Friday, December 25, 2009

Grades

I got an A in history!! History is the bane of my existence. I understand its importance and I'm all for learning basic history but studying it in detail and writing a historiography has to on my list of least favorite things to do, ever.

Looking back, this class was fun and I actually felt like my final paper clarified some important things for me. The one class where I was convinced I was going to get a B, I got an A!

Of course, in the interest of Karma, the one class where I thought I was guaranteed an A, there is a strong possibility I'm going to get a B. Figures. And my other two classes are completely up in the air. I have no idea how I'm going to do.

I'm crossing my fingers and if worse comes to worse, I'll quit school and open a cafe. Not really. Well, maybe. No just kidding. Kind of.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Coconut Soup Revisited



I've been craving Thai food but out East it is apparently extremely difficult (or expensive) to find Asian products besides the ubiquitous soy sauce and peanut dressing. For example, two little pieces of Lemongrass are $2.99 at Whole Foods! That's ridiculous. Ginger, too, is excessively expensive when it's actually a cheap product to grow (I just found it reasonably priced at Trader Joe's, thank goodness!). Forget about Kaffir limes or Thai chilis. Most groceries have never even heard of the stuff. So this recipe is basically me throwing everything Thai in my house into a pot.

Ingredients
1 garlic clove, chopped or crushed
1 tsp red curry paste (or to taste)
2 tsp chili sauce (or to taste)
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 can coconut milk
1 small package mushrooms, sliced in half or quarters
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Dash of lemon juice or lime juice

Directions
1. Mix everything together in a pot
2. Bring to a boil and simmer until mushrooms are slightly cooked (You don't want to overcook them because the flavor starts to dissipate and then they become very chewy. You want them to be tender)
3. Pour into a bowl, add the citrus juice and enjoy! (Lightly chopped cilantro is also a good garnish)


Note on Coconut milk: get a Thai brand!! I've been using Whole Foods brand but I bought a case of a Thai brand at Costco (I got my first Costco Card, yay!) and it is amazing! There is a noticeable different in taste and quality. And don't ever get low-fat coconut milk. If you're going to make something with coconut milk, a huge part of the flavor comes from the coconut fat. If you want low-calorie food, make something else.

Mashed Potatoes

For those of you who don't know me, I have strange eating habits. I'm an environmentally conscious eater but I love meat, so I'm almost always a vegetarian and then occasionally I'll pick up some locally grown, grass-fed beef and make fajitas.

On top of that, I'm trying to limit my dairy intake because I think it's causing my sinus allergies. Apparently it is a common problem among Mediterranean peoples. I went without dairy for two weeks and it my sinuses totally cleared up. I seriously wasted hours and dollars visiting doctors and specialists and none of them could tell me what was wrong. Then I read something somewhere and cured myself! Amazing.

That being said, I have a serious weakness for dairy. And meat. And desserts. Any kind of food, really. So you will see recipes on here from time to time that include meat or dairy (or both!) but I promote environmentally friendly and locally sourced food, always and that's always what I use.

With that disclaimer out of the way....
MASHED POTATOES!
I love red potatoes and I love mashed potatoes. This is hands down the best recipe I've ever made. Ever.



Ingredients
2.5 pounds mashed potatoes, quartered (it's like 4-6 medium-large potatoes)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated


Directions
1. Put potatoes and garlic in a pot and cover with water
2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 25 minutes
3. Drain potatoes and garlic.
4. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and mash.
5. Enjoy!

Note: If you use an immersion blender or food processor to blend it, it becomes this thick and creamy sauce. You can puree half and mix it in with the rest for a smoother mashed potatoes, or puree all of it and serve it as a base underneath some steaks or pork chops.

P.s. I love mashed potatoes with fresh cranberry sauce. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it! The Cranberry Sauce at Trader Joe's is excellent, but it's seasonal so get it while they still have it. Only, I recommend excluding the cheese if you're going to eat it with the cranberry sauce. They do not go well together.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dog Continued...

So, My roommate's dog was ridiculously sick last week and one of her victims included a sofa cushion. We found a cleaner nearby that said he would clean the sofa cushion for $25. Awesome. My neighbor and I went to deliver the cushion (my neighbor has a car and my roommate had work).

We kept driving around the area and could not find the darn place! I called my roommate who has the place's number but she didn't pick up the phone so I finally called my neighbor on the other side and asked her to google the place. So she googles them and we are technically right in front of where the store should be but it's not there! I know it exists because we talked to someone on the phone. It's not like they disappeared overnight.

Finally I got the number and called the man. He's actually miles away! Nearly half an hour by car. Turns out the google listing was wrong!! So we came back to try another day.

