Farm to Table

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Living in a large city, it can be easy to lose sight of “the real world”. I love our urban bubble but I’ll admit, there are times when my view of normalcy is slightly skewed (refusing to own a car, $17 cocktails, grocery delivery services…).

Take the whole farm-to-table movement. Restaurants all over the place are calling their menus farm-to-table and people are going nuts for it. Me included. I had a kale salad at this place that screamed farm to table, going as far as having picnic tables for seating because that’s how their suppliers eat on the farm and I lost my shit, I was so excited and by god, that salad was the best salad in the history of ever.

But guess what? Farm to table isn’t a trend or a marketing ploy- it’s how you get your food.

Hey, anything that gets people eating whole, healthy foods that didn’t have to travel a continent to get to them is fantastic, I am all for it. But this week, I was at an actual Farmer’s Market (not my beloved yuppie, overpriced Green City Market but a real farmer’s market with people who actually work on farms) in a small town in Michigan and it hit me- I think it is incredible when I eat out and they make everything in-house because gosh, I could never do that. So here I am, looking at all of this gorgeous produce, grown from the ground miles from where I stood and it was…inspiring. I could make anything I wanted from scratch. I could! And I would!

So I made pickles.


No canning required, this recipe from Smitten Kitchen is great. Thinly sliced cucumbers (I used a mandolin), white vinegar, salt and dill. Refrigerate. Shake. 3-5 hours later, pickles. They’re fresh, crispy and I know where everything in them came from because I bought it. It felt so good to be inspired by food again and genuinely bring the farm to my table.


Smitten Kitchen’s Red Wine Chocolate Cake

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I have been feeling really under the weather this weekend. Blame it on the on and off snow we are still getting or the hot tolerable/cold temps, it’s been stuffy nose, copious amounts of tea, napping central over here. After digging into takeout lasagna from Rose Angelis, a leftover bottle of wine was staring me in the eye. I was feeling so badly that drinking it sounded terrible (tough times, I know) but I could cook with it.

10pm sounds like as good a time as any to bake a chocolate cake, right?

Smitten Kitchen can do no wrong and this red wine chocolate cake is no different. I hate red velvet cake, a ton of food coloring isn’t my jam, but the red wine gave it a red color and flavor that was a perfect balance of bitter (from the wine) and sweet (the chocolate) so it was basically what red velvet cake wants to be when it grows up. And given the late hour in which the cake was baked, the easiness of the recipe was a big plus.

Also a plus? Cake with coffee for breakfast.




Red Wine Chocolate Cake

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I don’t know about you but this chilly weather has made me absolutely ravenous.  I was running errands today and even though I had a perfectly reasonable breakfast and lunch, it was all I could do to not stop in every bakery and restaurant I saw and stuff my face.

My body must still remember the never ending hibernation of Chicago Winter 2011.

Cue scouring my favorite foodie websites and finding this fabulous Red Wine Chocolate Cake.  In a list of my top 5 favorite things, red wine, chocolate and cake are probably numbers 1-3 so to find a recipe with all of them in the title, I mean, seriously, just stop.  Not to mention, it requires little to no shopping- trust me, there is red wine and chocolate in our apartment at all times.

I’m doing a test run of this bad boy tonight and if it turns out as delish as that picture looks, it has won itself a spot on the menu for the inaugural Dinner Club next month.

Click here for the full recipe.

(Image via SmittenKitchen)

Summering: Grilled Pizza

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Last night was a night for friendship, a night for food, a night to hang on to every last ounce of summer left- a little summer soiree, if you will.

I got the idea to do make-your-own-grilled-pizza from Hollywood Housewife and she was spot on!

I could NOT be more pleased with how well this turned out.  Everyone chose their own toppings (the spread included artichokes, sundried tomatoes, pepper, onion, chicken sausage, arugula, basil, mushrooms and mozzarella), we took the elevator down to the sundeck, threw them on the grill and drank wine until they were done.

How To: Grab a piece of naan (FYI: naan from Whole Foods is round and perfect for little pizza crusts AND comes in whole wheat and garlic flavor), brush on a coat of EVOO, top with whatever you want and put it on the grill for around 8 minutes or until everything melts.

It was great because everyone got to eat what they wanted and an interactive component to a dinner party was a fun way to mix it up/make things less formal.  Perfect for our girls night.

Oh and the Strawberry Summer Cake didn’t hurt either:

Summer…please don’t end.

(Big thanks to Shauna for turning me on to both HHW and Smitten Kitchen– you are an amazing resource for entertaining!)