Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's December!

  • The most wonderful time of the year!

We recently visited the Christkindlmarket in Chicago, which is a German-style open air Christmas market. It's held in Daley Plaza, only about a half-mile from the train station, so we took the Metra downtown and then walked to the market. It's actually been a very mild winter in northern Illinois (so far...), but we managed to pick one of the coldest days we've had to visit. Luckily, once we got there, we were jammed into such a mass of humanity that, for the most part, we weren't even that cold.

Thanks, mass of humanity!
We figured it would be crowded, but there were times it was so crowded we could barely move. We persevered, though, and did some Christmas shopping for our families and also ate some delicious German food.

Steaming hot potato pancakes and a cherry strudel
The whole experience was a lot of fun, but I think I would recommend visiting on a weekday next time. Also, I think I'd recommend long underwear - I didn't feel super cold, but once we got back into the warmth of the train station, I realized I hadn't been able to feel my legs for several hours!

The top of the Christmas tree is just peeking over the stall.

  • The other reason it's the most wonderful time of the year!

I work with some really nice and very generous people. And this time of year, I think they must secretly be competing to see who can give me the most chocolate. This has happened every year I've been in this department (this is the third Christmas). In the past week, I have brought home two bags of truffles (dark and milk chocolate), a box of mint-chocolate meltaways, a tin full of various flavors of Hershey's kisses, some white-chocolate cranberry bark, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-caramel-pecan turtles, and the only outliers, a flavored olive oil and vinegar set and some candied pecans.

Luckily, Randy has risen to the occasion spectacularly! I came home from work yesterday to discover that I did not have nearly as many chocolates left as I had when I left for work. Luckily (or maybe unluckily?), there is still a lot of chocolate left...

  • Other delicious things we have eaten lately
Fortunately, we have eaten other tasty and much less-fattening foods recently. My mom has been on a pickling and canning kick for the past few years, and over Thanksgiving, we finally were able to get some jars of pickles. I cannot even describe how tasty these pickles are - the jars we've opened so far are bread and butter pickles, which I didn't even think I liked, and Randy and I can't seem to stop eating them. Thanks, Mom!

We've also been on a real roasted Brussels sprouts kick recently. They are so, so good! We ate them a few times last year, but this year I've been buying them more regularly. We had them yesterday with dinner and polished off a pound between the two of us. Here is a good basic recipe to get you started - if you like broccoli, you will like these. I promise. You can also make a balsamic vinegar glaze to toss them with, and I understand that they are also fantastic tossed with some crumbled bacon, if you're into that sort of thing.

We recently found some labneh at a new grocery store near us as well. Last year, when we went to the Panama Canal, Randy and I ended up flying out to Florida a day early to avoid a big snow storm and to be sure we wouldn't literally miss the boat. That meant we had an extra day at our hotel, with no car to get anywhere. Luckily, there was a Middle Eastern bakery/deli kind of place just across the parking lot that had pretty good reviews on Yelp. I still am not quite sure what kind of food exactly they were serving, but Randy and I were almost the only non-Middle Eastern people there, so I'm guessing that whatever it was, was probably pretty authentic. It was definitely tasty - one of the things we had was a flatbread sandwich-type thing with labneh (which is kind of like yogurt cheese) and sliced tomatoes, onions and cucumbers on it. We re-created it several times at home last year with Greek yogurt, but I think it's even better with real labneh.

Not much, but snow!
When the winter began, they were predicting that it was going to be a lot like last year's - very cold and very snowy. And so far, it just hasn't been. Not all that cold, and basically no snow yet. As of yesterday, Chicago's official snow total for the year was at .5 inch, only 7 percent of the amount of snow we had gotten as of this time last year. We hadn't really gotten any measurable snow up here. But late last night, we finally got some measurable snow. Just 10 months ago, that scene was a very different picture!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

1 comment:

Life at Two-Fifteen said...

A German market? Awesome! And you know I am a lover of the roasted Brussel sprouts! I would prefer that versus chocolate.