January Book Club Review

January 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Our book club met for brunch last Sunday, the day after the bachelorette party.  I was worried I wouldn’t be in tip-top shape for literary discussions but I was feeling decent and braved the cold to go to Old Town Social, a restaurant on North Avenue.  The turnout was one of the best we’ve had in recent months and we even had a new member, so there was a grand total of seven of us there.  That makes it a little more difficult to hear everyone out (or merely hear everyone at all) but is also a little more entertaining, so we were all chatty and content.

Good, clean fun!

I’d never been to the restaurant and I have to admit, it was kind of a let-down overall.  Our server took our drink orders before reappearing with another server who made a comment about how the first girl was training but almost finished (I’m not sure how she managed this but the comment sounded kind of snotty and sort of made us uncomfortable).  We all ordered and then the waitresses disappeared for a while before some dude we’d never seen before brought out the food (which isn’t uncommon).  Most of us had some sort of biscuit or bread as a side and there was one little dish of jam, so we requested more.  He gave us attitude and rolled his eyes so we didn’t figure we’d get it and asked our waitress for it when she came back.  She did indeed bring us two more little cups of jam (for the table of 7) and then when we got the bill we noticed that we’d been charged 50 cents for each little cup.  It’s not like it was a hundred dollars or anything but really?  Charging for something to top our biscuits with?  Whatever.  The food was decent enough but there sure wasn’t much of it for the $12 I paid – and I ordered the “big” breakfast!  It came with a biscuit, two eggs and a hash brown casserole.  It was all tasty but the portions were just lacking and nothing I couldn’t have made at home.

At least the company and the book were better!  We read Where’d you go, Bernadette?, a novel by Maria Semple.  The book was told through a series of letters, emails, faxes, notes and  text messages and focuses on a teenage girl who’s trying to find her mother after her mother had a bit of a psychotic break.  Really, though, the mom was always a little eccentric and circumstances made it seem like she had less of a grasp on reality than she actually did, so she up and disappeared.  The reader doesn’t know where she went until the daughter figures it out and the mom’s around for the first two-thirds of the book so it’s not a whole mystery novel.  It was quick and easy though and very entertaining.  I honestly didn’t see many of the plot points coming and I really liked the characters of both the mom and daughter.  The dad was someone who was hit or miss and while I liked him initially, I felt a few things he went through were out of character for the way they set him up.  Regardless, I really enjoyed the whole book, as did many of the girls in the club (those who had finished, at least).  Definitely one I recommend and an especially good book club book!

 

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Bring on the Holidays!

December 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Last week was an extremely busy one at the office (hence my lack of Friday post) and it was followed by an extremely busy weekend.  My mom came in town for our annual December downtown shopping excursion and we pretty much wore ourselves out.  We spent Friday eating at a restaurant where Mom had a dinner that did NOT include meat (which I think she actually liked!), spent Saturday doing our shopping then watching some IU basketball in a neighborhood bar and then Sunday she met Scott’s parents when we all went out for brunch.  Speaking of brunch, we ate at a great little diner Saturday morning and it was so good it will probably get it’s own blog post later this week.  We also passed a huge bar crawl featuring a couple of hundred people dressed as Santa Clause, which is featured in here.

Santas as far as they eye can see!

Santas as far as they eye can see!

It looked like fun but all I could think about is how glad I was that I wasn’t tending bar at any of their stops that morning.  Brunch with all the parents went well too, even though the first place we tried was closed and we had to walk back in the rain and then deal with Scott’s shrieking car alarm before being able to go someplace else.  It all worked out though and the rest of the weekend went well.  I actually took yesterday off of work for doctor’s appointments/recuperation purposes so I’m glad Monday is over and I’m pretty sure I can handle the rest of the week.

Which is good, because it’s going to be busy too.  This has to do with the fact that I’ve got the food pantry and my book club this week, plus the Field Museum on Saturday.  Luckily, not much of the busyness has to do with the holidays.  I pretty much finished all my shopping with Mom and I’m caught up with wrapping for the moment, plus I’m about halfway through my holiday cards.  Yup, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself and on top of things, which is good considering Christmas is 14 days away!

And yet, my next holiday vacation can’t come soon enough…

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More Food!

July 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

I love breakfast food.  Seriously love it.  Like, I would eat breakfast for every meal of the day if I could and sometimes I actually do.  The weekends are a great time for me because the wonderful invention of brunch is so prevalent and I certainly know how to make the most of it.  While I always enjoy going out to eat for my breakfast urges (such as recently going to The Chicago Diner and stuffing myself with vegetarian biscuits and gravy….SO GOOD), I’m also fond of cooking in my new and spacious kitchen.  Sunday was one of the days where I felt like cooking so I whipped up the delight below:

Rachel Ray has nothing on me

Yes, I’m aware this looks amazing.  I’m also pleased that the photo turned out a bit better than the last meal I posted.  I know I’m no whiz with the foodie pics – I actually have a friend who I think still reads this blog and she’s a serious food blogger.  Her meals always look fantastic and her pictures are professional quality so I like to imagine her cringing every time I post one of these from my phone.  No matter, you still get the idea.

