Category Archives: Travel

cacio e pepe {and my honeymoon in Italy}

Cacio e Pepe

A month ago I became a Schmidt.  I’ve only legally changed my name with the social security office because there just hasn’t been time for all the other places (DMV, banks, credit cards, ARDC, etc).  I still haven’t totally mastered my new signature.  And just this Wednesday, I signed my old WM initials while signing a lease for a new! bigger! apartment {we move at the end of July and I can’t wait to share our new home with you!}.  But in the past month, I’ve mastered Cacio e Pepe. Continue reading

doughnut plant

Doughnut Plant

I couple weeks again I spent close to a week in NYC with no real itinerary in mind. Dave was in town for work and I tagged along to utilize the free (and incredibly) nice hotel room (LiLo ended up next to Dave’s boss in the Penthouse the last night which lead to some incredibly hilarious stories). Continue reading

sorry for the silence

San Diego

How rude of me!  I tell you how wonderful it is to have this space to share my very exciting news and then I disappear and ignore it for 12 days.  Well I had a good reason.  Just after New Years, Dave and I met his family for a vacation in San Diego.  What a week we picked to be in Southern California!  I think literally every other place in the country was freezing, even FL. And we did everything to enjoy it to the fullest. Continue reading

lets go yankees

Today marks the beginning of MLB Post Season and I just wanted to share some pictures from a trip to the New Yankee Stadium back in September. Deep down I will always be an Astros fan and I root for the Cubs (unless they are playing the Astros) but I am now an adopted Yankees fan. When Dave was little he figured out which ballpark was closer to his house in CT, Fenway or Yankee Stadium and Yankee Stadium was closer so he adopted the Yankees as his hometown team. After we started dating, I started to like the Yankees, especially since they had one of my favorite Astros pitchers, Andy Pettitte. Continue reading

refreshed

Well I am finally back. Both physically and mentally. As you probably know, I took a 10 day (very) much-needed post-Bar trip to Texas. I attended one of my favorite sorority sister’s wedding; drove over 1000 miles between DFW, Austin, Houston and various places in between; ate my body weight in salsa, queso, tortilla chips, tacos, BBQ and Blue Bell Ice Cream; continued the 100 year celebration by trying every imaginable incarnation of Shiner; in sum, I basically decompressed from the Stress of the past 3 years and specifically the past 2 months. It was just what I needed. But even as I was enjoying sleeping in to 8:30 AM [yes, 8:30 is now sleeping in for me; I am officially OLD] I was somewhat anxious to get back home to Chicago. I have missed 10 days of the farmer’s markets and I don’t know which fruit slowly slipped out of season or if Nichol’s has started to fill their yellow tubs which every type of little tomato imaginable. Needless to say, I am ready to get back into my summer routine. Thankfully this half will be without the added bonus of 28 pounds of blue BarBri books but rather a large stack of library books (including New Moon, Garlic and Sapphire, The Girl She Used to Be and much more). Continue reading

wordless wednesday

Texas Travel Edition

[We are having a great time. Texas is good for the soul.}

Kolaches

Within a few days of booking my flight home to TX, my March Gourmet had an article about Central Texas kolaches in Good Living: Road Food. I always knew about The Village Bakery in West, Texas (yes, the town of West not the directional region) because it was on the 1-35 route between Ft. Worth and Waco that I traveled many times sophomore year. But I had forgotten that the Czechs had settled in areas with the Germans in Central Texas, including La Grange where we were staying the night before heading south to Shiner. After mentioning to my friends that I was going to have to try out a bunch of Kolaches, I realized that Kolaches aren’t a commonly known thing in the Northeast (CT, PA) Georgia or Missouri. Who knew?

We first tried out the goods at Weikel’s Store and Bakery on the 71 bypass but we had heard from a local that theses were just not the best in town.

I tried a cheese, poppy-seed and cheery. The dough was just like I remembered a kolache tasting and I did enjoy the cheese. However, the poppy-seed was just a little odd in my opinion.

The next morning, we hit up the “better” bakery on the square surrounding the courthouse. Lukas was the real deal.

We decided to stock up on a bunch of their famous pigs in the blanket, which I currently have in the freezer for a rainy day. We also bought some homemade Krenek’s Bohemian Noodles which I will have to find a worthy soup to toss them in. But of course, we had to try the kolaches.

These were fantastic. They had a greater filling to dough ratio which made for a more satisfying treat. You could also tell that they used real fruit because they weren’t overly sweet and were more complex.

My favorite was the cheese. It was almost a cottage cheese with a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon. Fantastic.

Dear Gourmet, this is where you should go for kolaches in La Grange.


My Mom enjoyed the apricot. If you ever find yourself wanting to spend a day exploring La Grange and the other small towns in central TX, make sure to hit up Lukas Bakery for breakfast. You won’t regret it.

Shiner Brewery

When I was deciding between moving to Chicago to attend Kent and moving back to Houston to go to U of H Law, one item on my “con list” for Chicago was the lack of Shiner in the state of Illinois. Thankfully, during my 1L year this was no longer a problem. I was on the Halsted bus and saw an advertisement on the side of a building that said “Hi Chicago” using the H-I from the Shiner label and I freaked out: Shiner had arrived in Illinois. Needless to say, that it was clear that my move to Chicago was right, because Shiner followed me.

When I decided to take advantage of the cheaper flights and come home to hang out with my mom in TX, we planned to take a day trip (that turned into an over night trip) to Shiner. We ended up spending the night in La Grange, enjoying Kolaches, good BBQ, and painted churches (go to my Flickr page for more pics and I’m sure I will discuss the amazingness that is good Kolaches). But the highlight of the trip was definitely going to the Shiner Brewery. Shiner is celebrating its 100th year, so it really was a perfect time to go.

