The Hunt for White Mums in October

October 3, 2017

You guys, it’s officially fall.  Summer is over…my balcony garden is kaput and I’m on the hunt for some white mums.   Big round plants of white mums.

I went to Gethsemane Garden and they had a ton of pumpkins and gourds in all shapes and sizes…especially the little white ones that I love to use for decor.  So I loaded my basket up with a ton of those.  Okay, five.  I loaded my basket with five of them.

Look at that lime green one!  Pretty shapely eh?  Have you ever been to Gethsemane Garden in Andersonville?  It’s pretty amazing.  I mean it’s got crazy good stuff in the summer.  But they don’t fail you in the fall either.  Look at these pumpkins!

They have all sorts of hearty fall flowers too.  And winter greens.  All kinds of kales and chards and cabbages!

They have “fancy” mums in every shade of orange and red you can imagine.  

But did they have any white mums?

No, not a one.  But they did have these giant cabbage roses.  Where does a girl get white mums from people?  Hook a girl up!

– Kallie

#linklove_wednesday

September 20, 2017

Here are the links I thought were interesting this week, September 20th, 2017:

 

  1. Let’s hear it for your BFF!
  2. Never hand someone a knife without putting it down first, else you risk severing that relationship…umm, thanks mom.
  3. I love Salma Hayek.
  4. I love corn chowder, especially this one.  Oh, and this one.
  5. Organic Dortitos…oh no!
  6. Another reason why exercise is good for you.
  7. Jedi mind tricks to make exercise a habit.
  8. Homemade pasta at the beach?  Tell me more.
  9. Being older, makes you wiser.  I enjoyed reading these.

An Ode to Las Piñatas and the Enchilada Diaries

September 19, 2017

Hola internet friends.  I was thinking that I need a new series for this blog.  I write a lot about Greek food, but what many of you may not know is that I love Mexican food too. I especially love enchiladas. A lot.  Almost too much…

There was this place that Jeff and I used to go to for Mexican food in Old Town called “Las Piñatas”.  In fact, we had been going there for over 20 years, even before we were dating…when we were “just friends”.  We went so often that when we sat down magically nachos and margaritas appeared.  We were so predictable that they knew exactly what we wanted.

It was a secret little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant on Wells Street, with velvet paintings on the wall of Mexican cowboys and hundreds of piñatas hanging from the ceiling.  It wasn’t anything fancy, but what they did, they did well.  No nonsense, tasty, comforting Mexican food.

Their nachos were individually made.  Each chip was carefully topped with it’s own little portion of refried beans, tomatoes, guacamole, cheese and crema.  Their margaritas were the perfect mix of tangy and sweet (ice, no salt for me).  But the thing they did the best were their enchiladas. Did I mention I love enchiladas?  A lot.  I was obsessed with their chicken molé enchiladas.  I never ordered anything else.  The molé was this spicy chocolate sauce bathing my chicken enchiladas.  If I could have ordered a bowl of the molé sauce and a spoon, I would of, but I had to be an adult.  Jeff always got the “mixtas” with steak.  Mixtas were a trio of enchiladas, each topped with tomatillo, rojo and mole sauces.

So maybe it’s time to compile a series of posts about some of the great things that Las Piñatas served and document my attempt to recreate them.  And why should I attempt this?  Because my favorite Mexican restaurant, Las Piñatas, closed down.  WAAAHHH!!!  Heartbroken doesn’t begin to describe how sad that made me.  There is a new fangled breakfast place in the space now and every time I drive by, I grumble under my breath…and then I cry out the window…POR QUÉÉÉÉÉ???

Anyway, today, I thought I would share my spin on their tomatillo verde sauce.  One third of their magical Mixtas Enchiladas.  More to come…

Tomatillo Verde Sauce

Ingredients

1 – 1.5 lbs of tomatillos (about 8-10 depending on size)

5 poblano peppers

1 jalapeno pepper

1 medium red onion

1 – 2 garlic cloves

olive oil for coating vegetables

salt/pepper

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Place your husked tomatillos, poblano peppers, jalapeño pepper and onion on a sheet tray and coat with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast until the tomatillos cook down and the poblanos blacken, about 40 minutes.

