15 March 2013

Virtual Moodboard

Inspired by my new main squeeze, Emma (love ya B), I decided to make my own "virtual moodboard" ie things that make me feel groovy and should be reflected on. In addition to my daily "three positives from today" document, I think reflecting out in the open on what's good with the world is immensely helpful in being a happy sane not P.O.ed sun seeking human. These last few weeks have had me feeling like a squirrelly squirmy squeem about all sorts things in life, namely this thing called "the future" and the demise of iGoogle and GoogleReader (BRB CRYING). But having ittle bitty things in my universe to cheer me up in the form of .gifs, projects I make for myself, and all sorts of delicious things I've snacked on has completely helped get me to the weekend. Thank you things in the universe that make me happy. Namely .gifs that make me laugh, enthralling New Yorker articles, hidden stashes of Christmas Oreos, reruns of SATC, birthday Rookie Crowns, karaoke, and gchat.

Here's some good things to propel me into the weekend.

1) How I feel about things regarding my future:

 2) Self explanatory.

3) This is my current favorite jam

4) Current food craving, baked potato, not sure why.

4) Last week's Stefon / spring break tips from SNL. I have watched this more times than I want to share.

This Weekend

- Guy Ben-Ner opening at Aspect Ratio
- Deb Sokolow opening at Western Exhibitons
- Post-work drinks with a friend
- Gym (!)
- Finish New Yorker article on the Bolshoi Ballet
- Make a big pot of something for the week
- Reflect on some new life goals
- Laundry
- Watch/Vlog S1E3 of Seinfeld

10 March 2013

08 March 2013

Intl. Women's Day in .GIFs

It's Friday, it's International Women's Day, it's Women's Month, and it's the millennium of the .GIF. That said, I'm proud to be who I am, of a gender that I think is wonderful, worthwhile, groovy, and nothing less than stellar. Let's celebrate ourselves with Rookie crowns, song and dance, the never ending push for equality, and wonderful beautiful joyous .GIFs of some of my all-time favorite ladies, fictional AND real.


Miranda July // Lena Dunham // Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope // Katy Perry // Michelle Williams // Ellen Degeneres // FLOTUS Michelle Obama // Kristen Wiig // Taylor Swift // Connie Britton as Tami Taylor // Queen Bee // Tina Fey // Tavi // Shoshanna // Dame Maggie Smith // Hillary Clinton // Meryl Streep

This Weekend

- Hosting Emma & Ben for dinner
- Scoping out karaoke 25th birthday locale with E & B after dinner
- Singing my heart out at said karaoke joint
- Gym!
- Lunch with Jenny
- Trying another of the 50 Best Sandwiches with Dad
- Watching / vlogging S1E2 of Seinfeld

07 March 2013

2) PB&L at PQM

Dad and I are eating out way through Chicago Magazine's 50 Best Sandwiches! The PB&L at PQM was lights out! 2 down, 48 to go!

Our second sandwich of Chicago Mag's 50 Best Sandwiches (2012) was the PB&L from Publican Quality Meats. Both Moriah and I have posted entries on Edie and Andy about our ongoing love affair with PQM, so it should not be surprising that one of their sandwiches ended up on the best-of-sammy list. My only real commentary is that given that Mo, my father, and I are all blatantly crushing on PQM (and some of their servers...) why aren't more of their sandwiches on the Chicago Mag 2012 list? I feel like PQM consistently puts out some of the best sandwiches in the city - if not the country, so why not more love from Chicago Mag?

The PB&L is short for pork belly and lamb, all of which are beautifully combined into my favorite form - sausage. Real talk: is there nothing better than a well-made encased meat? As a life-long Chicagoan and bonafide hot dog lover, this sandwich really has everything I could want and more. A flavorful sausage, a spicy/tangy seasoned red sauce, crumbled feta, and chopped cilantro atop a well made bun, served with a spicy house pickle and my one-true-vice; chips. Yes, the dog is a bit big for my mouth, and yes it might be difficult to eat "gracefully" but I'm a lady who loves her dogs, and this dog is top dog. Ya feel me?

