30 May 2014

Make: 29

Pickled Onions via the Ktchn and Mark Bittman's Pizza Dough 

You guys Make Month is coming to a close, and in summation, I feel like I knocked a handful of things off of my massive to-do list, while simultaneously falling in love with the food processor and the smell of lavender oil. Seriously, buying lavender oil for soap making exploits has turned into me sprinkling lavender oil on my pillows at bedtime and sleeping like a true baby. This stuff is better than melatonin.

Yesterday was just a normal day at the office. In my spare time, I've undertaken a super secret time-consuming project that I have a feeling will be very rewarding once it's done, but man, it's a lot of work. Between work work and super secret work, I managed to cram in a workout, and make two pizzas from scratch with Andrew. Bonus, I made pickled onions last night to put on top of one of my pizzas. Win/win.

Mark Bittman's Pizza Dough via MarkBittman.com

Makes: Enough for 1 large or 2 or more small pies
Time: 1 hour or more

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Herbs like basil or oregano if you desire

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube.
  2. Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. (In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.) 
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. (You can cut this rising time short if you’re in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 or 8 hours.) Proceed to Step 4 or wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap or a zipper bag and freeze for up to a month. (Defrost in the bag or a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature; bring to room temperature before shaping.) 
  4. When the dough is ready, form it into a ball and divide it into 2 or more pieces if you like; roll each piece into a round ball. Put each ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until they puff slightly, about 20 minutes.
  5. Top with your favorite toppings, bake at a high temperature (400 degrees) for 12-14 minutes, until crisp and golden.


Quick Pickled Onions via The Ktchn

Ingredients 
  • 1 firm red onion, about 5 ounces 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar 
Flavorings (optional): 
  • 1 small clove of garlic, halved 
  • 5 black peppercorns 
  • 5 allspice berries 
  • 3 small springs of thyme 
  • 1 small dried chili 

Instructions 
  1. Slice the onions: Start 2 or 3 cups of water on to boil in a kettle. Peel and thinly slice the onion into approximately 1/4" moons. Peel and cut the garlic clove in half. 
  2. Dissolve the sugar and salt: In the container you will be using to store the onions, add the sugar, salt, vinegar and flavorings. Stir to dissolve. 
  3. Par-blanch the onions: Place the onions in the sieve and place the sieve in the sink. Slowly pour the boiling water over the onions and let them drain. 
  4. Add the onions to the jar: Add the onions to the jar and stir gently to evenly distribute the flavorings. 
  5. Store: The onions will be ready in about 30 minutes, but are better after a few hours. Store in the refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks but are best in the first week.


My Spring Pizza recipe

Ingredients
  • Harissa sauce
  • Thinly sliced tomatoes
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Radish greens, chopped from radish, cleaned
  • Cooking oil
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Chopped green peppers
  • Shredded prosciutto
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Pickled onions
  • Minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place rolled out pizza dough onto a cookie sheet.
  2. Heat cooking oil (I used bacon fat) and saute radish greens until they begin to wilt. Add in minced garlic and a pinch of nutmeg. Remove from heat, set aside.
  3. Spread a generous amount of Harissa sauce onto pizza dough. Top evenly with veggies, sauteed radish greens, prosciutto, and cheese.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, enjoy!

29 May 2014

Make: 28

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My new tooth :) 
Ahhhhhhh, you guys, I have a new tooth. Well sort of. After my dentist appointment last month (hay-o cavity free!), I was alerted to three teeth that have antiquated fillings in them - one of which was over a decade old. If you know me intimately, I've opened my mouth to show you my hardware. Between the absurd amount of silver, the permanent retainer, and my gum graft scar, you'd probably be grossed out by my entire mouth situation. I have a Franken-mouth. First of all, shout out to my poor poor parents for supporting my terrible teeth and fear of dentists. Y'all I have made it far. Spending plenty of my childhood in the dental chair has left me with a new found appreciation for impeccable dental hygiene and the importance of taking care of your pearly whites early on. Halfway through my procedure yesterday, I found myself thinking, I will probably be plagued with dental issues my entire life, if only I had taken better care of my teeth all of those years ago! 

