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Thanksgiving--how many side dishes do you make for small groups?

The rolls we make are mainly to eat with the leftovers in the days that follow. I never included them in the Thanksgiving dinner until the year that our guests included some younger members of the extended family who were picky eaters. They are easy to make on Thanksgiving day, while the turkey is resting, and the oven is already warm, so we've kept them on the menu.

about 4 hours ago
masha in Home Cooking

Vermillion experience

We ate at Vermillion about a month ago and had an extraordinarily disappointing meal. I don't normally post about 1-off bad experiences but given your report I want to confirm that your experience was not an aberration. The food overall was fine, but ....

Like you, the server aggressively tried to get us to order one of the more expensive bottles of wine. We did not, especially as the wine list lacked vintages.

Aside from that, the service was slow, the servers never once recalled who had ordered which dish, and they did not bring new silverware for the main course after the apps -- in one case removing a fork and placing it on the table, in the other taking the silverware that was used and not replacing it. Fine for Applebees or other chain restaurant but not the caliber of service that one expects when the main course is $20+.

Like you we also had an experience with an overcharge on the bill that was laughably gauche: We were there for my birthday and, although my husband had not made an advance arrangements to celebrate the event, the subject did come up as we were being seated, but again we made no request that it be observed in any particular way. By the time we'd finished our mains, we decided that we did not want any dessert given how disappointing the service had been, and asked for the check. Imagine our surprise when it included a charge for a slice of cake that they evidently had intended to serve along with the ordered desserts! They did remove the charge, although it took about 20 minutes to get the adjusted bill.

Other than ourselves, I think that the room was filled by out-of-towners, mainly business people. So far as I can tell, it must stay in business from Concierge referrals. I cannot imagine they get any return business.

about 6 hours ago
masha in Chicago Area

Rule #1...always...

Or stick it in the Dishwasher.

about 6 hours ago
masha in General Topics

Turkey Defrosting Disagreement

Left standing on the counter at a cool room temperature (68 daytime, 60 overnight), it typically takes about an hour per pound for our turkeys to thaw. So, I'd expect it to take significantly longer than that if the ambient temperature were in the 33-40 degree range.

(And, yes, I know that the food safety experts say not to do it this way but we have been doing so for decades -- see my comments up-thread from when this thread was new.)

1 day ago
masha in Home Cooking

Rule #1...always...

I always set some sort of timer or alarm when I put beer or wine in the freezer to chill so as not to forget about removing it.

Rule #1...always...

You beat me to the punch on this one; I was about to make the same suggestion.

1 day ago
masha in General Topics

Pumpkin Pie-first time making/too many recipe options!

Yes, Coll, that's what is called for in the NYT recipe that I posted above.

Nov 18, 2014
masha in Home Cooking

Pumpkin Pie-first time making/too many recipe options!

Last year I made this recipe from the New York Times, http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/10..., using canned pumpkin puree and it turned out great. This after a series of years in which my pumpkin pies were complete failures, typically because the crust was soggy. I found the instructions easy to follow.

I know it was a success because it was the first year in which I did not have to throw out any of the leftovers -- and that with only 2 guests who ate the pie at Thanksgiving dinner (only 4 guests total), but my husband finished off the rest, a slice at a time over the next several days.

Nov 18, 2014
masha in Home Cooking

Low sugar holiday bites for kiddos

Also, if are looking for more protein-intense, savory bites, you could use holiday-shaped cookie cutters for tea sandwiches filled with peanut butter (assuming this doesn't run into a nut allergy concern), tuna salad, ham & cheese, etc.

Nov 18, 2014
masha in Special Diets

Single dining Chicago

They are all clustered very close. The Hyatt Regency, Swissotel, and Fairmont are to the south of the Chicago River, within about 2 blocks of each other, in the north east corner of "the Loop." The others are just to the north of the River -- the Mariott and Intercontinental are practically across the street from each other on Michigan Avenue (also called the "Magnificent Mile" or "Mag Mile"), with the Sheraton a few blocks to the east in an area referred to as Streeterville. There are more restaurants in the area north of the River (the Mag Mile, Streeterville and also "River North," which is to the west of Michigan Ave) but the 3 hotels to the south of the river that you've mentioned are not far from those areas.

