Chicago-Day Two

November20

We woke bright and early, at least D and the Frenchman did. They ventured out to find us coffee as Boo and I moved a wee bit more slowly. We were surprised that the downtown place we had chosen for brunch had an hour and a half wait. We decided it must be worth waiting for if so many people were willing to do so. Luckily we were across the street from Millennium Park so we wandered around there.

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Right after I took this photo, there was a round of cheering and applause. I just missed capturing an marriage proposal!

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The bean was a perfect place to enjoy the fall sun and people watch.

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My guy joined me for a while our lovely companions stood in line to get me a ticket for the afternoon at the Chicago Art Institute. By the time we returned to the restaurant we were very hungry indeed.

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The skillets were chuck full of savoury treats. Portions in Chicago are very large. Once again I couldn’t finish what I ordered.

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A special treat were these cinnamon and brown sugar pancakes. The Frenchman had chocolate chips in his.

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While the rest of my gang walked the entire Riverwalk, I was appreciative that I was able to walk right past the line up to one of my favourite galleries. I had visited the Chicago Art Institute a couple of years ago and knew exactly what galleries I wanted to revisit.

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I am a lover of Degas and especially appreciate his ballerina studies. I would have liked to be a ballerina but God had other things in mind. When I tested the water one year, the ballet teacher would say “pull that butt in” and I would reply “I am, I am”!

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I admired other Impressionist works

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and then accidentally happened upon these masterpieces. This first one by Vincent van Goh of course

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and this second one by an artist I had to look up.-Sebastino del Piombo of the High Renaissance.

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We reconvened again and headed home for a little rest before we went to check out the brew pub of Revolution beer (the beer being well known by my craft beer-loving family). D was wise enough to order this delicious wedge salad.

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I opted for these decadent hand-cut fries and a delicious burger that tasted like homemade.

Once again we ventured home at a reasonable time to be refreshed for the piece de resistance the next day.

Kath’s quote: “Non cooks think it’s silly to invest two hours’ work in two minutes’ enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, well, so is the ballet.” – Julia Child

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

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Remembrance Day 2019 Road Trip-Chicago

November19

Here I am apologizing again for my tardiness in posting. The good news is that I have been so busy traveling (and working to offset those traveling bills) that I have not found enough hours in the day. But here it is a cozy Monday afternoon, my clients are all taken care of and I feel like writing!

We took our annual November weekend away with Boo and the Frenchman. They were aware of all the plans that D had made but until our anniversary on the September long weekend, I didn’t know a thing. D got it into his head that we should go see the renowned “Hamilton” in Chicago before their run was done. I had thought that we might wait until it was in Toronto but I understand that tickets there are already going very fast. So D made all the plans and I just had to sit back and enjoy.

I got picked up at work on the Thursday evening of our trip. Since we were almost at Bishop Grandin, we were out of the city in no time. We stopped for a quick supper at a new chicken place in Grand Forks and other than that it was full speed ahead.

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D made all the Air BnB arrangements for us and of course we arrived in St. Cloud in the dark. We were surprised as we looked through our kitchen window the next morning to see our neighbours-the cows! The only other real thing of note that was while trying to find a Panera for lunch we discovered Wisconsin Dells! We have heard all about it, but never been. Of course it was completely deserted in November.

As we got closer to Chicago the traffic got worse and worse. We stood completely still on a number of occasions. The good news was that our Chicago Air BnB was just off the freeway. We did have a tricky time finding it as the neighbourhood was a mashup of one ways and it looked like they were replacing sewers in the area. But we did eventually find our co-ordinates, lugged our bags in and then almost immediately headed out to find Chicago deep dish pizza.

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D and I had tasted the sensation at Giordano’s Deep Dish a number of years prior. When we had a stopover in Chicago en route from Paris to Winnipeg, we checked our luggage and hopped into a cab to enjoy the one closest to O’Hare. Our Air BnB host recommended Lou Manalti’s as her top choice so we were happy to compare notes. As I searched on line for their menu, I had a chance to read their colourful history including the fact that a car had crashed into their dining room on their opening night in the 1970’s!

