Father’s Day Weekend in Illinois

By my father-in-law’s standards, it is practically a sin to be hungry. Upon arriving at Barry & Kathy’s house, I am certain to hear two things; firstly “It’s so good to see you again!” followed immediately by “Are you hungry?”

I know better now than to say no, unless I am truly full, because I am usually delighted with some simple yet elegant meal that is of four star restaurant quality. Case in point: Dave and I left Saturday around 11:00am for Illinois. When we finally arrived at around 1:30, we were immediately greeted with a big hug. “It’s so good to see you again! Are you hungry?” All followed by this:

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White bean soup with chile paste.

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And a tostada with spring mix, avocado, fresh farmer’s cheese, and peach salsa.

The tostada was wonderfully fresh tasting. I have a love/hate relationship with fruit salsas, but this one was great; it had a nice kick to balance the sweetness of the peach and didn’t taste syrupy at all. The bean soup was marvelous. Barry served it at room temperature since it was a warm day, and the chile paste was a fantastic addition. I already have plans to make it and was sent home with the recipe. 🙂

After catching up over lunch, we headed over to Dave’s sisters house for the grand tour. Ali and her wife Jaimee just moved into a beautiful house in the suburbs of Chicago with an enviable entertaining space. It was the perfect place to host a Father’s Day cookout. We decided to keep things relatively simple with grilled chicken, pesto parmesan potatoes, and lemon mustard green beans.

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My wonderful husband took care of the chicken while I made the seasonings for them: a spice rub that Dave uses for ribs, and our favorite marmalade za’atar marinade. We let the chickens soak up some flavor while we prepped the potatoes and green beans. We had three chickens: Dave requested two, but Dave’s mom bought a special organic, free-range chicken for me. I try to be a low-maintenance house guest, especially when it comes to food, but I was so touched at her thoughtfulness. Dave has great parents!

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I chopped, processed, and microwaved while drinking one of my favorite beers: Central Waters Ouisconsing.

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As mentioned previously, I am becoming a big fan of drinking local-to-Wisconsin beers. I think it’s cooler knowing that they didn’t have to travel thousands of miles to get to me, and microbrewed beers tend to have more flavor.

At their house, Dave and I had the pleasure of being re-introduced to Ali and Jaimee’s cats: Kevin.

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And Steve:

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Both are monstrous compared to our itty bitty kitties and, like our cats, weren’t particularly pleased with having a bunch of humans (other than their humans) invading their space.

Grilling time!

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Ali & Jaimee had a lovely patio with a gas grill. Neither Dave nor I are used to using a gas grill, but Dave did the best he could.

 

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It was a beautiful evening for a cookout. Have I mentioned how much I love summer?

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At about 8:00pm, it was dinner time.

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As is wont to happen when grilling, everything looked black and pretty much the same….but it was all amazing.

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I used to be “eh” about green beans, but I absolutely love this recipe.

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The parmesan potato recipe that Ali found was delicious as well. I almost think I prefer eating baby potatoes to full sized ones. When they’re small, you can eat a million of them! 😀

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We did endure the great chicken grease fire of 2012 while cooking the three chickens, but they turned out perfectly. The blackened skin acted as a barrier to keep the insides tender, juicy, and full of flavor. As I told Dave’s family, “The seasonings had no choice but to retreat.”

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Damage done.

We were celebrating Father’s Day preemptively, but also Barry’s birthday. Jaimee took over dessert.

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She made an amazing buttermilk cake with whipped mascarpone frosting.

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With sherried berries to top it off.

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We wish you many more!

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Mmm….cake. I need to start eating more of it. Good thing my birthday is coming up.

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Dave’s dad dished out the cake for us all.

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I am usually a chocolate cake girl, but this cake was fabulous.

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I especially loved the addition of sherried berries, whose sweetness paired nicely with the light, milky cake.

I was exhausted by the time we got back to Dave’s parents house (having been up at 5:30 that morning) and promptly passed out, only to be woken a few times by episodes of Star Trek: TNG on the television.

The next morning, Dave slept while I polished off Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I decided to take a break from the Game of Thrones series, because it really is exhausting sometimes! Stardust was a great interlude, and I think I’ll jump right into Anansi Boys.

When I finished my book, I roused Dave and we had a lovely chat with his mother. When Barry returned from church, I was just starting to get a bit peckish, and no sooner had the words “I’m a bit hungry” escaped from my mouth but a plate of fresh-from-the-oven biscuits were set in front of me.

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Barry makes the absolute best biscuits I have ever tasted. He usually serves them with jam, butter, and honey—the honey is my favorite.

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Delicious. It was a (too short) sweet visit with Dave’s family, but we had a wonderful time.

As usual, the weekend was gone in a blink! 

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