Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chicago Foodie Holiday Gifts 31 ideas for December

Okay this list will continue to grow but here is my idea list in no particular order for farm to table, farm to bar, artisanal foodie gifts for the holidays!!!

1. Burton's Maple Syrup - Really good maple syrup is hard to find and not something that most people will really search out to buy for themselves so what a great gift, locally made, really tasty maple syrup. Personally, I prefer Grade B because it is a little higher in nutrients and when I try to do the master cleanse, maple syrup, lemon juice, cayenne and water to flush out all the holiday excesses, it tastes better.

2. Spices from the Spice House - Spices perk up a meal without adding calories. I think people don't realize the difference between fresh spices and the supermarket variety or the difference herbs mixed with salt make. Spices are great hostess gifts, stocking stuffers and I firmly believe you can never have enough spice in life!!!!!!!

3. Pastoral Artisan - Gift basket, cheese, wine, gift certificate to wine/cheese classes. How can you go wrong shopping here. Do happy people eat cheese or does cheese make people happy? Greg and Ken the owner's of Pastoral are the Chicago source for all local cheeses within the region, they know the makers, they have visited everyone, and Pastoral offers so much more, like really yummy sandwiches. You cannot go wrong giving clients, friends, family a gift basket from Pastoral. They put the A in showcasing artisanal products.

4. Hum Spirits- What if you were told, there is a spirit out there that you will likely be hangover free and is good for your health and tasty at the same time, hello, welcome to Hum Spirits..Hum is high in antioxidants, cardamom, ginger, lime and hibiscus. It is the new world of botanical spirits...I love this world and it is definitely something your friends, family may not know about, so something new and it will be a hit to whomever you gift it to.

5. Rare Bird Preserves - ELizabeth Madden the chief cook and bottle washer of Rare Bird Preserves puts so much attention and focuses on all the littliest details to make these preserves so incredibly tasty. If you ever heard her describe the process of making these preserves including making her own pectin, you would not believe she prices these delectable spreads where she does. Yet again, you can never have enough preserves to put on breads, meats and cheeses. Another great gift, stocking stuffer or house present.

6. Nicole's Crackers - Who can miss the purple and white boxes of Nicole's crackers, they are made locally in Chicago and being the carb lover that I am, the boxes disappear very quickly. Nicole gives each cracker a witty name and description, and she is always coming up with ideas for new products. Who does not want an extra box of crackers? Yet again another great gift that you can't go wrong with. And Nicole, herself is such an interesting person who constantly recreates herself and that personality is in her crackers.

7. City Provisions, CP Deli - So much to say, so little time... CP Deli is ground zero for almost any locavore product in the Illinois universe and the merchandising is beautiful and we haven't even gotten to the food. Every product listed here plus more can be found there, plus my favorite salad dressing in the universe to date, Aquaranch Basil vinaigrette dressing, and so much more. This is just a have to go, locavore destination in Chicago, even if you aren't you have to go....that's all I can say and if you want to give the foodie in your life something you both can do together, buy a gift certificate to one of Cleetus Friedman's Farm dinners, I still have not gone for full disclosure but it is on my bucket list of locavore/foodie things I have to do.

8. Marion Street Cheese Market -When in Oak Park go to Marion Street, when not in Oak Park, make Marion Street a stop and their dining room keeps getting better and better, Marion Street talks the talk and walks the walk when it comes to artisanal cheese and commitment to all things sustainable and local plus they have a might fine menu to guide you to wine/beer and food pairings, gifts, gift certificates, another place you just cannot go wrong.....

9. North Shore Distillery- Oh, I love local spirits, nothing like having a still at your home, the more you read about their story and hear about their spirits and the energy, love, and care that goes into their products, absinthe anyone? You cannot go wrong giving this as a gift and making it a must have spirit when you go out.......

10. Koval Spirits - Another husband /wife team another distillery, (who knew?) in Chicago and KOSHER as well. Ginger liqueur includes hand grating ginger.....Speaking of care, taste, quality of ingredients and did I say KOSHER????????????

11. Flight Chicago - Okay for the ultimate foodie gift, and for the insider Chicago foodie welcome to Flight Deck Chicago. The gals behind this great company bring their joy and enthusiasm to the ultimate insider foodie gift, have a tour, meet with the chef, have a private tasting of top locavore/foodie Chicago restaurants and get behind the scenes........ Okay I am a populist but also an elitist and this is for the ultimate Chicago foodie experience.......

12. The Olive Tap - I am obsessive about condiments and this is THE place to go for the absolute low down on oils, vinegars and much more. Long Grove is a a little foodie oasis and if you can't get to Italy to buy from the source then this is the place to be. I can't always justify stocking up on the olive oils I really want but I absolutely would love them as gifts, one short cut to great food is great ingredients and this is an absolute destination location to buy them, that is if you aren't going to Italy or France in the next month.....

13. Salted Caramel - Oh the mix of sweet and savory, a great snack food that everyone will love, popcorn and bacon among other combos.....another local Chicago product that will never be turned down if you give it to someone........

14. Katherine Ann's Confections - Katherine Ann sells her chocolates at a lot of the local Chicago farmer's markets, hand dipped chocolates, need I say anything more??

15. Slow Food Chicago Membership - Give a gift of a membership to Slow Food Chicago to get on the mailing list for a slew of reasonably priced events at local restaurants, involvement in the local food community, learn about child health and nutrition and just get a huge glimpse at what is going on the food activist community in Chicago and in the world at the same time eat well and drink well, where can yo go wrong??

