Thursday, May 29, 2014

Capital Hill! and Top Chef! and Local Resturants Part IV!

I did it!
Its been about six months since I've been in DC proper. I haven't been back to Capital Hill since May 2011 when I moved my stuff out of that house.
But Tuesday that all changed. My boss asked three of us who are among the most senior at work to take a young kid who he had in for an interview out for lunch and give him the run down about the DMV (DC/MD/VA) and answer any questions he may have.

Of course one of the guys lives in Capital Hill and knows all the good restaurants there and he offered to drive so that's where we headed- I fought myself to say we should go somewhere else because I knew it was beyond time I went back- anything to help me finish moving on.

So we hit up Good Stuff Eatery.

One of three restaurants owned and operated by none other than Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef fame!! Yep- that guy- the one in the hat- the one everyone loved to hate. He also owns the two places right next door. We The Pizza and Bearnaise.

So Good Stuff is mainly burgers- although they also have salads- but as the saying goes- that's like going to a steakhouse and ordering chicken.
I had the Good Stuff Melt. Muenster and cheddar, caramelized onions and mushrooms (hold the onions on mine) and good stuff sauce (which is a a mix of mayo, molasses, ketchup and vinegar). The burger was so tender and the cheese so melty and good and I've never done muenster with mushrooms but-yum!
But the best part- bar none.....

Yes. That is indeed exactly what you're guessing and hoping it might be. Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake. With real toasted marshmallows on top. OMGoodness. Dessert heaven. And I don't even usually like marshmallows!!

So all in all. a successful trip to within 5 blocks of where I was robbed. We drove within a single block of where it happened. I looked down the street and pointed it out and felt almost nothing. Maybe because I was starving and there with two friends/coworkers and a interviewee whom I needed to look like an adult in front of, or maybe because I'm finally healing. I think the time was right though. And even if it hadn't been the right time- it was so worth it for that milkshake and to finally go to a top chef contestant owned restaurant!! I LOVE that show! And I've come out of the whole thing with a little more sense of peace about my whole ordeal.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dinner May 20th

Now that the wedding is almost 3 months behind us a new favorite past-time of mine has been finally trying out the recipes I've been pining for years on Pinterest. M loves it when I cook, and it allows him alot more time to do things around the house while I am, plus he actually enjoys helping me and seeing what I come up with! So I figure some blog reviews of the recipes are always warranted.... Ill have to get better about making sure I take pictures of how everything turned out in the future. Pictures here refer to the recipe page.

Last night's dinner had a spicy mexican theme.

Mexican Spiced Steak with Lime Butter and Chipotle Sweet Corn Fettuccine

I used tenderloin steaks because they were easiest to defrost out of what we had in the freezer. And went for the fresh corn on the cob- its still pretty early in the season for it, but I couldnt resist and it was nice and sweet.
The steaks were very easy, although I think they would have turned out ALOT better if we'd done them on the grill- but Alas M was spending some volunteer time at St Elizabeth's doing yard work and he's my grill master. That being said- make sure you use the spices as a rub especially if youre cooking on a stove top-- not just a coating.... way too much spice mixture on the steaks- some of which would have been lost with the grilling, but was retained with the fry pan and oven broiler.
I did a sear on each side of the steak then 3 minutes per side in the broiler. Added the lime butter and left in the oven til M got home (which luckily was only about 5 minutes). They ended up just over medium.
This was my first time making compound butter and while I think it turned out alright, I also needed to use a bigger container to mix it in..... everything fit nicely into the tiny little tupperware- but it didnt allow much room for mixing. Unfortunately the taste was drowned out by the over abundance of spice rub- but luckily ive got plenty left to try on other things in the future.
The corn fettuccine was a mess but decently tasty. I was having a hard time figuring out how long M would be gone and so a few things got started too soon. The corn cooked up nicely- although there is a fine line when cutting corn off the cob with getting too close to the cob and getting those little hard pieces. I used a mix of white and yellow ears... FYI mid-may has decent ears of yellow, but the kernels on the white are still pretty tiny.
So first off with why my fettuccine was only so so... I didnt make the sauce. Our AC is down until we can get new filters- because the whole thing was a mess when we moved in- the AC didnt work at all because of a freon leak. By the time I started the broiler for the steaks it was too damn hot in our kitchen and the thought of cream sauce was repulsive. The pasta definitely needed a sauce though (which was probably also exaggerated by the pasta sticking together thanks to being over cooked). I threw the garlic and some chipotle powder (I dont like putting real peppers in my food) directly into the mix of corn and pasta since I didnt make the sauce- but I dont think I added enough of either. So gummy pasta a decent corn flavor and a tiny bit of spice. not bad, but nothing to write home about.

