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Category Archives: Chicago

Separation Anxiety

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Oh, hello blog. I hope I did not lose any of my dedicated readers (all ten of you). I was on vacation down in the land of the South and then I got lazy for a while when I got back. Inexcusable, I know, but that’s my excuse.  The plan to visit the ‘Rents for 4th o’ July had been in the works for a while, but it wasn’t until about 2 weeks prior to departure that we realized we would have to do something with Moriarty. I immediately set out to scour Yelp for all the dog kennels in Chicago. Some were straight up ridiculous (“Upgrade your pup to an executive suite for just $20 more per night”) and almost all had at least a few horror stories in their reviews. The anxiety began to set in.

I probably wouldn’t argue if you said that we are attached to our dog perhaps to an unhealthy level, but that’s just the way it is. I convinced myself that leaving him for 4 nights would send the clear message to him that we no longer loved him and had abandoned him forever. Now, I don’t know if a dog would even be able to think at that level, but that didn’t make the worry any less. We finally settled on a boarding joint recommended by a friend, that was modest in price and “suites,” but seemed to have a dedicated and caring staff, with plenty of Facebook pictures to prove their dogs aren’t chained to trees all day and fed rats. We dropped off Arty a couple hours before take off, and I would be lying if I said the look he gave us as he walked down the hall didn’t stick with me the entire time we were gone. I know, I know, I make myself sick with this ridiculousness, but I can’t help it. Texas, meanwhile, was great. We enjoyed the company of family, and more importantly, visited more than once the home of the best donuts IN THE WORLD.

When we got back into town we rushed to the kennel, cursing the Chicago traffic the whole time, and ran through the doors, envisioning some sort of movie-scene leap into arms reunion. As it was, it took them about five minutes to get our dog away from his puppy friends, and when he saw us, he was clearly a little confused. This just confirmed my fears that he had believed he was abandoned forever. Actually, after the 30-minute car ride home, he slowly came around to remembering us, and becoming the same great/crazy pet he was when we dropped him off.  Pictures from the kennel proved he was perfectly content while we were gone, and all the anxiety was probably just one-sided.

On a terribly sad note, we got word last night that Moriarty’s best friend from the neighborhood, a 9 month old bull mastif puppy, that was about 12 times his size, died of some sudden onset crazy respiratory virus. We were sad all night, and still are, even though he was not our dog. It also put into perspective that it is not embarrassing (well, not THAT embarrassing) to worry and fuss over and love our pup like we do, because if that had happened to him, we would be heartbroken.  That is all, I will be back to blogging about bacon etc. tomorrow. I apologize for the absence. Here’s a bonus lovely picture of Chicago skyline taken by The Wife to make up for it.

Puppy Pride

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This weekend was the Pride parade in Chicago. We live pretty much adjacent to the most fabulous part of town, so of course went down to check out the festivities. We decided to take the pup down and observe from a slight distance. I came away with a deeper understanding that no matter race, nor gender, nor sexual preference, everybody loves a corgi.

Moriarty kissing Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a boy, but we're okay with that.

Pretty sure he likes the attention.

He is pretty hugable. It's true.

 

I'm not saying we have the cutest dog in the city, but I'm not saying we don't.

Chipotle float was by far the most modest.

 

Super Exciting Married Couple Date Night!!!

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If you know the Wife & I, you know we really know how to party it up big time (can’t you tell by the “bigs” Potbelly’s sandwich above?) It appears as though summer or Spring or whatever it is now has decided to stick around Chicago finally and that means we can get out and walk around the hood without having huddle under an umbrella or put on gloves for the first time in about seven months. What, then, does a young married couple living in the big city do on a Saturday night you wonder? Well it starts off with dinner at the finest hot sandwich joint in town, then leads down the street to the newest froyo shop, of course.

There are literally three frozen yogurterias within 20 steps of each other along Belmont. The award for worst name goes to “Tang Cups,” which we obviously passed by to head to the newest and bestest “Forever Yogurt.” All sarcasm aside, it is pretty damn amazing frozen yogurts. Pictures is Lavender honey/cake batter with berries and Intelligentsia coffee/Red Velvet cake yogurt with heath and butterfingers. Yeah, I said it. RED.VELVET.CAKE.YOGURT.

