Monthly Archives: August 2012

Summer Days in Chicago

The following pictures sum up my summer in Chicago this year. I’m spending almost every weekend out and about, mostly at the lakefront and Lincoln Park. Enjoy!

Ah, Lake Michigan.

The gardens at the Lincoln Park Conservatory.

Where’s the Southern Mac & Cheese Truck when you need it? I saw this parked in Wicker Park. It’s a looong trek to Wicker Park from my home in Rogers Park, so I’ll probably never get to enjoy Mac & Cheese from this food truck. Sadness.

Smoked lake perch salad. A particularly good brunch item at Old Town Social.

My husband, at Old Town Social. Early enough for coffee, never too early for beer.

I’m turning into one of those people who photographs flowers. Chicago has done that to me. There are too many amazing gardens in this city.

Some well-fed koi.

We’ll try and remember these days once winter sets in. Summer in Chicago rocks.


The Case of the Blue Garlic

So last night, I was cooking up some chicken tenders with my favorite, lemons and capers, but when I pulled them out of the oven to check on their progress I was greeted with this:

You’ll have to excuse the fuzzy, poorly lit photo because I grabbed my crummy point-and-shoot as soon as I saw that blue stuff sprinkled all over the chicken. And just what is the blue stuff? Well, that’s garlic. Why it turned bright blue, I had no idea.  Actually, I freaked out a bit at first. I frantically checked over the kitchen for the source of the coloring. I checked my hands for ink stains, I made sure there weren’t any volatile chemicals lying around (actually, there are no volatile chemicals in my house at all, since I insist on biodegradable cleaning products, etc). I know that copper can turn foods blue or green, but I don’t own any copper pots or pans. Finally, when I couldn’t find any explanation I took to the internets.

It turns out that immature garlic contains sulfur compounds that can react with minute amounts of copper (including small amounts found in water), or acids that cause the blue/green coloration. So, the lemon juice and pickled capers in my dish were the culprits, coupled with the fact that the garlic I used was still a little purple, indicating it was very “young” garlic. The good news is that the reaction is completely safe and the garlic is still edible.

Blue Garlic Chicken

16oz boneless, skinless chicken tenders

1 large lemon

2 tsp capers

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 onion

2 tsp olive oil

2 cloves of young garlic (well, if you want your garlic to turn blue)

Pre-heat oven to 400F. In a skillet, heat oil on medium high until hot. Slice onion and add to pan to caramelize, about 10mins. Cover a 9×9 glass baking dish with the caramelized onions. Add chicken tenders to the skillet and brown on both sides, about 1-2mins each side. Add chicken to glass dish and squeeze lemon juice over the chicken. Slice lemon slices and lay on top. Sprinkle with garlic and capers. Bake for 15-2omins. If you’re lucky, your garlic will turn bright blue.

Dazzle your dinner guests! Impress your family!

BTW, the chicken turned out great. I served it on a bed of salad and the blue garlic had no ill effects.

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Three weeks zoomed by and my husband’s back from his stay in Italy. I am genuinely jealous that, yet again, he got to enjoy a stay in Europe while I sat around at home, bored out of my mind. That’s life as the wife of a poor Ph.D. student. I do have to say that I lost weight while he was gone. For some reason I find myself relentlessly eating when my husband’s around. It might just be his bad influence, or his enthusiasm for snacking, but I found it rather easy to be satiated with my three, low-calorie meals each day and glasses of water.

Speaking of water, my favorite drink this summer has been water with ice and lemon.  When I think about all of the calories I packed on guzzling beer, wine, soda, or sugary coffee drinks, I shudder. Hundreds of empty calories settling around my waist in a sad, spare tire have finally started to melt away with the help of sit-ups and lots and lots of agua. Oh, and of course, VEGGIES. I’ve written about my love of beets before, but I have to include another beet recipe I just discovered.

I came up with the idea of combining lemons and beets from simply opening the fridge door and seeing the two sitting side by side.  The sweetness of the beets pairs with the tangy lemon juice and the ginger adds just a little kick.  I included the fresh thyme to round out the flavors.


Chilled Lemony Beet Soup

About 1 lb  (16oz) of cooked beets, sliced

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 cup water (or stock)

1tblsp olive oil

The juice of 1 large lemon

1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tblsp fresh thyme or rosemary, minced

1 tsp sea salt

Chopped chives to garnish

Add water/stock and lemon juice to a blender, add beets and onions and blend until smooth, about 2mins.

What you get is a shockingly red no-cook soup that’s both filling and low calorie, not to mention stunningly beautiful.

The licorice-y, minty flavor of pumpernickel rye enhances the earthy flavors of beet and onion.



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