Find Local Food with the Local Calender

Posted: January 30, 2009 at 10:10 am

Think local eating is a warm weather vocation?  Try instead many of the options listed below.

To get your hunger pangs going, just check out Chef Paul Virant’s latest menu at Vie.  See what winter eating is all about.

Triple threat on Saturday: chat with [ed. and buy from!] new Beet blogger, Vera V; plenty of fresh produce including Farmer Vicki’s roots, and the splendor of Unity Temple at the winter market in Oak Park.

Those in the more Western parts of the Chicago area have a winter market on Sunday in Winfield, IL–which I suppose if you’ve heard of Winfield, you know where it is.

A feature of these winter markets is bread and other baked goods tasting as only French hands can make them taste.  The CTrib gives a bit of background today about the French Nuns in Chicago, who sell their wares at the markets and do other good deeds.

As we noted last week, there’s nothing quaint about having your cattle rustled.  The Heritage Prairie Market in Elburn, IL hosts a winter festival and fundraiser for the Burgin family this Saturday, January 31, from 1 PM to 5 PM.    Next Saturday (2/7), the Heritage Prairie Market hosts a pasta making workshop.

Speaking of next Saturday, Green City is up and at ‘em again.  You think with the Fire Marshall inducing crush last time, they’d be a bit more alert this time.  Well, they have made significant changes, moving the vendors away from the chef demo’s and staggering the demo’s, but you’d never know from reading their site.  Instead, the skinny only comes via e-mail.  If you got the e-mail, you’d received this info in advance of next week’s market: 

To RSVP for a chef demonstration, please send an email to, or call 773-880-1266 and specify which demo you would like to attend. You’ll receive an email confirmation within two business days of sending your email. If you don’t, please give us a call!

And, and speaking of green, you can get your local food for sure from Cassie Green and her Green Grocer.  She’s getting regular shipments these days from Windy City Harvest, including plenty of fresh winter lettuce.  Winter’s as good as time as any to eat ice cream, and Cassie has the exclusive retail outlet for Nice Cream Ice Cream made right here in Chicago.

If you cannot make it anywhere to shop, say you have to be on Facebook all weekend, you can order local food from Irv and Shelly.  Beyond being a fine, fine source for local food, Irv and Shelly are a pretty good indicator of the types of local products still around.

This week’s roadtrip: South Bend is just far enough way to be in another time zone.  Unlike our fair windy city, South Bend has a year-round, permanent farmer’s market.  This time of year you should be able to find yourself some local apples, local meats, and some locally made candy as well as local milk and eggs.  Sample the local beers and local pops at the Mishawaka Brewing Company

Please let us know where else you are finding local foods.

Enduring the Winter Doldrums

Posted: January 29, 2009 at 9:13 am

A recent Associated Press story threatens rising California lettuce prices this year due to the Western drought, which is encouraging farmers to abandon their fields. Coincidentally, I buried some lettuce and spinach seeds in my plastic water container. Despite my last post, I couldn’t find sprout seeds apart from a kit that included a set of moisture-retention growing trays. So in three day’s time, I grew a few mouthfuls of broccoli, radish and cress sprouts in clear plastic bins that required twice daily rinsing. It ain’t farming. It isn’t quite gardening. It’s more like a second grade science experiment, but they’re fresh, home-grown vegetables and I’ll take ‘em.

To be brutally honest, I’m getting antsy waiting for the snow to melt. It’s not just the cold and the unemployment. It’s the looking out the window at the lawn, visualizing building a garden on top of it, pressing my forlorn face on the glass like a boy outside a pet shop. For their part, my typically active boys are going nuts from being cooped up indoors. They need more exercise, and while antagonizing each other raises everybody’s heart rates, it’s not exactly aerobics. We just registered them for summer camp, so my non-gardening fantasies include them coming home exhausted each day and telling us how much fun they had in camp and how much they appreciate all we do for them. And they’ll behave respectfully to us always. And they’ll eat all their vegetables.

My plastic lettuce planter is only a few days old and so far absolutely nothing has happened. Still, contemplating a silent box of dirt is more inspiring than the frigid view out the window behind it. Spinach and lettuce don’t mind a chill, and the bay window offers a full day’s sun, complemented by a reading lamp that, when at high power, is too hot to touch. The window area gets down to the low 60s at night and up to 68 during the day. I’m guessing the reading lamp micro-climate kicks it up two or three more degrees. Anybody with experience growing indoor lettuce, feel free to tell me what I’m doing wrong.

