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It was a few weeks ago that I was leisurely paging through the latest edition of Rachael Ray Magazine looking for some new recipes. Tucked near the back of the magazine was an article on the best hot dog in America. The results were determined via a March Madness style bracket with restaurants from all over the country up for the running. A few were in Chicago. And, much to my surprise, when I turned the page, a Chicago restaurant won.

It was then that I realized I wasn’t a true Chicagoan, despite what I may present to others. I had never had a Chicago style hot dog. I knew nothing about the deliciousness of sport peppers, the necessity of celery salt, or the fresh puffiness of a poppy-seed bun. I was a sham. A disgrace to Chicago. And thus, I decided to embark on a journey to find my own best Chicago style dog.

The reasons I have never had a Chicago style dog are many. First, I did not start eating tomatoes until about a year ago. I was previously not a big fan, preferring gasp ketchup for any sort of tomato flavor. Second, what the fuck is relish and why is it so green? Third, and probably more importantly, I have had a severe aversion to hot dogs probably since I reached double digits in age. As a kid, I ate  my fair share of hot dogs doused in ketchup accompanied by cheese fries. But at a certain point, okay probably later than 10, I was disgusted by hot dogs. So I vowed never to eat them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not encased meats I’m against. As a good German gal, I eat beyond my fair share of bratwurst. But perhaps I became an encased meats elitist, deciding that hot dogs are a pedestrian excuse for handheld deliciousness.

The spot Rachael Ray deemed the best was Gene & Jude’s. Apparently they put fries on the dog. That didn’t seem very Chicago to me, nor very appetizing to me. The other Chicago spot that came near to victory was Superdawg. I immediately pictured this spot in my head, drawing back to childhood memories of seeing boy and girl dressed hotdogs atop a little drive-in joint. Boy and girl dressed hotdogs in love. With Valentine’s Day approaching, this seemed the perfect spot to go.

And as it turned out I was beyond lucky to have decided on this spot as it is still a working drive-in. Meaning, I could drive up, park, order through an antiquated machine and then a lady will come out with my order and place the tray on my window. Awesome, to say the least. All that was missing was a crew of bad boys with cigarettes rolled up the sleeve of their Hanes white tees. As a lover of antiques and the olden days, this was definitely the spot for me.

But enough about the setting, what about the dog? I ordered the Superdawg which is a classic Chicago style dog (all beef dog, yellow mustard, bright green relish, celery salt, onions, pickle spear, sport peppers, tomato wedge) tucked into a retro looking box with some of the most delicious crinkle cut fries I have ever eaten. The first bite? I was beyond nervous. What do hot dogs even taste like? Meat? Beef? Steak? I had no recollection but was pleasantly surprised when I tasted a bit of beef accented with peppery, mustardy undertones. And the bun! So fresh it could barely hold the dog and its dressings. The first bite quickly turned into the next couple until I, sadly, realized I was done. Ketchup who? Bratwurst what?

I wanted to push the button and order another. I wanted the waitress to skate out on her nonexistent skates and say “Congratulations!” or “You are soooooo Chicago!” Instead, I flipped the switch on the ordering machine for the waitress to retrieve my tray. As I watched her trudge through Chicago snow covered in a windbreaker and boots, (not a poodle skirt or neck scarf) I thought about baseball. I thought about warm summer days at Wrigley with my dad. I was no longer concerned with being a real Chicagoan.

The waitress, now at my window, asked me how everything was. A standard question. To which I replied, “everything is great.” A not so standard present tense reply. I rolled up my window and drove off into the evening, extremely satisfied with my first Chicago hot dog.  

Things I Live For: See above

Quote of the Day: “And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.” –Mr. Terence Mann, Field of Dreams

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12.22.2010

Awesome Gift Ideas


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It may be too late but I’m throwing these out there just in case you need to do some last minute shopping. And, if you can’t make the X-Mas deadline . . . my birthday is in January! 🙂

For your writer friend/Facebook obsessed friend: This stamp combines two awesome things: Facebook and real live paper!

For your friend who is obsessed with bacon but already has the bacon dental floss, bacon candle, bacon gum, bacon mints, clogged arteries, etc etc, a plush bacon guy.

