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Windy City Blogger Wed Mar 17 2010

Windy City Blogger Wednesday: Vintage Cookbooks

Happy St. Pats! I hope y'all are wearing your green today. This week I would like to introduce Amy of Vintage Cookbooks.

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What brought you to Chicago?
I was born in Elmhurst and have never strayed too far for long periods of time. I even worked in the (then) Sears Tower for my first job out of college, at a law firm! It seemed very glamorous. I went to college at the University of Illinois -CU and got my MLIS at Dominican University (then Rosary College) in River Forest. I do travel a lot, though mostly within in the country. I love going to New Orleans, DC, Minneapolis, Memphis, San Antonio.

What do you do when you aren't blogging?
I am a young adult librarian (part time), where I enjoy the constant advice of teen groups. I'm also an author of reference books (surprisingly none have hit the NYT) and some mystery short stories (If you can find them you are a good detective). I work part time for a literary agent. I spend a great deal of time playing Wii with my 7 year old and Thomas Trains with my 2 year old. We also bake quite a bit. I've had the pleasure of talking about teen literature and mysteries all over the country and am active in the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Locally, I enjoy giving presentations (and serving treats)treats from holiday show.jpgbased on my 350+ vintage cookbook collection. Recently I've been telling folks why I'm Crazy About Cakes, and have upcoming presentations on Vintage Southern Treats to go with the book The Help, a workshop combining scrapbooking and eating called Preserving Your Family Memories, Pie Parties in the summer, and Vintage Holiday treats to match different celebrations. It's a blast and I can't get enough of folks talking and writing to me with their memories and family foods. It then gives me an excuse to get more old cookbooks. The weirder - er, more distinctive, the better. My schedule for the next couple months is up at www.amyalessio.com. I've even been asked to judge a few cooking contests, which is fun but really hard! I like everything, mostly - except prunes, which are on just about every page of cookbooks from 1950's and 60's...

Favorite restaurant in Chicago?
Keeping in mind that my mind is often buried in 1950's food, it will be no surprise that I love Ed Debevic's, and have since I was a teen. When I worked in the Tower I loved Mrs. Levy's Delicatessen, may it Rest In Peace. Those shakes were the best. I also dearly miss the Berghoff, for memories of going there with my Mother and husband when we were dating. I feel the same nostalgia when I go to the Walnut Room like most of the Chicagoland area natives. My Grandmother Curtin used to take me to Peterson's in Oak Park, and my family celebrated my MLIS there before the restaurant closed.

These days we are often in the museums with our boys, and I think the cuisine in Galileo's Café at the Planetarium is among the best in the city. Fabulous unusual healthy choices allow you to justify the amazing desserts, and the view is phenomenal.

Favorite restaurant in Chicago, if you aren't paying?
I like Ben Pao though I know it is not terribly expensive - it counts as a fancy night out for a couple with young children who can get a sitter! I also enjoy afternoon tea at the Intercontinental. I am also glad Trader Vic's is back. I can't wait to try Stephanie Izard's new restaurant, too!

Favorite recipe and/or post
I enjoy both the weird vintage recipe posts plus the delicious cakes and desserts. One good one to mention at this time of year is a Jello Lime Ribbon Delight Cake. I made it with my son last year, and will do so again this year. I know Lime Jello and pineapple sounds weird as a cake filling - but it was moist and delicious. Not to mention green.

How do take your coffee?
I am a tea lover. That said - bring on the fruit flavors, chai lattes, the bubble tea, the tea flavored ice cream.

Cubs or Sox?
Both, if that is possible. I grew up in a Cubs home, but I really like attending ball games - Cubs, Sox, Flyers, Cougars. I'm more into the outing than the teams, though I had a huge scrapbook on a Cubs player as a teen.

What is the one thing/place/restaurant that you recommend to your out of town guests?
Exchequer Pub is always at the top of my list when the American Library Association comes to town every few years. In fact, I took my teen group there after they spoke at the event last summer. Good food from basic to unusual, friendly pub atmosphere but G-rated enough for my teens, and the red velvet cake is totally memorable. I used to frequent the EP when I worked downtown.

One (or two) things that you can't live without in your kitchen
I love my Kitchenaid mixer and its attachments. I also love my muffin pan collection - my son and I make things in these often, and include shamrocks, train cars, race cars, ghosts, stars and more.

 
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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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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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