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ronnie_suburban

eG Foodblog: ronnie_suburban, redux - Adventures in the ordinary

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Hi All,

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly a year since I last blogged. My! How time flies! :smile:

Some very brief background about myself. I am 41 and I live in the northern suburbs of Chicago with my wife and my 7-year-old son. I work in the food industry selling bulk ingredients; primarily 100% natural, processed fruit products.

I have a love/hate relationship with cooking. I love to do it and I love to learn how to cook new things but I also reserve the right to "not cook" any time it (or the thought of it) ceases to be fun. My wife is culinarily-challenged and, as such, I am the primary meal provider in our house. There are some nights when after getting home from work, spending time in the kitchen is the last thing I want to do. So I don't. There are other times when after getting home from work, nothing sounds better to me than relaxing by spending time in the kitchen (or out by the grill or smoker) making a meal for my family. I'm not exactly sure what specific factors influence these moods but they will no doubt manifest here, over the course of this blog. :wink:

It'll be a mixed bag this week for sure...probably about 1/3 cooking, 1/3 going out and 1/3 scrounging for leftovers. I started out this morning (and pretty much every morning) with an Iced Venti Americano (no water, please) from Starbuck's. To this I add 1 packet of sweet and low and a splash of half and half. I really need the caffeine in the a.m. but I'm not a particularly passionate coffee person. When I occasionally come across the good stuff, I'm very happy to have it but I don't go out of my way for it either. A friend of mine roasts his own beans and he will hook me up from time to time. Yes, I can tell the difference and yes I can appreciate it. But honestly, I'd rather sleep an extra few minutes in the morning than spend the time making coffee for myself. When I get to my office, my IVA is waiting for me because one of the guys at the office hits Starbucks every morning. Good deal :smile:

I spent most of this past Sunday cooking (was really in the mood :wink:) and I brought some split pea soup to the office today to share with my cohorts. I'm sure it'll end up being part of our lunch in some manner but we'll no doubt augment it by ordering carryout from one of our local spots. There are 5 of us in the office and we recently went to a system where each one of is assigned a day to choose the lunch venue. Today, our resident vegetarian will be making the choice so the soup, which turned out quite well, is a solid insurance policy that lunch--or at least some portion of it--will be edible :biggrin:

=R=

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Ron, I've read many of your posts and am excited to see your blog!!

Do you always have Starbucks, is it your coffee house preference or is it just the most convienent?

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Do you always have Starbucks, is it your coffee house preference or is it just the most convienent?

It's all about the convenience. I'm no lover of Starbuck's (well, that's not entirely true since I think they are an outstandingly well-run company) but as long as that Iced Venti Americano keeps landing on my desk every morning, I don't anticipate changing course. :biggrin:

Actually, in all seriousness, I live in the northern 'burbs of Chicago and Starbuck's is a juggernaut here. There aren't a lot of credible alternatives. However, there is a bakery in Highland Park, IL--a nearby suburb--called Sweet Memories Bakery (owned by eG member, mkfradin) where outstanding coffee can be had. As luck would have it, we're moving our office next month and we'll be only 1 block away from there, so the coffee regimen will likely change.

Also, I do have a couple of very nice coffee machines at home and when I have the time (weekends, holiday time) I will put them to use. Also, when my buddy lays a jar of home-roasted beans on me, I take full advantage of his generosity and brew up every last one of them.

=R=

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Awfully glad that you now have the baton! :biggrin: Beware, though, blogging is habit-forming - I reached for the camera as I took my roasted cauli out of the oven. Good luck and I hope you enjoy yourself as you blog.

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ronnie,

you were blogging last year when i joined egullet!

i'm very excited to hear about your restaurant / food exploits...have some greek fries and stuffed pizza and chicago dogs and old style for me! and describe it in detail :laugh:

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Thanks, Anna :smile:

I promise that I will spike my blog with lots of pictures. In fact, I took pictures of our lunch but left my connector cable at home so the upload will have to wait until later this afternoon.

