I'm going to be busy for the next few days, through the weekend, so I don't have much time to cook or write. I've been holding on to this post for a while now, so this is a good time to bring it out.
And now I'm going to surprise you. The only thing that I made in the picture up there is the plate on which those open-faced chicken sandwiches sit.
When I first moved to Chicago, I brought very little with me. I did not want to go through the hassle of hiring a rental truck, or paying commercial movers to haul my stuff from Texas to Illinois, so I was determined to only bring what I could fit into my Nissan Sentra hatchback. So most of my kitchenware had to go. The moving sale I held also gave me a tidy little sum of money to help me settle in once I got here.
The plan was not without its drawbacks, however. Like the night I arrived in Chicago, lugged my stuff upstairs and into the apartment, and almost cried because I had nothing on which to sit, and no bed on which to sleep. What was I thinking?
A quick trip to Venture (think K-Mart, only cheaper quality - I couldn't believe there wasn't a Target to be found anywhere in the Chicago area at the time) solved most of my immediate problems. But I did not recognize the gravity of my kitchen situation until I had bought a few pounds worth of incredibly cheap asparagus that was on sale for St. Patrick's Day, brought it home, and realized that I didn't have a pot or pan in which to cook it.
Another quick trip, this time back to the grocery store to buy my first Chicago kitchen product - a Pyrex 3-quart baking dish, and I had my pitiful little start at building back my kitchen. The next item I bought was, of all things, the Great Wok of China. Again, what was I thinking? I blame it on the fact that I didn't know anyone and had no cable for a while and watched a lot of infomercials.
Actually, it was a great wok. It just wasn't very practical for my needs. It rusted out from disuse, though, and now I have a cheap one I picked up at Ikea that suits my needs, but sometimes I miss that hand-hammered carbon steel baby.
So. I didn't have much in the way of kitchen equipment, and it's like I kind of spazzed out and forgot how to cook. I ate frequently at two neighborhood restaurants, both of which are now long gone, and bought prepared foods from the deli, mostly at Treasure Island. That's pretty much how I ate my first couple of years here.
One of my favorite meals to buy was their chicken salad, which I would slather onto slices of Boudin's sourdough long loaves and top with thick slices of red onion. That and the salad bar pretty much kept me going back then.
I hardly ever indulge in it now that I once again have a well-stocked kitchen, but every now and then I get the urge and I will stop by the deli and pick up some chicken salad, a nice crusty loaf of sourdough, and a nice red onion. It works for dinner or lunch, or sometimes both.