A What Will We Do Kind of Menu Monday

Posted: August 31, 2009 at 8:56 am

The doorbell rang Thursday morning.  I mean I think I heard the door bell ring.  My office lies far from the door, and I also had the radio on.  Doorbell?  I went to check.  With no one there, I though maybe it was my neighbor dropping off our CSA box.  We do take turns.  No box.  Instead, I heard, “is this where Molly lives.”  I corralled the loose dog.  That box, my wife picked up later in the day.  And instead of telling you about the next day of Molly’s follies, where she almost got darted by Oak Park Animal Control, let’s move on to that box.

Our weekly box contained corn and two pints of blueberries, and two bunches of kale because some farmer’s ears must have been ringing and beets with their greens, a host of red peppers, a host of cherry tomatoes, and a host of freshly dug potatoes.  Two days later, we went to the Oak Park Farmer’s Market and purchased more tomatoes, including a ton more cherry, green beans, patty pans, peaches and pears.  What will we do with all this food.

Saturday lunch we dined luxuriously on a big platter salad with heirloom tomatoes, three colors of peppers, rocket, radish, Parma ham and local cheese.  Sunday mid-morning, we dined just as luxuriously with blueberry compote poured over ricotta hot cakes and frittatas made with beet greens and summer squash, a side salad of heirloom tomatoes, plus my mother’s pickled green tomatoes, and Faith Farm’s quality bacon from Cassie’s Green Grocer (and boy did my daughter go through all that bacon).  These simple but luxe meals have been, and will be, about our only chances to dig into that CSA box and our other local foods.

For one thing, this week, my wife and I have a chance to dine in probably the hardest two tickets in town.  It should be Kuma’s for lunch today, Menu Monday, and then on nameless Tuesday, we have 730 reservations at Schwa.  For another thing, we have been sharing, and will share, with some good causes.  On Friday night we celebrated the fifth anniversary of Vie.  On Saturday, we honored the memory of an old time Hyde Park independent named Sam Ackerman.  Sunday, we honored and celebrated the work of Purple Asparagus at their Cork and Crayon’s benefit.  Tonight, we honor and celebrate the work of MikeG and the cause of sustainable fish at the Shedd.  Wednesday, I might be able to slip in dinner but I am committed to a meeting with the good cause of Seventh Generation Ahead.  I started this round of good causes with a potluck at Wild Tree Cafe in Evanston to hear about their co-op ideas.  And in between, the best cause of all, my honey’s birthday which included Blackbird and sushi. 

I cannot say we avoided our good food entirely for our good causes.  On Thursday, I brought to the potluck a fruit salad from some of our muskmelon and a few other softer things.  For the Sam Ackerman open house, my wife made a tart with peaches and berries.  With school in session, we have receptacles for our excess buying habits.  Of course school lunches means I can weave another Molly story into the post, as today the kids were supposed to get leftover frittata until Molly snagged them off the counter.  So, only one got that, the other got Roth Kase cheese in leftover Red Hen baguette.  They both get today, peaches and radishes, and the rest of the week they will eat of local fruits and veg.

Somewhere in there, my wife wants to make a pasta dish speciality of her’s, with cherry tomatoes and fried eggs.  It was supposed to be on the menu last week, but in a fit of noshism, one daughter consumed most of the cherry tomatoes, enough at least that the dish could not be made last week.  What can we do this week to get it on the menu?

Road Trip and Garden Bounty

Posted: August 27, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Sometimes you’ve got to drive far to eat local. A fantastic weekend getaway to the rolling hills of Jo Daviess County ended with a visit to a strip mall-side farmstand for the sweetest corn we’ve had in years. The boys still insisted on getting McDonald’s to eat on the car ride home, and I know better than to battle with irritable children and a spouse in an enclosed minivan. The boys were fascinated to watch 19th century re-enactors in Elizabeth, IL melt lead into bullets and prepare a beef stew cooked in a kettle over an open fire in the rebuilt Apple River Fort. As a bonus, the boys were able to hold a freshly laid egg from one of the fort’s chickens. This was also the first time we’ve ever been to a place remote and dark enough for the boys to see the Milky Way.

