My Cooking Philosophy

I love cooking. But I am terrified of long recipes with two dozen-plus ingredients. My motto is: cooking should be fun, and should not be exhausting. After all, I am not a stay-at-home wife, nor a 9-to-5 person. I am a “tech exec”, working in a small startup, which means crazy working hours and unpredictable schedule.

I do not hold a belief that the food should be prepared the same day it is consumed. For me cooking or preparing for cooking in advance is vital. Now I am in the midst of my traditional summer vegetable challenge: the CSA delivery comes weekly, and even with my half-share, there are way more vegetables I can consume.

I do not mind leaving some of the vegetables for the next week or more. But I still need to cook them at some point:). Although I live by myself now, I am making big batches – takes the same time to cook! Then I package the cooked dishes into very small containers and freeze them. This way, I can defrost and warm-up just the amount I can consume with one meal.

Summer squash with carrots, onions and tomatoes
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Breakfasts Outside are Almost Over!

There are multiple signs that fall is nearing. One of them are these colored leaves:

More obvious is the fact I’ve complained about a while ago – the days a getting shorter, and my summer activities are going away one after another. Soon my breakfasts outside will be over, at least the weekday breakfasts – I am out of the house shortly after 7 AM. And since Boris does not like eating outside, I’ve lost one week ahead of schedule :).

Now I am going to celebrate my love for breakfasts outside, and showing some recent buys which make my morning experiences even better.


I had this wooden tray for a while, and I would always put a pretty Scandinavian design paper napkin on it. However, since for the last two times in IKEA, I was unable to find the ones I like, I ended up remembering that I have a lot of cloth napkins I do not use!

I also got two more trays, in case I will have some house guests who like eating outside πŸ™‚ I ended up liking this one even better than the one I had before!

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Sick :(

I ended up working like crazy for two days and then being sick for two more days. That’s how the second half of Boris’ stay here ended. And haven’t been sick to that extent for a very long time.

Now not only we lost time together, but also I am behind on so many things, I can’t even start counting… and still sick.

A Sunrise

People rarely think about Chicago as a warm city; for some reason, everybody prefers to talk about cold winter and gusting winds. But honestly, how long are Chicago’s winters? And geographically speaking, do you realize, that Chicago is at the same latitude as Rome?! Just check it on the map!

Geographically (not politically :)) speaking, Chicago is in the South, and both sunrises and sunsets are very fast, at least in comparison with where I grew up. And I love them. Love them, especially for the fact this beauty is so transient, so difficult to catch … but I tried! These pictures were taken ant about 5-45 AM yesterday, and I am sure that 5-45 SM next week will look different πŸ™‚

I’ve Realized One Interesting Thing…

When I started my LiveJournal blog 12 years ago, one of the goals I had in mind was to tell my Russian friends about America “from inside.” Not like there are not enough Russians living in the US, but I’ve credited myself for looking at the life which surrounded me with the wide-opened eyes. I was curious, I wanted to understand, and I had my American co-workers, who thought of me as a complete savage (which was a good thing in this case :)), and educated me about everything.

I knew what could be interesting for my Russian audience. I would explain lots of things, which were so obvious and trivial to the locals, that they could never imagine somebody needs any explanations on them.

Funny enough, I am doing a similar thing now but in the opposite direction. I am writing for my American audience, and since I live here for 23 years by now, I understand, which parts I need to explain in detail. And if I won’t be a part of both countries, I would not even know that the explanations are necessary πŸ™‚

Being A Tourist In My Own City

I love Chicago. I love this city at any time of the year, but especially in summer. It is a challenging task to talk me into going somewhere in summer. I like being here, and I do not mind the heat at all. There are so many things that only happen in summer, and summer is so short!

One of the reasons why I like summer in Chicago so much is that I can blend with the crowd of tourists from all over the world, and to take pictures of the same buildings for one hundredth and first time.

For example, to take pictures of mounted police

On Friday I took a half-day off, Boris came to the city by 12-30, and we headed to a quick lunch in the Pret, and then to the Art Institute.

This year the Nichols Bridgeway was closed way too often, for all sorts of events, like Pokemon Go! (I am trying very hard not to comment on the worth of these events, did you notice?!) This Friday it was opened, and so we’ve entered the Art Institute that way.

The city view from the Bridgeway
I am being a tourist
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The Days Are Getting Shorter

The days are getting shorter, which means that by the end of next week I won’t be able to bike before work, also most likely I won’t be able to use our new outdoor gym in the morning – I do not like biking in the dark and wandering around in the dark :).

