This Weekend: Bike Races, Food Trucks, and 16 Candles – The Glencoe Grand Prix

The forecast is 80 degrees and sunny for this Saturday’s 8th annual Glencoe Grand Prix!  Come to picturesque Glencoe for the bike races – both amateur and professional – and stay for the food and fun.  Or come for the food and stay for the races and fun.  One of the great additions to this year’s event is the presence of twelve food trucks, and the good news is: they’ll be around for the entire event.

Start the day by cheering on riders while noshing on doughnuts and biscnuts (a doughnut/biscuit hybrid…um, dying to try this) from Endgrain or gourmet egg sandwiches from Eastman Egg.  Before stopping by the highly popular kid races at noon, you can lunch on just about anything – Lillie Q’s barbecue, The Salsa Truck’s classic Mexican street food, Grill Chasers’ chicken, Tamale Spaceship’s authentic Mexican cuisine, or Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese from Chicago Lunch Box.  And don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with cupcakes and gelato from Flirty Cupcakes and Gelato Italiano!

Though you can visit any food truck at any time during the event, I’m planning to save Chicago Pizza Boss’s wood-oven pizza and arancini, Chubby Wieners’ hot dogs and fries, and gooey gourmet grilled cheese from Toasty Cheese (with gluten free options!) for my evening and late night meals.  I’ll need to pre- and post-dance carb load for the can’t miss 80’s cover band 16 Candles who will perform at the event-closing Block Party.  Don’t fret if you haven’t stepped foot on a dance floor since the actual 80’s – a beer from Goose Island or a glass of wine from The Bottle Shop in Wilmette will help you lose your inhibitions.

Click each link within the post to view corresponding food truck information and menus.  Prepare to get extremely hungry.

Click here for the full schedule of Glencoe Grand Prix events and here for a story I wrote two years ago on the history and evolution of the Glencoe Grand Prix and the event’s founder, Jon Knouse. 

The funds from the Glencoe Grand Prix directly support the Glencoe Schools and their technology initiatives.  Illinois Bone & Joint Institute is this year’s title sponsor.

Photo via the GGP website.

 

Seasonally Inspired: Raspberry Rhubarb Compote

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Rhubarb is in season right now, so catch it while you can.  Instead of making the usual suspects (pie and crisp), why not try this simple, delicious, sweet-tart compote?  It can be spooned over ice cream, big meringues with whipped cream, pudding or pound cake, or swirled into your morning yogurt if you’re feeling virtuous.  I’m having a friend for lunch tomorrow and plan on serving it over panna cotta that’s chilling as I write this.  I’d planned on making something else for dessert, but abandoned those plans as soon as I spotted those crisp, rosy stalks at Elawa Farm’s garden market this morning.

Raspberry Rhubarb Compote

makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 5 medium stalks rhubarb chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 6 ounces fresh raspberries (1 small container)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Cut bean in half width-wise and save other half for another use.  Cut bean-half length-wise and scrape seeds out by running knife along length of pod.
  2. Place chopped rhubarb, raspberries, vanilla bean seeds and the pod you just scraped them from, lemon zest, sugar and water in a medium saucepan.  Stir.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until rhubarb has softened.
  4. Using the back of a wooden spoon, smash some of the softened rhubarb pieces and stir to distribute.
  5. Turn off heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Remove vanilla bean pod.
  6. Spoon warm over ice cream or allow to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.  Compote will thicken as it cools.

 

 

The (Hand)written Word

During a recent bout of spring cleaning, I discovered a thank you note tucked deep in a drawer that my mother had written after celebrating her birthday at our home (we were celebrating my stepfather’s as well – they shared a birthday).  I remember the events she refers to in the letter as if they were yesterday, though it was written three and a half years ago.  As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, my passion for cooking was largely influenced by mother, and one of our favorite rituals was shopping for and preparing our Thanksgiving feasts together.  The Thanksgiving she was looking forward to in the note turned out to be the first that my daughter, then 8, helped us prepare start-to-finish, my mother patiently teaching her to make pie crust, stuffing, pumpkin custard, and corn pudding.  It also turned out to be the last we created together as she was too frail in her final years.

