29 October 2002

if i could have anything at all right now it would be a big piping hot bowl of pho. i was going to check out the new vietnamese place on south wabash but it wasn't south enough so i settled for a veggie burrito which, wow, really didn't do it for me. so tonight after work i am dragging myself, headcold and all, to argyle for some of the real deal. i can already feel the steam gently drifting around my face. sigh.

did i say headcold? this morning in the little coffee area on the 8th floor, rather than open and empty the contents of a sugar packet into my coffee cup, i just dropped the entire packet in. i didn't realize this until i had already begun filling my cup with coffee. luckily, i was able to fish the packet out of the coffee and then put the sugar back into the cup, minus paper. not quite the auspicious start to the day.

28 October 2002

based on that reliable source of information known as The Internet, today is National Chocolate Day and, so, in honor of those holiest of holy days, i just finished the 1/3 bar of chocolate i had stashed away in my desk. now, if that's not a party, i don't know what is. oh and september 18th is also National Chocolate Day while March is National Chocolate Month with a special focus on the first week of the month being National Chocolate Week. in fact, i found a list of chocolate days on someone's random page. it's on the web so it must be true:

  • American Chocolate Week--March 14-20
  • National Chocolate Day--October 28
  • National Chocolate Day--December 28
  • National Chocolate Day--December 29
  • National Milk Chocolate Day--July 28
  • National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day--November 7
  • National Chocolate Mint Day--February 19
  • National Chocolate Chip Day--May 15
  • National Chocolate Eclair Day--June 22
  • National Chocolate Covered Anything Day--December 16
  • National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day--March 24
  • National Chocolate Custard Month--May 1-31
  • National Chocolate Pudding Day--June 26
  • National Chocolate Ice Cream Day--June 7
  • National Chocolate Milkshake Day--September 12

...it's just so hard to keep up.

today, as tina and i walked towards the 8th floor "kitchen," I wished, outloud, for a bagel and what should we find upon reaching our destination but a platter of bagels, lox and cream cheese. thank you bagel goddess for listening.

cindy scores on the birthday dinners:

1. "I made my parents take me to this new place, Oceanaire, which is very post-modern in that it attempts to be a seafood restaurant similar to the one your grandparents would have gone to in 1950. They have all these retro dishes on the menu, like Shrimp De Jonghe, Clams Casino and Oysters Rockefeller, and the decor looks all swoopy like an ocean liner from the 30s or 40s. To start, we had an enormous shellfish platter filled with lobster, crab legs, clams, oysters, mussels and the biggest shrimp I have ever seen. I had the seared bigeye tuna from Hawaii with asian condiments (an enormous red slab, it was SO GOOD), my mom had troll-caught salmon and steve had these enormous crab cakes. We all split celeriac bolognese and fried green tomatoes with a mustard aioli. For dessert, baked alaska with huckleberry ice cream and a candle on top! It was so funny, almost like a trip back in time to the dishes that Marilyn Monroe would have eaten or something."

2. "So, a friend at work took me out for a birthday dinner at Dahlia Lounge last night. I must tell you what I had, because it was so good. For appetizers, we had shrimp and scallion dumplings with a vinegar chili sauce. Sooo good. Also we had a five-spice rubbed duck leg with little stewed pomegranate seeds all over it and a little sticky pinched dumpling hiding underneath. It was heavenly. For entrees I had crab cakes with lemongrass aioli and this divine little soy/ginger stir fry, and the whole thing had shavings of fresh coconut over it. Dave got venison served two ways - one was smoked and tasted SO good, like it had been roasting over a really smoky campfire or something, but tender - and then osso buco. With yummy veggies and some kind of rice pilaf or risotto. Yummmm. And for dessert, a mountain of coconut cream pie. It was divine!"

