Walking Tour: Random Statue

alexandria, dc, Uncategorized, Year 2

I’ve lived here in Alexandria for about a year and half now. There’s pretty much no excuse for the fact that we have done very little of the tourist activities. We haven’t done a ghost tour, a historical tour, a brewery tour, or pretty much any tour. We went to Mount Vernon once last January and stared at George Washington’s toilet.

On my last day of vacation after our trip to New Hampshire, I did the tourist thing and did a self-guided walking tour around Alexandria.

This is one of the first things I saw on my tour. This particular statue I have seen several times. It is right in the middle of an intersection, which is terrifying if you’re driving along in the middle lane and don’t notice the giant X in your lane, which apparently means get over now or become statue food.

I have always assumed it was a statue of George Washington. Mostly because this is George Washington’s town. This is where he lived, sold his produce at the market that’s still running, ate at a local pub, and just generally hung around. All this time I never bothered to take a closer look at the statue other than my disgruntled glances for it occupying an entire lane.

Well, apparently it is not George Washington. It’s a representation of Confederate soldiers, which perhaps unsurprisingly doesn’t help my angst of this statue. See below plaque for the explanation.

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Crumble, Salad, and Baseball

Baking, Career, Cooking, dc, Dining, No recipe, Thoughts

This was a weird, long, crazy, emotional week. Mainly because my boss at the university retired this week.You know a lot of people aren’t huge fans of their bosses, and in the past I probably would have been in the same boat. I have had several good ones, but I’ve also experienced the worst of the worst. The top of boss that makes hell reign on earth, breathes fire, and eats small children. But this was different. He was the best boss I’ve ever had, and maybe because he never really felt like a boss. More like someone who was there to help me do my job and support me when I needed it. But he also brought a level of humor to the office that could not rivaled.

At the beginning of the week I went on a cookbook binge. That’s right I bought four new books, which is insane when any single one of them would probably take me three months to go through. So buying four makes absolutely no sense, but for some reason I decided I needed all of them. Actually, I managed to convince myself to put back two, so I’m calling that a partial win.

The first recipe I tried, and well the only one I’ve tried so far, is an apricot crumble tart situation out of My Paris Kitchen by David Leibovitz. Of course, the first thing I make is a dessert. Well, if this tart is any indication of how the rest of the recipes will turn out, then I think we might be in business.

So the tart really had three components: the crumble topping, the apricot filling, and the crust. The crust was good. It was a little hard. I’m not sure why that is. The flavor was good, and it softened up a little later on. But it was a little hard. The crumble topping was good and the apricot filling was standard. Granted fillings for these type of things aren’t that difficult or complicated. I actually really liked the fact that the filling only required two tablespoons of sugar. I’m weird in that I don’t like my desserts to be really sweet. Really I like a mild sweet. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure my apricots were too sour. I may need to try this again with better apricots. Overall, I would make this again. To be honest, I’ll probably make it again tomorrow. We’re going to the market, so maybe I can scavenge up some fresh apricots.

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Nicoise Salad. Dinner of champions.

Next up is a Mediterranean salad from that WS cookbook. I’m not super sure what distinguishes this from your standard nicoise salad. I’m sure it’s something, but I just don’t know. Probably because I’ve never made a nicoise before. Also, I left out the anchovies. Slimy, salty little fish. I have a difficult relationship with them.

Also, good standard easy recipe. Though I’m the slowest cook on the planet. No, really. I think it took me an hour to put together this salad, which makes absolutely no sense. There was almost no actual cooking involved with the exception of the green beans and boiling the eggs.

One note… I had a hard time finding nicoise or any other tiny olives. I finally found some at whole foods and they still had pits. That didn’t bother me so much, but I probably should have pitted them before dropping them in the salad. As I later discovered my husband dropping them down the disposal because he refused to eat around the pits. Yea…

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. The little devils.

So going back to my boss’ retirement week. He has this thing where his entire diet is dominated by bananas and cookies. And I should mention he eats SO many cookies. I’ve seen him eat four in a sitting. It’s actually quite impressive. So for his retirement week I made oatmeal raisin. I happen to have learned that his was his favorite. However, I absolutely abhor oatmeal raisin cookies. The little raisins masquerading as chocolate chips and fooling you at the last minute, and the fact that I can’t even eat oatmeal without my stomach having a meltdown. The last remaining remnants of my Peace Corps life are the lists of foods I am no longer capable of eating.

