Friday, July 23, 2010

The Whole Story

We're coming up on ten months of living in Virginia, which is just crazy to me. At first, waves of home-sickness were constant, and now they have nearly disappeared. Things like cupcakes, friends, and just the general awesomeness of living near DC make it hard to not love this place. But every once in a while, I feel a sharp pang of, well, not so much homesickness as sistersickness. My sister Lindsay is in California visiting our other sister Amy right now, and I desperately want to be with them. Luckily (oh so luckily!) my sister Whitney lives here too now. Yeah, did you know I have three sisters? I don't know how anyone functions without sisters. I have seriously considered having eighty children just so Bria could have tons of sisters.

Back in April, Whitney surprised me with a visit. She and Sam were scheming since December for her to come visit me for my birthday. Everyday Whitney and I chat online, and I would constantly ask things like, "so, when are you coming to visit?" or, "have you bought your plane ticket to visit me yet?" And, sly fox that she is, she would deflect these questions oh so graciously with a "waah! I miss you too!"
Two days before my birthday, I was driving to Trader Joe's to pick up some last minute things for dinner, and there Sam was, walking with some strange girl down the street. "How odd he didn't call me when he left work!" I thought. And "why is he pushing that strange girl's suitcase?" As I slowly pulled up to them, I felt awkward. Sam was being a gentleman, making friends with someone who apparently lived close to us, and he was helping her with her luggage. Was I going to have to pick her up in our car and drive her to her house before we carried on with our day? I wasn't sure if we had room in our car for her suitcase. Why was that girl smiling so huge at me? She certainly had cute sunglasses and great style. I pulled over the car and rolled down the window. Sam and the strange girl just stood there staring at me while I greeted them. This was really awkward. The strange girl took off her sunglasses, and suddenly it hit me. Whitney! It was Whitney!! Yes, it's true. I didn't even recognize my own sister.
I just started yelling "What?! What?! What?!" and jumped out of the car. (With a very confused Bria still sitting in the back seat.) I burst into tears when we hugged. A girl can only go so long without seeing her sisters, and it had been over six months. Too long! We cried and cried before heading on our merry way to Trader Joe's to begin that great six days together. The best part was when, while Whitney was out here, we decided enough was enough and she was going to just move out here. She found a job and a house that very week, and now she lives here. She babysits, we get frozen yogurt, we swim in her pool-- it's awesome. It took off that last twinge of acute homesickness I was still feeling. Life is so much better with sisters.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tasty Links Tuesday

Lots of times I find recipes around the interwebs that I love and want to share with you, so in a new (sure-to-be-sporadic) series, here are some tasty links:

This dish, this pasta with baked tomato sauce, is what inspired me to start sharing some links. I made this for just my own lunch last Friday, and I almost died. I made it in my Le Creuset, and, as I am wont to do, I made it with extra bread crumbs and cheese. Basically, if a recipe calls for bread, cheese, any kind of sauce, or chocolate, you can pretty much guarantee I will double what it calls for. I'm just indulgent like that.

Remember how last summer I was obsessed with all things Orangette? Well, here is my all-time favorite post on Orangette. It includes the recipe for my favorite cookie dough, and it also includes heirloom tomato bread salad, which I made for lunch on Sunday-- again, just for myself. I made Sam get his own lunch, which ended up being cheddar cheese melted on plain penne pasta, poor guy. Usually I am a nice, caring, food-sharing wife. But not this time, and I'm not even sorry. Also, I should state that I grated a little parm cheese on top, because, well, like I said: if I can add cheese to something, I will.

And, lastly, these are the essentials to my favorite stir fry. This recipe taught me what to do with tofu! So exciting. And, one more time, you shouldn't be surprised that I always double the sauce. Also, while this recipe is so, so, so delicious as is, I rarely make it with bok choy anymore, because it tends to be a little pricey, so I make it with broccoli. And carrots instead of mushrooms, because I think mushrooms are gross. (Gasp!)