Google: You should be ashamed of yourself.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Procrastination

Hi All,

I'm writing the final draft of my final final paper. So of course I'm not actually working on it. I just found this website where you enter all the foods and spices in your pantry, and then it matches up recipes you could make. It shows what percent of the recipe you have (i.e. if it has five ingredients but you only have 4 in your pantry, it says you have 80% of the ingredients) and it also lists what more you would need. It's really flipping cool!

Here's the address, check it out: www.recipematcher.com


Over and out.

Sick as a Dog

That phrase is no joke. When a dog gets sick, it gets REALLY sick. And dogs don't know where to barf, so they just do it everywhere. My roommate's dog got sick the other day when I was supposed to be writing my final final paper and my roommate was at work. It got sick everywhere. And the smell was so nasty, I kept gagging and had to escape into the hallway.

She got the carpet, the sofa, her crate and the bathroom (after I finally caught her and locked her in there). It was disgusting. I called my roommate and begged her to leave work early, which thank the lord she did. I managed to clean one up before I could not take it and spent the rest of my time working on my paper in the hallway.

At one point the mailman came in and looks at me and goes, "Apartment A, right?"
And I was like, "yeah".
He goes, "What are you doing working out here?"
"You don't want to know..."

In the meantime I've stocked up on loads of scented candles and carpet freshener. My house has a lovely baking soda and apple spice smell to it now...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weather Update!

Forecast: Snow



Friday, December 18, 2009

Not Even Funny

I just got my first assignment for next semester, and I'm still not done with my last paper for this semester!!! That's not even funny.

Politician Sighting!

Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton came to campus to speak. I had finals so I did not go, but I watched her get out of her car on my way to turn in final papers #1 and #2 (out of 4). I do believe she is the first major American politician I have seen in person...considering I've seen the chancellor of Germany, the president of Turkey, and the former presidents of Latvia and Poland, that's pretty sad.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

You don't see that very often...


Holiday Season: Best Chocolate Bark Ever


Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Bark
I cannot get enough of this. And I make it during the holidays ONLY because otherwise I'd be fat. There are no measurements because I kind of lost the recipe and just sort of mix stuff in. So every bar batch is different from the previous ones.

Ingredients
Hazelnuts
Orange Zest
Bittersweet chocolate chips
Sea Salt (I HIGHLY recommend Maldon Sea Salt. It's slightly more expensive but worth it)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425F
2. Spread hazelnuts out on a baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes
3. Place hot hazelnuts on a dish towel and then wrap the dish towel around it so they can't get out (they're sneaky little things). You want to rub the nuts around so that the skins come off. Then take them out and rub them all a little more to make sure the loose skin is off. Wow. That was the most unintentional naughty sounding directions ever.
4. You want to coarsely chop the hazelnuts, which you can do by putting them back in the towel and hitting them with a hammer. There are other methods I suppose, but this is the most fun.
4. Orange zest: You can either zest it finely with a microzester, or use one of the fancy zesters, or use a peeler and then cut the peel into thin strips. Just make sure to avoid the white between the skin and the orange because it's bitter.
5. Melt chocolate chips in a pan while stirring constantly. Typically when you're melting chocolate you want to use a double-boiler or two pots with water in the bottom one, but in this case the chocolate needs to barely melt so just keep an eye out and make sure you don't let the chocolate burn.
6. Mix half the hazelnuts and most of the orange zest into the chocolate.
7. Pour the chocolate onto a tray that is lined with aluminum foil or waxpaper
8. Sprinkle with remaining nuts, zest and salt
9. Leave in the fridge for an hour and once it is set, cut into smaller pieces. You can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days but I guarantee it will not last that long!

Cilantro Pesto Pasta


Cilantro Pesto Pasta
I totally made this up! And I can't get enough of it! It's amazing! Eat it!
Ingredients
Cooked pasta
Sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups cilantro
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan
1/3 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove

Directions
1. Blend cilantro, Parmesan, olive oil, and garlic. Try with a small amount of oil and just add enough to make it smooth
2. Mix in with pasta and sundried tomatoes. It's good hot, but it is WAY better cold. Yummy.

EASY. DELICIOUS. MAKE IT.

