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Daily Challenge: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don’t have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member

I want to introduce you to the woman who helped me survive a Chicago winter.

No, she wasn’t a therapist or a drug dealer or even someone who sold me a winter coat (I managed to get by just fine with many a layer of v-necked sweaters from Salvation Army). We’ve never actually even met. The only interaction I’ve had with her is reading her blog and constantly longing to own four things she manages to display in each of her posts:

  1. Fancy camera equipment
  2. Fancy cookware
  3. Fancy income from her
  4. Fancy job

Jessica, of How Sweet It Is, has crow-barred my eyes open to the world of affordable gourmet cooking. I thought learning how to cook a hangover-remedy-omelette and stew-like pasta sauce in college made me a professional in the kitchen, but lo-and-behold, it appears that most adults don’t eat 4-5 eggs/day and a plate full of carbs. Some very close friends and I get together at least once per week to attempt most of her recipes and are blown away each time.

Usually the first bite is followed by a string of profanities, never out of disgust or heat, but always out of euphoria. The second to third bites are followed with confirmation that the food is, in fact, really good. The fourth normally results in us patting ourselves on our backs, and the rest of the meal is spent in concentrated silence, making sure that we didn’t miss any flavors the first four times we tasted the food.

I have the “How Sweet It Is Lady” to thank for a somewhat more refined palate for a 24-year old (crostinis are now a staple for most group meals), enhanced cooking skills (making mustard aioli), and a larger kitchen-based vocabulary (emulsify).

My friends and I aren’t sure when we first knew that this Lady was someone to trust. Maybe it had begun in the fall with her Brussel Sprouts Breakfast Hash where I first tasted and fell in love with the mini-cabbage-like vegetable. Perhaps it happened when we made Arugula Pesto Mac n Cheese followed by her Sweet Potato Cheesecake that we knew she was a genius. But we certainly knew by the time we made her Red Wine Mushroom and Goat Cheese Toasts and Mushroom Melts with Mustard Aioli that this Lady would lead us in the right direction.

Although I never really cared to read about her obsession with all things neon or like, how much she like, was in LOVE with like, the pumpkin pie spice latte at, like, Starbucks, I have to give it to her: she knows how to use a kitchen. Instead of going out to eat, we find ourselves plotting out the following weekend’s meals, experimenting with dry rubs, wanting to incorporate steak and lime, wondering if the vegetarian options are just as delicious as the meat-packed ones (spoiler: they do). A group discussion on Facebook normally revolves around recipes we want to attempt, and it has become a running joke that our weekends and free time are spent on tongues and stomaches.

Regardless of how much wind and snow the Chicago winter had to throw at us, we kept ourselves warm with her recipes. Now that spring has seeped its way back in, we’re looking for new recipes: ones that we can take outdoors and on picnics. Which meats will best keep in tupperware, and which dishes taste just as good cold? Which one of us will invest in a bbq grill, and how much burgers are we planning on cooking outdoors? Can we possibly do a Hawaiian roast in the city?

These are the kinds of things my friends and I worry about.

Future posts will, of course, focus on some of these culinary adventures. I think that if there’s any time to learn adult-like recipes and make horrible mistakes in doing them, it’s now. You don’t want to be caught cooking an unfamiliar recipe on a date, or burning your parents’ anniversary meal, or forgetting the horseradish in a crostini for pirates who are holding you hostage in an off-shore dinner party.

Jessica has, and always will, prepare me for events like this.

Eternal thank you, Jessica.

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2 thoughts on “How Sweet

  1. Pingback: Every Day | Suit & Dimes

  2. Pingback: Challenge Accepted. | Liao Mix

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