3. In honor of cindy's birthday and because I happened to run into john at critical mass, i ate dinner at lula cafe in logan square. self-described as a part of the "oozing crevasse of artistry, musicianship, lingual creativity, and general muse that the community of logan square generates so profusely," it was, despite heavy loads of pretention, wonderful, reasonably priced and "neato." i recommend it very enthusiastically. yes, the food muse is alive and well at lula's. i got the moroccan chickpea sweet potato tangine and a house salad. the tangine was a perfect post-ride dish...hearty and spicy. other folks with me ordered peanut satay sesame noodles which i normally find to be boring but which were divine, penne pasta with tequila-lime marinara--also usually boring but amazing here, and a winter squash dish. ah, good!

and, for the record, i made fried green tomatoes just the other week...tossed in cornmeal, salt and pepper. no mustard aioli, though.

25 October 2002

eating the absolute wrong thing for lunch: carbs&dairy, just in case i'm not sleepy enough. don't get me wrong, the potatoes feta tomato arugula is quite tasty but it tends to have the same affect as hitting myself over the head with a sledgehammer. come to think of it, though, it is much easier than hitting myself over the head with a sledgehammer so at least there's that. it would also be good all mashed up...something to keep in mind should i ever shatter my jaw.

last night right before going to bed i just had to eat something and so i made myself a quick little quesadilla-type thing which immediately sank to the bottom of my stomach. oh, except for the grease oozing out of the cheese that i managed to get all over my face. lovely. another reminder that i am such a classy lady.

23 October 2002

amazing how uniformly depressing college cafeterias are, isn't it? the same lighting, the same smell, the same stuffy smokiness, the same sounds. but, man, the veggie chili at columbia college is so close and relatively cheap--although the jerks raised the price one whole dollar this summer! what gives?!

22 October 2002

when i'm sick, the only thing i want to eat is veggie broth with egg noodles and, thus, have had about ten gallons of said delicacy in the past four days. broth for breakfast, broth for brunch, broth for lunch, broth for mid-afternoon snack, broth for dinner and broth for late-night snack. i'm floating here. last night i tried to diversify my diet and boiled some fingerling potatoes from henry's farms, fried 'em up with tomatoes and fresh sage and dumped some fresh mozzarella on top. i must say it was quite the waste of mozzarella and next time i'll go with something that is 1.more flavorful and 2.less expensive since the heat and taste of everything else drowned out all the mozzarella had to offer. wait a second. is mozzarella really spelled with two z's? erm, yes, apparently it is.

21 October 2002

we made this near disaster meal last night of fried green tomatoes (that involved a very very small yet dramatic grease fire--all my fault), roasted chestnuts (that exploded in the oven--i blame that one on don!), tarts (we had to make two batches of crust since the first batch had twice as much butter as required, the extra butter dripping all over the inside of the oven, burning and filling the house with smoke--that was the fault of the person who sent me the recipe) and salad and banana bread both prepared and served without creating any dangerous situations. and, i mean, the food was all quite tasty and thank goodness we all escaped unharmed.

as for cindy:
"For some reason I decided that four pounds of cheap pork shoulder would make a good meal (pork nauseates me even on its best days as bacon) so I took it home and cooked some of it up with apples and onions and some of it with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. So then as a meal, I basically had four pounds of chopped up pork and nothing else. I gave it a shot but the pork was really chewy and gross. Then I ordered a pizza for one person from Piecora's, which mysteriously only offers one size of pizza, so I wound up with a massive pizza - enough to keep one person fed for weeks, I swear. A weekend of queasy fun staring at pork shoulder remnants and a small tower of cold pizza slices. Erg."

we are classy, classy people.

