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Blood Harmony Vol. 21: Holidaze
We’re in the thick of it now my friends!
I genuinely enjoy choosing gifts so this time of year, with its endless gift guides and lists of “Best Ofs”, is a very exciting time for me. I mainly give books and cooking accoutrements because they are relatively low risk and high reward if you get things right. Let’s talk this year’s picks! If you’re a family member and you don’t want your gifts spoiled, maybe don’t read this issue.
In my mind, there’s only one place to go for comprehensive, genre-specific book recommendations and that is the Books We Love list from NPR. Plus the site has a cool design! This year, I bought Siren Queen by Nghi Vo for a friend who enjoys celebrity gossip and reading novels, Rainbow Rainbow: Stories by Lydia Conklin for a non-binary book-loving relation, Blood and Ruins: The Last Imperial War, 1931-1945 by Richard Overy for a WWII enthusiast of my acquaintance (i.e. my Dad) and Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada for a family member for whom I like to buy anything described as “like nothing else I’ve ever read”. I haven’t read any of these books yet. That’s how much I trust NPR’s reviews. I did spend at least an hour adding most of the list to my library hold request list.
Cooking and Such:
I found these olive oils at a great local shop. There’s one for cooking called “Sizzle” and one for salad and such called “Drizzle”. They are tasty, reasonably priced and the bottles have a great design.
This Marna piggy steamer is one of the most utilitarian and cute items in my kitchen. It’s safe to use up to high temperatures, comes in a few sizes and the vents (the piggy’s nostrils) keep things from exploding all over your microwave.
Food writer Ruth Reichl has a fantastic newsletter in which she makes occasional purchasing recommendations. My favorite things so far are this cast iron chainmail scrubber (totally works!) and this absolutely delicious mango puree that I put on all of my breakfasts (currently on sale!). These would be great stocking stuffers.
This year I’m giving a few folks cookbooks and spices. I chose the wonderful Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen which has a lots interesting recipes and great design. The author has a website with a nice selection of spices too. I’m also giving this Sri Lankan cookbook Rambutan. It’s gorgeous and full of interesting bits of history about the author’s family. It would pair well with spices from Diaspora or Burlap and Barrel.
Thanks to Clean: The New Science of Skin and The Beauty of Doing Less by James Hamblin, I’ve dramatically reduced my beauty products consumption. I still like a good eye mask from time to time though and I’m fond of this one which can be reused for up to a year.
I’ve been listening to the new SAULT album 11, the Vieux Farka Toure and Khruangbin collaboration Ali and the new Hermanos Gutiérrez* album El Bueno y El Malo. Oh, and T. Swift obv.
I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with family and we took turns picking movies to watch at night. I highly recommend Fire of Love, a weird and wonderful documentary about two French volcanologists that you can watch on Disney+, and Prey, the most recent Predator film set in a Native American community in the early 1700s and featuring a totally badass Native female protagonist. It’s on Hulu.
Cheers. I’m rooting for you.
*Hermanos Gutiérrez are actual brothers and even though their music is all instrumental, I’m counting them as this issue’s example of blood harmony. Please listen to the Louvin Brothers episode of Cocaine and Rhinestones for more info.