Weekend Reading: Frying Pan Portraits, <em>Downton Abbey</em>, and More

A look at what we're reading, cooking, and clicking this week

Christopher Jonassen

• [pictured] "Portraits of Frying Pan Bottoms" sounds like one of the most mundane things you could possibly spend time looking at, but photographer Christopher Jonassen's striking circular images of rust, iron, and char read as landscapes, planets, and other surprisingly beautiful evocations. I'm looking at my cookware in a whole new way. —Helen Rosner

• I love persimmons, but I don't always know what to do with them. For the past few years I've been pickling them, which is beautiful for a cheese plate, but I'm dying to try out some of the many interesting ideas for the winter fruit from Food 52's current recipe contest, including maple-persimmon upside down cake, fruit salsa, and persimmon lassis. —Cory Baldwin

• I was riveted by this incredibly strange, sad story of a Russian family that fled persecution by Communists in 1936 and lived, for the next 42 years, in total isolation in Siberia, until they were discovered by a team of geologists in 1978. They were unaware of World War II, cooked on a hand-build stove, and, when they were first discovered, spurned all offerings of food or equipment except for salt. Living without it for four decades, the oldest of the family said, had been "true torture." The whole story is at the Smithsonian.com. —Karen Shimizu

• I'm a newcomer to Downton Abbey, and just came off a marathon viewing session. While I love the horror over Cousin Matthew showing up for one of the formal dinners in black tie (and the Dowager Countess chiding: "Matthew's shown up in his play clothes"), I find myself mostly curious about what's being served; often I'm not sure. Luckily, at downtonabbeycooks.com, Pamela Foster merrily recaps each episode's food and also provides recipes: While Mrs. Patmore resisted making Sir Anthony Strallan's favorite dessert, Apple Charlotte, Foster has the "receipt" and a photo as well as the same for the raspberry meringue pudding Mrs. P. made instead (sans salt). —Greg Robertson

• This Sunday is Lunar New Year, and as my family is nowhere near New York to help me usher in the Year of the Snake I'm celebrating with the second best thing—lots of food. More specifically, I've got plans for lots of dim sum. My favorite dim sum is crispy daikon cakes, delicate shrimp shui mai, yeasty steamed buns, and crackly-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside sesame balls, but you can find the whole gamut in this guide to dim sum (probably the most comprehensive guide that exists on the internet) from Lucky Peach's recent Chinatown issue. —Camille Bromley

• I love reading Perre Coleman Magness's blog, the Runaway Spoon, just to listen to her charming twang as she keeps it poetically real while dishing about Southern food. This week, reading her recipe for a Memphis girl's version of the New Orleans classic red beans and rice had me daydreaming about throwing my own pot of porky goodness on the stove before curling up on my couch to wait out the storm while beautiful smells fill my apartment. —Felicia Campbell