Coffee Talk

Let's talk coffee folks. Chicago is not only one of the most caffeinated cities in the country, but it is also home to some amazing local brewers. A father and son team at Metropolis, coffee for those who enjoy their coffee mad scientist lab style at Intelligentsia. But last week, I was introduced to my new favorite brew house that also calls the CHI it's home, Star Lounge Coffee Bar, also known as the retail venue downstairs from Dark Matter Brewing.

Now, I like coffee, but I try not to drink it every day, for a few reasons, but namely because I like it so much, and I want it to stay a special "treat" per say for my palette. If I drank it everyday, I always fear it would become, well, too normal; too routine. Coffee is routine for many folks. Wake up, turn on the coffee, and not considered functional until at least 2 cups have been imbibed. For me, if I don't make coffee my routine, it's even more of a refreshing surprise every time I can enjoy it.

Anyways, Star Lounge was the perfect place to throw my coffee taste buds a little party. (Namely my indulgence in their peaberry roast - a peaberry essentially being a coffee bean, or fruit rather, that has developed two bean halves that share the same coffee cherry. Due to the physical differences from a flat, single bean, roasting these delicacies creates a highly reputed and uniquely bodied brew that I will definitely be back for.) Focusing on small batch roasts and sourcing only from local community businesses and farmers, Dark Matter is on to something if you ask me. The movement for local, sustainable businesses has been steadily growing in this city, which makes me very proud to be a Chicagoan. We can always do more, but it's learning about and experiencing places like this, that give me the hope that we're headed in the right direction.

While this post isn't much on content (I know I've been slacking these days dear reader, forgive me), it makes up for it in the quality. Trust me, this is a movement and a place you need to know about, and (hopefully) will be on board with as well. Hopping on the local bandwagon will help us ensure a better world for the future. For our children's children. And all that mushy gushy stuff. But seriously, want to make a difference? Start small. Start local.

What are some of your favorite local businesses in your neck of the woods that you think need to be known...?! Leave some in the comments!

Stay sweet my friends.


Bread Salad

I know what you're thinking. "Oh my gosh, you can do that?!" Yes. I'm telling you, you can. It's perfectly acceptable to have a salad made of bread for dinner. Especially if you're carb-ing up for the upcoming Chicago Marathon. Not participating? Well, then, carb up in support of those who will. Or, maybe you're experiencing the train of thought of "Wait, you too?!" Yes indeedy. I loves me some bread salad. Just like you!

Bread salad is super easy to make and the perfect way to get in a "would you like some some carbs with that?" to make the veggies go down easier. Plus, most of the ingredients you'll likely already have handy. And you know how handy ingredients make me happy. Like bread for example. I'm not going to lie to you. Bread is a staple in this carbaholic's home. I honestly don't know what I'd do if I ever have to go without gluten. Probably attempt (in an epic fail mind you) to make my own gluten free bread. But that just sounds... next to impossible, doesn't it? I mean, what is good bread if not gluten-y? And for the record, no, gluten-free does not make something free. (No joke, a customer asked me this about one of our gluten-free products the other day.) Anyways, enough on that tangent and on to more bread! With a side of salad too, I guess. If you don't have lettuce around, fresh spinach, cabbage, or any kind of veggie slaw (TJ's broccoli slaw is a favorite in my household) make good substitutes. Or heck, even kale makes a good alternative. Remember that stuff?! 

Alright, no more stalling. Below you'll find my go-to standard for the basics of a good bread salad. Not in the mood for olives? Don't like onions? You know what I'm going to say... get crafty in the kitchen people, and make it your own. Try bread + salad greens + brie cheese, walnuts and sliced pears instead. Or bread + salad greens + goat cheese, beets, and sunflower seeds. What about bread + salad + Or try your own combo. But, seriously, just try it already!

KT's Crafty Bread Salad
No-budge ingredients : Salad greens, bread, olive oil (you can be skimpy), balsamic, a squeeze of lemon juice.
Suggested ingredients : Red onion, black olives, green olives (with pimentos), soft cheese (preferably goat or feta), a handful of your favorite nuts, for crunch (walnuts, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds are my favorites).
*Today, I used a combo of both olives, parmesan, tomatoes and roasted egg plant.
Prepare a bed of salad greens in a large bowl with your chosen combination of toppings, chopped into bite-size pieces. You can pan fry, or pop your bread in the oven to crisp it. Or, if you're having a lazy day, you can always just pop a slice in the toaster (I won't tell anyone, I promise). Cut your bread into bite-size pieces as well. (Feel free to be more generous with the bread chunks than I was in the picture below.) Again, here I like to use my favorite kitchen tool (say it with me now, folks), scissors! Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic, salt and pepper to taste, and toss to mix. And there you have it. A most carbo-licious helping of veggies you won't feel terribly guilty about consuming.