The first batch I made from a recipe on AllRecipes. I swear it had almost a billion 5 star reviews. It may have realistically had almost 2,000 reviews and it was at a 4.5 star. Should be good right? For some reason mine were terrible. Not just slightly funny, but not even edible. They browned too much, they spread too much, and worst of all they didn’t even cook all the way through. Should I have used my baking intuition and been like “I should chill the dough before putting it into the oven,” or “this recipe seems light on the baking soda.” Probably. But I didn’t. And it was a disaster.

The second batch was amazing. And I hate these cookies, so that says something. It was one I found on Tastespotting that had adapted a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. You know that recipe book that my roommate swears by, but I just haven’t seemed to gotten into. Well, baking powder instead of soda and nutmeg instead of cinnamon. I also called an audible and soaked the raisins in rum beforehand and accidentally doubled the nutmeg, because apparently I can’t read.

They were incredible. Until you hit that first raisin. Ick. And I only permitted myself to eat a quarter of a cookie, because oatmeal.

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The office took a field trip to the Nationals game.

Ah.. but one of the big events of the week was our office outing to the Nationals game. One of the boss’s biggest pastimes is baseball. He LOVES the Nats. So it only seemed fitting for us all to go out to a game together in the worst seats in the stadium. We were actually two rows down from the worst seats, but hey they view of the field was still really good. ¬†You could still see everything really clearly. There was no giant post in front of you and the game was just as exciting. I got a hot dog and three beers, because that’s how we roll. We then had an office party the next night for the entire school of medicine. Between the two nights he was so happy. It was really nice to see him really enjoy his last two days as a GWU Dean. It’s a nice reminder that there are still really good, caring, empathetic people out there.

 

 

 

Strawberry Tart

Baking, Cooking

One part Williams Sonoma tart dough recipe and two parts way too many strawberries on deck. Why did we buy two pounds of strawberries at Costco and then another pound of strawberries at Eastern Market? I always forget how much better farmers market veggies taste, but they do taste better. The tomatoes and strawberries were just sweeter and juicier.

So when I got home of course I made bruschetta with the tomatoes and a strawberry tart to eliminate some of the strawberry overload taking over the kitchen. 

The crust was a tart crust recipe from Williams Sonoma found online. One of the better crusts I have tried actually. I also always use a different crust recipe for every pie, galette, and tart I make. Keeps you on your toes. 

The rest is about a half a pound of sliced strawberries, melted butter, an egg white, and granulated sugar.

Simple, easy, and delicious. 

  
I’ve never made a strawberry tart before, so I was pleasantly surprised with how good this was. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever cooked strawberries before, but this was a good choice. 

Saffron 

Food supplies, Shopping, Thoughts

-New food & wine magazine is here. Guess what we’re making this weekend?! Lamb Biryani! We have all. The ingredients for it! Minus the lamb and the saffron. It also takes like two days to make.

This sounds like a poorly thought out plan. I’m food adventurous. I try to make new foods all the time. I made butter chicken a couple of weeks ago. It was horrible. Like seriously. This is the problem with recipes you find on Tastespotting. Though it is probably my own fault. My slow cooker is too small and I winced at the though of six cups of heavy cream and subbed almond milk instead. This was doomed from the start. 
Yerp… And I mean yerp. 

Well today we hopped on the metro and headed out toward Eastern Market, which is kind of like a farmers market and a flea market combined. It’s pretty awesome. They have all kinds of fresh local grown vegetables, cheeses from the Amish, jewelry, scarves, artisanal products, artists, and food booths. Pretty much everything that makes life perfect. 

On the way, we stopped at Sugar Shack. Probably the best donuts in town and maybe the country, and by extension the universe. I am not kidding. This place is amazing. Today I ended up with a Boston creme and maple bacon.

   

Delicious. I also think I may have gained four pounds today.

Anyway, while at Eastern Market we come across this Moroccan spice/tea booth, where of course I bought two bags of tea. But also they had a large sachets of saffron. Like usually saffron is $14 at Harris Teeter for a small vial with four or five threads in it. This was like seven times that amount for $10, plus he gave us a pamphlet of recipes that actually look amazing. So maybe we should try the biryani after all.

Also, seen while walking around near the donut shop. This gorgeous tree. Alexandria is just amazing.