April 29, 2015

Before I tell you all about my fabulous trip to Chicago and Madison. Before I give you a delicious springtime recipe, I must tell you the wonderful thing my publisher has done. They’ve put the kindle version of my book on sale for $2.99. (They want you to see the book and so do I. And of course we all hope you’ll come back for the hardcover.) CLICK HERE: This sale may end at any time. I’m thrilled it’s just in time for Mother’s Day.
willow at chicago botanic gardenWhen I spend a little time in the midwest there is an interesting sense of familiarity. Dennis agreed.

digitalisIt’s  hard to define what is so familiar, specifically. The sounds of certain words and the unique vowel tones, the landscape and the lake shores and the long views across farmland and straightaway highways. But familiar it was, and the two of us were charmed.

bookends and beginnings evanston ilThe trip began at Bookends and Beginnings, the lovely Evanston bookstore owned by Nina Barrett and Jeff Garrett. It’s the perfect book shop. It smells like books and there are comfortable chairs to lounge and shelves to plunder. They have a stunning collection of old and new cookbooks. I found some treasures that came home with me.

FLW HOUSESWe had a picture perfect day on Friday, warm, blue and beautiful, and my dear friend Francesca drove me around the north shore. What stunning homes and sensational gardens! She showed me Frank Lloyd Wright homes. Look at the lines. The scilla, one of my favorite spring bulbs, shimmered blue across so many lawns. The neighborhoods were lovely.

this is landscape architectureOff we went to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the Antique and Garden show. There were so many places to look. The landscape architecture was bold and exciting, particularly at this water feature where I appreciated everything, even the pruning of the very tall trees in the background. It’s all in the details. The show tents were jammed with gorgeous things to buy and incredibly charming plantings.  I loved the chartreuse elements added to cloud formations of boxwood that decorated each tent.


I was tempted to buy so many things! But held off. These menu card holders  were fabulous, but oh la la, too much for moi.

nifty loot left behindWe stopped in Evanston at Prairie Joe’s and  had the most awesome simple lunch of sautéed mushrooms and onions served warm over delicious hummus and warm pita bread. So good. So satisfying.

Prairie Joes Evanston ILI can’t even express how honored I was to teach a class at The Chopping Block with Master Butcher and good friend Kari Underly. To prep,  Kari took me to Peoria Packing. Whoa. This is Chicago, people.

peoriapackingWe had dinner with other Camont-alumnae at the Little Goat Diner.

at little goat dinerI’m so excited about Kari’s next venture – the new butchery school, Muscolo Meat Academy, opening in September, 2015.

kariandcathyDC-friends who now live in Chicago, Tara and Scott, threw an elegant, friendly, delicious book party in their Lincoln Park apartment. Their friends were interesting and engaging. I was surrounded by authors! And humbled. Check out these books from other guests at the party. First, from one of the hosts, the only author in the group who has had his work translated into Arabic, Scott Hibbard’s Religious Politics and Secular States. Don’t miss the bold, smart, urbane read – There are No Children Here. Charming and intelligent and well illustrated, for the kids –  C is for Chicago. And, elegant, hand wrought constructions in a book for everyone – Hank Finds An Egg.

scottandtaraspartyI had an excellent time at the Peterson Garden Project kitchen. The bacon class was salty and delicious. We made bacon and bacon onion jam and a tart. We tasted everything and talked preservation. I couldn’t have done it without Lyndsay Shepard and Chef Fresh.

bacon classThe same day, I participated in my Very First Food Swap with the Chicago Food Swappers! Three cheers for Emily Paster who literally wrote the book on Food Swaps (coming next Spring from Storey Books.) There were so many delicious foods! Ahead of the trip, I shipped two boxes of jars from my pantry and traded for a massive bag of deliciousness. There were hickory smoked chicken legs and meringues and chick pea salad and caramels and dog treats and the most awesome guacamole (I’m trying to replicate it and will post soon… ) I Heart Food Swaps. Look at this loot!

swap lootDennis and I drove to Madison. I hadn’t been there since 1969. (We moved there in 1968, my mother, brother and I.) We stayed at the very nice, very conveniently located HotelRED.

fried pickles and curds graze madison wiWe had a sensational meal in Madison at GRAZE. When in Rome… we had the squeaky cheese curds, sure, but it was the Bibimbap and housemade gochuchang that rocked my world.

i gave a talkI gave two talks through the Madison Public Library and Wisconsin Book Festival. Three cheers for one of the most exciting, enlightened, community-focused library systems I have ever seen. It’s fantastic. And huge thanks to Conor Moran, an excellent host.

It was a glorious trip and I am so grateful to all of you who came out to say hello. I loved meeting you.


I had a ridiculously delicious quick dinner last week. It was a confluence of fortunate seasonal occurrences that put the three main ingredients in my house at one moment. Fiddleheads. Morels. Pheasant Eggs.

fiddleheadsandmorelsSpringtime Tortilla

Plenty of butter
12 Morels, shaken to dislodge any dirt, trimmed at the stem end
24 Fiddleheads, rinsed well and the stem end trimmed
6 pheasant eggs, carefully cracked into a bowl
2 tablespoons creme fraiche, sour cream, cream, milk, whey or water
Quite a bit of pecorino cheese, freshly grated
Chives, freshly snipped
Salt and pepper

Sizzle a knob of butter in the bottom of a cast iron pan. Add the morels and cook for five minutes or so at medium heat. Add the fiddleheads and another knob of butter and sizzle for five minutes. Salt and pepper well.

Whisk the eggs and creme fraiche. Stir in the pecorino and more salt and pepper. Add more butter to the pan. (Yes, really.) Pour this mixture over the morels and fiddleheads. Tilt the pan, lifting the tortilla edges to let the uncooked eggs drift to the bottom of the pan. Continue to lift and cook and turn the pan for a few minutes until it is nearly set, with just a wet center.

Place a lid over the pan, lower the heat, and cook until set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cut into wedges, garnish with a shower of snipped chives, and serve piping hot.

6 Responses to “BIG BOOK NEWS, traveling to Chicago & Madison and a springtime tortilla”

  1. Maria Kernahan

    It was so lovely to meet you and Dennis and get a copy of your gorgeous book. I’ve had such fun reading – and trying your recipes. That tortilla looks delicious!

  2. rcakewalk

    I would have loved to see you in Madison, but it wasn’t in the cards this time! I enjoyed the peeks of your midwest tour, and hope you’ll be back to Wisconsin before another 30 or 40 years passes 🙂 I love our library system here – and coincidentally, I have your book (sans IACP seal) out from the library just now. I just bought my first kindle book – but your book is so lovely, I will also need the hard copy. I’m a hard copy kinda girl.

  3. Elizabeth

    Having just discovered your book in the library and thus your blog, all I can say is, “Dang! I live five minutes from that charming books store!” I guess I’ll just have to go back to enjoying the book.


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