Final rating: I give this sandwich three point five stars. It's a delicious dog, made on site, served hot and ready. It's not pretentious, but it's also not really a sandwich... right? I mean does a hot dog really fall into the sandwich category? A square is a rectangle, but not all rectangles are squares. I feel like as far as sandwiches go, this hot dog is more of a rhombus. A delicious rhombus, if you know what I'm sayin'?

Easy Dinner // Fish Foil Packets

I'm not sure what your grocery store habits are, but I am never one to go to the store without a list. In fact, I am so into lists, that I have been known to sort my lists based on what section of the grocery store the item is located in, because I am a cartographer of most grocery stores in Chicago and have the blueprint of said grocery stores imprinted into my Type-A brain. Deal with it.

But last week, the universe decided to throw a challenge at me. Not as complex as anything out of a mystery box on Iron Chef, just the odd task of having to go to Marino's, my beloved, sans grocery list or even an idea of what it was I would be prepping for dinner for two. I know, shoot me. As my partner in crime and I wondered hungrily and aimlessly through the store, it occurred to me that we both had smart phones, and that I had a whole bunch of recipes I'd starred in my inbox ripe for the picking.

 I remembered seeing these darling little fish foil packets on The Kitchn a couple of weeks ago, and I thought to myself, by golly does that look delicious AND easy, not  to mention light and dare I say... healthy? Picking up the ingredients was a cinch, and what's even better about this recipe is that you can basically improvise with whatever you have in your fridge, pantry, and spice rack. We went with a few fresh fillets of Tilapia, spinach, tomatoes, red onion, and thyme with fresh squeezed lime. Prep time was under five minutes, cook time was under twenty. While the fillets are in the oven, you can put together a pretty little salad, whip up some rice, or watch Jennifer Lawrence's amazing post-Oscar's press conference. Because why not?


Serves two

1 pound fish fillets, about 1-inch thick
2 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
1 quarter red onion, thinly sliced
20 or so cherry tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 lemon, cut into 2 wedges
Salt and pepper
Olive oil or butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Check the fish over and remove any pin bones. Divide it into two equal portions.
  3. Lay out two sheets of aluminum foil, each about 12-14 inches long. Pile a large handful of baby spinach leaves in the middle of each piece of foil. Lay one fish fillet on each bed of spinach. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Lay a few slices of onion over the top of each fillet and scatter the cherry tomatoes on and around the fish. Lay two sprigs of thyme over top. Give each packet a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil (or a pat of butter).
  5. Fold the sides of the foil inwards around the fish. Then fold in the top and bottom of the foil and pinch them closed, creating a neat package. Set them side-by-side on a baking sheet and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the fish is opaque.
  6. Open the packets carefully to avoid spilling the juices. Eat straight from the packets or transfer to a plate with a slotted spatula. Spoon some of the juices over top. 
  7. Eat immediately.
 Serve with crusty bread, a light salad, or brown rice.

06 March 2013

Seinfeld S1E1: The Seinfeld Chronicles aka Good News, Bad News

Hi, I'm Sandy, I'm 24, and I've Never Seen "Seinfeld"

My name is Sandy, I am 24, and I have never seen an episode of "Seinfeld".  Everyone in my life is completely shocked that I have made it this far without having ever watched an episode, so I've decided to embark on my journey through the show and will be "vlogging" my thoughts, opinions, and responses to this cultural staple. Here's to the laugh tracks, the awesome bass riffs, and any epiphanies I have along the way.

1) Longman and Eagle's Wild Boar Sloppy Joe

Wild Boar Sloppy Joe via Weezer Monkey
As I write this post to you, I am currently pulling a Hannah Horvath - stuffing my face with a cupcake while simultaneously blogging about food I already ate. But I live in a post-GIRLS universe in which one should never apologize for doing anything while thoughtlessly consuming a butter-coma-inducing cupcake, so here we are.

