Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autumn in and out of Chicago

It's hard to be a Chicagoan in October and not feel the pull of hazy yellows, irreverent oranges, dusky reds and mushroom cap browns. Admittedly, there are few times of the year when I wouldn't rather be out in the middle of a field somewhere, somehow particularly in autumn I crave the outdoors. I want to be decked with a thick pair of boots, with ruddy cheeks and an opened mouth smile that only eye-tear-jerking, flippant fall winds can bring.

We try our best to bring fall into the city in a variety of ways. We throw an impromptu weekday pumpkin ale tasting party, complete with furry friends, ghosting and pork fennel stew.
 The Contenders!
Chef and her bowls of fall
We have our annual pumpkin carving ladies evening, wherein our inner artist, starved all year long finally has a night to exhibit. Replete with the roasting of seeds and little bowls of roasted squash soup. This year's carvings were Sarah Palin, A Ghoulish Fiend, Animal and Kermit the Frog.Charming aren't they?
We took the last long bike ride of 2011 up to Evanston's Ryan Field, a full 29 miles round trip. Leaves crunched along in the bike lane as we cruised home victorious, sporting maize and blue.

The truth of the matter is though, no matter how hard we try, there's something about autumn that you just can't create here in the city.. You have to go to a farm, pick apples, take a hay ride. You have to find a new little town, drink some local brew, and chat with total strangers because they're wearing the same colored clothes as you. And so we did.

We took our annual trip to Iron Creek, to stand in the soil where our produce is grown, to see the barns that have been raised, in part thanks to our business, and see the new little piggies grow as our farm expands.
Tamera Mark of Iron Creek Farm
Iron Creek bacon
We dropped by Garwood Farm, a massive U-Pick paradise just outside of Michigan City and collected 2 bushels of apples, tomatoes and peppers all for canning and pie-ing and tarting. Yum.
Honey Crisp makes everyone happy
Picks a Pepper
And last weekend, we rented a tiny, no indoor plumbing cabin off Lake Michigan in a charming little Dutch town and drank local brews, watched the sunset and read this thrilling book.
Much too often, fall can last only for a day or two in Chicago as we vacillate between 80 degrees and 20 but this fall, and I always feel hungry still as we slide int November. But this year I've had a full serving of college football, squash, ale and boots.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Potter's Pizzas: Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets

Harry's growing up right before our very eyes. In CoS, Harry's manning up a bit: his voice is lower, albeit cracking frequently (especially when driving ). And well, we're growing up a little bit too. In watching this round, I'm realizing that our first party wasn't quite the well-oiled machine we thought it was. For example, Lucius Malfoy and Moaning Myrtle aren't introduced to us until this second movie, so we probably should have been drinking Unicorns Blood or Gringots Ginger Beer. Oops. Just like Harry (and Neville), things will only improve over time.

I realized also that the most exciting part of this cocktail is not a thing to be captured in still photos. So for your viewing pleasure, this week's Truth Serum bubbling for you:


That weekend we made:
Potter's Petrified Pepperoni Pizza
Basilisk Blood : Hurricanes
Truth Serum: vodka redbull
 *** Since the writing of this post, we have since powered through the remaining 6 films available on DVD in 5 weeks. Driven? Yes. Entertained? Absolutely, though possibly more with our ever-evolving menu than the films themselves. Wait, no I take that back. This is Harry we're talking about after all. We've made:

Potters Perfect Peanut Butter Popcorn (pictured above): equal parts sugar, natural peanut butter, light corn syrup, simmered until consistent and poured over freshly popped corn.

Hippogriff Hamburgers
Maurauder's Map Mojitos

Whomping Willow Whiskey: secretly Imbibe's cover recipe.
And probably some others that I've neglected to write down but will occur to you as flashes of genius when you do your own Harry Potter viewing. Because you will, won't you? My sister told me my last post inspired her and she made some Potter's Purple Potatoes. See friends? This blog does do good in the world.

I do solemnly promise to give you the full report on the finale. There has been talk of prime rib, yorkshire pudding, shephards pie and countless other British delights.
 Either way it will be delightful....