November 25, 2008

Spatulatta pate contest

My friends Spatulatta, the by-kids, for-kids cooking site are holding a giveaway. Click and comment to win a fabulous New Year's Eve Gourmet Goodie Basket full of outrageously delicious handmade Welsh country style patés from Patchwork Traditional Foods and chocolates, cookies, biscuits jams and jellies from The London Food Company.

Good luck!

November 22, 2008

Dining a la card. It's like the Entertainment Book, only much better.

The Entertainment Book of dining coupons was da bomb when it debuted decades ago. But it's been on a downhill slide for years. The 2009 book is just plain pitiful. So I was especially excited to learn about A La Card Chicago at the Family Farmed Expo.

A La Card Chicago is a deck of 52 cards, each listing one chef-driven, owner-operated Chicago restaurant.

The 52 cards go from A (Aigre Doux- reportedly one of Michelle Obama's favorite eateries) to V (Veerasway, Vermillion, and Volo). Clearly it's much hipper than the old Book.

Each card lists the price-point, neighborhood, address, phone number and website of each restaurant, as well as a lively description of its food and atmosphere.

But wait. That not all!

Each card in the deck is also a coupon that will save you $10 at the named establishment. Of course, a few rules and restrictions apply, but they are reasonable.

Their rep was kind enough to give me a 2008 deck, good for one more month, but alas, I'm a suburban type with a tight belt and few dining out plans in December.

If you're a local who likes to dine out and save up leave a comment below. I'll pay my deck forward to the first person who asks for it.

November 15, 2008

Divine Chocolate giveaway!

Call it Divine intervention, but I ran into Dana from Divine Chocolate, a fair-trade chocolate company, twice last week. The most recent crossing of paths took place at the Family Farmed Media Meet-up, where she was kind enough to give me little chocolate swag bag.

As a chocoholic, I admit I'm not as picky as I should be about my chocolate. I'm not talking picky in terms of fat content or percentage of cacoa, I'm talking about the conditions under which the cocoa is harvested. Check out Adrienne's post over at Baby Toolkit to learn more about chocolate's dark, dirty secret. (And tell her congrats on her new baby girl!)

Quoting from her November 2007 post:
So... when I found out that virtually every American chocolate bar is tainted with child slavery (enacted in Africa), I didn't want to believe it. Knight-Ridder had a series of articles outing the use of child slaves to harvest cocoa and coffee beans* in the Ivory Cost and Mali. It's fallen off most of the news site because it's age (2001), but it's been reprinted here.

There are alternatives, though. Divine Chocolate is one of them. Known as a pioneer among socially responsible enterprises, the cocoa farmers own a percentage of the company (30% of the US branch and their business practices are on the up-and-up.

Sounds good, but how does it taste? I'm giving away two Divine Chocolate Bars- one milk, one dark. I think they are each one ounce of chocolaty fair trade goodness. (I had to hide them so I don't eat them myself!)

To enter, simply leave a comment by midnight, Saturday November 22. I'll pick a winner at random and send out the chocolate (we're past melting weather, right?) U.S. residents only, please.

This is not a sponsored contest, just a random act of kindness and small celebration of my return to this blog, which was largely ignored in 2008.

Tandoor India

Tandoor India
in Holiday Inn Skokie
5300 W. Touhy Avenue

Another guest post by DH.

The noisy, chaotic indoor water playground is gone from the expansive "Holidome" courtyard of Skokie's North Shore Holiday Inn. In its place is a smaller pool and whirlpool, some offices and the indoor patio of Tandoor India.

My buddy Rich and I go to Devon Avenue monthly for Indian food, and I wanted to try a restaurant closer to home. And one with better parking.

The menu features Americana like pizza and burgers, so if your little ones don't like curry or masala, Tandoor India is still a good pick. At first I took the presence of American dishes as a bad sign. But we were pleasantly surprised to find a full menu of northern Indian cuisine. We got the tandoori sampler (lamb sausage, chicken and shrimp) and a chicken biryani with naan.

The biryani had a nice ratio of meat to rice and was served in a traditional-looking hammered brass pot. The sampler was also quite decent and was served atop a metal platter, enhancing the presentation.

The meal was about $30. Not cheap, but the quality of the food made it a good enough value. And the convenience of parking in a free, spacious lot trumps all.

November 13, 2008

Family Farmed Media Meet-up

Cross-posted from my personal blog, Hormone-colored Days.

Later today I'm taking part in an exciting private media event for the farmers and producers who will be exhibiting their goods at the upcoming Family Farmed Expo.

The Family Farmed folks have assembled an impressive panel of traditional media folks to share advice on how to these producers can effectively connect with media and share their stories. And I'm going to be part of the panel as well! I'll be offering tips on connecting with new media types and using social media.

As you read the list of panel members below, you'll quickly see why I am proud to be a part of this event:
Monica Eng, reporter at Chicago Tribune
Ann Flood, editor-in-chief of Edible Chicago
David Hammond, founder of, contributor to TheLocalBeet, WBEZ radio, Time Out! Chicago and Chicago Reader, among others
Kim Moldofsky, blogger and social media consultant
Cassie Walker, senior editor of Chicago magazine

I sent out a quick tweet asking for ideas about how farmers can use social media and got back several interesting ideas. I'll be back with the tweets and more details after the event.

November 10, 2008

Eli's Cheesecake at Barack Obama's inauguration celebration?

I can neither confirm nor deny the rumors that Eli's cheesecake will prepare and serve an Obamalicious dessert at the upcoming inauguration.

In fact, I started those rumors.

Eli's served up one of its giant specialty cheesecakes for President Clinton on his big day, so they know they way into the White House. And Eli's is a great reminder of sweet home Chicago. Certainly cheesecake has more presidential flair than, say, hot dogs, deep dish pizza, or Affy Tapples.

What do you think? What tastes of Chicago would you like to see Obama bring to our nation's capital?

November 06, 2008

Digital Thermometer Pans

I just learned about this high tech cooking tool from Popgadget, a fun site for women and tech innovations. Perfect for the geek in your kitchen, this digital thermometer pan senses the temperature of the center of the pan and displays it on the handle. No more confusing medium heat with medium-low, not to mention medium-high.
Perfect pancakes every time!
Buy it now at ThinkGeek, where you can also find a lot of other fun tech gadgets and ironic t-shirts.

November 02, 2008

Bento Box giveaway

Serena, one of my fun new Chicago Moms Blog sistahs, is holding a Bento Box giveaway on her blog, Petit Tableau. Check out the giveaway along with photos of the creative lunches she packs her children.


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