I’m Thinking of Ending Things

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is, to my knowledge, the first novel Iain Reid has written. Considering the slow-building, expertly-employed suspense, one would think this was a far more experienced writer.

The story follows an unnamed woman who is visiting her boyfriend Jake’s family farm for the first time. It follows the drive out into the country and meeting his parents. The entire time, the main character repeats the thought “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”, as she plans to break up with Jake shortly after.

This was my most recent read, something that had been on my to-read list for quite some time, and I found it generally enjoyable. Majority of the book is quite a slow-burn, full of interesting inner dialogue from the main character. The ending, which I will not divulge here, is thought-provoking and, despite being somewhat clunky, it touches on some very relevant themes.

If you like suspense, I would recommend it. It certainly kept me on the edge of my seat, building on small discrepancies and oddities within the story to leave the reader with an unsettling feeling of unease.

For full review (including spoilers):

Making Bagels

If you can make bagels you are bae goals (I know, I’m absolutely cringing and that warranted endless groans). However, these come highly requested from my husband these days, which is great because they are a decently simple recipe and don’t require fancy technique or ingredients.

Bagels

Ingredients:

1/2 Tablespoon yeast

1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar

2/3 cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups AP flour

Water Bath:

6 cups water

1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 Tablespoon sugar

Directions:

Combine the yeast, brown sugar, and water. Let sit a few minutes, until bubbling. Add the flour and salt and knead (either by hand or in a mixer) until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes.

Toward the end of kneading, add any desired mix-ins, such as dried fruit.

Let sit in a bowl, covered, about 1 1/2 hours, until puffy.

Once risen, remove from bowl and divide into 4 sections. Shape into rounds, poke hole in center, and stretch. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and let rest, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425º F and prepare water bath by combining water, sugar, and brown sugar. Bring water to a boil, then add the bagels and boil 1-2 minutes. Flip, then boil another minute.

Place the bagels back on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.

I’ve included a video to better show how the shaping and boiling process works, so hopefully that helps!

Soft Pretzels

Soft pretzels are one of the best snacks to have around for football season, as they pair well with beer and are more substantial than many other game-day snacks. Plus, they are naturally dairy-free, pair great with beyond brats, and can be easily customized with seasonings and toppings (“everything” bagel seasoning, shredded cheese, caraway seeds, etc.). These are surprisingly easy to make and take considerably less time than many other yeasted doughs.

Soft Pretzels

Yields 8 pretzels

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (about 30 minutes active, 1 hour inactive)

Ingredients:

1/2 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon yeast

1 cup lukewarm water

2 1/2 cups AP flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you can sub this with bread flour or AP flour)

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 Tablespoon salt

1.5 Tablespoons baking soda

4 cups water

2 Tablespoons butter or vegan butter, melted (for brushing tops of pretzels)

coarse sea salt, for tops of pretzels

Directions:

Combine sugar, warm water, and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let sit until bubbling.

Mix together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add yeast mixture and stir to combine, then knead well until smooth and elastic (by hand this will take 10 minutes, by mixer on medium speed around 7-8 minutes).

Place in bowl and cover. Let rise until puffy, about an hour.

Once risen, divide dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a pretzel.

Preheat oven to 450º F.

Prepare water bath by heating the 4 cups water and baking soda in a large pot (preferably a wide and shallow pot, such as a Dutch oven). Once the water is lightly boiling, drop pretzels in 2-3 at a time. The pretzels should stay in water bath for about 1 minute (30 seconds each side).

Remove pretzels from water bath and place onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until desired depth of color.

Enjoy! These go well with mustard (of course), cheese sauce, and herbed butter. Pair with beyond brats and braised cabbage for a hearty German meal.

6 Holiday Gift Ideas That Aren’t Stuff

While giving items can be good, this time of year it seems to get out of control. I actually get anxious thinking about all the gifts I get that I won’t use and don’t have space for. I don’t agree that all object-gifts should be condemned, but it can be good to think out of the box and opt for gifting experiences instead.

I compiled a few ideas of experience-based gifts to consider if you are unsure of what to give!

1. Donate to a Cause or Charity

Donate to a cause or charity that person is passionate about. This is nice because people don’t always have extra money to support causes they believe in, so you can help them out! Plus is emphasizes some really positive things regarding the holidays, like giving and being thankful.

2. Buy a Class

This can be just for the person, or you can buy a class for you to do together! Classes can be expensive, but this is a great way to give the gift of exploring interests.

3. Gift Cards/Vouchers

Gift cards are almost always a good idea, but they can still be personal! Opt for a gift card for their favorite store or a voucher for an activity you know they enjoy (such as a manicure or going to the cinema).

4. Tickets

Tickets to a concert, play, comedy show, sports game, and the list goes on! People don’t always treat themselves to extra experiences like this, so it can be a really special night out. If you are gifting a couple and want to be extra thoughtful, offer to babysit children or pets on the night of the event to allow them stress-free enjoyment 🙂

5. Pay for a Nice Dinner/Drinks

This is a nice option for friends, especially if you are unsure of what they want. Inviting them somewhere nicer than usual (or their favorite restaurant/bar) and treating them the entire night is bound to be fun for everyone involved! Plus they will probably find this more enjoyable than having to keep around some tacky candle/oven mitt/figurine.

6. Try a New Recipe Together

Not necessarily limited to a recipe, this could be trying anything new together. The gift component is that you purchase all the ingredients (or other supplies) to make it. This is great because you spend time with someone and you get to try your hand at something new!

Let me know if you like any of these ideas, or if you have more to add!