2014 #1

Oh snowy day. I should be putting the tree away and making soup, but instead I’m drinking tea and tying up some other loose ends.

I saw this image the other day, and think it’s a good mantra for 2014: the 4 agreements.


(via theyallhateus.com)

Also, one of my best ladies just had a baby!  Welcome to the world Josie!

Let’s do it, 2014!


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2013 in review

2013 was a banner year full of highs and lows and so many feelings. After a year where I feel like I didn’t have the chance to catch my breath very often, I’m looking forward to a calm and balanced 2014. Pursuing things I enjoy, which include keeping up with this old blog, are among my plans for the year.  

the most wonderful time of the year.

I’m not kidding.  This is the most wonderful time of the year. I’m extra happy about the holiday season this year because it’s extra long.

We hosted our first holiday open house this past weekend and it was so fun. I enjoy a late night and a dance floor as much as the next lady, but sometimes it’s nice to have a deviled egg and some sparkling wine at 5pm with all of your best friends, know what I’m saying?

Some highlights from the past few weeks include homemade fudge, Henriot Brut Rosé, cute Christmas ornaments, wreath sightings around Chicagoland, latkes made from leftover potatoes,a beautiful holiday floral arrangement from Larkspur (who just happend to celebrate its 8th anniversary in Bucktown) & homemade cranberry relish.

Homemade Cranberry Relish (for when you realize you don’t have any applesauce for your latkes, but have a package of cranberries)


1 120z package cranberries

1 shallot, minced

1 clover garlic, minced

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1/2 tsp ground ginger


1. Melt butter and saute shallot and garlic until fragrant

2. Add vinegar & cranberries, simmer

3. Add sugar, salt, pepper, and ginger. Simmer until thickened.   Remove from heat and serve with whatever you like.

Working Girl’s Cassoulet

At Natalie’s request. This is a entry I started like 2 years ago, but she’s been asking for it, so I decided to post it, unedited. Watch me wax poetic!

Oh, and check out her blog: http://www.designrumble.blogspot.com

As with anything, the more you understand the further you can dig and the finer your technique becomes. Poached fish and bruniosed aromatics in a wine cream sauce? I never thought that would go together, but it does, and it’s so good. The French are credited with codifying the Western kitchen. The recipes we did this week were simple in both taste and presentation, but complex in mise-en-place and execution. It’s a good thing they were so organized…

One thing I really wanted to make this week was a cassoulet. There are a few French places in Chicago that make cassoulets which are gluten free. Gluten-free dishes at a French place are few and far between, so it’s always nice when that option exists. Unfortunately we didn’t make a cassoulet at school. I also didn’t happen to have duck confit or rabbit, or lamb just chilling home. I also didn’t have 12 hours to slow cook dinner. I did, however have a couple of other things as well as an hour to cook. I ended up with a stew inspired by a cassoulet. It was hopefully the last time it will be cold enough to eat stew appropriately. Geeze, eat stew appropriately? You know what I mean, weather matches mood which matches which food you want to eat. Soon enough it will be time to only eat cucumbers.

*Note- I’ve made this a few times since 2011. I really enjoy eating this and suggest topping it with an egg.


6 slices bacon, small dice (I cut my bacon with scissors sometimes, it’s easy)

2 tablespoons butter

3 sweet Italian sausages, sliced in 1/2″ segments

1 shallot, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 can peeled plum tomatoes

1 can (15oz) pinto beans

1 can garbanzo beans

2 cups red wine

4 springs thyme

2 bay leaves

1 bunch kale, shredded

1″ of a cinnamon stick

Nutmeg, Salt & Pepper to taste.


1. Render bacon in butter.  When cooking, add italian sausage. You just want to get some browning, the meats will finish cooking the rest of the time.

2.  Add shallots to mix.  When aromatic, add garlic, thyme and bay leaves.

3. Don’t burn the garlic, when you can smell it, add the tomatos and red wine.

4. Reduce until it tastes good. Like a half hour-45min?  Season with salt and pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon.

5. Drain and rinse the beans, add them to the stew. Cook them until they are heated through.

6. At  the last minute add your kale and double check that it tastes pretty good.


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keeping up

This weekend I had the chance to attend a friend’s baby shower. I can’t wait to meet this kid!  The shower involved taking a quick trip to Indianapolis. I love visiting Indy, the most.  It’s always so nice to be back.

I had the chance to grab a veggie burger at Bru, pick up some baby presents at Nurture, eat breakfast at Cafe Patachou, and go on a really nice walk through the neighborhoods of my youth.  On the way home I ran into an old friend who is moving to my hood in Chicago! It was the quickest and most hilarious bus ride ever.

