Ahhhh the benefits of being a teacher…5 days off for Thanksgiving. Which in the end, I was grateful for the time because I have been battling an upper respiratory infection. So between resting and coughing, there were moments for some great food and a few sights.
Something new I tried this week was pesto that was made with a mortar & pestle. Usually a pesto is made in a food processor, but my go to cookbook by Alice Waters suggested making it in a different style. Which I can attest really enriches the basil taste. Somehow I think by pounding the basil leaves, you can extract more of the flavor.
First you pound 1 peeled garlic clove with a pinch of salt. Then you pound in 1/4 cup pine nuts. Add in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Remove this mixture and add in 1 bunch of coarsely chopped basil leaves. Pound till you have a paste. Add back in the pinenut/garlic mixutre. Pound to mix. Slowly add in 1/2 cup EVOO. Taste for salt and adjust. At NGI we had a pesto day and used all different types of nuts; walnuts, pistachios, etc. and then used different herbs; such as parsley or mint.
This week landed me at the Museum of Science And Industry. There is so much going on at this museum this month. The major exhibit is “You, The Experience.” You can learn about your brain, how food effects the body, have a computer age you (which I skipped!) One of the prettiest things was the exhibit called “Christmas Around The World.” The museum had all these Christmas trees from different countries decorated with ornaments that were relevant to that particular country. The main tree was lit with 23,000 twinkle lights. It is hard to tell from the picture how tall the tree was, but that is a real airplane hanging from the ceiling.
Another exhibit was the “Smart Home.” This is considered Chicago’s “greenest” home and was designed by Michelle Kaufmann. Yeah, Girl Power!! The home is three stories and uses 60% natural resources to run the electric, heat and water. All of the materials inside the home were considered green, such as the recycled hubcap chandelier and recycled glass tiles from wine bottles. They gave you a booklet on all the materials used inside the home, so if you wanted to go green it was a nice spring board for choosing to do something little like changing your light bulbs, to something large like installing radiant heat. One of the most unique things was the art work. It wasn’t until later that I discovered what it was hanging up on the walls.
And to wrap up this week is Victory Banner. Continuously voted #1 for breakfast in Chicago and just so happens to be vegetarian. So many choices, it was REALLY hard to decide, but went with one of the things they are known for- french toast with peach butter and maple syrup. WOW! The people that work here are doing so on a voluntary basis. The restaurant is based on an Indian spiritual guru and his peaceful beliefs. Even the sugar packets have inspirational quotes. I know it sounds “far out” there, but the food was extremely good and the place has a nice feel to it. Will definitely be back again.