Special Bonus Blogging Local Family News
Here’s a recipe for keeping the kids happy after making the schlep from Oak Park to Beverly Hills, Chicago. Feed them one of the market brunches; stall an hour or so at the nearby Borders books and then feed them again at the nearby Top Notch Beefburger. I should add that the market brunch is a sure fire way to get the buying juices flowing.
A brunch built from local eggs, potatoes and other veg, with pancakes made with nearby grains; any brunch that features all the Tomato Mountain jams you can eat; sausage from C&D Family Farms, who raise pigs the right way in Northern Indiana (on pasture) (and who also produce excellent bacon); where you can help yourself to yogurts from Sugar River, and wash it down with apple cider from my pals at Hardin Orchards, well you are ready to buy. And buy I did.
Before getting into what I purchased, I will warn that vendors will vary from market to market. The ample supply of apples might not last too many markets. On the other hand, Jim and his vinegars, herbs and dried mushrooms should be at every market. I also about guarantee you that there will be nuns selling tres French baked goods, grains ground by Ted, and tilapia and other sustainable food from AquaRanch . Of course for some (like me) seeing what’s there any given day is part of the fun.
Something missing at Chicago area markets are the Hmong farmers common in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It seems the further north you get, the more tropical the vegetable. Ron Ackerman spent some time on a mission in Vietnam, where he met his wife to be. The two have taken to organic farming in central Illinois, and Ackerman Farm has a bit of the Asian in their fare. They had a gorgeous display today of varied herbs, tiny hot peppers, lemon grass, baby turnips and lots, lots more. They also harvest several organic grains. I limited myself (going out of town and all) to cilantro and basil.
You all know I’m a bit on the loony side. What else accounts for the kinda guy who reads Jane Grigson before bed. And I wonder about things like salsify. What Chestnut Cliff Farm of Freeport sold reminded me, the Potter-phile of, more than a bit, was this. I bought about five spears as well as some carrots in white and yellow.
Tony from Scotch Hill Farm is one of the prime movers behind this whole winter market thing. At the markets he is a conduit for some fine Wisconsin products like the above mentioned yogurt as well as cheese from Edelweiss (Tony did not have it today, but Edelweiss makes a true 185 lb wheel of Ementhaler). He’s also an all purpose farmer with everything from frost hardy field crops like broccoli and brussels sprouts to hoop houses filled with salad greens to indoor sprout production. He also puts his goats to use, making soap from their milk. I purchased kohlrabi.
Yes, the burgers and fries were top notch.
On the way home we detoured for some Huck Finn donuts (if brunch and burgers were not enough), then were close enough to Cassie that we had to stop by Green Grocer too. She’s about to get a liquor license, so stop in soon to get locally boozed up.
If one cannot eat brunch at a winter market, how ’bout a local brunch at Mado (via Helen, who once dined with me at Mado). You think with a family member in the kitchen there, I’d have known this, but of course when I ask, she says, “I know about it.”
Speaking of Family Farmed, do attend their upcoming expo. What a local extravaganza! Local Beet contributor, Melissa Graham and Purple Asparagus are looking for volunteers to help at the Family Farmed Expo. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Do not stay out too late. Robin has a winter market on Saturday at the Epiphany Episcopal Church,
201 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago. For the complete schedule of winter markets, go here.
And that my far away friends, leaves us back where we started. Wish me well in finding good BBQ.