That said, holy molar!* I had a fracture line on one of my molars from a very old metal filling, and to correct it, the dentist had to carve out most of my tooth and replace it with a composite made of porcelain. He photographed the contours of my tooth, then used a computer program to create a 3-dimensional diagram of my tooth, which was then carved by a machine. While I was numb and waiting, he took me to the back room to see my tooth being made, and though it wasn't quite a Bernini, it was still incredible. I had no idea that I could have a new tooth made my a computer and a machine in a matter of minutes, how amazing is that??

If y'all are looking for a dentist in the city of Chicago, let me know. Mine is right on the Mag Mile, perfect for post-dental treat yoself shopping.

*Phrase stolen from Andrew.

28 May 2014

Make: 27


Last night I crossed another "to-try" off of my extraordinary Meals and Recipes Googledoc. Lentil and chickpea veggie burgers with bright green harissa sauce, topped with fresh tomato and cucumbers. I feel like lately, all I want to eat is raw fruits and veggies, grilled fruits and veggies, and more vegetarian based dishes. I've been experimenting with making dips, and also playing with the food processor to speed up my routine in the kitchen. It's been pretty fun. Making dressings, dips, meatballs, veggie and meat burgers in a food processor might be my new go-to thing. 

Also, is it totally cray that I have a Googledoc to track recipes I want to try / have tried? I feel like I'm constantly bookmarking recipes from the Kitchn and various blogs, now I have them all neatly organized in one place. It's weird and awesome.

Tonight I plan on making Hattie B's coleslaw and pickled red onions to toss with my veggie burger and harissa tomorrow. YUM!

27 May 2014

On Racism, Fear, and Lunch

The strangest thing just happened to me, and I feel the need to write it down maybe as a means of mentally sorting it out, or maybe in an effort to capture things that make me feel gross as they happen to me - to fully comprehend the nature of events in my life as they occur.

I was eating lunch by myself, down by the river walk. It's a sunny beautiful day, plenty of people are out. I'm just a little lady, enjoying some alone time on a bench in a park, reading Bon Appetit, and then a man sits down on the bench across from me. I don't think anything of it, he reclines for a moment, I continue to read and relax. A few minutes pass, he leans forward and asks me the time, I check my phone and tell him it's nearly 1 pm, we both relax. I return to my magazine.

Then a few minutes pass, and a woman a few benches over asks me if I'm going to the company meeting at two. I tell her she must be mistaken, that I don't work with her, and she assures me that yes, I work with her and that I should come sit with her, meet her colleagues, don't I know Connie? Surely I know Connie. I tell her she must be mistaken, that I have a doppelganger in the building, and return to my reading. The man across from me laughs, and in turn, I laugh. But then the woman returned, a moment later, leans down and whispers in my ear, that she's worried about me sitting near this man, the man across the bench from me, that he's giving her a funny feeling. To just be careful.

Until this moment, it had never occurred to me that this was a conversation loaded with assumptions - a strange and stinging racism that I didn't even see. Up until now, I felt perfectly safe with my environment, but this woman's concerns seem strangely tied to race. The man I was sitting across was African American, I am white. He is a man, I am a woman. How we arrived at this moment, from quiet solitude, two strangers exchanging the time of day, to me suddenly questioning my safety and surroundings, I don't quite know. But I know I felt greased by the whole encounter. I feel weird and sad, vulnerable and naive. I picked up my things, picked another bench, not sure who I was doing it for. The woman who was worried about me, society telling me to fear men, or worse yet, to fear races other than mine, or did I move for myself?

I'm still unsure of what happened or why it happened, but I guess occurrences like this are important to make note of. To file away in the part of my brain for me to revisit over and over when I think about myself in this strange world I inhabit.

Make: 23, 24, 25, 26

I'm not really in a writing mood right now, but here are some snaps of things I did and accomplished over the weekend. I mainly drank, slept, and ate. Cake and steak was the food-theme of the weekend. Not picture are the passport renewal application I worked on and the copy of The Goldfinch I finished this morning.

