Best of 2015: Books, Movies, Podcasts, Recipes, and More


I’m absolutely loving all of the favorite lists that pop up online this time of the year: in a world where we’re bombarded by this new thing and that new information, there’s something supremely comforting about someone saying “this one, out of all the things – this is best.”  I also think it’s fun to take a mental stroll down memory lane and reflect back on what you read and listened to and ate.  So, a rambling reminiscence on a few of my favorites:

2015 was a year of upheaval for me.  I stopped (for now) writing fiction, moved from New York to San Francisco (and now am moving back to New York again), got my first cookbook deal, got engaged, and celebrated the last year of my 20s.  Books have always been one of my life constants, and interestingly, taking a break from writing fiction freed me up to truly enjoy reading it again, without analyzing each passage to figure how/why the author did that.  My absolute favorite book this year was Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (I’m in good company!).  I’ve long been a fan of Lauren Groff’s writing (her short stories are absolutely breath-taking) but this novel, the story of a marriage told separately from the husband and wife’s perspective, took it to another level.  It’s one of the ones you hide out under the covers with late into the night, and one of the ones that, once you’ve finished, lingers for a long time in your thoughts.

I’m an absolute podcast addict (I listen to Serial, A Couple Cooks, RadioLab, StoryCorps, Inverse/Converse, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin – which is shockingly good – and Magic Lessons, among many others), but I think my favorite episode this year was The Secret History of Thoughts, from the podcast Invisibilia (all the episodes are great, though, and absolutely worth a listen).  The show’s hosts explore some of the crazier psychological questions and phenomena (do my thoughts make me who I am?  What effects do expectations have on results? Is it possible to literally feel what other people are feeling?) in a way that’s so approachable, and so relatable, that you feel like you’re listening to two (really smart, really interesting) girlfriends.  This is one of those podcasts you constantly find yourself sharing facts from at dinner parties, and I can’t wait for the debut of Season 2.

My absolute favorite movie that I saw this year was Brooklyn, which I found so lovely and so sweet.  My favorite food that I ate out this year were the savory Black Olive Madelines at my Manresa birthday dinner, and my favorite recipe that I created has to be my Toasted Quinoa Blueberry Crisp – the texture of the topping is out of this world.  My other favorite recipes this year are tied between Sarah’s Cauliflower Buns and Bagels, Lily’s Green Ice Cream, and Em’s Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes (that caramel sauce!).  I’ve been cooking my way through Anna Jones’ A Modern Way To Eat and absolutely adoring every single recipe, although the Popcorn Tacos and the Black dal have become staples.  I have cookbooks that I end up using more for inspiration than for actual recipes, with dishes that spark my creative fires but feel far too difficult and ingredient intensive to actually pursue cooking.  On the other hand, I have cookbooks that feel so simple that they get shoved in the back of my shelves after I’ve perused the pretty pictures. Anna’s feels like a perfect medium, the Goldilocks book that’s just creative enough to inspire and just accessible enough to actually, well, cook from.

If you follow me on Instagram (or hang out with me in real life), you know it’s long been my favorite social media platform, and this year was no different, despite the emergence of Snapchat and Periscope and the like, which I just can’t seem to get into.  On Instagram, @lumadeline consistently blew me away with her perfectly styled, perfectly lit photos, while @yogagirl inspired me with the power of her body and her words, and @sadanimalfacts made me laugh out loud.  On YouTube (my other media option of choice), I’m absolutely loving Tess Ward – she has such a soothing, rich voice, and she makes absolutely stunning, nutrient-rich food.  With her insanely beautiful hair and really useful tutorials, Claire from the Kitchy Kitchen is another perennial favorite (you can check out my Share Your Routes with her here).

Now tell me: what were your favorites this year?  What made you laugh, cry, scream, or wake up your sleeping partner to discuss?  What podcast should I be listening to, what book should I read next?  I want to know!

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