For your friend with a sense of humor, cold feet, or a penchant to misspeak, Freudian Slippers:

For your Francophile friend (me) who likes breakfast (not me so keep looking), a French Toast stamp:

For your Francophoile friend (me) who has fond memories of drinking vin chaud in Paris a month ago (me me me!), the German version of mulled wine:

For your bad-ass friend who’s not so bad-ass that he doesn’t rely on his daily coffee, a fisticuffs mug:

For the cyclist in your life who, I guarantee you, needs to study up on the rules of the road:

Happy shopping and happy holidays!

Things I Live For: Gift guides

Quote of the Day: “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” –Rogers Hornsby

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I need some answers. Why do people work in the suburbs and live in the city and vice versa? I have done a city to suburb commute for just TWO days and I already want to slit my wrists. You would have to pay me 500 million dollars to commute in this kind of traffic to work everyday. And it better be the best job known to man, like kitten babysitter or full time sleeper. 

I would only work in the suburbs and live in the city if I was DAMN sure there was some sort of commuter train I could take. Because after two days, the drive is already wearing thin.

You may be thinking, well hey, at least you can listen to music or do other fun things like smoke in your car  mid-commute. There are two problems. I no longer smoke (although by the end of this job assignment complete with commute God knows I may have started again…) and NO ONE PLAYS MUSIC. I’m sick of all my CD’s, so I try to listen to the radio. Well, there’s only so much sports radio I can listen to. I can only listen to how awesome the Blackhawks are, how much the Cubs and Sox suck, and how Lebron James is the greatest thing since sliced bread so many times. Find something new to talk about. Like why people choose to commute.

And FM radio? Yeah, I’m thinking, well of course they’re gonna pump out the hits because rush hour is their bread and butter. But no. I have to listen to FM DJ’s talk. I thought they were paid to play music. The last thing I want to hear about is the many places you enjoy having sex. You are a radio DJ, therefore ugly, and I do not need to picture you having sex. Please do your job and play me some goddamn Miley Cyrus.

So what am I going to do to pass the time? My GPS lady only has so much to say. And I think it’s kind of sad that the highlight of my drive is when she tells me to “take the motorway.” (I mean really, “motorway?” That’s fuckin legendary). So if you have a hidden Chicago radio station that plays music or discusses interesting topics such as The Real Housewives of New Jersey, please let me know.

Pet Peeve of the Day: See above

Quote of the Day: “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.” –Bruce Springsteen

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05.05.2010

The Box


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Do you remember the Box music video channel?  It was fucking awesome and I know me and my brother requested our fair share of videos on it.  For those of you youngins or unhip, it was a music video station that “you controlled.”  You could call in (unbeknownst to your parents) and for $1.99 or something request a music video.  And they had EVERY music video known to man.  In fact, it was pretty gangsta.  I definitely recall requesting D.R.S.’s Gangsta Lean(which is on my iPod and should be on yours too…)

This is kind of a shitty video and is apparently from the UK but you still get the gist and memories:

Here’s a video not only showing how awesome the Box was, but how awesome 1993 was.  (It loads a little slow but have patience, it’s worth it!)  Why are there no more music videos in the world??

According to Wikipedia, the Box was bought by those fuckers at MTV in 1999 and became MTV2.  I guess MTV decided they didn’t want anyone showing music videos. 

Pet Peeve of the Day: The demise of music videos

Quote of the Day: “Baseball is dull only to dull minds.” –Red Barber

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04.19.2010

An Ode to Grape G2


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I stayed out too late last night, this morning I’m an awful sight.

I can’t get out of bed, there’s suffering in my head.

I know what I need—to Walgreen’s I must proceed

for the delicious nectar that serves as my protector.

It cures my ailments from the previous nights derailments

and brings me back to life with the grace of a surgical knife.

It is purple, delicious, low calorie—affordable on any salary.

I will always long for Grape G2 when I’ve had one too many brew.

Fruit punch will make me lose my lunch

I hate lemon-lime and orange doesn’t rhyme.

Grape is the only solution — There will be no substitution.

Pet Peeve of the Day: Nutmeg

Quote of the Day: “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock.  You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and give the other man his chance.  That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.” –Earl Weaver

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