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Rode around the city on a booze-filled trolley
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Watched baseball, ate trash
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Rang in a 21st and 62nd birthday
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Had my bathtub and all of my sinks resurfaced. This one glistens. 
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Went to the bar with my little brother for the first time. He loved the barcade.
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Made and froze 14 cups of vegetable broth

23 May 2014

Make: 22

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Yesterday was pretty sweet. I successfully survived not having hot water in my apartment for four days (go me, bring it on camping!). I powered through my workout with my personal trainer, Mike D, managing to get the hang of backwards lunges and swinging a kettlebell over my head. Andrew and I went on one of our silliest dates yet, eating dinner at a "diet restaurant" (Seasons 52) where every entree is 475 calories or less. We both left hungry, very tipsy on white wine, laughing about how stupid this restaurant was into our Nutella filled crepe at Eataly across the street. Spoiler alert: I wound up eating Annie's mac n' cheese in bed at midnight because I was so hungry.

After our paltry dinner, I hopped on the 66 bus, and he rode his bicycle next to me frantically waving and grinning. It was heart-meltingly-cute. We ended up at the Empty Bottle to empty more bottles (of the beer variety this time), while I nervously geeked out over Cousins, and Andrew reminded me of how "uncool" I really am. After bumping and bouncing to Cousins, loving every second of their female drummer, I went home hungry yet satisfied to be rewarded by hot water, my bed, mac n' cheese, and Parks and Rec. Sweet sweet night.

22 May 2014

Make: 21

A beautiful moment from Step Brothers via Mashable.com

Yesterday wasn't physically productive. I put a letter in the mail that had been plaguing me with guilt for the last week, I went to work, and I finished Slouching Towards Bethlehem (the essay not the book). I also discovered I might actually like a death metal band, so it was a big day for me. But what I think was the most memorable thing about yesterday was that I made two new friends! Rose invited me to attend an open studio event in the Fulton Market loft that shares a home with my beloved Unison warehouse, and I leapt at the opportunity, cuz why not? Our experience of getting to the actual studio space was harrowing, to say the least. We got into a bus accident, we wandered through an under-bridge shanty area, we walked around an entire industrial warehouse, and passed through a gaggle of male models, determined to find the show (and chilled white wine, always with the chilled white wine). Along the way, we picked up a new friend, and I was introduced to Rose's friend Tori.

So to sum up last night in numbers:

1 bus accident
1 disgruntled cab driver
1 glass of chilled white wine
1 fluffy dog
2 new friends

Even if I couldn't tell you in detail what I thought of the show, I had fun along the way. We always need more adventures guys, lots more adventures.

21 May 2014

Isa Genzken Retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

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My little feet on a floor installation outside of the exhibition

Last night I visited the Isa Genzken Retrospective which recently opened at the MCA Chicago. It was free night, the show was so new I could still smell the paint and plaster, a smell I fondly reminisce about and miss frequently since my departure from the Art Institute. I walked into the show knowing nothing about Genzken, and impulse joined a group tour with a docent. We were greeted by her most recent works, a grouping of mannequins dressed in a variety of outfits to create an "environment" near the entrance of the exhibition space. But upon entering the show-proper, we stepped back in time, confronted with Genzken's early works - minimal, abstract geometries, a single readymade, photography, and video installation.

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This self portrait contains two photos of Leonardo DiCaprio
as well as a photo of Andy Warhol. I approve.

Even early on, Genzken was working in a diverse manner. The curators and art historians describe Genzken as "post-medium" in that she works outside of the constraints of a single medium, opting in favor of sculpture, assemblage, film, photography, collage, and painting. But what I took away from the exhibition was that outside of being post-medium, Genzken is an an artist with two distinctive movements, pre-9/11 and post-9/11. The early works are clearly influenced by the minimalists who predate her, and her desire to breakout of that preexisting artistic practice. She experiments with form, color, and abstraction, always with a punchiness and sense of humor to her manner of work. She moves from clean mathematically precise woodwork, to bare bones concrete sculptures that feel both jiltingly cool and oddly disarming. Her work draws the viewer in, through familiar materials, eye-level installations, the use of windows, and quirky feelers that break the "fourth wall" bringing the viewer into the space of the work.

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Pages from her New York scrapbook, images of her being a laid back, goofy, woman who loves New York.

As she moves through the 1990's, Genzken changes locale, falling in love with New York City. Her love for the city makes itself apparent in her architectural sculptures which seem to capture the color, fast-paced, exotic, thrilling danger of living in the city. Many of the works from this period are assemblages full of color and humor, not as painstakingly focused on clean mathematical construction, but rather on capturing the feeling of being in the city.

