I love year-end retrospectives, and so, joining in like a guest unafraid of water at a pool party, here’s mine!

I read about thirty books this year, some from a list of classics, including La Cousine Bette and Desperate Characters, and some specific self-help books including The Highly Sensitive Person, The Actor’s Life and The Business of Being a Writer. Some books went together, like Wuthering Heights and Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of the author. I got immersed in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle in March but came up for air after the first two books and decided not to plunge back in. I stuck a toe in graphic novels, including Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? and Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Light reads included Theft by Finding and Brunch is Hell. Because I liked Carol Shield’s advice on writing, I read Stone Diaries. I liked Sally Mann’s book Hold Still, a choice influenced by Austin Kleon’s advice. University course subjects lead me to read Halfbreed by Maria Campbell and a collection of biographies on and writings by Nellie McClung. 

On a whim I like to take out cookbooks at the library. These included How to Cook a Wolf, Six Seasons, Love and Lemons, My Kitchen Year, and Repertoire. I follow a menu plan for the year that is flexible enough to allow for new recipes and improvements, like when Jessica Battaliana’s Pork Saltimbocca surpassed all previous Chicken Saltimbocca attempts. And we’d probably adopt Jeanine Donofrio’s Vegan Carrot Waffles forever were it not our son’s aversion to carrots even in their sneakiest form. Food 52’s Fasoolya Khadra was deceptively delicious. We also liked their Rosy Chicken paired with Joy of Cooking Baked Polenta. Another delight was Cauliflower Ragu from Six Seasons. I’ve upped my salad repertoire thanks to the New York Times list of 101 Simple Salads of which the in-season peaches and tomato salad is a tasty memory. An August brunch stands out for its Plum Poppy-Seed Muffins and Mushroom and Shallot Quiche. Deb Perelman is a go-to for so many good recipes. Marie-Hélène’s birthday supper request was her Everyday Meatballs with fresh pasta. The Ice Cream Cake Roll was an impressive birthday dessert. Fresh strawberries still make Strawberry Shortcake one of my favourite desserts. In the summer we make Tomato Corn Pie. Around Christian’s birthday, we look forward to Butter Chicken. His favourite dessert is an Apple Crisp without oatmeal in the topping.

Still-young children make for a lot of nights in, but we did try out The Mitchell Block, Passero, and Nuburger at the Common on dates out. On weekends we’ll make a treat of a drink and Netflix. After watching Mindhunter, Rectify, Charité, Halt and Catch Fire, Ozark, Better Call Saul, the rest of Suits and most of Fargo, we’re looking forward to new seasons! On regular television Life in Pieces makes us laugh the most. 

And you? Do you have any recommendations?