Friday, September 25, 2009

Gastronomy: Tomato Basil Vodka Cream Sauce

My sister called me last week to borrow my Tomato Basil Vodka Cream Sauce recipe. I hadn't made this dish in a while and it wasn't until she called that I remembered how very much I love it. Autumn is the perfect time to make this dish: The basil is still growing, but the days are getting shorter and chillier. Although this sauce is incredibly easy to make, it's also richly satisfying and a wonderful way to ring in those crisp, fall evenings. Enjoy with a glass of Chianti, a garden salad, and your family!

Tomato Basil Vodka Cream Sauce

Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 handfuls of fresh basil, chopped
1 T dry oregano
5 16 oz cans tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 c parmesan cheese, grated
1 ½ c whipping cream
5 shots vodka
1 lb gnocchi or specialty pasta

In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add garlic; sauté until garlic is light tan, approximately 1-2 minutes. Stir in basil, oregano, tomato sauce. Add a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat 1 hour. Add 1 cup parmesan, cook 1 hour. Add vodka and cream, cook low 45 minutes.

For a simple tomato basil sauce, substitute vodka and cream with ½ cup wine. Add 1 ½ tablespoons crushed red pepper for an arrabiata.

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Obsession: Rosy Rosenblum

Upon a visit to San Francisco, our dear friends told us to check out Rosenblum Cellars, a winery that specializes in big, robust zinfandels. After a visit, Rosenblum has become a favorite wine for house-warming gifts, for party favors, and for simply accompanying a great meal. You don't have to plan a trip to California to drink a Rosenblum wine, simply visit your local Trader Joe's or other specialty grocer to pick-up a bottle—Rosenblum is distributed in every state throughout the country, affordable and available. Details:

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Style: Irresistible Wood Creations

Summer in Chicago brings with it a season of free outdoor concerts, farmer’s markets, and art fairs. There are several art shows that I attend every year in search of new artisans and unique finds. This year, I was fortunate to run into Sweitzer and Sweitzer, a father and son team who make exquisite shaker-inspired furniture. They specialize in custom tables, benches, and rockers—each piece warm, rich, and amazing.

Beyond furniture, what really caught my eye were their uniquely lovely cutting boards. Sweitzer and Sweitzer boards are made with a variety of midwestern woods, creating a beautiful, striped effect. Unlike most cutting boards that are made of a single wood, the utilization of several wood types enhances the color and distinctiveness of each piece. Boards and serving trays are available in different sizes and can be custom ordered to meet an individual’s personal requirements.

After purchasing a board for myself and a couple others as gifts, the father, Charlie, sat down to explain the different woods that made each of my purchases a one-of-a-kind. He had a glimmer in eye as he ran his hand over the wood and I understood why his work is so beautifully crafted—he and his son love what they do and it shows. Details:

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Obsession: Maira Kalman's Pursuit of Happiness

I fell in love with Maira Kalman through my son's bohemian library selections. Kalman's whimsical, colorful, and playful illustrations attracted him immediately and we soon found ourselves checking out each of the books in her series, thirsting to learn more about Max (a dog) and his dreams to become a celebrated poet in Paris. When Kalman later illustrated the most recent edition of Strunk and White's Elements of Style, it was then I realized that I was truly in love with this woman's work!

Most recently, Kalman has reinvented herself as one of The New York Time's resident bloggers. Her current series, And the Pursuit of Happiness, chronicles American democracy in the same, quirky fashion as her children's books. The last Friday of each month, learn about Benjamin Franklin, the Supreme Court, or American Soldiers. History lessons have never been so accessible or so much fun! Details:

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Adventure (26) Gastronomy (38) Obsession (39) Style (26)

About Mod City Mom

After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
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