In a few months, I’ll transplant the lettuce outside to face the dangers of the world. Perhaps that’s a good analogy to watching kids grow up and face adult life on their own. Except we don’t plan to eat our adult children. The lettuce, on the other hand, is doomed whether it thrives or not.

There’s a parental instinct to quarantine your kids and protect them from potential harm. Vegetables, too. The best part about growing indoor lettuce is a reduced chance of rabbit theft. Floppy and Bugs have been leaving paw-prints in the snow throughout the backyard, as if to say “We can handle this brutal winter just fine. So we can deal with your eventual new fence and have our way with the new garden you plan to raise. We’re looking forward to dining on your hard-won vegetables this year, Brad!”

Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Our Sam in the White House

Posted: January 28, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Well, maybe not my Sam per se, but I did meet Sam many a-time during the entertaining and informatively delicious soup and soap-box programs put on by Hull House last year (cf).  And I’m claiming Sam for the whole Chicago eat local scene [ed. what scene?].  The NYTimes has the news that Sam will cook now at the White House

A spokeswoman for Michelle Obama, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, said Mr. Kass will not be the only cook preparing the family’s meals, but “he knows what they like and he happens to have a particular interest in healthy food and local food.” He will work alongside the White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford, who was promoted to that job by the Bushes and is being kept on in that role by the Obamas.

Helen hits the Avec years and has a nice photo of Sam.

(I wonder what Michael Pollin will have to say)

Winter Market – Far Away (or Close By)

Posted: January 28, 2009 at 8:14 am

Call me crazy, but I’m guessing a few more of the Beet’s readers will be more able to make the market Saturday in Oak Park, but maybe on the other hand, there are others who will find Sunday’s market in Winfield much closer to home.   [Yes, I had to Google Map to figure out where Winfield was]

During the market, a chef-prepared supper made with ingredients from the participating growers will be served while quantities last.  There will be a suggested donation for the meal.

Sat., Jan. 31 ~ 3pm to 7pm

Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church

S501 Summit Drive
(3 blocks N of Roosevelt Rd. at Winfield Rd.)

S501 Summit Drive
(3 blocks N of Roosevelt Rd. at Winfield Rd.)

IL  60190
Check here for Mapquest location for the church.  There’s plenty of free parking.
Pre-Orders of Meat & Poultry
for pick-up on Sun., Feb 1  



o to  Though much of what is shown there is bulk/whole sides, most cuts of beef and pork listed in those packages are for sale individually.  Also, plenty of whole chickens, and turkeys in the 24# to 26# range. If you are interested in any of the set packages, definitely pre-order those to ensure availability.

  • Add 10% to web site pricing to cover Arnold Farm’s contribution to Harvest of Hope Fund, a beneficiary of these Winter Markets.
  • Email Tom at  Email is best, but you are welcome to call Tom’s home phone:  815-858-2407.
  • Cut-off time for ordering is Wednesday evening, Jan. 28, at 8pm.  [If you’re reading this after the cut-off, you can still try calling and Tom may be able to accommodate you.]
  • Let Tom know if you will pick up Christ Our Savior Lutheran, Winfield, between 3 and 7pm; plan to pay when you pick up with cash or check
  • To pre-order from Arnold Farm, Elizabeth, IL (grass-fed beef, grain-fed beef, pastured pork and poultry), g


    Although many of these items will be available at the markets, pre-orders enable the meat/poultry producers to know what to bring, give you access to better selection, and ensure availability.  Please read these pre-order options carefully.  Additionally, Kinkoona Farm, Brodhead, WI, will have a variety of cuts of grass-fed lamb available for purchase–but not by pre-order–while quantities last.

    Winter Market – Oak Park – Meet the Beet’s Newest Blogger!

    Posted: January 28, 2009 at 7:55 am

    As you all have noticed, we have added another blogger to the roll.  Vera V brings to the Beet, the perspectives of someone who farms, someone who participates in markets, and someone with a bona fide artsy background (unlike say messy me).   One of Vera’s many talents is the spinning of wool.  She will be selling her yarns as well as preserves she’s made and maybe a few other things at the Winter Market this Saturday in Oak Park.  The bonus feature of this week’s market, the location’s been featured in a book or two.  Come not just to buy the winter’s bounty, but to poke around Wright’s glory.

