Congratulations to everyone accepted into the Fall 2014 Washington Program class! Now start looking for jobs and housing.
I’m only slightly kidding. You all should be very excited about the amazing program you are going to take part in, but you should also take the preparation process seriously. Although I started looking for housing soon after I got accepted, we had some crises in the process and we did not end up finalizing our housing until the weeks between thanksgiving and finals. I was extremely busy and it caused me a lot of unnecessary stress during that time period. Thus, I would advise you to look sooner rather than later. Also, be wary of Craigslist and always verify postings with the property manager. You want to limit your anxiety as much as possible during this process, so do not be afraid to reach out to program alumni and friends in DC for help.
Now that I’ve given you some preparatory advice, I will return to discussing the experience in DC. Most importantly, I have some more recipes for you!
As a native Southern Californian, I am a huge fan of Mexican food. You can put almost anything in a tortilla with cheese and it will be delicious. (Even the Internet agrees!) Mexican-inspired dishes are also very easy to prepare on short notice with the food you have lying around the house. I always keep canned beans, frozen vegetables, tortillas (or some sort of wrap) and cheese on hand because they are perfect for a quick meal after work. In general, I suggest you buy canned and frozen vegetables because they are very inexpensive and will last the entire semester. You also never know when you’ll be trapped inside from weather! We have had numerous snow days this semester and having good food on hand has been enormously convenient. Last week I was really busy and was unable to go grocery shopping, but I had enough supplies that I could throw together a delicious and healthy meal after class in under 25 minutes.
I am a vegetarian and try to eat gluten-free, so I made this veggie and egg quesadilla with a teff flour wrap. The wrap can be unwieldy and fall apart, so it is easier to use if you cut it in half.
When I have more time on the weekends, cooking can be very relaxing. I’ve started amassing a repertoire of my favorite dishes and this one is definitely on the top of the list. It is a basil pesto zucchini pasta with sweet peas on a bed of arugula. The one tool you need for this dish that you might not have is a box grater – they are cheap and useful so I highly recommend getting one. The dish is fairly simple and the only labor intensive parts are finding fresh zucchini during the winter and then actually grating the vegetables. Otherwise, the ingredients are easy to find and the recipe is predominantly guided by personal taste.
First, I washed and grated the zucchini then pan-fried it in a little olive oil. Then I added about a tablespoon of crushed garlic – it is much easier to buy the jarred garlic and store it in your fridge than manually doing this.
After letting the zucchini cook until it was dark green and tender, I added two tablespoons of basil pesto and a tablespoon of Greek yogurt. You can add whatever dairy product you like or none at all.
Finally, I added half a can of sweet peas. I let them cook for a couple of minutes with the zucchini before placing the mixture on a bed of arugula. Topping the dish with
Parmesan cheese is also highly recommended!
Although staying home and cooking with friends can be fun and relaxing, sometimes it is also nice to get away on the weekends. Washington, DC is conveniently located on the Eastern seaboard near numerous vibrant cities. Moreover, it is unbelievably easy and fairly inexpensive to book a Megabus online, which departs from Union Station. You can take the metro right into the station to catch your bus. Sarah and I both have family in Pennsylvania, so last weekend we took a trip to Philadelphia. It was a four-hour trip on the way there (because we made multiple stops) and only three hours to return. Not only was it great seeing my family, but Philadelphia also has so many historic attractions! I love the impressionist movement and the Philadelphia Museum of Art has an extensive impressionist and post-impressionist collection. It is also connected to the Rodin Museum (not the Musée Rodin), where you can use your Philadelphia Museum ticket to see a moderately sized collection of the artist’s famous works. Of course, you can’t miss out on Independence Hall and the founding-era sites. It was very touching to visit the birthplace of our nation now that I’m working at the federal government. I highly recommend everyone do this at some point during your time here.
The Rodin Museum
View from the top of the steps Rocky ran at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
I cannot conclude this post without a culinary suggestion, so I have to mention Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal & Market. This huge indoor market occupies what once was the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad’s Terminal Station. It began operation in 1892 as a colonial-inspired market and now houses tons of diverse food and grocery stands. The bazaar-like atmosphere is exciting and the food is delicious. This in itself is worth the bus-ride.
Reading Terminal & Market (pronounced "Redding")