The TBR List: July 31

Picnic in the park |

Last night, we went to Millennium Park for a free live taping of the popular NPR show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! We got there early, but there were so many people — four thousand, we heard — that we got pushed outside the main seating area and barely heard anything. Luckily, we packed a bunch of good snacks from Trader Joe's and made a meal of them. As you can see, we can chips, crackers, popcorn, caramelized onion dip, olives and more. Our friend brought sharp cheddar and beef pepperoni. Some would call the meat, cheese and crackers charcuterie. We called them adult Lunchables.

Not sure how we're going to top that this weekend.

- The 2015 Booker longlist is out. Have you read any of these? I haven't :(

- Forget watercolors. This artist paints with coffee instead.

- Heartwarming: This boy was reading junk mail because he couldn't afford books. Not anymore.

- Homes from literature reviewed as though they were Airbnb listings.

- Cara's book Voracious comes out so soon!

- How good does this sound? Roasted chicken thighs with green peaches, ginger and summer herbs.

- I love seeing how others see my city. In this case, it's Stephanie from Desserts for Breakfast.

Amina is the creator of PAPER/PLATES. Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.

The TBR List: Control

Coffee ice pops |

With Ramadan ending last week, the urge to make a quick return to gluttony was a strong one. And, admittedly, I've indulged in donuts, slurpees and macarons this week. But after watching an excellent documentary called Fed Up (it's on Netflix), I'm going to make sure that doesn't become a habit. The Katie Couric-narrated film demonstrates the threat that sugar — that insidious ingredient that makes up flavor in reduced fat foods — poses to our health at a nation. Will I cut sugar out? No, but I will be more thoughtful about how and when I consume it.

Above: I'm planning to make popsicles this weekend, which reminds me of these delicious coffee ice pops I made last summer.

Hope you have a great weekend. Here are some of my favorite links from the week:

- The most beautiful natural art I've ever seen: One tree, forty fruit.

- Food-themed beach reads.

- Map: great American literary road trips.

- How to write a book in 15 minutes a day.

- Food emojis IRL! 🍫 🍰 ☕️

- The world's most beautiful libraries.

- A storied New York bookstore reaches a happy ending.

- Make core ice cream à la Ben and Jerry. 

Amina is the creator of PAPER/PLATES. Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.

"Modern Romance" by Aziz Ansari & cappuccino French toast with mocha cream

Cappuccino French toast with mocha cream |

“People are like a Flo Rida song. You need to hear them a couple of times before you really get what they’re about.”

If that’s not the most profound statement you’ve ever heard, you’re probably too old for Flo Rida. Gems like these are only half the entertainment in comedian Aziz Ansari’s (with co-author Eric Klineberg) debut book, Modern Romance. While most comedians turn to books when they want to write biographies, or a peek into the entertainment industry, Ansari dove deep into an issue, bringing us a sociological exploration of romance in his humorous tone. Filled with graphs, studies, and surveys, Modern Romance takes a scientific lens to our societal ideas of romance to begin understanding how we have changed, and how to navigate our new social landscapes.

Technology plays a clear role in intimate relationships these days — think Tinder, dating sites, Facebook relationship statuses — but Ansari and Klinenberg took into account the different cultural influences that have changed over time as well. I would describe this book as a social science investigation made entertaining and conversational through Ansari’s comedic voice.

The heart of the book is that the focus groups, interviews, etc. are personal and honest. A lot of the data came from looking at different people’s text message conversations, and as a generation that lives on their phones, this is a very intimate source. Beyond statistics and figures, the analysis of how quickly our society is changing makes this novel a fascinating read. As recently as a few decades ago, most people married people who lived in their town or nearby, whereas now, the internet and convenient travel options have completely changed that.

To pair with this novel, I made cappuccino French toast with a mocha cream. One of the most interesting things to me about the book was the concept of marriage, and how it has gone from a political, economic decision to a search for the perfect soulmate. Breakfast, in a sense, is the same way. What was once a solely practical meal to start your day has completely been transformed by today’s “brunch culture.” Now when we consider brunch, we want to take our time, do our research, and be rewarded with a perfect meal. The beauty of this dish is that even though is sounds complex, cooking it isn’t much harder than swiping right on your phone. The warm coffee taste in this French toast along with the mocha cream and bit of chocolate dusting quite possibly makes it my food soulmate.



For the French toast:

  • 8 slices buttermilk or other thick bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Mocha Cream:

  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp instant coffee power
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder


Mix coffee, sugar, and milk in a large bowl. Add eggs and whisk until the mixture is completely smooth. Pour the mixture into a dish and prepare a large pan with a coating of butter over medium high heat. Coat each piece of bread in the coffee mixture, making sure to cover all sides but not letting the bread sit and get too soggy.

Place toast one at a time onto pan, turning when one side begins to look golden brown. Remove toast once both sides have browned and place on a plate. Repeat with all of the bread until you run out of the coffee mixture.

For the mocha cream, mix whipping cream, coffee powder, sugar, and cocoa powder in a medium size bowl and beat on a high speed until cream thickens.

Serve French toast while warm, drizzling the cream on top, and dusting with extra chocolate powder if you so choose.

Recipe adapted from Cafe Delites

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