19 October 2002

i discovered that the reason that i was taking so long to recover from the all-night hospital visit was because i was getting sick! so as my fatigue wore off, my cold increased leaving me at a constant state of haziness. the cold finally hit full on last night after dinner with my mom and sushi wabi which was delicious, despite the fact that my nose was stuffed and i didn't have much of an appetite.

this morning, i woke up at 4:30am to volunteer at the farmers market. by the time i got there i was feeling rather spiffy, unloading boxes of veggies and thinking that a bit of hard(ish) labor would kick my cold into subordination. i was wrong. by 9am, when kathy showed up to relieve me, i had begun a quick descent into snot-ridden disaster. a quick pot of tea at unicorn and i dragged myself home with a backpacked stuffed with veggies. the fall market is beautiful with its squashes, root vegetables, apples, brussel sprouts and lettuces. standing amidst so much variety, its difficult to decide what i want to take home. i settled, today, for jerusalem artichokes, brussel sprouts, beets, deertongue lettuce, speckled bib lettuce, green lettuce, arugula, wild arugula, beets, green tomatoes, a butternut squash, mushrooms, red tomotoes, fresh sage and a variety of fingerling potatoes. tomorrow night: tarts. an hour ago, i simmered the jerusalem artichokes and brussel sprouts, drained and shocked them, threw them into a saute pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and, after fifteen minutes, tossed them with some parmesan cheese and chowed down. not bad! i overdid the jerusalem artichokes a bit, but live and learn, eh?

in a half hour or so, i'll throw together the dough for the tart crust...i'm waiting for the shortening to chill at the moment. starting tomorrow night's dinner tonight must be a sign of maturity.

17 October 2002

still recovering from my all-night hospital ordeal but i've been so uninspired by what i've eaten over the past two days that it seems appropriate to describe them in a state of sleep deprivation.

yesterday i did what i should have done tuesday, which was to take the day off of work and rest up a bit. i dragged myself out of bed around 11:30am and went to Pauline's with magda. its one of those places that was really good back when it was initially reviewed by all the magazines, etc., but has, i guess, slipped. i found it to be extremely disappointing: tastless, soggy and completely uninspired. and, not to be a snob, but i can't stand when restaurants try to pass egg "scrambles" for "omelettes." these are not the same thing! and the service was not only bad but i sensed some sort of tension between servers, managers, etc. so, in summary, skip it!

late afternoon found us at Unicorn Cafe in evanston, which is one of my favorite cafes in the chicagoland area. it brings back memories of all the nights i spent there during highschool and is a quiet, calm place to be. oh, and the oatmeal raisin cookies are absolutely divine!!!

all i can say about dinner is that the company was much better than the meal itself, a box of pasta and a jar of sauce thrown together with a little feta mixed in to zip it up a bit. and let me tell you, it needed zipping up! but, again, the company was lovely and that can be enough.

tomorrow night: Sushi Wabi!!!

15 October 2002

i would describe with great flourish the exciting sweet&savory tart class i took last night but having gone almost immediately from the class to the emergency room with a friend who thought she had appendicitis (luckily she was wrong), i am in no state to formulate coherent thoughts. so, in summary: tart class=good; butterscotch tart=caramel tart; 13yearold girl=like me at that age but with an herb garden.

the end.

14 October 2002

and i finally finished the leftover white bean tomato soup today. along with three pieces of toast which probably wasn't a good idea, since i'm suffering early afternoon carbohydrate-induced fatigue.


weekend of consumption
this weekend, i consumed obscene quantities of food. someone actually turned to me last night, saying "Wow, eliz. You just keep eating and eating and eating." Why yes, yes i do! and, so, with that, i give you:

my weekend
...which began friday afternoon with a shrimp maki snack eaten while contemplating when to begin dinner. apparently the shrimp helped me think since dinner came out a comfortable 15 minutes or so after my guest arrived. cabbage soup, french country bread from foodstuffs, jicama sweet pea mozzarella salad with balsamic vinaigrette and chocolate chip cookies. fabu, if i may say so myself. the cabbage soup, from Abby Mandel's Celebrating the Midwestern Table, is so easy to make although what with it consisting mostly of cabbage it does wreak a bit of havoc on one's system. that is, don't eat a lot of this if you plan on spending lots of time in a closed, non-ventilated space with people you want to impress. but, its a sacrifice you have to make occasionally in the name of hearty fall soups.

