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As usual, I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself. I have a history of this: in the fifth grade, I was already dressing like a business woman. Blazers, and sometimes ties (it was 1989), were de rigueur. So, really, my eagerness to talk about New Years Day, before uttering even a peep about New Years Eve, really isn’t all that shocking. Like I said, I have a history—a shoulder-padded history.

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In reality, I have been doing a lot of thinking about New Years Eve. We’ll be cooking and laying low because we have an early flight on New Years Day (New Orleans!). My initial idea for a New Years Eve menu came while we were at my parents’ house in Minnesota for Christmas.

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Sip of the South

August 18, 2008

I am back in Chicago after four days in the South, touring a small slice of Dixie (two nights in Nashville and one in Greenwood, Mississippi). As I said last week, I was with my friend Maggie, who grew up in Nashville and whose childhood best friend lives in Greenwood. Today’s recipe—peach sweet tea—is in honor of the trip, because I’m not quite ready to quit savoring my taste of the South just yet.


Like this tea, my hopes for the trip conjured visions of hot thick air; sprawling verandas, spilling over with greenery and dotted with porch swings; and out-of-the-ordinary (for me) tastes. Happily, neither the trip nor the tea disappointed. Our two days in Nashville were jam-packed with tour guides (led, expertly, by Maggie) and with as many glimpses of the Olympics coverage as possible. We saw downtown Nashville, along with its rows of bars [above, top row, left] that boast both stories of legends discovered on their stages as well as nightly line-dancing. We spent an hour or so roaming the Country Music Hall of Fame [above, middle row, left and right], reading about and listening to Hank Williams Sr. and Jr., Johnny Cash, Pasty Cline, Dolly Parton and others. We also saw the Parthenon (um, yes, Nashville is home to an impressive recreation of the Parthenon, because Nashville, as I learned, is the “Athens of the South,” and also because, well, why not) [above, bottom row, left] and the Cumberland River (a river, incidentally, that is meaningful to me because on its banks is where Kevin and I first made eyes at each other during a camping trip in Kentucky) [above, bottom row, right].

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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During the cooler months, Sunday nights usually mean one thing: soup. A big, steaming, bubbling pot of it, ready to be ladled into deep bowls and enjoyed along with our HBO show du jour. Leftovers are promptly divided into Ziploc containers, ready to be microwaved into hearty lunches in an office kitchen on Michigan Avenue (Kevin) and a bank of industrial-strength microwaves in a law school cafeteria across town (me). But this Sunday was 90 degrees, at its coolest. So, soup? It wasn’t happening.

So instead of mirepoix and chicken stock, this Sunday, we opted for limes and tequila. Out with the stock pot and medium-high heat and in with the blender and ice. Lots of ice.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Cure For What Ails You

February 24, 2008

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My relationship with grapefruit has been a bit contentious lately. Sure, it’s there for me day in and day out when I supreme it into ruby red wedges that perk up my morning yogurt. But it utterly failed me when I dusted off our ice cream maker on one of the shortest days of the year in hopes of a bright-as-the-summer-solstice sorbet. I quickly rectified the sorbet debacle with a foofy brunch salad that involved champagne vinegar, fennel and, of course, grapefruit. And it was fine and all. But, little did I know, all along, all I really had to do was add booze.

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Yes, these grapefruit margaritas—perfectly tart, tangy and tequila-y—were just the showcase for the most on-again/off-again citrus fruit of my winter. And they transformed what might have been a quiet February Friday night in into a fiesta. Good thing, because our Saturday night concert plans—tickets to which involved much Craigslist finagling and transportation to which involved a CTA bus ride across town—were canceled “due to illness,” according to a flier taped to the venue’s front door. Perhaps the band wasn’t getting its daily intake of Vitamin C. Might I suggest that these grapefruit cocktails would be just the remedy?

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Christmas Morning Mimosas

December 25, 2007

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Mimosas are not an every morning kind of thing (unfortunately). And more than that, these mimosas are not an every mimosa-morning kind of thing. These mimosas are sort of like the Cadillac of all mimosas.

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After a joyful night of feasting, gifts and carols, we all woke up this morning excited to sift through our gifts—reading instruction manuals, trying things on and packing gifts up for the trip home. All this had us very hungry, of course. Good thing my mom had an incredible brunch in store.

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We dined on a great frittata (loaded with spicy greens and ricotta), freshly-baked cinnamon rolls, smoky breakfast sausages fresh from a local source, and a gorgeous plate of fresh fruit. All this had us very thirsty, of course. Good thing my mom had some wonderful mimosas in store.

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And, like I said, not just any mimosas. With Grand Marnier, a festive sugared rim and a lining of pomegranate seeds, these mimosas were definitely holiday-worthy. We sipped on them while we were opening gifts from our stockings. And during the intense game of Taboo that ensued. And during the card games that came next. Obviously, it’s time for a Christmas Day nap.

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