Seamwork Akita

I’ve barely sewn anything in 2015, and I recently decided that the Akita blouse, from Seamwork, Colette’s online magazine, would be a good project to try and kickstart my sewing mojo. It’s a one-hour project that takes about a yard of fabric, and has very simple construction. I decided to make up a wearable muslin in some quilting cotton and see what I thought. (Spoiler: WTF?.)

According to the pattern, I’m just shy of a size 12 for the bust, and between a 12 and 14 for the waist and hip. Based on my experience with Colette’s Crepe dress — I have a muslin of the bodice that’s been languishing for quite a while, because it’s at least one size too big, despite careful measuring on my part — I decided to go for a 12, rather than a 14.  Continue reading

The Month in Books: September & October

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Coffeeneuring 2015: Afterwords Cafe

Coffeeneuring is, essentially, riding your bike around on fall weekends in pursuit of coffee. There are some rules — mostly intended to encourage you to go for a ride of more than just a couple of minutes, and to explore new places. There are also prizes for people who follow all the rules and do seven rides within a particular timeframe, but I’m playing a bit fast and loose with that part. (Certainly trying to stay true to the spirit of coffeeneuring, though!)

We took advantage of the fine weather on Sunday to take a second coffeeneuring ride, catching us up with the official challenge, which started off last weekend. We’ll promptly fall behind again this coming weekend, but with any luck we’ll have another lovely weekend later in the month and can catch up again.

I wanted to go to the farmer’s market, so we looked at options around Dupont Circle, where options abound. The easiest for our route was Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, where we again had brunch. I do enjoy how they give you a little plate of carbs and jam when they seat you. We demolished that before we got very far with the coffee.

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe//

We kept it simple and stuck with regular old coffee, though I did notice that Afterwords also had a nitro iced coffee available. I hadn’t ever been inside the cafe, which is very open and airy. We enjoyed ourselves and the waitress was very attentive. (She had a magic touch with our wobbly table, I’ve never been anywhere that someone was able to fix a wobble in one go like she did.) The food was tasty and came out very promptly, even though it was quite busy.

We took nearly the same route over as we had take to Slipstream on Saturday, going up the Metropolitan Branch Trail, down R Street, and then down 19th Street NW to end right outside the cafe. On the way home, it was back across on Q Street until we hit Florida Ave, where we hopped on the sidewwalk until we got to 1st St NE. All told it was about 5.8 miles, and a very pleasant day to be out and about on a bike.

Coffeeneuring 2015: Slipstream

Coffeeneuring is, essentially, riding your bike around on fall weekends in pursuit of coffee. There are some rules — mostly intended to encourage you to go for a ride of more than just a couple of minutes, and to explore new places. There are also prizes for people who follow all the rules and do seven rides within a particular timeframe, but I’m playing a bit fast and loose with that part. (Certainly trying to stay true to the spirit of coffeeneuring, though!)

Last weekend was not much of a weekend for people who aren’t so into riding their bikes around in the rain (hi), so we didn’t kick off our coffeeneuring until today, when we hopped on our bikes and rode to Slipstream in Logan Circle for brunch and some very fancy coffee. 
Nitro cold brew and six one six filter at Slipstream DC.// each had two cups of coffee. Both of us tried the Six-One-Six filter, which is the house blend. Quite good!

I also had a nitro iced coffee – coffee infused with nitrogen and pushed through a tap. As you can see, this gives it a bit of a foamy, creamy head and a really intersting taste and texture. If you’re at all curious I recommend trying it!

Kathakwa single-origin coffee. Really citrusy, interesting coffee.Dave also tried one of their single-origin coffees, Kathakwa. That was excellent, some of the brightness and bitterness of citrus, and very enjoyable. That came with a particularly nice presentation. 

