Daily Skimm Weekend·

Read, Eat, Go: “One of Us Knows,” Homemade White Pizza, and Chattanooga


Happy Saturday. Ever since I saw these pictures of astonishingly decadent “edible haute couture,” I’ve had intrusive thoughts about cake. So this weekend, I’ll be whipping up this Ding Dong Cake — which, yes, is inspired by the iconic Hostess treat. If that fails, candy salad seems like a sweet backup. I’ll also be traveling, so another thing I can’t stop thinking about: What my packing style — which is 100% “The Imposter” — says about me, and if I could ever be half as organized as this guy (absolutely not). Plus, could this impressive-looking cruise ship suite (words I never thought I’d say) be the thing that turns me into a cruise person? Only one way to find out…

— Melissa Goldberg / Senior Editor / Washington, DC

READ: “One of Us Knows” by Alyssa Cole

“One of Us Knows” by Alyssa Cole


Kenetria Nash, a historical preservationist, finds herself on a plum assignment as the caretaker for a historic home on a Hudson River island. We mean that “finds herself” part literally: Ken was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, and one of the alters with whom she shares her body (she dubs them “headmates”) applied for, and won, this position without Ken’s knowledge. The plot takes another turn when someone winds up dead on the premises, and Ken is found covered in his blood. This genre-bender toggles between this Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery, the traumatic event that triggered Ken’s dissociative identity disorder, and the thrilling entanglements among Ken’s headmates as they rally together to find out what really happened. We asked Alyssa Cole a few questions. Here’s what she had to say…

Q: You said “One of Us Knows” was the “most ambitious and difficult thing” you’ve ever written. Can you expand on what you meant by that?

Cole: The protagonists of the book are a dissociative identity disorder system, meaning they share the same brain and body, but not the same personality, skills, mental health issues, etc. I had to find a way to portray each member of the system as an individual, with their own growth arcs ... and for their existence to be integral to the plot and not in itself a plot device or gimmick. 

… In addition to all the research that went into understanding and trying to accurately portray dissociative identity disorder, I also had to keep reconfiguring the story depending on how each character showed up when written … It was also important to me to work in issues of the pandemic, misogyny, and misuse of power, both in the past (circa 1918) and present. It felt like spinning a dozen plates and constantly shifting my center of balance as I added more story to each plate.

Q: You made the jump from writing romance to thrillers. What about that leap was so appealing?

Cole: I actually feel like writing romance and thrillers are the same thing for me, in a way. In a romance, there’s also a mystery: We know there’ll be a happily ever after, so how will these people fall in love in a way that’s thrilling and makes the reader feel warm and happy? In a thriller, we know the mysteries will be solved at the end, so how will the clues be revealed in a way that maximizes stress and anxiety? In both instances, I’m trying to make sure the reader experiences the highs and lows in a way that makes them glad they decided to spend time with these characters and share an adventure with them.

Q: If you had to trade places with a fictional literary character for one month, who would you choose and why?

Cole: Winnie the Pooh, because for the most part, I’d get to just vibe, eat honey, and hang out with my animal friends in the forest.


Anyone (Yes, Anyone) Can Make This Low-Effort, High-Reward White Pizza


Pizza brings out two types of people: Those who were seemingly born with the ability to make restaurant-worthy pies, and those who feel deeply intimidated (OK, terrified) by just the word “dough.” While it’s rare that a recipe appeals to both groups, Alexandra Stafford’s White Pizza with Arugula, Pistachios, and Honey may be the exception. Not only is the Neapolitan-like pie topped with a minimal, yet highly satisfying combo of ingredients, but the instructions are so simple and straightforward that even beginners will suddenly find pizza doable…which is actually true of all the recipes in Stafford’s new cookbook, “Pizza Night.”

The Time Commitment: Homemade pizza is only as good as the dough — which, ideally, needs one to three days if it’s made from scratch. So prep the dough on Sunday, and any weeknight can easily be pizza night. Not possible? You could try this same-day dough recipe. Or, of course, a pre-made pizza dough. (In which case, here are a few of the best.)

