Rehab isn’t for quitters.

imageBut sometimes you have to take a break! Moving house, plus the critters, into yet another work-in-progress has been pretty overwhelming.  Thank god this one’s closer to done in many ways than the past two projects… But here we are! And with a smattering of snapshots from the summer months…

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Lemons! Finally! On my Meyer tree I’ve been moving around for the past seven years or so.

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Gotta remember to refuel… With backyard egg tacos and homegrown heirlooms…

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And with bonfires, brews, good friends and good dogs…

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Of course, I’m biased about the best dog…

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Gah! Goofball. Love. Him.

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With birthdays and freshly bottled homemade maple sap beer (an amber and a stout, brewed at the end of the sap run this spring)… Can’t wait to try it… Another week perhaps?

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Sportsball! My first game at Soldier Field. Football, of course… but thankfully, the one with more attractive players and fewer domestic abuse scandals. The good guys won, and the fella got another scarf for his collection, which I teased him about at around 2 pm. This being late July. In Chicago.  I took it back at dinner, when the temperature plummeted about twenty degrees while we were all sitting at an outdoor table at the Thai place, when said suddenly sensible scarf kept the Brazilian girl in a tank top from freezing to death.  Touche.

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Drinks with the guys at soon-to-be shuttered Club Foot… and a very furrowed brow (which of these Star Wars figurines should I try to get him for Christmas?).  God, I hope my face doesn’t stick that way. At least not for another thirty three years.

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And at Punch House before Green Porno, the Isabella Rossalini lecture on animal sexuality, which was almost as racy as the roasted olives that we had with these cocktails. Rahrrr.

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And Magritte at the Art Institute! Or just these statues downstairs from the show. That one in the middle is particularly handsome. And so life-like!  Wait… that’s just PT.  Har. Har. Har.

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Ok, that was fun. Now mask up and get back to work, stormtrooper.  Time for rehab… don’t say no, no, no…

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Layers of history… And a lot of filth.  These are scraps of floor and papers found under other layers of floor in the big bedroom.  Might use these color combos in this room- I have pillows in both colors- though it’s hard to do red and green without it looking like Christmas.

But the filth part gets better every day. The east half of the kitchen is defunkified, primed, and now painted… the linoleum is in rough shape, and I’m debating ripping it up and rolling out some floor paint until a better option can happen, or just scrubbing it (again) and rolling with what’s there.  Either way, it’s better than the kitchen floor at the cabin was.  So… progress.  The gross greasy cabinets are gone, as is the depressing black (!) ceiling.

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And the window is patched up with plexi instead of DRYWALL and plastic wrap. Seriously, that’s how it was. Wish I had a before shot. Trust me, it’s better.  This sink and counter are getting replaced with a commercial stainless one… it’s a supper club must.

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Hallway after taking down the paneling and acoustical tile drop ceiling…

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It’s primed, and partially painted white, which is progress.  The top layer of vinyl flooring is gone, along with most of the filth.  And under that linoleum is oak, but the lino can stay until this paint job is done… no need to tear up a built in dropcloth, and it’s way less ugly than what was on top.

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And dining/living room… Nowhere near done, but still a warm and friendly work in progress.

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Meanwhile, upstairs, I’m pretending the back two rooms don’t exist while I make slow and steady master bedroom progress… Till this is done I’m camping out in the middle bedroom (which is worse, in some ways- another window in need of replacing, or rather, half-missing, and some residual ratty ghetto-funk smell wafting from the back two rooms, but not currently under construction. It’s next. But it’s primed, the closet is painted, there’s plastic over the window, and there’s an area rug down, so it works for now). I’ve also been gratefully spending a lot of time at the fella’s place, who is spoiling me rotten with cable and laundry service, bagel breakfasts, and hot showers (yes, the house has hot water, but the tub has issues. To-do list… Soo long…).  And yes, I realize I have a different definition of “spoiled” than most folks. As far as I’m concerned, someone encouraging me to sleep in, then having coffee, juice, and a tomato and cream cheese sandwich ready for me might as well be a day at King Spa.  Life is simply good.  Even if we fight about doing the dishes. The problem?  He won’t let me do them.  No, you can’t have his number.  And yes, I do them anyway, whenever he’s not looking.

