Good eats in Washington D.C.

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Yummy foods in Asheville, NC

I flew to Asheville this weekend to hang out with my parents. The lasting impression I have is that it’s a foodie haven. My mom and I walked along Broadway Saturday morning for a place to eat and ended up at a tapas restaurant called Curate. Below is the drink I ordered. We also got a salad with eggplant, roasted peppers, onions and micro greens and tortilla espanola (one of my favorites).

For dinner, we went to a vegan restaurant called Plant my parents patronize whenever they visit. The desserts were sublime: key lime parfait and a trio of Mint Chocolate Chip, Thunder Road and Banana-Macadamia soy ice cream.

A funny thing happened on the way to this Monday… Facebook went public, Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Celebrities

Okay so technically it’s Tuesday morning… but it’s only been Tuesday for a few hours, and I’ve been sick and therefore slightly lazy. Anyway, thanks for waiting! Here are this week’s selections for “A funny thing happened on the way to this Monday…”

-o- Facebook went public -o-

And then the stock fell. It closed below IPO price on Monday. Did anyone see that coming? Did everyone see that coming?

Well, at least Mark Zuckerberg married his lovely longtime girlfriend. And since he’s changed his status to “Married”, the update has been liked over ONE MILLION times.

(Image source: ABC News)

Here’s a piece from the WSJ looking at the stock price on Monday, May 21. As of 5:19 a.m. ET on May 22, Facebook’s stock is down 10.99% to $34 a share. Here’s more from The Washington Post.

-o- Forbes‘ Celebrity 100 list -o-

Seven of the top 10 on this list, “The World’s Most Powerful Celebrities,” are women. At least half are primarily musical performers.

I’ll bet you can’t guess who’s number one. Hint: Oprah is number two (J.K. Rowling is at number 85; I guess being uber rich doesn’t translate into being “powerful”… or maybe Harry Potter has had his day). Here’s the list from Forbes.

-o- 18-year-old gets elected to school district board -o-

Josh Lafazan is now the youngest -ever elected official in the state of New York. According to this Mashable article by Alex Fitzpatrick, Lafazan connected with voters in his district using his Facebook page and Spreecast. You can also watch him speak at the link above.

-o- Child knows she is transgender as young as 2 years old -o-

I like that we live in a time when this can happen, when parents can show this kind of support to a son, who was born a daughter. At age four, after being diagnosed with “gender identity disorder,” this MD resident began introducing himself as a boy. He is now called Tyler. Here’s the full story from The Washington Post.

-o- Cool science images from this week -o-

Wow. Jewel caterpillar photographed near Cancun, Mexico.

(Image source: BoingBoing.net. Taken by Gerardo Aizpuru.)

Check out the rest of the slideshow from Popsci.

-o- Cooking this week: Blueberry chocolate chip pancakes -o-

Brian and I began spending time together four years ago. We met in March of 2008 and were in love by June. That first summer, we didn’t really concern ourselves with eating well. We had a lot of pancakes, and then one night we went to 2 Amy’s and had blueberry chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. Lightbulb! For the rest of the summer we bought fresh blueberries and chocolate chips and… gained weight, I’m sure.

Check out Pip & Ebby for a recipe and some truly mouthwatering pictures. Ours were never this pretty:

(Image source: Pip & Ebby)

New cookware, new recipes: Mac & Cheese and Cajun-spiced Flounder

Fun fun fun! The other day I decided to take a whole evening to cook. Not go to the gym, not clean, not get ahead on work for the next day… just cook. I got to use new cookware and new recipes, and everything turned out wonderfully! Enjoy!

Brian’s mother Diane found the Dutch oven (right) in a hole-in-the-wall shop in Baltimore and bought me one for a gift. I purchased my first and only piece of Le Creuset ware (left) on Rue La La, my daily temptress.

Skillet Cajun Spiced Flounder with Tomatoes (from SkinnyTaste)

(source)

Ingredients:

Olive oil
Flounder fillets (I used 2 large, 8 oz. pieces of fish – any other flaky white fish would do as well)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced
5-6 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped
Approx. 1 tbsp. cajun seasoning (I made my own: paprika, cayenne, oregano, garlic powder and S+P)

Method:

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet large enough to hold all the fish comfortably. I got to use my new Dutch oven!!! Cook the garlic and onion for a few minutes until soft and fragrant.