The trip also included an amazing dinner at downtown Galena’s One Eleven Main, where chef Ryan explained how he obtains locally raised produce, pastries, wines and meats, as well as barbecue sauces made a few doors down by this chef Ivo of the Galena Canning Company. I’d first tried his Galena Blasting Sauce at the store on a visit a decade ago, and possibly earlier than that when I attended the Albuquerque, NM Fiery Foods Show, where Ivo is a regular exhibitor.

Chef Ivo with his sauces and me

Back in Cook County, we’ve been pulling tomatoes still slightly green from the uncovered garden. Something’s been nibbling on the ripe ones (the usual suspects: squirrels and chipmunks), and one of the boys swore he saw a rat in the street as well. As frustrated as I am, I was thrilled to see a hawk circling above the house, hopefully keeping my garden thieves at bay.
The bandits haven’t touched the exposed albino cucumbers, which have proven to be tender and delicious, although they grow less than half the length of conventional green ones. However, the cherry tomatoes that have grown protected in the Square Foot Garden managed to ripen themselves into a deep red while we were in Galena. And the taste made me sad that I’ve never bought anything so sweet. Candy sweet. If you wanted to market a dessert tomato, this would be it. I’ve never tasted a tomato quite like it. Sadly, there were only five fruits on the entire plant. This has not been a great summer for tomatoes. Lots of rain and not much sun or heat.

One of the potato plants that we’ve left alone all summer has produced some sizable spuds: four inches wide and very oval shaped. We left a few beans in the garden because we all just got tired of eating them. These I’m hoping to save this winter and plant in the spring—likely in a new house. The melons (which nobody can yet identify) continue to grow, although the leaves are dying off. I’m unclear if they still have some ripening to do or if the leaf death is a sign to harvest the fruit.

The basil and parsley continue to get taller and spread out and the broccoli has arisen again—phoenix-like—from the repeated cuttings I’ve performed. Surprisingly, the smaller side stalks on each plant have produced as much edible vegetables as the initial center head that I cut off many weeks ago. The collards are also remarkably resilient and my two enormous Brussels sprouts are holding their own, continuing to get taller and thicker in the stalk, while developing a few dozen little buds that will grow into mini-cabbages by harvest time.

The Late Return of Linky Wednesday

Posted: August 27, 2009 at 8:30 am

Being Eating-In at Daley Plaza rather monkey wrenched my plan to return Linky Wednesday to its rightful place in the Local Beet pantheon.  So, a day late, we have a bunch of stuff for you and your friends as well as some stuff from our friends to you.

If you want to show your friends how fair minded you are, cite them the one good thing in James McWilliams diatribe against local food.  Then go ahead and trash the book

Want to show your friends you don’t suffer from omnivore’s delusions, here’s some help.

Want to tell your friends that some people suffer as much trying to eat local in the summer as we do in the winter.

Please let your friends know about Graffiti and Grub, slaying food deserts one pear at a time. It opens tomorrow. 

Maybe the iffy economy has led some of your friends into the food business.  Please support these guys profiled here.

Would your friends believe that they’re eating local even in Alaska (Louisa?).

Another friend of ours wants to raise chickens in his backyard.

This friend acts as his own publicist.

This friend gives us pictures of what we all should see.

Last, let all your friends in on the local heroes down at the AquaRanch.

Beet Beer Update: Gunk

Posted: August 27, 2009 at 7:37 am

I’d never thought of beets producing gunk. They do.

The Local Beet Beer wasn’t clearing the way it should. Normally, finings (after using carrageenan in the boil) would take out all the things that might make a beer cloudy.

But these finings had never met up with as formidable an adversary as beet gunk. Sure, they’re fine (no pun) with bringing down proteins from the hot break, cold break, remnants of hop pellets but they’re no match for the almighty beet gunk.

Maybe the gunk came from the beets in the mash. Maybe it came from the added beet juice. I don’t care where it came from. I wanted it out.

So, what to do? As I’ve said previously, there seems to be a lot of pressure on yours truly to make this, at least, a passable beer. Not a beer with little flakes of miscellaneous detritus floating through your glass.

