Pizza Break: Timber Pizza Company

I haven’t stopped thinking about the pizza at Timber Pizza Company since I had pie there a couple weeks ago. The sign of pizza genius? I think so.

A few Saturdays ago after a long shift at the bakery, I decided to trek up to Petworth to see what Timber Pizza Company was up to. I’d read good things, and I’m willing to travel for good pizza. Thus began my journey.

It was as if the pizza gods were expecting me. As soon as I got off the second train in Petworth, the skies began to clear. I got lost at an intersection and a man who barely spoke English pointed uphill. Undaunted, I forged ahead.

At the top of the hill, I looked up and stopped in my tracks. This. sky. screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-4-45-17-pm
After taking enough pictures to mess up my iCloud backup for the 100th time, I kept going.

When I got to Timber, the line was out the door. I expected as much, but I didn’t expect there to be so little seating. As the cashier explained to me, it’s an “every (wo)man for him/herself situation,” so you have to pounce if you see a good spot.

I decided to sit at one of the picnic tables outside, even though it was still a little wet from the rain. There was a couple on a date next to me and the guy kept stealing sips of his girlfriend’s Coke.

When my pizza finally came, it was almost as good as when I saw the purple sunset at the top of the hill. Better, in fact, because I could eat it. Timber lets you get half and half pizzas if you’re indecisive like me, so I ordered “The Turu” with argentine salami, apples, micro arugula, hot nectarine jam, mozzarella and provolone, and “The Bentley” with tomato sauce, mozzarella, provolone, cured chorizo, sopressata, peruvian sweet peppers and spicy honey.

I blacked out a little after the first bite, but luckily I remember everything that came after that. The Turu stole first prize in my heart because of the sweet/savory mix. I loved the salty taste of the salami with the apples, tart arugula and spicy nectarine jam.

Still, the Bentley wasn’t playing games. It was a little meaty for my tastes (I hardly ever eat meat), but it was the type of pizza I’d get once a week when I’m craving something substantial and delicious. It was smoky and tangy and set my whole mouth on fire, but in a good way. I didn’t even need contraband sips of Coke to wash it down.

Now, I can’t stop thinking about the pizza, which probably means I need to go back immediately. If you’re in the D.C. area, I highly suggest that you make a trip to Timber Pizza, ASAP.

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Kale Sweet Potato Tacos

Tacos are one of my favorite dinners to make for a bunch of different reasons. One is that they’re easy. The other is the fact that you can make anything into a taco. The tortilla is the palette and everything that you throw on top is decoration. I guess it’s kind of like smoothie bowl, except not like a smoothie bowl at all.

ANYWAY. I made these tacos tonight because I was craving sweet potato, and also because I’ve been eating somewhat very unhealthy for the past 48 hours. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed every second of my meat and cheese-laden pizza last night. But life is nothing without equilibrium.

All you do to make these tacos is roast some diced sweet potatoes with cumin, blanch some kale and sprinkle goat cheese and pumpkin seeds on top. Blanching sounds way more intimidating than it is; all you have to do is throw some kale leaves in a pot of boiling water, wait until it turns bright green and then pour it onto a strainer. Rinse with cold water and you’re done.

On a semi-related note: I’ve been working on my photography lately. Part of that involves pushing myself out of my comfort zone and exploring new angles and perspectives.

When I was in grad school, my photojournalism teacher had me make up a week of class that I missed by going around downtown Chicago with him taking pictures. At one point, we stopped in front of the Art Institute and I asked an old man if I could take his picture.

We were looking through my reel afterward and the picture that I took of the old man was one of my best. “I can’t tell if it’s me or the camera,” I said to my teacher. I was shooting with a nice DSLR. “It’s a little of both,” he responded. His words resonate with me now more than ever.dsc_0315On another semi-related note, my sister and I have been talking about songs that make you feel like you can conquer the world. Everyone should have at least a few in their repertoire. This one is at the top of my list lately.

Kale Sweet Potato Tacos (from me, to you)


1 medium sweet potato, diced and roasted
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of flaky sea salt
2 cups of kale, blanched
handful of pumpkin seeds
corn tortillas, warmed
crumbled goat cheese and cracked pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Dice a medium sweet potato and place it on the baking sheet. Toss it with the cumin, olive oil and sea salt. Put the sheet in the oven and roast the sweet potato until it’s slightly browned.

