Monday, June 30, 2014


I am not complaining, but we have literally bought Fitz every toy under the sun in order to hold his attention.  His window of focus is pretty short and, like most puppies, will spend a good amount of time with a peanut butter filled kong, but his near obsessive love for this plastic hanger is hilarious.  He snubs all his toys in favor of keeping company with this everyday household item; he carries it with him wherever he goes.


This Shamrock played the full 90 minutes with the JV squad before earning the start with the varsity squad!
Pretty cool start to a high school soccer career.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tasting Theatrics...

A taste of Ella’s Theatrics

Mary Warren’s Fair & Fiery Poppets
Pastry wrapped jalapeno and poblano peppers
I find here a poppet Goody Proctor keeps. I have found it, sir. And in the belly of the poppet a
needle stuck. I tell you true Proctor, I never warranted to see such proof of Hell…”
Ezekiel Cheever, The Crucible by Arthur Miller
 Veronese Dumpling Discord
The Montague:  Seared tuna on gow gee crisp with pickled cucumbers and wasabi crema
               The Capulet:    Soft steamed spinach and ginger dumpling spoons
“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life”
Chorus prologue, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Aggie Wainwright’s Grapes of Plenty
Pistachio, goat cheese and grape truffles
“I got thinkin’ how there was the moon an’ the stars an’ the hills, an’ there was me lookin’ at ‘em, an’ we wasn’t separate no more. We was one thing. An’ that one thing was holy.”
Casy, Grapes of Wrath adapted from the John Steinbeck novel by Frank Galati

Tansy’s Deviled Eggs
Eggs stuffed with horseradish, Sriracha, black sesame and scallions
“It’s hard to believe, you know? Just a little while ago, these were all inside some birds.”
Rick Steadman, The Nerd by Larry Shue

The Odd Couple
Cucumber cups with green spinach mousse and
Urban Till’s growing things herbed mushroom tartlets
“I got brown sandwiches and green sandwiches.”
Olive Madison, The Odd Couple (female version) by Neil Simon

Annual Putnam Valley Middle School Bake Sale
Eclairs with mocha mousse, almond cake petit fours, strawberry tarts with crème brûlée & classic buttermilk brownies
“Syzygy. When the earth aligns with the moon and the sun.”
Rona Lisa Peretti, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin & Jay Reiss

June Rebellion Pique-Nique
Baguette with assorted French cheeses
“Take my love, for love is everlasting.  And remember the truth that once was spoken.
To love another person is to see the face of God.”
Éponine, Les Misérables by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg

Masha’s Brooding Blini
Chive pancake with red onion confit, crème fraîche and lingonberries
“To live and not to understand why cranes fly; why children are born; why there are stars in the sky…
One must know what one is living for or it is all nonsense and waste.”
Masha, Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov

Marilla’s Puffed Sleeves
Savory profiteroles with sundried tomato and chèvre frais
“I believe that each of us is possessed of a need to be “of” somewhere.
We want a sense of place—a place to call “home.”
Anne, Anne of Green Gables adapted from the novel by L.M. Montgomery by Peter DeLaurier

A flaneur is a wanderer through the city. Someone who…idles through the streets without a purpose….
except to idle through the streets.
 And linger when it pleases him.”
Ned, Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg

Assorted bagels & challah with potted smoked trout rillettes, vegetarian chopped liver,
cucumber dill cream cheese, roasted onion and capers and a display of smoked fish
“To us and our good fortune
Be happy, be healthy, long life.”
Chorus, Fiddler on the Roof by Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein
Celebrating Ella's high school graduation kicked off with a fun photo session intended to get the perfect picture for her graduation party invitation.  Ella has always been one of my favorite people to photograph and they had a bunch of really nice shots to pick from; I just loved their beach scene selection! From there we moved on to planning her big party; 11 dishes to honor the 11 high school theater productions she participated in during her years at OPRF.  The dishes were as diverse as the plays she participated in and her mom's creative touches brough my menu to life!  I felt honored to participate in such a meaningful and merry event.  It is no secret I've enjoyed watching Ella grow in to a mature and confident performer over the years and I anticipate big things will happen for Ella as she  heads to NYC in the fall. Her talent is sure to take her on loads of wondrous adventures.  
Ella and her Fiddler on the Roof co-star hamming it up behing the homemade challah.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Fish Story...

 Leif took a little time off today and we enjoyed a lunchtime field trip to Calumet Fisheries in the city; you'd never guess that the little shack under the Skyway peddles a mess of James Beard Award winning smoked fish, but the evidence is on the wall!
 We were looking to pick up a little lunch and some fish for an upcoming party, but we had no idea we were in for the smokehouse VIP treatment!  It turns out that we timed our visit perfectly because the smoke shack was about to turn out a beautiful batch of salmon.

