My Chicago Vegetable Market

One thing I love about summer in Chicago are our vegetable markets. Farmers from Michigan drive up early on Saturday’s and set up their produce.

Every year there seem to be new additions, small farms selling beef or dairies selling cheeses. There’s even a truck that pulls up and sells bulk spices.

Herbs are terrific, plentiful, and so much better than the small plastic boxed ones from the grocery. Except for the basil, which is very good but sells out quickly in the early weeks. In the five or so weeks they have been open this summer, this week was the first time I was able to get basil. I just don’t get up early enough. This week the basil I bought was so gorgeous I put it in a vase in the kitchen. When it started to wilt, I just could bring myself to bag it, and put the whole vase in the refrigerator. I know odors in the refrigerator are not good, but when I open the door, the basil smells great. I don’t think I’ll mind if the fruit I eat this week tastes a little basil-ish. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the basil – it was a true impulse purchase.

I love to stand by the herb stand and just look and smell the fresh herbs.

I also bought cherries this week. They were very delicious and I ate them all, just out of the bag.

And flowers. I like to buy flowers for our bathrooms and our living room. This week I bought lavender for my bathroom. I know its not a flower, but it smelled good. And this was also the first week for gladiolas. Dean loves glads and he will request them every single week as long as they are available. This week our choice was red and yellow and they are coming into bloom right now, in my living room.

Our Newest Appliance

I have already written about my coffee maker, so, surprisingly, this will be my second appliance post.

Prior to college graduation, I do not recall having many conversations about appliances. The college dorm room had one of those small refrigerators and I eventually moved up to a microwave and a coffee maker.

Upon graduation, my first job required virtually 100% travel and when in Chicago I lived in a shared facility that provided appliances. It is about this time, however, that I recall my first appliance conversation. We were in a bar in St. Louis. Sitting with a large group of college friends immediately before or after the wedding of another friend. I cannot recall the details of the wedding – such as who was getting married – but I remember Jim and Joe and their respective spouses. There must have been others because I remember a larger group sitting around the table. More than 5 and fewer than 10 people. It was a sunny afternoon and we were seated inside.

How the conversation meandered to washers and dryers I do not recall. There were several areas of consensus. It was nice not to have to put quarters in the machine. It was nice to have your own, personal washer and dryer, avoiding the hassle of waiting in line or having to remove some mysterious, absent person’s clothes from one of the machines in order to keep the assembly line moving. All the women and men agreed that washers and dryers represent yet another instance where bigger is indeed better.

There was minor disagreement – best described as difference of opinion – on the relative benefits and weaknesses of front-loaders (water efficiency) versus top-loaders (physical convenience), and gas versus electric.

The extended discussion was a sure sign that we were growing up. While thoughts, opinions and examples were shared with passion and detail, it did not have the same twists and turns as a discussion about who you kissed at last night’s party.

The Toaster

Since we can all accurately guess who I kissed last night, I would like to introduce you to our new toaster. Before we moved to China, we had a standard, white toaster. Linda had mentioned on numerous occasions that she did not like the toaster because it lacked elegance. She could have used the word ugly – I don’t recall the specific words. When we returned from China, unpacked our boxes from storage, and I discovered we no longer had a toaster, the true depth of Linda’s displeasure was apparent to me. Apparently I listened but I did not understand. We have been living without a toaster since December.

toasterLast Friday, however, a new toaster arrived at our home, a gift from my mother. Ironically, it was my mother who had purchased the original, now missing, toaster. This had been a pre-Linda gift so mom is not held personally responsible. The new toaster, with its vintage curves and charcoal sheen, is attractive, though, as expected, it doesn’t really match the coffee maker, which is white. We will experiment with placement but the new appliance quickly passed the Linda test.

As the user reviews on Amazon suggested, our experience with the Delonghi 800 watt 2-slice toaster (Made in China, of course) confirms it is easy to use, easy to clean, and pops out a nice piece of toast. Linda carefully coordinated gifts and this morning we shared a pair of nicely toasted English Muffins – one Smoked Onion and Garlic, the second your basic, ‘Original’ muffin. This past Christmas I was introduced to Wolferman’s English Muffins – ‘A Tradition of Fine Food Since 1888’. They make an excellent English Muffin, delivered not so discretely to your door in one of the finest cardboard shipping boxes I can recall.

I see poached eggs on toast on this weekend’s menu.

Thanks, Mom.