Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hippity Happity Birthday!

To All:

Please wish one of my very favorite people, and best friends, Sharissa Markey (you may know her as Marissa Sharkey) a very wonderfully and stupendously amazing 23rd birthday. The world is a funnier, more story filled, and more beautifully strange place with her in it. Any of you that know her are sure to agree.

Let me tell you all a short story. Picture a high school pep-rally. Now picture me in my pommer outfit getting ready in the bathroom of the school. I put on all of my embarrassing sequins and things and proceed to exit the stall. I turn to leave the bathroom when I am surprised to see a 6 foot tall bulldog standing in front of me. Rendered speechless, the only word I can articulate is, "DOG!" To which the dog (a.k.a. Marissa Sharkey) proceeds to point and answer back to me, "KAT!" And that is how Marissa and I became friends.

Special Birthday Video

Happy Birthday Friend. I love you with all of my heart. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Deep Tingly in the Mouth Love

So you read the headline. But no worries, it's not what you think. The wonderful, always-on-my-mind love that I speak of is in regards to sandwiches! After years of searching for my favorite food I have come to realize that the closest I will ever come to choosing a favorite is to allot one category to my love of cuisine. That category is the sandwich.

I know what you're thinking. Kat, you ARE SOOO RIGHT! Believe me, I know I am. You see, the sandwich can fit every type of hunger and craving there is. You got your bread choice: pita, french, foccacia, rye, wheat berry, naan, etc. The bread choice is very crucial, choose the wrong one and the sandwich just may be ruined. Then you get to fill it with any mix of greens, veggies, fruits, meats, cheeses, and condiments that you want to. You can have it cold or hot or grilled. It's just the perfect meal every day.

I have had two incredible, life changing sanwiches in the last two weeks.

The first was on our bi-weekly Americorps we-got-paid-let's-go-out lunch from a Mexican Cafe known as Bom Bon. The meal: the Carabena Torta. This scrumptious lunch consisted of thinly shaved pork, avacado, grilled pineapple, gouda cheese, tomato, and mixed greens all on a buttery bun. It was heaven folks, pure heaven. The flavors were clean but strong and the grilled pineapple added a rich punch to an already yummy sandwich. I can not wait to go back and try another one.

The second sandwich is a Vietnamese wonder known as the Banh Mi. It typically has a meat, liver pate, pickled veggies, cilantro, and jalapenos on freshly baked french bread. If you read my friend Brittany's food blog, He Cooks She Cooks, then you may have read about her rendition of this sandwich. We tried it out in a picnic style lunch with most of the standard ingredients including a braunshwagger, which was used to imitate the pate. It's spicy, sweet, and so fresh. The sensation of my mouth literally burning off of my face was completely ignorable compared to the lovely flavor. The mom n' pop store that it is from was small and super cheap, which made me even happier. Plus the woman behind the counter was so helpful in my choice making. In the end I went with the classic version, sweet pork (a.k.a. HEAVEN).

The main point of this post is just to say,

"Having a bad day? Eat a sandwich!"
"Having a good day? Eat a sandwich"
"Not sure what to eat? Eat a sandwhich!"

Guys, seriously. Just go get a sandwich already an quit reading!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lake Lovely

For all of the times that I have been to Chicago, never once has anyone taken me to Lake Michigan. Now granted, each time I have visited has been about -1000 degrees but I still feel gypped in some way. In my lake dreams I always imagine myself ending up at Navy Pier, however the trip I took this weekend was definitely more up my alley. A quieter, more contemplative alley that is.

Thanks to Mary every weekend for getting me out of the house and showing me something new in the Chicago suburbs. Without these little trips, my weekends would be much more drab to say the least. This time she took me to a little place known as Maria's Bakery. Maria is, of course, the very Sicilian owner and master bakeress of said bakery. Now to paint you a little picture, you walk into this tiny little bakery and there are two small tables in the place, shelves lined with random Italian cooking necessities, and and L shaped counter with more baked cookie and pastry happiness than one can imagine. Behind these two counters stands Maria, and I hear her say to a customer, "Are they good? Of course they are good. You try one. Here, you try one and then you don't have to wonder no more." If that isn't the Italian spirit then I sure the heck do not know what is! You should also know that while waiting for our order, we heard a lovely mix of ABBA hits as well as some Jesus Christ Super Star. Thank God for that! Mary and I got two lattes to go with a loaf of bread and a mixed bag of fig filled cookies and some lemon biscuit cookies too.