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I liked everything about the family restaurant right from their colourful menus, to their wall of living plants to their family sized cesar salad with a refreshing addition of diced tomatoes and huge shards of Parmesan.

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As our server sliced up the pizza pie, ooey goeey strings of cheese stretched from the pizza to our plates. There are very few varieties of deep dish on their menu and that is because the ingredients must provide natural layers that can be stacked one on top of each other (more like lasagna). Ours was assembled with the bottom layer being pizza crust (you could eliminate this layer if you wished), cheese, an entire disc of sausage meat and then a delectable sauce. I ate one delicious, decadent piece and was done for the evening. We kept the rest in our fridge at the Air BnB and I think the guys enjoyed it on other occasions.

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We took this selfie as we departed and headed out for beer from a local brewery, groceries and wine. All were conveniently located across the street  from each other.

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I took this turquoise woodcut shot at one of our stops. By that time, we were tired out from the early start that morning and ventured home to ensure an early start the next day.

Kath’s quote: “Life is mostly pain and struggle; the rest is love and deep dish pizza”.  Authour unknown

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

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Community Barbeque

October1

As you know if you frequent this space, D and I are very busy with family, the lake, church and travel. Last winter, we really felt as if we had lost touch with our neighbours so we tried to rectify that. The Saturday after new year’s eve we invited our immediate neighbours over for a cup of good cheer and some nibbles. We had such a good time all together that we pledged to extend the invite to a larger circle in the summer. It is decidedly not the summer here in the middle of the Canadian prairies, so we almost missed the opportunity. Or should I say D did because the community barbeque that we held this past Saturday was entirely his vision.

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He found out at our winter gathering that the family across the street were from Argentina. D and the gentleman of the house started chatting about meat grilling and it turned out to be both their favourite topics. So the two conspired to get out their barbeques and treat the neighbours to the resulting fare. Both had live charcoal barbeques so when the coals were lit there was a pleasant waft drift over the neighbourhood.

The invite said 3 o’clock for kids activities and our enthusiastic young neighbour was in charge. She had made a hop scotch on the sidewalk, set up face paints, bubbles, had freezies available for the kids and the piece de resistance-a bouncer! Some of the kids wanted their parents to go and see what the offerings were but soon the kids started to interact with encouragement from our enthusiastic young neighbour. When it was time to depart there were tears of resistance but I am getting ahead of myself.

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We had asked for pot luck contributions of side dishes and dessert and the resulting array was a thing of beauty.

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So too, the barbeque offerings-slow roasted chicken drumsticks and pork loin in a bun. Both were prepared with patience and love and the results were nothing less than sensational.

D received many thanks for putting the event together but without the other barbeque master, the child whisperer, all the food and the muscle offered for take down, it wouldn’t have been such a success.

D and I often sit in our front yard in the evening with a glass of wine. In truth our back garden is even nicer but we intentionally sit out front to engage with the neighbours. We are blessed to live in a part of town where there still are sidewalks and front yards and we don’t immediately enter our house from an attached garage (actually-we don’t even have a garage!) In 2019 North Americans seem to spend too much time indoors watching Netflix and on our tablets. This has got to change or we won’t know our neighbours! So the next balmy day, pull out the lawn chairs, or park the barbeque in the front yard and see what develops.

Kath’s quotes: “We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next door neighbour”.-Gilbert K. Chesterton

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALove never fails.

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The Frenchman and a Real Dutch Oven

September24

Recently while we were at the beachhouse with Boo an the Frenchman we had a delicious meal that was painstakingly prepared.

The latter is an exceptional cook. We get to enjoy his creations on a regular basis as we rotate the preparation of meals among us when we are at the lake. He also does most of the cooking for his family and is an exceptional baker. On this day, he said he was a little behind schedule at 9:30 in the morning. He typically has his fresh bread dough commence its rise before this time.

