Food

three.

Cake Cutting

Cutting our (homemade) wedding cake – July 5, 201

Three years ago, we got married. It wasn’t legally binding, and if it had been, it would not have been recognized in the state where we live nor by the federal government. (But we ate cake anyway!)

Two weeks after that, we made it legal with a visit to the Cambridge, Massachusetts courthouse – where the first same-sex wedding in the United States took place in 2004. In Boston’s Public Garden, a real Justice of the Peace from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts certified our marriage. (And then we ate a swanky, delectable French dinner.)

wedding 14

Getting legally married in Boston Public Garden.

Two years and four days ago, the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act went into effect, and we celebrated our first anniversary with an upgrade from legally unrelated people to members of a Civil Union.

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First Anniversary at the Pier

This year, we are celebrating our anniversary as federally-recognized spouses, thanks to the repeal of DOMA. Illinois is on the brink of becoming the 14th state to allow same-sex marriage (keep your fingers crossed this fall), and there are some cases making their way towards the Supreme Court that could result in marriage equality nationwide. That is a damn long way to come in three short years.

And we promise, when it happens, we will be throwing one kickass party.

For the time being, though, we’re eating Turkish breakfast, hitting the beach where we got married, grilling some burgers, and celebrating what we’ve got right now.

Third Anniversary at the Pier.

Third Anniversary at the Pier.

New York City

Center of the Universe. (Sing it, Girl…)*

So, I totally abandoned this blog, social outings, friends, sleeping more than four hours a night, and even wine for the first nine days of November in order to finish up that insane amount of projects we had going.

And then? Then I went to New York. And we were on VACATION. Like, the real kind, where you leave your laptop at home (I did!) and don’t even check your work email at all (I… almost did. I read them, but I didn’t reply to any! So that’s a half win?). Friends, if you haven’t been taking vacations – and I know you’re out there, because this was the first real vacation we have ever taken, in the 6 1/2 years we’ve known each other – and it was AWESOME.

Here are my new rules for vacation:
1) Don’t make any firm plans. Ideas, yes. Things you’d like to do, places you’d like to visit, restaurants you’d like to try – YES. Actual scheduled times at which to do any of these things? NO. Just wing it.

2) Groupon is your friend. Oh Groupon, I have never loved you so much as in NYC. You gave us fine French food, complete with appetizers, entrees, desserts, and a whole bottle of wine to split for $69. You gave us $40 worth of oxtail and Cuban pork, among other things, for only $20. You gave us organic mani-pedis for $19 each. You gave me a sassy new haircut with fiery highlights for half the price. And you gave us the most AMAZING couples massage with hot rocks, which we have learned is THE BEST THING EVER, for only $98. For both of us. And it felt like it lasted for three hours, somehow, even though it was only one. WHAT?!

Here is my list of foods I ate (some for the first time – marked with “!”) in NYC. I liked them.
Sea Urchin!
Escargot!
Foie Gras, which I may have finally learned to spell correctly
Veal Sweetbreads
Quail Eggs
The Tiniest Mushrooms I Have Ever Seen! – They were so cute I actually tasted them and they were even yummy.
Oxtail!

3) If you have a shopping weakness, say for fabric, it might be wise to set a budget for it before a very helpful Mood employee “starts a pile” for you, and hooks you up with a loyalty card. (Thanks, Stephany!) Else you risk getting halfway to the $25-back-after-$500-spent reward in one trip…

4) Do what you can to stay in a hotel that you love while you’re in it, but is not so cozy that you never want to leave. Our hotel was so awesome that it might deserve its own post, but let’s be honest, I will never get around to that. Suffice it to say, if you put the friendliest staff in the history of ever with the most efficient space design in an über-modern hunting lodge with chartreuse escalators, you win.

5) Splurge on something you will truly love. For us, obviously, that’s food. We did a seven-course chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings at Austrian restaurant Seäsonal, which we had both noticed separately while strolling through Manhattan. It was mind-blowing.

In summary, vacation was awesome. I am no longer completely stressed out, but I have plenty of good and fun projects to fill my time. I managed to decide Wednesday night to host/cook Thanksgiving, and totally rocked it (one of my guests declared it the best Thanksgiving dinner ever) and I get to keep eating it all weekend. Friday was our last wedding of the year, from which I got to bring home all manner of uneaten pies along with pride in a job well done. We may get an answer on the house we’ve been waiting for since June… sometime before New Year’s. And JULIA IS COMING HOME TONIGHT!