Add the tomatoes, peppers and spices and saute until the tomatoes and peppers begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.

Next, add the fish fillets and submerge in the sauce as completely as you can.

Let the fish simmer for 12-15 minutes until done. It will easily flake with a fork.

Enjoy! Here’s the original recipe from SkinnyTaste.com.

Macaroni and Cheese (from What to Cook and How to Cook It by Jane Hornby)

I was SO excited to make this. I’d been staring at the recipe in the cookbooks for over a year and decided it was high time to give in.

Ingredients

1 medium-sized onion
1 bay leaf
3 cups milk (I used 2 cups whole and 1 cup 2%)
1 tsp salt
12 oz macaroni (any tube-shaped pasta will work fine)
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
7 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 oz parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
fresh nutmeg (optional)
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Method

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the macaroni. While the water heats up, add the milk, the onion (roughly chopped) and the bay leaf to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium hit until little bubbles just start to form (see photo). Remove from the heat and let sit and infuse for 10 minutes or more.

Add the salt to the pasta water and then the macaroni. Return to a boil and cook until almost done (8 minutes or so) then drain, reserving about a cup of pasta water.

Once the milk has infused, remove the onion and bay leaf with a slotted spoon discard. Then stir the butter and flour into the milk and cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a whisk until sauce has thickened (the cookbook says 5 minutes, it only took me about 3).

Preheat the oven to 350. Add the mustard, nutmeg (if using, which I did… yay Penzey Spices) and about two-thirds of each of the cheeses to the sauce. Stir well and season to taste. If the pasta has stuck together, add a bit of cooking water to loosen, then pour the pasta and sauce into the baking dish, stirring well.

Sprinkle the remaining cheeses over top and add the tomato slices. Top with a bit more salt and pepper and then bake for about 30 minutes.

Mmmm… Enjoy!

A funny thing happened on the way to this Monday… Facebook buys Instagram for $1B, If famous writers had written Twilight…

*Many thanks to my wonderful Brian for providing the commentary for this week’s post.*

-o- Facebook buys Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock -o-

Smart, or as stupid as when News Corp bought Myspace? Some think it was a savvy move, cornering the emerging app market and preventing a potential rival from doing the same. Instagram, if you aren’t fully plugged in, allows people to share photos taken on their smartphones over social networking sites. Lets hope that it isn’t a sign of Facebook getting drunk on IPO cash and overpaying… unless you actually want Facebook to go down like the Hindenburg.

Check out the article from The Economist.

-o- Americans do not “walk the walk” -o-

It seems almost common knowledge that America is the world’s most obese country, and now it turns out we are one of the laziest. Apparently, Americans walk the least of all industrialized nations. Is it hard to believe? We all but worship the car and consider cheap gas sacrosanct. Now its coming back to bite us… of only we could run from it.

Here’s the article from NPR.

-o- How many Americans would you guess do not regularly go online? -o-

1 percent, 5 percent? According to CNN it could be as high as 20 percent, or 1 in 5 Americans, who never have used or essentially don’t use the Internet. Perhaps your bubble (I know mine does) makes this hard to believe, but the elderly rarely use the internet and poor and rural households typically can’t afford computers or don’t have access. Maybe they secretly know something us tech-tethered people don’t. If the world’s Internet collapses I know I won’t know how to procure a pizza.

Check out the article from CNN.

-o- About J.K. Rowling’s new “realist” novel for adults -o-

Can J.K. Rowling strike gold twice? Her name alone will probably induce millions to buy it. However, if it flops, she could tarnish her image. I personally love that she’s trying something new.

Here’s the piece by Ethan Gilsdorf of Wired.

-o- If famous writers had written the Twilight series… -o-

I LOVE this kinda stuff and LOVE that the internet delivers it to my fingertips. My favorite:

“Cormac McCarthy: In the opening scene, Edward dashes Bella’s head against a rock and rapes her corpse. Then he and Jacob take off on an unexplained rampage through the West.”

Hilarious. Thanks to Elisabeth for finding this! Jen’s favorite?

“James Joyce: Edward’s rapacious love for Bella reflects the way globalism has pillaged Ireland. It’s entirely written in Esperanto, with sections in untranslated Greek, except for Chapter 40, which is inexplicably rendered as a script page from the musical “The Book of Mormon”.

