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mhadam

eG Foodblog: mhadam - Food for Thought, Thoughts on Food

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Good morning, first time blogger here. I'm quite nervous and excited to be doing this. I hope to, as past bloggers have, keep you riveted, informed, and engaged in a dialogue. Feel free to ask question, offer suggestions and comment on everything!

But first info on me:

My name is Maggie and I live in the FAR northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois: Crystal Lake, with my husband John and our kitty-cat Cashew. Besides the usual mega-marts (Dominick’s, Jewel, Meijer) Crystal Lake does have a few nice shoppies: Joseph’s Market, Rosmart Polish Deli (Go Polska!), and a Mexican market.

Even though our weeks are hectic, a 3hr. roundtrip commute to/from work plus a 4 hours class once a week, I strive to prepare 4 weekday meals at home. I am an adventurous eater and see the plate as a place to explore flavors, textures, and cooking styles.

I have been fortunate to live in Poland, travel around Europe, and the continental US. I am blessed with foodie parents that encouraged culinary Maggie. At age 9, I read Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet cover to cover. :smile:

Because of an extra busy week (month-end at work) my posts might be delayed, so please be patient.

The Game Plan:

- 5 dinners at home

- 1 “crap” food night

- 3 dinners out

- Last trip of the season to the Green Market, in Lincoln Park

- Excursion to Polish Markets

more info to follow

Thanks and I hope you all enjoy -- Maggie

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The important stuff:

Breakfast – the most important meal of the day.

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That provides energy for a hard day of:

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isn't he sooooo cute? :wub:

Now onto my breakfast – coffee and arancini (deep fried risotto balls – yummy goodness)

But first, the required photo of the coffee station. As I have given up on automatic coffee makers and use a press by Bodum, I apologize for the less-than-sexy photo.

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The arancini are from Joseph’s Market in Crystal Lake. Very reasonably priced at: $3.90 for the pair. We went to the store last night, and I will post groceries pictures a bit later.

Joseph's offers two types of arancini -- meat filled and spinach. You'll know the filling of these when I do. The tray wasn't labeled last night and the deli counter wasn't sure what she had left.

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I reheat the arancini in the toaster oven for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. They are perfectly crispy on the outside, and so soft in the middle.

Since no on asked, I’ll tell you about my DeLonghi :raz: . Husband bought it for me two years ago and I use it almost every day. I bake, toast and reheat in it. It's really my favorite appliance (next to the kitchenaid).

Time to eat:

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Good mornin', Maggie, and welcome to the world of foodblogs! As someone who recently got started in this strange business, I wish you luck, a significant stash of camera batteries, and a great crowd.

Can't wait to see the markets. What sorts of Polish food do you cook and eat?

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Was that Science Diet I saw? He is a cutie, that little one!

Were the arancini coated in very fine breadcrumbs, or something else? The ones I've had usually have more breading on them. I'd love to have some as light-looking as yours!

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Good morning Maggie and Cashew! Looking forward to your blog!

Have fun this week!!!

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The filling was spinach, ricotta and mozzarella with some light seasonings.

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I apologize if the photos are a bit crappy, it's a new camera -- Kodak C10 that husband bought me and I'm still trying to figure it out. We'll just have to get some more for me to shoot them better :raz:

prasantrin -- the rice is coated in very fine bread crumbs and fried lightly. The outside is very delicate, the rice has a creamy yet slightly chewy quality. It's a perfect balance.

The meat filling is usually ground beef with a bit of tomato sauce (that has onions and garlic) and peas. The greens give it such a pop.

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Oh boy, I'm so excited.........I also live in CL! We have a couple other members that live by us too. I shop at Joesphs since they opened, so we may have passed each other in the store some time. I'm so grateful for a grocery store that has an auesome produce selection.........finally!

I have to admit I often walk around the store not knowing what many items are.....so I'm happy to be introduced to something new (I hope you'll show us more). I've never heard of arancini until now, so I have several questions, hope you don't mind. They're a breakfast item only? And you eat them plain? Its savory and tastes like rice? I find them at the deli counter.........?.......and they are Polish?

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Good mornin', Maggie, and welcome to the world of foodblogs! As someone who recently got started in this strange business, I wish you luck, a significant stash of camera batteries, and a great crowd.

Can't wait to see the markets. What sorts of Polish food do you cook and eat?

Chrisamirault -- great blog, I really enjoyed it!

I love Polish food -- I learned from my grandmother and mother. I make my own pierogies, kopitka (these great potato "noodles" if you will), pizy (like arancini but made with mashed potatoes), ummm... honey cakes, babka, chalka (like challah but Polish).

I hope to show you some authentic Polish foods this week -- some from the Polish delis.

