The TBR List: October 2

Acorn squash and roasted veggies |

Growing up in a Pakistani-American house where we had Western food probably once a week, I never appreciated seasonal veggies like acorn squash. This year, though, I've been really embracing autumn. We went apple-picking a couple weekends ago, and yesterday I couldn't resist picking up an adorable acorn squash in Whole Foods. 

So here's what I did: Preheated the oven to 400ºF, roasted the acorn squash in one dish and a baking sheet full of cauliflower, peppers, onions, garlic and herbs for about 30 minutes. Then I removed the acorn squash from the oven and topped the cauliflower sheet with parmesan cheese and broiled it for about 10 minutes, then I layered it all together and served it with couscous and spiced chicken breast. Yum.

- These are this year's literary MacArthur "Geniuses".

- Handy: the difference between evaporated and condensed milk.

- Beautiful wood and marble cheese board.

- This picture book about falling in love with a book looks lovely.

- Chicago's best vegetarian restaurants.

- A chilling longread from 2012 on how America fell in love with guns. Sadly timely now. Likely timely always.

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

"Fates and Furies" by Lauren Groff & raspberry-peach crumble

Use fresh or frozen fruit for this comforting raspberry and peach crumble with whole wheat flour topping. |

I often wonder how my husband perceives me. How does my voice sound to him? Does he think I have a good side? Can he tell when I agree to his plans out of laziness rather than interest? 

Do I actually want to know the answers to these questions?

Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff, is one of the most talked-about books of this season, and for good reason. It's a sweeping, multi-perspective portrait of a seemingly happy marriage that dives into each spouse's mind to fascinating and, at times, depressing effect.

Lotto Satterwhite is a failed actor turned famous playwright. His wife Mathilde is a strong, at times stoic, partner who supports the couple during his early failures and manages matters when his business takes off.

The first half of the novel takes Lotto's perspective, following him from childhood in Florida past the untimely death of his father, beyond prep school in the Northeast — an experience marked by debauchery as well as tragedy — on past the couple's pre-graduation wedding, through his rise as a playwright. Next comes Mathilde's point of view, revisiting some of the same scenes while adding new details from her past as well as the turns her life takes following the end of their marriage.

By the end of Lotto's half, the story almost feels complete. And perhaps a less ambitious novelist would have left it there. But Groff pushes further, giving the reader Mathilde's view of the marriage, the man and herself. Mathilde's portion confirms some details only hinted at in the first half, while adding layers and layers to a character appreciated but not entirely known by her husband.

And perhaps there is value in that lack of knowing, because the reader is left feeling that this is a couple that, though tested, is meant to be. If everything were laid bare, would the two be able to accept each other? Perhaps not. People need secrets; some are just better at deciding which ones to reveal than others.

So how much does it matter what is exactly under the surface, so long as the overall product or person or whatever is great? I attempted to answer that question with this raspberry-peach crumble. On top, it's all buttery crumble and sliced almonds and below, it's full of a syrupy, tart tangle of berries and stonefruit — some of which happen to be frozen. And in the final product, that doesn't matter.




  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 2 cups peach slices
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch


  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • sliced almonds (optional)


Preheat oven to 375º F. Combine raspberries, peach slices, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a bowl and mix well. Set aside for about 10 minutes.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Using fingers, work butter into dry ingredient mixture until large crumbs form. 

Pour fruit mixture into baking dish, then cover with crumble topping. Sprinkle sliced almonds over topping, if desired. 

Bake for about 30 minutes, checking after 25 for doneness of topping. 

Cool crumble slightly before serving with vanilla ice cream. If you don't eat it all in one go, store the leftover crumble in the fridge and reheat later in the oven at 350º F for 5 to 7 minutes.


  • You can store the assembled, uncooked dish in the refrigerator, covered, for about a day.
  • I used fresh raspberries and frozen peaches. Use any combination of fresh or frozen fruit to suit your taste and convenience.
  • This recipe makes enough for a 9" x 5" dish. For more tips and ideas for scaling or customizing this recipe, visit The Kitchn.

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

“The Illegal” by Lawrence Hill & poulet chez yoyo

“The Illegal” by Lawrence Hill & Poulet Chez Yoyo |

A good book is a lucky find; a good book that ricochets off current events, helping us see them in a new way, is an even luckier find. The Illegal is that rare book. When it’s published in January, readers will immediately see its parallels to the unfolding refugee crisis in Europe, though the book takes place in a fictional island nation called Freedom State located in the Indian Ocean.

It’s here that marathon runner Keita Ali, our narrator, finds himself living — hiding, really — illegally after he flees his native Zantoroland, another fictional island nation to Freedom State’s south. His father has been murdered by the government for his reporting on political corruption, and Ali’s sister has been kidnapped as further punishment. Ali, an ascetic, likable young black man, must earn his sister’s ransom through the only means he knows: running and winning races in Freedom State. Meanwhile, he must navigate the dangers of being an illegal alien, constantly ducking the authorities and never quite knowing who to trust.

Hill’s exploration of citizenship versus illegality is rich and compassionate, washing the political question with brushstrokes of humanity and nuance and daily struggle. His offbeat characters, though, are perhaps the strongest piece of the tale: the spitfire elderly white woman who befriends Ali in Freedom State, the wheelchair-bound lesbian journalist who will stop at nothing to get a story, and the complicated madame of a brothel in the black slum of Freedom State whose allegiance is to no one but herself. Their personal stories all relate to the larger definition — one that could not be more relevant today — of home, nation, refuge, and empathy.

This paired recipe came from the book itself: Ali cooks his father’s chicken (Poulet Chez Yoyo) for a new friend in Freedom State, evoking the connection most of us feel between food and memory. The book gives a rough outline of the ingredients but no measurements, so this is my interpretation of that dish.

Poulet Chez Yoyo


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 skin-on chicken thighs (or you could use skin-on chicken breast)
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • 3/4 tablespoon curry powder
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • handful of basil, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • salt and pepper


Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat in a frying or saute pan; add the onion and garlic and saute until fragrant. 

In a separate pan, heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken thighs on both sides. Remove from heat when cooked through and set aside.

Add diced tomatoes, carrots and sweet potato to the onion and garlic and stir together. Season with salt and pepper, keeping the heat at medium or medium-high.

Add curry powder, thyme, basil and peanut butter. Stir thoroughly. 

Add chicken to the tomato mixture and cover, simmering until the tomato mixture has reduced a bit and the vegetables are tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Serve as is, or over rice. 

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