Meanwhile, prepare the kale. Boil half a pot of water and add the kale leaves. Allow them to turn bright green before removing, straining and running under cold water. Squeeze out the excess water gently.

Once the potatoes are done, take them out of the oven and let them cool slightly. I put my tortillas in the already-heated oven to warm them up, but feel free to warm them in a skillet over medium-high heat if you prefer.

Assemble the tacos by adding kale, then the sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds, goat cheese crumbles and cracked pepper. Enjoy while warm.

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D.C. Ice Cream: A Primer


Pumpkin honeycomb and salty apple cinnamon ice cream at Ice Cream Jubilee

If you ever check out my Instagram, it looks like all I do is eat ice cream. This isn’t so far from the truth. When I’m not pretending to be productive, cooking, eating out or baking, I’m probably at a local ice cream shop, sampling whatever delicious flavors are on the menu.

When did my addiction start? Early. My mom told me that ice cream was a health food growing up, and I believed it for the better part of my childhood and adult life. College opened my eyes to the combined joy/destructive power of eating entire pints on the reg (read: every day).

I’ve since changed my habits and now I only indulge a few times a week. But when I do, I don’t hold back. As I told my friend Rachel last night when we were standing in line at one of the best local haunts, there’s one kind of person who orders the mini cup. That person isn’t me.

Here are some of the best spots in D.C. for ice cream. I think you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

Dolcezza Gelato 


Roasted strawberry jam and blueberry lavender gelato at Dolcezza

I started going to Dolcezza when I moved to D.C. a few years ago. The flavors drew me in: roasted strawberry jam, blueberry lavender and hairbender espresso are just a few kinds you’ll find on the menu. They also have amazing cookies called alfajores that I would highly recommend.

Flavors rotate seasonally, and I like that. You can tell that the ingredients are fresh. You almost feel like you’re eating a health food…if you try really hard.

Dolci Gelati


Saffron pistachio and pear cinnamon ice cream at Dolci Gelati

I only recently tried Dolci Gelati, but this is the kind of place that you’ll become addicted to. Whoa. That’s all I can say.

Even though Dolci is more of a traditional Italian gelato shop, the flavors are out of the ordinary. Last time I had the saffron pistachio and the pear cinnamon and they both almost brought me to tears.

Westray’s Finest Ice Cream


Belgian dark chocolate and peppermint chip ice cream at Westray’s Finest

One day about a year and a half ago, I was walking down the sidewalk by my old job and I saw an ice cream truck on the side of the street. I stopped and tried their Belgian chocolate flavor, and I temporarily blacked out. How is anything this good? I wondered.

Well, it is. Westray’s Finest Ice Cream is living proof. I’ve tried almost every flavor, but my favorites to date are the southern maple cornbread and the chocolate.

I give Westray’s a lot of points for innovation, quality and persistence. Food truck life isn’t easy, but the owners are always smiling and welcoming and proud of what they do.

Ice Cream Jubilee


Minty chip ice cream at Ice Cream Jubilee

I saved the best for last: Ice Cream Jubilee trumps the rest of the list (even though I feel guilty saying it because I patronize every place on the reg and tell them all that they’re my favorite).

The reason why is because Ice Cream Jubilee is consistently good and never disappoints. The flavors are out-of-the-box (read: Thai Iced Tea and Grapefruit Campari), but they don’t hit you over the head with their un-ordinariness. It’s good ice cream. Period. When you have quality, you can afford to take risks.


I’ll stop here before I continue sounding like a marketing exec for Ice Cream Jubilee. But enjoy the aforementioned shops: they all bring their own strengths to the table and honestly, you can’t go wrong.

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Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Mash

Making these potatoes was an exercise in patience and slow breathing, especially once I set off the fire alarm five times.

So…oven cleaning is a thing. I learned that lesson the hard way when I heated mine up to 450 degrees, put the potatoes in, and watched my studio apartment fill with smoke. It was humbling and totally worth it, though, because I ended up with these potatoes.

The rest of the recipe comes together pretty easily. For the chimichurri, you just pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor until they’re finely minced. Making the avocado mash is basically the same as making smashed avocado for the top of toast.

