Kelly the Culinarian: 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sneak Peek: First Look for Charity 2018

Ah, my favorite time of the year is almost here again! For the past three years, the Chicago Auto Show's First Look for Charity has been the best event I attend and the greatest reason to buy a nice dress (See 2015, 2016 and 2017).

Every year, #FLFC18 raises money for local charities at a black-tie preview of the auto show. We get dressed up, wine and dine, drool over fancy cars and raise money for charity. In fact, last year was a record-setting year, and this year is on track to do the same. Here's a primer if you're new here:

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a preview afternoon for the show which included a ton of tasty bites from local restaurants and an overview of how this event makes a difference. It's the largest single-day fundraiser in Chicago, and several of the charities rely upon it to provide services to the community year round. While the price of the tickets is steep ($275), almost all of the ticket price is tax-deductible ($233) and you can specify at the time of purchase which charities your ticket will benefit.

In my opinion, the value is so much more than that. I love the excuse to get dressed up, and it's amazing how many new and interesting food vendors show up every year. Not to mention being able to get up close and personal with a flock of cars I can't afford, such as this $168,000 beauty I oggled at the preview luncheon:

So onto the food. My favorite item is this barbecue-topped macaroni and cheese (very diet friendly).

But if that doesn't suit your fancy, there are plenty of other options.

Every year, the desserts are amazing. Andy's Frozen Yogurt always has this insane make your own sundae bar and the night does not end until I've hit that up. But there's always specialty drinks, chocolatey bites and things like mini key lime pie and bite-sized banana pudding, too.

You should know, I've already bought my dress, which my mother pointed out looked so comfortable that surely I could eat a lot at the show.

So look forward to that.

In the meantime, if you're looking for a unique Valentine's Day gift or a date night you'll remember, plan to join me on Feb. 9 for the First Look for Charity. It's a delicious night for a great cause.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Three Things Thursday

1. Today I'm headed out to the Chicago Auto Show's First Look for Charity food preview. To help get people in the door at the largest one-day fundraiser, #FLFC18 brings together a selection of the many local food and drink vendors who will eventually cater the black-tie event on Feb. 9. This will be my fourth Auto Show with FLFC, I'm pretty psyched to head to the city again this year to eat way too much and rub elbows with the media.

Last year's auto show

2. Napoleon continues to evolve as a family dog. He barely ever barks anymore, and he especially loves the bedtime routine whereby the small ones cuddle and pet him while watching a show. Who would've ever thought he would be such a sweetie.

3. If you follow me on Instagram, you know my cheese board game has been quite strong. I got another shipment from Cabot recently and have been sharing my cheese bounty with all those who visit. My personal favorite is the horseradish cheddar, although the everything bagel cheese seems to go over well, too.

Monday, January 8, 2018

My Experience With Jury Duty

There is nothing that strikes fear into the hearts of law-abiding citizens quite like a legal summons. But jury duty is a whole other level of annoyance. I was initially selected as a Cook County alternate juror a few months ago. What that means is the day before you're scheduled to appear, you call a number and they tell you if you're needed.

However, I was scheduled to travel right around that time, so I asked for a reprieve and was granted it easily through an automated phone system. That meant the next time I was summoned in roughly 90 days, I would have to appear instead of call in.

Just appearing was a big pain in the ass. We live in the suburbs and I had to drive to the train station, pay to park, take the train and then walk to the courthouse in the cold. All of that is not reimbursed, and jury duty pays $17 a day. So I was already in the hole on this.

I expected to spend the day hanging out in a jury waiting room reading. Alas, after I checked in and had my ID signed off on, we watched a super corny VHS orientation video starring Lester Holt with a mustache and I was called up around 9:40 a.m. My panel and several others were shown to another floor and led into an empty courtroom to wait. About 30 minutes later, we were all led into another courtroom where the attorneys and their representatives were already seated. We were sworn in by a clerk and once the judge entered the court, she told us the nature of the case and that she thought the civil trial would last five days. It was a personal injury claim involving a scooter and a taxi on a very busy thoroughfare in Chicago.

The judge asked if anyone was older than 75, couldn't understand English or had any conflicts. A number of people were dismissed almost immediately for travel plans or medical reasons. We were also asked if jury duty would cause undue hardship and if we can be fair and impartial. The judge asked if we knew any of the parties or each other. This was my unwitting first step towards being dismissed: I asked one of the attorneys if he had ever been a divorce attorney, because I swear he looked familiar from my personal legal proceedings. It turns out I did not know him, but the I'm guessing no one really wants to be linked to divorces.

TFW you're dismissed from jury duty
After the judge questioned us for about an hour, each party to the lawsuit had the opportunity to question the jury about matters they thought were pertinent to the case. Questions included had we ever seen aggressive driving in the city, could we be unbiased to a cab driver, did we have any issues with people not born in this country, how did we feel about people who stopped to help at the scene of an accident, etc. 

I asked a lot of questions.

This is ultimately (I believe) why after allllll the questioning and screening, I was not selected as a juror. They probably don't want jurors who ask too many questions or look too deeply into stuff. After all the questions were asked, the judge and attorneys retired to chambers to actually select the jury. I was thanked for my time and sent back up to the jury holding room. By this time, it was 1:40 p.m. and we had not been given a lunch break. So they gave us our meager checks and told us to go home.

Evidently, if it were earlier in the day, we would have had to wait for the rest of the afternoon in the event that they needed more jurors.

So I took the train back home and thanked my lucky stars I would not be doing that whole routine for another week. I signed the check over to my employer so I could receive my normal wage, and was assured I will not be called up for jury duty for another 12 months.

Thank goodness for small favors.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Welcome to 2018!

I spent a large portion of 2017 focusing on my career, hence the abbreviated blog schedule. And, it worked. My life has evolved quite a bit in the past year, so now that I'm back in the mix, here are a few things you can look forward to for continuing to tune in here in spite of my lackluster time management. Here's what's new with me and my crew and what you can expect in the coming weeks:

Travel. My new role with my company includes visiting our offices and partners around the world to collaborate on business goals. So far, I've been to London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. This is in addition to a cruise and visiting my family in Texas, so I'm racking up the miles and learning so. much. about the world of travel.
At a temple in Tokyo
Food. We went to Alinea for my birthday and continue to find all kinds of gems. Don't worry, I'll give you all the deets.
The famous edible balloon
Tips & hacks. After all this travel, by myself and with our family, I've figured out a few hacks to make my life a little easier.

Electric car stuff. That's right, I finally pulled the trigger and joined the revolution. I am a proud member of the electric car subculture. More on this lil fella and how he came to be parked in my garage later on.

Fun fitness. After last year's chaos, I decided against signing up for another Ironman this year. Back to back years was too much for me, and I wanted to continue to work on other parts of my life for a while. I'm still doing perennial favorite Circular Logic Marathon in April, but the rest of the year will be dedicated to trying out a few fitness fads to see what actually works and what is overrated.

I have a list a mile long of content I've been contemplating, and now I just need to get to it. What would you like to see from me in 2018?