Thanksgiving: Leftover Turkey Tortilla Soup



Leftover Turkey (or Chicken) Tortilla Soup
Ingredients 
2 small cans chopped and peeled tomatoes
corn kernels
green beans
potatoes, chopped
Handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped (including stems! That's where the flavor is)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped 
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Leftover chicken/turkey, shredded

Directions 
1. Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft
2. Puree 1 of the cans of tomatoes and half of the second can
3. Once onions and garlic are soft, add tomato puree, rest of tomatoes, potatoes, cilantro and poultry. Add two cans of water (fill the empty tomato cans with water)
4. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
5. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes more
6. Serve! You can add crispy tortilla chips, shredded cheese and/or sour cream

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weather

First Snow of the Season!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving: Candied Pecans




Candied Pecans
I made candied pecans because I was too lazy to buy walnuts when we already had pecans to home but you can really do this with any nut you want toasty and sugary. I made it the night before and served it in a salad with goat cheese (you can use bleu cheese), cranberries, apples (you can use pears) and a wheat beer vinaigrette dressing. 

Directions and ingredients
1. Start toasting nuts in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until they get toasty but not burned
2. Add enough butter to cover all the nuts
3. Sprinkle sugar* on nuts until they are lightly covered. Continue to saute briefly until sugar covers carmelizes but before it burns
4. Set out on a tray to let them cool**

*white or brown sugar depending on what you want it for - brown is better for snacking, white is better for accessorizing in a larger dish
**This whole process should be less than 10 minutes, so be attentive! It is very easy to burn the nuts and/or the sugar

Thanksgiving: Apple Pie




Ingredients
Dough
2 cups flour
2/3 butter or shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
cold water

Filling
7 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1.5 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons softened butter

Directions
1. Set oven to 450F

Dough
2. Combine flour, butter and salt with a pastry blender or fork. You're supposed to do it until they're "pea-sized balls". I have no idea what that is. I just sort of mixed it together until it was in little crumbles.
3. Add cold water one spoonful at a time.You want to work the dough as you add the flour WITH YOUR HANDS until it's "doughy" and roll-able.*
4. Roll out a little more than half the dough and line the pie plate. Trim pastry to fit the plate

Filling
5. Combine filling ingredients except for butter.**
6. Fill pie with filling
7. Dot butter on top of filling
 
8. Roll other half of dough out. Brush the edge of the bottom half of the dough in the pan with water. Put top half over and crimp the edges together. Poke holes in the top, or cut out pretty shapes to let steam escape while baking.***
9. Bake for 10 minutes
10. Turn oven down to 350F and bake for another 45 minutes
11. Let it cool for an hour before serving. I HIGHLY recommend serving it with vanilla ice cream

*The water will just sit around if you try to use the fork. Dough is dirty. Your hands will get dirty. You counter top will get dirty. Get use to it. This doesn't take too much water so be careful.
** I actually didn't have lemon zest so I just ignored that. It was fine without it, but it might add to it if you have some. There were also some wankers on the website where I got the recipe who went on and on about how it was "so much cinnamon the apples were brown". EXCUSE ME, that is apple pie. If you don't like it, make something else!
***I had serious issues with the dough because it kept falling apart and I had to re-roll it. It might have been that I used 1 tablespoon too much water...who knows

Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Pie


So I bought a pre-made graham cracker crust but I had extra filling left over so I made more crust and I thought it was fantastic! So I've included directions for both...

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Ingredients
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp  ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425F
2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl
3. Beat eggs in another bowl.
4. Mix pumpkin and dry ingredients into eggs
5. Slowly stir in evaporated milk
6. Pour filling into pie crust and bake for 15 minutes
7. Reduce oven temp to 350F and bake for another 40-50 minutes. You don't want to overbake the pie because it will start to crack, but you also don't want to check by inserting a knife because it totally ruins the pie. I recommend just eye-ing it between 40-50 minutes and making a decision.
8. Cool for two hours before serving. You can refrigerate it and serve it later, but from what I understand the crust gets soggy. Some chefs recommend popping it in the oven again for 10 minutes before serving it and apparent that fixes the sogginess. I didn't have that problem with the store bought one.

Graham Cracker Crust
 Ingredients
1.5 cup squashed graham crackers (or graham cracker crumbs. Apparently they sell that now. LAZY)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar

1. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar
2. Add butter and mix until it's all sticky
3. Press into pan
4. Here's the tricky part. Some people recommend baking for 10-15 minutes while others say to refrigerate for two hours. I did both and it still kind of fell off the edges. I could only get it to sit normally on the base. So good luck!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving

Hi All! I have some new recipes that will be posted from Thanksgiving (I made salad dressing, apple pie and pumpkin pie from scratch!) but I also have 1.5 weeks of school left and four papers/two presentations. That means it is unlikely that I'll be posting anything substantial in the next two weeks! Sorry!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Conference (Again)

I've been going to a heck of a lot of conferences recently because Nov 9 2009 saw the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I went to one last week where I listened to Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski in a round table discussion. Generally speaking, they were in agreement about everything they discussed, which was interesting considering that one worked for a Republican while the other worked for a Democrat.