16. Green City Market Membership - Get on the GCM's mailing list and get an entree to many of the farms that chefs in the Chicago locavore community source from. Expand your vegetable, meat, cheese and dairy knowledge and get access to so much great local product and learn from the many chefs that support the market as well...a locavore must.....

17. The Season's on Henry's Farm - Is your locavore/foodie an avid reader, wanting a local Chicago foodie read, or is your loved one just wanting a great read period, well, The Season's on Henry's Farm is a story about love of family and a great guide to the cycles of vegetables and livestock and what to cook when if you live in Illinois and learn a lot about growing, cooking the local produce of Illinois.

18. Chicagourmet Membership - Give a gift of a membership to ChicagoGourmets, a group organized around the great chefs of Chicago, get a years worth of dining events each with a slighlty different angle and theme and experience the restaurants in a very unique unable to duplicate way. Find out about new places and meet new people, what is not to like about new place, food and friends?

19. River Valley Ranch Mushrooms, Tomato Soup, Portabello Chili- RVK's are not only the mushroom people, they are the mushroom product people. For a person like me who likes the whole area of umami tastes, RVKs is the place to go. Yes, it would be great to make your own portabella chile but their's is fresh and already made. I just loved quality, jarred, local products and RVK keeps coming out with more. Most of their products are only available online, farmer's markets or selected stores(most of which are listed here).

20. Tomato Mountain Salsa - Another company whose products are made locally and jarred. I love the TM chipotle salsa with scrambled eggs. There are very few calories in salsas so it is a win/win food product that you cannot go wrong giving anytime of the year. Another product that spices up your life, woo hoo!!!

22. Nice Cream - Hand made, small batch ice cream sourcing local, seasonal ingredients, yum....

23. Prairie Fruit Farm - I call Wes and Lesley the happy goat cheese people, they love their goats and they make cow cheese as well, honey and host farm dinners. Their cheese is very yummy that is all I can is a must buy cheese!!!!!!!!!!! They both are so committed to quality products and sustainable is overwhelming...

24. Nordic Creamery Grumpy Goat Cheese - Personally I love the butter he sells at the Green City Market, it acts like clarified butter and for a lazy cook like me, that is a beautiful thing when it comes to sauteing things up quickly. I have gravitated to their grumpy goat cheese which tastes like a cheddar cheese, their cheeses are mostly available at the GCM and other farmer's markets.....

25. Dirk's Fish, Whitefish salad, Crab salad, a gift certificate to one of their cooking classes and in my mind there is only really one place to buy fish in Chi-town and that is Dirk's. You have to get on his monthly email list you will laugh and learn at the same time and really learn a lot about fish. I have still not gotten over my phobia about cooking fish in an apartment without great ventilation but Dirk is moving me in the right direction. And I know longer have champagne tastes, I have King crab tastes, I really never liked crab until I tasted King Crab, it didn't taste like crab, or is there really no crab like King crab???

26. Crop to Cup Coffee - One more obsession I have coffee and like with most things I truly believe, you get what you pay for. We have a lot of great local coffee companies in Chi-town but I have drunk the C2C coffee and it is incredibly tasty...I have still to learn more about where it is sourced, how it is roasted but for the coffee afficionado in your life, C2C is a must and speaking about sustainable and committed the more I read and learn about C2C the more I am astounded.....

27. Templeton Rye - Okay this is another product that I gush over. Yes it is made in Iowa but when you read their newsletter, read about what a family business it is, read how it is made you will gush as well...Yes.. one more reason to drink spirits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yet another product you cannot go wrong giving...

28. Seedling Fruit- One of their fruit mustados, their tart cherry cider, or any of their other fruit and fruit/savory spreads. Yes, yet another company that makes all these small batch condiments, most of which you can only find at the GCM and other farmer's markets. I am a lazy chef and if you add a sweet savory quality condiment to a simple roasted or baked meat it turns a so so meal into a fantastic meal....this is a great gift gift for someone who loves food but does not have a whole lot of time to cook.

29. Snookelfritz Ice Cream - Yet another ice cream that defines artisanal. The flavors that come through in all her seasonal ice cream flavors just cannot be repeated except by Nancy Silver the artist behind the ice cream. She can be found at the Green City Market and it is just "to die for" flavors.

30. Flora's Confections Flora's Pate de fruits and other confections are yet another incredibly delicate, seasonal, not to be repeated product that you cannot go wrong giving for any occasion. Flora is yet another mulit-talented artisan who is also the producer of the film, Kings of Pastry.

31. Kinnikinnick Farms Arugula or Basil Pesto - Yet another multifaceted farm, I love their arugula pesto which I can buy at the GCM, I love all things green and it works with pasta, on meat, as a tasty snack....they also sponsor farm stays but yet again, I am a lazy cook and a jar of their arugula pesto makes for a quick, yet healthy tasty pasta dish....

31a. Heritage Prairie Honey or a Gift Certificate to one of their farm dinners - Heritage Prairie is one of the "go to" places for farm dinners in the Chicagoland area. They are experts at in and their different honeys, including lavender is a hard to find, very tasty little gift to anyone.

31b. Mead from Wild Blossom Meadery - Who knew that mead is alive and well in Chicago thanks to Greg Fischer from beverage art. He sources his honey from hives all over Chicago and on tops of some of the hotels in the downtown area.
31c. Cooking classes at the French Pastry School or at Kendall College - Giving cooking classes as a gift is a win/win situation for the giver, you get to be the tester. Both of these Chicago instituations are incredibley active in giving back to the community and supporting the local Chicago food community and you will learn a ton at the same time!!!!!!!!!

31d. A subscription to Edible Chicago magazine - Okay, this really should have been number one on my list, but a subscription to ECHIC gives you a window to all things local in Chicago, exposure to incredible writers, inspiration, ideas and inclusion into the growing nationwide Edible Communities.....

31e. Capriole Cheese - Yet another and incredible local farmstead cheese....Available at the GCM and the cheese shops listed above, yummy, yummy, yummy..all I can say is so much cheese, such little time!!!

31f. Learn Great Foods - Buy a gift certificate for one of these farm dinners that are throughout the midwest and there are great little food books on the website as well that focus on specific vegetables and give help with how to prepare them and include recipes from some of the farmers....

This list will be continued........I hope to be at least up to todays date the 8th by the end of today....I will add additional info to these entries as the month progresses. And I am sure I forgot places that I love but this is a start and idea list for anyone looking for really quality gifts for the locavore, foodie or just lover of food and beverages in your life.............

Ciao and happy holidays.....


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Are You a Foodie or a Farmie?

You know you are a Farmie when you go into a restaurant and ask if they serve Gunthrop chickens, Dietzler or Tallgrass beef, Slagel Pork or Genesis, Nichols or Green Acres produce.

You know you are a Foodie when you have your favorite gastro pub and like to drink a 3 Floyds, Half Acre, Two Brothers or Sofie with your meal.

You know you are a Farmie when you have your City Provisions, Heritage Prairie or Province farm dinner scheduled already for 2011.

You know you are a Foodie when you shop at Provenance, Pastoral, Southport Grocers, Marion Street Cheese Market or Goddess and the Grocer.

You know are a Farmie when you've dined at The Bristol, Vie, Prairie Fire, Signature Room, Province, Girl & The Goat, Naha, Old Town Social, Urban Belly, Balsan or Hot Chocolate.

You know you are a Foodie when you've dined at Schwa, Moto, Alinea, Naha, Vie, L20, Tru or Graham Eliot, The Bristol. Vie, Prairie Fire, Signature Room, Province, Girl & The Goat, Old Town Socila, Urban Belly, Balsan or Hot Chocolate.

You know you are a Farmie when getting to the Green City Market or your local farmer's market is your biggest priority on a Saturday.

You know you are a Foodie when you've been to the Common Threads World Festival or Taste of the Nation among other fantastic foodie fundraisers for great causes.

I don't know what you are if you answered yes to all of these, a Serious Eater I guess!!! Then go here... to SE.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just Do It

"In the day" Nike had an ad, many, many years ago but you know, it was brilliant and it is so true with so many things in life, "Just Do It", that goes for my getting out the door for a run in the morning, going to yoga, getting a new job, getting a better attitude, getting in better shape....I just have to repeat over and over, just do it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why isn't Angelina at Terra Madre???

Okay, I posted a Twitter comment, "Why isn't Angelina at Terra Madre ?" I know the answer to why? Well, duh, she is an actress which is all about thin,thin, thin. She is so busy that she just does not care about food, it is not on her mind.

WHY SHE SHOULD BE THERE??? With all her children from all over the world and if she goes to all the other major global conferences then she should go to this one. Food, is only, one of the most common, critical, crucial substances that affects the entire world across economic classes. It affects our health, how we feel, how we think, our survival!!!!!!!!!!!!SO, if you do not know what the Slow Food, Terra Madre symposium is, check it out... Check out Salon de Gusto as well.....start questioning your food choices no matter how much you way or how much money you is your right to question what you eat....If you really want to change the world, then you need to focus on what we eat, how we eat, the food we eat, how it is grown, produced.. Angelina don't go to the U.N. go to your local farmers market, suppport your local change the world, support a farmer, one farmer at a time, one family at a time.....Angelina, if you really want to make a difference, go to Turin right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Slacker is Gone for Awhile, back to the edges of ledges

Oh, it is so nice eating and drinking (in reasonable and sometimes out of reason quantities), I love summer in Chicago and the bounty of the farmer's markets but the slacker is gone for awhile and I am now in my early morning running regime which curtails a lot of eating and drinking in the evening. I have a few personal running goals I am shooting for, and overcoming my slacker tendency of loving my nice, warm, comfy bed in the morning. But the sun is still out early and the weather has been beautiful and there are plenty of edges of ledges to run along on the Lakefront. Life is all about the edges of ledges, it makes you evaluate whether the glass is half full or half empty and great, amazing health as I have another birthday, Sept,. 17th, yes I am a very, neat nick, meticulous virgo but a slacker at heart....that being able to run for a gizillion miles is really a lucky thing to be able to do and breath in the great air and appreciate the amazing lake!!! And I love ledges, what can I say, life is very boring otherwise........

So off to the races I go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Never Give Up!!

When I was in Ladakh India(back in the days of when I had $'s to travel) I heard the Dalai Lama speak and I bought some things to remind me of his talk. The saying below hangs from one of my closet handles but I don't always read it. I did today and it is exactly what I needed to read:

Never Give Up

No matter what is going on
Never give up

Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
is spent developing the mind
instead of the heart
Develop the heart

Be compassionate
Not just to your friends but to everyone
Be compassionate

Work for peace
in your heart and in the world
Work for Peace

And I say it again

Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you

Never give up

I take this to mean, never give up on your dreams no matter how impossible they seem, never give up on your goals and ambitions. I feel the world pushes people to compromise their dreams and goals. I think this means never give up being a human and responding to people from a humanistic perspective. It is funny I am on the Jane Addams Hull House mailing list and there is a huge birthday celebration for her on September 9th. I never realized she was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, I just didn't know that. The Hull House is a great email list to get on because they sponsor really informative events in particular the Soup Kitchen and the Tuesday Farmer's Market at UIC.

The world sometimes pushes people to sink to a very low common denominator of behavior, thoughts and interests but you can never give up on what you care about. So happy to read this, maybe it is the H and H weather we have been having but I had a very discouraging week so I need to really take these words to heart!!!!!!!!! And get myself to yoga tomorrow at Yogaview, and always makes things better and get out and run as well, running always makes things better, being outside always makes things better and I definitely was not outside enough this week and I feel it mentally and physically but I can't give up!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How to Fund a Life of Trekking and Climbing

In my Twitter meanderings, saw a link to an 85broads, member(6 degrees of separation-I have been a member of 85Broads) who I actually have spoken to in the past, who just completed an adventure grand slam, here. I don't have the urge to climb high profile peaks like Everest, except Aconcagua perhaps. I'd love to ski to the North Pole and go on other trips that are not so high profile. But how do you fund a life like that? I went close to broke funding the traveling life that I had. How do you fund a traveling life without(I am not saying that she did) having to do high profile climbs because of the name....Anybody want to fund me???

And have started training today...when you are 5' 2" and love to drink and eat and that "inner partyier" just won't go away, there is only one answer, ultras and I not talking Michelob now it is one foot in front of the have to start somewhere and that somewhere is here and now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Patience is a Virtue!!!!!

This one is very hard Wayne Dyer! I will keep this one in mind all day!!!


Being infinitely patient means having an absolute knowing that you're in vibrational harmony with the all-creating force that intended you here. You know that everything will happen at just the right time, at just the right place, with just the right people.

Plants aren't patient, my tomato stalk keeps growing and has now formed a huge S parallel to the ground, suspended in air. No tomatos but I keep talking and Q tipping to my plant that I have now named Fred and I say little tomato affirmations to it, I need to create virtual bees to pollinate the tomato flowers....

Amazing food and beverages are such a great treat but it is back to the pavement, sand, Lakefront Path for me but I have to be patient that I will get fitter, but the before stage stinks!!!!!!!! I am recognizing but not acknowledging there is a lot of meanness in the world so when I see a community, or someone being human I think it is important to appreciate it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FInally, laughter and humor is a really great thing, I really have to remember that!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Just Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

Some days you just have to put one foot in front of the other and continue on, that is what I am doing. Finally, about to go out for a run. It is funny how easy it is to slip into, not run mode or not go to yoga mode which I have been doing. I have to remind myself it is in those times when I need to run the most. I have to say, NIKE's motto from "In the Day" said it best, just do it!!!! I just have to ignore all the people on the Lakefront. I love wintertime running on the Lakefront because no one is out there. Summertime there are so many people and so many skinny people running, it gets intimidating for not so skinny people like me to get out there and run.

My bike which is my car, is broken down and I have to get that fixed, too. Oh well, this too shall pass!!! A lot of really fun food events coming up, but I miss hiking in Telluride, skiing at Snowbird, mountain biking in Moab, among other things!!!

Okay, enough procrastination which I have to say I am a complete and total expert at!!!!!!!! I have to "just do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thanks Wayne Dyer for another Great Dyerism!!

I think 99% of this blog is to remind myself of things that I have done, aspire to do or want to keep in mind, I was about to use the word, "should", and stopped, I really am trying to eliminate that word from my vocabulary. So the latest Dyerism that I really need to keep focused on....


If you meet someone whose soul is not aligned with yours, send them love and move along.

It is funny because in the farmers markets, artisan product world, I get very inspired by people who are completely focused on growing, cooking, creating products that are really fantastic and they never get the monetary payback relative to all the time but they certainly get the karmic payback because hopefully they are doing what they really want to do and can be proud of it. The ultramarathon world is inspiring because it has not yet reached the level of the "marathons" which have now become corporatized and the ultramarathoners are doing it because they really love the challenge and being out there...I just have to continue to focus on the spirit of these people and not let negative people who I encounter in life bring me down. I think negative people just are trying to suck you into their negative world because they want company in their negativeness and any engagement with these negative people even if they are dominating the room, the space you are standing in brings you into their world which is what they want. I have to keep this dyerism in mind. It is like the song, Move Along, by the All American Rejects. My brother who is a baseball coach, my niece calls him, "Coachie", specifically he works with pitchers, encounters this as well, my brother happens to be an excellent coach and I think some of the other coaches get intimidated by him because he is good so to make themselves feel better they belittle him behind his back which he knows to ignore, he knows it goes on and it makes for unpleasant situations but you just have to Move Along. So I just have to keep that song, Move Along, Move Along, it helps when I have been on death march treks in the hot sun, in races where I just feel horrible and in work situations where the people are really dragging me down, just have to Move Along!!!