On Thursday, I was working from home, which allowed me to go to the casual bike ride with the Palatine bike club, and it was the last time this season. I can’t make it to Mike’s Bike shop by 6-30 if I am not working from home. And next week the rides will start 15 minutes earlier, and in another two weeks, they will be starting at 6 PM. But I was so glad I went. Also, that was the first time I took Boris there. I was hoping he will love riding with the group, for the same reason I do – it’s much safer, especially if you have vision issues. So he went with us, and he liked it. Even more, than I thought :). We also stopped at Dairy Queen at the end of the ride for some ice-cream, which added to the right impression, I guess.

But still, working from home these days feels more stressful than in the office, and I thought that I didn’t have time for anything. By now (Saturday night) I feel much better, but I need to figure out how to be not such a slave of schedule.

I Am In The Slow Mode For A Week, And Air Travel Surprises

Boris came on Wednesday, and this will be the last time before October when we are going to see each other in person. As usual, the adjustment from living solo to living together, even temporarily, is hard. This time especially, since I was unusually stressed with all the things going at work and in my professional life in general. I didn’t have time to adjust to the slower pace mentally. Our velocity of living is very different, and each time we are making an effort to reconcile these differences at least for a short time.

From Wednesday to the next Wednesday, I will have no volunteering activities, and I took one day work from home and one and a half days off. We shall see how it goes.

There was one funny thing about his arrival. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) has four terminals: 1,2,3 and 5 (do not ask me why :)). Terminal 5 is international, no matter which airline you take, the passport control and customs are located in Terminal 5. It usually always takes time to get out of it due to the long lines, even if you do not have the checked baggage. With the flight arrival time of 3-45PM, we agreed that I would leave work at about 3 PM. The CTA Blue Line, which goes to ORD is a little bit unpredictable, like the whole CTA in general, so although the stop is very close to my office, it could take from 35 to 50 min to get to ORD. Plus, Terminal 5 is the furthest from the CTA stop, so it’s a separate journey. Plus, the inner airport transit is still under construction, and there are shuttle buses between terminals, which also adds time. With all these calculations in mind, we agreed on the meeting time 3 PM and our usual meeting point. Since we both have vision disabilities, having a default meeting point helps a lot.

That was the first time he had a connection in Dublin, and I was watching the live updates on his flight. BTW, Google always knows what flight I am looking for, so I do not even need to type the number. It showed the arrival time slightly earlier than on the schedule (3-33 PM), and I decided to leave 5 minutes earlier, although we both know that this time does not mean anything. Some airlines report arrival at the point of the aircraft touching the ground, and there can be 10-15 min of cruising afterward.

I was on the CTA when Boris called, and he almost never calls the phone, because it is way more expensive than a video call. I was trying to tell him that I am still on the CTA, but then I’ve realized that he was telling me that he is on Terminal 3. And after he said so, I’ve realized that that’s what arrival information was telling me, but I chose not to believe it :).

After all, it saved us tons of time, because when I arrived, he called me again and said that he was already by the CTA station. But I was curious to find out what happened. Turned out that as he put it, “The US is expanding its borders.” If you ever traveled by air from Canada to the US, you know that the US border control is taking place in the airport in Ottawa or where else your flight starts. So when you are boarding, you are already on the US territory. The same thing happened in Dublin, and he didn’t realize that it was an actual border control, except he was puzzled by the additional security checkpoint. He only looked into his passport when it was announced that the arrival will be in Terminal 3 :). It ended up being very convenient, and now we know why the connection was three hours long!

CSA And Local Produce

I first started to buy stuff from the Middlebury Farms, because it was just good stuff, which other farmers didn’t have, and it was reasonably priced. And then they told their customers that they are going to do the CSA, and I jumped in because I like them and wanted to support!

Since that first time, there were good years and bad years, but that’s the risk you take! The best part of all this deal of CSA never failed me – the mystery of “what’s in the box” next week?

I try to cook everything within a week, and when I can’t eat it all, even with sharing with mom, I freeze the cooked food in small containers. It’s way better than freezing raw vegetables. The cooked meal, when defrosted, tastes not worse than freshly prepared.

I’ve already showed one of my deliveries several weeks ago, when I published my Cold Beets Soup recipe. Here is one more, from this week:

And this one is from the previous week:

Until mid-November, I do not think I will need to buy any greens, or tomatoes, or cucumbers. I will cooking and freezing lots of vegetable sides and making vegetable soups. And I will be sure to demonstrate if there will be something new and exciting this year!