It is nice just to be able to able to walk around, even if it’s hard to make it half a block without someone fawning over our pups and even when the Yankees are in town for the whole weekend and our hood is filled with extra annoying New Yorkers. Hey, jerks, just because our city is cleaner and our pizza is better doesn’t mean you have to come into town and talk louder than all get out as you walk down our streets. Sorry if anybody reading is a New Yorker, but really, get over yourselves.

How do you finish off such a rowdy and thrilling night?

Finishing up a series that we have taken three years to get through somehow. I swear, if things don’t turn out well for Bubbles, I am going to cry and then punch something. Who knows what late night craziness might be in store afterwards? Maybe a second trip to the froyo shop, because we are crazay like that.  I hope your weekend is just as enjoyable.

**giggle**

 

 

¡Oye! Quieres Chilaquiles?

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Hola, bienvenidos a mi blog. Since Wife & I are both from Southern Arizona, we are constantly bitching to each other and to anyone who will listen about the lack of quality Mexican food out here in the Midwest (all Rick Bayless restaurants excluded.) I spent a good day researching and tracking down some legit tamales for traditional Christmas eve dinner. I don’t end up cooking Mexican food very often, but when I do, I guarantee it is better than 90% of the sludge served at overpriced cantinas around. Today, we are making Chilaquiles. Traditionally a breakfast, specifically hangover breakfast, Mexican dish, it is very flexible in terms of ingredients, so you may have had the dish before and it may only slightly resemble this dish. Since we often have breakfast for dinner, there is no reason not to have a Mexican breakfast for dinner, cierto? ¡CIERTO!

Ingredientes (for two portions):

*4 eggs

*6 corn tortillas

*as much chorizo as you would like

*1/3 pound monteray jack cheese

*1 avocado

*sour cream

*cilantro

*3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for fryin’

*red sauce. Now, if you want to get complicated, look up a Mexican red chili sauce recipe. If you want to be quick, do as I did and take half a jar of Frontera Chipotle salsa and pure with 2 garlic cloves until very smooth.

Bueno, vamanos. 

Cook up your chorizo until it is…cooked.

Fry your tortillas in hot oil. I prefer to leave them somewhere between soft and hard. You are going to be pouring sauce on them anyway, so fry to your liking.

Heat your sauce.

Finely chop cilantro, slice avocado.

Fry your eggs, in the chorizo grease, obviously. Do not flip, but when they are partially cooked, top with shredded cheese and then put under broiler until cheese is melted.

Compose as such:

Spread some sauce on plate, place 3 tortillas atop sauce. Put chorizo on tortillas, then eggs atop chorizo. Cover with remaining sauce and top with avocado, cilantro, and a generous dollop of sour cream.

 

We All Lose Our Marbles From Time To Time

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Yesterday was the fateful day we took Moriarty to get fixed. He seemed to handle it pretty well and doesn’t appear to hold any resentment towards us. He has been laying around lethargically more than usual, and looking longingly out the windows, but I am just going to attribute that to his pain meds. The best part of the whole ordeal was my  interaction with the front desk tech at the vet. It was like 7:30 in the morning and maybe I was a little sleepy mumbley, so the conversation went like this:

Him: “What’s your last name?”

Me: “Ford.”

Him: “Okay great we have your file here, if I could just have you sign this surgery liability waiver and we will get you checked in.”

Me: “Sure.”

Him: “Now, this is a grade one procedure, so we don’t expect to have to do any extractions, but if we do need to we will call you prior.”

Me: “Excuse me? No extractions?”

Him:  “Well yes, it’s a grade one dental procedure so there shouldn’t be any need for extraction.”

Me: “I wasn’t aware of any dental work with a neuter.”

Him, confused: “What did you say your last name was?”

Me: “Ford.”

Him: “Oohhh I though you said Bowe. Yes of course, here’s your file. Castration it is, no dental surgery.”

I’m glad he made the mention of extraction because there would have certainly been some confusion when I came to pick him up and his balls were still intact. Things I can only imagine would be even more awkward for Bowe.

As a reward for his bravery, Moriarty’s kennel was expanded while he was in surgery so he now has more room to stretch out, which he was really happy about, even in his cone of shame.

 

In other news, Chicago has been incredibly hot and humid the past few days and the small window A/C units we have aren’t getting the job done. It was time to take emergency cooling-off measures:

Yes, I do have my own aluminum extra wide Slurpee straw, problem?

