Sunday, January 30, 2011

cream of cauliflower soup

It's perfect soup weather. I love making a big batch of soup and freezing it so I can have something delicious when I get too busy to cook. My goal was to cook one new recipe a week and I really haven't been very good at that. I figured I'd start my week off with a cream of cauliflower soup I found in Ad Hoc. However, I added a few of my own touches. This was actually pretty easy to make and only took about an hour from start to finish.

roughly chop up 2 heads of cauliflower, 3/4 a cup leeks and 3/4 a cup onion. Add 3 TB butter to a pot and toss the veg in. Let cook for about 20 minutes or until tender.

Add 2 cups water, 2 cups milk and 2 cups heavy cream. Add curry powder and ginger (I used the kind in a jar, but you could use powder) and salt to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes.

I used my handheld immersion blender to get a nice puree, but you could also use a regular blender. I warmed up some nan and had a delicious meal with plenty left over to freeze.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

popping my Kuma's cherry with Bachelor #10

Kuma's is amazing. Why the fuck did I wait so long to go here? Bachelor #10 was the lucky man to take my Kuma's cherry. I actually had an eventful afternoon. I spent a good 30 minutes getting ready for his visit. I bought some sexy new lingerie in big girl size and got all sex kitten with the hair and makeup. My plan was to put on a trench coat and heels, go down to let B10 in, lure him into the elevator and flash him. He ended up turning up at my door (thankfully it was him when I answered wearing nothing but stockings, a thong and a corset) and we had a delighted afternoon where he de-stressed me and punished my naughtiness with some spankings. Do people in relationships get to have this much fun? I highly suggest you ladies out there try to spice up your live life with a riding crop of some wrist cuffs (or both!)

After our little session we worked up up an appetite and headed over to Kuma's. I can't believe that Kuma's has been open 5 years and I've just taken my first trip. Kuma's has been on my hit list for a while and I'm so happy I can finally check it off. I'd heard only great things about this place (and maybe some mixed reviews on the service) and was not disappointed.

I was shocked at how small Kuma's is. We went on a Thursday afternoon and the place was packed. I think there was a half an hour wait for a table, but we managed to score a seat at the bar. First thing I noticed was that they have Jack Dainiels on tap. Extreme bonus points for that Kumas! Their beer list was impressive with a great line up of micro brews. I was pleased to see Left Handed Milk Stout on the list, but ended up with a Dark Horse Raspberry Ale which was really tasty.

The burger menu is out of the ordinary, but everything looked delicious. I had a very hard time narrowing it down but ended up with the Black Oak Arkansas, a burger with a red wine BBQ sauce, white cheddar, bacon and beer battered shallots. OMG! I am in love. Their burger is thick and juicy and all the topping lined up to create a moment of awesomeness when I took my first bite. I think I may have moaned a bit. I got the waffle fries to go with my meal.

I also have to say that I learned a lesson today. When we first got there I saw this woman with a fur coat who looked totally out of place there. She was with an ass-rock looking dude which I thought was strange. She ordered a red wine and I totally judged her and was going to make some snide comment about her. Turns out that this couple sat next to us and started up a conversation. They were delightful and lots of fun. They were from South Carolina and it turns out he was a chef so we had tons to talk about. I will try really hard not to judge a book by it's cover anymore.

As for the service, I thought the waitress was attentive and friendly so I can't say that i have any complaints about this place. I hope to return again...and again...and again. I mean there is a whole list of burgers to get through and then there's the mac n cheese.(also it should be noted that you can only use one credit card per tab)

Now back to B10. I really enjoy spending time with him. I'm comfortable with him and he's extremely attentive to my needs. I was also impressed that he cleared his plate and I was ashamed that I only ate half of my burger. I told him about my Bachelor numbering system and mentioned my blog. Should I let him read it? Would it be awkward and effect how I write about him? He really is one of my 'Top Bachelors" and maybe I should reward him with a look inside my head. Hope it doesn't send him running.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bachelor #13 and another lesson learned

It's about 5:30am and I didn't really have the intention of posting this blog yet. However, I woke up to use the bathroom and found that snow was falling outside my window. I figured this was the perfect time to sit down, enjoy the peacful moment and write.

I met Bachelor#13 on OkCupid and we exchanged a few e-mails. He seemed like a decent guy so I suggested we meet for a drink. I forgot that I had actually purchased tickets for a Dive Bars of Chicago History Pub Crawl (more on this in another blog) on that date so rather than cancel my plans with him I just invited him to join me. This was a risky move because I had just commited myself to a good 3 to 4 hours with this guy and usually I like to have the easy escape plan that just a drink affords me.

