My Least Favorite Thing About D.C. (and it’s not the heat!)
Since moving to Washington D.C. three and a half years ago, I have slowly but surely fallen in love. I can definitely say I have come to consider it “my city,” and one day I could see going as far as to consider it “home.” What I love the most about D.C. is the diversity of possibilities, places and people that can be found in a city that still feels small enough to be manageable and personal enough to know.
Any given week I might go from partying at a museum, to playing softball on the National Mall, to geeking out over nerdy presentations with a beer in my hand; from catching a show at the Kennedy Center to singing karaoke in the basement of a dirty bar, possibly in costume. I can attend a wide array of free film screenings and book signings or visit the Botanical Garden or any of the Smithsonian museums on a whim. Had I the slightest level of coordination, there are dozens of sports leagues I could join. The happy hours are more abundant than my stamina or my bank account, but they’re always there. The book clubs are even more abundant than the happy hours, or perhaps just more enticing. The National Monuments are my personal playground and I won’t be judged by asking the bartender to change the channel so that I can watch the presidential debate. Between the Metro and Uber I never need to drive. The food options are endless and often delightful, whether it’s food truck grub, a $10 bowl of ramen, or a 7 course tasting menu that costs a third of my rent. And as much as I enjoy the city, I can easily escape for the weekend to float down the Shenandoah river, hike amongst waterfalls, or camp on the beach.
But perhaps the most important thing I have found since moving here is friends that I can both play with and learn from, often simultaneously. I have friends who can tell me all about international trademark policy, derivatives, stem cell biology or the history of genocide, and who often do so over a pitcher of sangria or a margarita on the rocks. I am confident that a quick phone call could get me lessons in sewing, graphic design, canning, accounting, hip hop dance, interior design or car repair. I am surrounded by so much intelligence and knowledge, and I love it.
After reading my ode to all I love about this city, you are probably wondering if this post’s title is a typo. It’s not. You see, while I could see one day calling this city home (and the proximity of family certainly has a great deal to do with that), for the large part it remains transient. People come and go with the opportunities, and for the intelligent, knowledgable friends I just got done raving about, there are many. What I’m saying is that this is a city of a lot of goodbyes.
One of the very hardest of these goodbyes came just this week when we had to see Jana off to law school at Notre Dame. Of course we had to send her off in style, by turning the Committee room completely pink and sparkly for a Legally Blonde themed champagne brunch. Below you will find the photo evidence, as well as the recipe for the vegetarian egg and bread casserole I made for brunch.
Triple-Cheese Spinach Strata with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers and Gruyere
From One Cake Two Cake
Adapted for a 9″ x 13″ casserole servicing 9-12
- 1/2 cup chopped dry-packed sundried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 12 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 cup chopped roasted red peppers
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 pound crusty French or Italian bread, cut into cubes
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Pinch freshly ground pepper
- 2/3 cup ricotta
- 2 cup gruyère, grated
- 1 cup parmesan, finely grated
*Note: needs to sit overnight
- Cover sundried tomatoes with boiling water and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain off water. Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much water as possible, and then chop.
- Over medium-low heat, heat butter until no longer bubbling. Saute onion until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir until golden, about 30 seconds. Stir in spinach, peppers, sundried tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir until mixture is dry, about 1 minute, then remove from heat.
- In a buttered 9 x 13 inch casserole dish, layer half of bread cubes. Spread over half of spinach mixture, then spoonfuls of half of ricotta. Scatter over half of gruyère and parmesan. Repeat layering, ending with bread and then gruyere.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture evenly over casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, remove casserole from the fridge and let sit while preheating oven to 350°F. Bake casserole covered with tin foil for 30 minutes; uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until browned and cooked through.