It Is Summer on the Local Calendar

July 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Rob Gardner

Now that the weather is safely behind the paper again, I can see that it should get up to 88 today.  A little heat might push those tomatoes along.  On the other hand, it’s back to San Francisco temperatures by Saturday.  The goofy weather kept your sweet corn from the market for a bit, but it is there now.  There are other signs of summer, and summer versions of three local standbys.  Long after summer, you will be eating local potatoes, local apples, and local onions.  In the summer though, you have special versions of apples, potatoes and onions.  Look this weekend for all three.

In the summer, you get sweeter onions, tarter apples and moister potatoes.  More importantly, you get onions, apples and tomatoes not meant to last.  Summer apples, especially, get soft in about a week.  That means eat them soon and use them for their most usual use, apple sauce.  Those summer onions and summer potatoes need to go in the fridge too.  A few more general tips for these summer versions.  Because of their high water content, summer onions are best raw or lightly cooked, which is why they are often called salad onions.  They go well in Greek salads.  New potatoes, and do we need the difference between freshly dug and calling any red potato a new potato lecture again, also have higher water content than regular potatoes.  This means these potatoes will not brown or crisp up great.  Instead boil or steam them.  They are the ideal vehicle for your best olive oil or the Wisconsin made “Cheese Buys” feta now on sale at Whole Foods.  Also, there is no need to peel new potatoes.  In fact if you have to peel the potatoes, they probably are not true new potatoes.

Where are you going to look for your summer apples, onions and potatoes?  Use the Local Beet’s Market Locator to find a farmer’s market near you.  Assuming Molly the Eat Local Dog does not monkey-wrench the plans, we want to leave the Bungalow early enough to make it to the market in Urbana, Illinois (more at their blog).  And why the schlep to Urbana given the quality market in Oak Park?  Well, through the bad scheduling of KennyZ, we got the opportunity to attend one of the sold out farm dinners at Prairie Fruit Farms. (If you look at the menu, you’ll be quite jealous.)  Look for a full report on the locavore lifestyle in Central Illinois next week.  Here’s my write-up, back when I had a camera, from my last Prairie Fruit Farm’s meal.

I can safely go south because I had my Mado bistecca fiorentina dinner the other night.  You have a few more days to get these outstanding t-bone steaks from Swan Creek Farm at Mado.  Jump on the beef heart with melrose peppers if that’s on the menu too.  I’ve also been meaning to write-up the whitefish “baccala”, which to me, is really more like whitefish sushi, so jump on that one too.

Make a peach, mozzarella and basil salad.  Cassie reports that at her Green Grocer, she has fresh mozz from 2008 Dairyman of the Year, Crave Brothers.

Not a lot else major happening.  Visit Melissa and Purple Asparagus at the Evanston Farmer’s Market family day.  Make sure you tell Melissa you would love to attend the PA annual benefit, Cork and Crayons, on August 30.

Melissa (and I) very much want your lunch-time attendance as well, a few days earlier, at Daley Plaza for Slow Food Chicago’s Eat In to raise awareness of the vexing issues surrounding school lunches. (August 26).

Let us know what else you are doing to lead the local life.