I am sad to report that all three of our tomato plants have the blight. I mentioned this to a colleague at work, and she knew immediately that we had purchased them at a big box store, and confirmed that she had heard this from other friends.

We’re sad.

So now I need to do a little more research to find out how to properly dispose of them, because I hear the fungus is really contagious. Do we need to throw out the dirt in the pots and start all over?
To be continued. Next year, for sure, we are growing from seed.

There are many professions that I have fantasized about. Years ago when we were living in Oakland, I was taking classes at a yoga studio that was located above a bakery. I adored the smell of fresh bread while doing sun salutation B. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to have a career as a yoga instructor and baker (together).

This is my birthday week, and Gillian has been giving me a gift a day, to help me realize that dream. This week I received two types of sourdough starter and all of the equipment to keep my new pets alive, an assortment of baking pans, a sticky mat for rolling out dough, and a special mold for shaping loaves.

And on my birthday, as I was preparing to do my morning vinyasa, I opened my yoga mat bag to discover a brand new, very pink, very girlie yoga mat.

Soon I will will post my sourdough baking adventures here. and be realizing my dream of becoming a yogini and a baker.

Well, I think Floyd and Clyde are pretty well toast. Clyde for sure is done for, and I don’t have much hope for Floyd, though he doesn’t look quite as bad with the blight.

Myrtle, on the other hand, had some spots on her leaves, but so far the fruit looks healthy. I learned from articles I have been reading that you can fight the blight if you break off infected branches from the stalk early enough. However, one article did caution that if you clip off too many, you risk killing the whole plant.

So this morning I figured I had nothing to lose, so I attempted to clip the ugly-looking leaves and stems to see if there is any possibility of saving some of the fruit. I will report back here our results in a few weeks. I am sad, but determined to learn what we can so that we can have greater success next year.

Meanwhile, our basil is looking quite handsome, and I think we will soon need to harvest it and make lots of pesto and freeze it for some quick winter meals.

Well, I would not say that I have quite perfected my pie crust recipe yet, but I had a “eureka” moment earlier this week when I mad a quiche. For the first time, I worked without a recipe in front of me (I know, it’s a crutch), and I accidentally put in just a hair more water than I usually do. Voila! It made all the difference. the dough was so much easier to work with. It didn’t crack and split nearly as much, and it was much easier to roll out than usual.

I have been questioning the necessity of having the dough so cold, though I know that it really makes for the flakey crust that everyone loves. Just a little more H20 made all the difference, and even after about 1/2 hour in the freezer, the dough was totally workable.

Still far from perfect, but I feel much more confident now in my pie crust making skills.

The quiche, by the way, was delicious. Zucchini sauteed with a little oregano, and fontina cheese, though not our favorite brand of fontina, so the texture was a little rubbery instead of the lovely melty ooze that we love so much.


Sad Tomato

Originally uploaded by chifoodies

We are sad here at Sarah and Gillian’s Chicago Culinary Capers. Our tomatoes seem to be suffering from the blight that has been plaguing the east coast. Since we are new to gardening, we decided to get seedlings from a big box store at the advice of a friend. Everything looked great for the first few weeks, and we were really excited! We didn’t kill them! They were getting bigger and actually bearing fruit!

Sadly, we think that the seedlings were contaminated by the time we got them. I haven’t seen any news about the blight in the Midwest, but since we are growing them in pots I’m pretty certain that they’ve been infected all along. I was *so* looking forward to our first caprese salad from the garden. Alas, I think we’re going to have to get our tomatoes from the Green City Market.

We’ll try again next year, this time growing from seed.

As Sarah reported earlier our fist attempt at growing tomatos is coming along fine. So I thought I’d take this opportunity over these next few weeks to try my hand at making fresh mozzeralla. I made it once before and…well let’s just say the end product was a cheese product. Actually, wasn’t too bad if I had been wanting a more firm cheese for pizza topping. I usually avoid kits of all kind, but I was given a cheese making kit as a gift so there you go. Gillian has her cheese making training wheels!!! Wish me luck. I’ll report back soon.


Floyd bears the first fruit

Originally uploaded by chifoodies

I know, it’s silly, but we named our tomato plants. We’re so excited that we’re finally cultivating green thumbs, and that our little porch plantings are not only surviving, but thriving this summer! We have three tomato plants, Floyd, Clyde, and Myrtle, and Floyd bore this beautiful little green baby last week. We couldn’t be more proud! We also have buxom basil, flourishing parsley, terrific thyme and tarragon, and awesome oregano. Oh, and a little mint plant we call Mindy. We are eagerly anticipating some delicious caprese salads in a couple of weeks. Yum!

One of the joys of living in Chicago is all of the really fantastic cheap eats and take out. The only problem with this is the fact that the majority of restaurants, we have discovered, use styrofoam containers. It seems that a few places are gradually changing, but I think we’re going to have to start asking the places we patronize to start using more environmentally friendly containers.

Gillian is a genius. She just pulled this one out, and she’ll be humble about it, so I’ll be the one to say that she is a creative master in the kitchen and tonight’s meal shows you why. We have been talking about this supper for a few days now, grilled garlic scapes and zuchini, pork chops (thick cut from Paulina Market), with nectarines sauteed with garlic in a balsamic reduction. The balsamic vinegar is from Old Town Oil, aged 12 years. It is like candy. Oh, and I can’t forget the fresh basil minced and sprinkeled on top.

With a full moon rising over the horizon and a glass of rose, this meal was a little piece of heaven.

I would eat the leftover strawberry rhubarb pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert, but I have to work tomorrow. Maybe for breakfast.

Welcome to Sarah and Gillian’s Chicago Culinary Capers! We have been talking about doing this for some time now, and finally decided to just do it! We have been collecting ideas and inspiration. Here we will chronicle our love of food and our experiences in trying to live healthfully, sustainably, ethically, and deliciously.

We bring to the table some knowledge of and experience in the kitchen, some of it self-taught and some professional training. We share a love and passion for delicious food, as well as a shared interest in writing and technology. As we continue to hone our cullinary skills, we are also exploring Chicago, a city that is relatively new to us. We will share here our experiences, opinions, recipes, and discoveries.