    The hard working woman of winter, Robin “Winter” Schirmer is trekking down to St. Anne today to meet with Farmer Vicki of Genesis Growers.   Expect her to return, for market with plenty of storage crops–beets, carrots, parsnips, as well as some hoop house products like lettuce.  Tony from Scotch Hill should have potatoes, carrots and spinach.   Come thank Jim the Vinegar guy for his generous donation to West Suburban PADS by buying some of his products.  Expect much more including mushrooms, canned goods and local meat.  Information on pre-ordering meat, including halal meats below.

    No brunch this week, but Angie Ackerman will fry up her delicious spring rolls from ingredients grown on her farm. 

    Unity Temple UU Congregation 875 Lake St.

    875 Lake St.


    (SE corner of Lake St. & Kenilworth Ave.) 
    Oak Park, IL  60301 
    Check here for directions, public transportation, and parking information.

    o to  Though much of what is shown there is bulk/whole sides, most cuts of beef and pork listed in those packages are for sale individually.  Also, plenty of whole chickens, and turkeys in the 24# to 26# range. If you are interested in any of the set packages, definitely pre-order those to ensure availability.

  • Add 10% to web site pricing to cover Arnold Farm’s contribution to Harvest of Hope Fund, a beneficiary of these Winter Markets.
  • Email Tom at  Email is best, but you are welcome to call Tom’s home phone:  815-858-2407.
  • Cut-off time for ordering is Wednesday evening, Jan. 28, at 8pm.  [If you’re reading this after the cut-off, you can still try calling and Tom may be able to accommodate you.]
  • Let Tom know if you will pick up Saturday at Unity Temple between 9am and 12noon; plan to pay when you pick up with cash or check.
    • 2  To learn more about halal meats from Taqwa Eco-Food Cooperative, go to the Taqwa website.  For availability of halal beef, click here; for halal lamb, clickhere. 
  • PLEASE NOTE: to pre-order for pickup at these markets, do not order or pay online; rather, email julianna@faithinplace.orgor call 312-733-4640 or 215-828-6314 with your specific order.  Plan to pay when you pick up with cash or check.  (Also NOTE that while the product inventory on the website is current, the web content about the farmers is not; the lamb producer for Taqwa is now Mint Creek Farm, Stelle, IL, and the beef producer is Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm, Ottawa, IL.) 
  • Cut-off time for ordering from Taqwa Co-op is Thursday, Jan. 29, at 4pm.  [If you're reading this after the cut-off, you can still try calling 215-828-6314 and they may be able to accommodate your order.]
    Pre-Orders of Meat & Poultry
    for pick-up on Sat., Jan. 31  

    1 To pre-order from Arnold Farm, Elizabeth, IL (grass-fed beef, grain-fed beef, pastured pork and poultry), g


    Although many of these items will be available at the markets, pre-orders enable the meat/poultry producers to know what to bring, give you access to better selection, and ensure availability.  Please read these pre-order options carefully.  Additionally, Kinkoona Farm, Brodhead, WI, will have a variety of cuts of grass-fed lamb available for purchase–but not by pre-order–while quantities last.


    I Make a Mess

    Posted: January 27, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I come fromn the generation that learned to cook not at the hands of their mother but rather at the hands of Emeril, Essense of; David Rosengarden, and the multi-chef, no background Chef du Jour.   And oh how I envy a TV chef’s mis en place.  Bowl after bowl of pre-sliced, pre-peeled, ready to be bammed food.  Not only do I have the less than precision knife skills of Emeril, but boy are we going through as many pots and pans together.  I can whip up a fully winterized, local meal of baked Indiana-Amish chicken, stored beets, rutabaga and potatoes, a half of cabbage still surviving in the basement fridge and soup from the leftover fish, but boy do I make a mess.

    Friday night the mess was apparent, but a day later it started to smell.  See I cannot believe I managed to make the same mistake twice.  Something that might kick me out of the kitchen for good.  Once again, in the process of making stock, in this case fish, I strained, then kinda lost my strainer of strained stuff amongst the pots and pans piling up.  Last time, my wife berated me for leaving her a bunch of dried-in stock veg that required much soaking to clean; this time it was not quite ossified but starting to smell of stale fish bones.   The mess also manifested itself on the big cutting board.  This Local dutz did not think about slicing his beets somewhere more washable and less stainable.  Let’s not even talk about the rest.

