Monday, June 29, 2009

Dinner in Streeterville and a Gay Angel

So I started this blog to show how I navigate Chicago and stick to being vegan, without making my friends go to Chicago Diner for every single meal. Saturday night I went to P. J. Clarke's (Illinois & Columbus) for dinner with Katie C. I usually get the garden vegetable burger without cheese but was informed by the waiter that they actually put cheese in the burger, not just on it. Sad face! I knew it was too good to be true. And now I have to concede that cheese does in fact make things even more delicious. The waiter seemed very knowledgable about the food and what is and is not vegan, and he directed me toward the southwestern wrap. It was very good but I'm still salty about the burger. I did have the comfort of the sweet potato fries. SO long story short, if you're in Streeterville looking for beer, food and possibly some outdoor dining, check out P. J. Clarke's and the southwestern wrap. Your dining companions will have plenty of meat and cheese options. Everyone wins (well, the people win...not so sure about the cow that ends up in the burgers your friends may order).

On Sunday Chicago celebrated gay pride with a parade in Boystown. Katie S. and Rachael hosted a breakfast to "get ready" for the parade. Katie made some vegan homestyle potatoes for me (potatoes, vegetable oil, salt & pepper...yum!). I meant to get champagne for mimosas but alas in Chicago you cannot buy alcohol before 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday. So when I arrived at Katie's I began drinking screwdrivers. Big mistake. After drinking 3-5 screwdrivers, plus the heat and sun while watching the parade, I nearly blacked out and yes, vommed over the balcony. I was not alone in vomming, which made me feel slightly better, but it was not my finest moment. Anyway, I'm resting on the porch, lying with my face down on the patio table, and all of a sudden there is the neighbor, Paul, hovering over me with a plate of cookies. "I heard you are vegan, and these cookies are for you." He scooped a few cookies off of the plate he was carrying and put them down in front of me. "Feel better," he said and walked away.

At least I think this is what happened. Eventually I ate the cookies, rallied and then went to dinner. I ordered fajitas and of course had to grab the skillet with my bare hand. Now I have two burnt fingers. For the past several Mondays I have shown up at work with bandages on at least one body part. I'm hoping for an injury-free weekend but this is a three-day weekend, the 4th of July, Stephanie's bachelorette party, all in Sioux City. I'm just hoping I am alive next Monday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm still alive!! And well-fed.

Hello Vegecagoans!

Yes yes I know, it's been over a month since I've posted.

I'm pretty proud of this baby. Kendra was in town for the weekend, and Katie Corey is in Chicago on extended leave from K.C., so we had a girls' night out Saturday. Because I'm poor (having had all of my money siphoned off from my bank account to the wedding registries of dear friends) I was completely on board when Marie suggested we make dinner.

Kendra, Marie and I were walking around the Green City Market in Lincoln Park on Saturday, and everything looked so lovely and appetizing! We each got smoothies from Seedling Enterprises that would probably make a great hangover cure, though we wouldn't really know. We found some purple asparagus (pictured) that was even better than regular asparagus, but turned green after cooking. I don't get it either. We also bought a "quarter ounce" of purple basil (pictured on the pasta). I don't know why we had to have purple things, it just made sense at the time. The girl selling the basil was pretty witch-tastic, but the guy next to her warned us not to get too crazy with that quarter ounce of "basil." Everyone's a comedian. As we left the farmers' market we strolled through the Lincoln Park Zoo to see critters and get a little sunburn. My favorite thing about Lincoln Park is that, because of the free admission to the zoo, you can see polar bears and giraffes on a whim. This was 6-year-old E$'s wildest dream.

But I digress. Next I took a quick trip to Trader Joe's on Ontario to pick up the linguine and some organic extra virgin olive oil. At my apartment I steamed the purple asparagus for 12 minutes (I usually do 14 minutes for green asparagus) in my Oster steamer. This little miracle worker is $29.99 at Target. Have I mentioned this yet? Probably. I love it. I use it nearly every day to steam vegetables. Steaming veggies is much better than boiling. Not only do the veggies taste better, steaming allows the vegetables to retain more of their vitamins and minerals than with boiling. Better tasting and better for you.

I boiled the linguine and mixed a ton of dried basil into the olive oil for my "pesto" sauce. I didn't have any on hand, but a vegan Parmesan substitute can be mixed in for more flavor. I then cut grape tomatoes in halves and steamed them with some sliced baby portabella mushrooms for about 3 minutes. I dished up the linguine, added the pesto sauce, and then topped it off with the tomatoes, mushrooms and the fresh purple basil, with the purple asparagus on the side.

Add copious amounts of "fine" wine to taste.

Marie, Katie and Kendra putting up with my vegan cooking. (Marie brought a little baggie of real Parmesan cheese, but still...)

Congratulations to Kendra for more than one month of vegetarianism. Wow! And congratulations to Marie for running three miles today! It was 90 degrees out! And Katie...well I know you did something really awesome today too.

I'm training for the Chicago Half Marathon again this year. Sometimes I don't believe that I actually finished last year so I'll do it again just to be sure. Today is day two of training and I'm already sore.

Product of the Day: Jonathan Product Create Volume Thickening Foam, available at Sephora. This works well in my long hair even in this heat we Chicagoans have been begging for (and are now complaining about).