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Good Morning, Maggie! Good luck with your blog. I live in Naperville, IL. Tell me more about the grocery stores in your area, especially Josephs.

Wendy, arancini is actually an Italian dish. I love it when I find people eating "unusual" things for breakfast. Arancini for breakfast sounds yummy!

jb

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Hi, thanks for blogging for us! Those arancini look pretty delicious, and that cat looks pretty adorable as well. While I can tell that you will be mixing it up(yay!), I have to say that I ADORE Polish soups, pierogies, breads, noodles AND those Polish chocolates with the plums inside..... oh, dear, I'm on a strict regimen right now, can't think of potatoes, pierogies, chocolate..... ergh... I'll just watch from over here, thanks! :smile:

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Maggie, I live in Chicago and am looking forward to your blog. It's always good to know of some places in the suburbs to go to.

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Looking forward to your blog. I really enjoy seeing what folks in other areas are eating and their lives in general.


Edited by BarbaraY (log)

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Welcome to the world of blogging, Maggie!

How cool that you and Wendy live in the same 'burb but didn't realize it until now!

I read and reread until I found out that the arancini coating was risotto, and that the whole thing is fried. That sounds wonderful. Do you know if this is something one would do with leftover risotto? Have you ever tried to make arancini from scratch?

Of course, when I saw Cashew, I said "awww" :wub:

Edited for speling :rolleyes:


Edited by Smithy (log)

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I'd just like to add that I really like the name 'Cashew' (for a cat that is!)

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From a past blogger to the present one, welcome to the madness Maggie! :wink:

More power to you for undertaking this project during a busy week. And, no matter how crazy it gets, I promise that you'll miss blogging once you're done. Have fun!

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A few updates as I only have 2 minutes --

1. Thank you for your comments and suggestions :laugh: I'm beaming with joy. I will respond to questions in about an hour

2. My laptop's USB controllers have died, therefore pictures will be delayed. I so apologize for this.

3. My 730 am pick me up (pumpkin spice latte) -- guess from where

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oh -- don't mind the crap on my desk.

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I live in Chicago, too, right on the edge of Elmwood Park and Oak Park. There are lots of Polish things in my groceries, and lots of little Polish delis and shops I haven't ventured into yet, so I'm looking forward to some tips as well!

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...

I have to admit I often walk around the store not knowing what many items are.....so I'm happy to be introduced to something new (I hope you'll show us more). I've never heard of arancini until now, so I have several questions, hope you don't mind. They're a breakfast item only? And you eat them plain? Its savory and tastes like rice? I find them at the deli counter.........?.......and they are Polish?

Since mhadam has to juggle work at the same time as running the blog, here is some more info. Arancini are an Italian dish, as Jean mentioned above, of breaded, fried risotto usually in the shape of a round ball. Arancini means 'orange' in Italian; a reference to the shape and light brown (orangeyish...) color. A classic version has just a plug of mozzarella in the center which gets all gooey and is a nice contrast to the crispy outsides and creamy rice just below. It is also a great way to use up left over risotto!

That's pretty cool that you can buy these mhadam. I've never noticed them for sale anywhere. Wonderful breakfast!

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Response Time –

prasantrin – Cashew eats Iams Weight Control for Indoor Cats. He’s a bit of a glutton so we need to watch out he eats. Just some bragging – Cashew stands 3ft tall and weighs 15lbs. The vet has never seen anything like this before. His favorite treat – Polish Rye bread. If you leave a bag unattended, he will tear through it. However, if you leave white bread or bagels around – there is no reaction.

Wendy – I sense a meeting in our future if you are amicable. Joseph’s is a great store, there are a few pics below. I grew up going to Jerry’s Fruit and Vegetable market in Niles and was thrilled when Joseph’s finally opened.

The arancini are an Italian specialty – breaded, deep-fried leftover risotto. How can that be bad? You ask for them at the deli – by the prepared foods. I don’t believe they are a breakfast item, I’ve really seen people eat them for lunch or supper but since they warm nicely in the toaster oven when I'm showering it works for breakfast. As for the taste, as I mentioned upthread, it’s the perfect balance of rice, breading and savory filling. I think we need to buy more so I can better describe them.

Pics of Joseph's:

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Groceries from Joseph's

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I love the Coppola sauces. The queso fresco is for Saturday's Comfort Food dinner. More info to come. The quite cukes are for sandwiches tomorrow. The box is dessert for tonight. and the Maciek is a polish filled chocolate bar -- strawberries are the filling.

Jean B – oooohhhh Naperville. John, my husband, work in Westchester and visit Naperville often. I love the Sushi House at the Riverwalk and spend way too much time at Penzy’s.

