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! :)


  1. You're making me a little nostalgic for Chicago, but then again it's like 30 degrees warmer here:) I saw that submarine today too and I want it. You might want to bring that chili powder along...someone told me it is hard to find here- I haven't looked since I also brought mine with. My Le Creuset dinner tonight was stuffing (yup, on its own) and I'm totally stuffed and heading to bed for a good night's sleep and early morning for skiing. Hope you feel better. See you in a few weeks!

  2. Good call on the chili powder - we'll add that to the list of things to bring with us, like "Cholula." I never thought of making stuffing in the Le Creuset but I think I should since I could live off plain stuffing. Can't wait to see the new picks of Lesson #3!