What the SAL Staff is Reading (and Eating!): Fall Edition
November 19, 2021
In this edition of SAL Staff Reads, we turn our attention to Thanksgiving break, where our eleven team members answer the two most burning questions of the moment: what to eat—and what book to unwind with after the eating is done!
Piper Daugharty, WITS Program Associate
I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins; a favorite sister-soul-writer, Claire Vaye Watkins is truly the writer writing the American West—in all its glory and gore, historical violence, colonization, isolation, beauty, addiction, and death. This book is a holiday treat to myself that I’ve been saving—and rumor has it, there are scarily-familiar-autobiographical themes, including a father who was Charles Manson’s groomer; hauntings by a mother both deeply loved and failed by systems like the opioid epidemic and generational poverty; desert cults; postpartum depression; abandonment; and all the kitschy, deeply disordered neon-lights of Las Vegas, Reno, and the Shoshone desert.
My go-to, year-round drink (especially when I was fishing in the cold Alaskan summers), a medicine in itself: a classic hot toddy with Bulleit bourbon. People don’t realize how easy hot toddies are to make, and one of my passions is treating folks to my fun twists. The key? Make sure to steep your lemon-and-ginger tea for more than ten minutes before adding the liquor. Add fresh lemon juice and ginger shavings, perhaps a cinnamon stick (or straight nutmeg / cardamom), and my favorite is a dash of Tabasco or another favorite hot sauce. Honey or agave at the end, stir, then add your whiskey or bourbon of choice!
Mickee Cheung, Donor Relations Associate
I’ll be finishing up Anne Liu Kellor’s Heart Radical and starting on Jane Wong’s How to Not Be Afraid of Everything! These two fellow Chinese American women are both such tremendous writers and big influences on my own writing, and I can’t wait to just sit in the company of their words, along with a steaming mug of jasmine tea!
Amanda Carrubba, Finance & Operations Director
My daughter Aria and I just ordered some books from her (virtual) school book fair, so I suspect we’ll be reading those a lot! I’m particularly excited about the two Narwhal and Jelly books by Northwest author Ben Clanton. They are funny and sweet, and they eat a lot of waffles, so who doesn’t love that? These books will probably paired with hot chocolate and waffles, I’m thinking.
Woogee Bae, Events & Annual Giving Manager
I’ll be reading Tastes Like War by Grace M. Cho. I’ve been interested for some time in what meanings food may offer—nourishment and comfort, but also hunger, survival, or memory. Cho’s book meditates on some of these themes, and connects it back to her late mother. She learns to make the Korean dishes from her mother’s childhood to hold space for her. It feels appropriate to honor food in this way, to remember and love our pasts / what’s passed, as much as present.
The food I’d enjoy alongside this book is japchae, a Korean noodle dish made from sweet potato starch noodles and various vegetables. It’s also a dish my mother made often in my childhood, for potlucks, holidays, ordinary weekends.
Alicia Craven, Education Director
This is a treasured and really basic biscuit recipe from my Grandma (aka, Nana) 😉 I’ll be making them over the holidays, as per tradition:
- 2 cup flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup shortening (AKA Crisco)
- ¾ – 1 cup milk
Sift together flour and baking powder, cut in shortening with 2 knives. Add enough milk to make soft dough. Roll out ½ inch thick on lightly floured board and cut (if you don’t have biscuit cutter you can use a glass jar). Coat each side with melted margarine or oil and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with butter and honey.
I will be pairing them with this graphic novel: Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke. This book seems heavy, but it’s beautifully rendered, combining personal memoir and sociology, and it will be a moment of gratitude to get to actually gather with other humans this year while reading it.
Indira Dahlstrom, WITS Program Coordinator
Over the break, I’ll be reading Cathy Park Hong’s book of poems from 2012, Engine Empire. I was first introduced to Cathy Park Hong through her nonfiction, and I am so eager to encounter her poetic voice! A drink I’ll be enjoying while I read it is my dad’s chai, since I’ll be with family.
Leanne Skooglund, Development Director
In the spirit of giving thanks for the farmers and the land that produces our food, I plan to be reading Natalie Baszile’s We Are Each Other’s Harvest while sipping a cabernet and feasting on my favorite melange of roasted root vegetables.
Letitia Cain, Marketing Coordinator
I’ll be reading A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib—I’ve been waiting to read this book by Abdurraqib ever since I heard this podcast, and I can’t wait to be immersed in Abdurraqib’s essays that weave together history, criticism, and prose—a book described as “searing, revelatory, [and] filled with heartbreak and unstoppable joy.”
Since it will be holiday break time, I will be enjoying a hot cup of tea and some holiday treat, a favorite being these double chocolate figs from Fran’s.
Rebecca Hoogs, Executive Director
I’ll be reading Bewilderment which it feels like everyone else has already read and loved, but since we have Richard Powers coming in April, I just haven’t gotten there yet. I’ll be pairing it with Apple Cider Doughnut Cake, of course! If my 8-year-old doesn’t eat it all first. Recommended for breakfast and dessert.
Christina Gould, Patron Services Manager
I will be getting on a plane and heading to Arizona for the holiday break. My joy will begin as I start to read Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr on the plane. The holiday season seems like the right time to read this soaring work about children on the cusp of adulthood and the vast interconnections we have with each other and those that came before us and will come after. Once off the plane and settled in the land of the sun, I trust that sipping tequila in a recipe provided by my dear friend, will be part of the equation as I lose myself in the world created by Anthony Doerr.
Alison Stagner, Interim Public Programs Director
Over break, my deepest desire is to sink my fork into this Cranberry-Pomegranate Mousse Pie from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. If you’re attempting this pie with me and are located in the Seattle-area, a good place to buy your pomegranate molasses is Goodies Mediterranean Market, located on Lake City Way. If you slip downstairs afterwards, you can get some of the best shawarma at their little restaurant.
There’s no better pairing than a tart pie and something sweet to read, so I’ll be finishing up The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo. Vo’s short novel is a dark, enchanted, and sexy retelling of The Great Gatsby, told from the perspective of Jordan Baker—the perfect cozy and autumnal read, in my opinion.