As I'd previously mentioned, my dad and I have embarked on the goofy task of trying to eat all 50 of the sandwiches on Chicago Mag's 50 Best Sandwiches in Chicago (2012 edition). The first sandwich we dove into was hardly a sandwich at all - more of a big ole plate of sweet and tangy mushy wild boar sloppy joe from Longman and Eagle. Full disclosure, I was nursing an awful hangover and being in a darkly candle lit bar watching my dad drink a craft beer was not exactly helping, but I will say that this sandwich helped to bring the roses back to my cheeks as I spoon-fed it to my mouth in a very baby-foodie manner. Did I love it? Not entirely. It was kind of hard to eat, and pretty damn messy. But having lived in Tuscany for a few months, I do love a good wild boar meat sauce, and this was definitely on par with some of the cinghale I ate while abroad. I also thought the sprinkling of fried onions and sage leaves were a really nice touch adding a crunchy texture that was much appreciated. Also: I love fries, and these ones were no exception to the rule. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I thought the fries, which were lovingly cooked in beef fat were even better than the sandwich itself!

That said, I think Longman and Eagle is a really great restaurant. We had an exceptional salad and a really beautiful scallop special that negated my feelings toward this sandwich. The interior was warm and cozy, and my dad only made a handful of slightly embarrassing jokes about being the oldest guy there and forgetting to wear his "hipster plaid shirt."

Final rating: I don't know if I would order this sandwich again, but I will say that I would love the recipe for the meat sauce to top on a big bowl of tagliatelle pasta.  I give this sandwich two stars (out of four) because it wasn't really a sandwich... but it did taste pretty good.

05 March 2013

David's Sweet Potato Soup & Homemade Croutons

Y'all we are reaching that point in the season where everyone is sick of their closets and sick of eating winter things. That lull between winter and spring when we realize that we are pretty much sick of everything, our bodies craving warmth, sunlight, and sweet beautiful fresh local produce. Please, correct me if I'm wrong. And from this rut comes the profound issue of what I like to call "what's for dinner, please don't make me pick" in which I literally ask my Twitter followers what I should eat.

A good friend and my college dorm "neighbor" David, jumped in to the rescue having trained professionally as a chef. And via a series of Tweets and texts, he was able to help me determine what to eat, how to cook it, and by golly made an honest woman of me. We agreed that sweet potato soup would do the trick, being that it is warm, filling, and relatively easy to make, given that it's baked potatoes put in a pot until things get yummy and fragrant... easy enough, correct?

And now for a confession: I have never baked a potato before. You read that correctly, I baked my first sweet potato at the ripe old age of almost-twenty-five, and all I can say is, HOLY COW BAKED SWEET POTATOES ARE A REVELATION. In addition to baking my first potato, I made croutons from scratch which were an excellent compliment to the mushy baby food consistency of this soup (sorry David, didn't have the time nor energy to push this broth through a fine mesh sieve). Now enough about me, and on to the recipe...

Thanks for the dinner rec @dffinger
wine & caprese not included

1 yellow onion
5 stalks celery
4 cloves garlic
6 sweet potatoes (foil for baking)
6 cups veggie stock Heavy cream (optional - sub in Greek yogurt if you like)
Homemade croutons and olive oil for garnish *

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Wash sweet potatoes, poke generously with a fork, wrap in foil, place on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for an hour (or until tender)
  3. Dice onion, celery, and garlic. Sweat in a pot with butter or olive oil until translucent with salt, pepper, and chili flake.
  4. Add baked sweet potato and enough veggie stock (about six cups) till loose enough to process in a hand blender or food processor.
  5. Pulse in small batches till smooth (adding cream if need be).
  6. OPTIONAL: Pass through strainer to remove any bit of fiber. Return to clean pot, at 50% stock & 50% cream until reaching desired consistency.
  7. Garnish with a bit of olive oil, fresh croutons, a dollop of Greek yogurt, etc.
* Homemade croutons recipe (to be made at the same time as potatoes are baking)
  1. Cube about three cups of bread (I like fancy crusty bread)
  2. Melt 3 TBS of butter
  3. Toss cubed bread in melted butter, season with dried garlic, onion, oregano, Italian seasoning, etc.
  4. Put in roasting pan at 350-400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until crunchy, buttery, delicious, and irresistible.

