Archive for the ‘soup miscellany’ Category

Potluck Wednesdays, continued

July 22, 2011

So our whole crazy Potluck Wednesday idea started off with the biggest potluck of them all — our massive blowout to support the Garfield Park Conservatory on July 6. And then July 13 we had a spelling bee. And then THIS week, we had Eleanor Friedberger. And if those three don’t make a total potluck, I don’t know what does.

So! We’re carrying on this new tradition of extreme Wednesday miscellany with two more events in the coming weeks. Coming on July 27: A benefit for the film Parallax Sounds, a French-Italian-Brazilian (I think) production that explores the relation of the physical landscape of Chicago to the evolution of the post-rock movement of the 1990s and beyond. Director Augusto Contento was named one of the most promising filmmakers of his generation by FilmCritica magazine, and his previous work, Roads of Water, is the only film ever to be distributed by UNESCO (which is pretty cool). The new film, still in progress, features interviews with Steve Albini, Ian Williams, Azita Youssefi, Damon Locks, and Ken Vandermark, who also composed the score for the film.

The filmmakers have been shooting around town since November, and the project has recently been covered by the Reader, Pitchfork, and Chicagoist in conjunction with the group’s new Kickstarter campaign to raise an additional $10,000 to complete production. Go to the Kickstarter page to watch an excerpt from the film — which is abstract, but very lovely — and, of course, to donate.

OR, you can come to the Hideout from 5:30-8 PM on the 27th and enjoy FREE BEER (and possibly wine) plus pizza from Pizza Metro, while you listen to a DJ set from Damon and watch a 20-minute preview of the film. For just $20 clams! Because, c’mon – it may not be world hunger, but art is always a good cause. And, hey! Stick around afterward for the Immediate Sound Series’ CD release party for Starlicker, aka Rob Mazurek, John Herndon, and Jason Adascewicz.

THEN! On August 3, we have a Letter Writing Party sponsored by the awesome Letter Writers Alliance. They supply the typewriters, you supply the human touch.  There’s NO COVER, and it will be superfun. In their words:

“In this era of instantaneous communication, a handwritten letter is a rare and wondrous item. The Letter Writers Alliance is dedicated to preserving this art form; neither long lines, nor late deliveries, nor increasing postal rates will keep us from our mission.

“As a member of the Letter Writers Alliance, you will carry on the glorious cultural tradition of letter writing. You will take advantage of every opportunity to send tangible correspondence. Prepare your pen and paper, moisten your tongue, and get ready to write more letters.”

My friend Bonnie, aka the organizer, informs me that she has scored a beauty of a machine for this event: “A 70’s era turquoise Smith Corona Eeel-let-tric typewriter. It is compact, it hums & purrs & bumps & dings. It’s going to ROCK.”

Hot fun in the summer, is what I say. Yes? Yes! See you there, one way or the other.


The cookbook has left the building

June 7, 2011

It’s true. We shipped it off to Agate yesterday. Hooray! And now … we wait.

The book’s not due out until November. But we’ve got some other projects on our plate in the meantime, though. For one, we just found out we’ve been accepted into next month’s Coterie Chicago craft fair, which means three days of hanging around in a tent at Pitchfork listening to the bands from far away. We’ll have recipe cards, aprons, and art prints for sale, as well as some of the few remaining copies of the first Soup & Bread Cookbook and, hopefully, some new recipe boxes from Devon Bergman. If you’re making the rounds, come say hi! And, if you know of another craft fair we should try to crash this season let us know.

When we’re not sitting around city parks sweating onto our merch, we’re going to be working on redesigning this website. The launch date is still TBD, but we promise that you, the Soup & Bread audience, can look forward to better navigation, better shopping options, better recipe organization, and just all-around better betterness. If you have any suggestions to make the Soup & Bread web presence more user friendly, we’re all ears.

In the meantime, stay cool! We suggest gazpacho. Or a nice vichysoisse.