I meet Bachelor#13 at the museum and we fall into conversation. He is not ugly, but I am really not attracted to him from the start and this is a big problem for me. He's a little bit bigger guy, which is okay by me, but he has a goatee (not a fan of facial hair) and talks like a full on Superfan. He's born and raised in Chicago so that makes sense. What really bothers me is that he reminds me of someone I work with. Someone who I am not physically attracted to in anyway and this alone is a strike against him.

We hit our dive bars and have some good conversation. He is easy to talk to to and we do have a lot in common. He comes across as very working class, but it turns out that he has a PHD, did his undergrad at NYU and Masters and PHD at UIC. So clearly this isn't a dum-dum I'm dealing with. However he spends a good 10 minutes riping on art and film majors and this makes me slightly uncomfortable. By the end of the night I can tell that he's in to me way more than I am into him. He even invites me to his birthday party a few weeks down the line. We have an awkward goodbye at the end of the night where I hurry into a cab and thank him for a nice night. I really hope he doesn't call me because I don't think I want to see him again, but I don't want to be the girl who just drops off the face of the earth either.

So the moral of this date is that I really should just stick to a drink and save the fun stuff for the even numbered Bachelors that I really like.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Custom House Tavern

Last night I went on my fanciest date yet. Bachelor #12 and I went to the Custom House Tavern for a four course chef's tasting menu (I had a Groupon to use up). The experience was sublime from the service to the food to the company.

I showed up a little bit earlier than B12. The host took my coat and I went to the bar to get a cocktail. The bartender was an older woman - I love to see a good woman bartender (not some trixie with a shot tray). The cocktail line-up was impressive with a selection of about 12 craft cocktails. There was even a sazerac on the menu and the fact that they make their own vermouth totally scored them some points. I went on the bartenders suggestion and ordered a tequila old fashioned. This was simple cocktail of repisido tequila, house made vermouth, and brandied cherries. I would have never considered this sort of tequila cocktail, but I do adore Manhattans so this wasn't that far off. The cocktail was superb and I got a little buzzed before my date showed up. I also have to say that the beer and wine list were well put together, but it's hard to choose one of those when you can put the skills of the bartender to work.

Once B12 showed up we were taken to our seats. The dining room is dimly lit and cozy. It's decorated in darker earthy tones and the booths are arranged for an intimate meal. The only thing I would change is the view. We were looking out a window at the bustling Congress Parkway and a BP station across the street. That's Chicago for you! The service was first class. I don't think I emptied 1/4th of my water glass before someone showed up to refill it. Also, I tend to be a messy eater, but you wouldn't know because after each tasting someone was there to sweep away the crumbs and hide my shame. What struck me as interesting was when we were first seated I went to put the white napkin on my lap a waiter walked up and offered me a darker one. I can only assume it was because I was wearing a black dress? I've never seen that before. Guess I don't eat at enough classy joints.

But let's get to what we all came here for...the food. The waiter explained that the chef's tasting was a 'best of'. If this meal was designed to show off the skill of the chef he certainly did a fantastic job. The evening started off with an amuse bouche consisting of poached shrimp on a horseradish creme fresh. My palette was certainly stimulated by the creaminess of the shrimp and pop form the horseradish.

First tasting was a roasted butternut squash salad. Now, anyone who knows me well knows that in my world I don't eat salads. No matter how many times I try I just can't seem to choke down a salad. However, I cleared my plate on this one. The salad was a frisee salad with a tangy vinaigrette. It was served over some roasted butternut squash and there was some bacon mixed in as well. The bacon was okay, but I think that the dish would have been fine without it (and that would be something I rarely say). The real stand out was the Greek yogurt on the side. It was homemade and mixed with maple, but the stunner was the dash of paprika on top! A winning flavor combination that i will certainly try at home. This combination just makes total sense a dash of smokey spice with the rich tang of the yogurt.

The next course was scallops and pork belly which to me is like saying let me wrap up a night of awesome sex in bacon. The scallop was served over the pork belly and some grits. I really wanted to lick the bowl and could have eaten 5 more servings. By far this was the best dish. I really feel that the scallops and pork belly speak for themselves. Is your mouth watering yet?

The main entree was short ribs. They were certainly tasty and cooked well, but didn't stand out. I also prefer mine still on the bone, but these were served like a piece of pot roast over some mashed potatoes that lacked flavor. Still a good dish, but not blown away like the other courses.