One of these days I will come up with a great business idea that will help me to be sustainable financially. I had the idea for Drippy Dog, rain ponchos for large dogs but found it really hard to execute. So for all those people that are executing their ideas, and dreams, you go, you go, it is not easy to do but YOU are my inspiration!!!!!!!! Thanks Wayne Dyer for some more great words to live by!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

There is a Reason Slow Food is SO Good -Eat Less But Eat Well!!

Finally biked up to Great Lakes Pizza last night, finally understood why Slow Food is so good and this pizza was slow, got there to order a "To Go" at 7pm and picked it up, a #3, green onions, garlic and rapini at 8:30pm but that is okay!!!! I went to InFineSpirits, and had a glass of wine and checked out their local menu, okay first I stopped off at La Tache, and tried a La Tache martini, that was mighty good!!! It was such a beautiful night that I was okay with the wait.

When I finally picked up the pizza, I stopped at one of the cute little benches by a huge pot of flowers that are all over Andersonville and had 2 slices and ate them slowly!!! The crust was absolutely amazing and the ingredients, I was in "green heaven"!!! It hit me as I was savoring a piece, we don't need to eat that much food and we don't need to eat so quickly and I need to be more appreciate of little bites and how long it takes to make things really good. Nick and Lydia were working really hard and it takes time to make really good things!!!

From working in a corporate job, we expect everything right now, instantly and really good things, to be made really well and crafted take time and we don't need that much food, we just need better, higher quality more nutritious food!! So I happily biked my way home slowly along the Lakefront on the beautiful night that we had.

Meanwhile, my training for the 50 mile race in October is going slowly, so that I need to speed up a little and my tomato plant that I am growing for Tomato Fest, the Chalk's Early Jewel, is growing quickly and I successfully transplanted it to a much bigger pot, it is sitting in a very sunny place and already has 2 flowers on it!!!

So yeah to summer, yeah to eating slowly and being appreciative of small things!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Way I Want to Live Life

I have started reading Dr. Wayne Dyer's affirmation a day. Today this is what it was:


Expand your reality to the point where you pursue what you love doing and excel at it. Involve yourself in high-energy levels of trust, optimism, appreciation, reverence, joy, and love when you engage in every activity in your life.

You know, this says it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If only we all could live life this way. It is just that when you are in the process of doing this, me, it can be very uncomfortable and scary!!! But I just have to remember his words.....This comes to running, yoga, skiing(I will ski again), cooking, eating, drinking, writing, running, and working in jobs that you are doing to pay bills....and just life as a whole!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Food Adventures By Bike

I continue to love lists!!! I love Spring!!!! Well, there is nothing like eating, drinkng and biking. I love my vegetables, I love my healthy things and the food below is quality and what is not to love?...I truly believe it is all in moderation and uppng the exercise!!!!!!

1. Bike (6-7miles, not bad) to Kuma's Corner, get a burger(have enough time while biking to think about which one) and beer, bike back.

2. Bike(prob same distance) to Great Lake Pizzeria, have sup and bike back.

3. Urban Belly, same seems like all I need is to hover around Elston and Belmont and I will hit all these places.

To be continued, I am not done! While I am coming up w/more ideas for the list, if you have an idea, leave a comment!!!!!!!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

My New Favorite Substances I am Obsessing Over

1. Honey - Read all the benefits of honey here. Who knew? I didn't. I am now trying to have a cup of tea before bed w/honey, I like cooking with honey, honey and sweet potatoes in particular, and there are so many honeys to choose from, Heritage Prairie Lavender Honey, Chicago Honey Co-op, and then there is Mead sold by Wild Blossom Meadery here n Chi-town. Like wine, like any natural substance, the honey will taste different depending on what flowers and plants are growing near the hives. I know, honey is not cheap, but you don't need to use as much of it as sugar and because you metabolize it so much quicker and in a healthier way than regular table sugar(go to link benefits of honey, here if you didn't before) how can you not start using honey???????? Honey is a wonder of nature. And if I start to have a craving for something sweet, a spoonful of honey does the trick!

2. Maple Syrup - Read about all the benefits of maple syrup here. Another wonder of nature, maple syrup. My favorite local syrup is Burton's, I always assumed, growing up on the East coast and going to college at Dartmouth in New Hampshire, that maple syrup was a product of New England and Canada. Who knew that maple trees go as far west as Indiana and that the syrup tastes really great!!! Not only are pancakes the easiest things to make that even I can do it but maple syrup goes great with roasted sweet potatoes, and most root vegetables, works in my favorite cleansing drink The Master Cleanse and is an all around great thing to have in your pantry!!!!!!!

3.Wheat Grass - Read about the benefits of wheat grass here. I could go and on about how I am so adamant about including a shot of wheat grass in your diet. When I went to the Green City Market yesterday, Tiny Greens, my favorite WG to buy was sold out by 10am. WG definitely takes a bit of time to get used to. But it is one of the best things you can do for yourself!!!!!!!!!! Read about the benefits that's all I can say......and Tiny Greens if you read about the farm, you will understand the care that goes into growing this particular WG.