Two cookies and a half latte later, we end up in Fort Sheridan. While most places that begin with the word Fort are not so much to speak of, this little township stands out in a unique way. Fort Sheridan used to be none other than a Navy Base. Some ingenious developer decided it would be a wonderful idea to buy all of the Barracks and turn them into apartments and homes. Seriously folks, this is the neatest thing ever. The buildings are all made of stone and brick and they are surrounded by grass and yards and parks and trees and paths. Its grand in a quiet and awe-inspiring sort of way. The roads lead to a parking lot which is in front of a wildlife preserve that sits on the edge of Lake Michigan. I believe the pictures speak for themselves, so I will refrain from trying to justify what is already lovely.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chicago Botanic Garden

So I have been in Chicago for two weeks now. There has been a lot of adjusting to do, but I have seen so many wonderful things already that it hardly seems difficult to adapt to this amazing city.

The first weekend I arrived, Michael's mom took me the Chicago Botanic Garden. It's free to the public, but parking is $20 unless you have a hookup with a yearly pass (why yes, I did have a hookup). The garden's 385 acres are overwhelmingly beautiful and I easily found myself lost while winding through the various paths of the 23 different themed gardens. I had the desire to see and touch every plant, flower, and vegetable, but we were on a mission.

We had to come watch the Garden Chef Series where chefs from various restaurants around the Chicago area come to the outdoor kitchen to give cooking demonstrations. Renown chefs such as Rick Bayless and Gale Gand have been featured here which made my anticipation for the demo high. Today's chef was Janine MacLachlan from the Rustic Kitchen, a cooking school located two hours outside of Chicago on a secluded farm. She was bubbly and fun and gave a wonderful demonstration on my favorite foods such as granola and ginger ale, and I even learned how to make a ginger plumb clafoutis. I highly recommend this super easy desert to anybody who likes pie but does not want the hassle of making a crust.

After eating the samples from the demo (they were only one bite which was not nearly enough) we perused through the pepper and vegetable gardens. The foods are cultivated to perfection with rows and rows of peppers, eggplants, and swiss chard surrounded by the largest heads of lettuce I have ever come across. The only aspect that is not perfectly lovely about these plants is that they can not be picked and cooked up.

The Botanic Garden is by far my new favorite place in Chicago. I can not wait to go back a thousand times and explore every facet of the expansive awesomeness.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A little rap...

So since I have been absent in the blogging recently (I swear I have been spending every free moment packing for Chicago!) I thought I would write you a little rap. I know what you're thinking, "Kat raps?" Why yes, yes I do. It is a newfound interest that came after sharing some Gumby's pokey stix with a few friends who decided to show Brittany and I their free-style rapping skills. Since then Brit and I haven't been able to stop. Even Marissa gets in on it! So here you go, it's a rap about this blog.

Katillac Exploration
It's a divine sensation
that's sweeping the nation
and even Jamaicans.

I seek and I find
with open eyes and mind
then take it back and rewind
to project and define.
New thoughts are the best
you take them, read and digest.

Tales, clean spicy fun like a dish from Rick Bayless.
Good times a plethora but still you payless
than the Elles or the Cosmos.
Here you get more than BOGO's
or designers and logos.

I Hope you enjoy, though my remarks are sometimes coy.
And if my style somehow finds you amiss
I'll just have to place my faith in the abiss.
But my intent, by far, it that it brings you pure bliss.

There you have it folks. I know, I'm not the next Wale or Weezy, but I still have fun. Maybe one day I'll even get brave enough to record it and put it up here. Until then, just try to imagine a flow because I swear to you there is one!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Two Great Lakes?

We have been really fortunate to have an extremely pleasant summer weather wise this year. I'm talking ridiculously mild. Beautiful scenery, cool breezes, and best of all a complete lack of humidity. My hair has really loved it.

Anyways, the point of all of this wonderful weather talk is that it makes for very enjoyable hiking and exploration weather. Lots of walking has been happening here, and I have been privileged to have friends who also love to walk and take in the scenery. I have been to random rope swings, parks, the big tree, developing neighborhoods, and even down the pedestrian paths to Walmart. The other day, Brittany and I were in want of a new path and so I decided to take her to a path by a dog park I had been to a few times.

