Hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree that's not here

The call came at 6:30 a.m. on a Thursday, one week before Thanksgiving. My daughter, pregnant for the first time with our first grandchild, had gone into preterm labor and was on her way to the hospital with her husband. Somehow I wasn’t all that surprised. Baby G wasn’t due until January 7, but I’d... Read more »

Frango Mints: A Recipe for a Taste of Christmas

Perhaps the holiday magic still exists down at State and Washington. But at this point in my life, the memories of Christmas at Marshall Fields are sharper than anything I might experience there today. Each Christmas my mom loaded us onto the Milwaukee Road to Union Station. The trip took less than an hour, and... Read more »

Weeknight Cooking: A home-baked chicken dish with no stress, no fuss

Paging through Potluck for 33,000 for last week’s post on office potlucks reminded me of a recipe that my family always liked but somewhere along the way fell off the menu. Isn’t that how it is for most cooks, though? We change up our cooking for the seasons, but we also go through phases. We... Read more »

'Tis the season for the Office Potluck: 3 recipes to see you through it

Potluck: just the word evokes promise. The time when we can take a break from our daily stresses and routines and catch up with our families and friends over a communal table laden with good food. December kicks this tradition into high gear in the workplace, too. Just knowing that somewhere in the office there’s... Read more »

Christmas and Cocktails: Finally, cranberries make sense

I’ve never quite understood the cranberry. It’s our native berry. And it’s rich in Vitamin C. But what do we do with them? The obvious answer is that cranberry “sauce” which sits on just about every Thanksgiving table, glistening, quivery and thoughtfully processed with the cut lines already in place. The kind that always appeared... Read more »

"Salad," the retro way to eat two desserts

Consider the word “salad.” What pops into your mind? Fresh greens. Some baby spinach, perhaps, or kale. Fresh ingredients, like roasted corn niblets, baby beets. A sprinkling of feta or goat cheese, all married with a light dressing. And fruit? Thin slices of pear or apples, or maybe dried cranberries. Hold that thought. Were any... Read more »

Happy Thanksgiving: 3 recipes you need that don’t belong on your Thanksgiving dinner table

Thanksgiving morning. The family slumbers on, but I’m up. Even though I know all the tricks and tips on prepping and cooking ahead, I don’t like doing that. I want our dinner to be freshly-made. So I brew a pot of coffee, flip the tv to WGN for the parade, and get to work. My... Read more »

The Mommy Wars: Food Fights and a Pan of Cornbread to See You Through It

Now that I’m comfortably settled on the couch where I parent my adult children mostly from afar, I see that decades-old Mommy Wars have not subsided. The players change, but the storylines remain. Before our first child was born, my husband and I did all we could to prepare. Pediatrician? Check. Childbirth classes? Check. No... Read more »

Pull out the soup pot: A favorite soup recipe from a friend I’ve never met

Admit it. You’ve done it. It’s evening, the sky darkens, and behind closed doors the lights flip on. The shades haven’t been closed yet, so if you happen to be driving or walking by, you can sometimes catch a glimpse into someone else’s life. That’s how it is for Armchair Cooks. Curiosity draws us in,... Read more »

Each generation will have its own question to answer: Where were you when ... ?

Armchair Cooks know that traveling means new cookbooks, and we seek out those regional titles wherever we go. We know they will always be somewhere. Local restaurants. Historic landmarks. Museums. Antique shops. The airport. And every single gift shop you see. Books such as these flavor my collection. The year I traveled to Dallas with... Read more »