Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
• Ask older relatives if they have any good stories about your ancestors. What stands out after all these years? Are there things you want to know more about? Write down the clues.
• Go through old photos. It can be a revelation to see an ancestor as a young man or woman. How have you inherited height, build, eye color, or nose?
• Get the context. What was it like to be a Pullman porter, fire fighter, school teacher or dressmaker? How was it to live through the Chicago Fire, World War II, or the civil rights era? It’s fun to learn more with a trip to the Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St., Chicago), Newberry Library (60 W. Walton St., Chicago), or Fire Museum of Chicago.
• Cook a special meal with food that’s been part of your family. Most ancestors came to Chicago from a different part of the U.S. or a different country. Toast the traditions they brought from home and passed down to you.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
"When Dave told me we had to include a recipe in this book, I was stumped. The theme is cheap eats and the idea is that these are the go-to places for Dave and other beat cops who don’t have the time to sit down and eat and don’t want to blow a wad of cash only to be interrupted in the middle of lunch to go fight crime. So what do you cook for these guys? It has to be portable, delicious, and cheap. Preparation time is important but not critical. Gumbo is out because you don’t pack soup. Deviled eggs are out because how the hell do you carry them? There is only one solution, a food so delicious, so ridiculously divine, snacktacular, and above all totally weird. I’m talking about candied bacon.
I know, it sounds like something you’d get in Chinatown (actually, you’re more likely to get candied squid in
Mr. Garlington’s Famous Bacon Candy
First, get a whole lot of bacon. Cheap, skinny bacon you can read through. This recipe does not require the hand-crafted, independently farmed, organic free-range massaged and cuddled pork you might buy at Whole Foods. Get the generic stuff.
Put the bacon on a rack over a pan in the oven and bake it till it’s just almost crispy. 350 degrees for about ten minutes. Take it out to cool and leave the oven on. Drain the fat off the pan.
While it’s baking, mix up the following:
· 1 tablespoon
· ½ cup brown sugar lightly packed
· 2 tablespoons red wine
· a dash—A FREAKING DASH; NOT A SPOONFUL, JUST A DASH! A DASH! A PINCH! A SMIDGEN! of cayenne pepper.
Now coat the bacon with the sauce and put it in the pan on a wire rack. Use all the sauce! Bake the bacon until the sauce begins to bubble and then remove it, laying it on wax paper until it cools. IT SHOULD BE DRY TO THE TOUCH—NOT STICKY. If it’s sticky, bake it a few more minutes. It took me a while to get this last part right but you have to have confidence here and leave the bacon in the oven slightly longer than your instinct tells you to. When you see it bubbling, you’re going to want to yank it out. DON’T. Count to ten. Wait. Have courage. Then yank it.
Once the bacon is cool, cut the strips into pieces and put them all into a Tupperware. Beware, these things are even more addicting than deviled eggs."
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Jean Iversen, author of the third edition of BYOB Chicago brings us Day 9 of LCP's 12 Days of Xmas Chicago holiday suggestions.
BYOBs: Part of a Cultural Experience
BYOBs are an affordable, fun option for holiday get-togethers with friends and family (just think of how much you’ll save on that bottle of bubbly). Many of them are located in
A few steps from the Cermak/Chinatown stop on the Red Line is Double Li (228 W. Cermak, 312-842-7818), an excellent Szechuan BYOB (read: spicy). While noshing on an appetizer of steamed dumplings, plot your course through
Pilsen: Enchiladas and Art Walk
Established by the Gutierrez family in 1962, Nuevo
What would a trip to this Scandinavian neighborhood be without a stop at BYOB Ann Sather (5207
Uptown: Asian Eats and Groceries
Most people who come to feast in this neighborhood, also dubbed Little Saigon, flock to Tank Noodle, another BYOB a few doors down. But I think hole-in-the-wall Pho 888 (1137 W. Argyle, 773-907-8838) serves up the best Vietnamese grub. After a hearty meal of spring rolls, pho (a beef broth-based cauldron of soup) and grilled pork sandwiches (served on freshly baked baguettes from nearby Ba Le), pick up some authentic Asian spices and groceries on Argyle—or go north on Broadway a few blocks to the Golden Pacific Market for an even larger selection.
Indo-Pak (Indian-Pakistani) restaurants dominate this stretch of
Monday, December 13, 2010
Day 8 of our holiday blog-a-thon is a tribute to those who have to work on the holidays, especially all manner of public servants. This excerpt from Daniel P. Smith's, On the Job: Behind the Stars of the Chicago Police Department, looks at Beth Russell, balancing her roles as a police officer and a mom.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Christmas Day in Rogers Park, the far North Side neighborhood brimming with diversity and character, placed Beth Russell in a 24th District beat car, awaiting the opportunity to head home for some Christmas dinner herself. “Everything’s quiet before Christmas dinner. It’s only after that the shouting starts,” reminds Russell.
