Comparisons: Beasts of No Nation

Many contemporary movies are created from existing source materials: novels, memoirs, comic books and graphic novels. Some of them are faithful adaptations, and others share little more than a name and a few major themes. This year, I will compare American texts that have been made into movies, and featuring authors who are women, people of color and immigrants – demographics whose voices have historically been repressed.

“Beasts of No Nation” is the 2005 debut novel by Nigerian-American author Uzodinma Iweala. The title comes from a 1989 anti-apartheid album from Nigerian musician and Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. The book was adapted into a war drama film in 2015 that was directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.

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December: Root Vegetable Wellington

The Beef Wellington is an essential part of English cooking, but vegetarian versions have also become quite popular. The process is the same: a layer of puff pastry dough seals in the filling to keep the moisture inside while it cooks. The dish looks pretty technical and I’ve never attempted anything like it before, but I’ve watched enough episodes of the Great British Baking Show that I’m pretty sure I can handle it.

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December: Black Bean & Vegetable Stew

Recipes are everywhere you look – I found the recipe for this black bean and vegetable stew on back of a can of black beans. Since then, it has become a winter staple because it uses your favorite ingredients or whatever you have on hand. Seriously, I cannot emphasize how easy, delicious and versatile this soup is; it’s a great beginner recipe, and it will feed an army.

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November: Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Cold weather means hearty soups, warm bread and a mug of hot tea. Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with minced lamb, but this delicious vegetarian version will be sure to please everyone! It’s similar to the vegetable pot pie that I made last year, but instead of biscuit dough on top that bakes into a crust in the oven, a shepherd’s pie is topped with mashed potatoes to keep all the moisture and flavor in.

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October: Smoked Almond Rice Pilaf

This hearty rice pilaf uses vitamin-rich wild rice, vegetables, herbs and chopped almonds to create a savory dish that goes with anything! The word “pilaf” comes from the Hindi word pulav, which translates into “dish of rice and meat.” The first known recipe for pilaf is from 10th century Persia, and variations can be found all over the world, especially in the region from Spain to Afghanistan.

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September: We Can Pickle That!

My boyfriend received a book for his birthday called “Wild Fermentation: the Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods.” Since then, our house has transformed into pickle-making central! His first batch turned out better than expected, so we’re stepping it up a notch by buying pickling cucumbers and experimenting with types of brine, spiciness levels and chilled vs. pantry pickling.

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