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I’m not usually a big fan of most wall texture treatments, but in this case, it’s the only option other than drywalling over the whole thing… and a lot more fun than carrying drywall up stairs.  Also, buckets of mud are much easier to transport by bike than sheets of drywall.

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The walls under the paneling in what was a windowless child’s bedroom painted bright blue and red (it was dreadful) are in rough shape.  I knocked down the wall (well, some friends helped) that was added probably in the last fifty years to carve this space into two smaller rooms and took down the drop ceiling in the back half.  Need to frame over this now unnecessary second door, and am applying a thick coat of buttercream to the walls to even everything out and blend over the imperfections.  Or actually, lightweight drywall compound, but it feels like icing a cake.  A really ugly cake, that had roaches (both kinds) and rats and empty drug baggies everywhere when we started, and a million other filthy things… but will be clean and cozy and the good kind of funky when it’s all done.  Magic! Oh, and a whole lot of work. Whee!

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And this beauty showed up yesterday…

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To replace this…

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Whoa! I have the best landlords/friends/neighbors a girl could ask for. Thanks, it’s going to be gorgeous!

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Meanwhile, downstairs is downright… inhabitable. At least Zeus thinks so (he’s under the blanket in the giant chair here.  Chair and rug will be heading upstairs to my bedroom most likely, but for now it’s nice to have one spot to snuggle into and pretend it’s all done).  Not supper-club ready yet, but getting closer. I can’t wait to cook for you all again, and have a full-on housewarming. The lukewarming/post-birthday whiskey-coffee-waffle brunch was a good start.  Once the stove is in though, we’ll fully break in the Alewyfe Inn. I’ll keep you posted. Alright, back to work!

zeus is five. garden’s alive.

Happy birthday, big guy. You’re getting a pork chop for dinner, then another play date with your buddy, Jet. And pupcakes for everyone!

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It’s getting to be quite a jungle out there. The natives are getting established in the hugelkulture mounds, and the amaranth, lambsquarters, and self-sown tomatoes in the backyard raised bed are head-high. I’ve built up some good soil here over the past three years. I still can’t believe I have to walk away from it all in just a few short weeks. I’m eager to make a fresh start in a new place, without all the memories and dreams I had for this one. I’ve been pretty hands-off with the garden here this year- because it and I don’t share a future, it’s hard. And it hurts. But it’s still beautiful, if a little wild… which frankly, is how I prefer it… like me, independently abundant, pretty, sure, but tough and a little rough around the edges, more fierce than fancy.

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But it still grew these. And feeds these:

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Welcome to the jungle, it gets worse here every day… well,  it will if I don’t hack down this burdock before those seedheads harden… but it’s pretty in bloom, if thorny. But so are roses. The bees need them both.

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Wild garlic and squash in containers.

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And the first tomato!

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So I’m putting as much as I can this year in pots and taking my oasis with me. I’m not going far- it’s a two minute walk. Next door I’ll have goats and pigs and a pergola and a waterfall, and I can bring my chickens along and the dog, of course, and, and, and… so many good things,  and I’m so grateful this spot came my way.  It will be a lot of work, but I’m looking forward to working on the future rather than being surrounded by the past. I’ll be closer to the community garden I’ve been helping to build, and still in the community that I’ve grown to love so much in spite of its flaws. It’s rough around the edges too, but there’s a lot more here than most people would see. I get frustrated with it, and mad as hornets at it sometimes, but it’s home. I can’t think of anywhere else in the city I’d want to be, but here, on this street.

Fresh lessons

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Lunch? Or a lesson plan? Why not
both? Parts of a plant, deliciously demonstrated…

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Roots- rainbow carrots, carrot-shaped radishes, and garlic. Stems- celery and broccoli stalks. Leaves-romaine lettuce and radish tops. Fruits- lemon, bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, tomato, snap peas… and olive oil!  And seeds? Chickpeas and tahini (sesame butter). I wish science were always so simple.