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Post-9/11 work

But then the horrific events of 9/11 occurred and we see a shift in Genzken's work. The city she loved and called home was under attack, and in response, Genzken's works evokes a darker more violent persona. Splashes of red pop from grays and silver, recalling the layer of ash that rained down on the Financial District when the Twin Towers collapsed. The carnage and destruction was ever present in the mind of the New Yorker, and so it was ever present in Genzken's work. Anxiety, violence, destruction, and war all make themselves apparent in her post-9/11 work. The isolation of being a person in this dark new world is a theme that repeats itself through the final rooms of the exhibition, leaving the viewer with a haunting self-awareness that is so different from the color and whimsy we are greeted with upon entering the exhibition.

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NASA astronauts survey the remains of abandoned
suitcases in this jilting environmental installation.

It is difficult not to walk out of this exhibition with 9/11 on the brain. With the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero this past week, I've found myself engrossed in the various press, critiquing the opening of a museum upon an active burial site. Criticisms of the steep admission price ($24), or of the museum having a gift shop in which one can purchase 9/11 museum "souvenirs" amid a city of people who are still very carefully picking up the pieces from a tragic, confusing, destructive day. Genzken's response to 9/11 still feels fresh and raw, but she finds moments of color and lightness through the tragedy as she sorts through her own experiences from that day, and the days that followed. Her work, in that is it post-9/11 work created by a non-American lends a new approach and different view of a day in history that will forever stain our memories. 9/11 belongs to the world, our world, and she won't let us forget it.

20 May 2014

Make: 19

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You guys, the hot water heater in my building is not working and it wasn't until last night, midway through making chicken picatta that I figured out we were sans hot water. I began to have a mini-meltdown (the same time my butter was melting on my mushrooms, ha!), not my finest moment. But then I got semi-zen when I realized a day or two without hot water is not the end of the world. It was "like camping" I told myself. I will say that it threw a wrench into my plans for washing dishes after dinner, but dinner was great, and we are now officially caught up on Mad Men. Yeah, it was a very productive evening. And by very, I mean minimally (fell-asleep-at-10-pm) productive.

But that doesn't mean I didn't accomplish anything yesterday! I managed to squeeze a trip to Targ├ęt in over my lunch break, during which I successfully grabbed the goods to make what I think will be a heartwarming birthday gift for my padre. Happy early birthday Pops! And I only managed to impulse buy Twizzlers and shoelaces. All in all, a good productive trip, followed by a not productive evening. Now on to figuring out my little brother's birthday present... ah the blessing of family members who share birthdays.


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Bonus make: I made this necklace out of a leather shoelace and beads I crafted at Rose's on Sunday!

19 May 2014

Make: 16, 17, 18

Between Friday evening and Sunday morning, I was a total sloth. I mean, I did things. I watched a documentary that has been in my Netflix queue for a year, and I at leftover pizza, and a slept a lot. I was also back at my internship, and I managed to squeeze some reading in - but for the most part, I was a lazy gal. And it was glorious. So technically, I didn't make anything on Friday or Saturday (unless you count making a biscuit from Bang Bang Pie disappear, then I did make something). 

But Sunday, Sunday I made up for it. I cleaned the kitchen, and finally hung up the Warhol prints I love and cherish. I made pickles (they'll be ready in a week), and I even managed to cram in some crafting hosted at Rose's place. I had lofty goals of making clay beads similar to Kate Miss, but they were a complete disaster. I managed to keep my hands busy, and walked out with a floral crown - which prompted me to make a floral crown "area" in my room. Not too shabby!

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16 May 2014

Make: 15

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Now might be the appropriate time to acknowledge that most of my monthly makes have involved cooking and baking. What can I say, I like to cook. But I feel like the last two weeks of "making" have left me mindful of how I spend my free time. Am I being productive? Do I have something to show for myself at the end of the day? And this shift in making myself do more things has meant I'm actually eating better, and eating diversely. I'm forming this new schedule that revolves around really forcing myself to cook more of my meals - I'm actually beginning to loathe having to pick up lunch during the work week, and I've been getting really good at not having to spend money on lunches!

But dinner is tricky. I have plenty of post-work engagements to work with. Lately I've been structuring my evening around a home cooked meal, and I've found that this shift in habits had been incredibly grounding. It's keeping me close to the hearth (or oven, whatever), keeping me aware of what's in my fridge and pantry, and even making me a bit creative with what I'm whipping up. Last night, I made two pizzas with some things I'd picked up at TJ's. Herb dough, thinly sliced pears, Gorgonzola cheese, and shredded prosciutto leftover from my meal the night before. It took about 20 minutes to make, and now I have lunch and dinner for the next two days. Easy peasy, and totally delicious!

