Thursday, November 21, 2013

Back At the Walnut Room

I’m on the El on my way to my semi-annual micro-vacation at the Walnut Room. Why is the train going so slowly today? At each stop, I glance at my watch hoping that I’ll be on time. Finally, the train arrives at Lake Street. I elbow my way out of the train and go through the Pedway and up to the seventh floor of Macy’s (formerly Marshal Fields) anticipating a relaxing lunch with my friend from the western exurbs.

Fortunately, it’s early enough in the holiday season that we can be seated without a reservation or having to wait on long lines. Coming here is always a vacation. We can sit in the paneled room overlooking the Chicago Loop as we talk of all things important and trivial, personal and professional without being rushed out.

Although it’s before Thanksgiving, the Christmas tree is decorated and all the other seasonal decorations are on display. As we bite into our salads, the fairy godmother stops at our table. “Do you beautiful ladies want to make a wish?”

“Yes, I do,” says my friend. Closing her eyes, she wishes for things unknown.

Next it’s my turn. There’s only one wish per customer. What will I wish for? My family is healthy and I don’t need any more material things. Do I wish for world peace? The success of the Affordable Health Care website? Peace in the Middle East? There are so many things to wish for in our imperfect world that it’s difficult to make a choice. The pressure is on. The fairy godmother has a lot of other tables to visit. I settle for economic justice and prosperity for the 99% and wish the Fairy Godmother a Merry Christmas.

Our squash soup and salads eaten, we talk about how the year has treated us. While the salads are good, they aren’t outstanding. Nevertheless, the ambiance is delicious, proving once again the
importance of eating in a warm, conducive atmosphere. Good conversation always adds to the flavor of the meal. We wish each other a Happy Thanksgiving and continue on our day.

While I’m at it, I want to share a favorite quick recipes for salads. It takes a few minutes to prepare, leaving time left over to perfect the world.  Remember - ambience is half the battle.

                                                     Easy One-Week Salad
Cucumbers cut into pieces
Green peppers cut into pieces
Tomatoes cut into small wedges
Any other salad vegetables you like
Cut enough salad vegetables to last a week. Put aside in a plastic container in the refrigerator.

To individualize the salads, here are two of my favorites:
Greek Salad

Take enough salad vegetables for one meal. Add Kalamata olives and feta cheese. Cut in some pieces of Bermuda onion. A couple of anchovies (optional) chopped up add flavor. For dressing, add olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano

Black Bean and Cheese Salad

Take enough basic salad for one dinner. Add cilantro leaves, green olives, black beans drained of most of the liquid, and cheddar cheese diced into small pieces. For dressing, add lime juice and olive oil.

Good with wine, good bread, and whatever else you’re serving. Bon appetit!



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Some Great Holiday Gift Suggestions

Just in time! I’m so glad. The Chicago Tribune’s Sunday November 10th edition has a special section on watches, the perfect gift. “The price is right,” it says. Did you know that for a mere $442,000, you can get a Breguet Classique Double Tourbillion? If you don’t think it’s to your gift receiver’s liking, the Girard-Perregaux Three Bridge Tourbillon is only $211,500. It’s a consolation prize I’m sure. The one of a kind Patek Philippe sells for $3,985,067.
For a real bargain, the Ball Watch Trainmaster Doctor’s Chronograph in platinum is only $399,500. Seiko has a limited edition for only $3,400.
You’re all set. With all these choices, you can buy watches for everyone on your gift list. You’re shopping stress is obliterated. With all the websites, you can buy them on-line and save yourself a trip to the store.
With the money you’ve saved from all these bargains, you may want to make some donations to the homeless and those on the brink of homelessness. After all, most of the organizations aiding the homeless are tax exempt and you can get a deduction on your taxes if you donate to them. There are many organizations that are short of funds, but the good news is that the incomes of the 2% are back where they should be. In fact, the disparity between the top 10% and everyone else is at its highest since the 1920’s.
Let’s celebrate! Yesterday I tried another recipe for Cornish hens. It was very festive. The preparation time was only about 10 minutes and it serves four.
                                                Orange Sherry Cornish Hen
2 Cornish hens
½ onion cut into wedges
4 tsps orange marmalade
¼ cup sherry
1 Tbs minced garlic
Rosemary, ground ginger, paprika
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Clean the hens and place them in a baking dish breast side up. Place an onion wedge in the cavity of each hen.
Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a cup. Pour half the mixture over the hens. Pour half of the remaining mixture into the cavity of the hens.
Place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. After that, pour the rest of the mixture over the hens and bake for another 15 minutes.
Now serve. Good with brown rice mixed with sautéed mushrooms and onions and a green vegetable. Bon Appetit!