You look like you could use a cocktail & carbs

I know many people are feeling a lot of emotions after the election. Maybe you’re feeling triumphant and excited, and you’re ready to celebrate with a gargantuan bowl of carbs, a rip-roaring drink, and a shiny new book. Maybe you’re feeling low and anxious and addled and need a dose of mellowing, homey food, a cocktail to take the edge off, and the hideaway of a book.

Viana La Place Recipe

Either way, we got you. Today, we’re pausing our regular programming to bring you all a nice, comforting meal and a stiff drink. Jarrett and I put together for you these two recipes: one of our favorite pasta recipes from a vintage cookbook and a new cocktail recipe inspired by an upcoming book.

Because, of course, both celebration and depression are improved by a good meal and a good drink.

So now that we’ve made it through, let’s all sit down to dinner together again, forget all the whacky stuff that happened this year, and focus on some really simple food, a great fall drink, and some uplifting reads. I know we can’t fix some of the hurt that’s happened this year, but if there’s anything on this planet that will heal us, it’s got to be spaghetti.

Viana La Place’s recipe for spaghetti with tomato and fresh ginger

Viana La Place Recipe

It’s so funny how we sometimes don’t know our own tastes. I was given Viana La Place’s Unplugged Kitchen by an author and didn’t quite know what to make of it at first. It doesn’t have a single photo in it; the jacket is pretty hideous (but it’s gorgeous with the jacket slipped off); and the author is very opinionated. Weirdly, I fell wildly in love with it. It’s so quiet. Quiet can feel good when you spend all day looking at food blogs and overwhelmingly gorgeous cookbook spreads.

That’s the point of the book: to unplug your kitchen and enjoy the hand-work of cooking. Viana tells readers to chuck their food processors (she says they mash rather than slice and that their sound is horrid in a kitchen); she advocates hand-tearing your lettuce and treating it more gently than we usually do with our spinners and knives; and she thinks we’re missing the point if we make simple food quickly, rather than simple food mindfully.

It’s a good distinction, and it’s a great book. It’s sadly out-of-print now (although still available used online), but here’s one of my favorite simple and slow recipes to make out of it. You’ll be done cooking in 20 minutes or so, and you probably have every last thing on hand already. So why not go ahead and slow down a bit with it, enjoying each little knife slice of garlic as it happens?

Viana La Place’s Recipe for Spaghetti with Tomato and Fresh Ginger

Viana La Place Recipe

Serves 4
Ready in 20 minutes

6 garlic cloves
1 large knob of fresh ginger
1 16-oz package of spaghetti
2 tablespoons of sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves

Place a large pot of water over high heat. While it comes to a boil, peel and finely dice the 6 garlic cloves, then peel and finely dice the ginger until you have ¼ cup of it.

Your water should be boiling about now, so drop in the package of spaghetti and 2 tablespoons of salt. Set a timer for 2 minutes less than the package indicates.

In a medium sauté pan over low heat, add 1/4 cup of olive oil, all the garlic, and ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes; add the ginger and stir for another minute. Add the entire can of tomatoes and stir, smashing the tomatoes if you like it a little less chunky.  (By the way, you can store any leftover ginger in a sealed baggie in the freezer. It’ll keep at least 6 months, but I’ve kept it longer and lived to tell the tale.)

Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Sprinkle with more salt to taste and grind some pepper over it. As the sauce cooks, wash and chop your basil. A chiffonade is nice, but chop it however you darn well please.

Strain the spaghetti, add it to the sauce, toss, and top with basil. Drizzle a bit more olive oil and grind more pepper over each serving at the table. Or, just eat it on the couch, in a big bowl, in your jammies, with a strong drink.

Jarrett has a great one for you:

The We’re-All-Gonna-Be-Okay Cocktail

Pear Brandy Cocktail Recipe

This election year has been something—no matter where you stand, it was a stressful and trying year for us all. But now, at last, November 8th has passed, and we can finally get back to the important things: drinking together.

