Monday, December 27, 2010

driveway moment

after a wonderful Christmas with my family, i made it back to the city last night. there were no delays for my amtrak train and i was looking forward to getting back home at a decent hour.

once i left union station i hailed a cab. my taxi driver was nice and asked me how i was. he was listening to something on wbez which he turned up once i told him my destination. as he pulled away from the curb i expected him to take lower wacker drive so we could quickly get to lake shore drive. when he passed the ramp for lower wacker i thought about speaking up but it was only 9:30pm and i wasn't in a great hurry to get back to my apartment. i let my driver head east on monroe before turning left onto michigan avenue. as we passed millennium park, all lit up with Christmas lights, i began paying attention to the story being told on the radio. something was happening with a hot air balloon and a man named sherwin sleeves.

i smiled when we drove across the river. by now i was grateful this taxi driver decided to take michigan instead of lower wacker drive. i loved how the city was welcoming me back. at a stop light the radio program took a music break. five seconds into the song, i knew i was going to love it. i quickly dug in my bag for a pen and my planner. i wrote down some lyrics. later i found out it was the song "saro" by sam amidon. it put me in a wonderful, melancholy, nostalgic mood.

by now we were zooming down lake shore drive and the story of sherwin sleeves was drawing me in. the closer we got to my apartment the further away i wish it were. i knew i wasn't going to hear the end of the story and that broke my heart a bit. another song break, this time it was radiohead's "exit music," and we were turning onto my street. i so badly wanted to just sit in the taxi with the driver and listen to the end of the story. i wanted to have a driveway moment. when we finally reached my apartment i paid the man, went inside and searched for re: sounds so i could hear the rest of the story.

i'm grateful for little moments like the one i had last night. they seem so random and come from the oddest places. little moments like this make me love chicago more and more.

it's good to be home.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

sometimes i feel like i'm the only person in the world...

...who cannot properly peel an orange.

true story.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

my damn cookie sheets

baking cookies should not be a daunting task. especially when said cookies only have three ingredients.

but it never fails, what should be a quick baking project takes me over 2 hours to complete. this happened to me last night.

i came home around 9:00pm after working late and then stopping by the grocery to get a few things. my old roommate is having people over tonight for holiday cocktails and i want to bring something sweet. i made these insanely good cool whip cookies last weekend for a christmas movie merrython and they were a success. i was determined to get these cookies in the oven as soon as possible. i was in such a hurry when i got home that i was still wearing my coat when i turned on the oven. no time to waste!

your normal cookie recipe makes, what, 24? 30 cookies? is that an ambitious number? we'll say two dozen (not including the cookies i eat off the cooling rack before they make it onto the plate/container/plastic bag).

i know that part of my problem is my baking sheets. i have two dinky 12" x 12" cookie sheets. i don't remember where i got them; most likely big lots. but i can only fit 8 cookies or so onto one sheet. and i can't fit two sheets in the oven side by side. and i don't like to sit them on two different racks.

yes, yes, cue the tiny violins.

baking cookies in small batches this way take a good amount of time. i pulled my final batch out of the oven at 11:15pm.

oh! i forgot to tell you, for this round of cookies i decided to make smaller sized cookies. instead of using my table spoon cookie scooper, i used my teaspoon measuring spoon. so it took even longer.

i also forgot to tell you that i may have been distracted by top chef all stars. and facebook. and my phone.. as you can see, there are many contributing factors to last night's cookie madness.

maybe santa will bring me some big girl cookie sheets this year. or maybe i'll just BE a big girl and get my own damn cookie sheets. one way or another, i will eventually get proper cookies sheets but in the meantime it will take me 2 hours to make cookies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

let's talk a little bit more about julia della croce, shall we?

i don't feel like that one teeny tiny line in my last post was enough. she deserves much more.

honestly, i had never heard of julia until i saw the sign advertising that she was coming to the chopping block for a book signing with her latest book italian home cooking. she's written 13 books about italian cooking. honestly, you would think a girl who loves italy, food and italian food as much as i do would have already been enlightened. oh well, no time like the present. i plan on making up for lost time.