Responding to a call of a man sitting alone on a park bench, Russell arrived at the neighborhood park to see the older man battered by the cold—blue cheeks and slumbering words. “All he kept saying was, ‘I used to live around here,’” says Russell. “But we couldn’t find anyone who knew the man.”
Pulling out his wallet for identification, the man displayed an address in
“There was nobody there for that man, but the police were there for him. We saved him from being a victim. And I didn’t so much mind missing Christmas dinner for that,” she says with a smile.
“You know what that guy kept asking me when we got him home? He kept saying, ‘Am I in trouble? Am I in trouble?’
“I could only look at him and say, ‘No, sir, you’re not in trouble. You’re home.’”
There are two distinct worlds many of
And, believe it or not, discerning which world is the “real” one can sometimes be a difficult task. Beth Russell’s one of the lucky ones; she’ll tell you as much—she noticed the challenge early and made the necessary distinctions.
At midnight, Russell may have found herself searching a home for drugs, with rodents scurrying past her feet and the stench of hard liquor filling the room. Hours later, however, she would arrive at her Northwest Side home and flick on a light switch to see her daughters snuggled in beds of freshly washed sheets. Their heads smelling of fruity shampoo, the girls wore matching pajama tops and bottoms. All Beth Russell could do was shake her head and wonder.
“Which world is the real one?” she’d ask. “Which one is real?”
Today, a cool October morning in 2005 that encourages full breaths of the city’s crisp air, Beth Russell sports a pink cardigan, polka-dotted socks, and a beaming smile. Her North Side condo is bright and inviting.
She offers the typical greetings and rushes toward the unit’s rear, saying, “This is what sold me.” She steps onto her fifth floor balcony and embraces a green landscape and open skies, an exception from the concrete that graces much of
The real world, Beth Russell was told among her first months on the job, is the one she lives in. That simple. And the real world she lives in calls her mom or grandma, not officer.
Throughout her 23 years at the Chicago Police Department, Russell has been committed to seeing that the distinct worlds she inhabits remain separate places. She’s a cop and she’s a mother, and although the two may touch, she has resisted the collision—the interminable depletion of humanity that has made too many iron-hearted at times and jaded at others.
That’s why Russell always washed her hands when she arrived home from work. A routine act with an unquestionable symbolism, Russell’s action survives as one of the simple things we do in life to convince ourselves that such a habitual deed can erase the day’s dirty work—like gurgling mouthwash to forget the presence of alcohol. Still, the hand washing served a necessary step for Russell, a chance to remove the worries of one world to concentrate on the demands of another.
“I didn’t want what had touched the street to touch my children,” she admits.
Beth Russell encountered the dual role faced by so many
“One thing I’ve found is that the same hands that will arrest someone are the same ones that cook and change diapers,” says Russell.
“When you’re a police family,” she continues, “you know that officer can get hurt, but you can’t let it consume your family life. By the same token, your family life cannot be part of your police life. It’s your job. Your family can’t play into it when you’re working.”
At home, Russell faced the reality and struggle of a household with two
“It’s okay when dad was a cop, but not mom,” says Russell. “Their father had been a cop since they could remember, but it was more difficult to accept me as a cop because I was the center of their world. That transition from civilian mom to officer mom was a difficult one. I thought the girls were old enough to handle it, but I don’t know if they ever liked it. “I always felt that structure and schedule was hard on them. There was a time I was stuck on 4–midnight’s early on, and I remember calling and the girls would be crying for me to come home.”
To ease the adjustment, Russell would not discuss police work at home—“Well, only the silly stuff,” she concedes. “It helped them see some of the job.”—and demanded her husband do the same.
“Home was always for the little, curly haired girls. They got to talk, not us,” she says. Still, she cannot help but think her job influenced her own children’s lives.
“It’s a job that affects childhood. They were under the microscope more. I became strict and that was entirely because I saw what was out there. I was more aware,” Russell says. “Now, that the girls have grown up, they say I was hard on them, but they see it was for a reason. They have no desire to be the police whatsoever though. They do their own work from the heart.”
At 54 years old, Russell’s face is vibrant and young, with a smile that shines with grace and warmth. She’s reflective in her thoughts and has achieved the balance of motherhood and police work—placing each in its proper perspective, assigning each its necessary time and space.
Though her Chicago Police career began more out of inquiry than desire, Russell has nonetheless arrived at a job she loves, one that has made her a better person in so many ways.
“When I got into the academy, I told myself I’d give it a month and that if I didn’t like it, I’d quit. But this job’s been good to me,” she says. “In the old days if I had seen a fight, I would’ve run away. Now, I run into it because it’s instinct. I’m not afraid to take the initiative now; I have confidence in myself, especially in situations in which I would’ve been mush before.”
