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Saturday, November 10, 2012


What can I say about the city of Chicago that hasn't already been said, by those far better qualified to say it than I? Absolutely nothing.

I'm here to merely rhapsodize about what a great time I had, and how much I already miss the food.

Chicago was a long awaited and needed vacation for me and Mr. Icequeen. The first trip to the Second City for both of us. Every meal we had was good...but many were great, and more importantly...memorable. Pictured above are the simplicity of the homemade red hots and sausages from Hot Doug's. There aren't enough superlatives to describe how delicious all of it was. After standing in line for 45 minutes on a Saturday, surrounded by hipsters, we were able to inch our way inside the small but colorful eatery. All the hipsters would usually have deterred us, but the grizzled city police officer ahead of us gave us hope that we were in the right place. If I've learned anything over the years, it's that cops know the best places to get good food, for cheap.

My first,authentic Chicago dog. The snap of the wiener, the pickle, tomato, sports pepper, and that poppy seed bun, oh my! It goes against everything a West Virginia girl believes in when it comes to hot dogs. But change is a beautiful thing, my friends.

The bratwurst dog, and spicy red hot were both ordered with caramelized onions and mustard (yellow, as it should be). But most importantly, and the primary reason for the pilgrimage to Doug's....the duck fat fries. Which alone would have been worth the wait, but paired with the dogs, made for a gastronomic experience that I'd be willing to repeat again and again.

Some may see Hot Doug's as "touristy" and so, choose to steer clear of it. Please don't make that mistake, or you will miss out a spot that I feel truly reflect the true essence of Chicago's food scene. I have found my Mecca.

I want to take a few moments here to say that one of the greatest things about Chicago is feeling the buzz of a huge metropolis, but the interactions with the natives reflect that Mid-Western mentality. Everyone was incredibly friendly to us. It quickly felt like a second home.

But onto the pig!

The love that the husband and I share for all things pork is well known. And so, The Purple Pig was practically created with us in mind, it specializes using the pig from snout to tail. Located on the Magnificent Mile, we decided to stop in for a late lunch (unfortunately on a Sunday), to fill our bellies. The restaurant/bar was standing room only, and there was very little of that, and the noise level was through the roof (yep, I'm old). Much to our delight, the wait for a table was short, and our porky journey was about to get underway.

We began with the Testa, a house made cold cut, the primary ingredient being pig testes. Not bad, but a little greasy. Next, bone marrow with toast. Now we're getting somewhere! Bone marrow is one of my favorite dishes, and this did not disappoint. The fatty marrow, smeared on the thick, grilled bread, was lardy heaven. But I do have to note, pig marrow is not as flavorful as beef marrow, but I'll take what I can get.

The freshly made bratwurst, for me, was the star of the meal. Subtle seasoning in the brat, served over kale and sun dried tomatoes was such a perfect balance of flavors.

There was deep fried sow's ear. The ear cut into shoestring strips, then deep fried until ultra-crisp, served beneath a softly fried duck egg, and over thick cut bread and micro greens with a sharp vinaigrette.

I could keep going, but I don't want to bore you with each and every dish, but I will give you this....

if you go, save room for dessert. The grilled, Nutella, banana, and marshmallow creme sandwich is divine. Just the right blend of sweet and salty to wind up the pork-a-palooza. 

Sometimes all there is to say is.....GO BEARS!!!!!

I could go on and on about Chicago. In fact, enough to fill several posts. But I won't. Because nothing I could say would do the city justice. The food, the history, the shopping, the architecture. So, I will simply take a chance and say......Oh Chicago, you and I are going to become close, close friends.

Friday, May 18, 2012


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which took me about six months to get through. I am a very quick reader, but I just kept laying this novel aside and picking it back up every few weeks to read a page or ten, so it took me longer than it usually would to finish such a small book. I'll try to be as diplomatic as I can about this.......the book doesn't live up to the hype. When it was released it was named one of the best books of the year for 2011. That just shows you how uninteresting the books of last year were.