15 May 2014

Make: 14

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Last night was one of those nights where my plans changed and I found myself with a few "me time" hours on my hands, a rare treat for someone who's schedule is pretty much blocked off from now until 2016. I spent the evening listening to records, drinking martini(s), and making myself what I like to refer to as "Eat Pray Love dinner." A meal of simple Italian dishes, canteloupe wrapped in salty prosciutto, and spring green asparagus with hard boiled egg, shaved aged gouda, olive oil, and lemon. It was a divine use of my evening. Completely relaxing, and the perfect way to recharge my batteries.

14 May 2014

Make: 13

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Yesterday I sat down and began to build a budget for the next year. With some upcoming "life changes" I'll need to be a little more careful with my precious dollars, every dollar spent will have to be thought out. I made a new rule for myself when I am thinking of buying a new thing / spending money. It involves asking a series of questions and making a decision before I make a purchase. Is it a want or a need? Can I live without it? Do I already have something similar to it? Why am I thinking of buying this thing? Can I make it myself (I see you brunch). And after I went through this thought process, I decided I'm going to take an extended break from purchasing concert tickets. But that doesn't mean I can't attend shows I've already purchased tickets for ;)

After my want vs. need debate and mantra creation, I attended the Neko Case and Dodos concert at the Chicago Theatre, reminding myself that this experience was a treat. It's something I've been looking forward to for months, featuring one of my favorite bands (The Dodos), with Neko Case, a performer I admire and have wanted to see live for some time. Reminding myself that this was a treat, something to relish and enjoy through and through made it okay that this will be the last big show I buy tickets to for a long while. Building the sorts of habits that involve saving money might mean that I miss out on a thing or two (beware of FOMO), but in the long run, it will be for the best. I might make an exception for a show that is less than $10, but in all honestly free summer concert season is right around the corner, so my FOMO might be at bay.

My make for the day was making the Dodos with Neko Case concert a treat, as well as laying the foundation for next year's budget. Rome Being a grown up wasn't built in a day, so baby steps.

13 May 2014

Make: 12


Yesterday night, Andrew and I attended the Road to Oddball Tour at UP Comedy Club. I was sort of nervous, because the crowd-working walking nervous breakdown Brody Stevens (Enjoy it!) was headlining the set. But it was worth it to see my favorite podcaster, Howard Kremer (aka Dragon Boy Suede) of Who Charted perform his own strange breed of standup. It was a bizarre experience being ten feet from a person I only know through his voice and strange sense of humor, to see his mannerisms, the way he carries himself, how nervous he was onstage. I just wanted to run up there and tell him, it's okay, you're doing great!

Also, a detail I noticed from Brody walking around the crowd, was that his watch was not set to Central time. It's one of those things, like knowing if a person is the type to change their watch when they travel... it made me form a picture of what the "private" Brody Stevens is like, something I could only think about by reading his watch and noticing it hadn't been set to match our time zone.

Either way, last night's make was Making 'em Laugh, and laugh we did!

Make: 11

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Lately I've been leaning towards my inner-hippie. At the start of the new year, I stopped shaving my armpits. Last month, I tried oil pulling for a few weeks. I've switched to hypoallergenic makeup, and have replaced my body and face moisturizers with coconut oil. Oh, and now I'm making my own soap.

My love affair with soap probably started last year when I lived near the Merz Apothecary and worked nearby their satellite location in the Loop. I remember the first time I visited the store, I was overcome by the smell of it. It smelled good, not in the sweet Lush sort of way - but there was an earthy homey scent to the place. Age-old shaving creams, soy based candles, organic bath salts and balms, nestled into dark hand carved wood built-in shelving, for me the experience was likened to that of a kid in a candy store. I spent my money in a calculated manner. Spending minutes in front of the soap display smelling over and over the various $9 handmade soaps from Italy, debating over which bar was just right for me. Was I a fig and goats milk girl, or a bergamot grapefruit? From the first bar I purchased, I was addicted.