4. FRESH Tofu - I have to be honest, I have not quite incorporated fresh tofu into my diet. But the benefits are here. I just heard her speak and tasted the tofu made by Jenny Yang of Phoenix Bean Products, and Tiny Greens makes it as well, that my opinion was changed on tofu. Then when I looked into the benefits of tofu, I decided that I really want to include it in my food repetoire. The amazing thing about tofu is that it is a sponge and picks up flavor really easily, I tasted some of Jenny's tofu and was happily surprised. I am not a huge meat eater, and I can't really say when the last time I had red meat, it was that long ago, and actually the thought of red meat now kind of makes me feel sick, but tofu is a great source of protein among other things, and all you really need are spices, which can be bought at my favorite spice place, The Spice House, and some nice vinegar or oil which can be bought or ordered from The Olive Tap, and voila you have this incredibly tasty concoction in front of you. Even, I, the inept cook, can whip something up that hits my taste buds.

5. Pectin - Before meeting Elizabeth from Rare Bird Preserves, I really didn't know what pectin was. Here are the benefits of it. Mike Sula, The Food Chain, blog for the Chicago Reader, produced a tiny video of Elizabeth making preserves, publicly available on YouTube, here. Elizabeth derives her pectin fresh from the apples she uses for her preserves. I couldn't find anything written about the difference of fresh pectin versus commercialy sold pectin. However, intuitively it seems that a jam must be better for you if the pectin used is fresh from the fruits used to make the jam, without any additives to make the pectin have a longer shelf life. But I am going to start to pay attention more to what substances have pectin in it. WHo knew???

Well, I could go on and on about olive oils, about vinegars about cacao, about coffee, about red wine, about vegetables about funghi,and blue green algae but I won't. Honey, maple syrup, wheat grass, tofu and pectin have been the latest substance I have been obsessing about and trying to incorporate more into my diet and be aware of. For me the hapless cook and consummate slacker, the more I use things that I know are good for me, and taste good, the less I have to worry about other things, and it makes life simpler, easier and less stressful and most of all, I feel better and am happier, isn't that what it is all about??

My other latest obsession has been Europe, Verbier, skiing, and living in Aspen part of the year and how to make it happen.....Thinking Verbier reminded me of my climb with my friend Judy arranged by Adventures to the Edge, that I came across when I was on a trip to Creste Butte. Judy and I with a guide climbed the Pigne de la Le, that is pictured in a video here, not my video but it is funny, I have a picture next to that huge cairn.................I have been trying to make it happen and manifest it despite my lack of funds and any kind of job that would pay for it(at the moment). I don't really think anyone reads this blog except my friend Cat(thank you!) but if you do and you have any ideas for me to make living in Aspen part of the year and living in Chicago part of the here happen, please leave a comment, I would really appreciate it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ciao JB

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Running Shoes,Will the relationship last?

Well, I went to the Shamrock Shuffle Expo and bought slightly used running shoes for $50, they really don't even looked use, Saucony Pro Grid Hurricane 11, listed on their website at $140. I am so excited!!! For the last 1+years I have been running in shoes I get from where I work, and between working all day on a cement floor with the shoes on and then running on the asphalt on the Lake Front, my feet and legs have been hurting. As much as the place has put us through training to explain all the thought that goes into producng the shoes, all the shoes hurt my feet after about a week of wear.

However, I still don't understand why the running shoes break down so quickly? The gortex versions of the their shoes do work really well in the snow but running on the Lakefront it feels like I am wearing cement shoes and the shoes really kill my feet. What is it about the midlayer and the material that the midsole is made out of that makes a Saucony, a Brooks or an Asics feel great and last a long time and the other shoes break down so quickly and feel so bad??

So the question is, will my relationship with the Saucony's last? Only time will tell but I now have no excuse when it comes to running because I now have shoes that are really comfortable!!!! Some other trail shoes I would love to try are Brooks Cascadas and La Sportivas which I have read really good things about. I was miserable for a long time having to put on the other shoes(I still have to wear them at work and leave work with my feet and legs and body aching a lot of the time) so now there will be a lot of homeless people who wear size 6 1/2 w/the shoes I get for free on. So my goal now is to get my mileage up and to stay off pavement as much as possible.

I also have to get back to speedwork once a week .. have to get in gear!!!!!!!!!

Woo hoo!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tastings and Foragings

I love lists so my latest list is all the tasting, sampling, discerning, learning you can do about artisanal food products and beverages in Chicago...I always love learning something new...

1.Pastoral Artisan - Greg O'Neil one of the owners sent out a questionnaire to customers and he listened to the feedback. Pastoral was always good about wine tastings and cheese samplings but he has stepped up the schedule. His is a great email list to get on to, he has great relationships with a lot of fabulous artisanl cheese producers in the area, you will always learn something and you will taste some great cheese. And Pastoral now has 3 locations, Lake st in the loop, the French Market at the Ogilvie Center and in Lakeview on Broadway. All 3 locations make sandwiches "to die for", really!

2. LUSH wine and spirits - Lushians as I call them are serious about wine but they also are serious about having fun while learning about wine. LUSH has 3 locations, West Chicago, South Halstead and Roscoe village, I just wish there was a LUSH near me in Streeterville. They are really active about havings tastings and hosting events where you have fun and learn about wine at the same time and they care about quality, value and are really supportive of the sustainable, local food community in I said..I WISH there was a LUSH near me(Streeterville, Goldcoast,Old Town??)...r u listening LUSHIES???