    I was happy with the fish soup.  We tend not to think of soup when we think freshwater fish, chowders are for the coasts.  There is no reason though why soup cannot be made.  The Euros make many a freshwater fish soup/stew.  Matelote for instance, is a member of the French repertoire although less found around here.  I’m also happy with my great discovery of 2009 that the celery component of a mirepoix can be accomplished by a diced celery root, which lasts much longer than the celery crop in the Bungalow. 

    Recipe for fish soup from leftover whole whitefish: sweat diced onion, carrot, parsnip, celery root in some olive oil; add fish bones, fish head, tarragon, one red chile pepper, salt and pepper, and cook a few minutes over medium heat; add about a 1/2 bottle of white wine, bring to boil, then bring to simmer to reduce a bit; add about the same amount of water, repeat to boil, then simmer about 30 minutes, adjust seasoning.  Strain (remember to junk!).  Combine fish stock with home canned tomato sauce and let simmer until ready.  Soon before serving, add the pieces of leftover fish.  Serve over garlic croutons.

    From there, the chicken was cut in pieces, marinated with olive oil and garlic, baked with peeled German butterball potatoes; the rutabaga was peeled, boiled, it takes nearly an hour, than mashed with butter and milk.  Pre-peeled beets worked out great, especially as my daughter did the peeling.  As the NYTimes warned, they came out very caramelized, just this side of burnt.  I off-set that taste fine with a strong mustard vinaigrette.  The last cabbage we had went the way my family loves best, with lots of garlic and lemon.  It will be a while until that dish appears on the table again.

    I do not find it difficult to put good food on the table in the middle of the winter.  I just find it hard not to make such a mess.

    How do I farm from 80 miles away?

    Posted: January 25, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I hear it at the farmers’ market nearly every week when folks ask where my farm is. I have to take a deep breath and wonder if I should respond. I think they’re telling me that isn’t “local” enough for a Chicago farmers’ market. I can’t move my farm any closer and 80 miles from a sprawling city isn’t that far. I can justify the distance by saying it’s only 30 miles across the lake.

    When my dad bought the farm in 1962 he commuted on weekends, pre-expressway, from Chicago to the Michigan farm where he left my mom and three brothers to milk the cows, make cheese, raise chickens and sheep, and grow vegetables. He was still working at the Medina Temple back then, earning money to pay off the mortgage. Years later I went to college in Chicago and stayed on to work at the Chicago Reader, interestingly enough, only a block away from dad’s old workplace. I went back to the farm on weekends (or days off) to work on the farm. Eventually I developed a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for my co-workers who demanded fresh veggies after hearing me talk about what I did on the weekends. So for 20+ weeks a year I was packing dozens of boxes and delivering them before coming back to a 40+ hour workweek.

    Every spring I’d trudge the 80 miles to start with trimming and spraying my fruit trees in March. I started planting trees with my dad when I was a little girl. Each spring I add one or two more. Manchurian apricots are my latest. In April I’ll start on the lettuce garden. The little plot is a sandy patch that once held several giant oaks that fell in a nearly forgotten storm in the’70s. The sand drains well and thaws early for those early spring greens and radishes. Later, in May, I work on the larger two-acre garden to plant the “real” crops. You know: cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes. . .

    Now, in the sub-zero season, I stay in town. With my computer next to my spinning wheels I work more long hours, creating yarn from last year’s sheep shearing. The farmhouse, old and neglected, waits for the spring thaw.


    Happy Anniversary Green Grocer

    Posted: January 23, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Cassie sez:

    Come join Green Grocer Chicago as we celebrate our One Year anniversary! We’ll have some of our favorite vendors there sampling out their products (sneak preview of Nice Cream’s new seasonal ice cream flavors, Pasta Puttana’s fresh and local pasta, and more). Stop by, say hello and pick up some new products you’ve never tried!

