Unusual All Around

As I sit in my warm apartment looking out the window, the theme for this week’s blog pops in my head. Unusual.  Yesterday was by far the prettiest day since I’ve moved here 5 months ago. The sun was out -65, kids were in the park playing, and birds were chirping.  I actually saw the green shoots of daffodils saying, “finally Spring is here.”  And then today..that strange snow that blows down horizontally and we are back to 32 degrees.  So instead of getting my panties in a wad over scraping the snow off my car windows the third week in March, I decided to roll with the unusual weather.  My first stop was to grab the NY Times and head out for breakfast.  Hmmm…where to go…how about a vegan bike bar with a beer garden to boot. How’s that for UNUSUAL??   It’s called Handlebar and located in Wicker Park.

My first impression was rouge. Brick interior, funky music, and art for sale on the walls.  And since it was 32 outside, I skipped the beer and ordered a mug of Metropolis Coffee.  There were a ton of breakfast options and went with one of their specials.  The dish had roasted potatoes, whole grain bread, tofu scramble with pumpkin seed pesto, zucchini, green beans, and cherry tomatoes.  Not sure if I would ride my bike here, but would definitely drive my car back for seconds.  Everything was fresh and seasoned just right.

Earlier this week, my friend Kelly called me asking about a raspberry vinegar I had made her for Christmas. She was pretty sure I had added a ton of sugar to it, but had to explain that hey, it’s Mindful Meals here, we do it healthy baby!!  (Except when I go to Bleeding Heart Bakery- but their ingredients are organic so does that really even count?).

If you have never made your own salad dressing, you are really missing out. The raspberry vinegar recipe is here.  And yes, there is only a small amount of sugar (2 tbls).   A simple dressing is three parts oil to one part vinegar.

After the bike bar I decided to try my hand at a unique blueberry basil vinegar.  I couldn’t even picture those two ingredients together, but it had been snowing for the last 6 hours, so I went for it.  And to add more to this strange day, Whole PAYCHECK Foods didn’t have blueberries. WTF?  So I grabbed two cartons of blackberries, scraped my car windows off again, and headed home.

I have no idea how this is going to taste, but Kelly will be here in two weeks and I intend to try it out on her. The blueberry recipe is below and was taken from this book.


4 cups blueberries

4 cups white wine vinegar- divided

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves crushed (I used my mortar and pestle)

1 lemon- zested


In a large glass bowl, combine blueberries and 1 cup vinegar.  Lightly crush the blueberries.

Add the remaining 3 cups vinegar, crushed basil, and lemon zest; stirring to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in cool, dark place for up to 4 weeks, stirring every 2-3 days.

Strain with a cheesecloth or coffee filter over a saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until temperature reaches 180 degrees.  Let cool and store in a glass airtight container.  (The book talked about canning procedure for this vinegar, but I believe this was for storing it for a long period of time).

I’ll let you know how Kelly liked it!


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