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Interview Wed Sep 16 2009

Windy City Blogger Wednesday: Marathon Val

I hope that you have enjoyed the weekly interviews of Chicagoland food bloggers.

Next up, Valerie of Marathon Val, who has recently decided to eat Vegan.

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What brought you to Chicago?
I grew up in Valparaiso, IN, which is just across the border from Chicago. I have fond memories of taking Saturday trips into the city to celebrate special occasions and to go holiday shopping. When I met my husband, who is from the Chicago area, it was a given that I would move here to be closer to him since I was already in love with Chicago!

What do you do when you aren't blogging?

I work as a school social worker in two K-8 schools on Chicago's south side. I feel lucky to have a job that lets me work with great kids and great people!

After work, you can find me at the gym at spinning class, or out on a training run, getting ready for the 2009 Chicago Marathon, which will be my third.

Since I was off over the summer, I spent my days baking and cooking yummy vegan food! I transitioned from being a pescaterian to a vegan this summer after considering the ethical, environmental, and health implications and decided that the vegan lifestyle really resonated with me. While I never try to push my veganism on others, I DO enjoy showing skeptics how great vegan food can be! I have a secret dream of one day opening my own vegan restaurant/bakery in Chicago.

Favorite restaurant in Chicago?
I've only been living in downtown Chicago for a year now - and that time has been split into two different neighborhoods - so I'm still exploring and learning more about all of the great restaurants that Chicago has to offer!

I love a great vegetarian/vegan restaurant (such as Green Zebra or The Chicago Diner), and my favorite restaurant in my neighborhood of the South Loop would be Giocco, which has great Italian. Give me an Italian or Mexican restaurant and I'll be happy!

Favorite restaurant in Chicago, if you aren't paying?
Probably one of the above! Although I did recently have the amazing opportunity to dine at Tru, which was outstanding and truly (TRU-ly?) a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I also really enjoy New Rebozo in Oak Park - the chef/owner is one of the most charming people you will ever meet - and Gaetano's in Forest Park.

Favorite recipe and/or post?

I interviewed John "The Penguin" Bingham (a famous marathon runner) which was very exciting.

In terms of recipes, I am still in the process of experimenting and creating vegan recipes, since until very recently I ate dairy and egg products. However, two of my favorites are Stacked Eggplants with Creamy Tomato sauce and my recent attempt at vegan "Cheese" and Veggie Lasagna turned out pretty great too!

Lasagna has always been my favorite recipe, because of it's comfort food factor, its simplicity, and the fact that I have so many memories of eating and preparing it - it's my dad's best dish, and was the first meal that I ever prepared for my now-husband. So, I was thrilled to find out that it can be easily recreated in vegan form! I was skeptical too, but I promise it tastes truly authentic!

How do take your coffee?
Currently, I've been making a couple of fresh pots over the weekend, keeping it in the fridge, and enjoying a cup of iced coffee with just a splash of unsweetened almond milk.

Cubs or Sox?
The Cubs.... only because that's my husband's team of choice!

What is the one thing/place/restaurant that you recommend to your out of town guests?
Anyone visiting Chicago for the first time should definitely talk a stroll along our beautiful lakefront, and should try Chicago's deep-dish pizza!

What are the 1 or 2 things that you can't live without in your kitchen?
I have pretty much every kitchen appliance out there, but my two favorites I actually didn't own until this summer. My in-laws bought me a Breville Fountain Plus juicer which I'm obsessed with and use every day without fail, and I also love my food processor, which I also use at least once a day - it's great for making soups, pestos, desserts, you name it!

Previous Weeks:
Week 1: Food Loves Writing
Week 2: Happy Jack Eats

Do you have a favorite Chicagoland based food blogger? Email with [food blog interview] in the subject line with the name and URL of the blog and I will check it out!

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Linda / September 19, 2009 12:17 AM

It's so great to see Valerie's story here! I've been reading her blog since inception and I'm far from being a vegetarian, let alone vegan. But I love keeping up with her cooking because she's so creative with her food and presentation!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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