    Time and Place
    Monday, January 26, 2009
    5:00pm – 7:00pm
    Green Grocer Chicago
    1402 W. Grand Ave
    Chicago, IL

    Friday Fish

    Posted: January 23, 2009 at 9:11 am

    So, I was reading the other day, the single healthiest thing we can do to our diet is to increase the omega-3′s and decrease the omega-6′s (this was not what I was reading, but the gist is the same).  Fish.  Good.  But what’s a Chicago based Local Family to do?  Well, as with a lot of things, this eat local guy has wishy-washy standards.  I eat canned fishes, which sound more quaint and wholesome if you use the Britishism, tinned fish, I will occasionally buy something seafood-ish like shrimp or squid (my wife learned to make a great stewed squid from Chef Levitt at Mado), but I pretty much draw the line at ocean fish.  Oh, I have reasons and such for these reasons, ask me some time, but let’s not waste any more bandwidth.  Because I do have a fish answer.  I eat local fish.

    Freshwater fish.  In Chicago, we have two sources for local, freshwater fish.  First, we have fish fished in the Great Lakes, mostly fished in Lake Superior but some fished in Lake Erie.  Then, we have farmed fish, including several fish farms in Wisconsin and AquaRanch in Illinois.  I’d admit flat-out, there’s at least three issues with freshwater fish.  It can be boney and soft bones at it, so that slow eating is always required no matter how much filleted.  And not only are the bones soft, the fish flesh can be soft too; no one’s gonna mistake freshwater fish for a piece of red meat.  Last, and most important, there’s the toxicity question.  How much freshwater fish should one eat.  We do not really, really know the answer to the last, but the best answer for now is, maybe not that much.  The sweet flavor of freshwater fish makes up for many of the problems, and when you can get the fish bloody-fresh like no piece of ocean fish, well, you’d rather this fish anyways.

    For me, there is one singular, outstanding place for freshwater fish, Robert’s on Devon, the only kosher fish shop run by a Mexican, a lovely tale told by the Tribune a few years ago.  Arturo will help you find the nicest, nice piece of fish from under a cover of ice, scale it, gut it, and clip its fins.  Do have him stop there however.  It’s common to broil whitefish fillets with dabs of butter and a heavy paprika hand, but the way to cook whitefish is whole, roasted.  (Make a bed of seasonal veg, when I did this the other day, it was leeks and parsnips; stuff the fish with herbs and lemon slices, coat both sides with olive oil,salt heavily; lay on your veg bed; roast at 400 until skin is crisp.)

    Like I said, there are good farmed fish operations too.  Robin always carries AquaRanch’s tilapia at her winter marketsRushing Waters trout is at Whole Foods. I especially love the stuff smoked.  It’s been too long for me to totally vouch for this, but Sahar Meats on Kedzie was getting in some fine fish from an Illinois farm.  I wish some of the perch operations in Wisconsin would find their way here (cf this).

    Speaking of smoked trout, is there any better way to enjoy freshwater fish than to smoke it.  Hell on the coasts, they ship in OUR fish for smoking (and why is it that I’ve found better smoked lake fishes in Florida than Chicago!!??).  Lovers of the mysterious fish known as chub have found them scarce and pricey in the Chicago area.  Follow this vital advice.  Head to the western fridge of the city.  At about Grand and Harlem (2445 N. Harlem) you will find the Polish market Kolatek’s.  On Fridays, your nose will be warmed by the welcoming aroma of smoking fishes.  They do trouts and salmons each week.  Last week chunks of lake trout were on sale for $3.99/lb.  !!

    Us Jews have always been a Friday fish people.  I know a few of the rest of you like fish on Fridays too.  The doctors say pick any day, but eat more fish.  The Locavores say eat local fish.  It all seems pretty doable, no?


    The Less Hectic Local Calender?

    Posted: January 22, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Will there be the same rush of people this week at the local events?  Let’s hope no market has to hold its customers in a waiting pen, but let’s hope there’s still quite the crowd.

    Robin and her band of merry winter pranksters (including the Beet’s newest blogger Vera V) will park the bus in Evanston this weekend for a market and market brunch.  I told you last week that there would be local ice cream but I forgot the name of the ice creamers.  Well, it’s Ruth and Phil, doing things with market produce such as apple cider sorbet and an ice cream flavored with basil dressing (much better than it sounded!).

