Somehow it is already almost September! While I figure out how I feel about that, here are a few highlights from the last month(ish):
1 // J & I have been taking a ceramics class at the Art League, the same school where I studied watercolor this past spring. It's been a good learning opportunity, given that neither of us had much experience with the wheel and were basically both starting from square one. We usually picked up dinner before class and ate together at this pretty riverside park in Alexandria, which always made for a nice date/FHE night. Plus it's an excuse for me to eat sweetgreen once a week, which is a terrible BUT DELICIOUS habit.
I had to miss a few classes because of the bar exam, but in my absence Jason apparently transformed into a ceramics master - he is definitely the more talented of the two of us! I kind of think he's our teacher's favorite, too, which is cute.
2 // My adorable little sister got her mission call! (!!!!!!) She will be serving in San Jose, Costa Rica, for 18 months and speaking Spanish. (I am like 95% so thrilled for her and a solid 5% jealous, because I would have looooooved to have that experience. I will always regret that the age change announcement came just a couple years too late for me but I am so so proud that she is volunteering for this amazing opportunity!)
Isn't she so cute? She is going to charm that entire country and I cannot wait to get to hear all about it through her letters. Hopefully we'll be able to take a quick trip back to Arizona for her farewell Sunday!
...um and also take a trip to Costa Rica at the end of her 18 months to pick her up. Totally valid reason to visit, right?
3 // With the bar over, I have a few projects keeping me busy, but I've also been spending a lot of time at our rooftop pool. It's a little weird to actually have time to relax and read for pleasure without feeling stressed that I should be doing something else instead!
I also invited a few friends and their toddlers over for a swim date, which was so fun. Babies in their learn-to-swim inflatable getups = the absolute cutest thing.
4 // Earlier this spring we picked up tickets to the Phantom of the Opera. We have both seen Phantom a few times, but obviously it never gets old, and I was pretty excited to see it again (especially at the Kennedy Center!!! gah I love that place).
^ Seriously the prettiest venue.
BUT YOU GUYS - I know this is sacrilege after having seen it literally on Broadway, but I'm pretty sure this production was my favorite variation of Phantom I have ever seen. It was amaaaaazing. From the (literally!) exploding chandelier to the incredible set design (magic stairs!!!) to the slight-but-significant departures from the traditional choreography/stage directions --- I am so glad we got to see it. By far one of my favorite experiences this year so far.
5 // This past weekend my friend Jourden hosted a pie party and we provided the venue. It was the first night in two weeks that it wasn't a disgusting 95 degrees with 80% humidity at 7 pm, so we relaxed up on the roof with friends and enjoyed the good company and nice weather. Everyone brought a pie, and in keeping with the late summertime season, I decided to make a strawberry & peach concoction inspired by a few different recipes. We picked up fresh fruit from a local farmers market, because open-air markets are one of my favorite things in the world. (This farmers market happens to be next door to our favorite movie theater which means we also caught a matinee of the new Star Trek movie which was SO GOOD but that's for another blog post back to the pie--)
The filling included the following, lightly tossed together:
- about 2 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
- about 3 1/2 cups sliced yellow peaches, skin on
- a little less than 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (you could substitute tapioca instead)
- dash of ground nutmeg
- juice of 1 small lemon, freshly-squeezed
Once scooped into the pie base, I drizzled a bit of floral honey over the filling before adding the lattice crust, and before cooking I brushed on a light egg white wash and sprinkled turbinado sugar on top.
A few notes & thoughts:
- Yellow peaches are generally better for pies because they have a more intense flavor compared to lighter, more fragrant white peaches - pick those with the bright yellow-orangy insides and more darkly-colored skins. With some fruit/dishes I'd remove the skins, but for peaches and for a pie, as long as they're not too fuzzy I like keeping them on. (Plus, then you don't have to deal with the added step of boiling + peeling.)
- If I made it again, I would (1) add a little more nutmeg and/or cinnamon (it got a bit lost amid all of the fresh fruit flavor) and (2) slice the strawberries more thickly (they would've held up better in bigger pieces).
- I'm still just not 100% sold on any one crust recipe. This one was from the always-lovely Barefoot Contessa, and like all of her recipes, it's tasty and simple. It also holds up really well - using chilled shortening is a fantastic idea. (You can find the recipe online, or it's in a few of her popular cookbooks, like this one.) However, it lacks flavor justtt a little bit for me. I like a crust that is delicious on its own! Thus, the quest for the absolute best #1 pie crust recipe continues.