Obviously, the sweet potatoes are a little less straightforward. But they’re not difficult to make. Peel the potatoes and boil them in some hot water until they’re soft. Then, smash them down a little with the backside of a big spoon or a spatula. You don’t want them flat because they’ll cook down a little in the oven.

On an unrelated note, I went to see Yuna last night and she was amazing. I’ve been listening to her music for years, but seeing her live was a different experience. She radiates happiness onstage. You can tell that she loves what she does.

Here’s one of my favorite songs from her new album. Every time I listen to it when I’m walking, it makes me want to start dancing in the street.

Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Avocado Mash (slightly adapted from What’s Cooking Good Looking)


for the sweet potatoes:
2 sweet potatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper

for the chimichirri:
1 cup of loosely packed cilantro
1 cup of loosely packed parsley
1/3 cup of red onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 of a jalapeño, seeded
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

for the avocado mash:
1 avocado
a squeeze of fresh lime juice (1/2 a lime)
olive oil
salt and pepper


Make the chimichurri. Pulse the cilantro, parsley, onion, garlic, and jalapeño together in a food processor until all the ingredients become minced and uniform in size. Place them in a small bowl, add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and stir. Cover, and set it aside until you’re ready to serve.

Then, make the sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 450º. Place the sweet potatoes in large pot with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, and from the time it beings to boil, cook them for 15 minutes. You want them to be fork tender, but not fully cooked. They will continue to cook in the oven. Remove them from the water, and place onto a small baking sheet.

Using a spatula, press down and flatten the potato slightly. Do not flatten fully, you basically just want to crack open the skin. Generously drizzle with olive oil, and generously season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 20-30 minutes, but keep on checking because I find that oven temperatures vary even more at higher temperatures. You’re looking for the skins to be brown, and charred around the edges. Once the skins look crispy, remove and place onto individual plates or one large if serving as an app to a group.

While the sweet potatoes are boiling, smash the avocado. Place the avocado, lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper into a small bowl and smash with a fork until the avocado is mashed. Set aside until you’re ready to assemble.

Place your potatoes onto a plate or plates. Add a scoop of the avocado mash and finish with a drizzle of the chimichurri. Enjoy!

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St. Louis and a Birthday Dinner

I think it was Thomas Wolfe who said that you can’t go home again. Well, I did last weekend.

Wolfe has a point. Everything changes, whether you want it to or not. Sometimes those changes are for the better; other times, you find yourself mourning a memory, a person, or a place.

Either way, there’s something to be said about going back to where it all began (for you) (proverbially). It reminds you of who you are and where you came from.

Last weekend, I surprised my mom for her sixtieth birthday in St. Louis. My siblings are scattered throughout the Midwest, but they all came home for the occasion.

We mostly spent the weekend relaxing and eating, two things that my family does best. We also took some long walks and I went on a run around the neighborhood.

Compared to D.C., my old neighborhood is like the country. We went to a local park and I did a double-take when I saw 10 horses walking out of a stable.screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-7-06-01-pm
I also forgot how big the sky looks when you don’t have buildings poking up into it. When I went on a run by myself, the sky seemed like it stretched out forever over the hills and trees. It’s sobering but also reassuring. It reminds you of your place.screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-7-06-25-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-23-at-7-06-41-pm
The last night that I was in town, I cooked my mom a birthday dinner. She loves salmon so I made a lemon dijon salmon, roasted asparagus, tomato salad and a cayenne rice pilaf. My younger sister played sous-chef and made some amazing chive roasted potatoes. I told her that I wanted to take them in a dark room and eat them all by myself.

Back in August, I went to get my D.C. license when my Missouri license expired. After I got my picture taken and was waiting for the papers to go through, I said offhandedly to the DMV clerk, “well, no more Missouri.” “It will always be a part of you,” she responded, without missing a beat. I’ll never forget that.screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-7-07-14-pm
My brother introduced me to Father John Misty when I was home. Here’s a song I’ve been jamming out to this week.