The ride was just short of 5 miles round trip. We hopped on the Metropolitan Branch Trail at M Street and took that up to R Street, and sailed along in the R Street bike lane until 14th. We had some confusion as we forgot how far down 14th NW we had to go, so we walked our bikes partway on the sidewalk and used the 14th Street bike lane a bit as well. To get back, we zipped up to the Q Street bike lane and then went down 7th Street to K Street, in order to stop at BicycleSPACE. (We both got some new lights, Dave got a shiny brass bell, and I also got some new fenders, which Dave managed to attach to his Vaya backpack/pannier and carry home for me.) After we stopped, we continued up K street and turned onto the First Stree NE cycletrack.

This particular route has lots of bike infrastructure – in addition to the trail and the cycletrack, we had some sharrows and lots of time spent in bike lanes. The 7th Street bike lane disappears when it crosses N Street, and then K Street has a mix of lanes, sharrow, and a few spots where there isn’t anything. Overall that was fine, though I don’t know how much I’d want to do that during rush hour!

Recent Recipes

Orzo with Caramelized Fall Vegetables and Ginger – I recently made this with delicata squash instead of sweet potato, and it’s great. Omitting the onions (the only one we had was in bad shape) and mushrooms, I got three lunch-sized portions out of this recipe.

Provencal Vegetable Soup – From Cook’s Illustrated (May/June 2015), this is a French take on minestrone. I tend to just read these and put them aside, so I’m trying to make a point of cooking from them more often. This was a great dinner and the leftovers were an excellent lunch. The way this is put together, you’re working on the next addition as the last thing you added cooks, so it’s a pretty good workflow. It’s a very light and summery soup, perfect for this time of year when the summer squash still abound, but the nights are a little cooler.

Sausage with Grapes and Vinegar – Another delicious dinner from Cook’s Illustrated (July/August 2015). At first glance it probably sounds weird, but the combo of sweet red grapes with italian sausage is great. It’s also very quick and easy to make, and is mostly hands-off. (Fun fact: this dish originated as a meal for vineyard workers in Umbria.)

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach, Feta, Basil & White Beans – I very much enjoy treating spaghetti squash just like spaghetti by dousing it with marinara, but I every so often I want to serve it as a side rather than a main. I recently made this, which was pretty good as a side. However the leftovers for lunch were not great, I was bored by them after a couple of days.

Basic Muesli

I’ve been eating muesli for breakfast for the last several weeks – it’s a great hot-weather alternative to oatmeal, and easier for me to prep in the morning than a smoothie bowl (which I do very much enjoy). But I got tired of the recipe I had been using from Joy the Baker, as the crystallized ginger was just making it way too sweet, and the prep time to chop the dried fruit and ginger was getting to be a drag given that I’m making this about every other week.

Then I came across this recipe from Cookie and Kate, which got me thinking. I didn’t want to add chocolate or deal with the maple syrup and oil, but I realized that at the core, these recipes were just variations using a very similar core proportion of oats, nuts, and dried fruit.

So, I pared down to a very basic, super fast and easy to prepare formula. This has a minimum of chopping and is ready before the oven has preheated.

4 cups rolled oats
3 cups other stuff
salt (between 1/2 and 1 tsp)
a few shakes of ground cinnamon

All that gets dumped in a big bowl, mixed well, and spread on two half sheet pans. It goes into a 350 oven for 20 minutes, stirring and/or rearranging the pans halfway through. I have an airtight canister that fits about 8-9 cups, so when that gets low, I make a new batch.

As far as the “other stuff” goes, lately I’ve been using various combinations of chopped nuts and coconut flakes, based on what I have. These recipes both call for unsweetened, large-flake coconut, which I can never find, so I just use the regular stuff. Slivered almonds are particularly great because there’s no chopping involved, so those are always included. Most recently I did 1 cup each slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, and coconut flakes. Dried fruit would also be good, too – I want to try this with almonds, pecans, and dried cherries – but right now I don’t miss it.

To serve, I measure 1 cup into a bowl, and add enough almond milk to cover. I let it sit for around 30 minutes/however long I’m in the shower, and then top with a sliced banana and a little more milk. (Others like to use yogurt and leave it in the fridge overnight.) I think my way is particularly excellent with the addition of ripe strawberries or blueberries. I don’t find that I need it, but for some sweetness, you could add a little maple syrup, honey, or jam.