What I found the most valuable was actually their discussions of America's relationship with Russia then and now. It's unfortunate that the best insights are always received in retrospect. Talking about today, they implied that it appeared that Russia was developing two camps with Putin representing a potential return to Soviet-Era "diplomacy" and internal repression and Medvedev representing a look towards the West and a new era of relations with Europe and America. Scowcroft was a lot more cautious, implying that Medvedev's behavior might be an act while he remains a puppet of Putin. At the same time, he suggested that it is important for the West to maintain a "hands off" approach. The argument, rephrased and simplified:

During WWI and WWII, the concepts of global power referred primarily to the ability of countries to exert military might. Those that could win their wars were also those most likely to get what they wanted legally, socially, and economically. This attitude carried over into the Cold War and beyond, and experienced a resurgence recently through Bush Jr. However, power no longer fits this definition. Armament has gotten to the point that the real superpowers would destroy each other completely in an all-out war. On the other hand, wars between a superpower and a minor power have also been fruitless due to the rise of guerrilla warfare and other battle tactics that cannot be countered with structured trench warfare or air raids. Therefore, in regards to Russia, American cannot say "don't do that" because it will aggravate Russia without allowing any method of reinforcing the threats. Russia is more likely to turn to the West but the West will just have to wait and see.

What he did not say, however, was what the new currency of power will be.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tom Kha


Tom Kha Gai is a chicken and mushroom coconut soup from Thailand. Since I am vegetarian, I make Tom Kha Veggie...I love this soup because it's creamy, tangy and spicy. An excellent appetizer, or entree when served with rice.

Serves: 6
Ingredients
1 - 4 tblsp Fish Sauce* (to taste)
1 (12 oz) can coconut milk
2 cups stock (chicken or veggie)
2 cups water
3 inches Lemongrass
1 kaffir lime leaf or 2 tablespoons lime juice
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup mushrooms
1-3 tsp chili paste (to taste)**
3 inches ginger root
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro (coriander) with stems included
1 cup chopped veggies and/or tofu
Cilantro/Thai Basil to garnish (optional)

Directions
1. Bruise garlic. Slice ginger and lemongrass into thin pieces. Put lime leaf, ginger, garlic and lemongrass in a spice bag***. (if using lime juice, add during step 3)
2. Boil fish sauce, coconut milk, stock, water, spice bag, mushrooms, and chili paste for 8 minutes.
3. Add cilantro, lime juice, and veggies and boil for two more minutes.
4. Garnish with cilantro/basil and serve




*Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, salt and water. It is VERY strong and not vegetarian. If you are ok with using fish, put this in a little at a time and taste until you like it.
**I like Sriracha brand
***Spice bags are little cheesecloth bags that you fill with spices that you want to flavor your food but that you need to pull out later - for example Lemongrass, which is tough, chewy and inedible. You can put them in without the spice bag, but then you have to go through and pick them out of the soup. They sell these bags all over the place, including Bed Bath and Beyond, Sur la Table and Amazon.com, and they're reasonably priced.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pumpkin Cheese Cupcakes




I made these today and then ate four cupcakes. Don't make them before you invite at least 10 people over! I also did not put in the baking powder because we didn't have any...and I was too lazy to buy any...oh me.

Ingredients
For the Filling
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla

For the Batter
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree (or 15 oz can)
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

Directions
1. Set oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins with muffin cups
2. Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar for a few minutes. Beat in egg white and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt
4. In another bowl beat pumpkin, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Whisk flour mixture in a little bit at a time
5. Layer the cupcake forms with one layer pumpkin mix, one layer cream cheese, one layer pumpkin mix
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is springy. Let it cool 10-15 minutes before eating!

I also baked half of the mixture in a pan. It's useful if you want to serve slices to people with ice cream...



 


Recipe courtesy of spreadnjoy at recipezaar.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dog updates

SO, we finally decided to send Lucille back because she was going crazy. She needs meds or something and we couldn't deal with that with our schedules. We got adorable Mini Orbit, who at 15 pounds and six years is tiny and mellow. She learned to stay out of the kitchen quickly and never acted crazy.

Except that we left her in her crate for a few hours, she pushed the bottom of the crate out and then destroyed the carpet. Completely destroyed it. And then she threw up on the floor for good measure.

So she went back tonight and now we're fostering a new dog, Molly. Molly is bigger than both Lucille and Orbit, but is also mellow and learns tricks quickly. We're playing cautious separation games tomorrow to see how she does while we're out of the house (without actually leaving her to destroy the house). We'll see...

