Spotlight: Cookbook Club Featuring Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie at Home”

This year, some of our friends started a Cookbook Club, in which we all make recipes from the same cookbook and have a potluck to feast on the delicious recipes. Our first book? Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home.

The cookbook is divided into the four seasons, so this meeting we mostly chose recipes from spring. (I missed the January meeting, where all recipes were from winter; Nate made the winter veg coleslaw.) In the cookbook, the main ingredients unique to spring are eggs, asparagus, lamb, and rhubarb.

Now, there are two important things to note:

  1. All of our friends/family who we hang out with are awesome cooks.
  2. I am not as much. 🙂

Knowing that I’m a little nervous about my talents in the kitchen, I opted for Nate and I to bring an easier option: Rhubarb and Sticky Ginger Crumble. I shopped for all of the ingredients on the Wednesday before last Sunday’s event, just needed to pick up the rhubarb. Or so I thought…

My mother-in-law grows rhubarb, so I should have realized that rhubarb is only available in late spring, right? Wrong! I went to/called/stalked about seven different grocery stores looking for rhubarb. Jewel almost had it; a produce employee at Trader Joe’s in the burbs didn’t even know what rhubarb was. Needless to say, I needed to act fast. 

 Our backup? We decided to make one apple crumble and one strawberry crumble, which meant I had to adapt the recipe…and fast. My plan was to use Jamie’s crumble recipe (which Nate was in charge of making), and this Strawberry Crisp recipe for the strawberry part, and this Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp recipe for the apple part. And I thought it turned out okay! The crumble part of Jamie’s recipe was so delicious. When we arrived at my brother and sister-in-law’s apartment (our hosts for this month), there were so many beautiful dishes—my pictures do not do it justice! (I couldn’t try all of the recipes because of my pregnancy diet, so some of the great recipes are missing from my plate photo.) Some of the dishes included:

After everyone ate their salad, soup, and main dishes, we warmed up the crisps and served them with vanilla bean ice cream. Both crisps went completely, but the consensus was the strawberry one was a hit! It was so easy to make—we’ll definitely do that one again! 

 I highly recommend starting your own Cookbook Club. It’s not only a way to challenge yourself, but also to try new recipes that you can make again at home, and to spend time hanging out with friends and family. Can’t wait for the next meeting!



#tbt Favorite Things Gift Exchange, Part 2

You may recall my friends and I have an annual themed gift exchange every year, and this year was no exception! The theme was favorite things last year, and we decided to continue the theme this year because we loved it!

Last time my favorite things were Voluspa candles and Clinique chubby sticks, both from Nordstrom. I guess my favorite things haven’t really changed this year because I gave Simpatico hobnail glass candles in Reindeer and some hard candies I picked up in France (which are actually made in Italy and can be bought here. #touristfail).

My gifts were well received, but the fun part is always seeing what ideas others come up with! Everyone gets three gifts (we pick names out of a bowl). I received a Venti Starbucks travel cup with a gift card (already used the cup, saving the card!) from Bridget, ingredients for Lauren’s favorite grilled cheese sandwich, and a wonderful Rosy Rings Fireside-scented candle and Lollia perfume from Natalie. Other awesome gifts included a movie gift set, complete with movie tickets, wine juice boxes, and popcorn; sphere ice molds; and more delicious Seda France candles.

The other “present” that was new to me was Lauren’s selfie stick! Seriously, it’s so fun and hilarious once everyone starts having a few cocktails. I’ve included a sampling of our best photos for your amusement!

Another year, another wonderful exchange hosted by Bridget. I secretly hope we continue with the theme next year because I love sharing my favorites (I will do something different than candles, I swear!), and receiving my besties’ favorite things, too.






VIP Paints Candle-Making Class

For my birthday in October, I asked Nate if I could buy a Groupon for us to go to a BYOB candle-making class, and he said yes!

So we recently headed to VIP Paints–with a six-pack of Anti-Hero in hand. The studio is really intimate, with artwork on the walls and shelves filled with paintbrushes and supplies just waiting to be used. The tables were already set up when we arrived with mason jars and wicks, wick holders and thermometers, and more.

Our instructor was great–helpful, informative, and kept the class moving along in a fun, relaxed environment. First, we picked out our candle color and scent as the waxes were heating up. I went traditional with light purple with a lavender scent, while Nate chose hunter green (manly!) with a citron mandarin scent. We dropped the colored chip into the hot soy wax and waited for it to warm. Then, we each poured in a shot glass full of our scent, mixed it all together, and waited for the temperature to cool to 100 degrees.

Once cooled, the soy wax could be poured into the mason jars. An important part of this step was making sure to keep the wick straight. The color lightens as it hardens, and we were very pleased with our new candles! Had to wait 48 hours for them to fully harden, though, to ensure they were ready before using them.

Would I do this class again? Definitely, and I recommend it to you, too. It’s not difficult, yet an extremely fulfilling project. I love candles (one of my favorite gifts to give and receive), so it was nice to see how they’re made to see if I could possibly make them myself. I also haven’t explored Pilsen all too much, so it was a fun way to get out for date night (there were friends and groups in our class, too) and support a local business.

What comes with date night? Dinner, of course! Our experience at DeColores restaurant coming soon…

VIP Paints
1907 South Halsted