Key Tip: The recipe calls for two tools you may not own — a pizza peel (this is Stafford’s go-to) and a baking steel (this is her favorite). If you don’t have a peel, use a thin cutting board or the back of a sheet pan topped with parchment paper. You can also use the back of a sheet pan in place of a baking steel.

Other Takes: If you’re not sold on what Stafford describes as “cheese plate meets salad meets pizza,” you can use the dough with just about any toppings. Caramelized Onion & Mushroom White Pizza and Shaved Asparagus Pizza are two other great options, especially for spring. Prefer a red sauce? Consider Soppressata Pizza with Calabrian Chiles and Hot Honey, Tie Dye Pizza, or this Pizza Margherita.

GO: Chattanooga, Tennessee

This Tennessee City Is Proof That Bigger Isn’t Always Better


When it comes to Tennessee cities, Nashville and Memphis are probably the first that come to mind. If that’s the case, we’re here to tell you, respectfully, that you’re missing out. Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga has long been popular for its abundance of outdoor adventures and spectacular views (hence the “Scenic City” nickname). But thanks to a recent renaissance, the underrated Southern spot has expanded beyond that — with eclectic neighborhoods, impressive cultural sights, and a fantastic food scene to boot.

🛏 You can’t go wrong with one of the 16 rooms at the Dwell Hotel. While each has its own vibe, expect vintage-chic decor, mid-century furniture, and colorful patterned wallpaper throughout. Or, for something even more unique, consider staying in a restored 1920s train car at the Hotel Chalet or in a surprisingly luxe treehouse at Treetop Hideaways.

⛰  Given its location, it’s no wonder Chattanooga is rich in outdoor activities (think hiking, mountain biking, kayaking) and scenic attractions. That includes Lookout Mountain, which is home to: Rock City, where you can cross a 180-foot-long suspension bridge and look out over seven states; the historic Incline Railway, which has taken visitors up the mountain since 1895; and Ruby Falls, the country’s tallest and deepest subterranean waterfall open to the public.

 Chattanooga, Tennessee

🎨  Equally notable is Chattanooga’s booming arts scene, anchored by the Bluff View Art District. That’s where you’ll find the Hunter Museum of American Art (known for its diverse permanent collection, featuring Kehinde Wiley, Lorna Simpson, and more), plus the two-acre River Gallery Sculpture Garden. When you’re finished exploring, walk across the pedestrian-only Walnut Street Bridge, which connects downtown to the hip North Shore neighborhood.

🍴 Start your day off right with Bluegrass Grill’s fluffy biscuits and hearty hashes. If some (or all) of the 16-mile Riverwalk is on your agenda, make sure to stop at Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar for fresh seafood and waterfront views. And for dinner, head to Whitebird, which uses locally sourced ingredients to serve modern takes on Appalachian cuisine (do not skip the shrimp and grits).

Ask An Expert Etiquette Edition

We asked you to vote on an etiquette question you’d like answered. The winner was:

Q: My mother-in-law got me an Instant Pot, but it’s not something I’d use. I thought about returning or donating it, but I’m worried she’ll notice it’s missing when she comes over. What should I do?

Woman unpacking a box

“It’s all right to eventually [get rid of it], but don’t do it right away … I would [keep it for] three or four visits, depending on how frequent they are. If you only see your mother-in-law during the holiday season or for anniversaries or birthdays, give it a good year … When you’re ready to give it away, find someone close in the family who might really enjoy it and give it to [them]. So if she does ask [about] it, you can say … ‘Thank you so much, it was so thoughtful. My cousin came by and fell in love with it, and I gave it to her. But thank you for being such a blessing, because she’s really enjoying it.’ She might be offended, she might feel a little bad, but she’ll eventually live with the fact that it’s gone.”


game time
Rotating Gif of Puzzmo Games

Unleash your competitive side with today’s games and puzzles. Choose from an anagram word search, digital jigsaw puzzle, or crossword (with a twist). Better yet: Try them all.

Live Smarter

Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter. Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.