After taking the test in July of 1981, Russell entered the academy the following summer and was assigned in December to the city’s 20th District, which governs
“It was the happiest time of my career being in a beat car,” she says of her first 16 years on the job. “You got that immediate interaction with people.”
In January of 1998, she took the sergeant’s exam and by July earned the promotion, soon after returning to the 20th District. Today, she serves as a sergeant in Area Three’s Detective Division, an area covering much of the city’s North Side.
“I love it,” she says of the work she was at first reluctant to embrace. “This job allows us to get into some people’s lives and, hopefully, make a difference.
“I always wanted to be a nurse, and in this job I get to put some Band-Aids on, heal some wounds, and give a shot of praise. It’s a good and worthy thing. You’re helping poor souls, sometimes even from themselves.”
Russell arrived at that realization early in her career—the idea that good could be done while she monitored the streets. Upon leaving the scene of a finished bar fight, Russell’s partner asked her why she had a frown on her face.
“I told him I should be home with my kids, not involved in this chaos. But he looked at me and said, ‘Think of all the people who’ve never dealt with the police. You can bring a different angle to it. There’s a lot of good you can do out here.’”
And so Russell carried that attitude with her. She began to discover that the same traits she developed as a mother—patience, understanding, and compassion among them—could also make her a good cop. (She even admits to activating her “mom” voice on occasion, the commanding tone that halts nearly all situations.)
When frigid winters descended upon the city, Russell remembers that many of the school crossing guards would call in sick, requiring Russell and other beat cops to fill the role. Working the intersection of Sheridan and Gunnison Avenues, Russell encountered a father taking his two girls to school, each of the youngsters clothed only in short-sleeved t-shirts. The father, who only recently arrived in
“It just broke my heart to see them shivering like that,” she says. “I went home and gathered winter clothes my kids had outgrown along with some from neighbors and went to that crossing the next day with two shopping bags full of clothes.”
Other officers on Russell’s watch saw her actions and soon began bringing their children’s outgrown clothing to the school office.
“It gave me such great satisfaction,” says Russell. “I don’t know if that’s law enforcement work, but our job isn’t all law enforcement. You just try to make a positive experience somewhere.”
Still, Beth Russell could not, in her capacity as an officer, ignore the fact that she was also a mother—the instincts and realities of that world often emerging an asset in many dilemmas. Most notably, that motherly instinct, that sixth sense of pain and want, often aiding her police efforts.
On a Sunday morning in the 20th District, Russell arrived at a domestic dispute, often among the most uncomfortable cases cops encounter. A mother, traveling from her South Side home, trekked up to the city’s North Side with her two young boys to get money from the boys’ father. A dispute ensued and police were summoned. Russell arrived on the scene in a supervisory role to get conflicting stories from both adult parties. She noticed the boys, however, standing on the side, each trembling and tearful. She knew immediately that they had witnessed something.
“I keyed in on those kids,” she says. “I saw the terror in them. I knew right away they saw something that shook them terribly.”
In jittery speech, the boys told Russell that their father tried pushing their mother out the window. The boys, meanwhile, grabbed their mother’s pants to keep her from falling, an act that resulted in her pants falling below her knees and leaving the boys scared and embarrassed. Russell looked up at the ten-story building to see one window perched open without a screen. The father was taken into custody and a squad car drove the boys and their mother back to their South Side home.
“We could show those kids that there was justice, that we could listen to their story and try to make the situation right,” Russell says.
She refuses to talk of child abuse cases she has encountered throughout her nearly two-dozen years on the job. The most detail she offers of any instance regards one she encountered while a sergeant in the 20th District. She tells nothing of the kids’ condition, only saying that another officer told her at the visit’s conclusion, “Sarge, I thought I was gonna have to hold you back.”
As a mother, she can only imagine the horror the children experience, the tainted view of humanity they come to possess. All she can do, she says, is attempt to make the situation right at that moment, to provide some sense of order, calm, and comfort. Not at all that different from motherhood, the times she encountered with her own girls, journeys to find the proper footing in stressful circumstances.
At a Mother’s Day mass for police officers, Russell once spoke to attendees and said she’d had the honor of being a Chicago Police officer for over two decades, but the privilege of being called mother for much longer. She reminded everyone that while the pride of being a Chicago Police officer recedes with retirement, the pride of being a mother, a parent, could never be erased. She spoke of mothers and fathers only wanting what is right and good for their children, particularly in light of the negativity an officer sees.
“Being a mom was the tougher job,” she says today. Russell directs her eyes ahead, releases a breath, and confides, “I don’t think being a police officer made me a better mother. That’s the truth. It took me away from my kids.
