Hello, ChicagoNow readers! Welcome to Quips, Travails and Braised Oxtails - I'm very glad to make your acquaintance!

I'm a food enthusiast...and an easily bored household engineer, or whatever the most professional-sounding euphemism for housewife is these days. People tell me I have too much free time, so I fill that with culinary experiments I inflict on my unsuspecting family.  Most often these are happy experiments, but I'm not afraid to write about my failures, too!

My interest in food extends to food policy and politics, as well as to food education. To that end, my blog - previously hosted here - is divided into two main projects. In the Food Desert Project, I attempt to create interesting and relatively healthy recipes using foods that can be purchased at a drugstore or dollar store in an urban food desert.  These recipes use pantry staples and many of them have been so successful that they're in my regular rotation at home. Every other Wednesday, I offer a snippet on food policy or other food industry news.

My other main project, which I call Sundays with Sparky, chronicles my sometimes amusing attempts to teach my son to cook. While the way to a man's heart may be through his stomach, the way to Sparky's is through engineering, science and other geekery - so while I do try to teach basic cooking skills, I'm not above smooshing some additional education, humor, and the occasional explosion into this project.

Again, welcome! I look forward to bringing you in to my kitchen.

Michele Hays

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    I believe any dish, even one that’s strange to you, communicates the care of the farmer, forager, market and cook who brought it to your plate. At my blog, Quips, Travails and Braised Oxtails I put on my explorer hat, roll up my sleeves (and sometimes the sleeves of innocent bystanders) and share my adventures in cooking, eating, and understanding our relationship to food. I also offer in-home cooking classes and parties for the culinarily challenged in the Chicago North Shore area.

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