Thursday, July 15, 2010

the big two-eight

Sam's birthday is none other than The Fourth Of July, which means for the past five years, Independence Day has been more about Sam gracing the earth with his presence than it is about celebrating our nation's independence. I wouldn't have it any other way. Sam grew up thinking all the fireworks were for him, and I like to pretend they are too.
This year we were in Texas for a family reunion, so Sam's birthday was a little different than it's been in years past. We spread out the birthday fun with a cake in Texas

and I made one of my favorite chocolate cakes a couple days after we got back, which we ate after Sam's favorite dinner and had my sister Whitney over to help us celebrate.
And finally, we went to eat at Coastal Flats, which is a sister restaurant to Sweet Water, which we went to with Marc and Jenn last fall. We saw Coastal Flats had the same flourless chocolate waffle with ice cream and homemade carmel sauce, so, of course, we ordered it again. Bria kind of hogged all the ice cream, but that's what you get for taking a 2 year-old out to dinner.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


My sister-in-law Rachel is reading 365 books this year.


We were in Texas for a family reunion last week, and I got to talk to Rachel about how all this reading is going, and it's really just astounding. She recently hit the halfway mark (which is actually July 2nd), and she had read 183 books on that day. And while we were in Texas, she read six books-- all while totally interacting with the family and having a great time. I'm convinced she is magic (or just really smart). My brother-in-law Adam is keeping track of her progress here, so you can see what books she's reading and how she rates them (I recommended book 100!).

She's totally inspired me, and I really want to start reading more. So I am now open for some book recommendations. I have a list a mile long of books to read, but what titles should I bump to the top of my list?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pesto Pizza

This is one of my favorite dinners lately:Pesto Pizza!

It all came from some on-its-last-leg basil in my fridge. Throwing away basil is painful. On an average day, you can get about a cup of basil for, like, three bucks. That's a lot when basil is usually one of many ingredients. And let's talk about how pesto also contains pine nuts and then you're wallet's nervous twitch is going to flare up.

But. Pizza.

I'm back to using this trusty recipe for my pizza crust. I split it in two (which means we are averaging two pizzas a week for dinner around here lately). And I top it then bake it at 475 for 10 minutes. It's much lighter and thinner, and it's my new favorite.

So take that crust, and top it:
A generous slather of pesto*
Slices of mozzarella (from an in-water mozzarella ball)
Thinly sliced tomato (I'm currently obsessed with baby romas)
Sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A hefty sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese

It's so delicious. And such a fresh, summery meal. I also think it would be lovely with bacon or prosciutto.

*As for the pesto. Remember this post when I lamented losing my favorite pesto recipe? Well, Kjerstin saves the day because she found my recipe!! She emailed it to me back in January. And it really is just as good as I remembered. Also, I didn't have pine nuts tonight, so I made it with walnuts, and it was just as tasty.

So, the Beloved Pesto Recipe (from Alexandra's Williams-Sonoma Pasta cookbook):
1 C firmly packed basil
1/2 t salt
3T Parmesan
2 T Romano
3 T Pine nuts
2 clove garlic

mix in food processor, then drizzle in

1/2 C Extra virgin olive oil
1 T pasta water

Thursday, July 1, 2010

7th Hill Pizza

For quite some now, 7th Hill pizza has been on my To-Eat list, mostly because of a little something called a nutella calzone.

I know.

Other than the fact that it just sounds delicious, I have it on good authority that it lives up to the hype. And now, let me add a second voice. IT LIVES UP TO THE HYPE. I mean, really, how could it not?

Oh, but we ate pizza first.
So, we knew taking Elisa and Matt there would be a great idea, and in all four of our inabilities to make decisions, we ended up ordering three pizzas to share (which turned out to be the right amount): the Capitol Hill (tomato, basil mozzarella), the Seventh Street (prosciutto, parmesan, roasted red pepper, tomato), and the Stanton Park (zucchini, red onion, garlic, roasted red pepper, eggplant, tomato, mozzarella, pecorino, parmesan).
And it was all just so divine. I mean, truly. The pizza is all freshly fire baked, and the crust was chewy and dry in the best way, which means it was soft and not at all greasy. I want to eat there forever.

And then we got the nutella calzone. It was HUGE and hot and full of nutella deliciousness, and we all died on the spot. (Obviously I forgot to take a picture, because I just had to eat it immediately.) (You can look here for a picture, but just know that, if you go, you won't get pistachios and raspberries because you aren't special.) And by "died on the spot" I mean that I went home and had the worst stomach ache from being a glutton while M&E were visiting, but it was soooo worth it.

The verdict is that I want to go back again and again for the rest of my life.