3. House of Glunz - Speaking of Old Town, when I first moved to Chicago after being a NYC whipper snapper, I saw House of Glunz and thought what is it. Little did I know that Barbara GLunz is one of the most supportive women in terms of all things culinary and artisanal in Chicago. Get on the House of Glunz email list. I have not been able to make many of their wine tastings but my most memorable was hearing Nicolas Joly speak and taste his wine, he is considered one of the founders of biodynamism in wine. Hearing him speak to me, was music to my ears and after bicycling through the Dordogne and bicycling through Burgundy his whole point of terroir and the elements that contribute to the wine made so much sense, although I will totally admit, in a world where it is very hard to be authentic and true to oneself and sustainable financially, Joly's philosophy goes to the extreme. But I highly recommend getting on House of Glunz email list because every event they hold is a quality event.

4. The Green City Market - I coudl go on and on about the Green City Market, but I can only say go check it out for yourself. I am just in artisanal and local heaven when I go, so many vegetable, in the summer I challenge myself to learn about a new vegetable a week, all the cheese, bread, and meats,,,,,Go, go, much to taste and learn...GO....ANd have a shot of TinyGreens wheat grass while you are there!!!

5. Dirk's Fish - If you want to learn about fish, taste fish, go to Dirk's fish and the homemade soups his wife makes are incredible. Dirk's is another newsletter you will be happy to get. So many stores and companies are trying to capture our names to send emails some even to our cell phones. Dirk's newsletter is one you will be happy to get. As much as Chicago is the city of Big Shoulders and the basis for The Jungle...Fish and the issue of sustainability is huge and a subject I think a lot of people forget about. Go to Dirk's on CLybourne on a Saturdya afternoon, you will be able to taste fish, pick up a recipe and for me, perhaps, lose my phobia about cooking fish. Dirk's has cooking classes and events to checkout as well!!!!

6. Logan Square Kitchen - It is my understanding, part of the founding of LSK was to help tiny, tiny, artisanl producers have a place to cook. Now LSK is supporting them by having a pastry market once or twice a month. Another place to GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is all I can say, go to their website, check it out, read and you will see why you should go.

7. Nacional 27 - Adam Seger at NZ27 hosts cocktail classes primarily focusing on Farm to Bar products. After one of his clasees, you will never slug down a cocktail again and you will under the difference and quality of a real cocktail versus a drink. His classes helped me to understand why cocktails should be sipped and slowly, and it is just no the expense or the alcohol but a respect for the ingredients and the care that goes into making not just a good cocktail but a great one!!!!

8. Uncommon Ground - I can't forget Uncommon Ground. Helen and Mike Cameron constantly have events going on and great music!!! The biggest draw for me are the Green Room sessions they sponsor once a month focused on a them within the green world, UC is also a great venue for music that I REALLY need to take more advantage of!!!

9. Feast and Goddess and Grocer- Debbie Sharpe proprietor of Feast and Goddess and Grocer offers wine tastings the third Wednesday of every month and for $20 dollars you can have a one on one with these small distributors of low yield, organic wines. It is a great place to ask stupid questions all you want and to learn, I went last month and wish I had brought a larger budget with me to buy wines.

10. Green Drinks - Foresight Design coordinates ahost of prgrams focused on networking and fostering ideas and businesses focused on sustainability in Chicago. His email list is a great one to get on.

And there are so many other places in the suburbs, like The Olive Tap, that is focused on educating the customer on delectable condiments and Chicago based businesses like The Spice House that I love to stop into and smell and look and sniff. SO many great places to go, so little time..,,ugh,,,,,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

NBC Olympic Coverage or How Not to Watch the Olympics

For some reason this time round, more than any other, I really feel that NBC is exerting their "Lucyness" over the Olympics. I grew up in a town where a lot of my classmates skied, so I am a fan of all the alpine events. Went to Dartmouth, a bit before (You go Andrew!!)Andrew Weibrecht's time when the college was about the mountains and the outdoors. The only way I have found to keep up real-time with the alpine events is either to just read the play-by-play results on the Olympic website and you can at least track the results and names and the other is read the Twitter comments. I even tried to go to the BBC and see if I could link on Live video there and a message came back"Not available in yor area".

It is really sad that in this day and age of instant everything, and all the technology at our finger tips, that NBC because of its contract can withhold viewing and pictures from the American public purely because they own the rights. The day and age of Big Brother is here. I don't think this hold will last for long(see below) and I think this attitude and actions shows what a dinosaur NBC is. First off, who watches Jay Leno, people do, but what people? People whose minds must be made of mush and are 80 years old. The video whizzes and techies will figure out by the next Olympics how to circumvent all this Big Brotherishness and hopefully Live/Real time viewing will be available....

How stupid does NBC really think we are by making an already run event, a real suspense in reshowing in Primetime as if it has just been run...NBC you lost me awile ago but now I know why.....

Well, finally found a Live Feed link to watch the Alpine events, I think that NBC has decided that skiing is a secondary sport....they would rather focus on Bobsled and Ice Dancing.....nothing wrong with either but SO TYPICAL..why do I feel like I should live in another country sometimes??

Saturday, January 30, 2010

10 Easy Things U can Do to Save the earth

Okay, besides buying Philippe Bourseiller's book, here is my top 10 list of little things u can do to save the earth..

1. When shopping and someone offers to put your items in a plastic bag, just say no and put it in your own bag. Even if you say no to just a few bags, that is a step in the right direction.