I’ve got just the thing to wash away any lingering bad tastes on your political palate—this drink is strong, it’s balanced, it’s got integrity, and it’s running for president in 2020. So sit down with it now, share it with a friend, put on some New Orleans parade music, and remind yourself that we’re all gonna be okay.

Makes one drink (but tripling encouraged!)

2 oz. pear brandy (We love Catoctin’s Pear Brandy, but you can also create your own!)
3 tablespoons pear preserve
1/2 oz. lemon juice
Splash of club soda

Combine the brandy, pear preserve, and lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass. (It’s really important you double-strain this particular drink as the preserve creates a lot of undesirable clumps.) Top with a splash of cold club soda.

Recipe inspired by Maggie Hoffman’s upcoming cocktail book, Just One Bottle, represented by Alison Fargis at Stonesong and to be published by Ten Speed Press. Follow Maggie on Twitter here!

What to Read This Week:

15 Authors Running Fantastic Book Promotions on Instagram (Diana Urban for BookBub): I’m a big believer that authors shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel for their marketing campaigns. Instead, just find a few people in your genre who are doing it well (like these 5 authors who are killing it with authentic marketing), then observe, analyze, lather, rinse, and repeat.

What Barnes & Noble Doesn’t Get About Bookstores (David Sax for The New Yorker): “The key question for Riggio now is figuring out what purpose Barnes & Noble serves today. Amazon dominates the industry with low prices and a vast selection, and is even flirting with brick-and-mortar bookstores, having opened two in the past year. Independent bookstores—once assumed to be on their way to extinction—own the romantic notion of a bookstore as a place, like a church or a social club, where communities are nurtured. Barnes & Noble is stuck in the middle, a giant saddled with hundreds of huge stores, and an image of corporate sameness in a market that has increasingly come to treasure defiantly independent bookstores.”

17 Literary Home Accessories Every Book-Lover Should Own (Sadie Trombetta for Bustle): Christmas is coming! If you love a book lover, I highly recommend the library-scented candle and the books-shaped plates. Also, that Kate Spade collection with the watercolor books? Be still my leaping heart.

The Making of the Sqirl Cover, an Illustrated Story (Ali Slagle for Food52): Ever wondered how many iterations of a book cover happen behind-the-scenes before it’s released? This is a great illustrated look at how covers evolve and how competing opinions can be carefully managed. (P.S. This cover is so eye-catching!)

Plenty of Room on the Island (Seth Godin): “…it turns out that the real competition is inaction. Few markets have expanded to include everyone, and most of those markets (like books and music) have offerings where people buy more than one. This means that if there’s more good stuff, more people enter the market, the culture gets better, more good work is produced and enjoyed, more people enter the market, and on and on. So encouraging and promoting the work of your fellow artists, writers, tweeters, designers, singers, painters, speakers, instigators and leaders isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s smart as well.”


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Cacio e Pepe Recipe from Rose’s Luxury & HarperCollins on Why Emails Sell Books

Cacio e Pepe Rose's Luxury Recipe 1

Are you ready for the simplest fancy recipe you’ve ever made?

Meet the Cacio e Pepe Pasta from Rose’s Luxury in DC.

In case you haven’t heard of Rose’s Luxury, it was named the best new restaurant in the country in 2014 by Bon Appétit. So I’d say it’s pretty darn good.

We went to Rose’s for the first time last December for my birthday and stood in line in the freezing cold for an hour, waiting for them to open. They don’t take reservations and had just made the best new restaurant list, so we were not the only fools twiddling our gloved thumbs on the sidewalk.

When we finally made it in in, we ordered just about everything, but as usual, my favorite thing was the simplest thing. It was this Cacio e Pepe Pasta.

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Read, Eat, Drink: How to Hit the New York Times Bestseller List and a Recipe for Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach


How to get published

How Bestseller Lists Work (Tim Ferriss): Ever wondered what it takes to hit the New York Times bestseller list? Well, the truth is that it’s mostly luck, timing, and making sure you’re on the Times’s radar. I’ve seen lots of books with extremely high sales not hit the list, and I’ve also seen plenty of books with moderate sales hit the list, simply because they launched on a slow week. The takeaway? Hitting the NYT list isn’t as much about sheer volume of sales as it is about playing your cards right, while the Amazon lists are a more accurate representation of a book’s popularity.