We did in fact have some small bowls of my split pea soup as well as some other items from Barnaby's in Northbrook, IL. My wife joined us at the office and we all split a few things; including my favorite Barnaby's pizza combo: pepperoni and onion. We also divvied up a 1/2 pound Black Angus Burger, medium rare with cheese. Barnaby's only turns out ultra-thin crust pies, which is damned near heresy in this town. Their dough is made with lots of oil and their pies are formed directly on peels atop healthy dustings of cornmeal. The result is a richly flavorful and wonderfully crunchy pizza crust. Their burgers are better than average and they do cook them as ordered. The medium rare burger we ordered arrived medium rare :shock::wink:

Earlier today, while looking for something else in our office, we discovered a 1-gallon pail filled with candy. But no one can remember who gave it to us or when we received it. It contains a bunch of chewy stuff (bit o' honey, mary janes, etc.) and a full compliment of Hershey's miniatures. Upon my initial inspection the chewable stuff seemed a bit hard when I squeezed a few of them. Could it be from last Halloween? No one here knows for sure. I'll let y'all know if I decide to take a risk and sample its contents. :raz:

=R=

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Wow, it's my kind of vegetarian that picks pepperoni pizza and Black Angus Burger for lunch! :raz:

Glad to see you're back blogging, ronnie. Love it when some of my favorites do a reprise.

Looking forward to it,

Squeat

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Earlier today, while looking for something else in our office, we discovered a 1-gallon pail filled with candy.  But no one can remember who gave it to us or when we received it.  It contains a bunch of chewy stuff (bit o' honey, mary janes, etc.) and a full compliment of Hershey's miniatures.  Upon my initial inspection the chewable stuff seemed a bit hard when I squeezed a few of them.  Could it be from last Halloween?  No one here knows for sure.  I'll let y'all know if I decide to take a risk and sample its contents. :raz:

=R=

Ha! I'll never forget my first day back at work after my maternity leave with Diana. I looked in the fridge at the office, and said "yikes!" A thorough cleaning revealed a container of cream cheese (one of those plastic things) that had expired BEFORE I got pregnant (and I had a 4-month maternity leave). It had done some sort of chemical thing so that it resembed a small soccer ball more than a plastic container.

Thanks for taking this over. Hopefully, your family won't be as sick as mine of me saying "no, don't eat yet. I have to take a picture first!"

P. S. I love bit o honey's, but only at Halloween time when they seem to be fresher.

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i'm very excited to hear about your restaurant / food exploits...have some greek fries and stuffed pizza and chicago dogs and old style for me! and describe it in detail  :laugh:

I will do my very best :smile:

Wow, it's my kind of vegetarian that picks pepperoni pizza and Black Angus Burger for lunch! :raz:

LOL, he ordered a spinach pizza but this is a tough town for veggies :biggrin:

Thanks for taking this over.  Hopefully, your family won't be as sick as mine of me saying "no, don't eat yet.  I have to take a picture first!"

LOL! My co-workers were already giving me sh*t about it and I'm only hours into this. They going to absolutely hate me by the end of the week. :raz:

=R=

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Check the chocolate bars to see if they have seperated from the milk solids/fat and are white. If so they are old.

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Oh, good! Ron, I enjoyed your last blog and look forward to this one.

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Check the chocolate bars to see if they have seperated from the milk solids/fat and are white.  If so they are old.

Thanks for the tip. As in most households with kids, we're rolling in candy at the moment so if this stuff is even marginal, I'll just stick to my 2004-vintage candy corn. :biggrin:

=R=

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As promised, some photos from today's lunch...

gallery_3085_288_1098830285.jpg

Split Pea Soup a la styrofoam

gallery_3085_288_1098830310.jpg

The legendary Barnaby's box

gallery_3085_288_1098830340.jpg

My pie, pepperoni and onion

gallery_3085_288_1098830438.jpg

Pepperoni, sausage and jalapeno

gallery_3085_288_1098830365.jpg

The lowly spinach pie :raz:

gallery_3085_288_1098830465.jpg

Half-pound Black Angus burger

gallery_3085_288_1098830487.jpg

Barnaby's pizza, side view, thin and firm...2 things that will never be said about me :biggrin:

gallery_3085_288_1098830510.jpg

Bottom view

gallery_3085_288_1098830531.jpg

Bottom view, closer up...notice the bumpy texture provided by the cornmeal and the rich color provided by the large amount of oil in the dough

I should also mention that while I'm posting I'm enjoying a tall glass of ice water and some roasted marcona almonds, imported from Spain (via Whole :angry: Foods)

=R=

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Damn all that food looks good! I must have a pizza deficit, and a burger deficit. Gotta take care of these needs soon.

I was glad to see that you are blogging, and even more glad now that I've seen these mouth watering pictures. Looking forward to more....

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Ronnie's blogging, Ronnie's blogging!!!! Yaaaay! How will I keep myself from gushing? Can't because I am a gusher! :wub: Ronnie, I'm so excited you're sharing your week in food and life with us!