Definitely gotta try it with the cream sauce next time....

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Making decisions for the future

M and I have been talking alot about the future and damn are there alot of decisions to make. Our current discussion focus around--

Stay or Go? Rent or Buy?

Do we try and make our living here in VA- where I have to spend 2.5ish hours of everyday away from home to drive back and forth between work and home because it's the only way we'll be able to afford a decent size house AND be able to save money? Or do we try and find anther place to continue our lives and eventually our family?
Once we've made that decision- do we rent in case we dont like the new place if we move and/or so that we can save more money (for a down payment etc) in both cases? Or do we go ahead and buy because a mortgage would be cheaper than a rental?

Buying would be tied to knowing we're going to stay in a certain location for a good period of time- long term commitment. So we're back to the first question/decision.

We LOVE VA. Its been my only home for 30 years (minus the 2ish months in DC before the robbery). M has been a bit more transient- OK, TX, VI, VA, PA, NY, MO, but has spent most of his life in VA. Needless to say he's more ok with moving, while I like to cling to the idea of staying here and being near both of our families- especially for once we have children.
BUT- other jobs outside of Northern VA dont pay nearly as well. And NoVA is expensive as crap.
          For Example. The median house cost in NoVA (Alexandria): $477,100
                                                                   in Fredericksburg- near where we live: 317,959
                                                                   VA average: $243,100
                                                                   in Huntsville AL: 156,100

And just for reference- What you can get for $150K in each of the above mentioned cities respectively.

So as you can see- buying a home is a bit cost restrictive. Mortgage payments would be approximately $2330, $1550, $1180 and $760 respectively- with NO down payment (which is technically only allowed in the last two... maybe the third- not sure- Thanks to the USDA Rural development program). Obviously a down payment would change these slightly- but it would be awhile before we could amass the necessary 20% to make any significant difference. We can technically afford the last three- we're currently paying $1500 in rent. But it makes it very difficult to save any money when you have to figure in other bills (car payments, gas, food, M's student loans, cell phones, etc etc etc.).

Back to the point here. Staying harms our potential to save.

Leaving maximizes our potential to save IF I can find a job making similar money.... which let me tell you- not really the easiest thing to do when youre leaving one of the most expensive places in the country to live. Obviously leaving has its own cons: my company has a terrific profit-sharing retirement program, we'd be far from all of our family and friends, we may have to live somewhere more suburban instead of rural b/c M needs interwebs for work. But pros too- Cheaper! Friendlier people if we go more south! Less traffic!! M maybe ok with public school for our future kiddos if we're not faced with so many liberals! (= more savings!).

Any advice about how to make these big decisions?

So of course- we start talking about this and the inevitable happens.... I come across something beyond perfect on the first glance at job listings. Higher salary- staying here and training at Quantico then being moved to Huntsville, Alabama (You knew I was going somewhere by including that in the list above!!). Job pays relocation and lets us ride out our lease terms. Theres a great Tridentine Catholic Church and even a monastery where we could attend Mass. I get to learn something new- the job is still in Molecular biology/ Genetics- but is a Forensic Examiner position! cool right!? I'd be like Abby on NCIS! LOL. pretty cool Pro list.

Then more Cons.

TORNADOES. Worst city in the US for tornado damage.

Oh Damn! I am beyond freaked out by tornadoes. Not about being hurt in one believe it or not. But about losing our stuff- pictures, photo albums, pets, BOOKS!, The house were talking about buying!

Im planning on applying, I told my husband it was a great opportunity and it really is. When i just knew they got Tornadoes I thought, it wasnt a big deal cause the likelihood of us getting hit was low in my mind. Til I saw that article in the link above. Now Im freaked, I dont even have the job- havent even sent in the application yet, and im going crazy.

Anyone have any advice about living around Tornadoes- besides the normal shelter, food, water prep kinda stuff? Or how to even keep your brain working beyond the immediate freak out!?