 Leif and I were invited to check out the live action and even received a head and collar straight from the smoker to pick on while we ate our lunch on the bridge and waited for the fish to finish smoking.  Lucky us!

 The final smoke is thick and intense, but after it cleared away we were free to pick out three perfect portions of smoked salmon; we opted for two plain and one pepper and garlic.  We learned with a week's notice and a down payment, Calumet Fisheries will smoke a whole salmon for you. I am filing that tid-bit of knowledge away for my next big soiree!
 We had promised Val (of Val's Halla) a piece of smoked Lake Trout 
and she gleefully devoured it upon delivery.
 We picked up lake trout, whitefish, sturgeon in addition to the gorgeous pieces of salmon.  The salmon even had to cool for 30 minutes on my kitchen counters before I wrapped them up.  
It was a fun little outing and quite delicious, too!
3259 E. 95th Street
Chicago, IL 60617

Snuggled Up...

So Emma took a pretty good knock to the head during class last week.  Doctors at the local ER determined she had a mild concussion and prescribed a few days of quiet and rest to get her tender brain back in proper working order.  Being holed up in a dark hotel room didn't sound like that much fun to me until I saw this picture.  Looks to me like healing at Hubbard Street was filled with loads of cuddly girl time! After following the doctor's orders and listening to her caring chaperones, Emma feels much more like herself and is beginning to ease back into class. Phew!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Wise Up...

I am not sure if he was trying to pick up wisdom from my meadow sage by osmosis or what, but I do know I have rarely had a cuter gardening companion.

Sunday Brunch...

 Grab and Go...Black Cherry Pop Tarts
 Pancakes...wild mushroom, goat cheese, bacon, vanilla, balsamic, sorrel
 Southern Summer...fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, english muffin. scallion
Breakfast Bowl...scotch egg, curry aioli, pickled onion, asparagus, aged gouda, black berry, arugula

Bibimbap...jasmine rice, pork, spinach, carrot, shiitake, sesame, egg, kimchee, heat, greens
 Donut...fontiana, pear, vanilla, lingonberry
The King...peanut butter, banana, bacon, cookies, cream
All of this went to this very young, sincerely appreciative, and impressively polite guest and his family.  He declared his meal was, "Delicious with a capital D!" and even asked to have his birthday party at my table.  In case you were wondering his favorite dish of the day was the Korean Bibimbap...fermented cabbage and all!   He melted my heart.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


...of the edible variety. 

New Carpet...

I love how little changes in a room can make it feel completely new.  
This colorful new rug was the perfect addition to our cozy family room.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tucked Away on Dubuque Street...

Last year we dropped Emma off in the exact same location for what proved to be one of the best experiences of her life.  Needless to say she was thrilled to find herself on Dubuque Street in Iowa City once again this afternoon.  Emma is poised to start a month long intensive with Hubbard Street Dance and cannot wait to get into the studios tomorrow!  We are going to miss her like crazy, but we know how much fun she is going to have and that makes it a little easier to let her go.

Happiness is...

Playtime with Abby.

Love on a Plate...

I woke to discover my husband staring, wide-eyed, at the ceiling in the darkness of our bedroom.

“Are you okay?” I whispered.

“I was just thinking that I really hope she looks like you,” he muttered, “I don’t think I am bad looking or anything, but I am not sure I would look good as a girl.”

A mere two weeks later, my husband’s middle of the night worries about becoming a father became a 7-pound 14-ounce crying reality. She was a beauty of a baby who resembled her father from the moment she was born.

“Don’t expect me to be great at this baby thing,” my young husband said to me as he cradled his female-likeness in his arms, “but I give you my word that I will amaze you when she is in middle school.”

Despite his insistence he would be a lackluster father in his early parenting years, my husband spent hours snuggling and fumbling his way through diaper changes, sleepless nights, and early morning feedings. Over time, and without ever really noticing, he had laid a solid foundation of trust that would sustain his relationship with our daughter for years to come.

Caring fathers everywhere display patience, tenderness and love over the long and slow build of years that make up the precious relationship between a father and his child. A father’s layers of caring for his children in the early years allow him to influence their lives in a million colorful ways during middle school and beyond.

Like so many father’s out there, my husband seems to underestimate all he has done oven the years to transform our kids into the impressive people they are today.

Embracing a little kitchen creativity, I created a delicious and manly meal suitable for serving as a sign of appreciation for all the complex ways dads makes monumental differences at home.

In this comforting Father’s Day dish, homemade fry bread gives the stacked entrée an indulgent foundation from which to grow. Cooking pork low and slow takes considerable patience, but yields delectable results. Layering the two items together leaves just enough room to pepper the plate with a few colorful details to round out the dish.

