Though I’ve been home for well over a month, I still wanted to do a recap post of my summer in Chicago. I had an amazing time in the city and hit a bunch of the places I wanted to visit. And even though I did so many great things, the best part is that there are still a ton of places I want to check out. Chicago, I know I’ll see you again sometime (hopefully sooner rather than later).
My August has been crazy hectic and crazy tiring. Last weekend, I headed to Indiana for a few days with my family – an escape from the general craziness of the last few weeks. On the agenda? Boat rides, good food, time with my puppy dog, swimming, reading, and relaxing. The perfect chance to soak up a bit more summer before the school year (and even more craziness) arrives.
I have arrived at my summer home – Chicago. I have an internship here this summer, so for the next few months, this blog will be very heavy on all things related to the Windy City. Things you can expect to read about: cultural attractions, restaurant discoveries, and various other adventures. Things you cannot expect to read about: me ever referring to this city at “The Chi” or “Chi Town.” Mostly because, that drives me absolutely crazy. Seriously. Don’t do it. Like, ever.
I’ve visited Chicago many times, but never have I stayed for such a long period. I have a huge list of things I want to do, places I want to see, and food I want to try, and I’m sure it’s more than I will accomplish in one summer. But I’m pumped to try. Let’s do this, Chicago.
I will be honest: I did not do much real work this summer. I quit my job in May, traveled around Europe for 5 weeks, and then pretty much chilled in Michigan for almost 2 months until I moved to Ann Arbor for law school.
Knowing this would be a low-key summer, I set a goal in advance to tackle some projects and to avoid just sitting around on the couch all the time. One of those projects? Cook, and cook a lot.
In this regard, I think I succeeded. Now, this is not to say all my cooking endeavors themselves were successful – I did a fair amount of messing up recipes and making silly mistakes. I’m still new at this cooking game, and I have a TON to learn.
I’ve been blogging lots of my cooking attempts, but there were a few that didn’t quite make the cut, for whatever reason. So, here’s a look at what else I cooked this summer:
Notes: This was probably my least favorite meal of the summer. I think it was the turkey bacon – not a fan. Also, I’m not sure if I didn’t cook it properly, but the top was pretty flavorful, while the bottom was basically a lump of flavorless noodles.
Greek Chicken with Orzo
Source: Weight Watchers cookbook (I couldn’t find a link online)
Notes: This was pretty tasty, but my orzo was way overdone. Which leads me to the question – how exactly do you know when orzo is done? It’s beyond me.
All in all, I’m sort of amazed by how much I actually cooked this summer. For someone who didn’t really cook anything, ever, until I graduated 3 years ago, and who has only cooked sporadically since, I think I covered a lot of ground. I’m a little sad that I don’t have my own kitchen this school year – but I’m certain I’ll be revisiting this whole cooking thing in the future as soon as I can.
I love summer movie season. When I get Entertainment Weekly’s summer movie preview issue in my mailbox, I get super excited and begin to make a list of all the movies I have to see – and it’s always lengthy (never mind the fact that many of these movies will turn out to be clichéd, big budget, Hollywood movie machine disappointments – it’s all about the anticipation, people).
Nevertheless, looking over my list, I am slightly embarrassed about the amount of time and money I spent at the movies this summer. But what the hell – it was really hot, and you can’t beat that AC.
And so, without further delay, my summer movie roundup.
Harry Potter 7.2: Exactly what I expected, and I find comfort in that consistency. I found myself tearing up throughout, but – oddly, I think – the moment that made me cry the most was when the teachers started casting protective spells around Hogwarts. I got chills.
Bridesmaids: This could go in the “loved” category on the strength of Kristen Wiig’s penis impression alone. But there are also numerous other reasons I loved it – like the hot Irish cop, the stellar use of Wilson Phillips, and the fact that Melissa McCarthy pretty much steals every scene she’s in.
Crazy Stupid Love: I just loved this movie. Sweet and funny, and all the emotions rang true. I loved that it all built to a sort of wacky, crazy, chaotic scene (if you’ve seen the movie: the part with the homemade putt putt golf course in their backyard). And – Ryan Gosling? Impossibly sexy.
The Help: I pretty much walked into this movie knowing I would love it. And I did. First, Viola Davis? Made of awesome. She totally owns the movie. Second, Jessica Chastain? Definitely the next big thing. Her white trash, kooky housewife was my favorite storyline.
Friends with Benefits: Wanted to love this movie. Mila! Justin! Witty banter! But, mostly, I ended up just liking it. Definitely solid, and better than most of its genre (though the movie employs rom com clichés, it’s at least self-aware about doing so). Also, I really disliked that the doctor Mila Kunis dates turns out to be a complete douche. I thought it would’ve been more powerful if he’d actually been a good guy, and she had to come to the realization that he just wasn’t right for her.