Though I relish in these moments and purchases, a $9 bar of soap habit isn't admittedly sustainable. Which is where I got the idea to try my hand at making my own soaps. I know what smells I like (floral and citrus), I know what bases I like (goats milk all the way), and I like to DIY things. So when A Beautiful Mess posted a really accessible tutorial, I knew I had to try it. All in all, I love the way the soap smells and feels. It doesn't give me quite the kind of lather I like, but I might just need to find a different soap base to work with. For $15 I was able to purchase two pounds of soap base, making about twelve full-size bars of artisanal soap. Yeah, that's a bang for my buck.

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Ingredients
10-12 oz of goats milk soap base
2-3 tbsp of coconut oil
2 lemons zested
A few drops of lavender oil
A handful of lavender pods
A handful of poppy seeds

Directions
  1. Zest your lemons into a small bowl, combine with poppy seeds and lavender pods.
  2. Cut your soap base into smaller chunks for even melting. Place in a microwave safe bowl, add in coconut oil, and microwave for thirty second stints, stirring in between. Make sure soap is melting evenly, and be careful so that it doesn't burn.
  3. Once evenly melted, stir in lemon zest, poppy seed, lavender pods, and lavender oil. 
  4. Pour into silicon molds, and wait for three hours until it is hardened completely.
  5. Smell your soap, use your soap, love your soap.
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12 May 2014

Make: 10 / Baby's First Foie Gras Hot Dog

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Thanks for the photo, Andrew
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here on the blog, but hot dogs are a huge part of my relationship with Andrew. We have our favorite corn dogs at Five Star and Bangers & Lace, we ate Chubby Wieners under an umbrella in the rain at Riot Fest, he chastises me for occasionally sneaking a dab of ketchup onto my Chicago-style hot dog, and I chastised him for accidentally forgetting to refrigerate our hot dogs from Falatic's in Michigan. The first time I met Andrew's family, we went to Portillo's and Andrew's father was very impressed that I unabashedly ate not one, but two chili dogs in our meal.Yeah, we take our hot dogs very very seriously. 

After the "earth-shattering" news of Hot Doug's closing in October, Andrew and I decided that we better get our hot dogs in while we can. We blocked off Saturday morning, he made us a thermos of coffee, we armed ourselves with reading material, then walked the mile and a half to Hot Doug's to get in line. We arrived at 10:30 AM, opening time, greeted by a line that surpassed the alley. I optimistically thought we'd only be in line for an hour, but it was more like two and a half hours. We spent the day in the sun, I snacked on a mango chile paleta, read my Joan Didion book, and we ranked every single hot dog on the menu in hopes of narrowing down what we would order.

Once we were at the counter, Andrew animatedly exchanged words with Doug about punk bands I've never heard of, gossiping about live music and sneaking to the front of concerts, while I nodded on eagerly licking my lips at the meal to come. We ordered the famous foie gras dog, a porcini chicken Parmesan dog,  a "BLT" hot dog, a corn dog, and the famous duck fat fries. Yes, duck fat fries and foie gras in the same meal - groundbreaking stuff here. 

And then we chowed down. We chowed down hard. The foie gras dog was really heavy, but truly satisfying. I am glad Doug broke the rules to keep it on the menu, because it truly is a revelation. Creamy foie gras, fleur de sel, truffle mayo, an encased meat cooked to perfection. I don't know if I could eat a whole one myself, but getting to taste the famous dog on a beautiful Saturday afternoon made the wait well worth it. I've been dining at Hot Doug's since its inception in 2001, but have only waited in line a handful of times. The line might be one of the things I will miss the most when Doug's closes its doors in October. Because the line resembles much for than the dog itself. The line is a community of people who gather to dine at a place that makes a basic food something that is complex, rich, and exciting. The line is a place for people who are gathering for the same reason, to have that minute-long interaction with Doug that is impossible to encase, that friendly hello, that disapproval of wanting to put cheese on your duck fat fries, and Doug's ability to make hot dogs interesting, offering complex flavor combinations and unusual ingredients accessible for anyone interested in simply giving them a try.

Doug, I admire your courage to change the way we define the hot dog, and I thank you for taking the time and energy to make a place as special as this. I support you closing your doors, but know you will be missed. If I ever see you out and about, expect a hearty handshake, and even the offer that I may buy you lunch. 