Dessert was a chocolate ganache coated in sea salt and served with a dollop of cinnamon ice cream. The ice cream was the winning element of this dish, but the ganache was the perfect way to end the meal.

Would I go back and pay full price for this meal? Yes, but only if I had some Gs to spend or it was a special occasion (like a 3rd date with one of my bachelors). They are offering $5 burgers during January so I think I will pop back to the bar for another cocktail and one of those sometime soon.
hood: South Loop/Printers Row
Tab: about $140 for 2 people (that's not including my Groupon)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

everyone's a little bit racist

The title of this blog refers to a song from Avenue Q. It's funny and meant to play on every one's racist guilt that lies beneath the surface. However, it turns out that some people are more than a little bit racist. I was appalled and sickened when I went on to check Facebook this morning and saw that my 18 year old cousin had posted: "what did MLK ever do for me? nothing so screw him. happy James Earl Ray day." What makes it worse is that a bunch of his friends commented with similar thoughts and 15 people liked it! A good friend of our family commented on how inappropriate that post was and told him that him and his friends would never amount to half of the man that MLK was. I agreed with her and posted that comments like that make my stomach turn. One of his friends commented after me "you sure love niggers".

Right now I'm disgusted with all of this. It's hard to believe that someone could be so racist. It's true, my cousin will never be the half the man that MLK was. I will always be grateful to the man who had the bravery and eloquence to lead a movement that changed the world. I'm grateful that I had the freedom to choose my friends when I went to school, regardless of their skin color. I realize that society has a long way to go, but we've made progress - would we have gotten this far without MLK?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

wedding number two

I never really intended this whole getting ordained online thing to go over so well, but it seems that modern brides and grooms are looking for something a little more intimate for their nuptials. Having someone who knows you is just an extra little touch to a special day. I was extremely touched when my friend Marissa asked me officiate her wedding last July. Here is the ceremony I put together for them.

The couple: Mike and Marissa
The story: Marissa and I met my freshman year of college and I immediately liked her outgoing personality and the confident way she carried herself. She has been a great friend to me, but I think the thing I love the most about her is her wacky side. Not only is she beautiful, smart and creative, but she is hell of a lot of fun to be around. This is the type of friend that can always put a smile on your face. She met Mike where they were both working at an art supply store and after a very long cortship they decided to get married. The first time I met Mike was at another friend's wedding and I immediately liked him. Mike and Marissa are a winning combination (I mean, even their names go well together) and I was honored to be able to marry them.

Good afternoon! We are gathered here today, not to witness of the beginning of what will be, but rather what already is! We do not create this marriage, because we cannot. We can and do, however, celebrate with Mike and Marissa and their friends and families the wonderful occurrence that has already taken place in their lives! In the years they have been together, their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured, and now they have decided to live their lives together as husband and wife.

Love is the greatest thing that we have. It is the language we all speak. It is the foundation that most relationships are built upon. Love comes naturally to us. You can look at the ones you love and say “I touched their life”. Just as you, Mike, might say I touched this canvas, those brushstrokes are mine.” For you, Marissa, it may be a knit or a purl in knitting project you are working on. With each stitch you are building something special, sharing a part of you. Marriage is to belong to each other through a unique and diverse collaboration, like two strings of yarn crossing in different directions, yet weaving one scarf together.

However, to make this relationship work takes more than love. It takes trust, to know in your hearts that you want only the best for each other. It takes dedication, to stay open to one another, to learn and grow, even when it is difficult to do so. And it takes faith, to go forward together without knowing what the future holds for you both. While love is our natural state of being, these other qualities are not as easy to come by. They are not a destination, but a journey. And this why we gathered here today. To support you in your journey.

The bride and groom have selected a few readings they would like to share with us. First is the groom’s sister Cheryl who will be reading I carry your heart by e.e. cummings.

And now the Grooms’ sister Susan will be reading a selection from Dante Alighieri (Ala-gary) titled There is a Gentle Thought

Exchange of Rings
Traditionally, the marriage ceremony is marked by the exchange of rings. The wedding ring is a symbol of unbroken circle of love; a reminder that love freely given has no beginning and no end, no giver and no receiver –for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings remind you always of the vows you will take here today.