Remove vegetables from the oven and let cool.  Peel and seed the poblanos and jalapeño pepper.  Add them and the rest of your ingredients to a food processor.  Make sure you add the juice that the tomatillos leaked out while roasting as well.  Wazz up the whole lot (sorry I said wazz, you can just press pulse) until it’s the desired consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can eat the sauce with tortillas chips, with nachos or use it as the base for making your favorite enchilada recipe.  I will share my favorite enchilada recipe soon.

Enjoy,

Kallie =)

…and Magdalena (my little tomatillo)

It’s a Tomato Extravaganza!!!

August 19, 2017

Hi everyone, it’s summertime, so I am going to talk about summertime things.  Ready?  Summer always reminds me of the beach.  And the beach always reminds me of my favorite place to vacation, Greece.  And Greece always reminds me of my favorite Greek island, Santorini.  And Santorini always reminds me of tomatoes.  Wait.  What?  Yep, I said tomatoes.

This magical island with an honest to goodness active volcano is known for its little tiny tomatoes or domatakia.  Apparently the volcanic soil on this island is the perfect place to grow sweet little tomatoes, dry them in the hot sun and store them in olive oil.  Forget the sun dried tomatoes you used to know.  A jar of Santorini tomatoes is like eating a mouthful of candied sunshine.  Yes, I did just say that.  I know in my heart that if you could taste the sun it would tastes like a sweet, little tomato.

I have been to Santorini many, many times and I will probably go again and again and never tire of it.  The island has to be the most architecturally beautiful and geologically unique place I have ever visited.  Red beaches, black beaches, and white beaches.  

(By the way, if you ever go to Santorini, go to red beach.  And if a little old man pulls up to the shore in an old wooden boat yelling, “White beach, white beach!” Do yourself a favor and get on his boat, survivor style, backpack over your head wading through the water and let him take you to white beach…you won’t regret the adventure.)

Back to our regularly scheduled program…

Every town on Santorini has those traditional white-washed cave homes, perched precariously on the lip of the volcano’s caldera looking like hundreds of little sugar cubes just waiting to slide down into a coffee cup of blue Mediterranean water.  Too much?  I don’t care!  It’s a remarkable place.  I can’t possibly do it justice with words. I want heaven to look like this island.  Pictures don’t capture the scale of its beauty.  You just have to go and see for yourself.
So tell me, what kind of person are you?  Do you like to vacation to a different place every time you travel?  Or do you love going to the same place over an over again?  Me?  Sure, I like different places, but I am notoriously loyal and known for going to the same place over and over again and exploring more and more of it.  I just want to absorb a place I love.  Know it like the back of my hand.  Be a regular at the local taverna.  I want to go where everyone knows your name.  What?  Wait, never mind.   Anyway, I am like that with Santorini.

Many years ago, when I was still single, I went to Santorini with my then friend and now koubara, Despina. We stayed in Fira town, the capital and did all the crazy things you are supposed to do on this island. We walked up and down hundreds of steps to get to the old port. We took a schooner around the island which stopped at the volcano, which we then walked on. We saw air vents that let out hot steam. We worried about said volcano blowing.  We had lunch at Thirasia eating donatokeftedes, tomato fritters.  We climbed up more stairs in Oia while avoiding a pack of donkeys who were also climbing the same stairs. We went for a wine tasting and drank ALL the wine.  We watched the sunset with a thousand of our closest friends. True story. And then we shopped for what they are known for, vinsanto and capers and domatakia. Oh and really expensive jewelry.  By accident.  But that’s a story for another time.  Eeek!  Back to the tomatoes. I couldn’t get enough of those domatakia.

So here is how you can make some of your own and get a little bit of “island candy” for the summer:


Domatakia – Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes

A pint of cherry tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt

Slice washed cherry tomatoes in half.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 250 degrees F for 2-4 hours (depends on size of your cherry tomato)

Pop them in your mouth like candy.  Or put them in your salads or pasta.  Or put on top of your avocado toast, if you’re in to that sort of thing.  (There is an avocado shortage by the way…something about too many hipsters photographing avocado toasts on Instagram!!!  LOL)

Enjoy.

