Today was a rarity in my book.

Usually, every summer, I get ONE day off during the summer between the end of school and the next school year. This year, due to various issues, I'll be getting MANY days off this summer, and today was the first of those. I spent the morning sleeping in (until 9 a.m.!!!) and then taking a luxurious shower that was more than the usual ten minutes. 'Twas lovely.

Then, I met two other counselors who also happened to have the day off for lunch, spent some time shopping at the "mother ship" Crate and Barrel, wandered around World Market, and then met my mom for an early and leisurely dinner at a favorite local place, Prairie Grass Cafe.


I've been to Prairie Grass a few other times, usually for family birthdays or other events, and it has never failed to be fantastic. Something that is particularly unique about Prairie Grass is that they focus primarily on local, sustainable, and organic meats and produce. Many of the dishes on the menu have the name of the farm from where the meat or veggie came right next to it.

It's a casual place, but they have amazing little touches, like fresh-baked baguettes


and a simple syrup in a little jar to sweeten our iced tea.

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Both my mom and I were quick to decide on our entree, but I could've eaten one of everything on the menu. My mom opted for the boneless half chicken (a feat of knife skills if I've ever seen one!) with zucchini and creamy polenta.


It was crispy, herby, salty, and delicious. The polenta rivaled any I've ever had, and the sauce was both delicate and strong-tasting at the same time.

I opted for something that was a real treat: Wild Caught Alaskan King Salmon. Why a treat? Well, I haven't seen affordable wild-caught salmon in a really long time, and my mom insisted I get what I wanted to eat... so I went for it.


This was a dish designed for me (ok, maybe me and Gina, our salmon-lovin' Fitnessista). Grilled salmon, just a little rare in the middle, topped with watercress, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and cucumber atop a tomato coulis. It was supposed to come with forbidden black rice, but since I'm watching my carb/grain intake, I opted instead for their "beans and greens" which today was cannellini beans with Swiss chard.


This will be reproduced soon, no doubt. The tomato sauce was lemon-spiked, and the overall flavor was very "Greek". I always forget how much I like Swiss chard until someone else makes it for me... I must remember that I like greens!

I know I didn't blog last night, but I do have a Camper QOTD (Quote of the Day) from yesterday! As heard among three 6-year-old girls:

"My mom talks to turtles."

"Well, my mom talks to turtles AND horses."

"WELLLLL my mom only talks to people, but our cats talk to her."

Oy. Kids... they crack me up! Tomorrow is going to be a lovely fish-filled day at the Shedd Aquarium (ironic that I just ate fish?) and a shoreline cruise on Lake Michigan. I'll make sure to share some scenery shots with you tomorrow.

Have a great night and a lovely Wednesday!

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16 Responses to Sociable

  1. Sheri says:

    We just ate at Prairie Grass last week and I had the crispy boneless half chicken – mmmm. I love your pictures, they make everything look so yummy. Have you been to Orange yet? I almost took a picture of our frushi, but I’ll leave the food pictures to you.

  2. Wei-Wei says:

    I love salmon. Yours looks heavenly! I’ve never had a salmon steak where it was slightly raw in the middle, though. I love it when small restaurants have the cutest little touches ever (freshly baked baguettes? Wow!)

    Wei-Wei´s last blog post ..vegetarians beware!

  3. laura says:

    I will never order salmon in a restaurant–we are still eating the 60 we got last summer 😀 amazingly we still like salmon

    Mara!! Le Creuset giveaway on mah blog–letting you know since you missed the last one 🙂 cheers & glad you got a day off!
    laura´s last blog post ..Just Another Meatless Monday #17

  4. Melissa S. says:

    Haha, kids are too cute!

    and that lunch looks amazing! i’m glad you’re getting some days off to relax, even with more than a 10 min shower!!!
    Melissa S.´s last blog post ..To Empower

  5. Rebecca says:

    Mara- You were destined to be a food writer! When I read your descriptions of different dishes I always remember the food review you wrote for writing workshop when we were in 6th grade. “The orichette held the butter sauce perfectly…” is the line I remember (Yes, my memory for these things is quite good.) Who would have thought that 18 years later I’d be reading your food writing every day!

  6. So my Dear Mara . . . your blog never fails to make me drool. And I agree that you’re a great food writer.

    Clearly it begs the question – when are you going to shop a book proposal!?!? Dooooo it!
    TorontoGirloutWest´s last blog post ..The Sound that Made me Remember

  7. LOL! Love the ‘cats talk to her.’ My mom always used to say that about our dog!
    Jessica @ How Sweet It Is´s last blog post ..Fitness Kick Start: Chest and Shoulders Focus.

  8. Lauren says:

    What a nice lunch with your mom! And that salmon looks fantastic!! Glad you enjoyed a wonderful afternoon!!
    Lauren´s last blog post ..With a Cherry on Top

  9. Biz says:

    Have fun at the Aquarium! I haven’t been there since Hannah was little!

  10. Autumn says:

    What a wonderful day off! What fun! And the meal you had with your mom looks amazing!!
    Autumn´s last blog post ..My tummy is SO happy….

  11. Those beans and greens look fantastic!! Congrats on being able to sleep in! Teach me your ways 😉

    Have fun on the shoreline cruise!! When I was in Chicago in May I did the river/shorline one and it was amazing. So much fun!

    PS. One of my friends is working at a summer day camp and one of the four year olds told her that the play doh, “tastes like sex.” Where do kids come up with this stuff?!?! I couldn’t believe it when I heard that, haha!
    K @ ksgoodeats´s last blog post ..I’m Shakin’

  12. Oh that food looks amazing! Especially the beans and greens, very clever! 🙂 I think black forbidden rice is a longer grain rice so it’s less starchy/carb than the short grain white stuff. I *think*, I’m not positive!
    Andrea (Off Her Cork)´s last blog post ..Tuesday Tip: More cool treat ideas for your dog

  13. MarathonVal says:

    I hope you are enjoying your summer off Mara! Have a great rest of the week! 🙂

  14. Marianne says:

    Mmmm, wild salmon. One of my favourite fish. Screw affordability, the stuff is delicious and totally worth the cost regardless.
    Marianne´s last blog post ..Bacon &amp Bakin’

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