Busy busy around here… I’m teaching again this summer with the Greencorps youth program. I get to work with two groups of fifteen teenagers every day, and over the next six weeks we’ll be putting together bikes, learning to ride safely in traffic, about horticulture and urban ag and forestry, and also nutrition and sustainability. Whew!

Needless to say, I’ll be busy! Supper club is on hold for June… hopefully I’ll be able to fit one in around the end of July. I’ve got lots of menu ideas working … can’t wait to cook for my folks again soon.  We’re going to South America, Mexico, and then working our way up the Gulf Coast… hang in there y’all!

AWSC VI: French Farmhouse

    AWSC VI- Mediterranean Tour Chapter II- French Farmhouse

View of a Farmhouse and an Orchard, France, 22 November 1916 Art.IWMART1625039
Spring is officially here, but winter is hanging on tenaciously with icy claws. We want hearty fare, but with a promise of the sweetness and light to come. To France, my friends! We crave comfort, and coddling, but with a light touch, and a heavy dose of cream. Come dine with us, and we will have chocolate and roses, herbivorous delights, and throat to tail cuisine, sweetmeats and sweetbreads, all straight from grand-mère’s kitchen. Enjoy gracefully rustic cuisine with us in an equally rustic setting, with bon amis and bon courage to see us through to the warmer days ahead!

Thursday, March 27
7:00 drinks and appetizers, 7:45 dinner. As always, come early, or join us late!

BYOB, RSVP, s’il te plaît

amuse

gougeres: cheese pate aux choux, salmon or artichoke mousse (v)
champignon pâté: River Valley ranch crimini mushroom pate (v)
pâté de campagne: rustic local pastured pork pate with house-cured maple bacon
compote de abricots et gingembre gingered apricot preserve (v)
pain de campagne: house-made Breslin Farm wheat sourdough (v)

soupe
tourin a la fromage: white onion soup with cheese (v)

entrees
ris de veau aux beurre noisette: sweetbreads, brown butter, capers, lemon
queue de boeuf aux cinq oignons: braised oxtails with onions
puree crème de artichaut et épinards au citron: buckwheat crepe, spinach, artichoke, lemon (v)
tourte a l’ chitrouille: savory pumpkin tart (v)

dessert
gâteau aux noix: walnut cake, Alewyfe rose mint jam (v)
rose crème glacée pétale: rose petal ice cream by our guest, Extra Spoons (v)
macarons, basil marshmallows, and nougat from the French Pastry School, prepared by another guest

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mushroom pate mise
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poaching sweetbreads
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pate prep
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Pork liver, panade, and seasonings

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Forcemeat

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Pate de Campagne

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Farm fresh eggs…

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Oxtails

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The morning after…

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Oh, the aftermath! All worth it. Thanks to all who came for another great night! I’ll be posting the recap of Italy soon… awaiting another round of photos from another attendee, who tragically lost his great shots of this one in an epic sd card failure. Oh, technology! You are sometimes so fickle, and fallible.

And we’re going to Spain very soon, friends! Menu in the works, dinner in the third week of May most likely. Look for Saffron and Smoke ice cream by Extra Spoons, fresh smoked local pastured ham, white gazpacho, and more. Tick tock… tapas!

catchup… catch!

*crickets* *crickets* *crickets*
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And drums! And a green screen! And scattered easter eggs full of prizes (or empty, but that’s better than the proverbial easter basket full of lies, which might kill you. What? That one’s a long old story, and not mine to tell, but it’s good). Suffice to say, a good time was had by all here once again up at Cattington Station. Find the soundtrack on Grooveshark, filed under “Hobo Spaceship”.

Jimeney Cricket! So many things to catch up on! Look for a redux of the past two supper clubs, and some random goodness thrown in to get us back to the present. And there’s no time like now. I’m also of course a big fan of later, which is why it is now when you will be reading about back then. Oh, postmodern time machine! It’s a wild ride, folks. Welcome aboard…