I think there are many reasons why the tranquil DC neighborhood of Capitol Hill, often referred to as an “urban village,” has such a small town feel. First of all, the heart of the neighborhood is Eastern Market, the region’s oldest continually operated fresh food public market (136 years old). Eastern Market serves as a community hub, and is without a doubt the heart of the neighborhood. Capitol Hill is also a little removed from all the action in the Northwest DC neighborhoods. It’s a bit of an undertaking to get over there so most of the time we don’t bother. As a result, we’re forced to socialize with one another. We get to know each other pretty well.
I moved to the Hill when I was single, footloose and fancy free. Even then, I tended to choose my beaux based on their geographic desirability. It’s not like you had no chance if you lived in Bethesda. But you’d better not pick me up for a date wearing a blazer with its sleeves pushed up and ALSO live in Bethesda. Yes, this actually happened and no he was NOT Gerardo.
The years went on, I bought a house at 11th and D SE so naturally, began dating someone who lived at 10th and C SE (only 2 blocks away – quite a catch 😉 ) Today he is as geographically desirable as one can be considering the fact we live in the same house (9th and Mass NE), and he could actually wear blazers with pushed up sleeves any old time he wants.
Also living at 9th and Mass NE is our girl who arrived on the scene in 2005 and was my ticket into the closeknit parents’ group called “Moms On The Hill” (aka MOTHs). On the surface, MOTHs is really nothing more than an invitation only Yahoo group. But, based on the premise that it takes a village to raise a child, MOTHs also fosters all sorts of offline activities including but not limited to: playgroups, food buying coops, all sorts of advocacy and the charming program called “Meals On Wheels”.
For those first couple of hectic and confusing weeks with a new baby, a family can sign up for Meals on Wheels through the MOTH Yahoo group. A database is created, announcement made, and MOTH members can then sign up, taking turns to bring dinners to the family. It can be a total lifesaver, particularly for families who already have a young toddler at home and are welcoming Baby #2. You may know the family or you may not but you always recognize the look of joy and relief on the face of the Meals on Wheels recipient (especially when there is a nice bottle of wine included)!
I have sort of an odd, nerdy dessert I tend to make when it’s my turn to bring the Meal on Wheels. It’s an old fashioned tapioca pudding that uses a little coconut and is spooned over fruit. You don’t really see much tapioca puddding these days, especially the non instant kind. BTW you could adapt this recipe to use with instant tapioca (it would taste the same). But I like the texture of the larger pearls, it’s what makes the dessert stand out I think. Anyhow, the mommies love this dessert. Every time I have made this for a meal on wheels, I get asked next day for the recipe, so here it is.
And since mommy definitely needs a glass of wine, you could also treat her to something from first vine’s “fizz and finales” section. I particularly recommend Domaine la Croix des Marchands “Methode Gaillaçoise” ($18) A nice champagne alternative that’s not bone dry. Light green apple flavor, yet with enough heft for a toast and dessert. And don’t just take my word for it. This wine received two stars from the Washington Post’s Wine Critic!
1 1/2 cups water
3 TBSP Tapioca Pearls (not instant)
3 TBSP sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup shredded coconut
fresh sliced fruit – bananas, berries or stone fruits
In a saucepan, bring water to boil. Add tapioca pearls, whisking. Reduce to simmer. Let the tapioca cook about 15 minutes , stirring occasionally, until the pearls have lost half their opaqueness. The mixture will have slightly thickened and the liquid will be cloudy. In a separate bowl whisk the sugar, salt and milk together. Whisk thie milk mixture into the tapioca mixture. Let cook for 5 minutes. Stir in coconut and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Refrigerate to room temperature. To serve, stir well to break up tapioca then spoon into individual bowls over fresh fruit.