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Gastro Fridays: Food in Art (Felix Gonzalez-Torres)

By on May 29, 2009 in Gastro Fridays, The Gastronomical Leena | 0 comments

A Portrait of Ross by Felix Gonzalez Torres @ Art Institute of Chicago. ********* Update: Whoa. WHOA. Sorry to have lost radio contact there for a good majority of the week! First, the Memorial Day holiday through me off by a day. Then early Wednesday morning, I had a lovely stomach attack (brought on by IBS complications) that ended with severe gastrointestinal stress and a quick and dirty trip to the hospital. Not a fun reality of my life, but one I have to deal with from time to time. The downside is, it tends to hurt, but the upside is I get to look totally cute and skinny in the days that follow. Lemons to lemonade, my friend. ********* Second update: While getting ready for lunch today with a friend (my first time leaving the apartment for three entire days!!), guess who threw her back out doing the stressful task of getting dressed? 70 year old Leena, that’s who. I swear...

Leena Bakes: My first monkey bread!

By on May 26, 2009 in Breads, Leena Bakes | 1 comment

MY monkey bread will CHANGE YOUR LIFE, fool…or at the very least cause a longish sugar-induced coma. You never forget your first monkey bread experience. The scent of freshly baked bread, the sweet, sticky caramel-like sauce, the fun, pull-apart method of eating it…there really are few things more enjoyable for a breakfast snack. My first monkey bread was baked by my friend Natalie towards the end of high school, and you would think she busted out a croque en bouche or something, because I was floored. This was impressive breakfast eating. This was AWESOME. I got into my head that Memorial Day weekend was the perfect occasion for me to bust out my own monkey bread. What I remembered from my first monkey bread experience was that you put it together the night before and bake it the next morning. In other words, it was lazy-ass cooking at it’s finest, and I was down for...

Leena Travels & Eats: Florida & Cari’s Wedding

By on May 20, 2009 in A Leena-made food tour, Florida, Leena Eats | 9 comments

Hi Leena, welcome to Florida. We are delicious little tid bits of meat and pickle, please eat us! The charcuterie plate at The Ravenous Pig. Oh Florida. You are so much more than Disney World and really tan senior citizens. So much more than Ponderosa Steakhouse and two-story tourist gift shops and for that, I thank you my good friend. A person can really only take so many neon lights in one night. I started my time in Florida at a gastropub just outside of Orlando, The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park. Generally speaking, you can almost never go wrong with a gastropub, and The Ravenous Pig was a fairly enjoyable mix of regional and house specialties. The atmosphere itself was a bit more refined than I expected for a gastro pub, and felt more like a seasonal American contemporary restaurant than a pub with really great food. Ah well. A non- Disney restaurant in Orlando! We started with the...

Leena Cooks: The Bread That Ate Chicago…and her cat

By on May 18, 2009 in Breads, Leena Bakes | 6 comments

Meet my bread babies, Fred and Squid. Fred loves having butter spread on him, while Squid enjoys a nice episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Whoa, Alton Brown. WHOA. All I wanted to do was bake some bread. I just wanted to have that delicious smell of bread baking in my oven on a lazy Sunday afternoon, just one loaf of happiness. And you gave me a damn bread baby. TWINS, even. I tried Alton’s country bread recipe in his second book, I’m Just Here For More Food, because it was simple, did not require a starter (not because starters are difficult, just because I was feeling THAT lazy) and made one loaf. Read that again: ONE LOAF. Not a freaking colony of yeast babies, which is what I ended up with. The recipe was easy enough to follow, and I made sure to measure my ingredients exactly and follow the proper rising times. So why then, did my husband ask if I was smothering a baby...

Gastro Fridays: Pie day and last class!

By on May 15, 2009 in Gastro Fridays, The Gastronomical Leena | 0 comments

Lemon meringue pie and strawberry rhubarb pie @ Hoosier Mama Pie Company. The high school food studies class I have been teaching has finally come to an end for the year, and I like to think we went out with a bang. We ended with pie and a class-published food mag. Not too shabby, eh? For the class food mag, I had the students write about food during every class. Some weeks it was a simple “tell me your favorite x (candy, hot dog, pizza, etc.) and why you like it”, a few compare and contrast papers with food. Other weeks it was more creative with haikus about doughnuts and food photography. By the end of the semester, I had a wealth of food writing and photos from class, and I wanted my students to understand that their writing was important, not just a random assignment I gave them to make their lives miserable. The students collaborated by picking a magazine name, and I...