“If I had a job in the private sector, I don’t think it would’ve affected my children so much. Our work affects our children. We’re a little harder on them. We ask more questions and it’s because we’re aware of the reality. But being a police officer did help me prepare the girls for the realities of the world. I think I taught the girls to be more aware, how to carry themselves, and they learned how not to be victims. Maybe that’s a scary thing, but it’s a very real thing. I certainly learned to cover more bases.”
Russell later tells of the pre-work ritual she shared with her girls. Again, one of those habitual things we do to convince ourselves that distinct worlds can inherit separate spaces. “Every day when I left for work,” she says, “the girls always knocked on my back to make sure I had my vest on. It was always that—a kiss and a knock on the back and I was out the door.”
Out the door and away from her real world. Hours later, she would return home.
Her shoes at the door.
Her hands over the sink.
Answering to mom.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
In light of this week’s weather forecast, a brief seasonal reminder excerpted from Jason Rothstein’s Carless in
When I first went carless, nearly everyone said the same thing: “just wait until winter.” And had I not prepared myself well, their predictions that I would buckle under the pressure of
If you don’t know about layering and having an adequate winter coat, you probably don’t belong in
But even I sometimes marvel at some of my fellow Chicagoans failing to appreciate the importance of these three items: good winter boots, good winter gloves, and adequate ear protection. (I know . . . you probably feel duped that you bought a book only to have some stranger tell you that your mother was right.) I will not insult your intelligence by claiming that you will enjoy walking in -10° wind chill weather with the right clothing, but I will stand by the fact that it is tolerable.
These accessories need not be expensive, and sadly, they may not be all that good looking. But feeling your toes as others shiver and wonder why you look so cheerful makes up for that.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Moving on from yesterday's holiday tease...holiday teas. Susan Blumberg-Kason, author of All the Tea in Chicago, now in a revised second edition, is our guest blogger for the 6th Day of Xmas season suggestions:
The cold and snow have arrived and it’s still not technically winter. No fear. To keep warm, try one of these festive locales for British afternoon tea. Enjoy scones, finger sandwiches, pastries, and a choice of a dozen black, green, and herbal teas. The holiday season is a popular time for afternoon tea, so be sure to call in advance to make reservations. Here are my top picks:
The Peninsula (108 East Superior, Chicago, 312-337-2888)
The Four Seasons (120 East Delaware, Chicago, 312-280-8800)
The Drake (140 East Walton, Chicago, 312-787-2200)
If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, these Julius Meinl cafes offer a wide range of teas along with delicious pastries:
3601 North Southport (Chicago, 773-868-1857)
4363 North Lincoln (Chicago, 773-868-1876)
1414 West Irving Park (Chicago, 773-883-1864)
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
While it’s now Macy’s and no longer our treasured Marshall Field’s, the holiday traditions associated with the department store will continue to live on in many films. Judge Reinhold (inhabited with the personality of his pre-teen son, Fred Savage) worked here in Vice Versa (1988). Curly Sue (1991) and Straight Talk also shot scenes here. Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) staged a misfired fantasy sequence with the Field’s Christmas windows, having Diane Keaton imagining herself a star figure skater while gazing at the holiday display.
The picturesque ice rink of
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Monday, December 06, 2010
We lead off our "12 Days of Christmas" holiday-themed posts with author David Anthony Witter's wonderful suggestions for not just shopping local this season, but shopping at some of Chicago's oldest and most beloved establishments.
While most Americans are spending this Christmas season scurrying from mall to mall trying to buy the latest flat screen TV, palmtop computer, video game, or other newly processed silicon-based innovation, we thought some shoppers might want to go back to a simpler time. You can travel to the era of George Bailey or even Ebenezer Scrooge, without a time machine, right here in
C.D. Peacock Jewelers (1837): 524 N.
Iwan Reis and Co. (1857): 19 S. Wabash. What could be more Dickensonian than smoking a fine pipe around a raging fire at Christmas time? Buying the pipe and tobacco from a store that has been open since the days of A Christmas Carol! Now on its sixth generation, the oldest family business in
Merz Apothecary (1875): 4716
Central Camera (1899): 30 S. Wabash. You can have your cake--the newest digital cameras, video recorders, and other photo devices--and eat it too at a business that doubles as a both a modern camera store and a living museum to the art of film. Founded at the time not long after the days of photographers disappearing behind a giant box, the knowledgeable staff here not only knows digital, but also caries parts, film, and actually repairs cameras from what is fast becoming the lost art of film photography.
The Jazz Record Mart (1959):
And, for special h
The House of Glunz (
Roeser’s Bakery (
Margies Candies (1921): 1960 N. Western. Need hand-dipped, home-made truffles, terrapins, toffees, and other candies for filling Christmas stockings? No? Then come in on a cozy winter night and have a sundae, banana split, soda, or malt in a shop that looks like a set from a Shirley Temple movie. Maybe you can even sit at the same both of table where famous customers ranging from Al Capone to The Beatles have enjoyed Margie’s classic