first off, before we get to the food, can i just say how wonderful julia is, as a person? she is genuine and not intimidating at all. she has one of those personalities where i feel like i already know her. i wish she was my neighbor so i could borrow a cup of sugar and invite her over for coffee. i love how she is so passionate about getting people back in the kitchen.

during the demo she talked about how italians are no longer cooking in the traditional manner. for one, more and more people are working and don't have time to cook or learn how to cook. and those in the professional culinary world are being classically trained in culinary schools instead of by the sides of short, little old ladies shuffling around the kitchen. the authentic italian way of cooking is being left behind. she talked a lot about the italian method of cooking vs. the french method. italian cooking is all about ingredients. french cooking is all about technique. one isn't necessarily better than the other; they're just different. most culinary schools are based off the french technique, hence the loss of tradition.

(yes, my mind automatically says "traditioooon!" sorry, back to the post.)

many italian dishes are simple but like julia said the make or break element is the ingredients. make sure you have the best tomatoes.* make sure your pasta is from italy. make sure you have some damn good olive oil. as the saying goes, good with good makes good.

for her cooking demo, julia made lentil soup with crumbled sausage and ditalini pasta (p. 80). we were also able to sample pissaladella (p. 22) and batter-fried sage leaves (p. 12). everything was, of course, delicious. it made me really excited to try these recipes, especially the lentil soup. julia made us promise we would try to make it at home, within the next two weeks.

so who wants to come over for some special, homemade, authentic italian lentil soup??!

but no, seriously, who wants to come over for some lentil soup..

*news flash: canned tomatoes and tomato paste are not the devil! use them! canned tomatoes have a more concentrated flavor and help give body to your tomato sauces. same goes for tomato paste. just make sure, again, that they are high quality tomatoes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

on the first snowfall of the season..

i took a little walk..

i only slipped on the ice four times..

i paid tribute to a great man..

i shocked my yoga instructor by actually coming to class on a saturday morning..

i attended a cooking demonstration by julia della croce..

and i ended the day with friends, spiked cider, dancing and, of course, ugly sweaters.

i love this time of year. bring it on, winter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

things that make me happy: checking one off the list

if it wasn't apparent, i'm really into food. big time. i enjoy eating it, cooking it, cooking it for others and eating it with others. food makes me happy.

living in chicago i've had the opportunity to eat at some amazing restaurants (charlie trotter's, rl restaurant, shanghai terrace at the peninsula hotel). i'm constantly adding restaurants to my "you must eat here!" list. last night i was able to check one off the list: cafe ba-ba-reeba!

it was a spur of the moment thing. my friend alex was performing at a comedy theater in uptown and a few of my friends were going to support him. my friend allie and i decided to grab dinner in lincoln park before going to the show. we were walking down halsted, trying to decide where we should go, when we saw bright red neon lights spelling out "tapas bar." we didn't even have to have a discussion about it, we were getting tapas. easiest decision we had to make all night. figuring out what to order? that was a different story..

we started with a jarra of martin codax "ergo" wine and then concentrated on the tapas. it took a while to decide because everything sounded so good but we settled on:
-roast dates with bacon and apple vinaigrette
-spicy potatoes with tomato alioli
-mushroom empanada with porcini alioli
-prime sirloin, asparagas, shitakes and yukon potatoes
-scallops with bacon (they were like butter)

needless to say, we didn't have room for dessert. it was a wonderful, wonderful meal. wonderful night too since we had dinner and then a show! i would love to go back for a cooking demo.

here's to checking one off the list!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

oh, those colors

on nights like this, i miss living downtown. you miss so much by not living in the middle of the city. i had no idea that nick's fish market was moving to the mart. i had no idea federal plaza, home to the post office by my beloved mies van der rohe, was completely torn up in the middle of a renovation. i completely forgot about all the festivals and markets that converge upon daley plaza this time of year. that restaurant closed? that shop moved? it's strange how much has changed in the 2 years since i've lived in the loop.

but what i miss most is living on the 44th floor of a high rise and having the most amazing view of the sunset. this was my view circa 2007:

this last week we have had some gorgeous sunsets. when i leave work the city is awash with different colors: bright orange at first, then pink, and finally a deep purple before going black. the sky is clear except for thick clouds in the west, clouds that literally look like cotton candy. i honestly can't imagine a pinker pink. i may be on the train, sitting next to that cute guy i see every morning at the belmont stop, but all i can do is look at those colors out my window.

