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NYT Bestselling Author. Reluctant master of packing light. Lover of beautiful shoes & spicy food. Lapsed ballerina. Cook. Book junkie.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


OK, so I’m a disgrace for not having posted monthly suggestions in so long, but the world during the past few days has made me think good things are more essential than ever…



When my son was young, he was fascinated by all things space-related, and we read pretty much every book written about NASA and the Space Race. There’s a lot of good reading to be done on the topic, but Michael Collins, command module pilot of Apollo 11, penned what is without question the best of all the astronaut memoirs. He recounts the technical details, challenges, and triumphs of the program, but even better, he captures the profound emotion of it all. You can’t read this book and not be affected by it.



Sticking with my space theme, this docudrama produced by Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Brian Glazer, and Michael Bostick is simply fantastic. Each two-hour episode (which feels more like a movie than part of a mini-series) covers a different aspect of the Space Race. The fifth, “Spider,” which tells the story of the men who designed and built the Lunar Modular is my favorite, but there isn’t a weak installment in the series. The acting is flawless, and the special features are worth a look, too. It’s always mind-blowing to hear the astronauts talk about their experiences. Great for cool weather binge-watching.



Cinnamon rolls are always time-consuming to make, but the effort is more than worth it. This recipe, from Williams Sonoma, is my favorite as you do all the work—and most of the rising— the day before. With just one rise left in the morning, you can have breakfast perfection without having to get up in the middle of the night. My son often requests these for his birthday…
For the dough: 
• 1 Tbs. (1 package) active dry yeast 
• 1/2 cup warm water (105°F) 
• 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed 
• 4 eggs 
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
• 2 tsp. kosher salt 
• 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
• 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon 
For the vanilla glaze: 
• 1 cup confectioners’ sugar 
• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
• 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted 
• 2 Tbs. milk 
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the water, allow to bloom for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot, about 30 minutes. 
Add the eggs, granulated sugar, salt and the remaining 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the room-temperature butter and continue to knead, adding a little flour to reduce stickiness if needed, until the dough is smooth, 10 to 12 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 2 hours. 
Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll out into a 15-by-10-inch rectangle. Brush the rectangle with half of the melted butter, leaving a 2-inch-wide strip uncovered on one long side. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter. Starting at the long side covered with sugar, roll up the rectangle snugly and pinch the seam together. With the seam facing down, cut into 10 equal pieces. Place the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared dish. Brush the rolls with the remaining butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight. 
The next morning, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let rise until half again as high, about 1 hour. Preheat an oven to 350°F. 
Bake the rolls until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. 
While the rolls are baking, make the vanilla glaze: In a small bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, milk and vanilla, then stir into the sugar mixture to form a smooth paste. Spread the glaze over the warm rolls and serve immediately. Makes 10 large rolls. 
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Family Meals, by Maria Helm Sinskey (Oxmoor House, 2008).