If this one doesn't work out, we're taking a dog break until next year....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shopping Spree

Half my wardrobe stopped fitting me because my rib cage has expanded. Apparently this is normal among women, but unfortunately it means that nearly half my blouses and dresses don't fit anymore. This means two things:
1. I have to spend money while I'm in a pricey graduate school/
2. I GET TO GO SHOPPING!

I went shopping last Friday and I'll be going again next week. On Friday I went shopping and spend $250!! At the end of the day I was frazzled and exhausted. I looked in the mirror and my hair was sticking up and floating around my face. I still have to buy a business dress, a pair of shoes and some more blouses but I've been putting it off because I got so tired last time. In the meantime I've been planning my outfits around my new clothes and it's really fun!

Man, I can be way too girly sometimes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Belated Halloween Photos

This is the loverly neighborhood of Georgetown the day before Halloween






Language Proficiency

I am officially certified proficient in German and Turkish, oooh yeah. One requirement for my degree out of the way...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween

In a move of cruel and unusual punishment, my roommate decided that Lucille had to have a costume for Halloween. Needless to say, Lucille was not thrilled and the costume lasted all of two minutes on her. Here are the few photos we could catch:










Someone was NOT a happy camper...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Zeytinyagli Barbunya (Beans in Olive Oil)



Turkish food is difficult to describe because the Turkish people are so old and because Turkey is at the crossroads of both the Mediterranean and Asia. The ancient Turks were nomads and traveled all over, meeting Chinese, Mongols, Persians, Hittites and others. It is believed that when the Turks met the Chinese and the Mongolians, they learned how to make noodles and taught the Chinese and Mongolians about stuffing foods (which resulted in the hybrid Turkish "Manti" or Chinese "dumplings"). As a result, over thousands of years Turkish food has become multifaceted and adheres to no particular cultural norm.

That being said, there has been the development of various types of zeytinyagli foods - foods that are cooked with a large amount of olive oil and then served cold as mezze, or appetizers. This is one variety that uses pinto beans, but there are many others including recipes with green beans, leeks and artichokes.


Zeytinyagli Barbunya
This recipe is put together from a couple different recipes because in Turkey, if you ask for a recipe you get: put in some onions, and a lot of garlic, and about the same amount of carrot as celery, etc. Some recipes have celery and potatoes, other don't while calling for grated rather than chopped tomatoes. The recipes are not very precise but a huge part of Turkish culture is that every chef brings their own touch to the meal. This is really such a flexible dish, that I recommend you play around with it until you find a combination of elements that suits you.

Ingredients

1 onion (finely chopped or grated)
garlic (chopped)
1 tsp sugar
1 cup dried pinto beans (or two small cans of canned beans)
1 potato (peeled and chopped into cubes)
1 carrot (peeled and chopped)
1 celery stick (chopped)
1 cup olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes (or 1-2 tomatoes peeled and chopped or grated)
1 tsp tomato paste
salt
2 cups water  

Directions 
1. Soak dried beans from 4 hours to overnight. Drain, add fresh water to cover and simmer 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In your pot, saute the onions in the olive oil until they are limp and translucent
3. Add rest of the ingredients. Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer until the beans are soft (usually two hours for pinto beans) and the water is mostly absorbed
4. Allow it to cool in the pan, and then store in the fridge. 
5. Garnish with chopped parsley and olive oil. Serve cold with bread.

Notes: 
--If you are using canned beans, ignore step 1. In step 3, cook the vegetables first for a few minutes, then add the beans. Step 3 will be reduced drastically (probably less than 20 minutes) since canned beans are already soft and edible. 
--Try to make the chopped vegetables all the same size 
--The recipe listed before is halved and it still created about half a huge pot full of food, which I will be packing in my lunch for the next two weeks! If you are having a party, I would recommend doubling the recipe to feed 4-8 people (as an appetizer).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review: Soussi Restaurant and Hookah Bar

Last weekend I dropped by Soussi Restaurant in Adams Morgan with a few friends. We arrived around 10pm and the place was packed - luckily some friends had already snagged a place on the patio and were busy smoking a hookah by the time we got there.

The bar inside and upstairs is dark, and set up to look like it's always full. There are low-lying sofas and cushions in dark shades with dim lighting and heavy curtains everywhere; chic individuals are draped on the furniture, lazily smoking their pipes. Outside the crowd is more active, but maybe that's because of all the lighting streaming in from the street. Tables and chairs are set up to accommodate large groups, and it does seem that everyone in the place is with ten other people.

