Monday, April 30, 2012

Mom's Chili

Growing up with Mom's Chili was my first introduction to comfort food.  And joyously I've found that chili can be enjoyed at any time of the year, whether winter or summer, spring or fall.  Below is my mom's original recipe, slightly tweaked for my aging taste buds, which now require more spice than they did as a child.  It's simple and easy, but oh so delicious.

1 pound ground meat (your choice of ground beef or turkey *)
1 Medium Onion, chopped and seeded
1 Green Bell Pepper, peeled and chopped
1-3 Jalapenos, depending on your spice preference, sliced in circles
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz can of Rotel, drained
1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes
1 14-oz can of kidney beans, the darker, the healthier, rinse out contents of can
1 14-oz can of stewed tomatoes, drained
1 4-oz can of diced green chiles
4 Tablespoons Chile Powder
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Dutch Oven
1 Wooden Spoon

* For a healthier option, use ground turkey breast, but for a heartier option, use ground beef (still try to get a lower fat percentage sirloin).

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Georgetown House Tour & French Market

Yesterday marked the annual Georgetown House Tour, happening each year during the last weekend of April.  Local residents kindly open up their homes for our viewing pleasure.  Ticket proceeds from the event go to St. John's church to then be dispersed to the nearby charitable organizations.

This year, I was dubbed with the honor of volunteering as a docent at one of the homes.  My job was to help with the flow of foot traffic, ensure people put on and took off their booties, and to mention some of the interesting facts about the house.  It made for a long day - 1,300 people toured the house - but it was quite enjoyable.  Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.  The owners were so warm and friendly, as I've found to be the case with most of the Georgetown residents.  But to stand there and watch the crowds of people flowing through truly is a spectacular in and of itself.  There is a mix of people on the tour, ranging from those who live just down the street, to those who are visiting the Nation's capital from another country.  All were welcomed.

It also is the same time that the French Market comes to Georgetown on Wisconsin Ave NW between Q Street and Reservoir.  Local shops and restaurants bring their best of France to the streets.  There are mimes, and music, and watch out for the guy riding around on his unicycle!  It's a fun time for all.

Lastly, this weekend also tends to be the day of the DC Avon walk for breast cancer awareness.  So, not only are the streets packed full of people lined up outside of homes, and book hill crowded with merchants, but also there are plenty of people in pink walking their way through the city.  It's a great day to be out and about.

Sunday Morning

I do say that I love waking up on the weekend to CBS's Sunday Morning.  When Charles Osgood comes on the screen, his voice so warm and welcoming, I wake up feeling that everything is going to be okay.

The show starts off by catching the viewers up to speed on a few current events.  Then you get to watch creative tidbits on different stories, and usually there is a bio in there somewhere.  I always enjoy when they pull out the almanac and tell you a historical fact that happened on that very same day, but my favorite part of the one and a half hour show is how they "leave you this Sunday morning" in a field overlooking the blossoms, or with the flow of a quiet stream, or cold in the mountains with the mountain goats.  A nice big yawn, and a stretch, and I am ready to have a good day.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rainy Afternoon

It's a beautiful morning, but there are storms headed our way to the Nation's capital.  Calling all Hunter boots!

Acqua Al 2

We finally made it to Acqua Al 2 last night.  When my husband and I took a trip to Florence, Italy, we were walking the streets and just so happened to stumble across the original restaurant.  We paused and looked at one another, but since they had a copy in DC, we figured we would try somewhere else that we could only get in Italy and save the Acqua Al 2 experience for when we got home.  Well, we got home, and a year and a half later, we finally made it to try their dining experience.

The concept truly is Italian offering the Primi Piatti (first course) pasta dish and Secondi Piatti (main course) meat dish.  We started off with some ricotta balls, you can never go wrong, and one of their daily specials, Burrata served with honey, pine nuts, and grapefruit - divine.  Burrata, for those that may not know, is like an upgraded Buffalo Mozzarella (yes, while Buffalo Mozzarella is always the better choice, it actually can itself be upgraded).  It is a creamy silk on the inside, and an item to not ever be passed up.  We were dining with another couple and both of the eyes of the ladies opened wide when this special was mentioned.  The boys didn't even flinch to order it based upon our reaction.

The Help

Rarely do you come across a book so unique in its own way of how the book is presented, what information it contains, and how well it can keep your attention.  The Help really does master the intrinsic value of itself. 

My mother gave me The Help after she read it in a day.  Many of my friends had been recommending the read, saying how they just couldn't put it down.  I don't know why, but for some reason I resisted.  It may be the same reason I have never gotten around to reading Eat Pray Love; you don't want to do it, because everybody is doing it.  But one day, I finally gave in...

The book is told from the different point of view of some of the key characters.  Some of the chapters are intentionally a little bit more difficult to read because of the different dialect.  But it really does make for the right feel for the person telling the story. 

I tend to be a person that doesn't like to see a movie after reading the book because the movie never seems to cut it even remotely close to how good the story really is (i.e The Notebook).  Books contain so much information to help a creative mind paint its own individual picture, so it is hard to then turn to a movie and see the story from a completely (or rather mostly incomplete, since movies can never contain all of the information that is in the book) different point of view.  But, bravo!  That is not the case here.  The movie is just as fabulous as the read.  Kudos on this one, Hollywood.