Monday, November 29, 2010

Giving thanks among friends!

I can think of only a few things I am more grateful for than our fantastic friends. They are all a vitally important part of our lives and I just loved hosting our friends' Thanksgiving yesterday to celebrate our special relationships. We all have a great many things to be thankful for and our lives are all moving a million miles per hour. Slowing down enough to enjoy a relaxing and leisurely meal together was a holiday highlight to say the least.
Thanks for joining us!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Next: Menu Planning

I have been deliciously, deliriously excited about Grant Achatz's latest culinary adventure, Next Restaurant, for quite some time now! Especially after Alinea earned a rare and coveted three Michelin star rating, it is fascinating to witness Chef Achatz's newest concept come to life! This brief glimpse into the menu planning process for Next Restaurant makes me all the more anxious to buy my tickets to dine in Paris-1906.

Won't you join me?

All about a beautiful bird...

Personally, I had no idea what giblets were the first time I cooked a turkey, nor I was I even remotely aware they were housed in a bag and jammed into the cavity of the bird. I cluelessly stuffed around them. Just imagine that carving experience for a moment. I served that half baked affair with a side of, guessed it, green bean casserole. In hindsight, I totally knew I could have killed us all that day, but every last one of my guests was perfectly polite and more than generous with their compliments. My Thanksgiving menus and techniques have improved ten fold since then, but this year, we headed to Wisconsin to celebrate our dear friend, Ed's, very first turn as Thanksgiving host! We knew we were in potentially precarious territory; after all, what cook hasn't experienced some kind of culinary catastrophe on Thanksgiving?
Well, this cook hasn't... I knew Ed had things well in hand from the moment he showed me his pre-trimmed green beans, homemade cranberry sauce and thoughtfully printed recipes! The kids settled in with their usual ease and we helped Ed make stuffing and set the table. He was so organized we even had time to drink some wine, eat a little pizza, and bake bread from scratch!

Ed was clearly in control of his fig glazed turkey from the start on the big day. Before we knew it that bird was in the oven and a genuine cozy holiday feeling overtook his house.

Basting and dancing...

chatting and mashing...

posing and garnishing...

...all resulted in one perfect turkey and a deliciously memorable meal!

After everything was said and done I ferreted out the wish bone from the leftover turkey and put it up to dry for Ed and Miles. I am pretty sure they'll use it to make a nice wish, but there is no need for Ed to wish for a more successful Thanksgiving meal in the future. Holidays don't get much better than the one he hosted this year!
Congratulations Eddie!
We were thrilled to be a part of your big memory making day!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Love and Turkey

Gobble! Gobble!
With Love,
The Elsmo Four

Kids Giving Thanks

In Emma's words...

I am thankful for so many things! I am thankful for my good grades in school, and all the teachers who have helped me achieve these grades. I am thankful for all the amazing people who have helped me discover my love for Martha Graham and, and all other historical modern techniques. I am thankful for all my friends who make every day just that much better. And finally, I am thankful for my family. I am thankful that Mom drives around from one spot to another, and then back to that same spot again. I am thankful for the food she cooks for our family every night. I am thankful for my dad and for the hard work and focus he puts into his job. And for my brother who is always there to tease me, poke me, hurt me, and laugh at me. But I love him. I love all of them. They can always make me laugh, help me feel better, and I can always trust them (especially Mama). Happy Thanksgiving!

In Finn's words...

I would like to start off by saying Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for so many things it is hard to count. I am thankful for my fifth grade teacher, Ms. Balicki, because she has taught me a lot of things that I didn't know about. I am also thankful for all my friends because they are always there for me. I am definitely thankful for all the soccer coaches I have ever had. They have helped me increase in skill, shooting, passing, and dribbling. I am thankful for a lot of things, but mostly my family. My mom, my dad, and who am I forgetting...oh sister. My family has taught me a lot, they have helped me get through tough situations, and we have created a lot of fun memories together. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Wordle

I took a moment to make a wordle out of my blog posts about Thanksgiving last year. The bigger the word the more it was used in the posts. This collection of words sums up the spirit of my favorite holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Relaxing with a book...

...looks like this when you are a dancer!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Inspired Lunch Date.

Find out what I fed my friend Miss Carla for lunch at Inspire Mel.
I think this is a recipe everyone needs to try!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I don't consider myself a crafty person. I love to create, but rarely do my efforts include tools like glue guns, nails, or exacto knives. I am more of a knife and cutting board kind of girl, but occasionally I'll delve into the world of the crafter. That way when Leif comes home from work and asks how my day was I can say alluring things like, "My day was fine. I made candles." And then he looks at me like I've misplaced my bonnet and he forgot to shoot our dinner on his way home from working at the mill.
Moments like that tickle me.
I love Thanksgiving and I love the fact that we are sharing the day this year with our longtime friend and holiday companion, Ed and his kids. For me, the only downside to leaving our cozy home for the holidays is my desperate need to fill up all the time I would normally spend menu planning and prepping. Enter the candle making. Recently, I've found myself drawn to all the hokey Thanksgiving convenience food items on display in grocery stores all over town. While I would never serve any of these items at my Thanksgiving dinner (and I have it on good authority Ed won't either), I couldn't help thinking there was something too perfect about their collective statement on American holiday eating habits not to do something with them.
Wax and wicks were the answer!
I am hoping to find a way to make those canned french fried onions into a candle so I can create a glowy ode to the iconic green bean casserole! Don't you just love spare time?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Awful Offal?

