Friday, April 30, 2010

My kind of town.

Our recent trip to Chicago was really, really great. Some tidbits:

  • On the recommendation of some friends and TripAdvisor, we took an architecture river cruise and LOVED it. I can't recommend it highly enough - make sure you bring a camera (and a coat, if it's a chilly day like we had).

  • The Museum of Science and Industry is really cool, and even better when it's free, like it was on the day we went.

  • Public transportation in Chicago is outstanding. We parked early in the morning and took trains and buses just about everywhere. Get a 3-day pass and go to town!

  • Millennium Park is beautiful and worth a visit. If you're lucky, you'll go on a quiet, chilly morning and get the Cloud Gate all to yourself:

  • Make a reservation to eat lunch at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill. I didn't know what real Mexican food was until we ate there. HINT: cheese was conspicuously (and pleasantly) missing from our plates). 

  • Shedd Aquarium is beautiful, the sea otters and the sea turtle are mesmerizing, but thank the universe the Fantasea show only costs two dollars. I know what Frontera Grill did with all the cheese that's missing from their food - they shipped it off to Shedd and Fantasea was formed out of it. What an cornball show. If you go, sit in the front row so you can at least get a glimpse of a penguin.

  • Oh yeah, and we saw four incredible Ben Folds shows (one was in St. Louis) - numbers 32, 33, 34 and 35! His cover of Dresden Dolls' The Jeep Song was particularly great, as was hearing these other songs live for the first time ever:
    - Jackson Cannery
    - Video
    -  Don't Change Your Plans
    - Mess
    - Carrying Cathy
    - Fired
    - Time
    - Wandering
    - Songs of Love
    - Practical Amanda (from new Nick Hornby collaboration due out in September)
    - Say Yes (Elliot Smith cover)
    - Twin Falls (Built to Spill cover)
    - The Jeep Song (aforementioned)
    - Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
    - Long Tall Texan
    - Chopsticks (Liz Phair cover)

  • The drive back to KC flew by, thanks to podcasts of This American Life. INDISPENSABLE on a road trip. Seriously.
When we got back home, I was really happy to cook again - I missed it! We had grilled chicken with a spice rub from Penzey's, some mashed sweet potatoes and I made a really delicious quick brown bread, the recipe for which follows below. This bread is dense, but not heavy, and is just wonderful with a touch of buttery spread. Mmm... It reheats nicely in the microwave, too.

I have a picture somewhere, but I haven't uploaded it yet. It looks like the bread from Outback Steakhouse, only slightly lighter in color.

Sweet Brown Bread
Servings: 8
Weight Watchers Points: 1.5 per serving

1 1/4 c. whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. molasses
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar, packed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, zest, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, molasses and brown sugar. Pour over the flour mixture, mixing quickly to blend (do not overmix).

Transfer to the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.

We're heading to Texas next week for more shows, food and fun. Yee haw!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you guys had a good time. Frontera Grill was amazing... I loved that place.