i chose cabbage soup because i knew my saturday was going to be rough and i wanted something warm and comfie for dinner on friday. saturday morning i attended the funeral of a classmate which was, needless to say, horrible and sad and tragic. and hard to grasp. and always weirdly a mixed blessing since i was so glad to see some of the people there but so sad that it was under these circumstances. you know. after the service, a lunch reception and a really calming walk with don, we ended up at a friend's parents' home where we spent the remainder of the evening shooting pool, knitting and stuffing ourselves with food. it was perfect for a group of people in need of a relaxing, low key night with good friends. my friend's mom pulled out all the stops, providing us with italian flatbread, chips&salsa, cookies, artichoke dip, beverages, etc, etc. and just when we thought we couldn't eat any more, two pizzas arrived. and then in honor of those with october/november birthdays (curiously about 3/4 of the group), we had cake! woah. i rolled myself home around 11pm, dragged myself into bed and slipped quickly into a foodcoma-induced deep sleep.

on sunday, i woke up stuffed. the muscles in my stomach were actually sore! but i perservered! i met don and dee for breakfast at heartland cafe and ate almost an entire avocado chili cheese omelette with a side of homefries. and lots of coffee. sunday night was a birthday dinner party--mozzarella basil tomato bruschetta, garlic bread, artichokes, cookies, taste of heaven cake and much much more. again, so much food i could barely walk by the end of the evening.

ah, food. so good.

09 October 2002

i take the lake path to work and today on my bike in, about two miles of the path smelled like chocolate! the wind must have hit the blommers chocolate factory at exactly the right angle, sending the scent of chocolate drifting east to the lake. the u.s. is so obsessed with hygiene that we are all olfactorily(new word!) deprived here. one rarely encounters any sort of exciting non-automobile fumes just wandering around the city. sure, there's blommers, that weird perfume factory on west touhy and the fortune cookie factory on the southwest side, but those are destination scents...you rarely just stumble upon blommers unless you work by the river or really like that architectural boat tour. in india, i encountered a new smell every five feet and granted some of those scents were rather unpleasant, it was exciting to have so many different smells coming at me all of the time...what a change! as for chicago, i guess for now i'll stick to the occasionally quirky windpattern that sends blommers towards me.

08 October 2002

sushi etiquette is a useful page that i found at kiplog. so remember:
1. don't rub the chopsticks together
2. eat ginger to cleanse the palette not as a condiment
3. dip sushi into soysauce fish-side down
4. do not order sea urchin because it tastes like room-temperature butter

right. after the tour of henry's farm, we got a tour of bill's "kitchen garden," a huge plot and a chicken coop. from there, we drove to theresa's to look at her berry fields, goats, turkeys and kiwi plant. i am in awe of the self-sufficiency and sense of cooperation and community within that group of farmers. its a lot of hard work to have an organic farm, but it is such an ideal life...they are all so content and in love with what they do.

i, for one, had a lovely urban evening at home last night. i printed out a tomato white bean soup recipe off the web, purchased ingredients from my natural food store and the local "domi-jewel," cooked up a nice big vat of soup, perfect for one of the first cold fall nights, and watched a really bad movie starring a really hot lady.

07 October 2002

yesterday i visited henry's farm, the organic farm that i volunteer for, occasionally, at the evanston farmer's market. we had a potluck lunch so i contributed plum cake, a recipe i have now fully appropriated from sara, who got it from her grandmother. sara brought homemade sourdough bread. i had her springform pan at my house, so she couldn't have made the plum cake even if she'd wanted to. ha ha! although sunday was supposed to be overcast and rainy, the clouds cleared and it ended up being one of those fantastic brisk fall days. perfect for a day at the farm.

