Joyful

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I’ve been working quite a bit recently and although it’s a bit sad to miss out on holiday festivities, I don’t mind it too much either.  It may seem weird to some, but overall I’m just grateful to have a job that I love and be able to work (especially since I wasn’t last year).  Working 12+ hours a day 6 days a week doesn’t leave much time for anything, but last Saturday we did carve out a day for holiday things – tree shopping, time with family, a dinner out on the town.  Joy to you & yours.

And, a few things of note (because I don’t have any new recipes to share):

– Some good evidence to keep snacking on nuts.

– I love picking out our holiday cards each year.

– A batch of these quinoa patties will cover lunch for at least a couple days (I added spinach + feta this time and dipped in greek yogurt – yum).

– I usually check out books at the library, but decided this one was worth buying.

– Do you have a favorite holiday movie?  I hope to find time to watch this one.

A lovely poem, makes me want to grow paper whites.

– On my Christmas wish-list: new pair of slippers.

– If I have time, will be trying out some new cookies.

A dish I plan to make soon.

thankful for {fall}

photo (4)This past Saturday morning I woke up to the sun streaming through the window, quickly laced up my running shoes and ran straight to the Farmer’s Market.  I bought my fair share of fall produce – brussels sprouts, parsnips & carrots, acorn squash, honey crisp apples.  Produce in hand, I walked home slowly, enjoying the beautiful fall morning, stopping every now and then to take a quick picture.  Seriously, could that sky be more blue?  Or those leaves more lovely?  I think not.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, recently, about what it is I do here in this space I share with you.  I enjoy taking pictures of food and sharing good recipes with you.  But it’s more than that.  I believe in food because I believe in sustainability.  I believe that what we eat and how we eat and who we share our food with is so much more than a pretty picture.  So much more than a list of ingredients and instructions.  Listening to the radio the other day, I heard a story about a woman who asked Escoffier for a recipe for a dish she enjoyed at his restaurant.  She came back days later and said “The dish tasted nothing like yours!”  He said to her, “Ma’am, I gave you a recipe, I did not teach you to cook.”

I have been so inspired recently – by local farmer’s I’ve gotten to know at our market, by the work of people like Ron Finley, by my favorite America’s Test Kitchen Podcasts and by fellow food-bloggers out there who bring so much more to this shared internet space that just pretty pictures and recipes.  As the holidays near and Thanksgiving madness ensues, my hope is that I can remain grounded in simplicity and enjoy cooking as a lesson in sustainability and gratitude, not as a means to a picture-perfect ending.

Happy Fall, friends.  And as always, thanks for reading.

living gluten-free: dining at senza

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Dining out gluten-free can be a pain.  Since being diagnosed with Celiac about a year ago we’ve established a pretty good base of good restaurants with gluten-free options in the neighborhood, places where I could eat and not worry about anything being contaminated or accidentally prepared with gluten.  And I can almost always relax at those placed and generally enjoy eating out.  But there’s still the bread basket I can’t eat, the fact that I have to say “no, I can’t” when someone offers that I try their delicious dish (which is inevitably pasta or breaded or dredged in flour or marinated in soy sauce or the bacon crumbles on the top are fried in a deep fryer that also fries breaded items…).  I can’t try any of the fancy locally brewed beers and I worry about ordering cocktails.  In the end, it’s not so bad that I have to stick to wine and whatever gluten-free meat/veggie option there it, but mostly I just don’t like being the annoying person at the table.

So, as part of our birthday celebration this year, I booked a table at Senza, a restaurant I’ve heard about from many people whenever the fact that I have Celiac comes up (and it always comes up 😉 ).  The restaurant is entirely gluten-free but it doesn’t advertise itself as such.  Instead, the experience at Senza centers around Executive Chef Noah Sandoval’s unique take on new American cuisine, focusing on fresh, local ingredients and a blend of modern and classic techniques.”  He just happens to not use gluten in anything.

It was a truly wonderful experience and a really great birthday present for me.  I started the evening with an amazing cocktail that included a combination of tequila, mole and rosemary.  Since there were two of us, we opted for the four course menu and decided to taste a bit of what each other ordered.  I wouldn’t be able to describe each course in detail, but can say that the experience overall was so delicious and so much fun.  The service was absolutely incredible and each course brought out to us was fun, creative and deliciously complex in flavor and texture.  And for those that are wondering – there was bread served – and it was really good – a small loaf for the two of use to share, sliced and grilled just for a moment to warm it.  But the best part of the whole experience – even if you take out the delicious food – was the fact that I didn’t feel different and I didn’t have to ask for anything special.  I just sat – and drank & ate & enjoyed a fancy dinner out without a worry in my mind.

If you’re in the Chicago area, gluten-free or not, Senza is a restaurant worth trying.

a saturday at the farmer’s market

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Last Saturday morning, instead of rushing off to the hospital around 5:30am, I slept in – until 6:30 (!) – then headed straight to our local farmer’s market.  Wow, was it a beautiful morning.  It was still a bit cool, the sunlight still soft, and the tables upon tables of August’s best were nothing short of stunning.  With my camera in tow, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for some extra practice.

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sweet summer

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Hi, friends & Hello, summer.  How amazing is summer?  I kept busy with work during the beginning of June and then enjoyed a glorious ten days off work between first and second year of residency. Dinners have been deliciously simple – requiring just a few fresh ingredients and barely any work.  We’ve been hitting up the farmer’s market on a regular basis, trying new ingredients and enjoying the sunny days.  I’ve got a long list of recipes to share, but for now here’s some of my favorite photos of the summer.  Will be back soon with some new fresh & easy recipes 🙂

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Heart tomatoes.

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The city streets went from gray to green & I can’t get enough of this view out our living room window.

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A simple summer breakfast, complete with GF banana bread from the measuring cup at the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market.

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My mom grows the prettiest lilies.

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Sweet, sweet strawberries.

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Our balcony garden, growing.

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I was going to bake something with these, but they disappeared too quickly.  Oops 🙂