Friday, January 29, 2010

Feeling under the weather in a yellow submarine...

I'm feeling a little under the weather again today, not full on sick, but definitely congested and with a serial headache. I've diagnosed my body as being in full-on rebellion for all of the moving/stressing/traveling/standing in line at offices that's we've been doing lately to make this move abroad happen, and I can't stop daydreaming about the fresh produce at the local markets in Geneva and the wonderful cheeses and cafes in France that will put me back to feeling normal. It's hard to stock a kitchen with good for you whole grains and fruits and veggies when you know you'll be leaving almost as quickly as you moved in. But as I'm not feeling well today, I thought I'd share this little gem that I came across today on the interwebs:

It's a little submarine tea infuser! Isn't it so cute? Found via swissmiss

In addition to getting our French and Swiss visas on Wednesday, we also went to celebrate a surprise birthday party for one of our friends at an amazing little bar called "The Violet Hour." I wish I had pictures of this amazing speakeasy-esque bar, but the place was pretty much pitch black and only lit by (very) dim and small overhead lighting, candles, and a fireplace. The walls were blue with white trim, and heavy dark velvet curtains divided the rooms, which added to the dark vibe. There were big comfy couches and the drink list was amazing - I hadn't heard of a single drink on the menu as many contained things like whole egg or egg whites, and liquors that I hadn't heard of. I think I picked the best drink at the table - it was a mixture of Laphroig and Johnny Walker red, and then had a few other ingredients in it that I don't recall, and THEN the server lit my drink on fire. And this wasn't a "Oooh look at us we're so extreme we're lighting a drink on fire because we're an awesome kind of place," this was "I'm heating up this slice of orange peel to release the oils from it into your drink, and then I squirt it into the drink which creates a small flame." And it must have worked, because the orange peel never made it into my drink, but there was definitely an orange flavor to it. Well played "Violet Hour," well played. Just a really awesome place. But good luck finding it: there's no sign or name on the place, and the door is pretty hidden on a wall covered in an artist's mural. Definitely worth the search though if you're carousing around Wicker Park...

Last night we again chose some hearty comfort food in the form of some beef chuck and black bean chili, with a side of roasted eggplant and beets. We kind of made the recipe up as we went along as I made this often in grad school as my go to "Poor Grad Student Dinner" (sans the meat), however it took some reorganizing to figure out how and when to incorporate the beef chuck. There was even a little celery in there because we needed to use it up, and it went really well in it (I think celery goes well in everything so maybe I'm a little biased).

Buying the beans in bulk and cooking them yourself is much more economical and for me satisfying than buying them canned at the store (and less packaging to dispose of - yeah!), but you've gotta have the time to make them (these took about 1.5 hours simmering on the stove in the Le Creuset). Something we also learned as we went along is that this one was much more on the hot side than the ones I used to make in school - I'll tip my hat to the blending of lives in the institution of marriage, and to my husband who eats jalapeno, serrano and habanero peppers like they're apples. So in hindsight, also preparing a bed of either organic long grain brown rice or organic long grain basmati rice would have been helpful in cutting the heat a bit for me. Mental note for next time...
This bad boy took about 2.5 hours to reduce down to the level it should be at for serving. We were really hungry at the 1.5 hour mark and it was getting late, so it was a little more watery than we would have liked, but nonetheless delicious (and HOT). Luckily we let the rest simmer for another hour while we ate and cleaned up, so the rest of the batch is just right (and HOT).
A little shredded jalapeno cheese on top finished off the meal. Can't wait to dig into the leftovers! :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dang you tall Hancock...