lunch blew me away. it included: baked lima beans, boston baked beans, stirfried chard, baked zucchini, veggie chili, chile with organic pork, garlicky eggplant dip, moussaka, baked eggplant, thai curry stew, bean barley salad, squash cookies, turkey, stirfried other veggies, bagles and homemade creamcheese, salmon, cornbread, spanish tortilla, quiche, chunky pesto spread and then there was dessert: zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, plum cake, plum peach walnut cake, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate cake, caramel custard pie and more i'm forgetting. wow. i'm still feeling a little full from the meal. even one spoonful of each dish is about two huge platefuls of food. that's the way a meal should be! i love potlucks!

after the meal, eaten overlooking the beautiful fields, we were sent on a plant-identification hunt. i collaborated with sara and michelle, meaning that i walked around with them and watched as they identified the different plants henry was growing in his fields. i contributed almost nothing, but was more than happy to sample a small bit of everything we were asked to identify. it was the least i could do. the quiz was tricky...arugula was on there three times! needless to say, we came in third place with a remarkable 5 1/2 out of 10 correct! woo hoo! had we stayed away from adjectives (just arugula, not 'wild' arugula, and parsley instead of 'italian flat leaf parsely') we would've scored a whopping 7 1/2 and gone home with three dozen fresh organic eggs, but, alas, our cockiness led to our downfall. or rather, sara's cockiness led to her downfall...i was anything but cocky since i couldn't help at all.

and, really, there is nothing more amazing than a small organic farm that produces so many different types of veggies. but, its 5:06pm and i have to go buy ingredients to make soup for tonight.

more tomorrow.

04 October 2002

a crappy day in need of comfort food. and i mean it. friday, october 4th needs a nice big bowl of chicken soup with egg noodles...i hope it shares with me. cloudy, rainy, bad news, bitterness. sniff.

03 October 2002

last night i had grown-ups over to my house for a meeting a stuffed them full of raw veggies, horrible store-bought spinach dip, pita "scoopers," hummus and baba ganoush. one of the women at the meeting was sick. she sat next to me and kept leaning in close to whisper things into my ear and breathe her nasty sick germs all over me. i hate that part of winter. i hate that everyone gets sick and they're all too tough and stubborn to stay home and keep themselves away from the healthy people.

02 October 2002

uh, let's see. taking the train home last night, i devised a fantastic plan to swing by the local branch of the major corporate chain grocery store and pick up some ingredients for curry. ha! and who am i to think that they would actually have the ingredients i needed at the massive grocery store smack in the middle of one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city?! in a space the size of two or three football fields, you'd think they'd have room to squeeze in a few bottles of turmeric. and i could tell that they hadn't run out of the stuff--they just never stock it. is there really such a low demand for the spice that they don't need to include it in their spice section? i did a quick search for 'turmeric' in the food network recipe database and there were 170 recipes (that includes the 25 that misspell it as "tumeric") that called for it, and i figure this is just a very small collection of recipes and, therefore, there are probably thousands or maybe millions of recipes that require turmeric.

turmeric is an interesting spice. the plant it comes from is big and leafy and they harvest the fingers of the root for the spice. when whole (see fifth photo down), it looks much like ginger. it turns things into such a lovely shade of orange-yellow. it is a necessary ingredient in curry powder. and is also used in mustard blends and relishes. there are all sorts of other turmeric facts here. its fascinating. really.

and dominicks should stock the stuff!

01 October 2002

what happens when you forget to bring food for lunch, give the last dollar bill in your wallet to a street musician and have a year-end performance review in two hours and don't want to leave the office lest you appear to be a slacker? you drink TWO slimfast shakes for lunch and you steal a 1.5X3" rye cracker from your coworker and call it a meal.

i can't wait until dinner.

last night i had this fantastic sushi dinner at an obnoxiously trendy restaurant, SushiWabi. one of the bartenders was a white boy sporting the david beckham haircut (tres trendy these days!) tattoos up and down his arms. sigh. a boy you love to hate but, really, he was beautiful. wow, and wasn't i surprised to find that the west randolph is the place for up and coming trendy minimalist restaurants. sushi wabi was no exception and let me tell you i was g-l-a-d i was wearing my black pants.