Home Cookin’ 7: Cooking with Fire–Craig Brannan

By Alan Lake (Jazzfood)

Editor’s Note: This is the 7th installment of Alan Lake’s Home Cookin’ series on home cooks- their stories and recipes. Read part one here for insight into what Home Cookin’ is all about.

Craig Brannan

Craig Brannan

It’s not like being a smoke eater was a childhood dream. Craig Brannan joined the fire department when he was 25. Prior to that he quite happily owned a landscaping company. On a visit to L.A., he met a fireman. They got to talking and it sparked his inner flame. In that instant, Craig decided to pursue firefighting as a career . . . after all, he liked the movie Backdraft.

Nearly 20 years later, Craig drives Fire Engine #25 for the City of Evanston, where he’s a Fire Apparatus Operator and Paramedic. Besides driving, his job is to put wet stuff on hot stuff by sending water as requested (there’s 500 gallons on the truck) and if need be, hook up to the fire hydrant.

Read More…

Announcing the Class of 2015 GNRs

Onur Usmen (turkob)

The time has come once again to crown a new class of LTH Forum’s Great Neighborhood Restaurants and Resources (GNRs). The Class of 2015 reflects the diversity of the forum, featuring places across state lines, food from all over the globe, and restaurants old and new.

Analogue
Analogue, photo by Nick Murway
Breaking Down The Results

The Class of 2015 is the tenth class of GNRs and the program remains as strong as when it began in 2005. At its core, the GNRs are about bringing together those who passionately ply their craft – be it mixing drinks, baking bread, grilling burgers, or curing meat – with those who tirelessly seek out the best culinary experiences Chicago has to offer. The LTH Forum community remains dedicated to finding great food and sharing their experiences so others can learn for themselves what we already know: Chicagoland is one hell of a great place to eat.

Read More…

An LTHer’s Guide To Cactus League Eats

By Dominic Armato (Dmnkly)

ava

“Pitchers and Catchers Report” takes on a very different meaning when you move from Chicago to Phoenix. No longer a harbinger of less frigid weather, it is instead a reminder that hot summer is about to give way to very, very, very hot summer and soon we will all be on fire. But before we combust, there’s the glorious month of March, when the skies are a brilliant blue, Phoenix is the center of the baseball universe (sorry, Florida), and those in the restaurant business are never more content to be so exhausted. 

It’s been an unusually lively offseason for Chicago baseball fans, and the wisest among them will surely be visiting Phoenix for Spring Training, a time when their faith in their teams can’t be shaken by the pesky reality of the standings. Of course, we all know it’s the <REDACTED> fans who really have cause to be excited about the 2015 season, but hey, everybody’s gotta eat, right? So if you’re making the pilgrimage this year, here are some Phoenix restaurants that I’m always especially happy to share with visitors from back home.

Read More…

An Insider’s Perspective on Health Inspections

By Jared Leonard (rubbbqco)

Recently, a popular restaurant was closed by the Chicago Department of Public Health, and it got a lot of chatter on the interweb. As I read the comments, I thought I could clear up some misunderstandings about restaurant inspections, specifically failing one of them (and what it takes to get a green sign on the door). 



Failures and closures have become popular fodder for internet news outlets. Details of every inspection are shared publicly by the City of Chicago, and closures are a favorite of DNAInfo and Eater.



I am not going to take sides on this; that’s not the point of what I’m writing. I, as a restaurant owner, would simply like to fill in the blanks – and correct some misinformation that has been written and/or assumed. 

Read More…

Home Cookin’ 6: Ava George Stewart

By Alan Lake (Jazzfood)

ava

There’s no lunch in the Carolinas – just dinner at mid-day and supper in the evening. And for breakfast this holiday season, a menu of shrimp and rice and vegetables mostly grown on a small outer island off the coast, along with stewed blue crabs, fried flounder, and oysters. Welcome to the holidays, Carolina style. In keeping with the season, a feast is in order. And for that, Ava George Stewart has got you covered.

Sporting an enormous smile you can feel and an infectious, vivacious laugh, Ava’s a criminal lawyer who got her Master Gardener’s certification while in and out of court defending bad guys all day long – seamlessly balancing hard science with true crime. She’s a multifaceted person with home cooking in her soul. Living in Chicago with a part of her heart in the South, Ava embodies the spirit of the holidays: sharing.

Read More…

An Introduction to Burmese Cuisine

By Onur Usmen (turkob)

Yangon 1

Sule Pagoda, Yangon

Myanmar, a country rich in history and tradition, is located at the intersection of India, China, and Thailand. It is famous for its many beautiful pagodas and a unique cuisine that reflects its location, with influences from both the Far East and the Indian subcontinent.

It’s also considered one of the most diverse countries in Asia, in large part because its physical position between such powerful countries has encouraged border migration and culture mixing for over 2,000 years. This means that Burmese cuisine is varied and exciting – but so far, not as widespread here in the U.S. as it should be.
Read More…

Alternative Dining in Chicago

By Kim Campbell (Kimchic)

adrelishnoodle
A handful of creative food venues, designed to throw us out of our comfort zone by highlighting the skill of enterprising new chefs, offering eclectic cuisines, or whisking up anticipation over a new restaurant, help make up the Chicago phenomenon that is alternative dining. 

Pop-up restaurants, supper clubs, underground dining, and Chaos Cooking are among the out-of-the ordinary culinary experiences available to the adventurous Chicago diner. Some of these concepts have been around for decades; some are being reinvented by new chefs to fit modern tastes. They’re doing this by using social media to build hype, by incorporating contemporary concepts (such as using organic and locally-sourced produce), and by adding new twists to older concepts like the potluck. Read More…

Home Cookin’ 5: Cool Yiayia

by Alan Lake (Jazzfood)

hc5yiayia61714
Synglitiki “Tita” Zervos comes to the United States in 1961 imagining she’ll live in the White House or a Hollywood mansion. From her tiny island of Kalymnos off the Southern coast of Greece (population 1,500), it seems possible. Based on American movies, her impression of the United States is all presidents and movie stars. Little does she know what lies ahead: a life full of cooking, family, and later – memories.

Childhood in Greece

As the third daughter in a family of nine, growing up in Greece during World War II is tough, but not as tough as it is for many of Tita’s neighbors. Bombs destroy the house next door to their family bakery. German and Italian soldiers occupying the island conscript her father to bake bread for them. Convincing them he needs helpers for the task at hand, he brings all 46 members of his extended family to work in the bakery. Besides not knowing what it takes to produce said bread, the soldiers don’t really know how many loaves 100 kgs of flour makes, either…let’s just say no one goes hungry.
Read More…