You guys — lobster tails were on sale at Whole Foods last week (tipped by Shaeda) so naturally, we went a little crazy. I picked up a few tails, and was pretty set on making some butter-poached lobster rolls.
My first lobster roll wasn’t too long ago — as a kid, I wasn’t always the biggest fan of lobster. I didn’t dislike lobster, but I did (and for the most part, still do) feel that lobster was unnecessarily expensive. It’s good, but it’s not as good as say, a fantastically prepared steak.
I haven’t had many opportunities to chow down on seafood this summer (less sailing, few trips to the north east), but we made sure to get back on track with homemade lobster rolls. The butter-poaching process gives you an even more tender meat, and I’m personally a bigger fan of the hot lobster roll, the simpler, less-mayo-y version that leaves you with chunks of meat, tossed in melted butter, chives, and salt and pepper.
If you luck out at Whole Foods and find lobster tails for $5.99, get some, and give yourself a real piece of summer :)
The past couple of weeks have been weird for me, and filled with situations where I’ve felt unlike myself. I won’t get into too much, but part of it might have had something to do with having Airbnb’rs and cat sitting for Winston and second guessing when my move to New York actually will be. Rest assured, I’ve figured it all out. And once I did, I took Saturday night to myself — I took advantage of a quiet apartment and read most of the current summer read, and ended up taking a late night trip to the gym. I missed the spin and yoga classes, but generally, I’m okay with that, because I can just hop on a bike and coach my own spin class. The Sarah Gerrity spin class.
On my walk to the gym, dusk was setting and the fireflies just started appearing — side note, we don’t have fireflies in California, so they have a special place in my heart, and I still get excited every time I see them — but on my walk back from the gym, it was dark. There were some straggler fireflies, and the crispness of the night instantly brought me back to my first summer in DC, back in 2010. Having recovered from my first, very brutal winter, I was more than ecstatic to have a spring and a summer, filled with rooftop bars and embassy parties, and cooking dinners on my Dupont patio. Watching the flight patterns landing and departing from DCA, with a glass of wine and usually while sharing hookah with Kristen or Rachel was the usual. Saturday night reminded me of that. So naturally, I was wistfully remembering the days of my youth. Not that I’m not still young, but it’s weird how much you could change in four or five years.
Back then, I thought I’d live in DC forever, I thought running was the only exercise I’d ever need, and I also wanted to stay in that first group house until everyone else moved on, so I could just buy it for myself and gut it completely when I was ready to have a family of my own. Oh, how things have changed. I’m trying to savor my last summer in DC as much as I can. The days aren’t quite numbered yet, because a few things are still up in the air. The air is crisp, and I’d hate to say things are changing, because I’ve said that so many times and the changes I think might happen don’t actually come about. But as much as I love the winters, the summers are nice too. And I’m going to soak up every inch of not-urban jungle that DC is.
When the weather gets warm, I get food lazy. As in, I’m too lazy to actually cook, and end up just throwing together meals I can eat raw — salads, carrots and hummus, fruit… you know. And it’s okay, because the produce tastes better in these warmer months, anyway. I’m just waiting for it to get really hot, because the only good part about heat and humidity is the tomato season.
And when summer hits, you start hearing everyone talking about adventuring for some crab meat — in this part of the U.S., that means getting your hands covered in Old Bay and picking away at some Maryland Blue Crab.
My first foray into crab-eating was when I waited tables — at that seafood restaurant in Southern California, that I’ve written about so much. I know pretty much everything there is to know about seafood because of that job, and I’m generally grateful for that.
At the restaurant, we had live dungeness crabs, but in most of the salads, like around most of the U.S., we used canned jumbo lump crab meat, caught and packaged in the South Pacific (not so glamorous, but just say “South Pacific” and everything sounds better).
Now that I live so close to Maryland, pickin’ at crab is a cherished summer activity, perhaps after a beautiful day sailing or floating on a donut-shaped inner tube at the shark tooth capital of the world. If you have access to fresh jumbo lump crab meat at your grocery store, it will taste slightly less briny and will only be slightly more expensive — but otherwise, canned jumbo lump crab meat works a-okay.
The tartness from the lemon makes this salad perfect for a hot day, provided you’ve just pulled the ingredients out of the fridge. I, in fact, ate one for dinner one night, and jarred another to take to work the next day. The flavors held up perfectly.
Crab and Artichoke Green Salad, derived from the Fast Diet Cookbook
1 can artichoke hearts
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3.5 oz. lump crab meat
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced chives
salt and pepper
1.5 teaspoons olive oil
3.5 oz (ish) arugula or mixed greens
First, remove and drain both the crab meat and artichokes from their respective cans. While they’re draining, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and minced garlic in a small bowl. Slice the artichokes, if you prefer.