Offal (n): Also known as 'variety meats,' includes the organs, glands, tail, feet, snout, tongue and other viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal that are edible, but relatively uncommon in western kitchens today.
Even if this photo makes you feel a little queasy I bet you are wondering about it.
Want to see what this little bit of offal turned into?
Check it out at Inspire Mel.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


One city block,
one million square feet,
3,200 students,
and yes, they serve sushi for lunch in the school cafe.
Emma will be a freshman among those 3,200 students at
OPRF high school next year.
To get the ball rolling, today she and the other 8th graders toured the OPRF and this evening parents of incoming freshmen were invited to a student led Q and A session. Emma was just giddy as can be when she came home today and after my meeting tonight I can honestly say I am crazy excited for her to be a part of this impressive high school! We sure to be Huskies through and through!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dinner and a show...

The amazing Emma Grace is in her second week-end of Momenta shows and Kaleidoscope, a circus ballet for children, is simply adorable! Today I had the distinct pleasure of taking my friend, Cole, on a date to see Emma perform! He is an incredible gentleman and I would take him just about anywhere!
Following several sweets and a memorable show Cole, Emma and I met up with my friend Jamie at Sen Sushi for dinner. I don't know when the last time you took a kindergartner to a sushi bar was, but let me assure you, Cole is unmatched when it comes to ordering! First he took down a piping hot bowl of miso soup and followed that with two orders of Tako (sashimi style octopus) and two orders of ikura (salmon roe)! I have never seen anything like it and when I offered to share the eyes from my amaebi (raw sweet shrimp with fried heads) Cole flat out refused; he informed me he had eaten eyes before and didn't need to do it again. Obviously this kid has amazing parents!
I casually informed him he was missing out and popped an eye in my mouth. He took one look at me and said, "Oh fine. Gimme one." He downed that eye and the next thing you know he had legs and brains flying down the hatch. We had to place a second order!
Needless to say, Cole has a new sushi bar favorite and (no offense Leif) I have new favorite dinner partner!

Early Morning Book Worm

I just loved seeing this when I came downstairs at 7:15am.Finn devoured this book in less than a day!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
Finn is not alone in his Wimpy Kid obsession; Jeff Kinney's fifth book in his popular series had a first run of five million copies. So...I am pretty sure I am not the only mom who has a picture like this one!

Thursday, November 11, 2010 more...

Well, Anne sent along another picture of the kids today and I just don't think it could be any cuter! I think it captures the essence of Emma and Finn perfectly!!


Can you imagine a prettier pitcher? I know I can't! I certainly didn't expect it, but I am just madly in love with this Juliska piece Ang gave me as a thank you gift for taking care of her last week! I'll be sure to serve some water from it at some point, but I just had to go out and buy some white hydrangeas for it right away! What a treasure.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Passenger Posture

Emma thinks sitting like this in the car is totally normal...
Don't you sit this way in the passenger seat all the time?

Big Star

How lucky am I? Today a few of my amazing friends treated me to a belated birthday lunch in Wicker Park at Paul Kahan's hipster taco joint, Big Star. I think this was the first time in my life I've ever enjoyed eating outside during November in Chicago, but the weather was so glorious today it seemed logical to soak up some sun and sip on a Margarita!
All I have to say is Big Star totally lives up to the hype! We decided to start out with guacamole and chips and I selected a daily special featuring fried chicken, pumpkin mole, cotija cheese, pumpkin seeds and scallions. The dish was perfect in every way imaginable! The chicken was perfectly cooked, crispy and moist and the rich mole was sublimely executed! I would have been willing to pay far more than the $5 they charged for it!! Logically, I followed perfection with pork belly. I enjoyed my Tacos de Panza as well, and appreciated the straight forward Tomato Guajillo sauce that finished off the dish!

I have to say it was a perfect lunch date in every way! I can't wait to return for another taste of these tacos and more importantly to share another outing with these fabulous ladies! Thanks Carla, Sue and Julie! I loved celebrating my birthday with you!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sneak Preview...

Our amazing friend and photographer, Anne, has done it again! We'll be picking our favorite family photo for our holiday card in the coming weeks, but this sample trio of shots she sent over this afternoon has me pretty excited about what is to come! Seriously, if you'd like to pull off a family portrait for the holidays I would suggest giving Anne a call! She is the best!
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