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Dawn Davis walks her dog through Central Park and plays tennis to clear her head. And yes, she cooks, too.
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For the November issue of Bon Appétit, Dawn Davis, the culinary magazine’s editor in chief, wrote about her preference for Thanksgiving sides over turkey, mentioning recipes like chorizo and Calabrian chile stuffing and garlic-miso butter mashed potatoes.
Although Ms. Davis noted that her editorial staff was “evenly split” in the turkey/sides debate, most people would probably agree that Thanksgiving is a celebration of home and hearth. For Ms. Davis, that concept has remained fluid; in the past five months, she and her family have lived in four places while their West Village apartment undergoes renovations.
“The packing and unpacking is a hassle, but exploring the varied neighborhoods and restaurants of New York has been an unexpected delight,” said Ms. Davis, 56, who continues to move around the city with her husband, Mac LaFollette, 57, who works in private equity, their sons, Bijah, 17, and Dane, 14, and their Weimaraner, Kiki.
MORNINGS WITH KIKI I wake up between 6:30 and 7:15. My room has a lot of light, and I’m light-sensitive. It’s also habitual because I get the kids up for school during the week, so it’s hard to sleep in on the weekends. I also want to get Kiki to the park because you can only let dogs off the leash until 9. Everyone is still asleep. It’s so quiet. I put the leash on Kiki, the star of my show. She got me through Covid. Lockdown with two teens was a lot of cooking and laundry. She got me out of the house and into nature. We go to Starbucks. I get a triple grande latte. I need the boost. Then we get a cab, which isn’t always easy with a 70-pound dog.
PODCASTS IN THE PARK Central Park is like Narnia. During Covid I discovered all these nooks and crannies. It’s as close to wilderness as you can get in the city. The park grounds me. I thought I was doing it for Kiki, but I found I did for myself. It clears my head. I get creative ideas. It’s very freeing. I listen to quirky podcasts or Family Secrets or The Daily. I do different paths, but often I start at 86th and do the loop and end up on 59th.
AESTHETICS If I’m feeling particularly optimistic about the day or want the house to feel pretty, I’ll go to the PlantShed Café for flowers. I see what the experts have put together and might buy a bouquet. Maybe a friend will join me for a coffee. Or I’ll go to Banter on Hudson Street for avocado toast, which I eat outside with Kiki.
PANCAKES I’m back home by 11. By then everyone is up. I make Martha Stewart’s cottage cheese pancakes; they freeze well and are high in protein. Then everyone separates. My husband and older son might go to New Jersey to play golf, and my younger one might play basketball.
INSPIRATION I start planning dinner. I’m not going to win any cooking prizes because I like to follow recipes. I’m not an intuitive cook. I thumb through cookbooks for ideas. Favorites are “The Inn at Little Washington,” “Dean & Deluca” and “Asian Grilling” by Su-Mei Yu, which is so old the spine fell off. Or I search through Bon Appétit’s website — I might make its Low Commitment Wedding Soup or something I’ve never made before.
MAGIC OF THE MEAL I love how a roast chicken perfumes the house. I can make melon soup with coconut milk, herbs and ginger or pork tenderloin with porcini broth. I’m more inspired by what I will have time for that evening, and a meal that will please as many people at the same time. The goal is to find a recipe that will have a big payoff relative to the effort.
TENNIS ZEN Around 1, I leave to play tennis at Midtown Tennis Club or Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club, or sometimes I’ll play in Central Park. It’s the one time I’m not in my head. I’m just trying to return the ball with purpose and grace. I play with a friend and a pro so it’s a good workout. Then I head to Chelsea Market or Whole Foods.
BOYS, BOOKS I start prepping or cooking dinner at 4. Then I hang with the kids, who might be watching football. I watch enough to have an uninformed opinion. Or I read. Right now I’m reading Rick Bragg’s “All Over but the Shoutin’” and Mitchell S. Jackson’s “Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family.”
FAMILY I take the dog for another walk around 6. By 7-ish we’re at the dining room table. We make the kids help set it. Dinner is a time when we come together as a family. We talk about politics, or the events of the day. I do the dishes and plead for help cleaning up; I sometimes get it but never as much as I’d like. I call my mom in California. Sometimes we pass the phone around and everyone talks to her or the kids retreat to their rooms. My husband and I might do some work.
RELAXANTS Because I get up so early I’m in bed by 10:30. We watch something funny, like “Insecure” or the new “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Laughing for 10 minutes before sleeping is its own relaxant. Or we listen to NPR, maybe something about space because that’s really complicated and makes me tired. Then we go to sleep.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Dawn Davis on Instagram @bonappetitdawn.
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