#FarmBoxEats - What Am I Not Making is the Question...


Oh, how I love my Farm Box every week - these 2 chicks started a fully organic, farm-to-table delivery service of such amazing goodies that I get dropped right at the front door of FLO every single week.  It literally makes my Sunday.  I crack a bottle of something chilly and delightful, dig into the box, lay out a bunch of thoughts on random recipe ideas and really just get to it.  "It" meaning a not-riddled-with-guilt-about--absolutely-nothing-totally-FREE-day to just explore all the elements of food that I love.

I break out the cast iron skillet (love of that straight from my grandads spot in TN) and char up any veg available (carrots and fennel are awesome), whip up some FLO house buttermilk dressing, drop it on a bit of lettuce with shaved carrot and perhaps some peppery radish; and you know I whip out the tin of heavy cream for some kind of leek, shallot, white wine, butter reduction to spread on everything.

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I take a whole chicken and shove it full of rosemary, lemons, oranges, garlic and then cover it with fresh squeezes of cara cara oranges, a little oil, crushed fennel seed and garlic + onion powder.  Then cook it on 300 for about 4 hours totally uncovered.   What comes out is a damn near revelation on the bird.  So easy, so delish, such a good smell penetrating the house all day.

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I toast some everything bagels smeared with butter, slap a ton of cream cheese on them, layer on some wild lox, salty capers, fresh Lily's eggs, and a ton of dill.  Once you pop on a blast of fresh lemon, watch out.  This little number blows AWAY versions I get from restaurants.

All the flowers, herbs, plants are coming back in - and I just love being inspired on Sunday.  It's the best day of my week, that's for sure.  Unless I bust up my SUP like I did the other day.  No worries, it's  being repaired...but dang...guess that is what Rose is for!

I'm also super inspired by my bud Ky's (@kyfurneaux) new veggie garden in her back yard...I am stunned at how quick all her greens came popping up...what deliciousness!

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Oh, and there's usually some kind of full on rearrange involved.  :)  Tiny space, but big living!  Loving this new layout - more palatial space for the dining table - more spreadout happening - just more life lived overall. 

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Best Words Ever - Appalachian Bistro


2nd Best Words - Tableside Hot Toddy

Of course, you know the first thing I do when I get home to TN is look up the best farm to table food happening 'round the way.  A little gem called Terra Mae pulled up and I was off like lightening.  Dont'cha know I learned 2 really great things over lunch.

#1 - I love, love, love hot toddy type drinks, especially when they are made tableside.  Good lord, what a contraption.  Took about 5 minutes for it to infuse and boil up into the top vessel, then it spit itself back into the bottom jug and our waiter reappeared outta nowhere to pour us a couple of warm delights into Moscow Mule style mugs.  YUMMMMM.

#2 - Pimento cheese is a force to be reckoned with.  I've been a mega fan since it was on tap at my grandparents house as a kid, but then my bud Lis started making it out in LA and it was like a drug...the very best cheesy, mayo coated kind.  Now, I can add to my life list - BEST PIMENTO CHEESE EVER FOUND.  This was a buttermilk blue pimento that was solid snow white and tasted nothing like blue cheese.  Instead it tasted like the best thing you will ever eat.  I bought a giant vat to haul home to my parents and they too were stunned.  This is a recipe from the heavens...I'm def gonna have to play with it til it comes up winning.

This little restaurant downtown was adorable and a few pals met up with us.  We kept picking the cheese of Mark's burger (I'm back on no meat) and it too was some kind of freaky good.  Now, ya'll know I chow on great food, but man...this was some kinda southern twist I wasn't expecting.  Pickled shrimp; some redic corn risotto; a duck reuben of sorts that Lis loved; sweet potato/rosemary biscuits with apple compote; candied bacon (oh - I guess I do taste test the meat now and again when it comes to treasures like that); perfect deviled eggs.  It was all just spot on.  And, I had forgotten how damn good Amaretto Sours were.  Make that 2!

I just love the South.  













For the Love of Lula {From The Raving Dish}

Img_1973_2Since I moved to East Rogers Park last year, rarely do I stray farther than a mile or so from LSD. Life on the lake is a little more relaxed, a smidge more low-key and definitely a whole lot more fun. But, sometimes I get a hankering for a new exploration, one that isn't all about Latin American food, windy days and lime-tinged cuba libres. In essence, I'm looking for the urban part of Chicago, not the one that is so stunningly beautiful it almost pierces my eyes each time I walk out the front door and see the crazy blue of Lake Michigan. It's during those moments when I crave the creative, old-school side of Chicago that I head over to Logan Square. To me, its environs feel like the working man's version of Wicker Park, an area that became a little too trendy for its own good.

Which brings me to Lula Cafe; I've only eaten there twice, and the first time I went, I slugged one too many beakers of rum and couldn't really remember much about the packed house, except that my waiter had a too-cool-for-school attitude. Always willing to give a place another go, though, I recently headed back with my bud Brad on a brilliant sunshine-splashed afternoon for a tipple of liquor and some feel-good food.