Check out this piece by Lizzie Stark on io9.com.

-o- Sunrises, frogs, hippos -o-

Two photo galleries from The Washington Post. Here’s a sunrise, sunset gallery and here’s the collection of exotic animals from around the world, including hippos, polar bears and sphynx cat. AWESOME.

-o- Cooking this week: Artichoke Dip Mac and Cheese -o-

Drooling. Seriously. Here’s the recipe from The Scrumptious Pumpkin.

(Image credit: The Scrumptious Pumpkin)

Bonus: Simple Cauliflower recipe from 101cookbooks.

A funny thing happened on the way to this Monday… 10 Crazy and Unusual Book Designs, “No, you can’t deduct that…”

-o- No, you can’t deduct that -o-

I thought I was almost done with my taxes when I remembered I was a Teaching Assistant at George Washington last Spring and forgot to include that. Talk about a con of a freelance (read: unorganized) lifestyle.

Anyway, for a piece that ran this weekend, the NPR staff spoke to several accountants and other knowledgeable sources and asked them to list some of the most off-the-wall attempts their clients made at deductions. Among them? Cosmetic surgery, haircuts, and vet bills. Check out NPR‘s article by Jacob Goldstein.

-o- Weight as factor in employment decisions? -o-

A Texas hospital that includes body mass index (BMI) in their hiring policy has come under criticism. Well, yeah, it’s hard not to feel upset about that. Here’s the HLN article.

-o- Eggs as Art from all over the World -o-

Easter is over for another year, and pieces of plastic eggs litter my apartment. Ah, cats. Before leaving decorative eggs and nostalgic memories of hunts behind for awhile, check out this gallery from NPR.

-o-  Snow White’s in, Vampires are out, but at least Kristin Stewart is still around -o-

(Image source: Wikipedia.com)

Vampires, werewolves, dystopian futuristic worlds… Snow White? Not so much a logical progression. But Annalee Newitz makes some intriguing arguments in her piece on io9.com “Why is Everybody Obsessed with Snow White?” Check it out.

-o- 10 Crazy and Unusual Book Designs -o-

This is my favorite thing I found last week: “10 Crazy and Unusual Book Designs” by Emily Temple. Here’s the list from Flavorwire. Among them, and my favorite (perhaps predictably)… edible books! The first book on this list is an edible cookbook with pages that can be baked into a lasagna.

-o- Cherry Blossom Festival in pictures -o-

I was just on the Mall this weekend and, sadly, I think the blossoms are mostly gone for the year. Check out 100 years of cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. in pictures from the BBC.

-o- Best and Worst Beers -o-

Worth a read, but I wish “taste” were a category. Here’s the slideshow of 40 beers by calorie-count, carbs and alcohol percentage by Eat This, Not That. Going through this was actually kind of a bummer but… drinking beer was never a super calorie-conscious option to begin with…

-o- Recipe of the Week: Over-the-top Mushroom Quiche -o-

Cooking this week! Amazing-looking mushroom quiche. Here’s the recipe from Punchfork.

(Image source: @ Deb Perelman)

Sadly, Brian doesn’t like mushrooms, so we’ll also be making this soup with the abundance of asparagus in our fridge right now; here’s the recipe from thesolitarycook. Mmm… what an unusual and delicious-sounding combination: “Asparagus Soup with Sriracha and Avocado Creme Fraiche.”

Virtual Traveling: Homemade Japanese Feast

Last weekend, my dear friend Elisabeth and her partner Taha came to visit for the Cherry Blossom Festival held annually in Washington D.C. The weather prevented us from picnicking on the mall, but that did not stop Elisabeth displaying her impressive culinary skills in my kitchen.

The Menu

-o- Miso soup
-o- Seaweed salad

-o- 3 kinds of salmon maki
-o- Salmon rice balls

-o- Chicken gyoza
-o- Soba noodles

Check out the feast she prepared for us! Brian and I contributed sake and the fish plates… he also attempted to build a sushi-rolling mat from bamboo skewers and dental floss.

Elisabeth even brought Japanese cookies for dessert and Japanese gum for palate-clearing.

(Image source: Serious Eats)