August Already?

Old South Church.

We’re entering week three of a three-week span actually spent in our own, still-new Boston home. And it’s finally starting to really feel like home, a change I didn’t realize until I spent a few weeks in the Midwest and found myself fondly picturing the Esplanade or the poorly planned mishmash of brick-lined streets in Beacon Hill.

I’ve been here seven months now, working full-time for five of them. I’m spending much more time outside, and pushing the boundaries of exploration around the city. I’m finally feeling comfortable enough in my own skin to “put myself out there,” and try to make a new friend or two.

Burger with pesto, onions caramelized in red wine vinger, goat cheese, pepper bacon.

My love, traveling, conflicts with my catharsis — cooking. I’m now finally getting back to the recipe-hunting, meal-planning, and preparing that soothes my over-active mind and, frankly, my soul.

Traveling through most of July gave us a chance to reset our lives a little bit. By pure coincidence, we restarted exactly where we began — with a whole chicken, just like the first uncertain week together in our new home.

This time, like the last, we used every inch of the bird. I stuffed it with punctured lemons, as this New York Times recipe suggested, and roasted it in a skillet until the skin crackled. We ate it over a bed of mashed potatoes, drizzled with its own lemon-infused juices and paired with citrus-dressed greens on the side.

We ate chicken tacos topped with crispy skins, and crock-potted the bones into broth, which became the base of chicken tortilla soup.

The week after, a July heat wave took the oven off the menu, and we made the switch to cold pasta. I made my dad’s recipe for tortellini salad with sliced salami and black olives, and my mom’s favorite Molly Katzen recipe for “pasta with an unexpected ingredient.” I made cold soba noodle salad with peppers and creamy corn pasta with basil.

This week, when the heat eased off, we ate spicy Italian sausages under cold, pickled sauerkraut with a side of beets, tossed with feta cheese, red wine vinegar, and onions. And that burger up above. I made that to cap off our week Friday, and I’m exactly as proud of it as you’d expect.

Boston Common

I started two new books, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and A Common Struggle, Patrick Kennedy’s somewhat controversial memoir. The first continues my inexplicable streak of modern war novels, and the second was inspired by Kennedy’s moving appearance on “The Axe Files” podcast.

Caffeine + notes

I wrote about fire and politics this past month, with a heavy emphasis on the politics, thanks to an end-of-session rush in Massachusetts. We also semi-formally launched our politics vertical on Beacon Hill Patch, kicking it off with “The Massachusetts Effect,” below:

“Hillary Clinton’s time in the Bay State was relatively brief — four years at Wellesley College, and less than a year with the Children’s Defense Fund in Cambridge. It’s where Clinton left the Republican Party to become a Democrat, where she landed her first job out of law school, and where she developed the brand of change-from-within, ‘pragmatic politics’ that would define a career on the precipice of the presidency.” — The Massachusetts Effect: How Five Years Shaped Hillary Clinton

“The backs are charred, but the fronts could pass for normal, if you squint hard enough. … The building’s brick facade appears almost intact, save the boarded-over windows, until you see the black burn mark spreading like a scar across its side. Next door, at 282, a heavy padlock hangs next to a bright wreath on the front door. The blinds are askew on one of the ground-level windows, revealing an assortment of toppled toys. That was Whiteley’s step-daughter’s bedroom.” — Summer Heat Wave Takes Its Toll on Firefighters — and the People They Save

“Despite a history of racial tension, Boston has so far escaped its own firestorm that surrounds police killings of black men in other cities. It could be police policy, and it could be the diligence of the city’s community and faith organizations. Or, it could simply be luck.” — Policing and Race Relations: What the Country Can Learn from Boston

“Elizabeth Warren took her anti-Donald Trump diatribe to Philadelphia Monday, repackaging weeks of witheringly scornful comments into a relatively toned-down keynote meant to unify a divided Democratic National Convention around Hillary Clinton’s nomination.” — Elizabeth Warren: ‘When We Turn on Each Other, We Can’t Unite to Fight Back’

“Some of the most powerful politicians in the country piled into Clinton’s corner in the week leading up to her acceptance speech. … They spoke as one against Trump, but the room needed no convincing on that count. Rather, the powerful surrogates’ primary goal was to to praise Clinton herself and endeavor to close the rift created within their own party, where many remain unconvinced.” — Hillary Clinton Acceptance Speech: ‘The World is Watching What We Do’

Zakim Bridge at sunset as ducks flee the wake of a duck boat on the Charles River.
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