Page & Plate Plugs: Next of Kin edition

Welcome to a new thing! This new thing (like, this post, as in you’re reading it right now) is called Page & Plate Plugs, and it’s kind of obvious that it’s going to be all about places around town at which I enjoy eating, drinking, and obnoxiously photographing everything. As in, I plug them. Get it? Okay cool, here we go.

Last week, I had an AMAZING time shooting the new brunch menu at Next of Kin Evanston. I also had an amazing time EATING the new brunch menu at Next of Kin Evanston. And drinking, of course. Basically, all-around amazingness.

First off, let’s talk about the space: Next of Kin moved into a light-filled, unusually-shaped space in Evanston across from where I once worked (RIP, me) that most recently held Lyfe Kitchen, winner of the least popular choice for lunch for the entire office in my once workplace (again, RIP, me). They reimagined the entire space and started from scratch to create an atmosphere that perfectly matches the vibe of the place: an elevated eating experience that oozes cool.

Second, let’s talk food. And drink. I’m not usually a mocktail (aka juice) person, but the charcoal lemonade they had kind of blew my mind. As did the waffles (that syrup drip, though). And the avocado toast. And the … oh, man. Everything. Check out the gallery below for what you’re really after: the gorgeous pics. Then, head over to their site to nab a table. Or, you know, just run up to Evanston and grab a seat at their gorgeous bar and let the fabulous bartenders (also featured here as hand models) take care of you. Cheers!

Thanks to Next of Kin Evanston for having me in! Next of Kin Evanston did not pay for this review, but did give Page & Plate free meals and drink in exchange for the chance to photograph their product. All views expressed here are those of Page & Plate, LLC.

Corn muffins, Hope Never Dies, and a whole lotta corn

The amount of corn that’s about to happen in this post is very high, both in literal corn amounts and a good, old fashioned corny read. And also some things that I am super excited about and am highly likely to make corny puns as a result.

Corn Muffins

But first! The muffins. The OG corn babies that provide our literal corn. The beautiful, golden nuggets of goodness. I mean, just look at how beautiful they look in the late-in-the-day sunlight on a beautiful, hand-made plate. They are delicious and good, and if you can get your hands on fresh corn, you should use it to make these gorgeous muffins before it’s too late! This is a scare tactic.

As long as you’re in the business of corn (and being depressed about current events), you should probably read Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer. A fictionalized and adorable alternate universe Joe Biden who probably treated Anita Hill better than his IRL equivalent narrates a murder mystery / drug bust that he heroically solves alongside (who else?) Barack Obama. It’s exactly the corny, dad joke-filled, over-dramatic book you expect, and it’s a delight.

Hope Never Dies and Corn Muffins

And now, a virtual drumroll to announce UPCOMING EVENTS, which is a huge and very exciting development in Page & Plate posts. I’m so excited to let you know that I have two very exciting events coming up in the Chicagoland area, and that you, yes, you! can register today for them.

Pie's NOT the Limit: Pumpkin Recipes for Everything from Appetizers to Dessert

This cooking demonstration AND wine tasting will take place at wineHouse Chicago in Lakeview. I’ll be making a bunch of pumpkin recipes that are not pie because I don’t like pie and that’s that. Join us to discover the many ways to use pumpkin and the wines that compliment those recipes.

Watercolor Cookie Workshop with CJB Creations

My dear friend CJB is an artist, creative, and all around talented human, and I’m so pumped to be offering a watercolor cookie workshop in which you’ll learn to paint on cookies! Mind. Blown. This class will take place at Shop 1021 in Logan Square. Best of all? While you’re learning to paint, you can enjoy small bites courtesy of moi.

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, Six Four, and Other Important Life Updates

As I think we all know, I have some obsessive tendencies when it comes to cooking. When I get into cooking or eating something, I get REALLY into it, and I have been known, occasionally, every so often, to go a tiny bit overboard. Most recently, I double whammied and obsessed over chocolate chip cookies and true crime.

My (most recent) deep dive into true crime got started with a crash course on the podcast My Favorite Murder. If you're not familiar and even the tiniest bit into true crime, run, don't walk. I know I'm a little late to the game here, but trust me, this is definitely a case of the better late than never. But alas, this blog isn't about podcasts, it's about books, and so, with MFM playing in my ears, I turned to my bookshelves for a true crime novel I had yet to read. 

I found it in Six Four, which won the Best Japanese Crime Fiction of the Year in 2003. While I thought it leaned a little more towards a political drama than crime fiction, it satisfied my craving for a gritty police novel with mystery, intrigue, and, yes, crime. I'm betting it'll someday become an HBO mini-series starring lots of cigarettes. You heard it here first. 

Six Four and Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Simultaneously, I was also on the quest for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. And, with the help of my co-workers, who patiently taste-tested and gave feedback during my last week at work, I found it. This is a recipe worth memorizing, if I do say so myself. 

If you read that last paragraph carefully, you'll notice that I managed to sneak in a life update: I am officially two weeks into a brand new position about which I'm really excited. As of late July, I'm the Director of Admissions and Community Outreach at the GCE Lab School in Lincoln Park, Chicago. It's been a wild transition, which I'll use as a great excuse for not having posted in a while, and I'm just really, really pumped to be a part of this great new community of learners. If you're in Chicago, or know someone who is, get in touch and let me talk your ear off about this amazing school. 

I think that's it for now. More obsessions and updates to come. PEACE, LOVE, COOKIES.

Close Call Birthday Cake

For my birthday this year, I was determined to make my own cake. I mean, come on. I'm in the throes of establishing my very own little food blog. What kind of fledgling food blogger would I be if I didn't make my own cake?*

While there was a teensy tiny little meltdown mid-cake assembly that may or may not have been about my turning 24 and still being tragically unable to make and frost a cake successfully, it all turned out okay. The cake was delicious. I ate it every night for a week after. Life went on. @ Colin, you were right.

All of that aside, here is the video that I made of the process (and tears) using the brand new C-stand camera holder thingy! I'm very excited about unveiling yet another platform from which I can shout into the void about food and books, and I am fully appreciative of the fact that the quality of this video reflects that of a beginner. I will get better, I hope. Special shout out to Mackenzie for coming over for dinner and then letting me text her late at night to ask questions about Premiere. Enjoy!

*a sane one

The Big News

WE HAVE MOVED. Which is exactly what I'm going to blame for my lack of reading and cooking real food instead of chocolate comfort lately. Let's go with it, ok?

Here are some things I have learned about us:

  1. We have been totally spoiled by our built-in bookshelves at our last few places.
  2. This has allowed us plausible deniability regarding the sheer weight of how many books we own.
  3. I am a hoarder of kitchen gadgets and spices.
  4. None of this matters any more because we have so much space.
 LOOK AT THE SPACE. Also look at how many cookbooks I have.

LOOK AT THE SPACE. Also look at how many cookbooks I have.

Welcome to Chicago Kitchen 3.0 life, where there's a washer / dryer, a shelf for cookbooks, outlets on every wall (yes, we've already blown the fuse once, shh), and best of all, more counter space than I know what to do with -- although who am I kidding, I'm going to roll out babka and cinnamon rolls, mix my own spices, and candy more orange peels than you can imagine. 

What would you make with this much space? Where's the best place to put pots and pans? Will I ever get the limoncello that Daily knocked off the counter out of my tile? Stay tuned, and hit me up as another year of cooking, reading, and blabberblogging unveils, post by post.

 Just look at them all.

Just look at them all.