Happy blogging! :rolleyes:

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As promised, some photos from today's lunch...

gallery_3085_288_1098830285.jpg

Split Pea Soup a la styrofoam

gallery_3085_288_1098830310.jpg

The legendary Barnaby's box

gallery_3085_288_1098830340.jpg

My pie, pepperoni and onion

gallery_3085_288_1098830438.jpg

Pepperoni, sausage and jalapeno

gallery_3085_288_1098830365.jpg

The lowly spinach pie :raz:

gallery_3085_288_1098830465.jpg

Half-pound Black Angus burger

gallery_3085_288_1098830487.jpg

Barnaby's pizza, side view, thin and firm...2 things that will never be said about me :biggrin:

gallery_3085_288_1098830510.jpg

Bottom view

gallery_3085_288_1098830531.jpg

Bottom view, closer up...notice the bumpy texture provided by the cornmeal and the rich color provided by the large amount of oil in the dough

I should also mention that while I'm posting I'm enjoying a tall glass of ice water and some roasted marcona almonds, imported from Spain (via Whole :angry: Foods)

=R=

This made me laugh :biggrin: something that's hard to do today. Thanks :wub:

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I've never seen pizza cut in squares like that! Is that a Chicago thing?

That's a great question. I used to I think it was more specific to Barnaby's than Chicago. But as I've moved around and lived in different parts of Chicagoland, I've come to realize that yeah, it's pretty common around here. Even Lou Malnati's, arguably the King of Chicago Deep Dish pizza, slices their thin pies into squares.

That said, I do know a few places in town that slice their thin pies into wedges, but there aren't that many who do and several of the ones that come to mind--like Marisa's--bill themselves as "eastern" or "ny" style to begin with.

Interesting topic. I've started a thread about it in the Heartland forum. Maybe someone there knows the answer. FWIW, I do remember having pizza cut into squares in New Orleans, but in that case, the entire pizza was a rectangle. :wink::smile:

=R=

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I've just started reading the foodblogs the past two weeks and they have been great (sorry AnnaN and Torakris, yours were awesome, I just didn't have time to comment). This is addictive.

Pizza in squares: I noticed that too. There used to be a place where I grew up in Winston-Salem, NC that did that, and we thought it was so cool when I was a kid (I think my mom liked it because she got more crunchy crusty pieces). Also, if I recall correctly, Little Ceasars does that too...maybe it's a Chicago chain originally? Thanks for the crust detail. :wink:

Medium rare hamburger??? :wub: Oh to live in a state where they don't control the doneness every bite of beef you eat by state law (a few years ago, NC tried to outlaw sunny-side up eggs. That didn last :hmmm: )

Anne

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The great pizza joints in The Twin Cities also cut them into squares, so it isn't just a Chicago thing.

Gotta have pizza.

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the pizza looks OUTSTANDING! i love a pie that you can't see in between the pieces of pepperoni. ledo's pizza in the d.c. area also cuts their pizza in squares. please eat pizza everyday and take pics- i live in a pizza deadzone!

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I've seen the square-cut thing in the NY/NJ/CT area, but it's very rare, and only on very thin crust (unless we are talking Sicilian style pizza--which is VERY thick, square cut and almost ubiquitous here).

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Ok, I think we have a consensus on the square-cut pizza...NOT a Chicago thing :smile:

My wife and son had karate class, so dinner tonight was leftovers--again more food that I made on Sunday (remember, that day now just barely visible in the rear-view mirror, when I was last in the mood to cook :wink:). With the weather turning cooler, I'm finding the dutch oven more compelling than the smoker or the grill...

gallery_3085_288_1098839057.jpg

Braised beef shank

This is a pretty basic dealio but a reliable one. Included in the vegetable "mash" are onions, leeks, carrot, celery, celery root and tomato. I used equal parts of beef stock (the last of my stash) and red wine to make the braising liquid. There's also some garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in there as well. After I nuked this tonight, I put some fresh parsley on it just to humor myself. In case anyone is wondering about the absence of the bone, I cleaned the sweet, sweet marrow out all 4 bones back on Sunday when I cooked this dish up :smile:

After dinner tonight, I had some candy corn, a few glasses of water, a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and 3 :shock: caffeine-free diet cokes.

Now, I normally don't eat breakfast but Wednesday morning promises to be very special. I have a breakfast meeting at a hotel restaurant near O'Hare. I'm going to sleep with visions of the steam table dancing in my head...how about you? :wacko::biggrin:

=R=

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