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G. Garvin’s Chicago Travel Tips

Chilling with Christine Cikowski at Honey Butter Fried Chicken

The Windy City is an amazing vacation destination to explore with your family and friends. The third-largest city in the United States is home to jazz, comedy and the country’s first skyscrapers. Many visitors stick to the downtown area, but the next time you’re in Chicago, go beyond the central district. Locals identify proudly with their neighborhoods, and there you’ll find some fantastic restaurants.

Grandma J’s
Grandma J’s sits in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Humboldt Park. This is a hip space the locals love, because it’s filled with knickknacks that would remind you of your grandmother’s house. The food is no joke — if you want a fun breakfast, go for the duck three ways or the pork belly Benedict.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Honey Butter Fried Chicken is the product of two chefs with a big passion for putting the butter on the bird. It seems like a simple concept, but it’s a delicious one. You can’t go wrong with any of their chicken dishes with homemade honey butter, but make sure you try the sides like the macaroni and cheese, too.

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Harvard Students Invent Aerosol Spray Cake Batter

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First, man invented cheese. Then, man invented aerosol spray cans. Obviously this led to aerosol spray cans filled with, sort of, cheese. The masses, sort of, rejoiced. Now, thanks to a couple industrious inventors, this technology is finally being applied to everyone’s favorite birthday dessert, cake.

Harvard students John McCallum and Brooke Nowakowski decided to take the technology used for whipped cream and pseudo-cheese and apply it to cake batter. The result? Just about the easiest way to prepare a cake ever. The accelerant used in the can eliminates the need for a rising agent, such as baking soda or baking powder.

They’re calling it Spray Cake. According to the inventors, the cakes bake in the microwave in under a minute and they manage to accurately capture the ‘mouth feel’ of traditionally-made cakes. Let’s hear it for human ingenuity!

Meatless Monday: Zucchini Ribbon Pasta

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of lifeEating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

It’s that time of year when zucchini is everywhere, whether you’re growing it, getting a pile from the CSA or accidentally purchasing a crateful from the farmers’ market (we get it — they looked that good). But now you’re left wondering, what am I supposed to do with this stuff? The answer: Make this zucchini ribbon fettuccine. Ellie Krieger laces green and yellow squash ribbons throughout  whole wheat pasta before topping the whole dish with grated Parmesan and fresh herbs. Red pepper lends just enough kick to keep things interesting — and ensures that you’ll be making this bright dish again soon. Give your tomato sauce a break and enjoy the season’s bounty (or rather, find a reason to feel less guilty about all that green).

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French Supermarket Starts Selling ‘Ugly Vegetables’ to Decrease Food Waste

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There’s no inherent advantage to eating camera-friendly fruits and vegetables. At the end of the day, aesthetics do not affect taste or nutrition. Still, distributors tend to sell mostly pretty produce, given the ugly type a one-way ticket to the trashcan. This, unsurprisingly, wastes a ton of food. One French supermarket is trying to nip this in the bud by focusing solely on those sad, neglected, disfigured edibles.

French chain Intermarché came up with the rather ingenious idea of securing shipments of unattractive fruits and veggies direct from the farmers themselves. They sell them 30 percent cheaper than their insufferably attractive cousins. They also sold prepared foods made exclusively from the plug ugly produce, thus proving to consumers that the taste is unaffected.

The campaign was a success, with each and every store selling over 1.2 tons of the abstruse produce in the first two days. Let this be a lesson to us all.

Frozen Friday: The Truck Treats

We’re in for a long, hot summer. So to stave off heat stroke, we’re bringing you our favorite summer treats each week as part of Frozen Friday, giving you the scoop on our favorite ice-cold recipes and party ideas to help you stay cool all summer long.

As we celebrate National Ice Cream Day this Sunday, we felt the need to pay homage to the jingling trucks that never cease to make kids (of all ages) come running. If you’ve never tried one of these (admittedly) artificial delights, welcome to a weekend of crunchy, chocolate-covered bliss and a lifetime of indecision over which to call your favorite. Whether these induce nostalgia or new sugar comas, here are five homemade versions of the childhood classics.

1. Choco Tacos: Raining Hot Coupons makes “America’s coolest taco” a little bit cooler (and surprisingly simple) with sculpted waffle bowls and fudge ripple ice cream covered in melted chocolate and chopped peanuts (pictured above).

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The Scoop: Ramen Rants and French Fines

From ramen rants to French fines, here’s a boiled down list of this week’s headlines:

  • Any Way You Slice It: Pizza Hut partners with Hershey’s to bring us the ultimate, 8-inch pizookie.
  • Successfully Unsuccessful: In the wake of Crumbs’ closure, Slate records every time a food fad was deemed “the new cupcake” in English publications since 2006.
  • High and Mighty: A French food blogger has been fined for a negative restaurant review that ranks too highly on Google search.
  • Fried and TrueEater investigates the recent social media frenzy over a package of Fried Chicken Oreos.
  • The Word on the Web: A recent trend report reveals that kimchi is more popular than the Cronut and that ramen is perpetually popular.

Beat the Wheat: Corn-Tomato Salsa

AKA Wine check! Friends check! Salt air check! The best dang summer salsa you will ever make? Checkity-check!

One August evening a few summers ago, a group of us were at a friend’s house on the water at the south Jersey Shore. As we sat at the beautiful weathered-teak table on the portico, with the sun well on its descent toward the horizon and the rising tide lapping the dock, a friend poured each of us a big glass of a buttery Chardonnay and plunked down a bowl of corn and tomato salsa.

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Japan Finally Opens Official Pikachu Cafe

If you have kids, or have been a kid, you no doubt know of Pikachu and his Pokemon brethren. These collectible little scamps are everywhere, cheerfully fulfilling their duties as enslaved gladiators. Finally, Japan is recognizing their contributions to society by giving their mascot Pikachu its very own restaurant.

Tokyo’s Pikachu Cafe is your one-stop shop for Pikachu-related grub, including Pika-burgers, Pika-curry and delicious bowls of Pika-cream. The menu items are even made to look like the electricity-loving rodent-type creature. Burger buns are stamped with his face and ice cream desserts are lovingly molded into his likeness. It’s pretty bizarre.

Now the bad news. This is a limited-time cafe, meaning that you have until August 31st to get to Japan and get yourself a Pika-burger.

Thirsty Thursday: Ouzo Lemon Spritzer


It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too.

When summer heat means long, lazy days, we need to take a step back and enjoy simplicity. Effortless cocktails, like this Ouzo Lemon Spritzer, rely on just a few flavorful ingredients.

This spritzer uses ouzo, an anise-flavored Greek aperitif that is often served deeply chilled on its own. The taste of the ouzo remains pure and aromatic when enhanced by only a few fresh mint leaves, lemon juice and a touch of soda water. It’s refreshing and simple, not to mention a great accompaniment to easy summer appetizers.

Bottoms up, folks!

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Summer Soiree: 5 Sizzling Skewers

May might be National Barbecue Month, but come July, the sun is hot and the grill is hotter. Spice things up with chicken skewers and an array of rich, tangy sauces for instantly party-perfect, swiftly satisfying summer fare. Whether your tastes run tiki, with a pineapple-chicken classic, or buffalo-style, give May a run for its mustard.

1. Chicken and Pineapple Skewers: Toasted pineapple adds just the right kick and summertime flare to this soy-glazed chicken (pictured above).

 

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