a new way to kill time.

Category: restaurants

my heart, my waffle…

Growing up, my mom would make pancakes. Personally, I am a failure when it comes to making breakfast, but not my mother. She made excellent eggs, tasty taters, and bumpin bacon. But her pancakes? Her pancakes were perfect. They were round and crisp and fluffy, but not too fluffy. They were fragrant, and golden, and cooked to perfection. Truly, they were a thing of beauty.

But then again, they were just pancakes.

It wasn’t until Douglass that I had my first.

explore the subtext

psa: Breakfast at O’Hare


Unlike past returns to my new digs, this weekend mainly consisted of what Triple G refers to as “Life Admin” work. You know, things like insurance details, arranging roof repairs, air conditioning maintenance, emergency triage, blah, blah, blah. There are times in life when you know you are truly a grown up. Yech. Other than spending the day with the Blond Bombshell, there was very little that was lovely about my Saturday.

After such a grueling day, I reserved Sunday for a small bit of fun, in between bouts of frantic packing. Sunday was one of those “plan by meals” days. You know the one. Who and where for breakfast? Who and where for lunch? Who will drive me to Midway that evening? So anyway, there is one meal in particular that I would like to bring to your attention.

You see, the Neat Stripe found himself on a 2 hour layover at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. What kind of friend would I have been if I had left one of my dear friends to eat his first meal of the day with plastic utensils out of cardboard boxes. While that is fine for me, it is hardly suitable for a southern gentleman that is the Neat Stripe. It begs the question: how on earth could I possibly not arrange something?

As O’Hare has yet to install restaurants outside of the security area, it was up to me and D’artagnan to free the Neat Stripe from his confines of Terminal 1. I roll to the airport at oh-god-o’clock, grab the Neat Stripe, and hightailed it to the diner.

For those who don’t know, there is little in the way of eating around O’Hare, save for highways, hotels, and fast food establishments. Finding a yummy breakfast place that is open at 0700 seemed nigh on impossible. Using google and google maps, I unearthed a place called Oakton Restaurant and Pancake House. Unfortunately, we blew past it by a mile and a half.

Of course, road trip rules. When you feel that little twinge within you that says you went too far, you have two options:

  1. Turn around and try to find your destination.
  2. Make a new destination.

Being hungry adventurers with a time limit, we opted for the latter. And that, my dear friends, is what brought us to Andy’s Cafe. It is a typical greasy spoon, with all of the expected fixings. They make a really good buttermilk pancake, perfectly poached eggs, and a decent biscuits and gravy. Not to mention that the coffee is astonishingly tasty.

We were in and out of there at a leisurely pace, with more than enough time to get the Neat Stripe back through Checkpoint Charlie.


Andy’s Cafe and CateringA tasty greasy spoon within easy reach of O’Hare by car. Cheap and yummy and great coffee. The waitress was a crack-up who didn’t want to let me leave until I finished “just one more bite” of my breakfast. It is a great place to go if you have a layover and a ride.

a steaming pile of bubbles…

Those of you who love me are aware of my recent obsession with this thing they call latte art. For those of you who don’t know, latte art is made by pouring milk into espresso a very special way, thereby forming pretty pictures. Take a look at the random video above to get the idea. Anyhow, ever since I learned of its existence, I can’t seem to get it out of my head. I scan youtube, looking for new pours, possible techniques, and the like. I watch it the way dudes watch porn.

Fortunately, I am blessed with friends who feed my neuroses. Dearest Paul Walker, the Neat Stripe not the actor, and his adorable wife Dawn, gifted me a gently used espresso maker with steaming wand. Immediately, I set out to perfect my craft. Alas, it is not nearly as simple as it appears. Based on what I have been told, it takes about a gallon of milk to learn how to properly steam and foam.

Bad news for a gal who is lactose intolerant.

After a quart milk, a box of lactaid, and some serious tummy distress, I decided that the only way to learn how to do this properly is to go pro. And this, my friends, is what brings about my latest scheme. As I wait to hear more rejections from graduate schools, I have taken on a part time job at the newest coffee house in Evanston [Edited because I am now using this space to start ranting on insane coffee house issues]

Set to open on Monday, I had a spot of training last night. The super duper steaming wand was not as easy as my home machine. Suffice it to say, I am going to need a LOT of practice. If my Chicago peeps are ever up in the hood, please stop by and order a latte.

P.S. Sorry for the freak out last week. Muchos gracias for all the love. I am doing better. Maybe it’s all of the caffeine. Ah. Self-medication. xoxox

uppuma? should be called umm…yum… uh…

My cooking is either hit or miss. When something is good, it is super good, but when it is bad? It is just this side of inedible. Case in point, I just threw out a devil’s food cake because it tasted like a cross between devil dogs, and paste. Not good at all.

Which brings me to my point, sort of. I went to this tasty restaurant for breakfast many moons ago, and had a breakfast porridge called uppama (or at least I think that is how it is spelled). It is yummy, and spicy, and completely addictive. After a bit of trial and error, I have worked up a recipe, that tastes a lot like what I remember. If you have tried this before, please try this and let me know if this is even close. If you have a real recipe, hit me with it. If you haven’t, well… you are welcome to try it, but let me remind you that it is porridge.


1/3 cup Farina
1 TBLsp Ghee
3 TBLsp dried lentils *
2 TBLSP Cumin seeds
1 TBLSP Mustard seeds
1 TBLsp Garam Masala
2 chile pepper
3 scallions
3/4 cup peas
2 cups H20

First, toast the Farina in a dry sauce pan until it smells toasty (2 minutes or so). Then set it aside. In the same pan, melt the ghee. When it is hot, add the dried lentils.  Roast for a minute or two, then toss in all of the seeds. After it starts popping, throw in all of the veggies and the Garam Masala. When the onions wilt, toss in the farina and then dump in the water. Keep stirring so there are no lumps. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring now and again. Turn off the heat and let it sit for another 8 minutes.

Dish it up and eat with maybe yogurt, ginger chutney, or perhaps a poached egg stirred in.

Again, I am not sure if this recipe is right. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

[*  EDIT: Lately, I’ve been tossing dried lentils into the ghee before adding the seed/spices. It adds some crunch, a bit of nuttiness and a bit of authenticity, some say.]

The brunch place I tried this bit of tasty:

Victory’s BannerA really great vegetarian place that is run by some students of Sri Chinmoy. I don’t know who that is, nor what they believe, but I’ll be darned if they don’t make some of the yummiest french toast in Chicago!