On top of starting school again (AHHHHH!!! What was I thinking?!?!) my dad came for a visit from Friday morning until early this morning to help with some work on the house. He cut, painted, and installed crown moulding in my new office/guest room, put up some brackets for shelves, and we spent an afternoon trimming the overgrown bushes.
It wasn't all work and no play, though. We also ventured into the city on the heels of Anthony Bourdain's Chicago visit - attempting 3 of the stops featured in the show:
Hot Doug's, which we took one look at and groaned. We attempted to hit it early at about 11am, but as you can see the line already went waaaaay down the block. Spend hours in line to pay $8 for a hot dog? No thanks, as we kept driving to...
Burt's Place, which seemed so endearing on No Reservations. Not so much in real life. We hit a brief window of the business actually being open, and were very excited to try it out. Upon entering the dark (and stinky, and empty) dining area a lady came out from the back to "greet" us. Long story short, apparently you need to call ahead to make a pizza, otherwise an hour and a half isn't a big enough time frame for them to make you a pizza and you consume it. I turned on my heel and didn't look back.
We eventually ended up at Al's Italian Beef in the littlest Litty Italy ever, thoroughly enjoying some unpictured grub! On the drive home, we took a detour for the 3rd, and final attempt at No Reservations recommendations...
Calumet Fisheries!!! Where Hot Doug's and Burt's Place disappointed, Calumet Fisheries made up for it and then some! It's a tiny little building where you parallel park outside and can eat in your car, or take it to go. My dad treated us to a smoked salmon filet and it was divine. Even Mr. Johnny Fishhater himself enjoyed it! We ate it alone, on crackers, and on crackers with cream cheese. Buttery, creamy, rich, and a nice smoke in the background - it was a thing of beauty!
We also went to Navy Pier to ride the ferris wheel, see the beautiful stained glass museum, and chomp down some America's Dogs. When the GPS wasn't acting up, we attempted some local sightseeing, too.
Last but not least, we made 55 pounds of assorted sausages: sweet Italian links, hot Italian links, Cajun links, and breakfast mix. I told you a bit about his sausage making history here, but now you'll get to see it with your own eyes!
We set up shop with a big, plastic covered work station, the antique press, a sharp knife, and plenty of freezer bags.
My dad brought pre-measured bags from home of the secret blends that we added to freshly ground pork, ordered here from a local meat store.
First, he knocked out the breakfast sausage since that just requires mixing the spices with the meat and then portioning out, wrapped in plastic wrap.
Next, we worked on the link sausages. The blend we're working with at the time goes into the press, the plastic lid on top to help mush it down, and then the top swings into place, locks and you can start cranking the handle.
Once you get a long enough piece, you braid the links.
Then, highly acclaimed and expert helpers (cough, cough) bag up the sausage and label it accordingly.
Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat..... until your fridge (then freezer) looks like this! Then, distrubute to your family, friends, co-workers, and eventually potluck food bloggers, until a respectable amount is left in your freezer.