July Chicago Food Swap Recap

chicago food swap

The Chicago Food Swap returned to Wicker Park, and the funky confines of co-working loft Free Range Office, for its July swap. It was a small but lively gathering peopled mostly by returning swappers with a few new faces scattered here and there. Located on the second floor of a converted glove factory, Free Range Office is filled with light and … [Read more...]

Scenes from the Farmers Market

shopping the farmers market

At least once every year, I like to bring my camera with me on one of my early Saturday morning trips to the Oak Park Farmers Market to capture the abundance. Mid-July is a heady time at the farmers market. The tables are groaning with fruit from the Michigan orchards. Stone fruits of all kinds, from cherries to apricots to peaches and plum, … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Find: Fava Beans

how to use fresh fava beans

Some foods really make you work for it. Fava beans definitely fall into that category. Any food that you have to shell not once but twice very much runs the risk of being not worth the effort. Luckily, favas -- which the British call broad beans -- have a distinctive, nutty flavor and a buttery texture that endear them to sophisticated eaters … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Find: Gooseberries

gooseberry recipes

I freely admit that I am a sucker for the most unusual item at the market or on a menu. Sometimes my instinct to try that new-to-me food can backfire, such as the bitter and grassy corn shoots in my salad at the Zingerman's Roadhouse. (Some things are just not for eating, folks.) But nevertheless, I press on. So it was that I passed by all the … [Read more...]

A Weekend in Ann Arbor

Where to eat in Ann Arbor

It had been just over twenty-four hours since we arrived in Ann Arbor and I simply could not eat or drink another thing. Clearly, I had failed as a professional eater. Bon Appétit has a feature called The Big Fat Weekend where one of the editors spends a weekend eating and drinking his or her way through a city and then writes an article filled … [Read more...]

Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic-Lime Reduction

best grilled vegetables

It's the lazy days of summer and I am feeling lazy too. I barely want to lift a finger, let alone make dinner. Luckily, it is also grilling season. That means that I can enlist my husband to make dinner. Thank heavens. Here is what we ate for dinner the past two nights. Saturday: grilled chicken sausage, grilled vegetables and tabbouleh. … [Read more...]

Picnic Fare: Garlic & Herb Roast Beef Sandwiches and No-Mayo Potato Salad

what to pack for a picnic

JR is on the swim team this summer. That means that, in addition to daily practice after camp, he has weekly meets that start around 5 pm and end, well, end several hours later if we're lucky. Zuzu does the swim team during the school year. Those meets start at 6 am and end, well, end several hours later -- if we're lucky. Our mistake, plainly, was … [Read more...]

June Chicago Food Swap Recap

food swaps

For a foodie event, there is hardly a more prestigious location than Sur La Table, the beloved kitchenwares emporium. So when Ali Banks, the resident chef at Chicago's swanky Sur La Table store on Michigan Avenue, reached out to me about hosting a food swap in her kitchen, I was falling over myself to say yes. While Michigan Avenue is inevitably … [Read more...]

Strawberry Balsamic Basil Ice Cream

strawberry basil ice cream

It's high strawberry season in the Midwest. Farmers market tables display row upon row of ruby-red berries capped with jolly green stems. At my house, we've already indulged in strawberry shortcake, strawberry rhubarb pie and I've put up nine jars of a strawberry-rhubarb- jalapeño jam. While I am certain that my husband would not have objected to … [Read more...]

Culinary Tour of Devon Avenue

chicago culinary tours

Does your city have ethnic neighborhoods filled with markets, shops and restaurants where recent and not-so-recent immigrants can recreate a little of their homeland here in the United States? Most cities do. All over America there are Chinatowns, Koreatowns, Greektowns, Little Saigons, Little Odessas and Little Italies. Some of these neighborhoods … [Read more...]

Mariano’s Makes Summertime Living Easier

summer pasta salads

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. #MyMarianos #Collective Bias Summertime and the living is easy. Nowhere is that more true than Chicago. Winter is brutal and spring inevitably a wet, cold disappointment, but summer in Chicago is glorious. The days are warm and sunny; every weekend boasts a different … [Read more...]

Summer Cooking: Spicy Caprese Pasta

summer pasta dishes

I'm hot. You're hot. She's hot. We're hot! Sounds like a bad wedding band, right? As fond as I am of party hits from the 80's, today I am actually just talking about the weather. It went from cold and rainy to sweltering and humid overnight in Chicago. Yesterday was the first day of the year where I had absolutely no interest in eating hot food. … [Read more...]

Elegant First Course: Cold Pea Soup with Mint

pea soup recipe

The appearance of shelling peas at the Oak Park Farmers Market on Saturday meant that I could make one of my all-time favorite recipes this weekend. A recipe that is only in play for a few weeks each year: cold pea soup with mint. Luckily, this recipe is also a favorite with my soup-loving husband, so when I put it on the menu for Father's Day, he … [Read more...]

Sautéed Turnip Greens with Green Garlic

how to use hakurei turnips

There is a saying in cooking, or maybe gardening, along the lines of: what grows together, goes together. As spring turns into summer, and farmers markets all over the country begin to overflow with fresh, local fruits and vegetables, it can be helpful to keep that axiom in mind. If you are not sure how to use your farmers market, or garden, … [Read more...]

Macy’s Picks America’s Grilling Guru

grilling guru contest

I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Culinary Council. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.  Are you a Grilling Guru? I definitely am not. While I reign supreme in the kitchen, my husband is the Grill Master in our house.  And he does … [Read more...]

Father’s Day Dinner: Lighter Chicken Parm

lighter chicken parmesan

Is it a bad sign that when I made my husband's favorite dish for dinner this week, he was terrified? Had I bought something expensive? Was the car totaled? There had to be some bad news. Why else would I make chicken parmigiana on a random weeknight? (The truth is, I was just in the mood for it myself. Also, I bought a handbag.) Yes, my … [Read more...]

How to Make A Watermelon Basket

fruit salad in a watermelon basket

Turning whole watermelons into adorably shaped bowls for serving fruit salad is a Pinterest staple. Having once carved a round baby watermelon into a bloody brain for a second grade Halloween party, I felt like I needed to redeem myself by making one of these less macabre watermelon shapes. JR's first grade class Author's Tea was on the agenda for … [Read more...]

Rhubarb Jam Bars with Ginger Crumb

rhubarb recipes

It absolutely kills me that my husband doesn't like rhubarb. WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE? Rhubarb is tart -- not cloyingly sweet like strawberries can be. (Oh please, don't send me hate mail because I dared to say that strawberries are too sweet. I like strawberries just fine, but I think we've all had a few overly sweet strawberry desserts in our time. … [Read more...]

Food Dialogues Coming to Chicago June 10

food dialogues chicago

Today’s post is sponsored by Illinois Farm Families, for which I serve as a Brand Ambassador. You can read more about my role as a Brand Ambassador here. Have you ever bought a certain food brand because you liked the story of where and how the food was produced? Maybe you were inspired to buy  a certain cheese because you read an … [Read more...]

Farmers Market Find: Green Garlic

how to use green garlic

If you have visited your local farmers market this spring, chances are you have seen a lot of spring onions. But are you sure it was green onions that you saw? Could it possibly have been green garlic? The two crops look very similar. And, of course, they are related as onions and garlic are both members of the allium family. (Other cousins include … [Read more...]

Restaurant Review: Sepia

sepia review

Today, May 26, is my twelfth wedding anniversary. My husband and I got married on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. I wrote more about my wedding, and how we served corn pudding at dinner, in this post. For today, I only bring up the fact that it is my anniversary because I am reviewing the restaurant we went to … [Read more...]

Cookbook Review: Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

lemon chess pie

Some say that pie-making is a lost art. I have found, however, that there are countless men and women toiling away anonymously in their kitchen, keeping this quintessentially American art alive. I was at a party the other night and got to talking with one of my neighbors. The party was a dessert party so the subject naturally turned to our favorite … [Read more...]

How to Get the Most out of Shopping at the Farmers Market

how to shop the farmers market

This Saturday, my beloved Oak Park Farmers Market reopens for the season. It can't even tell you how excited I am. Zuzu has swim practice across the street from the farmers market from 9-10:30 am and my plan is to spend that entire hour-and-a-half browsing at the market. Ninety minutes at the farmers market is not too much for me. As a home … [Read more...]

May Chicago Food Swap Recap

Chicago food swap

The Chicago Food Swap had its May event this past Sunday, May 18, at Green Home Experts, a "green" lifestyle boutique in Oak Park. This was the third time that owner Maria Moran opened her store's doors to the Chicago Food Swap and, just as before, it was a perfect location for a swap. On a sunny spring afternoon, Maria's garden center was a … [Read more...]

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

national chocolate chip cookie day

Today, May 15, is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. I don't usually pay attention to these made-up food holidays but I will take any excuse to write about, or make, chocolate chip cookies. I think homemade chocolate chip cookies are just about the best dessert in the world. Willpower and restraint go out the window when I am presented with a … [Read more...]