Lemon Dijon Salmon (slightly adapted from here)


1.5 lbs salmon fillets
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tbsp light olive oil
2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
lemon slices for topping


Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In a small bowl, mix together: 2 tbsp parsley, 2-3 pressed cloves garlic, ½ tbsp Dijon, ½ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper, 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp lemon juice.

Slice salmon into 4 portions and arrange them on a lined baking dish, keeping salmon skin-side-down.

Generously brush top and sides of salmon with sauce and top with fresh lemon slices.
Bake at 450°F for 12-15 min or until just cooked through and flaky. Don’t over-cook.

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Zucchini Bake with Mozzarella

I was scrolling through Instagram on Sunday morning and I stopped when I saw a picture of a zucchini bake with mozzarella. Whoa, I thought to myself. This is happening.

The picture didn’t come with a recipe, so I decided to improvise. I got two zucchini, some basil and fresh mozzarella from the farmers’ market, and then I bought a can of tomatoes at the grocery store. I’d usually make my own sauce, but I’m all about the San Marzano tomatoes. They make a mean sauce.

The best part about this dish is that it comes together in one skillet. I fried some shallots with garlic and olive oil, added the sauce and some herbs, and then layered the zucchini and mozzarella on top. Pop it in the oven, wait until the cheese gets golden brown and bubbly, and you have dinner.

I would highly recommend serving this with baguette. Rice would be good, too, but I like the way the bread mops up the sauce.

When I was eating this, I realized that it tasted vaguely familiar. Then I realized that my mom used to make something similar all the time when I was younger. I guess I had the recipe in the back of my mind all along.

Here’s a song for zucchini baking. Or, you know, whenever.

Zucchini Bake with Mozzarella (from me, to you)


2 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 small shallot, minced
4 small cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 ball fresh mozzarella, ripped into shreds (there’s no other good way to put this)
sliced basil leaves for topping


Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the minced shallot and garlic and fry until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and spices, and give it a stir.

Let the sauce come to a simmer and then turn down the heat so the mixture is just barely bubbling. Keep an eye on things so the mixture doesn’t explode (whoops).

Carefully add the zucchini on top of the sauce, forming one wreath around the outside of the skillet and another toward the middle. Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella.

Stick the skillet in the oven and let the mixture bake until the mozzarella cheese is brown and bubbling. Take it out of the oven and let it sit for a minute before topping with the sliced basil leaves. Sprinkle with more black pepper for serving. Enjoy!

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Mixed Berry Pitaya Smoothie Bowl

When I started making smoothie bowls and was looking for inspiration, I kept seeing pictures of bright purple smoothies. I wanted to make ones with the same color, but then I realized that everyone was using dragonfruit, a.k.a. pitaya.

D.C. often feels like the subtropics, but it’s actually just a city on a swamp. We don’t have dragonfruit, except for once in a while when Whole Foods or a specialty market gets a shipment.

I became so desperate for the fruit that I looked into buying pitaya online. I realized that you could get it frozen, but I wasn’t willing to shell out the cash.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I found a belated birthday present in the frozen section of Whole Foods: frozen pitaya packs. It almost seemed too good to be true. I felt like I would pay any amount for them, maybe similar to how you’d feel if you were bartering for a new kidney. Luckily, it wasn’t too expensive.

Now, I’m on a pitaya smoothie bowl roll. I’ve made two in the past couple weeks, but I think that the one I made today takes first prize. It has a lot of my favorite things: chia seeds, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds for texture, toasted almonds, some berries and bananas. I even kept the whole thing vegan by using coconut yogurt, although, truth-be-told, I can’t stand the stuff plain.

But anyway, I digress. If you want to make a smoothie bowl with a vibrant purple hue, check the frozen foods aisle at Whole Foods or a specialty grocery store. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a bounty of pitaya at your fingertips, use that.

I’ve been on a Crosby, Stills & Nash kick lately. Here’s one of my favorites.

Mixed Berry Pitaya Smoothie Bowl (from me, to you)


1 pitaya smoothie pack (I used this brand)
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 a banana
1 container plain coconut yogurt
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh blueberries and blackberries, sliced toasted almonds for topping


Blend the pitaya smoothie pack with the bluberries, banana, coconut yogurt and unsweetened almond milk in a blender on high until smooth. Top with the chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh blueberries and blackberries and sliced toasted almonds. Enjoy!

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