Tag Archives: food

The last day of my twenties

October 10th was the last day of my twenties. For a long time, I had no idea what I would do to celebrate the twenties I’d lived. Should I jump out of a plane? Go bungee jumping? Hang gliding? Parasailing? All of those were too involved, and it would be hard to fit them on a Wednesday in the middle of a workweek.

So, I decided to celebrate my twenties I would do something I was fond of in my twenties that I should probably quit in my thirties. Something to cap it all off. So I went to Corbett Burgers and Soda Bar and ordered a quadruple cheeseburger.

You know you’ve done the order right when the cashier has to call in the manager to figure out how to put it in the system. Then the woman who brought it to my table told me she would be watching to see if I could actually fit it in my mouth.

It was a challenge, but I could. I also finished the whole thing. By the end of it, I felt like I was ready to leave this tradition behind. Now I’m thirty, and I practice portion control.



A view looking up from beneath The Bean
Tile patterns in the Chicago Cultural Center
Notice the swastikas in the designs. This building was built well before WWII made the symbol anathema in western culture.
An inaccessible central courtyard is full of ladders and rope bridges to nowhere
One of many ornate glass ceilings in the Cultural Center
Thousands of dog tags from MIA soldiers in the Vietnam War above escalators at the Chicago Public Library. A touchscreen allows patrons to search for their loved ones.
Chicago deep dish pizza
Dipped Italian beef sandwich


The creation of a mad confectioner
A federal prison looms in Chicago, built flat to satisfy the founder’s deeply held belief that the third dimension is a privilege for the law abiding.

Note on the jokes:

The apparently flat federal prison in Chicago was not actually designed to satisfy a benefactor’s belief in depriving inmates of the third dimension.


Why did I think it would work? I mean I guess the flaw in my reasoning seems obvious now, but at the time I didn’t even consider that it might not work.

When I found those two little carrot seeds hidden in a discarded packet on this godforsaken junk planet, what can I tell you, I just thought who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity, you know? I mean, you can’t call the synthesized stuff you get from the Feedos real food, can you?

Those seeds were my babies. I could barely interpret the cheap paper packaging, but I followed every instruction to the letter. I collected all the food scraps I found and put them in a pile to rot and make nutritious soil. I planted the carrot seeds three inches apart. I even hoarded my water ration in an old plastic bottle to pour on them every couple days.

This was where I expected failure. Growing vegetables from seeds wasn’t easy even when I did it with schoolkids back on my home planet. One of those little seeds survived, though. Day after day I watched it grow, terrified another inmate would spot it and dig it up or carelessly step on it. For three months, that’s all I thought about. That carrot kept me going when the heat seemed unbearable and the rising stink of the garbage pile threatened to drive me mad.

It was one day that I heard a washing machine had tumbled off a pile a couple miles away and nearly killed somebody that I couldn’t wait any longer. The future wasn’t something you could count on here. It was still weeks too early, but I dug up the carrot.

It was a sight to behold – small and skinny, bent and with two ends, but vivid orange and sturdy. I couldn’t remember the last time I had something crunchy that wasn’t fried. A real carrot. It reminded me so much of home I wanted to cry.  This would be the first carrot Chucky had ever seen.

He was eleven now. Born on the ship, Chucky knew nothing of home. He fidgeted on his chair, black with the yellow foam showing in a tear on the side. “Mom said you had extra rations for me.”

“Yeah,” I said, “check out what I grew.”

He looked at me like I was going to lift my shirt to show him a tumor on my chest. I carefully unwrapped my carrot, and he squinted at it. “What is that?”

“It’s a carrot, buddy. It’s for you. Try it, it’s good.”

I held the carrot out to him, and he stared at it for some time before snatching it from my hand and putting it in his mouth.

“blech!” he shouted, throwing the carrot away into a nearby pile of old socks and takeout cups. He stared at me for a moment, then he said “that’s not carrot! What are you trying to pull?” He scowled, looking paradoxically like one betrayed, and fled. I retrieved the carrot, of course.

At supper time, I went to the vegetable Feedo and swiped through the options until I found the “carrot” option. The cartoon character representing “carrot” was smiling and bespectacled. “I’m good for your eyes!” it chirped in an overwrought falsetto. I pushed the VEND button and received a little orange box with green trim.

“Carrot” was shaped in the platonic ideal of a carrot – an oblong cone with a spiky green cap on top. The coloring was somewhat askew, with the orange of the carrot extending well into what presumably was supposed to be the green stem.

“Carrot” yielded immediately to my plastic spoon, and I scooped it up and into my mouth in the way that one ate most Feedo vegetables. As I expected, it was a sweet mush whose flavor represented only the most distant memory of that of a real carrot.