Rebecca – oh I love the plums too. I think I might have some at home. If I do, I promise to eat one for you tonight.

Smithy – I’ve never actually made them as I didn’t know what they would taste like. Now after eating them for a few months I’d love to experiment. Food Network has a few recipes for them. I’ll check if my Batali cookbook has any.

Speaking of which, a small sampling of my cookbooks.

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Cashew is very cute. Can one assume that is his own blanky?

But, is he really 3' tall?!?!?!?

Blog on!

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On Tuesday's our milkman comes -- Oberweiss home delivery is the best! Our usual order is 1/2 gallon of 2% and 1/2 gallon of chocolate milk. Ron, our milkman, leaves the milk in our cooler at 500 am. Once a month, I leave him a check for $20. I return the bottles to Dominick's Grocery Store for $.85 a bottle.

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Lunchtime --

This was prepared this morning as John finished his arancini.

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It’s quite simple – open can of fruit, divide evenly between containers and top with nuts. Today it’s Pear Halves, in juice, with Walnuts. To nosh through the afternoon I have Chile and Lemon pistachios from Trader Joes.

I tend to eat lunch at my desk, so I can work. We do have a “café” and if I have time I’ll get a pic of that. The office building does have a Deli Time cafeteria that isn’t bad. We also have a Starbucks – which I might need to visit later again.

The plan for tonight -- John and I hope to be out by 530, which means we will be home around 7ish. Dinner tonight is Maggie's Eggplant Sans-Parmesean.

Maggie's Eggplant Sans-Parmesean

Eggplant is cut into slices (not salting or rinsing required) dredged in seasoned flour, dipped into seasoned beated eggs and coated in Panko. Then the eggplant slices are panfried in oil til GBD (golden brown delicious).

Ramekins, big enough to hold two slices, have the bottoms coated with garlic salsa, then the fried eggplant is laid in, top with 1 tablespoon of salsa and a heavy pinch of cheese.

The dressed ramekins go into the delonghi at 350 (which has been heating since the 2nd to last batch of eggplant was being fried) for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Repeat for a second or fifth helping. :raz:

Sounds odd but delicous eh? :biggrin:

Some dinner Highlights: Tomorrow: homemade dim sum (if I remember to thaw the ground pork), Thursday is crap food night as we have class till 10. Friday is a dinner out to Francesca's in West Dundee. Saturday is our 4 yr wedding anniversary so we are having all of our favorite comfort foods. You know -- things that we made for each other to woo the other. Here is where you will see some of my polish cooking. Sunday is homemade Sweet and Sour Pork. Monday -- cough cough -- is dinner at Tru and a night at the Drake. Tuesday is an homage to John's grandfather who died on All Saint's Day a year ago. I will provide a few of his (Grandpa Hay) favorite recipes and ask you to choose one. John and I can't as it's too hard.

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Cashew is very cute. Can one assume that is his own blanky?

But, is he really 3' tall?!?!?!?

Blog on!

Isn't he just adorable :wub: He's my wittle wittle baby. Sorry, the baby talk ends here. :smile: We got him when he was less than a month old and he was sooooo tiny, like a little Cashew. I named him, if you couldn't tell. He can stand upright and put his head on the kitchen table -- the kitchen table is a little over 36in from the floor.

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Great start, Maggie. Really looking forward to the rest of the blog. I can sympathize with trying to keep a cats weight down. Our guy is currently 26 pounds!! He's a huge guy, the vet said he could lose 3 or 4 pounds only. He's not as tall as cashew, but he is long and large.

I'd love to see a recipe for your homemade pierogies, they are my other half's favourite and a friend's Polish grandmother used to make them for us. Can't buy anything to compare to that.

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A cat that's 36 inches tall? :blink::shock::unsure: Wow! What did you feed him when he was a kitten? Miracle-Gro? I don't know how tall my cats are, but MAYBE if they stood on their hind legs, they MIGHT be that tall. Cashew is very cute. :wub:

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I was looking at all of your cookbooks (most of which I also have) and I was trying to find a Marcella Hazan amongst them. If perhaps you have one, look for an Arancini recipe in there. I'm sure that's where I got the one I used several years back for a dinner party - but (sorry) don't remember which Hazan book it was. They are actually remarkably easy to make.

For all of you Chicagoans who want to buy Arancini, I'm sure there are many little Italian enclaves that sell them but I've seen them at several shops on Harlem, north of Belmont. I think the name of one of the stores is "The Pasta Shop". While you're in that area, visit Riviera (great Italian grocery store) at Harlem and Belmont and go around the corner to Casa Nostra for wonderful Italian bread.

Thanks for the pics of Josephs. I visit Jerry's every time I see mom and dad.

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