While driving there I was ranting about something or another and passed the spot that I had intended to turn onto. I kept driving and came upon an exit for the MKT trail that I had never noticed on my many drives down Forum. What the heck, I thought, and turned in and parked. We began our journey down the wide and very accessible MKT trail. Various people passed by us, a woman walking her dog and a few hippy looking bikers. I am in the bad habbit of listening to everyone, so you can imagine my intrigue when I overheard the very rough hippy-esque woman on a bike tell her friend the third member of their party had stopped at the lake.

"A lake would be amazing right now," was
the exact thought that crossed my mind at that moment. Luckily the same thought crossed Brittany's mind and we decided to find this lake.

We did not have to walk far at all to find the trail that branched off toward a lovely field with much greenery. The gravel path wound around the field which then turned into a beautiful lake and wildlife area. I was absolutely astonished. Seriously? Seriously. How had I never known this existed?


There were wildflowers and tall grasses; old trees and benches with dedication engraved onto them lined the pathway circling the lake.

Strolling around the lake was not only and enjoyable setting for scenery but also for conversation. Twin Lakes is so engaging, I went back the next week with Marissa and caught the lake at sunset. If you are in Columbia, this should be a must see for you. If not, go find a spot like this near you. They pop up in the most surprising places!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Fiasco can be a good thing...

This was it, my chance to see Lupe Fiasco in concert. I had been dreaming about this since my brother played The Cool for me a few summers ago and now, not only was I seeing him in concert, I was beneath the St. Louis Arch and the show was absolutely free.

I arrived downtown with my brother and Brittany to sunshiny happiness and a cool breeze. Since we arrived early, Brit and I decided to explore our Fair St. Louis food options. During our stroll down the boardwalk, we came upon this lovely woman dressed in a pink tutu with a video camera and a box full of props. I am fairly positive she has some issues, but she definitely caught our eye and the eyes of nearly every person in the audience.

After Brittany used her charm to convince a man at one of the food booths to grill her up some peppers for her brat (they were intended to be added to the Philly cheese steak) we headed back to the stage and awaited the start of the show.

At last, a group of DJs headed onto the stage to get things moving. Now while these DJs were fantastic, they were not nearly as incredible as the two signers who were translating every word, spoken or rapped, to the audience with a good deal of urban zeal. Just as we grew tired of watching the signers, a civilian break dance circle formed and put on an impromptu show to a mix of hip-hop and some Michael Jackson mix tapes.

We were already thrilled with our experience at the arch that night, but it was only the beginning. Black Spade then took the stage. He and his crew along with his brother Tef Poe and Made Monarchs filled the stage, some wearing giant card board shells with painted alien faces on them. While Black Spade was good, Made Monarchs stole the show when their lead man Rockwell Knuckles removed the alien shell covering him and dove into some awesome rhymes. The most astounding part was that we all thought he was intoxicated out of his mind while he was just kickin' it on stage two minutes earlier. Never judge a book by its cover folks, he came outta nowhere!

Just as the sun was setting, Lupe took the stage along with a fellow rapper, a DJ, and the most incredible drummer I have seen to date. The guy was a giant wearing a black T-shirt featuring Barack Obama with a ballin' ball cap photo shopped into the picture. His drum set was a gorgeous 33 red pieces and he played every piece splendidly.

Lupe had a fantastic set, and I was inspired to see how into each song he was, even after performing them a zillion times. He even featured one of the signers by performing part of a song right next to her. Great, I'm telling you, just great stuff. Young guys everywhere were dressed to impress, Lupe style and even some toddlers speckled the audience on their parents' shoulders. We were lucky enough to hear his new single from LASERS, Shining Down featuring Matthew Santos (whom I enjoy very much). The single leaked a few weeks ago, and every true Lupe lover knew each word already.

The night ended on a high note with a group of people dancing in circle to the late great Michael Jackson under fireworks shooting off over the river. There were no crazy people to disrupt the show and everyone was there to fully appreciate the hip-hop culture. Concerts do not get any more enjoyable than this people. If you couldn't be there, I hope this will give you some small idea of how truly incredible the whole night was.