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About smithhemb

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    Washington, DC

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  1. smithhemb

    What Are Your Favorite Movies, And Why?

    I have favorite directors and favorite scenes and films I admire and favorite movie-going experiences, but I don’t think I have favorite films. I rarely rewatch films (or reread books, for that matter). Don’t know whether that makes me weird (among cinephiles or bookaholics), or if there’s just a basic split between people who gravitate toward intensive vs extensive approaches (wrt particular pleasures). Food (making and eating) and music are categories where I appreciate regularly revisiting favorite things. Visual arts and games occupy a more middle ground for me — I appreciate both novelty and revisiting in those cases, with games closer to the movies end of the spectrum and visual arts closer to food.
  2. Re family game suggestions (for elementary school aged kids, minimal math skills, no reading/writing required, still fun for adults): dexterity: Ice Cool; Rhino Hero; Animal upon Animal. Crokinole boards are expensive but ours is probably the best game/toy investment I made. (My kid is now 21!) push your luck: Incan Gold roll and move/cooperative: Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters (Geister, Geister Schatzsuchmeister lost something in translation!) spatial relationships: Marrakech (the one with the little carpets) “party” game (usually means encourages sociability/engagement and can include larger groups): Dixit card games: Parade FWIW, the first four categories are ones that tend to include games that work well (are fun/level the playing field) for groups where there’s a wide range of ages.
  3. DC has two really great stores that I know of for games and toys: Labyrinth on Capitol Hill (near Eastern Market) and Child’s Play in Chevy Chase (on Connecticut Avenue). Both have very knowledgeable staff who make smart recommendations, based on the info you give them. Labryrinth is game/puzzle-focused (and has more stuff for adults) https://www.labyrinthgameshop.com/ while Child’s Play has more breadth — art supplies, dress-up clothes/costumes, outdoor toys, books, science kits, as well as a great selection of games and puzzles. Their suburban branches are much smaller/less well stocked than the DC flagship. Another good resource for game recommendations is https://boardgamegeek.com/. There’s a “gaming with kids” forum, as well as a general recommendations forum, both of which are places you could ask questions/get answers. Or search geeklists or the massive database of games for info and images. (Number of players and game length can be dealbreakers). Of course then you have to find the recommended games, which is why it often makes sense to start at a local store.
  4. smithhemb

    Independent Coffee Houses: The New Map

    You might want to add Little Beast (on Connecticut Ave just south of Chevy Chase Circle). From the folks who own Bakers & Baristas. Vigilante coffee and they make their own pastries.
  5. Open for coffee/pastries now, but not lunch (yet). Had a nice capuccino and an excellent cinnamon roll this afternoon. Kinda empty then (this is their first week with the new hours, so that may not last), which made it a very pleasant place to read.
  6. smithhemb


    Thanks for bumping this up. You just solved my “need a good/easy snack post-dental work” problem! When I make hummus from scratch (rarely), I’ve been pretty happy with the results from the first Silver Palate Cookbook. I just cut back the olive oil and leave out the added salt. I probably increase the lemon juice too. Very fast/easy/cheap with canned beans and a Cuisinart. I keep thinking I’ll upgrade with dried beans and artisanal tahini, but never get around to it. The basic version beats grocery store hummus. And maybe I don’t want to get hooked on restaurant-worthy hummus, given the convenience food niche hummus occupies in my diet. That said, swapping out the WF or Joyva tahini for Soom would be effortless, so I should try that next time and see how much and what kind of a difference it makes.
  7. Thanks — I don’t think I’ve read that before! You might also like Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers.”
  8. DH indulged me, so we headed over to Little Beast for opening night. I’ve been consistently underwhelmed by the restaurants in Chevy Chase, but as a Bakers & Baristas fan (and eternal optimist), I had high hopes this time. AND THEY WERE MET (maybe even exceeded)! Pizza was Neopolitan style but with a slightly thinner crust than I’m accustomed to. Lots of char and no sogginess. We played it safe (pepperoni), so it’ll take some experimentation before I can compare it with my faves. But I can confidently say it’s the best pizza we’ve ever had in walking distance of home (Friendship Heights for the past 20-odd years). Thinner crust turned out to be a plus (no leftovers). We also had a lamb ragu, which was the highlight of the meal, and roasted broccoli with lemon and garlic. Reasonable prices and portions. Nothing was revelatory but everything was very tasty. The space was clean but not sterile (we ate inside — outside looked more popular). Lighting might benefit from some tweaking (bulbs in recessed canisters were too blue — bugged DH more than me — I was facing the incandescent fixtures). Service was friendly, attentive, and thoughtful. Basically, Little Beast looks like it has the makings of a perfect neighborhood restaurant. A comfortable hassle-free place with food at least as good as I could make myself. And a place that’s welcoming to all ages and can handle parties of different sizes. It’ll be a couple of weeks before the cafe hours/menu kick in and I’m eager to check that out as well. Pastries look more interesting than Little Red Fox’s. I think the all-ages thing may be trickier to pull off in a cafe.
  9. smithhemb

    Ice Cream

    Dolci as #1?! Does anyone here agree? My only experience with them is buying a pint from Whole Foods once and wondering WTF they were thinking when they decided to stock it. ITA re 2Amys. I’m not a vanilla fan, but I love theirs (served with the almond cake with cherries). Hmm — now would be a perfect time to make the custard for gelato later tonight....
  10. Washingtonian seems to think the Chinatown Graffiato has closed as well: "Mike Isabella's Graffiato Appears To Have Closed" by Anna Spiegel on washingtonian.com
  11. smithhemb

    Best food processor recipes/cookbook

    That’s one I bought but never really cooked from (and, having just pulled it off the shelf, I can verify that both it and my daughter came out in the same year, LOL!). I was *so* wrong re DM’s Vegetarian Suppers that it’s a relief to see that Vegetarian Planet is much more my kid’s speed. Re the broccoli and rigatoni recipe. Any advice on what you’d substitute for the Gorgonzola if the cook wouldn’t eat any kind of blue cheese? I’m guessing a tangy goat cheese.
  12. smithhemb

    Best food processor recipes/cookbook

    Thanks! Though I haven’t sold my daughter on cookbooks per se*, she grew up on Deborah Madison recipes! Even made a pilgrimage to Greens. But this is a good reminder to me to flip through the half dozen or so DM books I own and pull out stuff that would work well for a college kid. Sounds like a job for Vegetarian Suppers.... *I’m still a cookbook buyer/reader/user, but the kid just wants recipes and, ideally, ones that she knows should work. I don’t think I’ll ever turn her into a cook or a baker. But she cares about eating healthfully and cheaply, and she’s used to eating well, so the challenge is to find low overhead ways she can do that on her own.
  13. smithhemb

    Best food processor recipes/cookbook

    Pinterest board is a great idea. We shared one for dorm decor, and I’ve made my own for recipes but didn’t think about sharing recipes with her there. I’ve been texting her links (which she loses) and she keeps pushing Google docs (which I hate). She’d probably love the energy bar idea. And white bean/fennel spread appeals to me as does jap chae. I’ve never made cookies with the food processor, but I did have a permanent cookie readiness policy senior year of college when my two person suite came with its own kitchen. Made a different type of dough every day or two and only made a few cookies at a time, so there was always something in the fridge or freezer that could be baked at a moment’s notice. On second thought, maybe not a policy I should encourage her to adopt!
  14. Ok, so veggie daughter moved off campus and will now have to fend for herself food-wise. I gave her my old Cuisinart DLC-14 (with the post-recall replacement blade) as well as 20 years of associated blades/gadgets. Showed her how to make hummus and gazpacho, and chop garlic and ginger. Pointed her to YouTube for additional recipes/instruction. Bought myself a new 3 bowl Magimix (with the big feed tube), arriving today. So, I’m looking for two kinds of recipes/books/inspiration. One is for a novice cook, who doesn’t have good knife skills, and who (somewhat surprisingly) has more/better space for a Cuisinart than for cutting boards. I’d like her to incorporate the food processor into her cooking from (near) the beginning. She’s a vegetarian who has a great cheap produce store nearby (and they generally let you customize quantities, even of things like fresh herbs), and is short on money and time. Lives in Chicago/packs her lunch/doesn't demand variety, loves soups, so that may become a go-to for her in the fall/winter. Then there’s me. Empty nester. Cooks and bakes, has a (now largely empty) dishwasher (so cleanup is less of an issue), and has room for food processor on the counter everyday. I loved my Cuisinart for specific things that I probably wouldn’t have made without it — e.g. gapacho, hummus, tabouli, chocolate steamed pudding, pie crust, large quantities of fresh OJ — but have never defaulted to it for cooking generally. Have instinctively or habitually used knives, graters, presses, food mill, mixer, immersion blender, etc. instead. So what I’m looking for is things that become much simpler or faster with a food processor — which could either mean things I rarely make now (potato gratin, yeasted breads) or new approaches to everyday tasks. Any recommendations for either of us re books/recipes that make you love your food processor?
  15. We’ve been opting in and out of Hello Fresh and Gobble on a weekly basis for two years now. I grew up cooking for a suburban family of six, some of whom loved leftovers. This wasn’t an optimal approach for the urban (typically car-less) family of three I helped create here. I adapted some — and then some more, when omnivorous daughter became veggie daughter at age 8. But, even so, too much food got wasted and a lot of mental overhead went into meal planning/shopping/prep. So I decided to reset my habits when veggie daughter left for college. Having already introduced my Dad to Hello Fresh (and having it become too demanding for him as he got slower), I found Gobble before it came to DC. Gobble’s pitch is (was?) 15 minutes/1 pan — which spoke directly to Dad’s issues with Hello Fresh. And it had the side benefit of being less meat and potato-y. Specifically, more veggie dishes and more Asian spices/treatments. Lately Gobble is getting the lion’s share of our orders. I compare offerings for any given week and decide to order either, neither, or (very occasionally) both. Agree that the packaging waste is off-putting. But I love two things about these services — very little food waste and I don’t have to think about dinner until DH calls and says he’s leaving the office. His 30 minute commute is all the time I need. No planning, no rushing to the grocery store for a missing ingredient, no thought about what to make that will use up random perishables left over from other meals. Another positive has been that we consume fewer serve-the-eating-function meals out (and less takeout). But the mindlessness is really what hooked me. In the early days I joked about cooking in the “agentic state” — if the recipe card concluded with the instruction “top with ground arsenic” and the bag had included a packet, I just might have! I think I may now be approaching a stage where I’ll ease out of this system, having learned a few tricks and rethought how I shop. At a minimum, I’m at a place where I’ll cook primarily because I want to cook (vs because I need to feed people). And eat out because I want something someone else can do better than I can (vs something that involves no work on my part). And those are good things. Haven’t had a chance to test this, but I think one of the killer apps for these services would be teaching teens to cook. l