Soup & Bread in action

March 15, 2011

Northwestern journalism student Jessica Chou did a little video report on Soup & Bread earlier this winter; I just found it on her blog. Vanity compels me to note that she made me take off my glasses, and I am going to blame that for my squinting and general awkwardness.

What we ate last week

March 2, 2011

Photo Friday: Detroit Soup

February 11, 2011

I hopped the train to the Motor City last weekend for a dizzying 24-hour trip to buy a Chrysler check out the action at Detroit Soup, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on Sunday night. I hope to have something more comprehensive written up by Monday, but thought I’d take the chance to share what really should be stills from a stop-motion film. I wandered into the Soup space — a gorgeous, but barren, loft above a Mexican bakery — around 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and it looked like this. Over the course of three hours, as the sun set and the snow fell (and fell),  it was transformed into a soup-friendly fairyland.

Many thanks to Kate Daughdrill, Jessica Hernandez, and Amy Kaherl for letting me poke around in their soup business! More soon.

Soup & Bread watches newspapers eat themselves alive

February 8, 2011

(image stolen from here)

A digression, for your snow days:

Soup & Bread’s gotten some nice attention of late, and I am loathe to sound a complaint. Because, really — it’s great! But the (dormant) reporter in me is bemused. Three weeks ago Jessica Reaves wrote a nice little piece on us for her employer, the Chicago News Cooperative, which published it — titled Soup and Sociability, For a Worthy Cause — on its website on Thursday, January 20.

It gets better. The CNC has a deal with the New York Times to provide Chicago-specific content to the regional edition of the Grey Lady twice a week — and to my delight and surprise, Jessica’s piece turned up there the following day. So far, all good. Yay new media models!

Then this popped into my Google alerts, five days later: A writeup from a Chicago blogger paraphrasing Reaves’s story, with no mention of the author, the CNC, or the NYT, tricking it out with some info from LiveStrong, and cribbing a recipe from the Soup & Bread Cookbook, with no credit going there either. (For the record: That white bean-escarole-turkey meatball soup was cooked up by Celeste Dolan.)

Ah well. Bloggers. What can you do! They’re loose cannons. Right?

Four days after that, the same story turns up on the Christian Science Monitor website, which farms its food blogging out to a network of independent contractors. And then it shot to Los Angeles. And then to Europe.

None of them refer back to the original story. In the Los Angeles iteration, even Terry Boyd, the Chicago blogger, whom I have never met, has been stripped of his putative authorship.

I feel like a crank that this bugs me. I mean, at least no errors were introduced in this game of aggregation-telephone. Thank heavens for small favors.

But it’s instructive. Who commissioned this information? Which publication paid a reporter to come to our event, to talk to me in person, to make sure everyone’s name was spelled correctly? What city’s advertising is supporting the editorial work? Readers of Blue Kitchen, Los Angeles Online Daily, Europe Top News, and even the eminently respectable Christian Science Monitor will never know.

Soup & Bread takes a snow day

February 1, 2011

This week’s Soup & Bread (2/2)  is cancelled due to the snowpocalpyse. We will reschedule, soon, so stand by for further news from your emergency soup alert system.

Hey, at least Soup & Bread: Seattle went off without a hitch.

Casa Catalina field trip

January 19, 2011

Last Wednesday Hideout co-owner Katie Tuten and I took a trip to Back of the Yards to deliver the cash from this year’s first Soup & Bread to Casa Catalina, the Catholic Charities-sponsored Basic Human Needs center at 45th and Ashland. We have been talking about doing this for an entire year, as Katie kept telling me, “You have to meet Sister Joellyn. She’s going to blow you away.” Finally we did, and she did.

Sr. Joellyn Tumas — above in the down vest, between me and another nun, Sr. Mary — is a powerhouse. A member of the order of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ (whoa), she has been in charge of Casa Catalina for 20 years, since it served 50 families out of shared space in the old rectory of Holy Cross Church. Casa Catalina outgrew that home long ago, and now provides food, clothing, diapers, and baby formula to as many as 350 families a a week from its digs at 4537 S. Ashland. All of Casa Catalina’s clients live in the neighborhood — between 43rd and 51st, and Racine and Western.