Toss the greens, chives, artichokes, and crab meat with the dressing. Serve with fresh shavings of parmesan cheese.
It’s been a while since I worked in the restaurant business. But, aside from the managers I worked for, I do look back on my days as a hostess and waitress pretty fondly. I was by far one of the youngest people working in that restaurant, and frequently referred to as the baby — which I never really minded. It was only another means for me to dip my toes into the social lives of the wait staff of Los Angeles, which is its own beast in and of itself.
Back then, I always felt like I had multiple lives. There was my life at UCSB, pretty and pristine on the beach, with jungle juice (bleghh), running to the Goleta Pier, and fake-fighting with my gay over the hot TA that would eventually become one of my oldest friends. Then, there was my life at the restaurant, counting cash in my parents’ car, triple-seating my ex’s new love interest whenever she picked a fight with the guy, and capping off our late-night shifts with underage cocktails at Fridays (the mojitos were exciting back then, but I shudder at the thought of ever going back to a TGIFridays in the San Fernando Valley). And finally, there was my life at UCLA — football games on the weekends, Red Bull all-nighters in Powell Library, and finally living in my own apartment in Westwood.
The worlds rarely collided. It was as if I teleported between entirely different dimensions when I crossed the borders between Los Angeles, Calabasas, and Santa Barbara.
I wouldn’t trade in those days for anything. Since then, friendships have come and gone, and my little brother is even working at that exact restaurant. I see patterns in his social life and his thought processes that reflect what I went through as one of the younger members of a restaurant that was about to graduate from college.
And he mentions things like trying to hide his relationship with another hostess, and, well, I did the same thing when I worked there. But in hindsight, I try to give him advice that would help him be less foolish than I was — even though I know too well that those words of wisdom would be fruitless to a 21-year old in lurve.
Perhaps I don’t want him to get attached because I know that it’s easy to get lost in these worlds. Being 19 or 22 in college in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara feels so unreal at this point in my life. The things I worried about then, the silly problems that stressed me out or made me feel invincible or made me cry — looking back, I wish I knew so much more about why they did or didn’t matter. I come from a family that doesn’t acknowledge emotions at all, so I had no idea what depression was when I went through it. I didn’t know what it was until it hit me in the face. But since leaving California, I feel like I’ve inadvertently surrounded myself with people who have their own stories, their own comparisons of their separate lives that have helped me understand my emotions, how to become more self-aware, and when to recognize when you have real issues to face, or when you’re having a mini panic attack over something that will be an invisible speck in the grand canyon view of your entire life.
And really, I’ve just recently come to terms with anxiety — what it is, what it actually feels like, and how to deal with it. Emotions are so incredibly layered, and part of me wishes I met the people I’m so close to now back in high school, when self-awareness could have come in so, so handy. These days, I can just pop some ibuprofen after one too many cocktails, or something else when I realize that I’m physically stressed about something that really doesn’t matter. Like when I’m suddenly overcome with doubt or guilt for some memory that pops into my head from my waiting days or from high school. It’s weird how the littlest memories can strike the most negative or positive emotions for me. Perhaps, you know what I’m talking about.
That being said, science is a wonderful thing. And so are friends who help you through your anxiety. Maybe I’m just rambling at this point.
This recipe was actually one of the recipes on the menu at that restaurant I worked at, where I went through just roller coaster after roller coaster of emotions. I even checked their current menus to see if it was still there, but they’ve since taken this artichoke item off — so I improvised as closely as I could. It was pretty successful, and brought me back a little bit, for better or for worse. For the good moments, it’s nice to sit in bed and reminisce the late nights we spent smoking cigarettes in backyards in Los Angeles, or the pool parties I used to throw in my parents’ Christmas-light-ridden backyard. For the anxiety-inducing moments that I can’t push out of my head on my own, well, there’s always a half a Xanax in my bag. I’ve never been so thankful for science.
Disclaimer: I promised Shaeda I would wait to make this until she was in my apartment. I broke that promise. But can you blame me?
Toad-in-a-holes take me back to being a little kid, visiting my grandmother. I don’t know if you all remember this, but before the American Girl dolls were a thing, the American Girl books and paper dolls were a thing. And being the bookworm that I was, I powered through all of them. Naturally, I look most like Samantha (most is a stretch) so she was my favorite, but my grandmother, having grown up in New York during World War II with the victory gardens and all, well, her favorite was Molly.
And when I was sufficiently obsessed with the book series and the stories of all of the characters (Grandma read every single book after I powered through each one), they came out with a series of cookbooks. I can’t remember if I had every single one, but I know that I had Molly’s. And, one of the recipes we made — usually for breakfast for Grandpa — was the toad-in-a-hole. A piece of toast with a hole in it, and a fried egg right into the bread. It’s delicious.