So – life is pretty sweet. As are all the pies in my fridge. Here’s hoping you have a vacation and some decadent desserts in your very near futures too!

 

*Bonus points to you if you got that reference.

Thank YOU!

I know it’s a holiday weekend, and you all have better things to do than read this blog, so I’ll keep it short:

THANK YOU.

Thank you to all the amazing wedding vendors who have shared their wisdom with us and collaborated with us to make some truly special days this year.

Thank you to the designers who inspire us, the creators of lovely fabrics, and those few wonderful people in the fabric store who actually know what they’re talking about.

Thank you to all our friends who have spread the word about Crafty Broads and helped it grow so much, so quickly. And who have listened to us whine when we got overwhelmingly busy. And have taken us out for drinks and brought us cake when we were too stressed to have a birthday party. And who are just awesome people that put up with us even though we are totally slacking on spending time with all of you.

Thank you to all of our clients, many of whom we are happy to now call friends, for being cool people, having great taste, bringing us fabulous inspiration, and including us in your love-fests. And for one by one, bringing us closer to making Crafty Broads a full-time gig.

This has been an amazing year so far, and it wouldn’t have been without all of you!

We hope you have a relaxing, happy weekend full of delicious food and time with your loved ones ahead of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

Restaurant Michael – Winnetka

I’m BACK! Or, at least, I am trying. It’s hard to get back in the groove when you’ve taken three months (seriously? yeah…) off from blogging anything. I make no promises, because honestly I kinda feel obligated to blog more than yay! I feel like blogging! a lot of the time, but I also remember that when I do it with some semblance of regularity I become excited to post, so. Newton’s First Law of Motion. It’s for real, man. Anyway, I’m gonna ease us back in gently by talking about (what else?) food!

A couple weeks ago, we went to see a fantastic production of A Little Night Music at Writers’ Theatre. (It was stellar, but it’s over, so I can’t tell you to go see it. It’s already too late.) We decided to make it a date night and go out for dinner. I was looking for something inexpensive, because we’re trying to buy a house and we’re going to need money for fixing it up (I should totally write a post about that, shouldn’t I?) and also we have a food budget to stick to, but being that Writers’ is in Glencoe, we were limited by The Suburbs. Having ruled out chain restaurants and places that sounded very mediocre, we decided to go all out and took the theatre’s suggestion (and 10% discount) to Restaurant Michael. In summary – amazing food, top-notch service, way lower prices than comparable dining experiences we’ve had before.

Since we were pre-show diners, our reservation was for 5:30pm. When we arrived, we were pretty much the only people there. Now I know it’s not really “cool” to eat dinner so early, but I have to tell you – there is no cheaper way to get private dining. Give it a chance sometime. We were pleasantly surprised to find a prix fixe menu, and while we pondered the options, we were served the most delicious cheese puff ever. I think the rest of this post is best told in photos. Enjoy!

Elizabeth and Brian’s Morning Wedding and Luncheon Reception – Spiaggia Private Dining Rooms – Chicago, Illinois

Elizabeth and Brian are my kind of people. Why? Because their number one priority for their wedding was FOOD. And, as you may be aware, I like food. I like to make it, to eat it, to talk about it, and to eat it some more. So whenever I find people I can do that with, I’m home. (In fact, we all love food so much that we got together earlier this year to have dinner together. I really, really love it when we hit it off with our clients so much that we hang out after their weddings are over!)

So – with that as a priority, they chose Spiaggia for their venue and catering. Now, you may recall, that right after this wedding happend (in October! Yes, I am behind!) I posted about the food. Because it was excellent. You may recall how I’ve attempted to recreate that beet, apple, goat cheese, and prosciutto salad a few times. Anyway, now that I’ve drooled, let me tell you about the rest of the wedding.

Elizabeth and Brian got married on a brisk October morning, coinciding with the anniversary date of Elizabeth’s great grandparents (if I recall correctly – I hope!) – which I think is an excellent way to connect your new family with your existing one. I LOVED Elizabeth’s wedding dress, because it was a 1930s-style, bias-cut gown, which is exactly the kind of dresses we are obsessed with, and she was stunning in it. Brian looked dapper as well.

These two were so calm, and so ready to get married. No last-minute nerves, no pacing, just joy. Which is awesome. They had a lovely ceremony in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Michigan Avenue, and walked back down the aisle to the Star Wars theme – a surprise to everyone except Brian!