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It wasn’t really a beach day and so when he started to prep the rest of the supper, we gathered round the fire pit to observe.

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The most crucial piece of equipment for the meal was his authentic Dutch oven. Not the Le Crueset variety that I love the muted colours of, but a cast iron one with an old fashioned handle that could hang on a spit over a fire. In addition, the lid must have a deep ridge around its circumference. More about that later.

The Frenchman is one of those Renaissance men-a big burly guy, who is a craftsman and artiste, often tears up we talk about his family and loves the outdoors and mastering survival!

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When we first met him he would astonish us that he knew how to make chainmail (I didn’t even know what that was, but here’s a link), as well as mead and medieval food recipes. We often spoke of having a medieval feast one day in the back yard but somehow school, work, weddings, home-hunting, career changes, etc. etc. filled in the time.

But on this day, we got a taste of his ancient skills.

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He tossed a beef roast in flour and seared it over a high heat.

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Later he added veggies, herbs and a beer (good thing we always have lots of 1919 in the beer fridge) and stock to create a brine for everything to wobble around in. Perhaps this doesn’t sound out of the ordinary to you. The thing is this was accomplished while he made his own live charcoal from the firepit which he first cradled the iron oven onto. The pot had to be constantly be moved away so that more coals could be heaped upon the bed.

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And then there came a time where he would also put the live coals on the lid of the pot. This is why the lid had to have a deep ridge so that the live charcoal could stay in place as he constantly tended to the coals.

At dinner time, he pulled everything out of the dutch oven to rest and used the remaining stock to make a savoury mushroom gravy.

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In the mean time he put the risen bread in the oven in a pot too. This was so the the inside would bake along with its crunchy crust. The bread had 4 ingredients and was sublime!

This meal could only be eaten outside so the Frenchman cut up big wedges of the bread, we poured more beer and tucked in!

Kath’s quote: When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”-John Ruskin

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Love never fails.

 

 

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Argentinean Barbeque

September16

If you live on the Canadian prairies, you will know that August didn’t exactly feel like summer. Friends, neighbours and family have been consoling themselves by saying “maybe we will get another little burst of summer in September”. Well, we are in the middle of that burst.

Yesterday might have been a beach day to make up for the ones that we never enjoyed while on holidays. But we had a commitment in the city, so we drove in from the lake early Sunday morning. In the afternoon Doug enjoyed the weather while cutting the lawn (and a neighbour’s too). Typically his reward for yard work is  to plunk down in a awn chair with an icy cold beer. Since a neighbour across the street was cutting his lawn simultaneously, D asked him over for that beer. Our neighbour did one better, he said:” It is such a gorgeous day, why don’t you come over for a barbeque?” D was quick to say yes as our neighbour happens to be from Argentina, a country widely known for their barbeque meat.

I threw some veggies in the oven to roast an D packed up some beer.

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When we arrived we found Adolfo hard at work. He had pork, chicken and sausage all on the barbecue. The latter being a type that we had not seen before. The coals were live and when the lid was closed, there were two chimneys coming out of the top. Soon after there was a knock on the back gate and neighbours John and Jodi were joining us at the lovely table set out in the garden. They had just returned from Italy and since we leave in a month’s time, we were glad to chat.

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First up was a taste of pork. It was perfectly prepared to a succulent doneness and the salt and spice combination (a secret) were just to our liking. The bites of chicken, sausage and beef were equally delicious.

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By this time all the meats had been placed on the table and I added our vegetable dish. I had roasted sweet potato and beets in some truffle salt that had been gifted to me.

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The meal was lightened up with a crisp salad of apple and walnuts contributed by the back lane neighburs.

By this time the strings of patio lights had come one and we lingered over wine and beer with stories of travel and neighbourhood living. It was the perfect night.

Kath’s quotes: “Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.” James Beard

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Lover never fails.

 

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