And I’ve had this idea for a few weeks now. A toad-in-a-hole grilled cheese. It’s been making me salivate. And with all the spin classes I’ve been going to, well, I’ve been letting myself ease into some carbs. So I made this.
But I wanted it to have a kick. So I threw on some sriracha. Obviously, it would be fun to use homemade sriracha, but I haven’t been home much lately, so I haven’t made any of that this year. The classic green top worked out great.
My only regret is that, next time, I’ll add in some slices of avocado. Now that would be perfect.
I wanted to save this picnic-y recipe for later in the year — needless to say, the past couple of months have been INSANE and I did so without even trying.
This past weekend was my much-needed antidote to traveling too much and letting stress creep back into my life: spending Friday night relaxing, Saturday at spin and reading on a patio, and Sunday bike riding all over DC and paddle boating in the Tidal Basin really helped me lower the blood pressure spikes that come as a consequence of freelancing too much, wishing I was in New York, and missing the beach.
I will admit, there are plenty of reasons to get tired of DC… but when DC does weather right, it’s just enough to make you fall in love with the city all over again. That sums up my Sunday. Beautiful weather, biking, and a couple of Moscow Mules.
Anyway, it’ll be another long week at work, ending with the most important of all days: the end of my mid-twenties. I’m looking forward to wrapping up some event photography from the day job and relaxing on a patio with the closest of friends, one of them being a a late-twenties favorite — Spanish sangria.
Major props to Cava for providing the delicious dips for me to work with! I’ve been obsessed with the spicy harissa dressing ever since my first on-site photo shoot, and I was pretty excited to use this one in a mash-up of a finger foods snack that Emily introduced me to: sausage rolls. These would be a perfect appetizer for a dinner party, or even a picnic. Jazz in the sculpture garden, anyone?
1 package puff pastry, thawed
4 or 5 pieces sausage of your choice — Andouille would be my favorite for this recipe.
Cava harissa — I used about half of an 8 oz. package.
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds, black or white
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
Flatten out your puff pastry sheets, and measure them out to fit each link of sausage you have, with about a quarter-inch of extra pastry on each end of the sausage. Also measure how wide the pastry should be — you’ll want just enough to roll around the sausage and then seal with a fork.
Using a spoon, spread a generous amount of harissa dressing on the puff pastry, distributing as evenly as you can.
Then, place one link of sausage on the pastry, and carefully roll the sheet of pastry around it. Use a fork to press into the dough at the end, sealing it tight. Set aside, and repeat until you have used all of your puff pastry or sausage. Place on a plate, and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
When chilled, remove the rolls. Using a sharp knife, slice into half-inch rounds, and arrange on your prepared baking sheet. Combine 1/4 cup water with your beaten egg, and brush the egg wash onto each piece of puff pastry. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry is a golden brown.
Happy Friday! This morning started off pretty chilly, but the weekend forecast here in DC is looking pretty darn gorgeous. Hoping you all get to have a nice weekend, too!
If you follow me on le twitter and instagram, you’re probably aware that I started working with Cava Mezze and Cava Mezze Grill to photograph all of the beautiful dishes and ingredients on their menu — and, as a food photographer who gets to chow down on everything after photo shoots are done, I can definitely say that the food tastes even better than it looks.
Liz and Nikki set me up with a couple of their dips, so this is the first of two recipes I’ve put together — a twist on an artichoke dip that my stepmom makes (which is really just one of the biggest highlights every time I go home to visit). With the added kick from Cava’s Crazy Feta, it’s the simplest of ingredients, and I’m not sure I love anything more than I love feta cheese.
I made this little pot of crazy feta artichoke dip for a friend’s birthday, which we celebrated Wednesday night over homemade pizza and bottles upon bottles of wine. I mentioned to the host that I made it with the Cava Crazy Feta dip, and she opened her fridge and revealed a few of the Cava dips that she already had in store… so they’re pretty much everywhere these days :)
We ate the dip with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, heated in the oven and ripped apart by hand. I suggest you do the same! And look for Cava’s amazing products in your grocery store — here in DC, they’re at Whole Foods. And pretty much in everyone’s fridge.
Hi friends — so today, in addition to setting you up with a great brunch recipe, I’m here to tell you about a pretty awesome local production called the Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS, for short).
If you’ve been reading a while, you probably already know about my love affair with all things Baltimore… mostly because of its hip, grungy art community, and my attachment to the art school I almost went to up there. Let’s be real — my heart aches every time I get an email from MICA. But maybe… someday, I’ll go back to school for my MFA.