    This weekend, like every weekend, Heritage Prairie Market in Elburn  will be open.  Next weekend, Heritage Prairie hosts a fundraiser for some local farmers who had their cattle rustled, yes rustled, which unfortunately sounds too quaint.  Try stolen instead.

    Two of our most local of local restaurants, Mado and Lula, are combining forces this Sunday for, what else, a porkathon.  6 PM at Mado.  The Ms. and I will be there.

    That other most local of places, Vie, is hosting a dinner next Thursday with the spirits of that most local of spirit’s, Wisconsin’s Death DoorGod does this thing sound good.  Bring a designated drive.

    OK, think that’s it in local restaurants. Chicago Magazine’s weekly Dish reports on a couple of other locavore chefs.   Terragusto  opens a second location this week in Lincoln Park.  Hoosier Mama, where my wife helped for a while, finally has its long anticipated store in sight for a March opening.

    Going strong locally, Cassie Green and Green Grocer celebrate their birthday on Monday.  Reward her with ample purchases including from her new inventory of local booze.

    This weekend’s suggested roadtrip: Ann Arbor, Michigan, a real eat local kinda town.  The Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market needs no reservations and meets all the time.  I guarantee even in bitter cold you will find vendors.  Arbor Brewing has a fine selection of beers and a menu focused on local foods.  Ann Arbor is an excellent place to add to your eat local repertoire, for instance the Carlson-Arbogast Farm beans from Howard City Michigan available at the Kerrytown shops.  Of course Zingerman’s Creamery is making cheeses from Michigan milk, and you can also go in now for a scoop of Baracky Road ice cream.   Plum Market is not quite as local as they claim, but still a good place to shop.  Eve will make you a fancy dinner from the local stuff.

    Where are you going local this weekend?

    Evanston Winter Farmer’s Market

    Posted: January 21, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Sat., Jan. 24 ~ 9am to 1pm
    Lake Street Church

    607 Lake St.
    (NE corner of Lake St. & Chicago Ave. in Evanston)
    Evanston, IL 60201

    Winter Farmers Markets & Meals for Hope
    is a project of

    Churches’ Center
    for Land and People

    * Admission to the market is FREE and open to the public.
    * An a la carte brunch will be offered during the market prepared with ingredients from the participating growers; try a scoop of hand-crafted ice cream or sorbet from Ruth & Phil’s Gourmet Ice Cream–amazing flavors made using ingredients from the market!
    * Enter the market through the main door on Chicago Ave.
    * Park on-street around Raymond Park across the street to the East, or in the lower level of the lot for the Best Western immediately to the West of the church.
    * For best selection of meat & poultry, pre-order from Arnold Farm [see below].

    Pre-Orders of Meat & Poultry
    for pick-up Sat., Jan. 24 at Lake Street Church

    Meat & poultry vendor, Tom Arnold of Arnold Farm, Elizabeth, IL, will be glad to accept pre-orders for items to be picked up at the market on Saturday.  Although he will also have many of these items at the market, pre-orders enable him to know what to bring, gives you access to better selection, and ensures availability.

    To pre-order:

    Go to Though much of what is shown there is bulk/whole sides, most cuts of beef and pork listed in those packages are for sale individually.  Also, plenty of whole chickens in sizes ranging from 3.5# to 5.5#+ and turkeys in the 16# to 18# range.

  • If you are interested in the 20# (mixed sampler), 25# (beef) or 30# (pork) packages, definitely pre-order those to ensure availability.
  • Add 10% to web site pricing to cover Arnold Farm’s contribution to Harvest of Hope Fund, a beneficiary of these Winter Markets.
  • Email Tom at  Email is best, but you are welcome to call Tom’s home phone:  815-858-2407.
  • Cut-off time for ordering is Wednesday evening, Jan. 21, at 8pm.  [If you’re reading this after the cut-off, you can still try calling and Tom may be able to accommodate you.]
  • Pick up at Lake Street Church between 9am and 1pm; plan to pay with cash or check payable to Arnold Farm.

  • I Came This/Close to Resigning

    Posted: January 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    It’s Wednesday, which in this Local Family means it’s about time to plan Friday night’s dinner.  The menu included roast chicken and baked sweet potato, sorghum butter.  I asked my wife, what veg.  She said, whatever we have a lot of.  Beets.  It means beets.  But after last Friday’s episode, I’m quite hesitate to be associated with anything beet-y.  In fact if my fingers were not so dyed purple the other day, I might have typed out my quitting then and there.  My wife, however, pointed me to today’s NYTimes as my rescue.