I don't smoke, but the smokers seemed happy with their hookah experience. I ordered a blonde on tap, not unreasonably priced and quite tasty. The sheer noise of that many people makes it difficult to converse, but the set-up of tables allows for more intimate conversations, even with multiple people. The service was quick and came by to check in often. We didn't order food, but I saw some steaming plates of seafood bisque and tagine being delivered to a table. Considering that those dishes are appetizers, they did not skimp on size and it smelled and looked delicious.

All in all, I definitely recommend this for a group gathering or a pre-party meeting place (especially during happy hour!) but it may be too busy for a date and definitely not a good place for kids.

Soussi Restaurant
2228 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009-1813
(202) 299-9314
http://www.soussiindc.com/

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review: HR-57


We went to a Jazz Club on Friday around 14th Street that completely fit my images of Jazz and Blues Clubs where Louis Armstrong, Dizzie Gillespie and Lena Horne would perform. All the audience lights are dimmed with candles on every table and people are sitting in tight circles or in couples listening to the music and talking. You have to be a fan of the music to go though, because it pervades everything. Apparently this club is also the Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues.

The musicians were talented but they should have stuck to their own compositions. They played some jazz from other composers but their skills were best expressed through the music they wrote themselves. The saxophonist was also obviously only a temporary member, and there was a lack of communication between him and the others. The performers change every night though, so this review isn't all that relevant.

The cover on a Friday night at 10pm was $12. The alcohol is over-priced, but they charge a $3/person corking fee if you bring your own bottle of wine. This is by far the best option and one that was being utilized by nearly everyone there.

If you love jazz and blues, I highly recommend HR-57. If you don't, you'll be bored and feel as if you're wasting time and money. It's not good for groups either because the volume of the music makes it very difficult to have a conversation with more than one other person. I recommend this as an excellent second or third date because you can snuggle with your date against a wall in the dark, enjoying an informal concert and sipping on wine.

1610 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009-4307
(202) 667-3700

Georgetown



I'm not sure I was explicit before, but I'm in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University getting my master's. This is view of the campus from the Key Bridge, one of the many links between Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Newseum


I went to a Newseum-sponsored event with Charlie Gibson (journalist/news anchor) interviewing David Axelrod (Obama administration). The interview was interesting, but I did not come away with the feeling that I had received anything more than what I would have gotten from a television interview. In other words, I wasn't really sure the interview was the worth the set-up of Wolfgang Puck catering, all-you-can-drink booze and a performance by some American Idol contestant.

A few interesting comments:

Axelrod said that Obama had already been thinking about the race speech he gave after the Reverend Wright issue blew up before they faced any sort of racial conflicts. Obama had wanted to give the speech before and had already prepared ideas, knowing that race was going to be an issue in the race eventually. I thought that was interesting because the speech was so important to their race and it was so relevant to the Wright issue. The fact that Obama had the foresight to prepare the speech before any indication that there would be a race-based controversy highlights his willingness to address touchy issues without being pressure to.

Axelrod noted that the passing of Kennedy also signalled the end of an era where opposing parties debated but still held affection for each other personally. He sees personal relations today as much more contentious and influenced by the politics surrounding them. This was something I had noticed before in movies about older Washington DC politics and had wondered if there was anyone around who was still like that. I have hope for my generation, because I feel like each generation develops certain traits that are counter to the previous generation. I think the willingness to reach across party lines will be one of these traits, along with an increase in social, environmental and humanitarian activism.
And the highlight of the night:

I went up a shook hands with Charlie Gibson and said, "Thanks. That was great." I hope my handshake was impressively firm...I'm such a dork, I'm more into some news anchor than a pop culture singer.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Roasted Vegetables



Once in a while I like to post recipes that I think are winners. Here is one that I got from Rachel Ray and I love it! Mine is not an exact recipe because I didn't write down what she was doing and added onion, cause who doesn't love roasted onions? (seriously, just try it. Roasted onions are awesome)


Ingredients:
Tomatoes (quartered if normal tomatoes, left whole if cherry tomatoes)
Green beans (I use frozen because they're available year-round)
Red onion (quartered or eighth-ed - is that even a word?)
herbs de provence
salt
pepper
olive oil

Directions:
Toss vegetables carefully with olive oil and layer in a baking dish
Sprinkle salt, pepper and herbs de provence to taste
Bake at 450F for 45 minutes or until cherry tomatoes burst
Eat!

*Culinary note: some herb mixes also add salt! Read the ingredients list or taste test before adding more salt to the dish

Address labels

Ok, so I know that some of the places that have my mailing address sell it to other organizations. I'm not a huge fan of junk mail, but since I moved to DC I've filed for changes of address. Why? I can't resist those adorable address labels they send!