Nov 18, 2014
masha in Chicago Area

Thanksgiving--how many side dishes do you make for small groups?

For the last few years, our Thanksgiving dinners have involved only 3 or 4 adults. I basically make the same sides as I did when we had double that number (or more), although I do cut down on quantity:

stuffing
mashed potatoes
cranberry sauce
a steamed green vegetable (asparagus or green beans)
mashed rutabagas
rolls
gravy (don't really think of it as a "side")

Nov 18, 2014
masha in Home Cooking

Single dining Chicago

Given that it sounds as though your trip is fairly far in the future (unless by "next year," you mean January or February), I suggest you become a somewhat regular reader of this Board, and especially of trip reports and other posts by recent visitors to Chicago. That will give you a solid sense of what is available and how other diners have reacted to their meals here. (Posts involving single diners are fairly frequent and, beyond that, as Gonzo and Nsx say, you can dine single at virtually any restaurant.) Then, when you've formed some more definite inclinations or perceptions, why don't you post more specific questions?

Nov 18, 2014
masha in Chicago Area

Low sugar holiday bites for kiddos

Pepperidge Farm gold fish crackers are low in sugar and "fun," but not exactly health food (given sodium and fat content)

Nov 18, 2014
masha in Special Diets

Drive-by Posts?

My theory last year when a few new posters' stories involved egregiously poor manners and weird behavior was there was a group of HS girls or sorority sisters running a contest as to who could post the most bizarre story and generate the most comments.

Nov 17, 2014
masha in Site Talk
1

Side Dish Recommendation

I agree. You need a color and texture contrast with the leek bread pudding, so I'd be looking to add a bright green vegetable with a crisp texture. If not a salad, then maybe green beans amandine or some other bright green bean prep.

Nov 17, 2014
masha in Home Cooking
1

Drive-by Posts?

There is always an uptick in these as "the holidays" approach, often involving questions of dysfunctional family dynamics.

Reserved Fat and Drippings! What can I do with them

Thanksgiving is coming. If you typically make "dressing" -- i.e., outside the bird -- I would think that adding some of this reserved oil/grease to the bread mixture would be perfect. I'd probably just skim off the gelatin and use only the fat.

Nov 17, 2014
masha in Home Cooking
2

Dinner for 14...dinner on table or self serve?

Will that was actually T Camp's suggestion although effectively it's what we do too, since I remove the "centerpiece" (floral arrangement, fruit bowl, whatever) just before we sit down, leaving just the candles and wine & water on the table.

Nov 17, 2014
masha in General Topics

Dinner for 14...dinner on table or self serve?

I have a centerpiece on the table before dinner so it looks pretty but then move off the table and place it over on a side table before everyone sits down, just leaving the candles on the table.

Nov 17, 2014
masha in General Topics
1

Dinner for 14...dinner on table or self serve?

It really depends on the logistics of your dining area and kitchen. If getting 14 around the table is pretty tight then there isn't really much room on the table for sides. But if your kitchen is like ours, the island becomes a staging area as we prep the meal and it would be a mess as an buffet surface. I like to put all sides on the table -- 2 sets of each, as not only is this easier than passing one bowl the length of the table, but involves use of smaller serving pieces, which are easier to find room for on the table. Husband or son doubles as the butler, walking the platter of turkey around and allowing each guest to serve him/herself. The turkey platter is then placed on a side board.

Nov 16, 2014
masha in General Topics

Looking for fun/chic dinner/drinks maybe dancing recs for ladies night out downtown

My 30-ish niece was recently in Chicago and loved Boarding House.

Nov 14, 2014
masha in Chicago Area

Thanksgiving 2014 for out-of-town hound?