    It was already noon and my starvation was building. Cooking those enormous beets for the salad would take hours. And I didn’t feel like waiting…Most roasted-beet recipes call for cooking the beets whole, then peeling and cubing them after they’re already cooked.

    And the books leave out the hassle. Melissa Clark of the Times was right, storage beets take hours to cook, and even then, the peeling does not happen easily. When I was struggling with my batch of beets last week I had to take to the microwave to give a few an extra push. The solution it seems, is easy.

    Then, to my surprise, I watched Sarah peel the raw beets, cut them into small cubes and drizzle them with oil.

    Faster cooking and less mess too.

    I’m ready to give the Beet another try this Friday.

    Backyard Farming in the Global Economy

    Posted: January 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Last year I enjoyed Marc Levinson’s book, “The Box,” about how the ubiquitous, uniformly-sized and shaped metal shipping containers kick-started globalization by making international cargo transport quick and simple. Today, everything from electronics, clothing and food to illegal immigrants and maybe weapons of mass destruction can be efficiently moved in these anonymous containers.

    I’m less interested in the politics of agriculture than in the sheer joy of eating food I grow myself. But I see that locavorism is a tougher financial argument to make when nearly free shipping costs are factored in. As long as our oil-driven global transportation network functions smoothly, and we don’t factor in the hidden costs of keeping that oil cheap and continuously flowing, it’s cheaper for me to buy South American produce than to grow it in my Illinois soil. Of course, my backyard is covered in snow at the moment. But my hourly wage is higher than, say, a Chilean farm worker (or will be when I land a job). Thus the temptation of container-shipped produce in January is mighty.

    So I’m starting a container of my own. I’ve recycled a plastic cube of drinking water by cutting it in half and punching a few holes in the bottom of one section. I’ve nested them so that I can fill the top tub with potting soil and have it drain into the lower tub. It sits now in a bay window and will host soon-to-germinate sprouts, which should enjoy the southern sun, as long as the evening cold doesn’t kill them. It’ll give me something green to look and distract my view of the snow-capped lawn as I imagine what spring’s new plot will look like.

    As a preview of that, this is my plan for a new square-foot frame:


    My kids loved last year’s potatoes, so I’ve got six square feet for them. The Brussels are my big challenge for the year: something I’ve never tried before. The kale is also brand new to our yard, but supposedly an easier crop to grow.

    The old garden site is getting a rotation of all new veggies except for the peas, which enjoyed climbing the fence by the alley so much last year. The scale of these drawings is not perfect, so I don’t know how much of each vegetable I’ll actually get, but this is the first written plan I’ve ever had for a garden.


    Now that it’s on a website, it’s official. I may make changes to my plan, but at least I’m starting with a plan, and we’ll see where it goes from here.

    OMG Wintr Mrkts!!!!

    Posted: January 20, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Like, i hear all these famous chefs, like ones with books and TV shows  they go shopping, like instead of the food coming to them in some big white truck with the awesome name, Sysco !!!!! These like, famous dudes, they go to markets…  Some thing called GCM?!?!?!?!?!  And, like i heard there would be a big party at GCM… But i heard something like you had to txt some guy who knew some guy to get in!! So i sent an e-mail to get the txt….

    OMG!!! Like everyone came.  OMG!!!!!!  No lolz !!!!! Like, a market and i had to get in line  Like, like the Beaumont at 1245 Even peeps with emls!!!!  Like I said i was on the guest list…  No dif !!! Way later it was like lets move out people and we got in  OMGBBQ i mean OMG bb teh f q… like great bbq in winter!!!!!! To eat  Free  !!!!!Like no way Like Nookies does not makes bacon like this  And OMG black beans!!!!!  Like, u kno Chipotole has but these blk beans rocked… Rocked so much i went to this lady named 3 Sisters Farm and got like a brwn paper bag with 3 lbs of black beans + pecans!!!… Like no one told me i would get pecans at GCM… It rocked!!!!!!!