Had she e-mailed or phoned in the words, they would have been lovely and gracious as were most things she said, but they would not have carried the intimacy of the note in her hand.  I worry that in today’s world, with cursive dropped from curricula and e-mail replacing “snail mail” that the handwritten word, with all of its beauty and power, will be lost.  Touching a letter that has been touched, reading sentiments that have flowed from another’s pen, brings the writer’s voice and physical presence to the reader’s mind.  Handwriting, like laughter and cadence, is an utterly unique expression.

Write letters of love and notes of gratitude.  Sign all of the books you give as gifts.  Urge your children to do the same.  Someday they will be grateful that you did.

Dear Wendy,
Thank you and Tim for such
a lovely birthday celebration for
David and me.  Cocktails, music,
food and family – what more could
anyone want?  And our gifts –
you are far too extravagant my
dear, but we love them.  I am
listening to jazz as I write this.*

We are looking forward to
Thanksgiving – what a fine
group we shall have.  I do
think I will most enjoy our
time together Wednesday and
Thursday morning.

Til then –

L,L,L – M.

*We shared a great love of jazz so I had purchased an iPod, loaded it with her favorite artists, and given it to her with a Bose player so she could take it from family room to porch – her two favorite places.

 

 

 

 

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

DSC_0013This Greek inspired lentil salad hits all the right notes – crunchy, creamy, light-yet-filling, and bursting with bright flavors.  It’s a great take-along for a Memorial Day picnic, and though it stands alone as a vegetarian entree, it would be a fabulous accompaniment to anything from burgers to grilled chicken.  The lemony dressing will seem like too much at first, but the lentils will absorb it over time.  French green lentils are worth seeking out – they have a wonderful nutty flavor and do not get mushy like other lentils.  I also love French feta if you can find it – it is milder and creamier than other varieties.

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

makes approximately 6 cups

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 3 cloves garlic, one peeled and two minced
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small cucumber, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup feta, small diced
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with one peeled garlic clove and a large pinch of salt.  Add lentils and cook over medium-high heat until lentils are tender and cooked through, 18-20 minutes.  Drain, then place in a large bowl.
  2. While lentils are cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the two minced garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Add dressing to the still-warm lentils.  Allow to cool completely.
  4. While lentils are cooling, chop veggies, herbs and feta.  After chopping the tomatoes and cucumbers, place in a colander lined with paper towels for at least 10 minutes to absorb excess liquid.
  5. Add all veggies and herbs to the cooled lentil mixture.  Stir in feta last.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

True Love

Last Sunday, my fifteen year old son Will hugged me goodbye and took off for an evening bike ride as I cleaned up the last of our Easter dishes.  I don’t know what made me look at the clock when he left, but I remember being pleased that the sun was still shining so late in the day.  Minutes then turned into hours, and as the sun dipped below the horizon line my panic level rose.  He had, at that point, been gone for over two and a half hours, had left without a helmet or identification, and his phone was going straight to voice mail.  My mind flew from believing he would walk in the door at any minute to sickening thoughts of him lying unconscious in the dark (or worse) .  And just as my husband unearthed his bike from the garage to search for him, he came home.

The sobs that erupted from my chest startled both of us.  I hugged him tighter and longer than I had in ages, and, for a moment, I think he truly understood the depths of parental love.  He surprised me as well.  I expected him to laugh at my outpouring of emotion, but instead he reassured me that he would never scare me like that again.  If only he could keep that promise.

He has grown from little boy to full-fledged teen in the blink of an eye.  I can’t believe it’s been almost a decade since I ran behind him holding onto the seat of his two-wheeler!  Letting go of that bike and watching him speed away was the first time I recall thinking I wouldn’t be able to shield him from danger forever.  But I am so proud of the fine young man he has become, and have confidence in the choices he will make to keep himself out of harm’s way.