2. Pick up a piece of trash on the ground that isn't yours and put it in a garbage can.

3. Support your local farmer's market like the Green City Market...

4. Support chef's who source local and support local farmers.

5. Change one paper item in your house to recyclable, TP(toilet paper), PT(paper towels)

6. Lower the temperature in your house

7. Turn on one less light

8. Walk somewhere where if you wanted to you could walk but took a cab or drove

9. Support Climate Cycle

10. Take a run outdoors rather than the treadmill at the health club, saves energy and better for you...

SO speaking of which, putting this list together was my procrastination from a run so out I go.....


Sunday, January 10, 2010

10 More Ways to Save the Earth & a New List

I am continuing with Philippe Bourseiller's list of 365 Ways to Save the Earth, and I would love to travel to all the places he has taken pictures of.

11. Do not feed wild animals. It alters their behavior. In parks it attracts vermin.
12. Reward socially responsible companies by investing in them. Like companies like North Face or Columbia.
13. Use the refrigerator properly. If you lower ambient room temperature, your refrigerator uses less energy.
14.Coffee, milk and sugar, say "no" to individual portions. The extra packaging is a waste and adds to the cost of the product.
15.Use natural paints. Paints are cocktails of chemicals. Colori Eco Paint Boutique in Bucktown sells earth friendly paint.
16. Switch off lights you don't need.
17. Check the energy efficiency rating when you buy household appliances. The City of Chicago is giving away for FREE energy efficient light (CFL) bulbs!
18. Rediscover your grandmother's remedies. Like lemon for copper.Using microfiber cloths eliminates the need for chemicals when cleaning.
19. Drive more slowly. Each 5 mile increase over 60 mph is like paying 10 cents more for gas.
20. Write to manufacturer's urging them to keep GMO's out of animal feeds.

Okay now here is my current list of the week...

Reasons not to go out for a run versus running
1. It is cold when I get out there... Okay I just need to layer more before I go out, it is not like I am living in northern Alaska!
2. My feet hurt when I run. My current companies running shoes really hurt my feet but they are free or highly discounted so that is what I run in. brother is shipping me a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus. And the other shoe on my list is Sportivas when I cash up a little.
3. My body aches, Well, it aches because I haven't run, I feel so much better when I go out running.
4. I am going to feel all the weight I need to lose still. Well, if I don't go running I stand no chance in getting skinnier.
5.I have to do, the magazine, looking for jobs, cleaning. bills, paperwork.. Well,,, I always feel better when I go out running.
6. It is too dark in the morning. Well, I bought a headlamp.
7. I still have an incredibly hard time getting up early(6am. which I realize is like sleeping in for some ultra runenrs)
8.The bigggest reason for me to run is because I love it and I love the outdoors and it is one of the best things I can do for myself when you are low on funds!!!!!! The outdoors is free to most just have to be creative in urban settings in how to take advantage of it!!!

Finally, through A Trail Runner's blog he did a run at the Armory in NYC which is my old neighborhood and through that I linked into the NYRRC site and they now have a database from 1987 of their races and I found a record of a lot of my old times......... And I have never been a real runner, I was built like a sherpa which is why I feel so comfortable in the mountains but I did run an 8 min/mile for a 20 mile race which I think is a sign of real fitness and I ran a 7:15/mile for a 5K. For real runners that is not fast but for me that was a real accomplishment. But I was also doing a hardcore speedworkout once a week with Bob Glover and then I was averaging 40 mile weeks which is a walk in the park for ultra people but they were all hard runs. SO I think Nike's old motto was totally worth a gizillion dollars, I just have TO DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010, Ways to Save the Earth

I love lists, have I not been more obvious about that fact!! I bought a book awhile ago that I have always treasured, "365 Ways to Save the Earth" by Philippe Bourseiller. It not only contains great ideas but it has beautiful pictures showing how many incredible natural phenomena there are in the world. So I am borrowing from his book and listing his idea a day for January 1 -10.

1.Buy recycled.Picture..sunrise
2.Turn doown your heating by 5 degrees F. Picture..Whale shark, Australia
3.Recycle your Christmas tree (if you bought one, and please never buy the artifical ones. My add)Picture..Bizzard over the inlandsis,continental ice sheet, Greenland.
4.Lobby the right for access to renewble electricity.(I have referenced this in my art piece of pictures of electric poles from all over the invented word..Electro-globicity) Picture,Aurora borealis Finland
5.Improve the efficiency of your radiators Picture Namib Desert, Namibia
6.Suggest composting at our children's school...Picture Klychuchevskaya volcano, Kamchatka, Russia...(I really want to go to Kamchatka and climb the volcanoes, they are the youngest and most active volcanic area in the world)
7.Reduce the amount of water flowing into your toilet's tank. Picture...Iceberg, Greenland
8.Buy fair-trade products and help combat child labor. Picture,,Lagoons, Baja California, Mexico...Have kayaked near La Paz, beautiful...
9.Make it a rule to buy only organic(or add) of a given product. Picutre..Acacia, Namibia
10. SIng an environmental charter for your favorite leisure activity. Picture...Soft coral, Indonesia...Have been to Bali,,,,loved it....want to go back, there are SO many islands, incredible...

Okay.....that is it for now....part of my procrastination before I head out the door for a quick jog with -7 wind chill. I remind myself it is not like I am living in the Arctic or Antartica, it is only Chicago and the sun is out today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy New Year, Love life, Eat and support local as much as possible and as green as possible and embrace the outdoors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!