How to Gain a Massive Following on Instagram: 10 Proven Tactics To Grow Followers and Engagement (Courtney Seiter for BufferSocial): As I’ve written about here, Instagram is an interesting platform because it engenders engagement, and it isn’t over-crowded (yet). It’s also a place with high conversion from fans to sales, so it’s been the hot new thing in the publishing world lately. Is it better for visually driven nonfiction than for fiction? I think so. I’m still of the belief (more on that here) that Twitter is the best social media home for fiction writers.

I Quit My Job Today (And So Can You!) (Sarah Knight on Medium): Ooo, juicy! Don’t we all love a I-quit-my-job-and-went-after-my-dream story? Chasing a passion over a paycheck is practically the American Dream of the millenial generation. Read Sarah Knight’s story of how she quit her Senior Editor job at Simon & Schuster to go freelance, and check her website out here if you’re an author looking for a top-notch editor.

Will Book Publishers Ever Start Fact-Checking? They’re Already Starting (Boris Kachka for Vulture): “It’s every editor’s nightmare,” says an editor. “You live in fear that someone’s gonna get by you. It’s like working for the TSA. You don’t want to be the guy who let the terrorist in.” Being the editor or agent behind a book that’s found out to be fraudulent truly is what our nightmares are made of, but there are so few systems in place for vetting authors and books. Happy to see that some imprints and private companies are finally filling this gap.

The Clues to a Great Story (Andrew Stanton in a TED talk): This is a Watch, not a Read, but it’s a worthwhile one. Stanton is the writing genius behind smash hits like Toy Story and Wall-E, and if anyone knows how to spin a good story, it’s the minds at Pixar. In his words: “Storytelling is joke telling. It’s knowing your punchline, your ending, knowing that everything you’re saying, from the first sentence to the last, is leading to a singular goal, and ideally confirming some truth that deepens our understandings of who we are as human beings. We all love stories. We’re born for them. Stories affirm who we are. We all want affirmations that our lives have meaning. And nothing does a greater affirmation than when we connect through stories. It can cross the barriers of time, past, present and future, and allow us to experience the similarities between ourselves and through others, real and imagined.”

Eat & Drink:

Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach

When I was in college, I studied abroad in Verona, Italy. If you do an Italian vacation right, you should expect to gain a few pounds. If you live there for nearly four months, you can expect to buy a whole new wardrobe. This happened. And naturally, I blame a cookbook.

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Read, Eat, Drink: Why We Can’t Read Anymore and a Mother’s Day Menu


Hugh McGuire on reading

Do you read books anymore? I mean real, whole, chapter-by-chapter books? When was the last time you sat down with a book and read for an hour straight, without stopping to check your phone for a text or email, or taking a break to look up something on your tablet?

It turns out that online reading–emails, social media updates, articles, even this blog post–is stunting our ability to maintain our focus long enough to read whole chapters at a time in a book. As Hugh McGuire writes in this Medium article on Why We Can’t Read Anymore, which I love so much I want to quote it for days and weeks until people ask me to please shut up:

It turns out that digital devices and software are finely tuned to train us to pay attention to them, no matter what else we should be doing. The mechanism, borne out by recent neuroscience studies, is something like this:

New information creates a rush of dopamine to the brain, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good.
The promise of new information compels your brain to seek out that dopamine rush.
With fMRIs, you can see the brain’s pleasure centres light up with activity when new emails arrive.

So, every new email you get gives you a little flood of dopamine. Every little flood of dopamine reinforces your brain’s memory that checking email gives a flood of dopamine. And our brains are programmed to seek out things that will give us little floods of dopamine. Further, these patterns of behaviour start creating neural pathways, so that they become unconscious habits: Work on something important, brain itch, check email, dopamine, refresh, dopamine, check Twitter, dopamine, back to work. Over and over, and each time the habit becomes more ingrained in the actual structures of our brains.

How can books compete?

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