Summer Means Farmer’s Markets – Do you know where yours is, Chicago?

IMG_00000016When I lived in Washington DC there was a Farmer’s Market every Wednesday in the summer about a block from my apartment.  I had to actually walk through the market to get home from work which didn’t bother me one bit since I knew I’d have a great dinner that evening even if it was just some fresh homemade pasta.  Chicago has a great farm market which operates year round (Green City) but it’s not the same as a neighborhood one you can walk to (unless you live by Lincoln Park).  Luckily for us, there’s one every Saturday just a few blocks away in our North Center neighborhood.  So, last weekend we walked up to check it out. (more…)


A Haggis for Burns Night

Haggis Neeps and TattiesLast year around this time Cheryl tasked me with making some haggis for a Burns Night, an annual celebration of the Scottish poet Robert Burns held on his birthday January 25.  Basically a good excuse to get together, drink whisky, and eat some haggis.  The problem last year was we came up with idea on January 23rd two days before the holiday.  Pretty difficult to source what you need for haggis in two days.  In the end I found some at Gepperth’s Market and we had our Burns Night.  This year however I was intent on making haggis from scratch and set a reminder to start the planning.  (more…)

Homemade Garlic Sausage – No Turning Back Now!

I did it.  I made some sausage.  The old saying goes something like: “you never want to watch laws or sausages being made.”  Having lived and worked in our nation’s capital for over a decade before moving to Chicago I can honestly say making sausage is much easier than making laws and absolutely tastier.  If you’ve been following me (you haven’t?  why not?) you know I’ve been trying to teach myself some advanced kitchen skills lately and my new subject is the art/craft of charcuterie.  As with every adventure you start off by putting one foot in front of the other so I began slowly with some home-cured bacon and duck prosciutto which both turned out well and encouraged me to continue through the looking-glass to my real goal: sausage.  This next step became inevitable with the arrival of a meat grinder last month for my birthday from my in-laws.  Giddy-up. (more…)

Still here! Just Swamped. Reason: We Bought a House

Just a quick note to my valued readers, I haven’t gone anywhere.  Just been crazy busy!  Cheryl and I purchased a nice brick 2-flat over in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago, about 10 blocks west of where we currently live, and have been crazily prepping it for the big move this coming Saturday.  For you non-Chicagoans a 2-flat is a multi-unit building with…2 units in it.  I bet you can guess how many units a 3-flat has.  Well legal ones at least.  As a Chicago realtor I see all kinds of “off-the-radar” units tucked into basements and attics where Dr. Richard Kimball would feel right at home.  Thankfully, ours does not have any of these.  It is a true, legal 2-flat with no fugitives. (more…)

The Chicago Air and Water Show – Beginning of the End of the Chicago Summer

In mid-August every year the roar of jets and buzz of planes over Chicago means one thing: Air and Water Show weekend!  This is a great Chicago summertime event and unlike that other big summer event, Lollapalooza, the Air and Water Show is free!  Just get over to the lake shore on the weekend and watch.  It’s the last big event of the Chicago summer before we hit Labor Day and the official end of the season and it’s one Chicagoans love gathering for. (more…)

Nhu Lan Bakery – Delicious Bánh Mi in Lincoln Square

With all of the summer recipes I’ve been posting I noticed it has been a while since I wrote something about a Chicago neighborhood eatery.  I think I may have said this before but being a real estate broker is great for exploring Chicago and uncovering little gems you normally wouldn’t know about.  And there are so many out there!  Up on Lawrence Avenue just west of Western in Lincoln Square sits a tiny little Vietnamese bakery called Nhu Lan, and they have some fantastic, out-of-this world delicious Bánh Mi sandwiches. (more…)

First Attempt at Making Bacon – Part 1

For the longest time I’ve been wanting to try my hand at curing meat and making sausages.  I’ve been following a couple of charcuterie bloggers and have been fascinated by what they’re turning out.  Since I spend less time in the kitchen during the summer I figured now would be a good time to cross the cooking Rubicon and start.  Gotta begin somewhere and so I thought I’d start with something which seems fairly straightforward and simple: bacon. (more…)