Monday, May 17, 2010

Vegetarian quinoa dish

Since this blog is dead, I decided to revive it by trying out different subjects such as cooking. This could be a flop, but I figure why not?

So in order to save money, P and I are trying to cook more. Neither of us loves to cook, but I probably hate it less. It's funny, people always assume that because my father is a chef that I too am a natural born cook. Although part of my Dad's talent is pure artistry, a large portion is a result of his culinary education and more than forty years spent working as a chef. So no, the gift of cooking is not some genetic skill that is passed from generation to generation. What is genetic however, is the love for good food and having an insatiable appetite (at least that's my reasoning!).

So tonight I cooked a vegetarian dish - Greek quinoa salad. Our friend M recently shared the recipe and so we decided to give it a try. I've never eaten quinoa before so it was tough to know when the grains were fully cooked. I just had to go by the packaging on the bag - wait until the quinoa is translucent in color.

I bought this brand of organic quinoa:

First, you have to wash and drain the quinoa because according to the packing (clearly my only instructions) you need to wash away any bitter tasting parts of the grain. So I awkwardly did this using a bowl and a lid from a pot. Below is a photo of the washed quinoa. The quinoa reminded me of that Nickelodeon product - not Gak - from my childhood.

Now after washing it (if you're still reading, I'm impressed) you can boil the quinoa in some vegetable stock. You can also use water but I opted for the vegetable stock because it would be more flavorful.

So now here's a photo of the bubbling, boiling quinoa. Pretty yellow, eh?

While the quinoa was boiling, I prepared a ton of other ingredients. Here's a photo of just a few of the ingredients - parsley, cilantro, garlic, olives and cherry tomatoes.

You also need to mix some olive oil, red wine vinegar (use this rather than apple cider - thanks for the tip, M), a whole lemon and garlic in a separate pan. Then mix all these ingredients together with the quinoa.

And ta da - this is the end product! Yes, I kind of skipped a few steps, but seriously just follow the recipe. Also, one tip - saute the onions so you're not just adding raw onions to the mix.

In terms of improvements - I would add less feta cheese and lemon juice next time and a few more olives and tomatoes. Otherwise, a pretty darn tasty dish.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Sayonara Japan, and Hello DC!

Aaaaaaand I'm back! Hopefully I'll be able to blog more regularly after a rather long hiatus. So what happened from May through September? Well, I ended up spending the summer juggling an internship, summer school, and quite a bit of travel. The internship and summer school aren't the most exciting topics, so instead I wanted to share a few photos and thoughts from my trip to Japan.

I spent 8 days traveling in Japan. For the first three days, I stayed in Awaji Island at this beautiful mixed-use complex that houses a Westin hotel, conference center, terraced gardens, retail stores, and restaurants. The site was designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Despite never receiving formal training as an architect, his work has become internationally renowned for its innovative use of natural light. I found this slideshow online that showcases beautiful photographs from his work on Awaji Island. Below are also some of my own photographs from Awaji Island.

After Awaji, I headed to Nagoya which is the third largest city in Japan. It's an extremely modern and industrialized city. Nagoya is also one of Japan's largest port cities. Unfortunately, much of the city was destroyed in WWII so little remains from the city's past. Even the city's most prized landmark, the Nagoya Castle, is a replica of the original castle that once sat on the site. Today the city has super highways rising above residential and commercial spaces, large skyscrapers, upscale shopping districts, grand parks, and quietier residential neighborhoods. The city doesn't see a lot of Americans traversing its streets so I certainly stood out. Here are some photos from my trip to Nagoya.

A photo of Nagoya Castle taken from the castle grounds.

An intersecting crosswalk in a busy district of the city.

This photo was taken in a park in the Sakae neighborhood. The Nagoya TV tower is in the background.

Superhighways overhead!

This is a shot from ouside the Nagoya train station, which was probably the busiest and most overwhelming place I've ever been!

Since this blog is focused on DC, I've created a comparison of what I missed about DC while in Japan and what I miss about Japan now that I'm back home in DC.

What I missed about DC...

- Clean(er) air.
- Being able to speak the language.
- Sandwiches. I don't know why, but I craved sandwiches the entire time I was in Japan. Want to try some of DC's best sandwiches - check out Cafe Philips in the Mt. Vernon/Chinatown area for a wonderfully fresh and delicious sandwich!
- The simplicity of the public transportation system. Perhaps the language barrier applies to this as well.

What I miss about Japan...

- How polite everyone is!
- Cleanliness. The streets were absolutely spotless.
- Recycling everywhere and the limited amount of waste people produce.
- Multimodal transportaion options. Nagoya was truly a bikable and walkable city.