Already linked in my post upthread

Nov 14, 2014
masha in Chicago Area

Bar/Coffee shop in downtown Chicago to have business meeting

Thanks for reporting back. Glad it worked out so well.

Nov 13, 2014
masha in Chicago Area

Bar/Coffee shop in downtown Chicago to have business meeting

Just an update about Hero, at the corner of Congress & Dearborn: I've been in there a few times now. Their coffee and sandwiches are good. And, although their seating area is rather small, it currently would serve as a perfectly acceptable place to have an informal business meeting in terms of being relatively quiet & private because there have been very few customers at the tables when I've visited -- less popular for eat-in customers than Dollop, e.g.

Nov 13, 2014
masha in Chicago Area

housewarming gift?rude

The question of what "has to stay" is really just a default rule (and falls under the category of "fixtures" under R.E. law). It's always negotiable but if not directly addressed in the contract to the contrary, it needs to stay with the house upon sale. And often negotiating that issue, to reverse the local norm, will cost you more than just replacing the item. As to kitchen appliances, my understanding is that there is a regional difference as to the default norm -- in the east and Chicago-area, where I live, the default assumption is that major appliances remain as part of the sale property unless negotiated to the contrary, but that the opposite rule is the default in other regions (the South & west?)

If you want to take something with you that ordinarily would stay with the house, it's often easier to just remove & store it before you show the house, if that is feasible. For example, we removed expensive, antique hanging light fixtures and replaced them with inexpensive fixtures from the Home Depot before we showed the house, so as to avoid having to negotiate later that the antiques were not included in the sale. This might not be feasible with a refrigerator (but may be it would be if you've got a place to store the one you want to take).

Nov 13, 2014
masha in Not About Food

Thanksgiving 2014 for out-of-town hound?

Here is a link to the annual column by the Tribune's food critic regarding restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner, http://www.chicagotribune.com/enterta....

Nov 13, 2014
masha in Chicago Area

Yet another food processor question

If you really liked the Cuisinart 7 cup machine (and still have it) and the only problem was that the "s" chopping blade rusted, why don't you buy a new blade? Here is a link to a site with replacement Cuisinart parts, http://www.thegourmetdepotco.com/sear....

I've never heard of this problem occurring before so it sounds aberrational to me. I've got a 30+ year-old and 15-year old 7 Cup Cuisinart and the chopping blades for both are fine.

Also, when exactly did the Cuisinart blade fail? Was it relatively recently and do you still have it? I'd think that if you bring this to Cuisinart's attention and it really failed within 6 months of purchase, they'd replace it free. (Or did you already try that?)

Nov 12, 2014
masha in Cookware

housewarming gift?rude

Agreed Coll. I didn't see the thread until after it was retitled.

Nov 12, 2014
masha in Not About Food

housewarming gift?rude

My understanding is that there are regional differences within the US on whether the seller is expected to leave the fridge with the house, or take it with him/ her. Certainly in an area where the seller typically takes the fridge, it could be inconvenient to receive perishable groceries immediately upon move in. I currently live in Chicago and grew up in the East; in both areas, the norm is that the fridge stays with the house, so this is less likely to be a problem.

Nov 12, 2014
masha in Not About Food
1

housewarming gift?rude

If your move was this frazzled, I'd think that the groceries would be welcome -- e.g., if it's a new home "in a new state where you don't know a single thing about the area .. and just want to collapse in exhaustion," it sounds to me like the recipient would be greatful not to have to make a trip to the grocery store even if the contents of the gift were not exactly what he/she would have bought.

In a similar vein, I recall when we moved into our new house (eons ago) with a toddler and my new next-door neighbor showed up with a pot of hearty soup. I was ecstatic even though it was not a variety of soup that I would ordinarily favor. My husband had just left for an evening meeting that he could not get out of, I had boxes everywhere in the kitchen, had no idea what we'd do for dinner, and a cranky toddler who was disoriented after a long day, when she arrived with the soup.