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Make: 9

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I currently have a to-do list that spans from now until September. Just general stuff I need to take care of (re: having decade-old-fillings replaced, renewing my soon-to-expire-passport, lots and lots of fiction to read), but at the top of my list was purchasing a new pair of running shoes. I know right? How was that at the top of my list? Well, the running shoes I've currently been rocking were old. Old as in 2009 was when they were purchased. Old as in they gathered dust for years before I aggressively started wearing them in the last year. I began to notice that whenever my trainer has me do the dreaded mountain climbers, I found myself losing traction, feeling like I was going to slip and fall. Not because I am week or have poor balance (I was both of those things not too long ago), but because my shoes were old and had lost their traction. 

I ran two races in my 2009 puppies, which was awesome. But it was time for a new pair of shoes. I have known this for a while, and on Friday, I finally took care of business. I had told myself I'd get a pair that was black and white, so they'd "match" and I could be the normcore queen of Chicago. But when I saw these bright blue/neon pink shoes, I just knew they were mine. I broke them in on Saturday, naturally walking a mile and half to Hot Doug's. They felt good, lightweight, full of personality and possibility, how could I not want to wear them all of the time?

09 May 2014

This Weekend

White Tulips Kitchen

- Seeing "We Came Together" the parody of the rom-com genre at the Music Box with special guest David Wain
- Baking toasted coconut banana bread donuts / cold-brewing toasted coconut coffee
- Waiting in line at Hot Doug's to finally try the foie gras hot dog, because.
- Making lavender / poppy seed / grapefruit zest goats milk soap from scratch
- Painting a painting
- Maybe... finishing the Goldfinch
- Mother's Day with my dad and his mom

Make: 8

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Remember my "I Don't Paint Anymore" post, where I confessed to a true need to stimulate myself creatively, putting paint to canvas ever so expressively. Here we are, three months later, and I still haven't finished a painting I set out to start oh in... January. What is it about a project like this that seems so daunting? Is it that I am afraid of how simple the image is? Or afraid that I am super rusty (it's been four years since I've done this)? Is it that this painting is not for me, but a gift for someone else? Or that I don't have an easel? Is it that life gets in the way, or that I am full of excuses, because there's so much Parson's porch-sitting to be had?

Either way, I visited the Art Institute last night to squeeze in a viewing of the Christopher Wool show, which I guess didn't really speak to me in any sort of way. Sorry, not sorry. Normally, I dig the big abstract painting, painting that is about painting, for some reason these works left little to no impact on me. But being in the hustle and bustle of a museum space, smelling the pseudo-dampness of the antiquated climate controlled historic building, seeing people sketching in the galleries, I had a rude awakening. As soon as I was home, I got to work. I pulled the forgotten canvas from behind my dresser, pulled out the paint, and applied yet another layer of beige / mushroom / off-white. Blue and orange, let's see what you can do for me.

Bonus make: While I was painting, I had water boiling for pasta - spaghetti with meatballs for lunch. Yum!

07 May 2014

Make: 7

Me pretending I am Oprah to everyone who will listen via People
Today was another giant day of playing catch up. I'm currently in a series of email chains mentoring a future Knox student about the college experience, helping a future Knox grad find an apartment in Chicago, and giving advice to a new Northwestern grad about the realities of applying for jobs in the museum world. My fingers are tingling from all of the corresponding I have done, but I know I would have appreciated these types of valuable connections when I was at that age, so why not be a mentor and friend? So my make today was doling out a whole lot advice, honesty, and wisdom, as well as typing lots and lots of emails.

Oh, and I also scheduled more dental work. Grown ass wisdom-doling woman status over here.

Make: 6

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Yesterday was busy! Between playing catch-up from feeling under the weather on Monday, being firmly entrenched in the final part of The Goldfinch, and squeezing in an impromptu workout with my trainer, I felt as though I was running three days behind schedule with my gas light on empty. Shortly before I hit the gym, I came down with an unreal craving for spaghetti and meatballs. This craving turned into me day dreaming about the kitchen scenes from Big Night and Goodfellas, bringing me fondly back to my time eating delicious homemade polpette in Italia while studying abroad, acting as my one true motivator to get me through a particularly intense workout (squat jumps be damned!).