I just got my first set and they're cute fall labels with pumpkins and everything...I'm actually looking forward to my next credit card bill so I can use them.

I also got some free greeting cards with matching stickers. So watch out! If you send me something, you might get a kitschy thank you card in return.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Emergency Response

Last week, right as I was settling down to do some graduate work and my roommate was comfy on the couch watching football, we hear a "cressshh" outside...and the power goes out. Being the experienced Californians we are (fires, floods, storms, earthquakes, rolling blackouts and economic crises), we responded with amazing speed.

I pulled out my handy dandy mini maglite and we went around unplugging all the electronics and shutting all the windows. It was totally fine until my roommate looked out the window and said, "Oh my god, there's someone standing right outside our window!!!"

All of a sudden, giggling and half hysterical, her and I start getting paranoid that people are going to use the outage to ransack our apartment. All of a sudden we're grabbing our purses, tucking expensive-looking things away and getting ready to spend the duration of the outage out at a restaurant or bar where there is electricity and other people.

Situations like that always highlight how our real actions differ so much from our theoretical actions. In reality, it is smart to leave the apartment in a citywide outage when looting is more likely but probably unnecessary for a power outage that affected only one block for a few hours. I like to believe that I'm a rational and calm person who can respond quickly and safely to a sudden crisis but apparently the smallest trigger - like a neighbor out trying to figure out why the power went out - can send me into a semi-panic.

Panic is situations like this are a natural part of animal instincts and will in actual crises save your life. Hopefully realizing my inclination towards panic will allow me to recognize when I'm just being silly and when the panic is legitimate and necessary to my survival. By admitting its existence and learning to recognize the actual rather than perceived severity of a situation will allow me to respond more effectively and successfully in the future.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life Rolemodel


Growing up, Jane Goodall was always a role model for me. She was a pioneer in science, she was a pioneer for women and now she's an activist who travels 350 days a year speaking about her work. Although I never actively followed her career, she was someone I tried to emulate in aspirations, actions and determination. So when I heard she was coming to campus, I had to go.

Words cannot explain. As another girl in my program put it: "I'll consider myself successful when I'm 75 and can stand on stage, tell off the director of a college program, hoot like an ape and stand in front of a ridiculous puppet while a whole room full of people applauds."

She also did a Q&A where some of the kids she's worked with came up to the microphone with questions. The kids' questions were much more insightful, but isn't that always the case? Honestly, why ask about "what specific piece of legislation would you enact" if you could ask "if you could have one wish, what would it be?"

http://www.janegoodall.org/
http://www.rootsandshoots.org/

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

public transportation

Yesterday while I was taking the bus home from school, we got stuck in traffic while turning onto the bridge.

All of a sudden the bus driver puts on the brakes, unbuckles his seat, opens the door and leaves the bus, running down the hill. No one else in the bus even seems to notice what is going on.

I watch the driver run to the bottom of the hill, open a recycling bin and throw a plastic bottle in. Then he turns around and runs back onto the bus.

Only in DC.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Review: Dinner and a Play

Yesterday we decided to go to the Shakespeare Company's Free for All performances of the Taming of the Shrew. They start giving tickets out two hours before a performance until they run out, but people had been lining up four hours before already! They had their dinners and lawn chairs and blankets, like people who line up for UCLA basketball the night before.

We got there at 5pm and waited until 6:15 to get our tickets. Since we then had two hours to kill, we went to a Thai restaurant nearby that is by far the best Thai place we've tried in DC (and we've tried quite a few). It's called Kandalay and both the pad thai and the tom kha (the units of measurement I've chosen for Thai restaurants) are phenomenal.

The Taming of the Shrew was outstanding! If anyone reading this is in DC, you need to go. They are running through the end of the month and out of the three times I've seen this play, this was hands down the best interpretation. As many of you know, I'm a feminist, so there are fundamental issues with the ending monologue that drive me crazy every time I see it, but that's Shakespeare and no fault of the players. I guarantee this will be one of the funniest and most entertaining presentations of a Shakespeare play you'll ever see.

I highly recommend the dinner and a play combination, since the Thai place is literally a block away from the theater and you will have two hours to kill after getting your FREE tickets. Here's the website for more info about performance dates and times:

http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/about/ffa/index.aspx#

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Update

Sorry I haven't updated!! I just had a load of stuff happen all at once. My brother came, then my friend came unexpectedly, then orientation started and advising started and all of a sudden I have my first day of class.

My brother came for 2 full days and 2 half days and with very high aspirations. We saw the Natural History museums, the American Hist museum, the Native American museum, the National Art Gallery East and West, the Botanic Gardens, the Library of Congress Jefferson Building, Georgetown campus, Georgetown downtown, the Modern Art Museum, the Portrait Gallery, Chinatown, the National Monument and the Lincoln Monument.