One of the best gifts I’ve ever received is my Belgian waffle maker.  I have used this thing so many times I’m surprised it still works and I plan on using it until it eventually surrenders to waffle batter and old age.  You can see that the waffles feature heavily in this meal and while I was making them I also cooked some vegetarian sausage links in the oven.  I’ve been told by many meat-eaters that the veggie sausage links are actually tastier than real ones but I’ll leave you to test that out for yourself.  I also whipped up some scrambled eggs that included roasted red and yellow peppers, spinach and a myriad of spices.  Also lots and lots of cheese (both goat and cheddar, since those are what I had on hand).  And I didn’t stop there!  I had fresh bananas and strawberries to compliment the orange juice (thought my Hoosier readers would appreciate that glass) and help me pretend this was a healthy meal.  But when I dumped them on the waffles and added chocolate and regular syrup, the jig was up.  Oh well, it was totally worth it.  Also, you may notice the peanut butter in the pic.  This is because my dad trained me long ago to put it on my waffles and I haven’t looked back since.  Don’t automatically shrink back in disgust either; I’ve turned more than a few people onto this in my day.  Once again, I suggest you taste it for yourself.

So you may have noticed that there is additional plate of food in the background.  That belongs to my…wow this weird to say, let alone write…boyfriend.  That’s right, after nearly two years of relative single-dom, I’m officially off the market once again.  I’ll give you a minute to grieve that loss.  But yeah, I’m seeing a pretty great guy and so far he’s been doing a good job of treating me like the supremely awesome woman that I am.  And he’s a vegetarian so he gets to fully appreciate all of the tasty meals I feature here!  If he’s lucky.  Which, by dating me, he clearly is.

Anyway hope this gives you some cookery ideas – and if you ever make brunch and I’m around, please feel free to give me an invite.  I always have time for breakfast food!

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Another Little Pick Me Up

November 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

If you recall, I wrote a review a while back about a little place that serves great warm beverages and fantastic food.  I got breakfast the first time I was there and ventured out on Saturday because I needed a cozy spot with no distracting wi-fi to do some writing, plus I was hungry and I haven’t been grocery shopping…since around the time I got back from Mexico (yeah, I know).  I wound up spending almost three hours in the place and besides being just a little jazzed on all the caffeine, I left knowing there was no way in hell I would’ve been able to make such a delicious meal, even if I did have food in my apartment.

Let me preface this by saying I love sandwiches.  As in, I adore them and want to have ten thousand of

I considered wrapping up leftovers to take home and place in a shrine, but I'd be lying if I said there was anything left

their babies.  I will inhale just about any vegetarian concoction put between two pieces of bread and even though I don’t incorporate lunch meats into my meals, I never feel cheated.  Peanut butter and jelly is good and bread loaded with hummus, spinach and other vegetable delights is better but I’m honestly happy with just plain cheese.  You can even ask my mom, because that’s what I ate for the first few years of my vegetarianism (this was back when my family assumed I was just going through a phase, like when I always thought I was getting left in a grocery store and would page my parents over the intercom…which I’m sure was annoying for my parents as well).  Okay the point is – I love me a sandwich.

So imagine how thrilled I was when I saw a BBQ Seitan Sandwich on the menu at the Pick Me Up Cafe (for those of you not in the know, seitan is wheat gluten…or wheat meat, if you will).  It came loaded with lettuce, tomato, sprouts, goat cheese, some sort of mayo sauce and lots of barbecue sauce.  Since I’m limited on the veggie-friendly meals I can order out that include that wonderful sauce made from vinegar, molasses and mustard, I took the opportunity to enjoy it while I could, and enjoy it I did.

Which might have had a little something to do with the mashed potatoes as well.  Gravy on mashed potatoes is something else I can’t order in the real world very often, as most of the restaurant gravy I’ve encountered is based in some sort of animal stock.  In another reason why I love places that really cater to us herbivores, Pick Me Up had a mushroom gravy that was a perfect complement to both the potatoes and the main course.

Tangent time: when I was in high school, I befriended a lunch lady who would make a plain white gravy for me almost every day, because she knew how much I loved our school mashed potatoes (they were legendary).  The lady in question stood by my side when I created a petition to get the cafeteria to sell vegetarian chicken patties and other meat alternatives and she even helped me pick some out when my petition went through.  Her name was Mrs. Bickwermert, she had cute hair and she made my high school years  better.

Tangent time over.  The meal I had was amazing and I was able to knock out my assignments with a full and satisfied stomach.  It was exactly what I needed – a little pick me up on a work filled weekend!

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