In all fairness, the author paints a stunning visual picture of the titled circus, detailed descriptions of shows, costumes, meals, and sumptuous Victorian settings are first rate. I just wish she had spent more time and energy on fleshing out the characters and the plot line. The story of a mysterious circus as the venue for two rivals in a mysterious contest intrigued me. But I found myself not caring about the characters and what happened to them. And even though the buildup for the finale is fairly well done, it falls apart at the end, and seems to fly off in all directions with no cohesion.

The movie rights for this have already been optioned. I'm curious to see if Hollywood can do anything to improve it. I say skip the book and wait for the movie.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I know, I know, it's been a while since you've heard from me.

Sometimes when you're life is really good, it can make for boring copy. The reason crazy authors are so interesting to read is because they're writing comes from their disarrayed, pained lives. I don't have that. I lack a raging drug habit, arrays of broken love affairs with psychotic men who I just can't seem to forget, and I don't much care for alcohol. My milquetoast life is great for me, but boring for my followers.

So today is all about random thoughts, random pics and as I'm typing this sentence I have no idea which recipe will be featured at the end of the post. That's about as seat-of-my-pants, death defying as I get.

My tombstone will read....Zzzzzzzzz.

I'm in a maudlin mood so, let's go with that, shall we?

People move in and out of our lives like books. Hint: If you don't enjoy reading you may want to skip this part. There are some books that once we encounter them they are with us always, and we could not imagine our lives without them. And some books we read, don't care for and so we do not maintain much, if any contact with that book. And then...then. Then there are books we think we are crazy about, and we lose track of them, and then, we find them again, we're surprised that we ever let them go in the first place.

I really don't have a point about the people/book comparison, just a stream of consciousness thing I have going today.

The cinnamon rolls are out of a tube. But I like the pic.

I feel that life is just as much about your failures as it is about your victories (maybe even more so). And in that vein, I am posting this.....
It began as a brownie bottomed cheesecake. It's a great recipe that I have made for Mr. Icequeen a few times before. But it turned into an epic failure. Cheesecake on top, raw, unbaked brownie batter on the bottom. It looked like mashed potato covered motor oil pie. It didn't stop him from eating every bite. I don't know what I'd do without that man. He is the sexiest saint available. ;-)

Life has been very strange. I can't think of any other adjective to use. Turning forty has been even better than I expected. Feeling better and looking better than I ever have. More confident than I ever thought possible. Why can't your 20s be more like your 40s? It would make those early years so much less harrowing.

Anyone who bakes on a regular basis usually has a killer chocolate chip cookie recipe in her/his arsenal. And I am no different. This recipe is so nearly perfect and most importantly, adaptable. The dough makes one hell of a chocolate chip cookie, or can be switched up to contain only nuts and dried fruits, and you can even go down the oatmeal, peanut butter or cinnamon highway, by just throwing in a few extra ingredients. It is the Optimus Prime of cookie dough. The bad thing I can say about this recipe is that, sadly, it isn't mine. Nope, I stole it from Alton Brown. I have taken the recipe, loved it, given it a good home, and raised it up to be a cookie to be proud of. You can always depend on this recipe, it will never leave you in a lurch. It will never force you to run to the supermarket at the last minute for preservative filled substitute cookies. It will hold your hand and be there for you, just the way a great cookie should. Behold....The Chewy.

Do not be fooled by their ordinary facade. One bite, and you will be forever faithful. No other cookie will be good enough for you ever again. Don't take my word for it. Test the theory for yourself. But only if you're ready for serious cookie monogamy.


•2 sticks unsalted butter

•2 1/4 cups bread flour

•1 teaspoon kosher salt

•1 teaspoon baking soda

•1/4 cup sugar

•1 1/4 cups brown sugar

•1 egg

•1 egg yolk

•2 tablespoons milk

•1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

•2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


1.Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

3.Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4.Chill the dough for roughly 25 minutes, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutesor until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.