What I loved most about this wedding is that Elizabeth and Brian were so focused. They knew exactly what was important for THEM at their wedding, and they had the courage to let everything else go. I think that is a crucial part of loving your wedding (and preserving your sanity while planning it) – to ignore all the trends and the people who say “You must do it this way, or it isn’t a wedding!” and just do what works for you.

Congratulations Elizabeth and Brian!

Vendors
Venue/Catering:
Spiaggia Private Dining Rooms
Photography:
Studio Finch
Cake:
Sarah’s Pastries & Candies
Flowers:
Flowers by Color

All photos were taken by Studio Finch, are protected by copyright, and are reposted here with the photographer’s permission. They are not available for reproduction or redistribution. Please contact the photographer for more information regarding the photos in this post.

On the Menu This Week

Finally, a post about food! It’s been too long, hasn’t it? I know I should be rounding up all the tasty things we’ve consumed since whenever the last time was I mentioned something on here, but the truth is the idea of doing that is overwhelming enough to incapacitate me.

So, as I attempt to get back in the swing of meal planning (yeah, we have not been so good these last few busy months. We have had a lot of food delivered, and a lot of last-minute trips to the store.) – I thought I’d maybe try to resurrect that thing where I share my menu for the week with you. Here goes.

In case you’ve forgotten, we try to eat one red meat, one poultry, two fish, and three vegetarian meals each week. Designated below as (M), (P), & (V), respectively.

(V) Pasta (our default I-don’t-feel-like-cooking meal: angel hair with marinara)
(F) Crispy Fish with Tomato & Leek Saute
(M) Tacos
(V) Sweet Potato with Beets, Greens, & Almonds
(F) Maple Glazed Salmon with Pineapple
(P) Chicken, Squash, & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
(V) Ricotta Gnocchi with Leeks & Fava Beans (!!! It’s fava bean season again! Finally! Are you as excited about that as I am? You should be.)

I also bought beets for roasting (and they had golden beets today – score! I saw them and immediately thought of the golden beet borscht we had at Sprout. Anybody have a good borscht recipe?) and tossing into salad greens for any meal which feels like it wants more veggies. We’ll probably have this with the salmon and on pasta night.

This week, Julia is in tech for a show, and consequently not home until Thursday, so I get to eat the things I usually skip because of her preferences/restrictions. For example, tacos! Which I would happily eat on a weekly basis, but she would prefer to have only once every other month or so. Also? Goat cheese. Which I LOVE but she cannot stomach, so I don’t eat it as frequently as I’d like. And that salmon dish with the pineapple? I could eat it all week long; Julia finds it a bit too sweet.

What are YOU eating this week? (If it’s vegetarian and delicious, please share your recipes because I never seem to have enough of those!)

Food, Lately.

Remember when I used to blog about food? Yeah, haven’t done much of that lately. Which is not to say we haven’t been eating good stuff, because we have. So, in the next few food-related posts, let’s se if I can round up some of the tastiest things we’ve eaten in the last… two months? Jeez.

Ok. January started off with an awesome dinner party. Ms. Bunny and Kinzie and their respective significant others were in town, so we thought we’d get together to eat and drink. Here’s what we served:

Roasted Beet and Apple Salad with Crispy Proscuitto and Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Butternut Squash and Basil Béchamel Lasagna
Mocha Marjolaine, loosely adapted from this recipe

Oh, and I made Pomegranate Martinis. Which I’ve since perfected. 1/2 shot each of coconut rum and triple sec, plus pomegranate juice (to your desired ratio of booze to juice) – shake over ice and enjoy!

Now, for that salad. Here’s what you need to make 6-8 servings:

1 or 2 large beets
1 or 2 apples (I like something more sweet than tart for this)
Mixed greens – a small handful for each serving
One slice proscuitto per serving
4 oz. or so goat cheese

For the vinaigrette:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon good dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Coat beets in olive oil and wrap in foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes.
3. Cook proscuitto until crispy (use whatever method you like, I pop them in the oven for the last 10 minutes of the beet roasting.)
4. While that’s happening, start the vinaigrette – combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce by half – so it’s thick and viscous. This will take most of the time that the beets are roasting. Strain the vinaigrette into a small glass jar to filter out the shallot and garlic pieces (totally optional, I don’t do it) and then shake vigorously to emulsify. (Bonus: the extra dressing will keep just fine in your fridge.)
5. Slice the apples into thin (1/4″) wedges. When the beets are done roasting, slice them the same way.
6. To plate, break a slice of prosciutto in half, and place the halves opposite each other on the dish. Top with a handful of greens. Layer 2-3 slices each of beet and apple across the center. Drizzle with vinaigrette and top with crumbles of goat cheese.

