessible to all skill levels and athleticism, it is leisurely and yet social. Now accepting applications to our league.