My friend Nora and her boyfriend Nick rescued this amazing dog.  His name is Solovino and GB and I got to watch him last week.

I’ve been trying to eat more healthy food and drink less alcohol.  It’s led to more reading, running, and cooking at home.  I made these sweet potato falafel and put them on a kale salad.

Wedding planning is at full tilt, I ran a 5k, work is busy, and I miss my family.

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Ok, real quick. June was nuts in a great way. Here is a quick recap from the top of the gallery. We went to Lincoln Park and my mom showed me her old apartment above Nookies, where I have never eaten breakfast, but it’s open 24 hours.  We found tiny instruments in the windows of The Old Town School of Folk Music. My new issue of Lucky Peach Came! I found a vintage postcard of the Hotel San Jose online.  My new job allows for me to be around epic amounts of beautiful flowers most of the time. Leigh and Michael visited, so we stocked up the fridge with Red Bull (so bad it’s good). We got drinks at Maude’s. Stevie and Gerard have matching shades and are generally cool dudes. Tiny Cover Band played the Holstein Park Centennial Celebration. My dad enjoyed the celebration at Holstein Park. We took the South Shore Line to Beverly Shores and spent a Saturday afternoon sunning and reading. The star reminds me of the 4th of July, which happened and was great.  I’m thinking of this haircut post wedding, it’s an update of every single  haircut I had as a child.

In other news, I’m running a 5k this Thursday, I’ve been eating lots of cold roasted salads, there was a heat wave in Chicago, and an amazing dog is staying with me this week.

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may i?

I think I shall!  May has been a busy month.

Started a new job (which I LOVE), made Murgh Makhani with cauliflower instead of chicken, went garden shopping at Gethsemane Garden Center with my pal Whitney, got sweet potato vines at Adam and Sons (with the goal of our window boxes looking like this), made margarita jello shots in limes(classy), walked around a ton, made 75 mini pizzas, planted lavender and herbs in my back yard, went to my first spinning class (WHEW). I also discovered Lady Saw!  This summer is going to be great!

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Pantry Marinade

Spring always inspires me to clean up a little, and this year I found a delicious solution to a major problem. I tend to hoard bits of ingredients past the point of functionality. So, I made a marinade out of all the leftover things in my cabinets. I also got rid of doubles- who needs 2 bottles of cumin? Not this household!

Originally, I wanted this to be a hot sauce, but that didn’t work out, so I ended up making a marinade instead. I waited until I used the marinade in a recipe because I wouldn’t want to remember how to make something gross. But, earlier this week I used the marinade in a recipe and it was so good!

Pantry Marinade:

1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups dry chile de arbol
1/3 cup white raisins
3 Tablespoons cumin
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup black strap molasses
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup salt
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup chile con carne mix (aka taco seasoning)
1/4 c coffee extract
5 cups water

1. Saute shallot in olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic.
2. Add everything else.
3. Puree with an immersion blender
4. Simmer for 3 hours
5. Strain, cool, and store ( I froze mine into single use portions)

So, as I mentioned above, I used the marinade this week. I bought a 4 pound bone in pork shoulder from Butcher and Larder, marinated it for about an hour in this pantry sauce and then braised the whole thing in gluten free beer (Estrella Daura) for about 3 hours. After it was done, I served it as pulled pork. I made a slaw from red cabbage, orange pepper, lime juice and mayo. I put everything on a corn tortilla, topped it with some avocado and called it a night.

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Things have been pretty busy around here. Last week we went down to Indianapolis and got to hang out with friends, go to a wedding at Union Station, and drink a real Moscow Mule out of a copper mug.

We had a midnight “snack” (shrimp cocktail & steak) at St. Elmo’s, which is a super old-school steakhouse in downtown Indianapolis.

This weekend GB and I went to check out the recently refurbished Logan Theatre. It looks great, you can buy tickets online, and the ticket price is only $7! Last night we had the chance to watch a midnight showing of Battle Royale.

If you like the Hunger Games (which I do) I’d suggest seeing this movie. It’s funny in a very dark way and pretty gory, but I still enjoyed it.

I also had the chance to grab a birthday present (some Boat Street Pickles) for a pal at this store called Half Italian which recently opened. The store is pretty new, and combines a market with some prepared foods, sandwiches, and cool looking beer/wine. I can’t wait to go back!

I also decided I want these shelves.

image courtesy of http://www.dwr.com/

Have you ever seen anything so pretty?

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