You know what’s hectic? Moving. I think it must be hectic for everyone.
This week I’m moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan— the land of blue and maize. Moving always feels like the perfect time to reflect on things. It’s seems inevitable as you sift through papers and photographs that have piled up over the years. As I’ve been packing and labeling boxes this week, I’ve reflected on some of my favorite DC memories. Consequently, I put together a list of my favorite things to do in DC that I think everyone should try—whether you’re a resident or a tourist. Enjoy.
Heather’s Top Ten DC To-Do List
1. Take a drop in adult dance class at Joy of Motion Dance Studio. I would recommend jazz with Derrick Brown at the Atlas studio on Tuesdays at 7:00.
2. Indulge in some delicious moules and frites at Granville Moore’s on H Street. Afterwards treat yourself with a slice of pie from Dangerously Delicious Pies which is right across the street.
3. Take a walk down to the fish market on Maine Avenue. The Maryland blue crabs are literally crawling out of the baskets and I guarantee you won’t find fresher seafood anywhere else in the district. Sure it smells fishy, but what can you really expect?
4. Get ready to dance the night away to reggae and dancehall at Patty Boom Boom on U Street. It might be hot and crowded, and the rum punch definitely leaves something to be desired, but every night I’ve had here has been a memorable one.
5. Do your part to save the environment by going car-less and signing up for Zipcar. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that I could survive DC without a car. Zipcar makes it possible by making easy to reserve a car for the inevitable errand that strays away from a metro or bus line.
6. Schedule a boat tour on the Potomac during the cherry blossom festival. You’ll escape the throngs of crows around the tidal basin and for $15 you can spend an hour getting a guided tour of the riverfront and an up close look at the blossoms.
7. If I had to pick one museum on the mall, I’d send you to the Hirshhorn museum and sculpture garden. The museum is shaped in a circle and you can easily get lost in the exhibits as you wander around. There’s even a theater in the basement that features unique short videos. Don’t forget to head across the street to enjoy the sculpture garden.
8. Get involved and give back to the community by volunteering with Little Lights Urban Ministries. Whether it’s once a month or once a week—set aside some of your free time to work with under-served youth and families in the area.
9. Enjoy the fall colors at Shenandoah National Park which is only a short drive from DC. Matt and I went camping here twice and it’s a lovely get away from the bustle of the city.
10. If you’re in the mood for a low-key music event, catch a jazz performance at Twins Jazz. Keep an eye out for Groupon deals that will give you a nice shot a reduced priced tickets.
I made some sugar cookies in the shape of the DC “state.” I got this cookie cutter from my favorite DC baking good store, Hill’s Kitchen. I’ve told you about them before, but the store is amazing and the people that work there are knowledgeable—and they have free samples from a local bakery on the weekend. I topped these cookies with fondant icing. Usually I’m not a fan of fondant, but for some reason it really works with these cookies—I promise.
Sugar Cookies with Fondant Icing
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Fondant Icing Ingredients
1 pound mini marshmallows
2 pounds 10x confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp flavorings (vanilla, orange, peppermint, etc.)
4 tablespoons water
1/4 cup vegetable shortening for coating hands and bowl
equal parts confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch for dusting
Directions for Sugar Cookies
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
Directions for Fondant Icing
Place confectioner’s sugar into one mixing bowl, and set aside. Use some of the vegetable shortening to coat the inside of a large bowl. Add marshmallows to the coated bowl. Add your flavorings and 4 tablespoons of water. Place this bowl over a double boiler with 1 inch of simmering water. Stir the marshmallows until they have all melted.
Once the marshmallows have completely melted, add this mixture to the bowl with the confectioner’s sugar. Mix this on low speed (or by hand) until a “dough” is formed. Rub your work surface and hands with some of the vegetable shortening. Turn the dough out onto your prepped surface. Incorporate any crumbled mixture left in the bowl into the dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth. Only dust the surface with a bit of the cornstarch mixture if the dough is too sticky.
Mix in the coloring at this point. Coat your hands with vegetable shortening to keep the color off of them. Once the color is incorporated wrap in plastic wrap and let fondant rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. After the 20-30 minutes have passed, use the fondant as needed. If the fondant is too cold to knead, heat in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and test. Repeat if necessary.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
To store fondant, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then place this inside a resealable freezer bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible. Fondant will keep for 6 months at room temperature.