Tahini salmon, an unreliably narrated thriller, body swap horror-comedy, and more.
Digest #30 - August 1st 2021
Happy Sunday my dear readers!
I’m on time sending this for once, which I hope comes as a lovely surprise. A small indication that my life is a little more on the rails, maybe ;) I hope you enjoy this week’s recommendations, and I also hope at least a few of you hit reply to let me know what you think!
With love from sunny Atlanta,
This weeknight dinner recipe is too yummy not to share. The salmon came out of the oven really tender, with a thick and bubbling tahini sauce baked right onto it and a delicious crust, from the sumac and za’atar (a spectacular Middle Eastern spice blend of ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds and salt). I served it on a bed of creamy mashed potato, because that was what I had on hand, and it was a smash hit. Even my 19-month-old son Leo was a fan, and ate everything on his little plate (then demanded blueberries, which is typical). Super simple and easy to make, you’ll just need to source some good quality tahini, sumac and za’atar — I get mine at my local farmers market. But if you start to cook Ottolenghi recipes, as I basically beg you to every month, you’ll need those on hand!
This week I made it a priority to get some recreational reading time in during Leo’s lunchtime naps, and finished this thriller novel by Carola Lovering. The plot centers on 29-year-old Skye Starling, who has a mental health issue that has prevented her from forming lasting romantic connections. When her much older boyfriend, Burke, proposes to her, she thinks she’s finally getting her happily ever after. It’s quickly revealed that he’s actually married with kids, and his reasons for lying lead down a pretty wild path that doesn’t end up where I assumed it would. The novel interweaves the perspectives of three characters, and as the reader you aren’t sure whose narration is reliable. A few things about the novel irritated me, which I can’t reveal without spoiling it, but the plot was compelling in a way that has led my mind to return to small elements of it over the days since I put it down. It’s fundamentally about rich white East Coast Americans, and other people aspiring to be rich white East Coast Americans, but layered with trauma and serious explorations of mental health issues. It’s also important to flag that this book contains depictions of sexual assault and other traumatic events that are quite graphic. They’ll come from left-of-field if you aren’t expecting them.
My husband Alex and I watched this last weekend for date night, our welcome reprieve from toddler-friendly content, and it scored highly with both of us. The film is a twist on the mystical body swap convention (i.e. Freaky Friday), with a teenage girl inhabiting the form of a serial killer after he is interrupted while trying to murder her. It has your Scream-esque teen slasher conventions, but with a huge amount of humor and some more heartfelt subplots to make you care whether the main characters make it or not. In many ways, it’s a predictable ride, but it’s extremely fun all the same. Vince Vaughan and Kathryn Newton both give absolutely stellar performances though, which knock this one out of the park and make it worth your time.
I’ve been watching Mike from Mike’s Mic (that’s a mouthful) for a little while now. He managed to successfully hack the YouTube algorithm by posting consistently over the past couple of years, and has gained a huge number of subscribers over a relatively short timespan because of that. He deserves all the attention he’s getting because his content is golden. I don’t even want to point you to a specific video (though this one is sooooo me and this is a true classic), because whatever you randomly click on is going to be enjoyable. He has a sense of humor that is perhaps distinctly Australian, but also has a wide-reaching kind of relatability. He’s whip smart and makes hilarious pop culture references, while never taking himself too seriously. This is what the internet is for my friends, its ability to make stars out of mild mannered 20-something queer boys in their living rooms. You’re welcome in advance.
I recently started to rewatch Lost Girl, a show I streamed weekly over the five seasons it aired from 2010-2015. I described it to one of my best friends KaM as “a Canadian fantasy show I used to watch where a bisexual succubus has a werewolf-guy love interest and a human lady scientist love interest, and quirky best friend sidekick”. It’s the kind of show that is usually centered around a ‘mystery of the episode’, a la early Buffy seasons, but with the kicker that one of the main characters (said werewolf-guy) is a cop so it’s also kind of detective procedural, a la early Angel. It might sound overstuffed, but it’s self-aware and campy in a way that makes it all super fun. It was also one of the first times I ever saw truly positive depictions of a bisexual character, without being reduced to tropes, and also functional polyamorous dynamics. If you’re into these types of fantasy shows, I highly recommend it! If you’re in the US, the show streams free on CW Seed (no sign up required).
My friend Ceri sent this to me a while ago and I have returned to it with joy this week. It is one of those beautiful music videos I could watch a hundred times and not get sick of. Makes me want to drive to New Orleans today. Maybe in the Fall. Play this and try not to dance. That’s a dare.
This is a very silly video but it made me laugh. Hope it makes you laugh too!