Below is the eloquent letter John Steinbeck wrote to his teenage son, Thom, after learning he had fallen in love.  While away at boarding school, Thom wrote to his father and step-mother seeking advice regarding his feelings for a girl named Susan.  Steinbeck’s response brims with thoughtfulness, wisdom, and honesty, as well as respect and love for his son.  The words have always stuck with me (that beautiful last line!), but they returned in a meaningful way this week while thinking about how I will maintain a strong, steadying presence in Will’s life as he transitions into adulthood.  I can’t hold onto his bike seat forever.

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa

*from Steinbeck: A Life in Letters

Necessary Luxuries

 

DSC_0062 Happy Monday to you!  Though I’m sad to say goodbye to this weekend filled with family, friends and gorgeous weather, the bouquet I put together for our Easter celebration will make me seriously happy all week long.  Fresh flowers are on my list of necessary luxuries, along with: Friday night sushi, traditional Sunday dinners at home, the exquisite custom letterpress stationery my friend Amy created for me, runs by the lake, coffee dates with friends, and a handful of embarrassingly expensive hair and skin care products.  Do you have any little luxuries you hate to live without?   DSC_0066 DSC_0071photo 3

This Weekend: Best of the Fest Children’s Film Series and The Antiques & Garden Fair

 

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the first installment of Best of the Fest Children’s Film Series, produced by Chicago’s Facets Multi-Media and presented at Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest.  Milos Stehlik (pictured above), founder of Facets, travels the world to find films for children that engage, entertain, and empower.  Last Sunday’s short films carried themes of persistence, music, love, acceptance, courage, and the environment that were told mainly from children’s perspectives but loved by viewers of all ages.   The familiar sounds of children’s chatter, wiggling seats, and rustling popcorn bags came only in the moments between short films.  During the showings, kids in attendance were completely engrossed in the films, letting out bursts of infectious giggles and sometimes shouting enthusiastic proclamations of plot discovery.   This Sunday, April 13th, Facets returns to Gorton at 4pm to present three book-based short films, including the Oscar winning “The Gruffalo.”  Seating is limited but tickets are still available on Gorton’s website (link here).  Tickets are also available on Gorton’s site for the last installment on April 27th.

Also this weekend is one of my favorite Chicago Botanic Garden events, the Antiques and Garden Fair.  Friday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm each day, gorgeous floral displays surround 120 booths filled with treasures from around the world.  Year after year I walk out with a lighter wallet and a heavier trunk (remember this goody from last year?)!  Tickets available on the Chicago Botanic Garden’s site (here).

Happy Early Weekend! xo

The Aesthete and the Dilettante Featured in Forest & Bluff

I was absolutely delighted that the aesthete and the dilettante was featured in the April issue of Forest & Bluff Magazine!  A huge thank you to Ann Marie Scheidler, the editorial director of Forest & Bluff, for writing such a kind and thoughtful article.  It’s an honor to be on the pages of a magazine I truly love!  To read the article, click here.

above photo by Jim Prisching from Forest & Bluff article

Throwback Thursday: The Chicago Botanic Garden In Spring

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Today I popped into my favorite flower shop in Lake Bluff, Twigs, for a dose of color therapy on this rainy, 38 degree day.  I picked up some flowering cherry branches for my mantel, which reminded me of the pictures I took at The Chicago Botanic Garden last April.  I can’t wait for everything to bloom again!

DSC_0145DSC_0148 DSC_0146all photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

Spring Style: Steal This Look

Spring Style: Steal This Look
Is anyone else desperate for color?  Stepping into spring with colorful statement loafers and wear-with-everything blue basics will be an instant mood lifter.  Topped with a neutral leather or military inspired jacket and a patterned scarf, you’ll have the perfect ensemble to combat April’s mercurial nature.  For a more polished look, pair solid dark denim with a crisp oxford and your favorite gold accessories.  Either way, your shoes will be the star!

Ray-ban aviators
revolveclothing.com

Olivia Palermo’s loafers shown in above photo (via pinterest) are by Pretty Loafers and are currently unavailable, though you can leave your e-mail address on the site for notification of future availability.  They have many great options in stock!