-Kallie

 

 

 

 

 

My Latest Project…

August 4, 2017

Hi everyone,

You have probably been wondering where on earth I have been the past few months. You must have thought I disappeared completely.  Don’t fret inter-web friends, I am still here.  In fact, I have been working hard on a new recipe this whole time and it goes something like this:

1 part sugar
1 part spice
1 part everything nice

THAT’S WHAT LITTLE GIRLS ARE MADE OF.

So if you haven’t guessed by now, I had a baby girl. On July 9th, Jeff and I welcomed our little Magdalena Vasiliki to the world and we are head over heels in love. Isn’t that something every new parent says?  it’s so cliché but I guess it’s true.  She is so adorably squish-able.  She is so sweet…I could just eat her up, chomp! I may have nibbled on some toes already.  LOL.

Anyway, I basically have been living the past 9 months in shock and awe at my ever changing body and never ending nausea wondering what this little girl would be like.   In addition to sugar and spice and everything nice, I’m pretty sure Miss Magdalena is made of carrots,  cucumbers and raspberries…and a little bit of Swiss cheese.  That’s pretty much all I ate the whole time.

How on earth do those crazy baby apps decide that “this week, your baby is the size of a pineapple” and then the next week it’s “the size of a butternut squash”? Doesn’t that really depend on how big the actual fruit or vegetable is? Or is this an “on average” estimate? I know, I am thinking way too deeply about this baby to vegetable analogy, but come on!  Sometimes it made no sense.

Anyway, I played along with the weekly fruit/veggie game, always wondering what little Magdalena really looked like, or what she would be like.  Well there is no wondering anymore.  She is here right now and I can hardly believe this little girl is all mine.

I was also was very fortunate to have 3 very kind and generous women in my life give me the most amazing baby shower.   My koubares, Eleni, MaryAnn and Vayoula organized a very elegant and intimate baby shower at Sepia’s event space with my closest friends and family.  My favorite flowers, peonies and hydrangeas were the center pieces. The food was excellent.  At a place like Sepia how can anyone go wrong?  And of course the bonbonieres were these super cute little baby elephants with the traditional white Jordan almonds tied to them.  it was perfect.

I do think everyone was annoyed with me though because I wouldn’t tell anyone the sex of the baby.  Even my baby registration was all white and grey colored sheets, blankets and onesies.  Neutral colored car seats and play yards.  Everyone of course tried to guess…and I have to say everyone was wrong.  Something along the lines of “oh you look to pretty to be having a girl.”  Ummm, okay, thanks???  Although, if they were paying attention, they would have noticed I wore a vintage pink colored dress to the shower…hello, I gave clues all along…haha!

I am also glad to report that I did not give up on wearing heels the whole time I was pregnant.  I wore booties and sandals with adjustable laces to accommodate the random Kim K. type of swelling in my feet.  Whoa!  Thankfully, they have shrunk back down to normal.  My shoe collection is saved!

On July 29th, Jeff and I celebrated 5 years of marriage. This year, we were able to celebrate it with our little Magdalena. We walked across the street to our favorite Italian restaurant in Chicago, Monteverde and had late lunch celebrating our anniversary. Our lives will never be the same.  And we are so grateful for it.

I wonder what kind of foods Magdalena will like? Will she like being the “flour girl” and help me bake, like I helped my mom?  Or will she be all about mac and cheese?

Here is a link to my new favorite song: Me and Magdalena by the Monkees. Yes those Monkees!  It was a song written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie.  I think it’s the most beautiful song I ever heard.

Jeff and I decided that Magdalena needs a real music education. We will need to inform her musical tastes by listening to ABBA and Cracker and the musical stylings of They Might Be Giants and of course the kiddie version of the Smiths. Did you know They Might Be Giants write children’s songs? There will be no purple dinosaurs, bizarro tele-tubbies or yo-gabba-gabba creatures in this home…sorry Magdalena =)

Anyway, dear blog readers, I hope to be back more often with new posts and recipes for you soon.  Thanks for reading.

Take care,
Kallie