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If you're anything like me, you don't cook...often. Or, not really at all. Cooking for one in New York, it's an uphill battle! With arguably the best restaurants in the country and whatever your little stomach can desire available at the click of a mouse (disclosing Seamless and Grub Hub addiction here), cooking is a rare feat. But I like to think that if I did, I'd have some good material to pull from.
The latest addition to my kitchen bookshelf is Christine E. Nunn's The Preppy Cookbook. As a talented chef at Picnic, her restaurant in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, Nunn shares a raft of seriously good recipes. Like The Official Preppy Handbook's Lisa Birnbach, Nunn also grew up in the wonderful world of prep. And like Lisa, she writes about that world with deep knowledge and humor.
The cookbook is organized by stations of the Preppy Life Cycle: The Formative Years (a highlight is the Thick-as-London-Fog Pea Soup...cook once and feeds for a week), Summer and the Living is Easy (bring on the lobster rolls!), Brunch is a verb (hello Hangover Hash Browns), Luncheons and Showers, and lastly, Home for the Holidays (Nunn's Butternut Squash Lasagna reads as delectable as it probably tastes). Pick up a copy for yourself, host a cocktail party (on a Saturday night, of course), and your closest friends will never be the wiser that you "don't cook" often.
One of my favorite things to do in New York is pop into an independent bookstore and walk out with the first three titles that grab my eye. Yes, I’m knowingly overpaying for titles (thank you, Amazon) but I tell myself that I’m paying for the experience of discovery. Overnight it seems I’ve become a voracious reader. It’s the subways here. Spend two hours a day on a train and see how long it takes for your “incredibly original” band’s new album to get old. I’ll spare you the social experiment—it’s three days.
I judge books by their covers. It may not be fair but it’s the world we live in—first impressions are everything (the occasional insufferable meth-head zombie thriller being only of little consequence to this approach). Daily Rituals: How Artists Work is beautiful—on the inside and out. Mason Currey brilliantly compiles and edits vignettes of writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, poets, philosophers, sculptor, filmmakers, and scientists on how they create (and avoid creating) their creations.
Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) had to have a stiff drink before she began writing. She kept a bottle of vodka by her bedside, reaching for it as soon as she woke and marking the bottle to set her limit for the day. F. Scott Fitzgerald, although, eventually concluded the contrary—”It has become increasingly plain to me that the very excellent organization of a book does not go well with liquor.” Capote couldn’t write unless he was lying in bed, and with a coffee and cigarette in hand at that. Picasso would shut himself in his studio at 2p.m. and typically paint until dusk. Hemingway wrote standing up at a typewriter resting on top of a chest-high bookshelf (and no, contrary to popular lore, he did not begin each session by sharpening twenty number-two pencils). George Gershwin composed at his piano in his pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers—a fitting uniform considering he typically worked for twelve hours or more a day.
If you're a freelance creative, Daily Rituals is a magically inspiring read. There’s a calming sense of relief discovering your routine is not all that different from the greats who came before. Hell, you might realize you're the weird one for not being more eccentric.