Casa Catalina’s so well-established in the area, Sr. Joellyn says, that people constantly are turning up with non-food related problems — when they can’t pay the utility bills; when a father has been arrested, or deported; when a mother is fleeing domestic violence. And Sr. Joellyn? She fixes it. As she says in this Dawn Turner Trice Tribune profile from last year, “When you minister to the hungry, it’s not just about food. Children lose their parents. People get evicted. Families get their gas cut off. We just try to help as best we can to make sure basic needs are met.” This short Vimeo piece from 2009 gives a good sense of her level-headed, open-hearted style.

Many of the volunteers at Casa Catalina are former clients themselves. Every Tuesday they pack up at least 310 bags of rice, pasta, beans, and other nonperishable staples, as well as (depending on the week) milk, cheese, meat, and eggs. Sr. Joelleyn says that the money from Soup & Bread may go to buy valuable margarine, or to fill a set of “diabetic bags” full of whole-grain pasta, sugar-free jelly and Jello, plain Cheerios, Splenda, and other foods appropriate for managing diabetes — the need for which, she notes, is growing fast. Lately, she says, she’s also seen a marked increase in the number of single people and couples in their 20s and early 30s — the age bracket for which, if you don’t have kids, there’s not much public aid available.

As we were leaving we stopped and chatted with Sr. Mary. She’s 84 years old and a member of the Congregation de Notre Dame, founded in Montreal in 1653 and one of the first non-cloistered religious communities ever. Sr. Mary gave us a quick rundown of the history of her order and its founder, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys. It’s funny that you came today, she added. Today’s Marguerite’s feast day (January 12) and, she said, we celebrate each year with a feast of soup and bread — after the sustenance she promised the French nuns who traveled to the New World to join her order and teach at her school.


One-stop holiday shopping

December 6, 2010

Welcome shoppers!

We spent a hectic — but very encouraging — two days at the Renegade Holiday Sale this weekend. We saw a lot of familiar faces and got to know a great many more. And, just as exciting, we got to roll out a bunch of new Soup & Bread merchandise.

We’ve been busy all fall collecting recipes from our 2010 Soup & Bread cooks — but rather than compile them as a cookbook, we decided to change things up a bit this year. Instead, we ran off a set of recipe cards, 24 in all, bundled into four separate packets of five soups and one bread — a vegetarian pack, a vegan pack, a meaty pack, and a variety pack. They’re printed on nice heavy card stock and decorated with some of Paul Dolan‘s illustrations from last year’s cookbook. We got them back from the printer on Friday and they made their debut at the Renegade fair this past weekend. We’ll be selling them again, at $5 a pop, at the Hideout Holiday Sale on Tuesday, December 14 and 21, from 6-9 PM at … der, the Hideout.

But those 24 recipe cards are just the beginning. As part of our new Soupscription series, we’re planning on rolling out six new cards every month for all of 2011. There’s more info over on the Soupscription page, but we’ve already got recipes in the pipeline for January from chefs Paul Kahan (Blackbird, Avec, Publican, Big Star) and Jill Barron (Mana Food Bar), as well as some other Soup & Bread stalwarts, including my uncle Roger. Enroll now and for $60 you’ll get one of the original packs mentioned above, plus a new pack of recipes for five soups and one bread in the mail through November 2011, for a total of 60 soups and 12 breads. Each pack also comes with blank card, so you can create your own recipes as well. The button over there on the right takes you to our PayPal account, or sign up in person at the Hideout sale and we’ll hit you with a $10 discount.

AND, if you’re going to start collecting recipe cards, where better to put them than a handcrafted recipe box? We asked our friend Devon Bergman, who’s an ace cabinetmaker, if she wanted to throw together some boxes for us to sell. When we got a look at them earlier this week we were floored. They are so very beautiful — the photos don’t do them justice. Each box is handmade from repurposed wine crates and other salvaged wood and hardware. The one above has handles made from parts of an old piano she found in the alley.

