Archive for June, 2018

As much as I like hummus (and I reeeeeally like hummus) I have only made it myself a few times over the years. There really is no excuse for that as hummus is super easy to make as demonstrated by this recipe for Basic Hummus I found from the fine folks at Family Circle magazine.

About the recipe for Basic Hummus from Family Circle magazine:

“Enjoy this recipe as is (all you need is a blender or food processor), or use it as a base for beet or carrot hummus.”

Find the recipe for Basic Hummus from Family Circle magazine here.

See all the great recipes and tips for the home from Family Circle here.

Finishing up my posts from my recent trip to Chicago, I present a couple of chill places my traveling companions and I slipped into for a nightcap.

FF: The Windsor

First up is The Windsor, a little gem of a place tucked in a corner in Streeterville just a block off Michigan Ave. I first found The Windsor last year and found it to be the perfect place to meet up for a drink – or dinner – but we went for the drinks. Quiet yet active, nice setting, and great service.

About The Windsor:

“The Windsor is your neighborhood restaurant in a downtown locale, welcoming guests to sit back relax and enjoy a casual dining experience just off the hustle of the Magnificent Mile. Chef Todd Stein”s inventive romp through a classic American Bar and Grill features fresh seafood, hearty entree salads, amazing steaks, delicious chops, and mouth-watering prime rib from the rotisserie. The Windsor will bring a sense of comfort and friendly service for which the neighborhood restaurants of 4-Star Restaurant Group are known to Streeterville. Dressed up or dressed down, come in, sit back and let us take care of the rest.”

The Windsor is located at 160 East Huron in the great city that is Chicago.

FF: Bijan’s Bistro

Meanwhile, a few blocks west in the River North area you can find plenty of places to go for a drink or dinner, but a really cool place for late night eats and drinks is Bijan’s Bistro.

Bijan’s Bistro is a lively yet civilized joint on a busy city corner. If it is a nice evening, you can sit in the outdoor seating area and watch the city go by.

About Bijan’s Bistro:

“Bijan’s Bistro is open 365 days a year til 4am! Breakfast lunch and dinner every day and the best late-late-night dining in the city.”

Bijan’s Bistro is located at 663 N. State St. in the very cool city of Chicago, USA.

I like bringing a game along on road trips and picnics – it is fun to play a game after dining or exploring outside – or whenever the mood is right. That is why I fell in love with the Original Travel Game Bag I found from the fine folks at A Summer Shop – the perfect portable game set for your summer.

About the Original Travel Game Bag from A Summer Shop:

“Roll it up and go! Inspired by long summer days spent at the beach and snowy winters playing with family and friends. This board game is a functional bag. Just unroll or unpack the bag, take the pieces out, smooth it over and play. Perfect stowaway for your casual travel gaming. Made to play somewhere inspired.”

Find the Original Travel Game Bag from A Summer Shop here.

See all the cool stuff from A Summer Shop here.

Sometimes a great way to experience a city you love is to read a novel based in that city where the location is as much a character as any person. Chicago: A Novel by Brian Doyle is just such a book, which celebrates the city and the thousands of young people fresh out of college who come to it every year to start their lives. Mr. Doyle’s novel follows one such person (and the cast of characters he meets) and we are allowed to follow him and discover the city from the perspective of someone finding his way.

About Chicago: A Novel by Brian Doyle:

“On the last day of summer, a young college grad moves to Chicago and rents a small apartment on the north side of the city, by the lake. This is the story of the five seasons he lives there, during which he meets gangsters, gamblers, policemen, a brave and garrulous bus driver, a cricket player, a librettist, his first girlfriend, a shy apartment manager, and many other riveting souls, not to mention a wise and personable dog of indeterminate breed. A love letter to Chicago, the Great American City, and a wry account of a young man’s coming-of-age during the one summer in White Sox history when they had the best outfield in baseball, Chicago is a novel that will plunge you into a city you will never forget and may well wish to visit for the rest of your days.”

This is not the greatest fiction ever, but a very nice book that is a perfect companion to fill the gaps on a trip – a trip to a place like Chicago perhaps.

Chicago: A Novel by Brian Doyle is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers everywhere.


When I was back in New Hampshire last month visiting the family lodge in the White Mountains, I picked up a bottle of Redemption Bourbon – part of the Redemption Rye Whiskey collection – and it was excellent. My only problem is I left the still nearly full bottle back in New Hampshire for my next visit – which can’t come soon enough.

About Redemption Bourbon:

“This bourbon was carefully crafted to highlight the classic flavors of the highest quality bourbons – a true reflection of ‘America’s Native Spirit.’ The high amount of corn gives this bourbon a classic sweet taste with notes of vanilla and caramel from the wood, and the rye adds some light spice flavor. Bottled at 84 proof for a lighter experience, great on the rocks or in mixed drinks.”

By the way – I love that the navigation on their site to get to the page where you can find Redemption products near you is labelled: “Find Redemption.” I think I may have done just that – at the bottom of a bottle of Redemption Bourbon.”

Learn more about Redemption Bourbon here.