Do understand the magnitude? One day we did six different things. ONE DAY. My legs were about to fall off.

My program at Georgetown is fantastic. We have the smallest program with 40 people, which means my class is only 20 people. All of our faculty have offices around the Eurolounge, which is an awesome place where we get to sit around, surf the internet or watch soccer games on our huge tv. There's also a little library, in case we want to study.

My cohort is full of awesome people and we've been doing all sorts of social events during the past week. I got free breakfast and lunch during Thursday and Friday orientation, free dinner Saturday and Monday and free lunch on Tuesday. I may be paying for my program, but at least they feed me!!

I'll update more on interesting events in more detail later hopefully. I had to breeze through this entry because I'm so darn behind. Bis spater!

Monday, August 17, 2009

puppy love and flip flops


So our delightful dog has decided she's a hider. She takes things, and hides them. Normally it's not a problem because her idea of "hiding" it putting something behind a table, where we can all see it anyway. However, she has this rawhide bone that she is somehow very good at hiding. Last time when we finally found it, it was in my roommate's bed under the sheets. Well, she hid her bone again and we still haven't found it...and it's been three days.

In other news, we were on the news. We were walking to the dog park when this car pulled up next to us and asked if they could interview us about our flip flops. We were like, "Well, we're from California, so we're not sure we can really say anything..." And she says, "perfect!"

So we go, OK. And all of a sudden she gets really dramatic and says "Did you know that your flip flops carry 18,000 microbes? How does that make you feel?" We're like, wait, you were cute and perky two seconds ago and now you're using scare tactics. WTF. We answered her questions as if she was a silly girl (the desk at work where you eat is dirty, the money you touch is really dirty and you touch it with your hands and not your feet). In other words, is this really what you care about? Then they turn the camera off and she's all cute again, "I know, it's so funny. I mean, I wear these heels on the metro all the time." So we kind of smiled, walked on and forgot about it.

The next day, we get a text saying, "saw you with your dog and roommate on tv this morning. Very cute." This cannot seriously be our claim to fame...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Puppy


Everyone meet Lucile!

I'd give you better pictures but she doesn't really like to stand still and I hate using the flash too much with her. All in all, she seems to be a good dog. We'll have to train her to sit and walk properly (she prefers to pull the leash and then suddenly stop) but otherwise, it seems to be working out.

Other than that, I got three internship offers from different departments within the same organization. I REALLY want to do it, but they require you to work full time and I'm not sure I want to do that while I'm in school. At the same time, they're REALLY good internships and I wouldn't be able to afford to live here without being paid after I graduate. I have to decide by tomorrow and I've been talking with fellow interns to get their thoughts on the issue:
One says yes, the other says no.

Guess it's up to me to decide.
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Washington DC Updates

Just to catch everyone up, I came back from Germany two and a half weeks ago and now I've settled into my home for the next two years in DC. I'm living with a high school friend and starting graduate school in less than a month.

We've been planning on adopting a dog and yesterday we got a visit from a potential pup named Lucile:
She's a 1.5 year old beagle and simply adorable. So, if our testing period with her goes well next week, we'll be welcoming a new addition to the apartment family! This program we're working through is really great because you get to meet the animals and then you can choose to foster the animal for a week or two to decide if he/she will work with you and your living situation. And, if you decide to adopt but then something doesn't work out later, the organization will take the dog back again.

It's really sad, though, a lot of people have been bringing dogs back that they had adopted before - even years before - because they've been losing their jobs or homes and can't take care of the dogs anymore. So this organization and others like it have been really overwhelmed in the past couple of months.

Apparently there are a ton of beagles and hounds up for a adoption in the DC/VA areas because people buy them for hunting purposes and then if they aren't good hunting dogs, the people just let them go in the wild or drop them off at an animal shelter. Crazy.

And in other news, there are tiny little mites in the grass outside our apartment that had been biting my roommate on her legs. I had been fine because I always wear jean pants. My roommate had been walking by in skirts because she wears skirts to work. We had thought maybe she had an allergic reaction because her bites were so large and insane. But then yesterday they finally got to me, too. The buggers are really mean! My bite swelled up like crazy and itches. I found it when I woke up this morning and it's been driving me mad.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Flowers!

For those of you who have followed me in the past, you know that flowers are my all-time favorite thing to photograph. I find them so fascinating and cool. Here are some from a botanic garden outside of Hamburg (I'm sorry I don't have the name). I apologize for the size of the post, I haven't been able to figure out how to hide the pictures under a link.