04 March 2013

Books I Read: The Bucolic Plague

Truth: I have been so behind on reading (and *ahem* finishing) books in the last few months, that it's been a futile cause to try and keep up with blogging about the experience upon completion. But to keep myself as on-task as possible, I decided it would be a fun and worthwhile experience to join a book club this year. Upon moving to Lincoln Square, I've done a fair amount of exploring and fawning over the neighborhood. I discovered the most charming little book store, the Book Cellar which combines two of my loves: books and wine. Each month they offer a book club to the public, posting the books online well in advance to give us ample time to read through the book of choice.

The March book was The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers, a memoir written by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. This book was exactly what I needed. If that makes any sense? What I mean by that is that I've been slowly reading (two years and counting) An Alphabet for Gourmets by MFK Fisher, which is a pleasure and a challenge all neatly wrapped into one, and I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've invested two years into this book, made it to the letter "W" but still I needed a break for something lighter and well, a bit more contemporary... so I signed up for book club, purchased my copy, and dove into The Bucolic Plague with an appetite for something fun and light.

This book's main message to me is pretty much "BE YOUR BEST SELF" and "RELATIONSHIPS ARE HARD". Shout out to Emma Marie, because she knows exactly what I'm talking about. The two protagonists, Josh and Brent, a wonderful healthy vivacious couple living their lives out in Manhattan, buy up a farm and 60 acres of land in Upstate New York because YOLO, and basically this memoir follows them around the farm as they try to figure out just what it is they are doing and why they are doing it with little to no experience. I found myself LOLing over and over as I read this on the train, because it combines a whole bunch of things I love: 1) honesty, 2) farm animals, 3) beautiful descriptions of food, and 4) poop humor. This book definitely had its moments that I glazed over, but the overall spin that Kilmer-Purcell puts on his experience as a "gentleman farmer" is truly that you only live once, do whatever the eff you want, if you want to buy a farm and learn how to grow your own food, then just do it. If you love someone, don't forget to tell them that you love them. If you don't can your tomatoes, you won't have tomatoes for winter. And if you truly hate your job, figure out what it is you love, quit your job, and spend your time surrounding yourself with worthy projects and experiences that play to your skills and assets.

In light of the economic recession (yeah you're still here, I feel you), there's so much all of us can be doing to live out our lives in the best possible way. I might not be making a ton of money or living the 100% glamorous life I had envisioned for myself, but hot damn am I having fun. And what I'm taking away from this book is that my journey is only just beginning. I'm still figuring out what it is I want out of my life, and what strange projects I'm going to take on. I have to find my farm and 60 acres, buy it, and immerse myself in it, so to speak.

And on that note, I ask you dear reader, what is your farm? When will you quit your day job to pursue your strange dream on a whim?

My Weekend, In A Nutshell

This past weekend was definitely entirely lazy in nature. I spent a bulk of it in bed catching up on sleep, reading blogs, finishing my book, and indulging in some unhealthy food decisions. Yes it is perfectly acceptable to eat Chinese food and hot dogs in the same day. The last week was a bit of a nightmare in the office, with the opening of the spring exhibition season came the neverending string of exhibition openings, lunches, dinners, galas and my existence of perpetually writing event bios for staff. I like to joke that I'm living in the "Bio-dome" but 1) no one understands that joke, and 2) it's not nearly as funny or glamorous.

That said, I'm so happy to have washed my hands clean of last week, and I am ready to take on today (March 4, obvi). My weekend, in a nutshell was everything I needed to recover and reenergize. Spent a bulk of it in really good company wandering around the West Loop, laughing and exploring.