Road trips often include hours in which you are stuck sitting in traffic. We flew to Chicago several weeks ago and rented a car. It wasn’t necessarily suprising to us that we got stuck in traffic between O’Hare and downtown Chicago. Nevertheless, I started to look at the signs for restaurants and wondered if it wouldn’t be a good idea to get off, find something to eat, and wait for some of the traffic to clear. When you aren’t from the area, finding a neighborhood where you will feel safe stopping can be tricky, though. We didn’t end up stopping in Chicago.
Our travel was booked through Priceline. We got a good deal but, as they say, you get what you pay for. The neighborhood architecture was far from charming: it looked like the building across the street was a recently-closed Kmart. Our Red Roof Inn did not offer anything more than coffee for breakfast, but IHOP was right next door.
We stayed for a few days, so we tried a couple of non-chain restaurants. Two you might try if you find yourself near Lansing, IL:
Round the Clock Restaurant:
“Lunch” includes everything (soup or salad + rolls + entree + choice of side + dessert), and they are in generous portion sizes. I chose the gyro with sweet potato fries + salad. When the waitress came to tell us that dessert was also included, I had her box up a piece of cheesecake.
Saturday’s special was 4 for $4. We each knew, just looking at the menu, that 1 thing from each of the 4 categories was going to add up to too much, but economically it made sense to order the special rather than a regular entree or a la carte.
Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop:
I especially liked the decor. They have different-styled seating areas to suit your purpose. It was nice to have cajun food as an option.
Three hours ago, our Sunday dinner was laid out on this brown platter: roasted carrots, onions, and beef, and asparagus broiled with olive oil and Parmesean cheese. You’ll have to just imagine the display, since we were more interested in eating than taking pictures.
After putting leftovers (!) away and washing the dishes, I had to decide what kind of dessert to serve with our afternoon tea or coffee. There were two cinnamon rolls in the freezer; I had packaged them up and hidden them so that we wouldn’t eat the whole batch on Saturday morning. I also had several boxes of instant pudding in the cupboard, but that just didn’t seem right for today. Instead, I decided to make use of several of the gifts that my parents had given to me at Christmas and for my birthday: egg beaters, parchment paper, and a jelly-roll pan.
If you read a recipe carefully before starting your project, and you continue by following the instructions, you should be satisfied with the result. There were several points when I was tempted to jump the gun, but patience paid off.
Beat the eggs for the full 5 minutes so that they are thick and lemon colored. Let the cake bake for 12 minutes. Do generously sprinkle your tea towel with powdered sugar before you wrap it around the warm sponge cake. Do wait the full 30 minutes for the cake to cool before you unroll and spread it with just the 2/3 cups of your chosen filling.
Although a chocolate cake might have been nicer, I didn’t have cocoa powder on hand. Instead I left the sponge cake’s flavor as vanilla and decided to fill it with apricot jam and chocolate pudding.
You can find the basic recipe in Betty Crocker’s “New Cookbook”.