Yep, that's it - the Hancock Tower. You can just barely see the tall antenna like thing at the top. I've had the pleasure of having drinks on two occasions with some amazing people at the 97th (or is it 98th?) floor, and aside from the hefty drink tab it's a really cool experience. I think the elevator ride takes about 30 or so seconds, and my ears popped about halfway up. The views are incredible, as are the nuncing and stink-eye involved glances required to score a seat by the window wall. Luckily this falls within my skill set. We were downtown for other reasons today however, all being the hopeful returns of several Swiss and French visas. We came back to our place victorious in what was an unheard of victory: a french visa obtained over the counter. I'm told that Manbearpig sightings are more common than this event. Had it not happened, we would have been waiting on bated breathe in hopes that it was mailed to us before we left the states. Sometimes things all fall apart and every once in awhile they all fall into place. With how stressful the last few weeks/months have been I'll take it.
Have I mentioned it's cold here? Really, really really freaking cold? The only colder temperatures I've felt were in Omaha over Christmas and New Year's where temps at night dropped to -15 degrees F. Midwest cold is a whole 'nother brand of beast.
T minus 2 weeks until the big move. Were both beyond exhausted at this point, as I think is pretty dang obvious in this picture. We haven't stopped to breathe since at least Thanksgiving, and I'm just hoping we have the chance to slow down a little bit once we've moved over and gotten over the jet lag.

So scrumbshlicious I can barely move; also known as fancypants comfort food...

The weather here has apparently returned to seasonal temps, but being that I've heard that Philly has been in the middle of a windy monsoon as of recent I'll take the redonkulous cold and snow to windy cold rain any day of the week. After a very blustery bus ride down to the promised land (Lincoln Park Whole Foods), and a great sale on Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese, it seemed that all dinner roads were leading to a delicious dinner of Mac 'N Cheese - make that Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese with Champagne and a side of spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil. I can't take the slightest bit of credit for this recipe, as I found it here. I love that the first step to cooking the dinner is to open a bottle of champagne and pour yourself and anyone around you a glass ("repeat as needed"). I've always been a fan of mixing high end and low end anything and everything, and I think that fancypants mac 'n cheese and champagne is really a testament to that collab.

Add a little Will Ferrell "Best of SNL" in there and I'd say it's a pretty good night to stay in and keep warm. And after all, don't we ALL need a little more cowbell?

Monday, January 25, 2010

I wanna be Bob Dylan...

We were fortunate enough to have some of our very good friends and family meet us out for a post-wedding celebration/bon voyage party (on short notice) at a place very near and dear to our hearts - McGillin's at 13th and Drury. The Birds were playing Dallas in the playoffs, so it was a packed house, but being our "See ya, Philadelphia" party, we wouldn't have had it any other way.

Bribes in the form of pitchers of lager, some nuncing, and a spontaneous sing-song outburst of "Mr. Jones" lessened the sting of the Birds loss and in having to say good-bye to some really rad people.

Thanks to everyone who came out to help us celebrate, and extra special thanks to those who came from further away. We couldn't have asked for a better group of friends and family! :)

The bride wore blue...

I think it's a little bit of an understatement to say it's been a crazy month. Finishing graduate school, moving out of my place in Philly (See ya, Philly!), getting married, and doing a midwest tour in a blizzard or two have been fun, but dare I say exhausting. Normalcy and routine have been non-existent, and from what I hear they're way overrated.

For those of you whom I haven't been the best at keeping in touch with as of recent (or not so recent), yes, I am now officially married to the most wonderful man who shares my love for zombies, cult classics from the 70s, cartoons, and ninjas. He's also a scientist. We had a small civil ceremony with a few loved ones around us at Philadelphia's City Hall on January 7, 2010, and it was perfect. Just absolutely perfect. I wore a short blue dress, and Dan wore SEPTA cufflinks that I personally made for him. Said man is also whisking me away to Switzerland/France for the next few years, and it's surreal to me that we're leaving in just under 3 weeks. It's been a whirlwind of paperwork and federal/international offices, as well as debates over the most substantial theories of proper packing (i.e. the fold vs. the roll method), and we still have a shit-ton to do. It appears that we will have temporary housing in Fernay-Voltaire, France, and will be searching for more permanent housing as we become settled. For now, we're going to just enjoy our last few weeks in Chicago while trying not losing our heads or vital paperwork.

I plan to post pretty frequently to keep youse updated on our adventures, so check back when you feel like procrastinating, saying hi, or get bored with Farmville. :)