Mike, please take Marissa’s ring, and as you place it on her hand, repeat after me...I give you this ring to wear with love and appreciation. As a ring has no end, neither shall my love for you. I choose you to be my wife this day and forever more.
Marissa, please take Mike’s ring and as you place it on his hand repeat after me.. I give you this ring to wear with love and joy. As a ring has no end, neither shall my love for you. I choose you to be my husband this day and forevermore.

Mike and Marissa, remember to treat both yourself and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulty or fear assail your relationship – as they threatened all relationships at one time or another – remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part that seems wrong.
In this way, you can ride out the times when roadblocks keep you from continuing your journey – remembering that even if you loose your way for a moment the path is still there.

And now that you have stood before me and exchanged these rings and these vows, and have agreed to be married according to the laws of the state of Florida, it gives me great pleasure to pronounce that you are Husband and Wife. You may now kiss the bride.
Family and Friends, it is my honor to present to you, for the first time as husband and wife: Mike and Marissa.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

just call me the rev

A few years ago I went online and got ordained through The Universal Life Church. This actually gave me the title of 'Reverend'. It all started because two very important friends (who I had introduced to each other) decided to tie the knot. We joked about me officiating and one night (I think it might have been New Year's Eve) I went online and did it.

Being asked to officiate a wedding is both an honor and a big responsibility. This is where my past experience on the speech team and degree in English come in handy. It's important to craft the perfect ceremony that reflects the couple and the sanctity of marriage. This doesn't mean you can't have fun with it though. My hope is that one day I can officiate ceremonies for everyone, regardless of sexual preference. I look forward to the day when I get to perform an official ceremony for husband and husband or wife and wife.

I'm about to officiate my third wedding and I thought that I would go back and post my ceremonies for everyone to read. Each is a tribute to the extraordinary couples I married.

The couple: Nick and Amanda.
Their Story: I've been friends with Amanda since middle school and I met Nick in high school, but didn't really build a friendship with him until after college when we both started hanging out together. I eventually threw Amanda into the mix and we all became very good friends. We would get together every week to watch Buffy and eventually feelings developed between them. For a very long time I was in the middle of two people who liked each other, but were too afraid to do anything. Eventually, moves were made a relationship was formed. They had a beautiful 1930's themed wedding at an apple orchard.

Nick and Amanda's Wedding (August 2009)

Marriage. Marriage is what brings us together here today. Marriage -that blessed arrangement. Marriage -that dream within a dream. Nick and Amanda, may love –true love- follow you forever.

The Bride and Groom have brought their own vows and would like to share those with each other.

I (name), take you (name) to be my (husband/wife), my partner in life and my one true love. I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I promise to be most excellent to you. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live
I, (name), take you, (name), to be my partner, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together, getting to know the (man/woman) you will become, and falling in love a little more every day. I promise to be excellent to you. To love you and cherish you through whatever life may bring us.

Traditionally, the marriage ceremony is marked by the exchange of rings. The wedding ring is a symbol of unbroken circle of love; a reminder that love freely given has no beginning and no end, no giver and no receiver –for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here today.

Nick, please take Amanda’s ring, and as you place it on her hand, repeat after me… With this ring I thee wed.
Amanda, please take Nick’s ring and as you place it on his hand repeat after me…With this ring I thee wed.

And now that you have stood before me and exchanged these rings and these vows, and have agreed to be married according to the laws of the state of Indiana, it gives me great pleasure to pronounce that you are Husband and Wife. May you always be excellent to each other.

Nick, you may now kiss your lady.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mad Girl resolves: 2011

I never used to be much of a resolutions type of girl. Actually, to this day, I find it annoying when people say things like ‘I’m going to lose 30 pounds’. I think resolutions are about lifestyle change and achieving goals. They should be about changing behaviors that keep you from loosing those 30 pounds. I also think resolutions should be fun and a little whimsical. I feel I did a good job with my resolutions from last year. I could have smoked a little more pot, but I know I certainly had more sex. This was also the year of painted nails and little black dresses. So, I’ve thought long a hard about this year’s resolutions and hope to achieve as many of these as I can.

*Eat (at least) one Michelin starred restaurant
*Try to stick to the ‘eat right for your blood type’ method. At the very least try to treat my body better.
*Transition for dating to a relationship (the goal is to have a straight boy to kiss on NYE next year)
*Find a new job…soon
*Save some G’s. I’ve never been good with money, but I want to start paying down my credit card debt and putting a little bit of money aside for my sister’s wedding.
*Keep my hair dyed…even if it means coughing up the money to see a good colorist.
*Try out one new recipe a week.