Resolute to feed myself homemade meatballs, I trekked to TJ's after the gym with barely a recipe in mind. Just give me all of the ground sirloin, please. I wound up throwing leftover kale, some nearly-done bread, and mushrooms into the food processor to keep the sirloin company. The meatballs were pretty good, though they needed more seasoning! And I baked them before adding them to the sauce to melt off a little of the fat. I'm hoping having them sit in the fridge overnight might have added a bit more juice to them, but let's just say this is a work in progress. Either way, eating spaghetti with meatballs at 10 PM on a Tuesday is pretty boss in my opinion. And now I have lunch for days.

06 May 2014

Make: 5

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Andrew and I possess one of the dumbest bad habits. We get into the "let's do chores" mindset, knocking out dishes, laundry, bed-making, feeling super accomplished. But when it comes to putting the laundry away, we are completely terrible at follow-through. Baskets of clean clothes begin to mingle with the dirty, the couch in my bedroom doubles as a dumping ground for bags, mail, laundry, etc. and in the end, I feel like a hot mess every morning when I awake to the view of the things I own jumbled in a nasty heap. 

Two days ago I awoke with this overwhelming feeling that I own too many things. That I need to just let go, get rid of the old. In an effort to begin the sorting process, I was resolute to clean up my laundry and get it put away. It didn't even take that long... maybe I just need to break this bad habit once and for all? Then tackle the "stuff" I am bound to?

Make: 4

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Another product of this weekend was managing all of the loose papers that I'd carelessly been stacking in a pile. Tax return paperwork, insurance claims, unsorted mail, lots and lots of receipts. They all found a home in my neatly labeled bright pink folio. I think I might already be outgrowing this thing, when on earth did I attain such a massive paper trail?

05 May 2014

Make: 3

Saturday was a leisurely day, I mainly made breakfast, picked out a new pair of frames, read, ate burritos, and slept. My makes were molletes and fried eggs for breakfast in bed, and being excruciatingly decisive about the frames I settled on. Mat black titanium, big, bold, simple, beautiful.

Molletes are a wonderful way to use veering-on-stale bread without turning to sickly sweet French toast. They satisfy a need for breakfast, while being totally filling and delicious. We used to eat them growing up, I remember mornings in California visiting cousins and grandparents, awaking to bean-slathered molletes crisped and warmed in the oven. My take on these was a thin layer of bacon fat spread on bread, topped with refried beans, sliced tomatoes, sliced cheddar, melted to perfection in the oven, and topped with salsa verde. Easy, crunchy, and wonderful to eat!

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I went for my annual check-up at Village Eye Care in Little Italy. My eyes look good, and the doctor even told me I look good! I was able to humble brag about all of the working out I've been doing and the un-Sandy-like races I've completed. It was pretty amazing. I tried upwards of 20 pairs, but this was the first pair I gravitated towards. They were a bit of a splurge, but I adore them.
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03 May 2014

Make: 2

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I started Make Month off with a bang, and then I didn't get enough sleep by the end of Make Day 1. Make 2 was basically me dragging ass at work, not even the slightest cheerful about it being Friday, tired beyond consent. Feeling exhausted can lead to the general feeling on uninspiration, but I still needed to find a make. So I decided to put myself to bed at 6:00 pm, take a luscious much needed nap, and when I wake up, I'll have the energy to make something. Which led to my artichoke and martini for dinner.

Artichokes were a thing my mom made for us as a treat. Something that we peeled away dipping into mayonnaise enjoying leaf by leaf. Eating artichokes is oddly ritualistic, and one of the true tidings of spring. I've probably eaten 6 of them in the last three weeks, which is nutty because who sits around dipping and peeling leaves and calls it dinner? This girl.

I found this blog, Oh Dear Drea, which fills my reader with light, color, butterflies, and fresh vegan recipes, it's one of my favorite things to read. She posted an article all about artichokes, how to prep and cook them, making me feel inclined to go home and try making artichokes myself. Pro tip: Stanley's sells them very very cheaply, and they are divine. So does Trader Joe's.

To cook an artichoke, you cut off the bottom stem and top pointy peaks with a serrated knife, toss two inches of water into a pot, with some garlic and sliced lemon (or lime). Bring to a boil and cover for 40 minutes. When the 'tchokes are done steaming, you should be able to pull the outside leaves off with ease. Remove from water, let cool until it won't burn you to devour, and dip in your favorite sauce. I've been rotating between mayo and lemon feta dip.
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