Make mealtime into a metaphor this Father’s Day and show the men who matter to you how much you care.

Happy Father's Day.

Father’s Day Fry Bread Stacks
Honor Father’s day by serving up a dish that celebrates the strong foundation, endless patience, and tireless attention to detail that fathers display every day.

For the Slow Cooked Pork:
¼ cup canola or grapeseed oil
1-4 pound pork shoulder roast
Salt and pepper
2 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, quartered and seeded
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup apple juice
2/3 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1-14 ounce can reduced sodium chicken broth

For the Colorful Bean Compote:
2 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 cup pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
½ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the fry bread foundation:
2 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1 ½ cups cold water
Oil or shortening for frying

For serving:
2 avocados, mashed
Scallions, sour cream, hot sauce and cheese if desired

To prepare the pork: Heat the canola oil in a large dutch oven over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper and sear on all sides until deeply golden brown-about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the browned meat to a sheet tray. Add the onions to the pot and reduce heat to medium. Season the onions with salt and pepper and allow them to cook stirring frequently until soft and golden brown-about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, jalapeno, cumin and turmeric and cook until just fragrant-about 45 seconds. Add the apple juice, cider vinegar, and chicken broth to the pot. Stir well and return the pork to the mixture (the liquid should come halfway up the sides of the meat). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover the pot tightly. Place into a 300 degree oven for three hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork. Keep warm until ready to assemble the stacks.

Make the bean compote: Place the corn in a pot of cold water and add 1 tablespoon of sugar if desired. Bring to a boil, cover pot and remove from heat. Allow corn to stand in the water for 15 minutes before allowing to cool. Using a sharp knife cut the kernels way from the cob and scoop into a mixing bowl. Add the beans, tomato, pepper, cilantro, scallions and jalapeno to the corn and mix well. Whisk the lime juice and olive oil together and season with salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the remaining ingredients and set aside until ready to assemble the stacks.

Prepare the fry bread: Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the water and mix gently until a soft dough forms; do not over work. Allow the dough to rest in a covered bowl for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6-8 balls. Dust a rolling pin and cutting board with flour and roll each dough ball into an oval ¼-inch thick. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking and fry the bread in batches until golden brown and crispy on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels.

To assemble the dish: Place a piece of fry bread on each plate. Top with a portion of pork and a generous helping of bean compote. Garnish as desired and serve at once.

Serves 6-8.

Friday, June 13, 2014


The end of Emma's junior year could not have come soon enough and it has been nice having her feeling unburdened and stress free for a couple of weeks.  We've been enjoying her so much that it is going to be difficult to say good-bye for an entire month, but Hubbard Street beckons! I think it is safe to say that these two pups can sense her impending departure; even though I am pretty sure Emma would sneak both of them in her baggage they better get their cuddles while they can.

Summer League...

Finn suited up as a shamrock for the first time last night.  He played the full 90 minutes with JV and was invited to stay on to play with the varsity team, too!  Not a bad start to his high school soccer career at St. Pat's. This morning he was on the bus bright and early to head to Iowa with the team for a week-end long tournament.  He is making fast friends and having a grand time; this is what high school should be about in my opinion!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Double Evens...

 Leif celebrated a double even birthday yesterday!  We have more than 44 reasons to love him and enjoyed hamburgers on the grill and a very decadent chocolate caramel pecan cake as a subtle node to his birthday milestone.  Tomorrow evening we'll celebrate in grand fashion, but this cozy family celebration was perfect in a lot of ways.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

On the Move...

 Rocking a new pair of electric green Nike Hypervenoms had Finn on the move and looking dangerous during his final game with Eclipse.  The team is disbanding next year and the players are scattering to different clubs in the area.  Finn had some tough choices to make after the try-out window closed, but in the end opted to join Blast Academy in Chicago. Academy programs focus on developing elite level player through training, earned playing time and highest-level playing opportunities. The Chicago Blast is well known to may  colleges and universities and Finn is excited to put is best (green cleat clad) foot forward with his new club in the fall.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The New Queen...

Nancy may have turned in her crown last night, but Emma gets to dabble in the world of royalty today.
She is portraying the Queen of the Gypsies in the Academy of Movement and Music's production of Don Quixote this evening.  I think her costume is simply lovely.

Queen Bee...

 After being crowned prom king and queen last year at the Oak Park Arms Seniors'Prom, the time came for Nancy and Howard to end their reign and crown a new set of prom royalty.
 All four of us headed to the prom to witness Nancy's graceful transition of power and last dance with her handsome king.  Her reign may be over, but Nan will always be the Queen Bee to me!

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