A few updates… and an Avocado, Tangerine, and Feta Salad

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Before we get started with another delicious recipe, I thought I’d catch you all up on some housekeeping.

As you probably already know, my longtime companion, Google Reader, is going kaput. While I was initially grumpy and heartbroken, Google Reader’s announcement drove me to Feedly, which is basically what Google Reader would have been if Google had only invested in its design.

Anyway, get Feedly. The fonts are better, the colors are better, and you have more control over what your reader looks and feels like. Just… trust me.

Also, if you’re following Sweetsonian on Google Reader, please make sure to forward Sweetsonian to Feedly, or whichever RSS reader you decide to go with.

When you do so, be sure to subscribe to www.sweetsonian.com/feed — NOT just www.sweetsonian.com. We want to make sure everything gets transferred correctly now, right? I won’t try to explain why the internet works this way, because, well, that’s probably not why you came to this blog.

In other news, this girl is moving! I’m not moving to New York City quite yet, but for the moment, I’m headed to an adorable two-bedroom apartment near Dupont Circle. I’ll be sharing my home with a few different people over the course of the next year, but the ultimate goal is to eventually turn that second bedroom into a full-time design studio for my freelance business… let’s say, in three or four years.

I’ve decided to put New York on hold for the moment. I kept going back and forth with my big city obsession and my first true love — Washington, D.C. And, things don’t seem to be aligning quite perfectly with New York yet, so Sweetsonian will stay an indefinite while longer in this pretty little town.

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While there is no doubt I’m going to miss the home I’ve made on Capitol Hill, the drive back to Dupont comes from a few different directions — a natural, demographic shift of my friends to Northwest DC, a desire to downsize, and just an overall change in priorities as I get older. I wanted a more permanent home; something that I could really grow into a personal sanctuary.

And obviously, the first thing on my mind was “how good is the lighting for food photography?” The answer to that is AMAZING. Even though I’ll be shooting photos from my bedroom, the apartment layout makes it easy to shoot a beeline from the kitchen to the makeshift photography studio I’ll be setting up at my desk.

So, you’ll probably notice a change in my writing, as major life changes tend to draw out sentimental, reminiscent tones. And as I count the number of boxes my life fits into, I’m sure things will get more and more real.

I guess that’s that. Go on. Go ahead, and make the switch to Feedly. Everyone’s movin’ around, in one way or another.

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Avocado, Tangerine, and Feta Salad, inspired by Food & Wine

Ingredients
1 ripe avocado
2 tangerines
A few handfuls of baby arugula
Feta cheese

2 tablespoons lime juice (freshly squeezed, as always, is the best)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

It’s a fresh salad, so my directions will be brief.

In a jar, combine the lime juice, vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Secure the lid, and shake vigorously.

Peel your orange with a sharp paring knife, leaving as little of the white rind as possible. You could technically peel like with your fingers, like you would normally with a citrus, but the knife effect is much prettier. Slice your avocado — to get the nice, slender slices, I quarter the avocado, and without cutting through the skin, slice each quarter into three or four slices. Then, I peel the skin off. This leaves you with nice, clean salad-style slices.

Dress a room temperature or chilled plate with the arugula, sliced avocado and tangerines. Drizzle with dressing, and top with crumbled feta (you could also use goat cheese if you hate on feta), salt and pepper.

Impromptu Breakfast Pizza

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Some of my friends are strong proponents of the “yes man” idea. You know, by saying yes to everything — ways to make your life more exciting, adventurous, and fulfilling.

I’ve been saying “yes” for far too long.

While I know my design career has a long way to go, I’ve found myself in the same arm wrestling matches that I struggled with in high school and college: the tug-of-war between having free time and taking on too much work.

When it came to my career, I said yes to everything. Redesign my old job’s entire website without a raise? Sure, it’s good for my portfolio. Go on 23 job interviews in one year? Yes. Get me the eff out of said job. New job? Yes. Design infographics? Yes. Design infographics for Google? Yes. Design logos for Google? Yes. Design 5 infographics and 5 logos for Google in two weeks? … Yes.

Kill me? Yes. Been there. Done that.

(I’m dying, here.)

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With spring well on its way, I’ve also struggled with the mess of a garden that has wriggled its way out from under my green thumb. Last summer came and ended quickly, and with a slurry of travels, the new job, and influx of freelance work, it’s really no wonder I didn’t get around to properly breaking it down and prepping for the winter.

For a while, anyway, I thought winter would never come. But as the saying goes, March comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb.

Oh, how true that adage has proven itself this year.

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With all the change that has taken over my life in the past twelve months, I can hardly even think about the possibilities for the next twelve. I toy with the idea of dropping everything and moving to the city of all cities, as you, as a reader, are well-aware of. But part of me is just as in-love with DC as I was three years ago.

And, like many other nights, reader, I have little substance, if any, to write.

Instead, I have much to design. And, like many other nights, I long for a weekend. A real one, that doesn’t have any freelance. And hopefully, I can blow off some freelance this weekend to get back to what I really enjoy: feeding the people I love, and finding content to strike some sort of emotional response. One that I can write to you, here.

In the meantime, enjoy the Sweetsonian version of food for those who procrastinate, cram, and deprive themselves of sleep: pizza.

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Breakfast Pizza

Ingredients:
250 g all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoons dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
150 mL hand-hot water
Cornmeal, for dusting the crust

1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup mayonaise
1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes

2 large onions, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts (canned are fine)
4 or 5 eggs
Arugula, parmesan, and feta — for topping

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and hot water. Mix with the dough hook for about five minutes, until the dough is evenly combined. Then, transfer the dough to a clean surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. At first, the dough will be sticky, but as you knead, the gluten forms, and the dough will become smoother and more elastic.

Knead the dough into a ball, and set aside in a warm place to rise for one hour.

In a jar or bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, tomato sauce, mayonaise, and chili flakes, stirring with a fork. This will be your pizza sauce. Set aside.

Using a cast iron skillet or other medium- to large-sized frying pan, caramelize your onions. Drizzle with olive oil, and cook onions over medium to high head until the onions brown, and start to smell sweet — about 20 minutes. Transfer the onions to a bowl, and then, saute your mushrooms until browned.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Strain the artichoke hearts.

When the dough has risen (up to twice in size), punch it down, and knead it a few more times. Have a large baking sheet or pizza stone ready. Carefully stretch or roll the dough as much as you can, in the shape you’d like for your pizza. Dust the bottom of the crust with cornmeal. Lightly grease your baking sheet with olive oil, and lay your crust flat on the sheet.

Generously spread the yogurt sauce on top of the crust, and then top the pizza with the onions, mushrooms, and artichokes. Then, go ahead and crack each egg onto the pizza. Try to do so in areas where the toppings will keep the eggs from spreading too far!

Bake the pizza for 10 minutes at 400, and then, broil the pizza for a few minutes to get a crunchy crust.

Top your pizza with lots of arugula, feta, and parmesan.