Shiner, Texas is a small town, just a little south of 1-10 about half way between Houston and San Antonio. This area of TX was settled by German and Czech Immigrants.

The brewery employs 60 people (from 2000 total population) and brews enough beer to reach 41 states (including IL YAY!) and now Mexico. I can’t remember exactly how many (so don’t quote me) but I think they brew 750K bottles EVERY DAY. If you could see how small the brewery seemed, it really is amazing. Since it was Spring Break our tour was on the large size so the tour guide was a bit overwhelmed. The best part of the tour of course was the FREE BEER.

We got to sample the Commemorator Centennial Ale Brew as well as Shiner Blonde and Shiner Hefeweizen.

I really enjoyed the Hefeweizen. After the tour, we listened to our tour guide’s tips and went to their little grocery store so that we could buy a “Family Reunion Pack” so that we could try the Kosmos Reserve.

The Kosmos Reserve is an “aromatic dry hopped lager that is specially brewed to celebrate the man who started it all.” Kosmos Spoetzl was the original brewmaster of Shiner and the Brewery still carries the Spoetzl name.

This beer was very tasty. I wish that I could some how get a bunch back to Chicago, but alas, I will have to settle for enjoying the 4 in the box in The Woodlands. I very much enjoyed our short little road trip to Shiner and I encourage any body to make the drive, and enjoy a day in the little towns near the TX Hill Country.

Prosit!

Texas Bound

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I am packing up for a few days at home in Texas. I am looking forward to warmer weather, Tex-Mex, BBQ, Shiner Bock and exploring some small towns. I am sure I will be posting about my fun through out the week.

Snowy Stew

Sorry for beginning 2009 with 11 days of silence. It was not my intention. I spent 7 of those days in sunny Florida for a Disney filled vacation with Dave’s Family.

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It was just what I needed: sun, warm weather, pool/hot tub, great company and of course all 4 Disney parks that make up DisneyWorld. After having a pretty crappy end to 2008, this was just what I needed to start 2009 on a better note.
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As part of the terms and conditions of me being invited on the trip (not really, but it was a way for me to feel better about the Schmidts oh-so-graciously getting my plane ticket to Orlando), I bought the supplies and cooked breakfast for the 9 of us all week. It was a little hard waking up between 7:30-8:00 on vacation, but I forgot how fun it is to cook for a crowd. I didn’t do anything super fancy, just eggs, lots of bacon, cereal, etc but it was still a whole lot of fun. Rich and I also made our respective Mac and Cheese recipes for dinner the first night. As you can see, he approved.

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Of course when I got back to Chicago, it snowed for 2 1/2 days straight. It is still beautiful and such, but it makes it hard to go for a long run outside. I should have run more than once in FL! It took me 2 days to make it through my backed up and loaded Google Reader and give me a little more perspective of what I want this blog to mean to me in 2009. I have found a few blogs out there that are more of the: this is what I ate and did today rather than, this is a super awesome recipe that I just made. I don’t think I want to take it in the direction of a food diary (maybe in the future, not yet) but I do think I will add more personal stuff here, rather than just a post to try to get onto tastespotting and what not.

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Any how…I was also very fortunate to add a few new tools to my kitchen that I will be using here over the next few posts. Yesterday, while Dave was at his first day of Intensive IP Trial Ad, I watched the snow and read through my reader and the Kitchn and found a recipe for Beef Stew which sounded perfect. Warm, cozy, something I have never made, and a perfect use for my new dutch oven! It was the perfect dish to make on a snowy, lazy Saturday afternoon. And the best part is that I have two full portions frozen for a quick meal during the semester.

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Beef Stew
Adapted from Classic Beef Stew

1.5 Pounds beef (bottom/top round), trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized chunks
4 Cups of low sodium chicken broth (I like TJs Brand)
1 Tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 Bay leaves
3 Pounds of red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (I left the skin on)
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2-3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste (Listen to Bitten and buy the tube!)
1 cup of red wine (optional-but it gives you a good excuse to open a bottle)
1 cup frozen corn
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk or cream (I used 1%)
Salt and Pepper (I got to use my new Peugeot pepper mill; Thanks Deb and Rich!)

Set a large dutch oven or pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Toss the beef cubes with salt and pepper. When the pot is hot, add a teaspoon of oil and enough beef cubes to so that it is full, but none are touches. Let them sear without stirring until they “unstick” on their own. Once they are mostly cooked on all sides, take the cubes out and sear the rest of the meat in batches.

Once all the beef cubes are seared, deglaze the pot with one cup of broth. Scape the bottom of the pan to lift up the fond. Once the pot is deglazed, put all the beef back into the pot and add enough broth/water until the liquid is just below the surface of the meat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and cover. Simmer for around an hour, until the meat is easily skewered but not falling apart.

Meanwhile, add one teaspoon of oil to another pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the onions are turning translucent. Add the potatoes and cook for a few more minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook until the paste evenly coats the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper during the process. Remove from heat and set aside until the beef is done simmering.

Once the beef is done, add the vegetables to the meat and add more broth/water to cover. Simmer uncovered for another 40-60 mins until the meat is very tender. Stir in the wine and corn.

Whisk together the milk and flour. Add a little stew broth to the mixture then slowly add it to the stew. Stir to fully incorporate. Remove the bay leaves and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in individual bowls with some warm crusty bread (or with egg noodles if you are Dave)
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