by the time i actually get off the train, the sun is already gone and the chilly wind hits me a teeny bit harder than it did when i got on the train 25 minutes earlier.

i'm enjoying the the sunsets while i can because after sunday (daylight savings time) my commute won't be nearly as beautiful. at least i'll have the twinkling lights of the city to keep me company as i head home.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

things that make me happy: black and white horror movies

i always forget that my roommate and i get turner classic movies. i'm not sure why. it must be my old age..

this weekend tcm is showing old black and white horror movies and i'm having a hard time watching anything else. today they are showing the horror films of william castle. to be honest, before today i had never heard of william castle but he was a very prolific movie director and producer who focused on the horror/thrill genre. he was particularly known for using gimmicks in his movies and to promote his low budget movies.

i just finished watching "homicidal" and now we're on to "mr. sardonicus". i'm always surprised that these old horror movies are so good! i mean i know they're classics for a reason, but sometimes the effects are so obviously fake, it takes away from the movie. so far the movies i have seen have not been diminished by poor effects. i have found myself on the edge of my seat with my hands covering my mouth, eyes wide, waiting for something dreadful to happen, and then screaming aloud once something dreadful does happen! it's great!

"strait-jacket" is next!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

recently in my kitchen

i've finally been able to get into my kitchen and try some new things. it's been great.

last week i went grocery shopping for the first time in a long while. i'm not sure why i have had such a hard time getting to the grocery store lately. luckily, most of the things i needed were on sale, including eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini.. when i got home, it was go time in the kitchen!

first i made eggplant pasta.

i went low maintenance with the sauce and just smashed it all up in the pan instead of using my food processor. the chunky sauce fit the rigatoni just right.

this was the first time i've ever cooked with eggplant and possibly the second time i've ever eaten it (is that weird??). i was intimidated at first but eggplant is fairly easy to work with, especially in this recipe. all in all, this was a good meal. perfect for this time of year. i would really like to try this again with slow roasted tomatoes. i used fresh cherry tomatoes since i didn't have time to roast any. i would have preferred a deeper tomato flavor to go along with the eggplant. final verdict = success!

later in the week i made couscous and feta stuffed peppers. holy smokes, these were good. full of lovely vegetables. and the colors! so many pretty colors. color is important, people. but beware: this recipe makes a lot of food. i ate stuffed peppers for four meals. i'm kinda peppered out. next time i'll make sure there's a crowd to devour these puppies. final verdict = success!

i also bought a whole chicken during my excursion to the grocery. i tell ya, when i go grocery shopping, i go GROCERY shopping! i had no idea what i was going to do with this chicken. i have never even bought a whole chicken before. i thought about putting it in the crock pot and letting it sit for a few hours with some random spices. that's easy, right? i finally decided to take mark bittman's lead and roast the thing.

honestly, i wasn't expecting much. i was afraid i would under-cook it or over-cook it or it wouldn't have any flavor. i'm not sure if roasting a chicken is just easier than i thought or if i'm some kind of culinary genius (i doubt it), but when i took the finished chicken out of the oven, man, i don't really have words for it. actually, i can think of one: delicious. for reals. i just used butter, garlic, some italian spices, salt and pepper, but they all blended together wonderfully. i had a difficult time carving the thing but on the whole, the roasting process was fairly painless.

as my mom told me while i called her to rant and rave about my fabulous roasted chicken, "if you can roast a chicken, you can roast a turkey... so you're hosting thanksgiving this year, right??"

we shall see, mother. final verdict = success!

and lastly, friends, i made this for breakfast a few saturdays ago.

i started with nigel slater's basic instructions for a fritata. i then added some spinach and shallots. simple. quick. satisfying.

in other news, the jewel-osco on southport reopens tomorrow. i am ecstatic. now that i once again have a grocery store less than half a mile from my apartment, i doubt i will ever be lacking groceries.

cheers to that!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

things that make me happy: the chagall windows at the art institute

America Windows

they're coming back!

when one thinks about the art institute, one may think of american gothic or a sunday on la grande jatte or at the moulin rouge or water lilies. and while my mind may also conjure up these images, i think most about these gorgeous blue windows. i still remember the first time i walked down the long hall housing the museum's collection of medieval suits of armor and seeing the windows at the end. the hall is now filled with stunning indian art, in case you were wondering.

if you have been to the art institute in the past five years, you may have noticed the absence of chagall's windows. the first time i visited the museum and they were gone, i was a little heart broken. they were removed for safety reasons while the new modern wing was under construction. they were also in need of a good cleaning.

but as of november 1st they will be back! and better than ever, if i do say so myself. it's been a while since i spent some time at the art institute. i have a feeling i'll be visiting in novemeber.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

reds and oranges and yellows

i do believe peak week is here, my friends. i always feel bitter sweet when we reach peak week. i get so excited because almost every tree is bursting with color but i know that in a few weeks most of the leaves will have fallen. and the first big storm will most likely tear down the remaining leaves.

i took a long walk this past sunday afternoon. (aka i went to sweet mandy b's. their pumpkin cupcakes are delicious!) these pictures are from my afternoon.

i hope you all are enjoying the fall colors!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

indian summer

fall may be here but this weekend it felt like summer. the past three days have been sunny and hot. not just warm but hot! i enjoy summer but fall has my heart. once the calendar hit september 23rd, there was no turning back people. the warmer temps were nice but i'm ready to be back in the 50s.

to celebrate the (most likely) last warm weekend of the year, i put on a pretty dress and went downtown to spend the day with a family friend.

we had lunch at rl restaurant. i've walked past this restaurant on chicago avenue countless times and never really thought much about it. good thing i have friends who know their restaurants. rl restaurant is a real gem. hey, if it's good enough for oprah, it's good enough for the rest of us, right?

anyway, the food was delicious. i had the arugala salad with a champagne vinaigrette to start, then the lobster club sandwich and for dessert i had cheese cake with michigan cherries. it was perfect. oh, and there was coffee.

lunch lasted almost 3 hours. i hadn't seen this particular friend in a couple of years so there was a lot to catch up on. good thing the interior was relaxing and easy on the eyes. just as good as the food.

supposedly the pictures, prints and paintings hanging in the restaurant are from the personal collection of mr. ralph lauren. i love how eclectic they are without feeling distracting or forced. i especially liked this combination of images.

after lunch we rushed to the oriental theater to see billy elliot. wonderful show. go see it.

i spent the rest of the day enjoying the warm weather and the changing leaves.

i ask you, shouldn't every weekend include good food, good friends and good times??

Saturday, October 9, 2010

happy october indeed!

i'm loving wendy's latest post. she's a hoot.

i have my own: are you in the mood to bust a sweet move? happy pop-and-locktober!


..this happened.

drinks, board games and friends on the back porch at gutheries.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

top 40 buildings in chicago

chicago magazine recently released their list of the top 40 buildings in chicago. i was happy to see some of my favorites on the list. a few of them being:

the reliance building by daniel burnham, john root and charles atwood (#13)

crown hall by mies van der rohe(#6)

the rookery by daniel burnham and john root, atrium by frank lloyd wright (#2)

the farnsworth house by mies van der rohe (#9)
Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House
(although, can it still be considered a building in chicago if it's technically in plano, il??)

and a most recent favorite, aqua by studio gang architects (#22).
Aqua Tower by karla kaulfuss

when i moved to chicago the summer of 2005, a mere two months after graduating high school, i fell head over heels for this city's architecture. it probably helped that i was taking a class called chicago architecture. i loved that class. it consisted mostly of classroom lecture (which might be boring for some people, but being an architecture nerd, i was totally fine with it). however, most days we ended class with a walk to one of the buildings we had just learned about (this was easily done since my school and most of the prominent chicago buildings are located in the loop). i quickly discovered how important it is to actually experience these great works of architecture instead of just looking at slides of them on an overhead projector. after all, these buildings are meant to be used. they are meant to be lived in. they have function (or at least they are supposed to). i cannot tell you how amazing it is to listen to a lecture about the monadnock building while standing across the street from the monadnock building.

and just like every other art and design history class i have taken, learning about each piece allowed me to respect the "ugly" pieces. for example, most people look at 330 n. wabash and see a boring "black box" building with no character and no personality.

most people walk past and completely ignore it. they would rather look at the beautiful trump tower across the street (don't get me wrong, the trump tower is a beautiful structure, designed by the great architecture firm SOM). but once you realize that 330 n. wabash was designed by mies van der rohe, i would hope that you would think twice. once you understand his design aesthetic (ever heard of form follows function?) you understand now why there is no real ornamentation (technically, there is still some ornamentation, but that's a whooole 'nother discussion for a different time..). you understand why you can see all of the structural i-beams of the building. you just get it.

i'm still amazed that i get to live in this beautiful city. i'm greeted every morning by its gorgeous skyline. when the brown line curves between the armitage and sedgwick stops, and the city opens itself before me, my heart skips a beat and i can't help but smile while thinking to myself, "damn, i love this city."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

out of no where.

i had so many grand food plans for this week. to prepare, i went to the farmer's market with my friend hannah on saturday. it was rainy and wonderful. i got tomatoes and swiss chard and peaches and apples and basil and onions and shallots. i was going to make roasted garbanzo beans with swiss chard. i was going to make a fresh caprese salad. i was going to bread some tilapia and sauté some peppers. i was going to make another spinach salad with feta and oranges. i was going to make linguine with tomato-almond pesto.

i was going to wow my taste buds and try some new things.

but sunday night, my allergies hit me. out of no where. i should have known, though. this always happens to me the second week of september. this week i haven't been able to smell or taste. i can hardly concentrate at work. i have no appetite. for lunch every day i've had pb&j. for dinner i've had ramen noodles. i don't eat breakfast. i have my coffee and just work until around 1:30pm i think to myself, "oh, i should probably eat something.."

needless to say, i haven't used any of my wonderful produce or come up with anything creative in the kitchen. my peaches are starting to get mushy. my chard is starting to go brown. my tomatoes aren't going to last much longer. so far my basil has held up, so at least i have that going for me.

i'm frustrated. i hate letting perfectly good produce go to waste. i absolutely hate it! i'm hoping that tomorrow i'll feel better so i can at least make something. even if i just make the pesto and save it for the weekend, i'll be happy.

as for now, i'm ignoring my own kitchen in favor of the kitchen featured on the top chef finale. bring on the chefs!

Friday, September 10, 2010

best instructional video ever

this morning i was thinking about the breadcrumbs i'm going to make this weekend. it occurred to me that the next time i have left over bread i should make croutons.

i did a google search for "how to make croutons" and found this video:

not only was it instructive, but it was also pretty funny.

by the way, chef john has a blog. check him out!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

grocery shopping finally happened

yesterday i finally went grocery shopping. my pantry was looking very sad. how sad, you ask? tuesday night for dinner i had boiled potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil, a bowl of peas and 1/3 of a partially stale bagette. it was so depressing. filling, but depressing.

now that my kitchen is (semi) stocked again, i'm excited to try some new things. i plan on making my own bread crumbs with the stale bagette sometime this weekend. there will also be some banana bread action going on. i might have to make some cocoa cookies too. and i'm planning on hitting the green city market on saturday and coming home with some early fall lovelies.

and next week i will make this pasta dish. i'm hungry just thinking about it. i can't wait to get back into the kitchen.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

welcome september!

i love september. it's the beginning of my favorite season. it's my birthday month (24th year here i come!). but more importantly, it's the beginning of boots, blazers and scarves. bring it on, september.

this past weekend i had a nice long 4 day mini-vacation at home. it was wonderful. i got to see the fam, i got to share a bed with a certain great dane, i got a couple mosquito bites, i got my caramel apples fix from del's popcorn shop, watched a few episodes of ghost adventures with my sister and i ate a ton of food. my contributions to our mound of food included strawberry scones, a peach and raspberry crumble and strawberry pancakes. it was wonderful. although, my scones weren't as good as i was expecting, but no matter, the weekend was a success.

these pictures are from my train ride from chicago to bloomington. i found it slightly ironic that i happened to be listening to the arcade fire's "the suburbs" album while passing through the suburbs. it wasn't the worst way to spend 2 1/2 hours.

my weekend went by way too fast. can't wait until i see those cornfields again.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...