This one has handles made from Champagne corks. The lid, which (obviously) you can’t see, is inlaid with part of a (bronze? copper?) soap mold. It reads, backwards, “Superfatted.” And, frankly, if someone doesn’t buy it soon it’s going home with me.

This one’s from Devon’s “farmhouse rustic” line, with the cute tin “4” on the lid and the seal from a dairy affixed to the front. The alley piano makes a return appearance here as well; piano hammers sanded as smooth as satin serve as the handles.

Here’s a better look at the boxes in action. Seven of them sold over the weekend (they’re $75 each, but they are so worth it) and we’ve got seven left in stock, though I believe Devon is putting the finishing touches on a few more. We will have them all at the Hideout on the 14th and the 21st, but we probably won’t be selling them through the website. If you’re interested in one and can’t make it out to the Hideout, drop me a line and we’ll try and set something up.

And, of course, we still have some of last year’s cookbooks left ($20) — though not very many! — as well as Soup & Bread aprons ($15) and an assortment of Alana Bailey’s awesome silkscreens of Paul’s illustrations from last year ($10).  As ever, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of all of this stuff goes to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. If there’s a soup fan in your life, you could do worse.

Soup and Bread 2011 starts January 5 and runs Wednesdays through mid-April at the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia. Soup’s on at 5:30 and served till 7:30 or we run out, whichever comes first. There’s never a cover and kids are always welcome.

Hunger: The new normal

November 24, 2010

We are excitedly gearing up for 2011 here at Soup and Bread World Headquarters. We have new product at the printer (whee!) and we have our craft fair spiel down pat. We’re rounding up volunteer muscle, we’re buying new soup warmers, and we’re dusting off the mailing list in anticipation of an imminent call for cooks. So, in the midst of all this activity, on the eve of the biggest food holiday of the year, let’s just stop for a minute and remember what it’s all about.

People are hungry. More than ever.

According to a recent WBEZ interview with Greater Chicago Food Depository capo Kate Maehr, one in eight residents of Cook County turned to a food pantry, soup kitchen, or after-school program to secure food for themselves and their family this year. That’s is a new record and, fears Maehr, a “new normal.”

And Cook County isn’t an anomaly, our exceptionally disastrous budget notwithstanding. Nationwide, hunger is increasing at “an alarming rate,” according to a new report from Feeding America, which estimates that an equivalent one in eight Americans rely on Feeding America’s network of service agencies for food and groceries. If you’re not good at ratios, that’s 37 million people, including 14 million children.

Meanwhile, public awareness about food and nutrition is at a fever pitch — and probably has yet to peak.  Newsweek looked into the growing chasm between those who eat organic quinoa for breakfast and those who reach for the Frosted Flakes this week with a long feature titled What Food Says About Class in America. The piece could, as a Facebook friend pointed out, stand to be “a little less Brooklyn,” but it’s still a good read, and well worth checking out while you’re waiting for your TSA pat-down.

In the last two years Soup and Bread has raised almost $9,000 through soup night donations and the sales of Sheila’s beautiful merch. That money was divided between the Greater Chicago Food Depository and a wide range of neighborhood-based food pantries and soup kitchens. Another $900 generated by our February field trip to the Bell House went to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

I can’t quite articulate how gratifying it is to see those numbers. Honestly, I can’t quite believe it! But then I remember that all this is just a drop in the bucket. It is getting colder and darker outside every day, and predictions of an upturn in our collective fortunes may seem premature — especially if you’re standing in line at a food pantry.

So, be thankful. And if you know of a Chicago-area food pantry or soup kitchen that could use a couple hundred bucks this winter, please let me know at soupnbread10 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Soup and Bread 2011 starts Wednesday, January 5, at 5:30 PM at the Hideout. We’ll have more for you on that soon.

ETA: Just saw this timely, eloquent editorial from NYCCAH executive director Joel Berg: To Prove Bi-partisanship, End U.S. Hunger. It fits in well with today’s reading package.