That evening, I carefully washed the dirty sock smell and ingrate saliva off of my precious carrot and consumed it bite by bite. It took most of an hour to savor that meal. It was the best I’d had in years.

Sweet Potato Sausage Hashbrowns

This is a cross between two recipes:

The Sausage Recipe: https://noblepig.com/2014/11/sausage-sweet-potato/

The Sweet Potato Recipe: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/sweet_potato_hash_browns/

The sausage was pretty much the same from the Sausage recipe.


Rather than painstakingly cube the sweet potatoes and boil them, I used my Ninja chopper and chopped them into little pieces, being careful not to puree them. These little pieces I placed into a pan with olive oil and cooked like hashbrowns, roughly according to the Sweet Potato recipe.


Perfect for a potluck!

Saving the world one fancy hamburger at a time

I went on a food tour this weekend that was entirely out of order. You see, we started the tour with what really should have been the grand finale. “Bull City Brewery” had a fantastic hamburger and pickle chips, but what it really was selling was a sense of meaning. The proprietor told us all about the moral, environmental, and health dangers of conventional meat. The solution, as he described it, was to eat at Bull City Brewery. Indeed, he said that this restaurant is a B-corp, that is, a corporation that officially enshrines environmental and community impact as additional bottom lines alongside profit. It is one of only sixteen B-Corp restaurants in the world. The owner exhorted us to switch to completely pasture-raised meat. By eating at Bull City Brewery and its sister restaurant Pompieri Pizza, we were saving the world.

This hamburger will guarantee your eternal soul a seat at Valhalla

The problem with this is that when I went to Pizzeria Toro I expected to be similarly inspired. Instead, well, honestly I could barely hear the speech because no effort was made to give us a separate space from the noise of the main restaurant. Mostly it seemed to be about the history of the building and the ever-changing menu. I heard not one mention of how I personally was a hero by eating this pizza.

Major religions across the world neither warn against nor extol the virtues of Pizzeria Toro

Very disappointing. In Alley Twenty-Six, I learned about the suffering caused by the gin craze in the first half of the eighteenth century in Great Britain (our craft cocktails were neither helping nor hurting that cause).

The cocktails at Alley Twenty Six will provide a fun evening, but they won’t provide any particular nourishment for your conscience.

Our octopus hush puppies at Dashi  did not prompt us to briefly transform into a force for good.

screenshot_20180729-0934081Our fresh local catfish and succotash at The Piedmont offered no redemption for our personal sins.

img_20180728_174936714All in all, it was a great time for me personally, but I want to feel like me going on a food tour is a great time for the whole world.

The take-home question is this: When will all restaurants be able to make sure that my dining experience is a reason for humanity to celebrate?

As much as it pains me to do so, wiser people than me have encouraged me to let my readers know when I do not intend to be taken seriously. This is one of those instances. In fact, I do not expect every restaurant I go to to tell me I’m a wonderful human being just for eating there. I do think B-Corps are a good thing, however. Now that I know they exist, I intend to patronize more of them. They include King Arthur Flour, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Etsy and an ever-growing list of other companies.

Cornmeal Pancakes

These were popular for Christmas breakfast, so here’s a simple recipe.


1 Cup whole wheat flour

1 Cup yellow cornmeal

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 1/3 cups milk

1/4 cup butter


Mix dry ingredients

Beat eggs, melt butter, add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix.

Melt a little more butter on pan before you cook for each pancake.

The Last Days of Whole30

This was going to be the grand opening of my technical blog, but I ran into, well, technical difficulties. Not only does WordPress.com not support Jupyter notebooks (a pretty web-based way of presenting data science), Dropbox and Google Drive have both disabled their own simple webpage publishing options. Now I have to go buy another service just to put my data science work online! I was going to rush to do it today, but I’ve put it off until next week instead.

I am now racing through towards the end of Whole30. My meals are steamed asparagus and Harris Teeter rotisserie chicken. I’m on my fourth chicken now. I have made it through three experiments thus far:

Legumes – my peanut butter soymilk smoothie made me feel sick. I never got a chance to have more beans at the Thanksgiving dinner, so it’s very possible that this is just a matter of it being too rich, or the soymilk being expired. The reaction was mild, fortunately.

Grains – I did not have much of any reaction to the quinoa, but I did have energy issues the next day. Energy issues the next day don’t seem conclusive to me, so this is another unresolved experiment.

Dairy – I had a quarter pound of smoked gouda over the course of the day with no reaction.

Next up on Wednesday is gluten. Whole30 puts it last because it is apparently the king of foods with short-term health hazards. I have my eye on some croissants on the front island at my local Harris Teeter. Really, to reasonably run this test, I should eat all of them, right?

Image Credit: http://likesuccess.com/topics/18759/light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel