Our Engagement - Raisin Spice Weekend Oats
Weekend oats. This tastes like home to me. It’s comfort. And it's become synonymous with our adventure walks in D.C. This summer has been nonstop. In fact, we’ve been on the go for five consecutive weekends across the country, not always together. Flights, trains, buses. It’s been a lot. Will asked, “When does it stop? We don’t even have kids yet!” But countered with, "we’re lucky we have so many people to celebrate with." Regardless, it’s been exhausting.
We’ve had the weekend of July 25th on the calendar for what felt like eternity. The first weekend we’d be back in D.C. together. We would do all the things we love. Go on adventure walks, have date nights. We were both looking forward to it beyond words. “You have no idea,” Will would tell me. Okay, three more weekends, two more weekends, we’d tell each other, coaching one another through it. Of course, I love traveling, probably above all else. But, there’s something about coming home.
Our anticipated weekend reunion included our Saturday morning ritual. Get up slowly. Will asks, “coffee?” I respond, “weekend oats?” They've become rhetorical questions. Weekend oats entail plenty of cinnamon, raisins, and a generous amount of maple syrup or honey. We typically have it before adventuring. I've learned to rehydrate raisins in the simmering liquid, before adding the oats. And once you do add oats, don't over stir, since it will break down the grain. Will likes to top his with a spoonful of peanut butter. We’re then ready for whatever's to come.
This Saturday, we were going to Stachowski Market and Deli—a butchery in Georgetown. See, I’m the planner. We had a list locations to venture to this Saturday. Originally, we were going to Alexandria via the Mt. Vernon Trail. I changed it again and then to Stachowski’s. That morning, as I rerouted the plan, Will assured me I was overthinking. We should walk by Montrose Park—our park—and take it from there, see how we feel. When I spoke with my sister, the day before and vacillated if I had the energy for an epic walk. She became defensive: “Wait! Why not a long walk?! You have to go on your walk!” There were tiny hints along the way that something was up.
Will changed into a nice pair of khakis. Typically on long walks, he wears cargo shorts. And he wore the “Where The Wild Things Are” shirt I got him at Powell's Books in Portland—which he has never worn before, or since I may add. I thought to myself, there’s no way he could fit any boxes in those shorts. As we were about to walk out the door, he grabbed his backpack. “We never bring waters and always want them.” Sure thing, I thought. Then, he looked up in the closet and asked, “we can use this blanket, right?” “Sure thing,” I replied again.
Once we crossed Key Bridge into D.C., we headed up 33rd St. to weave through Georgetown. We passed a little curly haired boy having a lemonade stand. Do you have any change? I asked Will. The boy said the lemonade stand was free, but Will rummaged some coins and gave him a handful. We split a glass and continued up the cobblestone streets. We got to Montrose Park around 1 p.m. It’s near Dumbarton Oaks and feels like a hidden gem. Lush and private, hidden from the bustle of the city. We laid the blanket under a tree, took off our shoes and laid down.
We talked about us, about everything coming up. We looked at the clouds and tried to picture what they looked like. We talked about our travels, our experiences together. There was a lull, and he pulled out a maroon box. I smiled so hard and sat up, and looked him in the eye. And squeezed him and said, “Of course!!” And he said, “open it!” And I froze.
It was breathtaking. With an etched Art Deco band. I loved it. It sparkled even when it wasn’t in the sun.
We kissed and laughed. Talked about how he kept it a secret. He was nervous if I’d like the ring, but not nervous to ask me. He asked my dad over Passover. What I didn’t tell him, was that after one too many glasses of wine my Grandma let that slip at dinner the weekend before when I was in New York. She was mortified! We talked about us, our future. It’s a funny feeling. How official it seemed. But how it’s so much the same. I asked someone to take photos of us. I’d want to document the moment. It wasn’t until I got up that it hit me. We’re engaged!!!! I was so thrilled. A silly smile perpetually plastered on my face. Everything we do we’ll do together. Everyday is an adventure. Forever.
By 3 p.m., we realized we were quite hungry. Unsure of the proper protocol to go from here, we decided we should probably get those sandwiches. We walked in, and I was beaming. I told them, we just got engaged, and then asked, “When? Yesterday?” “No!” I told them, “right now!” We ordered—Will got the pastrami (over a pound and a half of hot, thick cut pastrami on a thick pumpernickel bread) and I got the turkey club (three layers of thick white bread, freshly sliced turkey, bacon, sprouts, avocado, tomato). Yes, this would do.
After we ate our sandwiches at a picnic table in the park, we wandered back down Wisconsin Ave. We passed Bacchus Wine Cellar and deemed it was appropriate to get a bottle of champagne. The owner presented us with a nice brute, on special this week. Sounds good! Then we passed Thomas Sweet. We both got ice cream cones that we quickly enjoyed as they were melting on our walk down. We got back to our apartment early evening and brought down the champagne to the pool.
The guy at the wine store said the champagne would be good with strawberries. We laughed. And he said, no seriously, you have to have it with strawberries. So, I brought down a few frozen strawberries to plop in our plastic pool wine glasses for our first glass.
We were elated as it started slowly settling in. The building's super and her husband were the only others by the pool at this point. It was getting dark and she said they were grilling chorizo, it was time to eat. And so we did. They smeared mayo on ciabatta and sliced the chorizo long ways, faced down on the mayo, and made sandwiches. Will and I split one. It was delicious. It was dark out at this point and we were quite content. The super brought out a deck of cards, and Will taught everyone a college drinking game. They brought out Heineken’s.
By 11 p.m., we all called it a night. In utter bliss. It was us. We were in it together. So many adventures to come. I can truly say it was the best day of my life. It was natural and organic and celebratory and familiar. An adventure without being over the top. I may be indecisive about a lot of things; however, one thing I never doubt or question is our love. Because our love is genuine and ours. And now it’s forever.
Raisin Spice Weekend Oats
Serves: 2, generously
1 cup dry quick steal cut oats
2 cups milk, 2%
1 3/4 cup water
2/3 cup raisins
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
In a medium pot, bring the milk, water and raisins to a rolling simmer, with the raisins
Once simmering, add steal cut oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, a pinch of salt and bring to a boil
Partially cover, and turn the heat down to an incredibly low heat, cook about 25 minutes until softened
Serve warm, with a scoop of peanut butter if desired
*Recipe adapted from Megan Gordon, A Sweet Spoonful (2013)