I’d show you pictures of all of these delectable things, but somehow I failed to take any. Instead, I offer you a photo of us on the night in question.

Kinzie, Me, Ms. Bunny

All About Crafty Broads

With the new year in full swing, and perhaps some new readers along with it, we thought we’d introduce some new things to the blog. Starting this week, we’ll have a series of posts explaining the details of our services, at the end of which we’d like to open it up to any questions you might have. So – bring on the questions! Anything you want to know about us, wedding planning and coordination, custom clothing, alterations, general craftiness, or us personally – GO!

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name (optional)’ type=’name’/][contact-field label=’Email (optional%26#x002c; but be sure to include it if you want a direct response from us!)’ type=’email’/][contact-field label=’Please email me a response to my question%26#x002c; in addition to posting it on the blog.’ type=’checkbox’/][contact-field label=’Your Question’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Home (in the Kitchen) for the Holidays

Baking has been a part of my holiday season for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I’d spend that magical week off of school the week before Christmas in the kitchen with my siblings and my mom. We baked lots of cookies and molded chocolates. It was awesome, and left me with a number of recipes that are essential for my holiday to feel just right. Changing our diets to be more healthy has resulted in less baking the past few years. Last year, I made just one thing – a new recipe I stumbled upon while looking for something to change it up. By request from a few fine people on twitter, I bring you:

Fleur de Sel Dark Chocolate Caramels

photo by Romulo Yanes for Epicurious.com

What You Need:
2 cups heavy cream
10 1/2 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate (go for 72% cacao)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
vegetable oil for greasing

How to Make It:
1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch straight-sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment.

2. Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, then reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat.

3. Bring sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, without stirring but gently swirling pan occasionally, until sugar is deep golden, about 10 minutes.

4. Tilt pan and carefully pour in chocolate mixture (mixture will bubble and steam vigorously). Continue to boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 255°F on thermometer, about 15 minutes.

5. Add butter, stirring until completely melted, then immediately pour into lined baking pan (do not scrape any caramel clinging to bottom or side of saucepan).

6. Let caramel stand 10 minutes, then sprinkle evenly with sea salt. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.

7. Carefully invert caramel onto a clean, dry cutting board, then peel off parchment. Turn caramel salt side up. Lightly oil blade of a large heavy knife and cut into 1-inch squares.

(If you make a double batch, and wrap them individually, and split them amongst a bunch of tiny boxes, presto – Christmas gifts for EVERYONE. And they fit in your carry-on. You’re welcome.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Prepped Turkey

Let's cook this turkey.

Yeah, I just started a post with a big picture of raw meat. (Have I lost any readers? I hope not.) Look, today is the day before Thanksgiving. I have two related points on the agenda, so I won’t waste anymore of your holiday weekend time rambling.

1. This is cliché, but… today we are thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives, including you, who have supported the launch of our little business over the past year. It’s a really exciting (busy, stressful, crazy) time for us, and we’d be lying if we said we could do it without a little help from our friends. Your continued encouragement means a lot to us, and every time you tell someone about us or pass along our business cards, you are building our business with us. And that really rocks. So, thank you friends, family, colleagues, and strangers.

To those of you who are or have been our clients – you are seriously awesome and we want to be your friends forever. So please feel free to email us and let us know what you’re up to, how your honeymoon was, where you’re wearing the clothes we made for you, and obviously tell us what you’ve been eating since we saw you. We miss you, for real.

2. Here are some hints for making your Thanksgiving food extra awesome:

Turkey: See above, and cut slits in the bird’s skin. Stick your finger in, loosen it up, and shove some flavor in there. We do rosemary and garlic and it makes for some truly excellent turkey.

Mashed potatoes: Use real cream instead of milk, and put some rosemary in those too. And also – red potatoes are the way to go, keep the skins on, they are delish.

Pumpkin Pie: Use a real pumpkin, not a can. A pie pumpkin. Cut it, puree it, OMG yum. Also – for an easy yet superior pie crust, make a graham cracker crust, but instead of graham crackers use gingersnaps. And then you need real whipped cream on top. As in, buy cream and then whip it, and since you’re doing that, add a splash of brandy to the cream. You’re welcome.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!