Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I'm still talking about food from the weekend! As part of our dinner at Bon Soiree - since we were chatting up our server - she had us try a sechuan button and described it as "fuzzy TV" in your mouth. Go here to learn more (thanks, Emily!).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This is a picture of a foodie's son

36 years and counting

Happy anniversary to my parents...they were married 36 years today on a beautiful sunny fall day (or so I hear - I wasn't there!). Thank you for teaching us what true love means and for being a strong example for my sisters, me and our husbands.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

One word to describe this weekend: food

I can't believe it's Monday night; we have survived the weekend! Openlands had a great fundraiser lunch Friday, complete with talks by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra and a wonderfully inspiring talk by Rick Bayless. As Rick said, buy local (food); be happy! We had about 700 guests, which was extremely satisfying, given our economy.

On to the weekend...Friday night, after taking Advil for my aching legs (running in heels all day), I started pulling out my party plates and purple napkins. Our good friends Emily and Steve came in late that night and after Northwestern's Homecoming football game Saturday, we hosted a pre-reunion party at our condo that included grilled lemon chicken skewers, Emily's homemade beef wontons, hummus with fresh vegetables, brie en croute - here's one variation - Emily's included fig jam, walnuts and dried cranberries, garlic and cheese crostini and pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin bread
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree
¾ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup applesauce
4 eggs
3½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups white sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons ground allspice
1½ teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup chopped nuts

Blend eggs and sugar. Blend in pumpkin, vegetable oil and applesauce. Sift together dry ingredients (including spices). Combine the two mixtures, blending thoroughly. Stir in nuts. Pour into 2 greased 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pans and bake at 300 degrees F for 1 hour. After removing from the oven, let the breads rest for 10 minutes before removing from the pans.

Sunday night, we went to Bon Soiree in Logan Square. It. was. wonderful. It has changed the way I look at food. The ingredients were seasonal and so fresh - the combinations were eye-opening and intriguing. Jeremy emailed the chef this morning, and he sent Jeremy back a kind note and a list of everything we tasted:
  • Salad of shaved cucumbers, sorrel, kombu-tangerine vinaigrette, roasted peach, heirloom tomato
  • Rabbit & duck confit motoyaki, torched ponzu aioli
  • Kabocha squash soup with tart apples and yuzu citrus, white chocolate and bacon
  • Lobster Sous Vide in wasabi duck fat with five styles of eggplant
  • Braised Veal Cheek, Duck Breast, Chipotle Jus, Parsnip Potato pure with fines herbs, honey mushrooms and brussel sprouts
  • Humboldt Fog, Pomegranate gelee, Thai basil tea puff, malted milk crisps
  • Pear Gallette, housemade butterscotch ice cream
It was expensive but they are BYOB (and are committed to elevating the BYOB experience), which helped. I highly recommend! The chef is incredibly accommodating and invited us into his kitchen when we come back, which we surely will.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh, it's on....

So just to sum up my week:
1. My thoughts are with one sister who is continuing to heal and one sister who is flying to Atlanta this morning.
2. Jack is getting over a cold; Jeremy is getting a cold; and I am fighting not to get one.
3. I remembered five minutes before the serviceman showed up that we were getting our furnace serviced at 7 a.m. this morning.
4. I have 15 chicken breasts thawing in my fridge for chicken satays I'm making for a party we're hosting Saturday.
5. Last night I went to three grocery stores and picked up a farmshare (which I was 2 minutes late in picking up, and thinking they had left already, I actually kicked the door of the church where the farmshare pick-up is located. I am not proud of that moment, especially after my mom reads this).
6. It's my 10th reunion at Northwestern this weekend, and we're hosting overnight guests.
7. It's the day before my Openlands' Annual Luncheon, where we're expecting 700 guests.
8. It's raining.

And I have the biggest smile on my face: My best friend is currently in labor with her second baby. I am so excited for her growing family!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Two Mommies"

I am the oldest of three girls. My middle sister and her husband visited us in Chicago this weekend. Dayna is a great help with Jack - she's always good about coming to visit when I know Jeremy will be out of town and I need an extra pair of hands. When she arrives, I typically put Jack in her arms, and she feeds, bathes, and cares for him the whole weekend. She also does the same for our youngest sister, who also has a toddler son.

Though I may have to cool my relying on her so much...when we went to the Crate & Barrel outlet this weekend, Jack put one arm around each of our legs and pronounced, "Two Mommies!"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Seriously, I'm eating this sweetness up

This post is really just for me...someday when Jack is driving me up the wall, I'll need to read this.

Tonight, my sweet son met me at the door as I walked in from work. He looked at me and then ran down the hallway. "Look," I heard him call back to me. He ran into our kitchen.

Jack pointed his chubby finger toward a picture his nanny Maria had taped to the fridge and then stood proudly next to it. I cried for a second - forgive me - this is the first time someone I've given birth to has shown me his artwork.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday morning cuddlefest

This morning, Jack was standing by me. I thought he was asking to color, so I brought down our box of art supplies and set them on his little blue table. I set out his crayons and drawing pad.

He shook his head solemnly and repeated his request. "Cud-dle," he said.

I was still in my robe, 30 minutes behind schedule with a dishwasher to empty, breakfast to make and work bag to pack. Cuddles? Mommy always has time for cuddles.

I am definitely savoring these sweet toddler moments!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall Fest 2009

We had our good friends Emily and Steve in town this weekend. They will often have guest appearances in this blog, since they love food as much as Jeremy and I do. Emily and I were roommates for a period after college, and she introduced me to my beloved Barefoot Contessa.

Sunday morning, Jack was up at 6:15 a.m., and since we live in a loft, I got Jack and I dressed and we took a walk in the crisp fall air as our guests (and daddy/hubby Jeremy) snoozed. It's always nice to spend some time with my little guy, particularly when he's being cuddly and adorable. We stopped at Caribou Coffee - I can't recommend their wild pumpkin coffee drink - it was just okay, and the calorie count was out of control. But Jack and I had a good snugfest as we shared a blueberry muffin. He was such a good boy, sitting on my lap, batting those long eyelashes he inherited from Jeremy. It makes up for those times he's terrorizing the cat and making general mayhem.

Emily knows how much I love fall, so later that day, she made quite the feast.The main dish was pork loin with fig and port sauce, which she dressed up further by adding dijon mustard and pancetta. Whoa! She paired it with roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette and pumpkin and pine nut risotto:

Pumpkin and Pine Nut Risotto
1 lb fresh pumpkin, seeded
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/3 cups Italian risotto
2/3 cup white wine
3 3/4 cups hot chicken broth
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Clean pumpkin and chunk into 3/4 inch pieces. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan with the oil and sauté pumpkin for 3-4 minutes. Add nuts and continue sautéing for 2 minutes longer. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and set aside.
Add onion to drippings in pan. Sauté until tender; add garlic and rice, stirring for about 1 minute. Pour in wine and let boil until evaporated. Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth, stirring until absorbed. Continue cooking and adding broth until the rice is thick and creamy but still has texture. (About 20 minutes). You might not need all the broth.

Add pumpkin and pine nuts and 1/2 the parmesan cheese to rice. Serve hot with remaining cheese.

I love fall!