Japan was certainly a wonderful experience and I can't wait to travel abroad again in the future. Until then, it's back to blogging about the City of Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm!

Until next time,

The Sassy Hen

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

100th Anniversary of the First National Planning Conference

Fellow classmates of mine at the University of Maryland were recently awarded first place in the 2009 Next 100 Years Video Competition. Their winning video has some great shots of some of DC's more diverse neighborhoods including Petworth and Columbia Heights. More importantly, however, it speaks to the crisis our cities face and will continue to face without innovative ideas and radical planning.

If you're interested in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the First National Planning Conference in America, head down to the National Building Museum on May 21, 2009 to celebrate with the American Planning Association (APA). The conference's theme is sustainable cities and will host speakers including the director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs, The Honorable Adolfo Carrion, Jr., and Columbia's Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Carolina Barco. For more information, visit this website. Unfortunately I'll be in Charm City that day so won't get a chance to attend this event.

This is a photo of one of my favorite streets in DC, a residential street in Dupont Circle.

Until next time,

The Sassy Hen

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

That's right, it's time for a pillow fight!

On Saturday afternoon, the group known as the DC Defenestrators staged a pillow fight in Dupont Circle in front of the marble fountain. DCist had a short blurb about the "spontaneous" pillow fight that attracted nearly 100 participants! The fight lasted around half an hour and by the end you could see the exhaustion and sweat dripping from the mass of pillow fighters.

A friend of mine from school told me about the event, and although I didn't bring a pillow along to participate, I got some great shots of the event (some of which you can see here). Here's a photo of my friend right in the middle of the mass fight!

If you're interested in attending more events staged by the DC Defenestrators, I recommend checking out their site.

It turns out that DC wasn't the old city to have a pillow fight - Saturday, April 5th was World Pillow Fight Day!

Until next time,

The Sassy Hen

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring time

Ah, it's that time of year again - spring time! The weather is getting warmer, but also wetter, while the grass is becoming greener. Tulips and daffodils are blossoming in gardens, and trees are showing signs of foliage.

In DC, spring time also means cherry blossoms and the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year, the peak bloom period is from April 1st through April 4th. After walking around the tidal basin (along with throngs of tourists in neon green FBI sweatshirts), I recommend going for tea at the Willard Hotel. While eating scrumptious finger sandwiches and nibbling on cherry flavored desserts, you'll be enjoying the sounds of a harpist. Plan to make a reservation as soon as possible, as tea time is a popular event for both tourists and locals alike. Don't get discouraged if you have trouble making a reservation, their lines are often busy and you may have to call back a few times (and even act a bit rude) to get the hostess' attention.

Until next time,

The Sassy Hen

Monday, March 16, 2009

A snowy day at the National Zoo.

Classes were canceled on Monday, March 2nd due to the 6 inches of snow that fell in the DC metro region. I decided to take advantage of my day off, and so I headed to the National Zoo to see how the animals were handling the cold and wet day. Here are a few photos from my trip to the zoo.

Today was a rare day for the entrance of the zoo - there were no school groups of children posing inside the letters that spell "ZOO!"

The viewing machine, covered in snow, looked like an old man with white hair.

The panda thought it might be fun to roll down a hill inside his enclosure.

Until next time,

The Sassy Hen

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hello, world.

This is a blog about the city that I live in, Washington D.C. This is also the city that I both love and hate. J.F.K. once said, "Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm." The second half of the quotation encapsulates what I dislike about the city.

Here is a simple list of some specific dislikes:

1. Good customer service is practically nonexistent. Try dealing with Al, an employee at the Woodley Park CVS (yes, you know Al- frizzy gray hair and always yelling at customers to form a line).

2. City runners who scare you half to death while trying to pass you on the sidewalk. Who knew that runners trump walkers on a city's sideWALKs? They run in the rain. They run at night. They run in the snow.

3. Lawyers. The DC capital region is home to the highest per capita population of attorneys in the United States. One out of every six people here is an attorney. That means one out of every six people you meet in DC is obnoxious, arrogant, and insufferable.

But it's not all bad!

Here are some great aspects of life in DC:

1. The public transportation system is superb! As a resident of NW DC, I almost never need a car, and when I do, I just rent one by the hour from Zipcar (try it, you'll love it!).

2. The city's orthogonal design.

3. The city's 127 neighborhoods - each with a different character and charm (or lack thereof...). My personal favorites are Mt. Pleasant, Cleveland Park, and Logan Circle.

So as I go about exploring the city that I now call home, I'll be posting stories and photos from my adventures. Enjoy!

Until next time,

The Sassy Hen