While hanging out with my traveling companions in Chicago and talking about all the great things to do in the city, visiting the great Art Institute of Chicago was a common topic. I have been there many times, but none of the others had been but wanted to, but never made it. I chalked it up to there is so much to do in the city – especially in the summer – and the museum, as awesome as it is, will be there the next time you visit.

Anyway, I have discovered the best excuse to visit Chicago again this summer and make a point to stop in Art Institute of Chicago – the John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age exhibition opening July 1 and running through September 30, 2018.

About the John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age at the Art Institute of Chicago:

“From July 1 through September 30, 2018, the Art Institute of Chicago will present an exhibition of American portraitist John Singer Sargent with a focus on his numerous Chicago connections. Featuring nearly 100 objects from the Art Institute’s collection, private collections, and public institutions, John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age examines Sargent’s impressive breadth of artistic practice and the network of associations among the artist, his patrons, his creative circle, and the city. Through the lens of Sargent’s work, this exhibition explores the cultural ambitions of Chicagoans to shape the city into a center of art, the development of an international profile for American artists, and the interplay of traditionalism and modernism at the turn of the 20th century.”

Learn more about the John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age at the Art Institute of Chicago here.

Visit the Art Institute of Chicago online here.

When I bought my new house it was winter, so I had no idea what would grow in the garden come spring and summer. But I was happy to see the whole northwest side of my house is home to my all time favorite flower – the orange day lily and they are in full bloom right now and it is awesome. #IKnewIBoughtTheRightHouse

I checked out a few great places to eat while in Chicago for an extra-long weekend – here a couple of my favorites new finds.

FF: The Purple Pig

My first stop while waiting for my traveling companions to arrive in town by train, was The Purple Pig. I had seen stories and reviews of this place and had it on top of my list to try – heck, you have to love a place that has a whole list of cheeses and cured meats to choose from – and I was not disappointed.

About The Purple Pig:

“Since opening in 2009, under the leadership of Jimmy Bannos Jr., The Purple Pig has received numerous accolades, including being named one of 2010’s ‘10 Best New Restaurants in America’ by Bon Appétitmagazine; and a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recipient since 2011. Dubbed the ‘Prince of Pork’ by Dana Cowin (former Food and Wine Editor-in-Chief); Jimmy Jr. brings his love for Mediterranean food to the Windy City in fun, inventive ways – at this rustic sharable plate restaurant, conveniently located on the Magnificent Mile. Located at 500 North Michigan Avenue, the restaurant offers cheese, swine and wine, among other standout dishes, showcasing the flavors of Italy, Greece and Spain.”

I have been to Chicago many times since this place opened and I was sad that I had not found it until now – but I will be back. I went for a casual lunch, which was nice, but I plan to do a more formal dinner on a future trip.

Try the hummus – served with a soft-boiled egg and house-made pita – the perfect companion to a cheese and meat platter.

The Purple Pig is located at 500 North Michigan Avenue – the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

FF: Il Porcellino

Once my traveling companions arrived and we enjoyed a cruise on the Chicago River, we settled in for a nice dinner at Il Porcellino. This was the perfect place to relax and enjoy each other’s company on the first night of our long Chicago weekend. The setting is fresh and lively with great décor and stunning lighting. And oh yeah, the food – Italian favorites with a modern twist – was great too.

About Il Porcellino:

“Il Porcellino, located in the heart of River North in downtown Chicago, is a neighborhood restaurant offering classic Italian-American comfort food in a casual setting. Our seasonal menu focuses on housemade pastas, vegetable antipasti and daily specials, all crafted with ingredients sourced from quality artisans, purveyors and local farmers. The fun and approachable wine program encourages sharing with selections from southern and central Italy.”

Il Porcellino is located at 59 W. Hubbard St. in the great city of Chicago, IL USA.

I guess I am homesick, as I can’t stop looking for pictures of my favorite spot (the scene of Mount Chocorua across the Lake from Tamworth, NH) like these vintage postcards.

Every time I visit Chicago I am inspired to take tons of pictures, some of which have actually turned out pretty cool. However, I am not alone, the city has inspired millions of photographers over the years, including some of the best ever. Now, in Chicago: Classic Photographs, we are treated to some great images by great photographers beautifully curated by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams.

About Chicago: Classic Photographs edited by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams: “The city has produced some of the most important photographers of our time — Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Art Shay — but has never before possessed a book packed with their most timeless work. This is the finest collection of its kind — 100 stunning images by the city’s most revered photographers that show the enduring and endearing aspects of Chicago and its landscape from the Loop to the city’s vast array of neighborhoods. Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, the foremost picture editors of the city, curate the book. Here they have chosen photos going back more than a century to show a city that is both well-known and surprising. This is a book for people who love Chicago and for visitors who want something special to remember her by. It is filled with classic photographs that defy time — timeless pictures of a changing city.”

What struck me most when flipping through this book is the timeless quality of the great city – which is ever changing, yet always classic.

Chicago: Classic Photographs edited by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams is available from Amazon and other fine book sellers.