Month: November 2013

My Top 3 Thanksgiving Recipes and #1 Tip

So this is my first foray into home cooking on this blog; after all, this is a real estate + urban lifestyle blog. But hey, home cooking is definitely a part of the urban lifestyle, especially as the population of DC grows increasingly food-savvy.  And those who know me personally are surprised that it’s taken me this long to broach the subject, as my love of cooking and baking is pretty much tattooed across my forehead. What better occasion to use for Urban Living’s home-cooking debut than Thanksgiving? If you’re not doing the cooking, it’s very likely that you will be sitting down to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor. So here are my 3 favorite Thanksgiving recipes (I’ve made them every year for at least the last 5, and have always gotten raves) and my number 1 tip for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re not doing the cooking, might I suggest passing this info along to whoever is? 😉

Cream Corn Like No Other  – This recipe is perfect as written. Don’t worry that you’re making too much – it will get devoured. On the off chance that there are leftovers, it reheats wonderfully. Add some freshly chopped rosemary, thyme, and/or freshly grated nutmeg for a gourmet twist.

Cream corn

Gourmet Sweet Potato Classic (aka Sweet Potato Casserole) – Screw the marshmallows. This streusel topping is seriously where it’s it. The recipe is almost perfect as written, but needs one tiny tweak: be sure to toast the pecans separately before adding to the topping. They’re much crunchier and tastier that way.


Maple-Apple Roast Turkey & Gravy  – if you’re a fan of sweet + savory combinations, this recipe yields the most delicious gravy ever. Of course, the better-quality butter, cider, and syrup you use, the more wonderful this will be. Forget Aunt Jemima – spring for the real stuff. Grab fresh cider at a nearby farmer’s market if you can, and use a European butter like Plugra or Kerrygold.


And my #1, must-not-be-ignored, can’t-be-beat tip for a tasty Thanksgiving dinner: BRINE that baby!! I’ve had ’em deep-fried, basted, compound-buttered, and more, but the brined turkey is still the winner by a long shot. And I love how easy it is to play with a brine. As long as you don’t mess with the salt/water ratio or the brining time, you can add or substitute whatever other flavorings you like: herbs, vinegars, ciders/juices, etc. Here are a couple of great brine recipes to start with:

Pioneer Woman’s Favorite Turkey Brine
Alton Brown’s Roast Turkey Recipe (Includes Brine Recipe)
(Check out his handy brining instructional video here.)

Whether you decide to eat out, eat in, cook up a giant gobble-y mess, or make some sushi, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Sneak Peek: A Tour of The New Giant at City Market at O

Yesterday I got to do a sneak preview walkthrough of the slightly epic (72 THOUSAND square feet!!!!) new Giant grocery store opening as an anchor to the City Market at O. The soft opening festivities begin today at 2, with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 6pm. The Giant opens officially Friday morning at 6am, and will be open from 6am-midnight 7 days a week. Take a look:

The historic market’s facade was maintained, making this one of the prettiest Giants I’ve ever seen (from the outside, at least).





Inside, skylights and a formerly-exterior-now-interior brick wall mark where the historic space ends and the new construction begins. The place is huge. HUGE.





Adorable aesthetic touches like these streetlamps with “street signs” pointing you to the store’s various sections are scattered throughout the store.



The historic-looking street lamps also adorn the checkout lanes instead of the typical boring lights.



The biggest cheese section of any Giant, complete with a tasting table (not pictured) that will offer samples daily.



View from the upstairs cafe space. Did I mention this store is HUGE?



(Nerd Alert) The extra space apparently means extra-detailed signs, which I LOVE. For instance, check out the last item on the left side of the aisle 11 sign below. I NEVER know where to find the breadcrumbs at the store! It’s the little things in life, people.


This Giant also has the largest “natural foods” section of any Giant store. Mostly this is them pushing their “Nature’s Promise” brand, but there really is a very wide selection of “natural” foods, frozen and dry. I didn’t have time to ask what the definition of “natural” is though.


Honestly, aside from some nice aesthetic touches, some prepared food options (pizza, sandwiches, and sushi prepared on-site), and a space to sit and eat, this is pretty much a normal Giant – aside from being extra huge, of course. But it looks like the hugeness is mostly packed with additional grocery options (so you have 20 different types of chicken broth to choose from instead of 10.) I do enjoy what they did with the outer facade though, and the effort they went to to maintain as much of the original building as they could. My question is whether the neighborhood is actually dense enough to support a store this large. I guess we’ll see!

Major Restaurant Announcement in Shaw

This hits just keep on coming for Shaw! Big news via PoPville: the third location of Richard Sandoval’s El Centro restaurant is officially coming to this rapidly changing neighborhood. Also, a yet-to-be-named independed coffee shop will be coming as well. Check out the full story from PoPville below:

IMG_0288 1547 7th Street, NW at Q Street

Shaw ANC Rep Kevin Chapple emailed some phenomenal news for Shaw yesterday:

“I am happy to announce that after years of being a vacant blight in the community, the building at 1547 – 7th St will be transformed into a world renowned restaurant. A lease has been signed with chef Richard Sandoval’s restaurant group. The restaurant at 1547 – 7th Street will be one of his El Centro brand.

The laundromat at 1535 – 7th Street will be closing and a coffee shop will take its place.”

Ed. Note: I asked Kevin if he could share more info on the coffee shop and while the owners are still trademarking their name the space will be an “independent coffee shop, i.e. not apart of any chain”.

Kevin also shares that Ivy & Coney will be opening in a few weeks.

And all this is addition to all the good stuff coming to City Market at O.

IMG_0289 1500 block of 7th Street, NW looking south

Big Retail News #2: Wal-Mart Announces Opening Dates in DC

Wal-Mart’s first two DC stores  will open at 8am on Wednesday, December 4th at 5929 Georgia Ave. NW (in Brightwood) and 99 H St. NW (behind Union Station). The stores will have “a full grocery selection, fresh produce, bakery, delicatessen, organic food items, full-service pharmacy and $4 prescription program, as well as a broad assortment of general merchandise including apparel and electronics.”

Click here to see listings near the H Street Wal-Mart.
And here for the Georgia Avenue Wal-Mart.

More details from the Post:

First D.C. Wal-Marts will open Dec. 4

They won’t be open for Black Friday, but they will be open soon thereafter: The first two Wal-Mart stores in the District of Columbia will open to shoppers Wednesday, Dec. 4, the retailer said Tuesday.

The stores, located at 5929 Georgia Ave. NW and 99 H St. NW, will both open at 8 a.m., bringing to a close more than three years of public debate and political wrangling over the megaretailer’s entry into the nation’s capital — particularly over the wages it will pay its employees.

The two stores set to open next month are the first of as many as six stores Wal-Mart has said it wants to open in the city. When city lawmakers moved forward on a bill that would require it and some other large retailers to pay a $12.50 “living wage,”Wal-Mart balked and threatened to abandon its D.C. plans. The bill passed the D.C. Council, but was vetoed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who called the bill a “job killer,” and the council failed to override the veto.

The new stores will each employ about 300 workers. Wal-Mart opened two “hiring centers” near the stores in September, and said, as of Tuesday, it has received more than 23,000 applications for jobs there. It has not yet provided an accounting of how many of the applicants or new hires are District residents.

The stores, Wal-Mart said in a statement, will offer “a full grocery selection, fresh produce, bakery, delicatessen, organic food items, full-service pharmacy and $4 prescription program, as well as a broad assortment of general merchandise including apparel and electronics.”

Big Retail News #1: Grand Opening of Tanger Outlets at Nat’l Harbor


At last, some retail news that’s related to shopping! Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good restaurant opening, but I’m getting tired of shopping online or having to cross the border to do my 3D shopping. So you can imagine how thrilled I am that there is a Tanger Outlet center opening up at National Harbor (practically down the street!) this weekend! They’ve got a whole grand opening shindig planned: fireworks, music, and most importantly of all: SALES. Check out their website for a store directory, 20% coupons, and the event details. 

Click here to see listings near National Harbor!

Martha Stewart Sucks at Something Food-Related?!

Ok, this article from Jezebel probably cracked me up a bit more than it should have. But it’s just so nice to catch a glimpse of human imperfection in today’s paragon of domesticity! So apparently, Martha Stewart SUCKS at taking photos of her food. And what’s even sadder/funnier/more surprising, apparently she has NO idea how bad she is at this, because she keeps tweeting these visual atrocities with tasty captions that are blissfully oblivious to how awful the accompanying photos are! Take a look:

Martha Stewart Can’t Stop Tweeting Really Gross Pictures of Food

Erin Gloria Ryan

Martha Stewart Can't Stop Tweeting Really Gross Pictures of Food

For a woman who has built an empire marketing her own smugly tied gingham ribbon of perfection and self-satisfied domesticity, Martha Stewart is remarkably terrible at one thing that, in the digital age, is almost unavoidable: sharing pictures of food on social media. In fact, Martha Stewart’s Twitter feed is characterized by food photos so awful that they make gourmet cuisine look about as appetizing as medical textbooks.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Martha Stewart and her Cooking School book changed my life. It actually makes me feel good to know she’s not perfect. Makes her more relatable than even her felony conviction. But, Christ, the food tweets. They’re so bad.

First, there was [the photo above], which a friend pointed out to me today. It just looks like she drank a gallon of heavy cream, ran a mile to the quad, and barfed on a plate of lettuce as part of a bizarre hazing ritual. But the Icebarf lettuce wedge was only the tip of the Bad Twitter Food Photos iceberg…

Click here for the rest.