    OMG so i went again sunday  Like i heard some people txting about another market on sunday way far away in someplace called river forest  Like this markt started so early like 930  But when i got ther like no spinach!! no! carrots!! no lettuce!!!!  OMG no lettuce???!!!???  The cool ldy at the market said, like, she already sold all the lettuce But i had this awesome brunch  It rocked!!!!!!!!!! totally totally good pancakes made by some guy named ted… like i  mean it said ted’s grains.  + they made some kinda potato root veg dish  i mean like a lot of carbs i kno but it rocked!!!!  OMG!!!! i came for lettuce but had this most awesome brunch  Everyone’s going to these wintr mrkts!!!!!

    OMG I can’t wait until the nxt 1!!!! s u there!!!!!!


    One Comment

    Market Opportunities Galore (Local Calender)

    Posted: January 16, 2009 at 9:46 am

    It’s here.  It’s here.

    The long anticipated unveiling of Green City Market’s winter, Winter Market.  Starting tomorrow and then twice a month through April, the Green City Market will offer eat local fans shopping opportunities at the Peggy Notebaert  Museum at Fullerton and Lake Shore.  Green City promises “root vegetables, apples, sprouts, black beans, pork, beef, chicken, dried fruit, cider, jam, honey, milk, various cheeses, chestnuts and an array of breads and baked goods.”  Note, the related chef-demo event is at capacity.  Can’t mean you can’t shop.

    Here’s a few vendors I look forward to their products: Seedlings, these Michigan fruit guys really set up for the off-season.  They have dried fruits and frozen fruit, which are good things to use this time of year.  Growing Power, Will Allen and his amazing crew got a nice plug in this month’s issue of Saveur.  Congratulate them the way they like best, by buying like crazy.  I expect something green from them.  Tiny Greens, will of course, have, tiny, greens.  Sprouts and related may seem like the worst of hippie food, but if you’re diet is all roots these days, they provide a nice contour.

    Don’t stop your shopping at Green City.  The next day, Robin will have a robust winter market in River Forest.  She’s planning a gala brunch to taste the worth of the food.  And at the end of the brunch line with be a scoop of ice cream or sorbert from some new local guys (who’s names I cannot remember, I will promise to fix) and made with local ingredients, including, so I am told, an ice cream made from the same basil dressing sold at the markets.  Beyond the icy treats, Robin has another big supply of root vegetables from Farmer Vicki.  Taste real winter produce.

    If you have wanderlust this weekend, there are a couple of other farmer’s markets convening.  Appleton Wisconsin promises an indoor market with forty, yes forty vendors on Saturday and an indoor market will be in Milwaukee this Wednesday.

    One of the organizations making it more doable to eat local in Illinois, the Land Connection, is one of the featured charities for the Big Top at Big John Table of Twelve Charity Gala on Wednesday, January 21 at the Signature Room at the 95th at the John Hancock Center.  See the Land Connection site for more details.

    If you cannot make it to any market, I saw that Whole Foods had Wisconsin grown, organic celery root and they had sunchokes, I believe, but am not totally positive, also come from Wisconsin.  Suzy D commented on the VI blog that she found Wisconsin fingerling potatoes and Michigan dried cherries at Costco.  Local is where you find it.

    Winter Confusion Thursday, January 15th, 2009
    Winter Market – River Forest – Sunday Thursday, January 15th, 2009
    Going Against The Grain Thursday, January 15th, 2009
    Spring’s Done, Summer Hangs On, Fall Lasts – Mid-Winter Storage Report Wednesday, January 14th, 2009
    Local Commitments Monday, January 12th, 2009
    Hull House Kitchen’s Rethinking Soup Monday, January 12th, 2009
    Green Community Center – Winter Lecture Series – Locally Grown Foods in the Winter Monday, January 12th, 2009
    Special Bonus Calender Updates Friday, January 9th, 2009
    The (About the Same) Local Calender Friday, January 9th, 2009
    The Weekly Harvest Friday, January 9th, 2009
    Start Fresh with Local Thursday, January 8th, 2009
    Welcome Back Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
    Winter Farmers Market & Cafe ~ Deerfield Tuesday, January 6th, 2009
    Winter Market – Chicago/Northcenter Tuesday, January 6th, 2009
    A Delivery Resolution Saturday, January 3rd, 2009
    The Local Calender Friday, January 2nd, 2009
    The Big List Friday, January 2nd, 2009
    Eat This City Thursday, January 1st, 2009