I cook things, photograph them, and put them on this blog so you can make them too, if you want. I have a master's in food studies, hate the word "authentic," and love pierogis. I also run Chicago Food Bloggers.


Chicago Blogger Network


Chicago Food Bloggers 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

View it here.

Download it here (11.5MB)

It's here! It's here!

It's our very first Chicago Food Bloggers Holiday Gift Guide!

At nearly 150 pages, it was quite a doozy to put together! But we think the results are worth it -- there are gifts for every foodie in your life, and even a few that go beyond food. These are the gifts that Chicago's passionate food blogging community have at the top of their lists, as well as the cookbooks, kitchen equipment, and tasty treats that our members already enjoy.

Back in November we asked our members to submit their favorite gift suggestions, and these are the gifts they chose. There's something for every taste -- literally, from jams to salts to chocolates to coffee to blood pudding. There are gifts to help you entertain, gadgets to help in the kitchen, and some high-tech gifts that will juice, chop, stir, and more.

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classic vanilla cupcakes

Just a few months to wait for the vanilla counterpoint to those chocolate cupcakes. That's nothing. Absence makes the heart go hungrier is how the phrase goes.

Happy Halloween! What did you go as? Oooh spooky. Or oooh sexy. I went as nothing, because I'm an adult. Just kidding, adults can dress up. On my way home from work a woman was sitting on her door step dressed as Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast and she offered me a piece of candy. I didn't take it because strangers and diets (I'm not worried about either of those things), but I also saw a piglet, a Wonder Woman, a guy in a pimp coat with a Brittish hat, and a dog dressed as a devil. A devil dog.

We were going to go to the Chicago Halloween parade but it's raining all the rain here in Chicago. Once it started raining I said I should have gone as the Gorton Fisherman and my sister said she should have gone as the Morton Salt Girl, but we only thought of this last night. So instead we are going to stay in and watch The Shining. Have you seen it? Do you like when people ask you questions on blogs? I watched it years ago but I forgot a lot of it. I think because I fell asleep. I also lasted about 5 minutes before I fell asleep during The Exorcist. Sorry old scary movies! I have seen Room 237 though, which, what? The lady who thinks the skiing person is a minotaur is my favorite. Hahaha what are you talking about? If you haven't seen it you can watch it on Netflix. Dot com.

Anyways, I'm going to start blogging again! I miss the ole blog! I've been spending a lot of time running Chicago Food Bloggers and not even writing my my food blog. For shame.

Here are some vanilla cupcakes for you.

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classic chocolate cupcakes

Whatever happened to magic?

When I was growing up magic seemed, if not quite at Houdini levels, popular enough that there were a few television specials every year. At least once a summer CBS would trot out David Copperfield to make corny jokes, inappropriately dance with scantily clad women amongst some silk curtains, and then make something giant disappear.

Where did all the magic go? Was it the Masked Magician? Remember him and how everyone was so mad that he was revealing the tricks? And he was like, "Well now it will force people to make new tricks!" Maybe he was wrong.

Or maybe it was David Blaine and MINDFREEEEAAAKKKK! They didn't really do magic so much as sit in boxes for long periods of time. Maybe everyone thought that's what magic was and gave up.

Or is it CGI? CGI is ruining everything. There is that new movie out where the magicians are bank robbers but all of the tricks are obviously CGI so who cares. The magician might as well turn into that melty liquid guy from Terminator and go through the jail bars. To use one example.

When I was little, I was really into magic for a while. My grandmother bought me Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic, which I used to read, cover to cover, all the time. I bought these little Magic Works toys, which were actually fairly impressive. Like this one, the Crystal Cleaver! My grandfather bought me a magical box that you could put anything in the top, close the box, and when you opened it again whatever you added had disappeared. 

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homemade hamburger buns

I love any business makeover show. Hotel Impossible, Tabatha Takes Over, Restaurant Impossible, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (and the lesser American equivalent), Bar Rescue. Except for the screaming and yelling; that I could do without. Particularly Restaurant Impossible's Robert and Bar Rescue's Jon, who both shout-talk almost everything they say and then act surprised when the restaurant owner doesn't take an immediate liking to them.

Hotel Impossible's Anthony Melchiori is by far the best host, not just because he knows his shit, but because he seems to genuinely care about each and every hotel owner. And you would be surprised at how interesting it is to learn about standard occupancy rates or how often a hotel should be deep cleaned (although many owners seem to be finding out for the first time that rooms should be cleaned at all).

I have watched hours of these shows and there are more than a couple problems that pop up in almost every epsisode. What might those be, Mike? Glad you asked. Here are eleven:

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blueberry muffins

I was going to make an introduction about some nonsense that has nothing to do with the recipe and then tie it to the recipe with the thinnest of transitions, like I usually do, but the note about using a scale became so long that I have decided this whole post is going to be about using one.

Look, I know every Tom, Dick, and Mary Baker says to invest in a scale. Every baking book starts off with an introduction about the importance of weighing your ingredients. Bloggers are adding the metric weights to the ingredient list with the hope that you'll make the switch.

Honestly though, I swear, just do it already. (If you have done it already, you don't have to read any of this. You get a "Meets Expectations" for today). If you aren't going to do it, just go buy Entenmann's.

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