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Romanian Sausage Company and the Perfect Polish Sausage

Img_1360I have just discovered the best hotdog in the world.  The Romanian Sausage Company (on Clark and Touhy) churns out this little diddy of a garlic Polish that is totally mind-boggling.  I picked up two of them the other day and a package of their pillow soft buns that come peppered wtih poppy seeds and tiny dots of onions and had a Polish fest.  All it needed was a little bit of spicy mustard and pure heaven, I swear.  Since I'm not much of a meat eater, I was taken aback by my own fervor in shoving this dog down.  I mean, 2 of them in about 5 minutes?  Jeezzzz....I can't seem to stop thinking about them, talking about them, dreaming about them and generally just wishing I had one of them near me at all times.  The company keeps funky hours, so call before you go...Also, on Thursday's they roll out some fantastic potato salad.  Much like the hotdogs, it flies off the shelf~

The Fish Keg = Fried Nirvana {From The Raving Dish}

Img_1330I could tell by the quizzical stares I was getting that all the folks wandering into The Fish Keg thought I was crazy. Here I was, a wide-eyed gal dressed in Pilates wear, spreading hot-out-of-the-fryer food onto the hood of my dusty black truck.

To them, I was a loon. To me, though, I was just trying to set the perfect food shot in the correct amount of light. It if means maniacally rearranging a piece of crispy fried shrimp or a golf ball-size hush puppy barely a smidge, well, it's all worth it for the sake of snapping the very best picture. And, thankfully, after a brief photo shoot, I'd captured my goodies to my liking and the time had come to dig in.

I ended up at The Fish Keg by accident. I found myself with a free day since I wised up and hired a sweet little Polish gal to clean my place. After realizing that I had an entire day to myself, I felt lost and unsure of how to spend the day. Movie? Bike ride? Shopping? Of course it all turned back to food. I just did what I do best and started cruising the streets looking for some inspiration. I found it on Howard.

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Morseland Mojitos and Mac-n-cheese Fritters

Img00065According to the bill, we'd consumed 16 mojitos this time around. I wondered, how is that even possible, with three wee gals and a time span of just a few hours? I blame it on the setting sun, no days off work in weeks and an appetite for the good stuff.

The night started out innocent enough. I was meeting a few pals at Morseland just down the street from my place for a simple mojito. Though I'd never been to this popular haunt, I wanted to scope out my friend Lisa's new 'hood on Morse Avenue and try a new place. Morseland's reputation for killer mojitos was the clincher.

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Craving Diner Food from Africa

Dscf1666There are many fine things that I can say about South Africa, the gorgeous country that I am working in right now.
The violet jacaranda trees take my breath away every time I open my window; the rooibos red tea latte that I toss back every morning is a tastebud sensation; the wine is as spirited as any I've had 'round the world; and the salads are a sight to behold, giant platters of bright veggies, grilled haloumi cheese and peppery olive oil.

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Noodling 'round the North Side {From The Raving Dish}

Dscf1467 I started my Saturday morning like every other day off I have: delirious and delighted at the same time. To be able to sleep in and turn off my cell phone is a godsend, and when I finally rolled out of bed at 9 a.m., I was rip-roaring ready for a cocktail. Go figure.

Intending to just start walking and see what I could find, I tossed on my tennis shoes and filled my backpack with the day's goodies (namely my trusty notebook for noting new finds). Then that moment of utter indecision: Do I wanna head north or south, east or west? This time the North Side was tugging at my taste buds, so I skipped off the porch and started trucking.

I love nothing more than investigating Chicago. The city can change almost overnight and I'm always stunned to realize that a cool new restaurant I ate at last month has already shut down. So many things can slip through the cracks...like when did Book Cellar, Inc. set up an outdoor cafe?

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Uncommon Ground=Total Heavenly Grub

Dscf1259 Sometimes my body just cannot handle another killing-me-slowly meal, and my poor shell is literally dying for something that soothes my blistered, overworked soul. This past Sunday I finally had a day off after months of grueling production schedules, loads of sweets and obnoxious late-night dinners, and all I wanted was a good meal—one that was hearty and, most importantly, real. Not the sort of pre-fab baloney I've been fueling my system with for the last few weeks. (Though in a pinch, a jalapeno and cheese taquito and an icy-cold Red Bull from 7-11 is a sheer delight).

So come 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, my pal Lisa and I set out on a journey to find a new restaurant to satisfy our cravings. What we found was a fantastic rendition of heart-healthy home cooking at its very finest. My new favorite Sunday sit-down is, without a doubt, Uncommon Ground Coffeehouse and Cafe.

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Perfect Patty Melts and Milkshakes @ Stella's Diner {From The Raving Dish}

Dscf0713 My morning started like every other morning; I woke up wondering what the hell I was gonna eat. It was one of those days where my belly was rumbling but I couldn't decide what I wanted to put in her. Would it be eggs and hash browns? Tamales and cafe con leche? I couldn't make up my mind and the only way to settle it was just get in the truck and drive.

I quickly convinced my friend Lisa to come along for the ride. Little did we know we'd make a dozen stops before we found exactly what we were looking for.

When I'm on the hunt for something rave-worthy, my rule of thumb is to head north on Damen Avenue. I usually pass a handful of restaurants that I haven't tried, but this time nothing was calling my name (or, rather, my stomach's name).

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