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Off to the Market!


An impromptu Saturday morning excursion to the, French Market in Wheaton IL turned into a life enhancing experience.  On this perfect weekend day, I was tossed into what will probably be the closest experience to a European street market that I will have in this lifetime.   The sensory explosion of color, sound, smell and touch permeated my conscience.  The thickness of the day-shoppers packing the aisles, all eyes hungry for the perfect treasure to purchase from the local organic vendor. Some filling their designer market bags or overloading the back ends of their oversize strollers.  Others, more to my reflection, gathering up the beautifully flawed and vibrant garden grown veggies and tasting local honey from a vendor out of Elburn, IL., holding mismatched bags and mostly just wishing I had more dollars and time to cook everything all at once.

I’m a sucker for a good cheese vendor with vast selection of artisan cheese and a little bit of a stern face.  The apricot brie and nettle gouda from The Cheese People were a bit of a splurge but will be worth their weight in chardonnay later this weekend.  Their creamy nature invited the tongue to take its time savoring every nuance.

Walking through the throngs one is put into defensive driving mindset while at the same time acting with the attention span of a small child… “Oooh! Look at that, no wait…over there!!”  “Do you smell that, is that a chocolate mint plant?”

Not Lost...Just living life...

Hello all...did all 2 or 3 of you miss me?

Well, I'm still here and since my last post in February I've had several culinary adventures. Probably too many for one blog so let me start with my Caribbean trip to the Dominican Republic.

For those of you who don't know me, I am born of Dominican parents.  As a child I had been to the DR several times as my parents fortunately had the means to send us they understood the importance of family connections and cultural identification. As an adult I had not been able to return until this past March I had the honor and pleasure of returning after 30 years.

On this trip my ultimate goal was to reconnect with my family and revisit my maternal grandmother's home which is still the heart of the Garrido family.  Unfortunately we only had one week to pack in all these connections as well as absorb as much of my Dominican culture as possible.

It's Chili Outside

It's been an extraordinary week in the Midwest. Record temperatures had everyone out on the streets and acting like Spring had arrived.  It even fooled the geese and the trees.  But, regardless of the unseasonable break in the weather, winter was just around the corner and showed back up this weekend.  Although many other seemed to be disappointed in this reality, it was perfect timing for chili.

Yesterday, as I have for many years, I participated in a local chili cook-off.  This is, as I told my bf, a holiday for me.  I have a standard award winning recipe that I have tweaked and adjusted here and there.  The goal is always to make the winning chili, but the reality is, I go because I love it!  Win or no win, I just enjoy the gathering of friends, family and community.  Food is well known as a way to bring people together.  This cook-off is no different, the gathering seems to attract more of the public every year.  The variety of chili's is astounding, both in number, style and personality.  Hot, mild, vegan, game meat, and this year even one labeled "gluten free."  By the way, the standard chili is generally gluten free but if it calls attention to the recipe then it's a great tactic.

Refresh and Renew

So, it's February and in the Midwest we are experiencing record high temperatures and all the world around me seems to be amazed and taking full advantage of the phenomenon.  I, too, am glad to get outside to restart my running program that I have let lie dormant for about 2 years.  It is a perfect boost and incentive to get back to life.  However, somewhere in the not-so-far back of my one-foot-on-the-ground mind I am worried about the consequences on the bigger picture of earth.  Don't worry, I'm not going to get all pc and environmentally preachy but I will go a little  "GREEN" in this blog.  I just needed to make a permanent note for the record.