This year, the BROS are performing Grundlehammer — the description is here:
Gründlehämmer takes place in the land of Brotopia: a once-prosperous kingdom where the power of music can make crops grow, heal the sick, or smite an enemy. For 30 years Brotopia flourished and prospered – but a shadow has fallen across the land, cast by a tyrannical Dark King Lothario and an immortal cave-dwelling monster of unspeakable evil: the Gründle.
Something that I find particularly fascinating about the BROS is that, for the most part, every person that participates in these production, like myself and probably most of you, has a day job doing something completely different. I wouldn’t have realized this if a friend hadn’t mentioned this to me at the Artscape performance. I was pretty blown back by the talent, so I highly recommend trying to catch a show.
That being said, the BROS have teamed up with Thread Coffee in Baltimore and Yours Truly to sponsor a giveaway for two tickets to this year’s Gründlehämmer show — the tour is based in Baltimore, but they’re traveling to both Alexandria, VA, and Philly, PA for additional shows. In addition, the winner will get one bag of the BROS Blend coffee from Thread Coffee in Baltimore, MD.
Sounds great, right? There are a few ways to win — first, you MUST leave a comment below telling us which city you’d like to see the show in! Then, for extra entries, you can Tweet about the giveaway, like BROS on Facebook, or like Sweetsonian on Facebook. Each item will give you an extra entry in the giveaway. BUT — you have to do the additional pieces through Rafflecopter. If you don’t, it won’t count in the raffle! The contest ends at midnight this Friday, March 15.
Anyway, good luck! And check out the delicious BROS breakfast bake recipe below (Sweetsonian-ified, of course, for simplicity).
Tuesday night, I found myself in a much-needed yoga class.
The past couple of weeks have been unconditionally brutal. You know those days where you literally have every single minute planned? Yeah. Try that for ten days straight. It makes my bones ache. And it takes me at least a few days to get back to normal, because stress is just something that I can’t handle these days. I was covering ARPA-E as a photographer (hellooooo, government nerd fest), gave a presentation to a design group in DC with some coworkers about why Energy.gov is awesome, and even ventured out to Vienna, Virginia, to see a friend of a friend of a friend perform, who happens to be an amazing singer/songwriter.
In high school and college, I thrived on stress. I needed to overload myself in order to get things done. I also used to drink so many vodka-red-bulls that I probably should have had a heart attack by junior year. But now, just the thought of having plans every night of the week makes me cringe. Even this last weekend — I could say it was relaxing, because I spent most of it snuggled up in bed or petting puppies tied up outside of Chipotle, but it was a weekend that had every living moment planned. There was no sudoku in bed, or impromptu Netflix wormholes, or hours with a book on the Java House patio. Lots of fun, but it still felt busy.
So finally, after what seemed like 4247895 days of straight-up booked calendar entries, I made it to the gym. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to schedule yoga. I savor my workouts as something I opt to do in the time that I have for myself — and no one else. So finally, this week, I refused to pencil anything in. I went to yoga — a time slot and an instructor I had never been to before.
I set up my mat, and relaxed for a few minutes. And… ten minutes into the class, the teacher was still missing.
I’m sure the other 20 people in the class had varying levels of stress from their days and the week before, so when our gym manager came down to apologize, it was clear that the instructor wasn’t coming. But the most amazing thing happened — a woman sitting in the front row promised that she was a certified yoga instructor, and volunteered to teach the class.
Naturally, a room full of yogis is probably the most laid-back group of people ever, so almost everyone exclaimed something to the effect of “that would be AMAZING,” and that was that. And she led a class that I’m sure everyone enjoyed, and she started the class by asking us to practice forgiveness, because she hadn’t instructed yoga in over a year and a half.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how amazing that experience was — the personalities, and the yoga itself. Anyway, please forgive me for the radio silence. It’s been a long few weeks. Treat yourself with some easy biscuits (side note, these would be GREAT on a breakfast sandwich).
Sun-dried Tomato & Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuits
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 fresh jalapeños
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
First, remove and discard the seeds from your jalapeños. Dice them finely, into about eighth-inch pieces. Combine them with the diced sun-dried tomatoes, and set aside.
In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the Bisquick, milk, and cheese — mix with the dough hook until everything is fully incorporated. Then, add in the jalapeños and tomatoes. When mixed, remove the dough from your mixer, and using your hands, form into a large, flat mound about an inch to an inch-and-a-half thick. Cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter or some sort of jar — I used a 3-inch biscuit cutter.
Then, melt your butter in the microwave, and stir in the garlic powder. Use a pastry brush or a spoon to dress the biscuits with a generous layer of butter.
Bake for about 13 minutes, until the biscuits are a light golden brown.Makes 7 to 8 large biscuits.