February 21, 2018

Defloured, baking gluten-free goodies for Chicago & Milwaukee

My dog Ralph turned me onto a bakery called Defloured. On walks, he would bee-line to this storefront and routinely use his paw to knock on their front door. Johanna, the baker/owner has become one of his favorite neighborhood friends, due in no small part to the treats he receives from her and her staff.

Defloured is a gluten-free bakery and creates sweet treats that suit many restricted diets. These are not your cardboard tasting health foods, but delectable brownies, bars, cakes, cupcakes, cookies and whoopie pies.

Not only do they sell delicious products from their Andersonville shop, but their baked goods are sold at some of the more discerning coffee bars, grocery stores (Whole Foods) and restaurants in Chicago and Milwaukee.

They also create custom cakes for events and cookie or bar trays for parties. Not only can they do gluten-free bar and cookie trays, but Defloured also can do vegan or dairy-free cookie trays.

Ralph and I both agree that this bakery deserves a big high-five paw up.

http://deflouredbakery.com/

Early Voting in Chicago (and in states that allow it)

usflagI strongly recommend casting your vote early if you live in a state that allows it. My wait was only 20 minutes at 4:30 pm on a weekday. Chicago has early voting up until the day before the election. With multiple voting locations and convenient hours, you have no reason to miss doing your civic duty this November.

To find your local Chicago voting venues:

http://www.chicagoelections.com/en/early-voting.html

If you live in the 48th Ward in Chicago, one of your voting options is:
Edgewater Library, 6000 N Broadway
Monday, Oct. 31 to Friday, Nov. 4: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, November 5: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, November 6: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Monday, November 7: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For other states:
https://www.vote.org/early-voting-calendar/

Little Free Library

LIttle Free Library in Andersonville

Have you seen little painted structures on people’s front lawns that resemble slightly larger bird houses? Chances are, if you look more closely, the little buildings will contain books and might also have a little sign that says “Little Free Library.”

In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin built a miniature little red school house in honor of his school teacher mother, placed it on a post in his front yard and filled it with free books. That initial Little Free Library has been joined by thousands of other small structures filled with books around the globe.

As of January 2016, there are over 36,000 Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U. S. states and in over 70 countries worldwide. One man’s idea bloomed into a global movement that promotes literacy and community in just seven years.

The motto of Little Free Library is “Take a Book – Return a Book.” Their web site gives detailed information on how to find existing Little Free Library book exchanges, how to start your own library, how to donate money to the organization or where and when you can attend Little Free Library Festivals. The next one is Saturday, May 21 in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis.

The next time you see one of these Little Free Libraries, open the door and see what book awaits you. https://littlefreelibrary.org/

Some are simple little boxes, while others are elaborate fantasy projects. Here is a gallery of Little Free Libraries on Flickr:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/68010601@N03/

Posh at Steep Theater – U. S. Premiere

On a recent freezing cold night, my husband surprised me with tickets to see Steep Theater’s current production, Posh in its U. S. premiere. Written by Laura Wade, the Edgewater theater company had great success with one of her previous plays, Breathing Corpses, lauded as one of Timeout Chicago’s best shows of 2008. Having had outings at London’s Royal Court Theatre and the West End, Posh introduces us to a ten member private club for rich British college students.

The club’s annual dinner at a pub builds to a frenzy as the young men smuggle a prostitute into their party, harass their waitress, destroy the dining room and finally assault the restaurant manager. Warfare between the working middle class and the entitled upper crust has never been so entertaining or brutal. A blind man brought his seeing-eye dog to the performance and the noise and fury of the riot scared not only the poor canine, but me as well.

Director Jonathan Berry, no stranger to Steep, helms a talented cast of actors who have surprisingly good English accents. First act which takes some time to engage the audience could be trimmed, whereas act two is like a well-oiled machine, say a buzz saw. The musical soundtrack with classical choral works and techno pop mirrors the tug of war between tradition and progress and the entitled versus the working class.

The theater is tiny so one feels a part of the action. If you hesitate to be up close and personal with the riotous second act, you may be advised not to sit in the front row.  Nothing like a bracing evening at the theater where the characters just go wild! Posh provides much food for thought.

Midsommarfest – 50th Anniversary in Andersonville

Every June, 50,000 people descend upon Andersonville for a weekend celebration of Midsommarfest featuring food, music, crafts and alcohol. This year, June 12, 13 and 14, the party will be even bigger since the festival is marking its 50th anniversary.

You will want to do some Clark Street window-shopping so you can see the vintage photos from the 1965 Midsommar Fest.  The retro car styles, hairdos and clothing will certainly give you a chuckle.

You don’t have to be resident to enjoy the festivities. Admittance is only $10 with kids under 12 and seniors being free. As added incentive, if you spend $30 at an Andersonville retail establishment or service provider and get a receipt, you are entitled to a free beer at the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce booth. (Restaurants and bars are excluded.)

There will be five stages featuring live events and entertainment including a Chicago Hula Hoop Festival, the Bow Wow Lounge Pet Parade and yoga classes provided by Smarty Pants Yoga and Bikram Yoga Andersonville.   Some of the performing groups include Joel Hall and Gus Giordano Dance companies, the Windy City Cowboys, the Jazz Institute’s Jazz Links Youth Ensemble and dozens of  live music groups of the “party hearty” variety. There is even a Miss Andersonville pageant!

Kids can enjoy a climbing wall, a giant inflatable slide, face painting, theatre games and many other family activities.

If you feel like being an honorary Scandinavian, you can catch a traditional Maypole dance, a Swedish-American Children’s Choir, Nordic Folk Dancers, the Merula Choir or the Nordland Band. Skol!

Parking during this weekend can be a challenge. Buses that will get you to the vicinity include the 22 Clark, the 36 Broadway, and the 146 and 147 Express buses;  the red line elevated train with a stop at Berwyn is also a convenient choice. May the Norse gods bring good weather.

http://andersonville.org/events/midsommarfest

Balsa Mela and Italian Herbed Salt

I’m always looking for small food items that make big flavor improvements, basics like vinegar and salt. Balsa Mela, a Balsamic Apple Vinegar is my current passion for salads and vegetables.

Andrea Bezzecchi of Acetaia San Giacomo cooks apple juice and apple vinegar and ages the naturally sweet liquid for up to three years in oak, cherry and juniper barrels.
You can drizzle it on ice cream or fruit, add it to cocktails or make your own savory vinaigrette.  A few drops on steamed fresh asparagus is the perfect spring dish.
And just like wines and champagnes, it isn’t officially Balsamic vinegar unless it comes from the Italian regions of Modena and Emilia-Romagna.

If you can’t jet off to Italy, where can you find this ambrosial product?  I have written about The City Olive before, but it remains the shop to visit when you need a unique party gift or ideas on how to put more zing into your own cooking.

Another taste sensation is the Vignalta Sale Alle Erbe delle Marlunghe, or herbed sea salt from Italy. I don’t generally over-salt my food, but this product is so aromatic that just a pinch improves the flavor of eggs, vegetables, fish, poultry or meat. The concoction contains fresh herbs typical of Veneto regional cuisine like rosemary, garlic, sage and black pepper. Bring the taste of Italy to your kitchen. The City Olive will also ship purchases.

The City Olive
5644 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60660
773-942-6424

http://www.cityolive.com