 

Ice Cream Sunday: Michigan Blueberry, Vanilla Bean & Waffle Cone

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We were at the farmer’s market yesterday and got a recommendation to “check out the blueberry guy.” We did check out the “Blueberry Guy” and learned a lot about blueberries. He was selling frozen blueberries, but not just any frozen blueberries.  These blueberries (or bloobs, as we call them in this household,) are from Michigan and are from the first pick, where as most other frozen blueberries are generally the last pick of the season, after all the best ones have been sold off fresh. Flash frozen, these bloobs are top-of-the-line frozen Plantae Vaccinium. So we bought ten pounds.

And on the perfect 85 degree day, what better way to utilize these bloobs than with an Ice Cream, which for the season, will be a weekly feature on this blog, so I present you with the second installment of Ice Cream Sunday:

Get the goods:

*2 cups heavy cream

*1 cup whole milk

*1 vanilla bean pod

*4 egg yolks

*2 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

*2/3 cup sugar

*1 pinch of salt

*A couple of waffle cones

Let’s get creamy:

Split your vanilla bean and scrape out the innards. Add to milk and salt, and warm on stove. When warm, add the bean itself and cover the pot. Let infuse for at least an hour.

Whisk your egg yolks, then add to the milk mixture, after removing vanilla bean. Heat until the mixture thickens just slightly.

Pour your cream into a large bowl, then strain the milk mixture into the cream and mix well.

Cool in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight, whatever works for you.

Take your bodacious bloobs and put in a small pot. Heat until they have mostly all popped and it is simmering, then remove from heat and refrigerate.

Get your waffle cones and smash ‘em up as big as you like ‘em.

When you are ready, mix blueberries with your ice cream batter, then pour into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions from there. Again, if you are reading this and don’t have an ice cream maker, but have a KitchenAid stand mixer, the ice cream maker attachment does as good a job as any dedicated maker out there.

You can fold in your waffle bits when the ice cream is done, or just keep on hand and sprinkle over each serving. This turned out to be surprisingly simple, and the Wife and I both agree, the best ice cream we have made so far.

Perfect for the season, a dash of nostalgia for Michigan, and you can convince yourself that the antioxidant quality of the berries counters the heavy cream and egg yolks. Life is all about small pleasures and deluding yourself from time to time.

This should be in a museum somewhere.

I Scream. You Scream. We All Scream For Milk Chocolate-Stout-Pretzel-Bacon Ice Cream.

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It’s almost June, and after completely skipping Spring, Chicago is refusing to accept the oncoming Summer.

 

So while it is storming like crazy outside, I am defying the gods and making ice cream anyway. An ice cream that is actually pretty perfect for a day such as this. We got the ice cream maker attachment for our stand mixer as a wedding gift, and it has probably gotten more mileage than any other gift. If making ice cream is new to you, but you are interested in getting started, I highly recommend starting with David Lebovits’  “The Perfect Scoop” and from there you can tinker and experiment as you wish. Go crazy. With that in mind, I present to you:

Milk Chocolate, Stout, Pretzel & Bacon Ice Cream

What you need:

*Ice cream maker

*Candied bacon chunks. “Hey, how do I candy bacon?” you ask. Sigh, must I do everything for you? 

*Pretzel bits

*4 ounces quality milk chocolate, chopped

*4 egg yolks

*1 1/2 cups heavy cream

*1 cup whole milk

*1/2 cup sugar

*8 ounces stout of your choosing. When in doubt, go Guinness.

*2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*Pinch of salt

What you do:

Heat milk, sugar, and salt until warm

Add egg yolks and heat on medium until it thickens slightly. You do NOT want scrambled eggs here.

Pour mixture in a large bowl over your chopped up chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted

Add cream, stout & vanilla.

Chill your mixture for at least a few hours. From here, it depends on your ice cream maker. The stand mixer attachment is about as easy as it gets, you just need to make sure your batter is thoroughly chilled and the bowl is completely frozen. If you have something else, do whatever those instructions say to do.

Make your ice cream, but wait until it is done before you fold in your bacon and pretzels. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of pretzel crumbs gritty-ing up your ‘scream.

Now, I know some of you may be skeptical about this ice cream flavor combination but you are just going to have to trust me. Think about it, do you like bacon? beer? pretzels? chocolate? Okay, then what’s the problem? If you have any further doubts, the following image should erase all your concerns.

How could anything possibly be wrong with this?

Bachelors and Bocadillos

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The Wife is out of town for work/a family visit for five days and that means I have the run of the place for the first time since gettin’ hitched.  Time to turn this condo into a bachelor pad. Problem is, I don’t think I was very good at being a bachelor when I was one.  It’s basically going to equate more talking to the dog as though he is people, singing along to Bruce Springsteen at louder levels, more cereal for meals that aren’t breakfast, and all the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens I can handle.

Let me pause here and educate you peeps about this amazing television phenomenon for those of you who may not know. It’s basically guys like this:

Dude looks legit.

laying out how aliens have come to Earth throughout history and done everything from collect DNA samples from all species (the real Noah’s Ark), to building the pyramids, to helping the Nazis build a time machine. Now here’s where it gets interesting. These are like hour and a half long episodes and I start off chuckling at the ridiculous speculations and exaggerations of these nut jobs, but I will be damned if by the end of each episode I’m not starting to think that maybe aliens have used ultra powerful lasers from satellites to manifest hurricanes in the ocean so large that they caused the ice age (actual segment of this show). Where was I? Oh yes, I catch some every now and then but The Wife can only stomach so much so I plan to get my fill of crazy this weekend.

The real question is what to do about food? See, I do most  all of the cooking in the house, and do a fine job of keeping us nice and “Midwest fit,” but I don’t really like cooking for one. Sure I would be happy just to alternate Chipotle and Five Guys every night, but I do have a little bit of self control.  So I basically eat whatever is easiest and on hand. Tonight that means a bocadillo. See, when we were in Spain for our honeymoon, it seemed like everyone was always carrying around little sandwiches. On the trains, on the beach, on the street, everywhere. It only took a couple of days before we realized these were not sandwiches at all, but bocadillos. Essentially, they are a small sandwich filled with jamon, maybe cheese, and maybe some tomatoes or roasted red pepper if you want to get really fancy. It is pretty much the perfect meal for any time of day, especially for a country so enamored with ham, and by the end of our stay, we too could be found in the park with a couple bocadillos wrapped in foil shoved in our satchels. I guess this is a recipe so here you go:

What you need

*Baguette-ish bread, something with a crust to it.

*Cheese. Chevre goes beautifully, a manchego would be more traditional. Anything you have that isn’t Kraft singles will do.

*Jamon serrano, iberico, prosciutto, whatever you can find. Trader Joes prosciutto here. How much jamon, you ask? That depends how Spanish you are feeling. Today, I am feeling very Spanish.

*Sundried tomatoes.

What you do

Slice that bread and put it together, man, you never make a sandwich?.

“But, what about sides, ” you ask “Just the bocadillo?”

Sides? What does this look like to you? A diner? You want a side, you put some extra damn jamon on the plate and call it a side.

This, people, is one of many reasons why I believe Spain to be the best food country in the world. More on this later.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a date with the pup and Ancient Aliens. Did you know that they came down and harvested most of our stores of gold to use in their own technology!?

"What happened to the strong female presence in my life?" He thinks to himself.

Hooray for the NRA (not that NRA).

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So the National Restaurant Association shindig was in town this past weekend, taking up the enormity of McCormick Place with all sorts of excellent (gourmet cheeses galore!) and not-so-excellent (drinkable miso soup as a coffee shop beverage) products and displays. Highlights included a talking robot bottle of Heinz ketchup that harassed me about my fedora, meeting Chicago chef/icon Rick Bayless, and throwing away the cup of drinkable miso soup. Sure you may have to feign interest in some edible spoons or crazy, flavored, milk drinking straws, but it is worth it for all the samples plus free schwag.  And by schwag, I mean mostly branded tote bags, of which I now have a closet full.

Bold claims were abound. The cake was decent.

Chicago luuurves their Rick Bayless.

Walking around drinking 3 ounce beer samples can be tiring.

I just wish it were a real bottle and they let people swing at it like a Pinata.

Well, I guess I will blog.

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Let’s keep introductions short. For those who don’t know me, I’m a 20-something, living in Chicago with another lovely 20-something, that I happen to be recently hitched to. Seeing as my journalism degree these days is worth about as much as a local paper (and not even the Sunday edition,) I have taken to freelancing, and let’s just say I have plenty of  free time on my hands. So here’s a little blog to share my many kitchen exploits — I don’t know who wears the pants in our relationship, but we all know who wears the apron, our life in the best of the Midwest, maybe some photographs here and there, and plenty of obnoxious bragging about our adorable corgi pup. Enjoy.

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