Chicago Air and Water Show 2012

August 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

We were married the weekend of the Chicago Air and Water Show 14 years ago.  Happy Anniversary to US.  CAM (Chicago Air and Water Show) represents the last hurrah before school sessions resume for the fall term.  It’s about soaking up the last bit of summer and savoring those Chicago moments.  When you think of Chicago you don’t necessarily think of the beaches, but we have it all- city chic and beach charm.  The sandy beaches on the Southeast part of Lake Michigan with the view of one of the most amazing cities on the planet- Chicago, could take your breath away!  And add the Blue Angels to the mix and it’s heaven on earth.  Frank really got it right- It’s My Kind Of Town!!

What do you pack for a day at the beach?  The Ravinia Table (we bought ours from Crate and Barrel, but I found some on Amazon), sunscreen, a beach blanket, umbrella, towels, beach toys to build a sand castle village, flip flops, beach hat, sunglasses and ahh, the food.  You need things that are portable and will last the day in a backpack or small cooler.  You don’t want too much “stuff” because in Chicago we walk!

Rachel’s Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts



  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Frosting and ganache

  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter (do not use natural or old-fashioned)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For brownies:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving long overhang; butter foil.

Place 3/4 cup butter in heavy large saucepan. Add both chocolates; stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt, then eggs, 1 at a time. Fold in flour, then nuts. Spread in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; cool.

For frosting and ganache:
Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter in medium bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg, then milk and vanilla. Spread frosting over brownies.

Stir chocolate and 1/4 cup butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Drop ganache all over frosting; spread to cover. Chill until set, about 1 1/2 hours. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Using foil as aid, transfer brownie cake to work surface; cut into squares. Bring to room temperature; serve.

Hero Sandwich


  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded; excess ribs removed, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 foot long loaves seeded semolina bread, about 8 ounces each, split
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced mortadella
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced soppresatta
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or coppa
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 large vine-ripened tomato, thinly sliced


In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, rosemary, pepper, and olive oil to make a dressing. In a another small bowl toss the peppers with 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Toss the lettuce with 2 tablespoons of the dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the bread, cut side up on a cutting board and start building the sandwich. Drizzle dressing on the cut halves on the bread and layer the meat and cheese, on top, folding the sliced if necessary so they fit on the bread. Top with the peppers, tomato, and lettuce. Drizzle with any remaining dressing and top with the bread. Press down slightly and cut the sandwiches into 3 to 4 pieces each (for the beach or picnic, I wrap in plastic wrap and keep in a cooler).

Here’s a great article from Whole Foods- click here.

Picture of Lima Lima and my good friend John Rippinger!

Fruit and Cheeses
Create an attractive spread by packing figs, grapes, toasted raisin-pecan bread, and a variety of cheeses (keep on an ice pack and eat first).
I love to pack some “in-season” whole fruit like Michigan peaches or plums.  Be careful where you put them in your bag or cooler because they can bruise easily (I found out the hard way).
Keep it simple and have fresh cut vegetables and maybe a dip, but you really don’t need it.  The veggies can be prepared the day before and kept in plastic sandwich bags or a plastic container.
We like to take a quick trip through the Lincoln Park Zoo on our way to the park or beach.
Pack water and drinks and plan to buy ice cream from a vendor on the beach.
Oh, happy days of summer and now it’s time to hunker down.
When summer gathers up her robes of glory,
And, like a dream, glides away.
~ Sarah Helen Whitman
So, next summer we’ll be sure to do it again and again and again and again.  I actually love the back to school time of year after a refreshing summer full of Free Days.  My batteries are recharged and miracles can happen.  And college football is soon to begin.
Go Irish!

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