Super 8: This was another one that I really wanted to love. I felt like I could have loved a movie that was just about those kids, about them making movies, about them growing up. I did not need there to be a government-covering-up-an-alien-monster plot, and that’s what held this movie back for me. But, seriously, all those kid actors? Excellent. If she doesn’t go the way of Lohan, Elle Fanning is totally going to be a movie star.
Monte Carlo: Yeah, I am slightly embarrassed about putting this under “like” and not “meh.” It’s a complete guilty-pleasure movie, but one that I enjoyed (guiltily) nevertheless. I always get sucked into movies that involve completely unrealistic and romanticized European travel (see: my love for the movie “Chasing Liberty,” which I know on a rational level is terrible but nonetheless love). Also – I totally want the shirtdress Leighton Meester wears in the movie.
X-Men: I was surprised by how much I liked this movie – and I even briefly flirted with putting it in the “love” column. I’ve never really gotten into superhero movies, but with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the leads, you can’t go wrong.
One Day: Loved this book, and had extremely low expectations for the movie and how Hollywood would inevitably butcher it (see: My Sister’s Keeper). My low expectations caused me to be mildly surprised that the movie didn’t outright suck. But, it wasn’t great either – the book spans two decades, and it was always going to be tough for the film to cover all that without seeming choppy. And why oh why did they have to cast Anne Hathaway? Her accent was SO distracting, and it kept slipping towards Scottish. Very odd.
Horrible Bosses: This got solid reviews, but it didn’t do much for me. It was funny at times, but not hilarious. And, I kept thinking, are these three guys really going to murder somebody? How can you like protagonists who are aiming to be killers? I mean, I know it’s just a movie, and an exaggerated comedy at that, but that kept bugging me.
Something Borrowed: I considered making a fourth category for this movie, and it would go something like, “employs every dumb romantic comedy cliché in the book and drags on interminably toward a thoroughly unsatisfying conclusion.” In that regard, the movie’s pretty much in a class of its own. Why do I pay to see movies like this?
Ever since I went to Greece 3 years ago, I’ve been obsessed with 2 things: feta cheese and tzatziki. Since that trip, both my mom and I have started cooking Greek food a lot more and thinking back nostalgically on the food we ate while there. Sadly, nothing quite compares to the quality of the feta and tzatziki in Greece, but this recipe, which includes both (the yogurt mixture is tzatziki-esque, if not outright tzatsiki) is pretty good.
The recipe is from the August 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The only thing I add to it is some pan-fried chicken to make it a bit more substantial. And also, I highly recommend doing as the recipe says and wrapping parchment paper around your wraps – it definitely makes them much less messy to eat.
Here are all the components:
And here’s the completed wrap:
I still wish I could have a nice, fresh chunk of Greek feta, but since I can’t – this will have to do in the meanwhile. Enjoy!
In general, berries are my favorite type of fruit. I love them, and would eat them year-round…except, I live in the Midwest, and there aren’t exactly many fresh berries to be found in the winter months. Which is why, when I saw this recipe now, when berries are in season and oh so delicious, I knew I had to make it.
The other thing about it? It’s super easy. There’s not much skill involved – you’re pretty much just throwing delicious berries and other assorted ingredients into a bowl. Gotta love that.
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (note: I didn’t have pure maple syrup, so I used 2 tablespoons of regular maple syrup, plus 1/2 teaspoon or so of McCormick’s imitation maple flavor as a substitute. I thought the maple flavor came through just fine in the finished crisp, so I think my trick worked).
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon canola oil
To make the deliciousness:
Preheat your oven to 375. Spray a 1 1/2 quart baking dish with nonstick spray
For the filling, mix together all your ingredients in a large bowl and then pour them into the baking dish
For the crust, mix together all your ingredients in another bowl, and then spoon them atop the filling. Bake for 35 minutes.
Ta da! Super easy, right?
Mine came out a little runny, and we ate it shortly after it came out of the oven – it could probably use some additional time to set up, if you can swing it. Also, I served it with vanilla yogurt – the perfect combination:
My lime craving continued this week, and manifested itself in my making a mojito pie. I didn’t have any rum on hand, so that got omitted from the recipe, but it was nonetheless a successful endeavor. My favorite part of the pie was its crust – I can totally see myself making pretzel-based crusts in lieu of graham cracker ones in the future; it was delicious.
Also, the recipe is from Weight Watchers (you can find it here), so you don’t have to feel too bad about indulging.