As is often the case, the solution (at least I hope it’ll work) came from my local hardware store – Lemoi (reportedly the oldest store of any kind in Evanston). I walked over there yesterday, and got: 1) a large plastic funnel; 2) a stainless steel coffee filter (very fine mesh); and 3) a short piece of food-safe tubing that fits on the end of the funnel.

So, with James Moody playing in the background (no, James didn’t come over here; I was listening to him as recorded on an old-fashioned cassette tape), I ran the beer through the coffee filter, into, essentially, a tertiary fermenter (big ol’ glass bottle).

But every few minutes I had to stop and clean out the coffee filter.


The tubing on the end of the funnel should have minimized the exposure of the beer to too much oxygen, but I threw in some Polyclar just to be safe (it’s a finely powdered plastic that settles out, taking with it oxidized molecules, tannins, and hopefully not too much color or flavor).

The Local Beet Beer will probably go into bottles next week.

I’ll keep you posted.


TomatoFest Potuck Supper – Sept 10

Posted: August 26, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Here’s a gala shindig with a bunch of our friends:

TomatoeFest, the HoneyCoop, Slow Food Chicago and Candid Wines, have a  Potluck Supper planned for September 10.   This event will celebrate the end of tomato season, and help you use up all the tomatoes from the seedling heirlooms you bought from Candid Wines and Uncommon Ground earlier this year (or from all the other farmer’s we love!).

They invite everyone and anyone to come and bring their favorite dish (tomato-centric or not). There will be organic wine from Candid Wines, Goose Island craft beer, fun events, nice people and lots of delicious, home-cooked food!

Where: Chicago HoneyCoop, 3740 W. Fillmore
When: September 10th
Tickets: $10 for HoneyCoop or Slow Food Chicago members, $15 for non-members. They can be purchased here. (All proceeds will benefit Slow Food Chicago.) Children under 10 get in free! “

Chef at the Market: And We Are Waiting…

Posted: August 26, 2009 at 9:26 am

There is finally an explosion of offerings at the Green City Market! Mother Nature has dealt us a tumultuous growing season and we are just now getting to enjoy the produce in the Midwest. And it’s not only at the markets, but also roadside stands dotting the countryside. This is the time of the year, almost more so than the holidays that I reconnect to my childhood, and the memories brought on by flavors of the past.

Summer to me is all about vegetables. I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time at my grandparents’ home in La Grange. My family owned a large piece of land, and like a lot of folks who had lived through the depression, they had sensibly planted a garden to grow their own foods. This thing was massive. I mean, it was so big that we could have sold to Whole Foods. My summers were spent picking vegetables, weeding the large plot of land and assisting my family members in cooking and canning all of our items. My cousins would come in from all over for the annual pickling party because, as David Hammond mentioned in his article, canning is best as a shared event. There was so much each year that we froze green beans in August and still had them for Christmas dinner. Plus our pickled beets and canned tomatoes lasted until harvest the next season. This may sound odd to some of you – that I spent my childhood in a vegetable garden – but it wasn’t strange back then. Everyone in the neighborhood grew something (as evidenced by the abundance of suburban yards with old apple trees) and it was just as much a family tradition for others as it was for the Sheerins.

Currently on the menu: Hakuri turnips, French breakfast radishes. green tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, cucumbers, dill, pork ribs, honey, maple syrup, corn, fingerling potatoes, pea shoots, Chinese broccoli, tat soi, wax beans, green beans, haricot vert, long beans, beets, baby carrots, garlic, zucchini, shallots, tropea onions, golden zucchini, baby squash, peaches, Bordeaux spinach, blueberries, hot peppers, basil, apricots, salad pickles, Blue Mont bandaged cheddar, Fresh Chevre from Prairie Fruits farm, cherries, Japanese eggplant and Swiss chard.

And to this day the zenith of summer comes to me in the form of tomatoes. I love all of the heirloom varieties, but the only one that transports me back to sunny summer days in La Grange are beefsteak tomatoes freshly plucked from the vine and still warm from the summer sun. We would sit in the dirt and eat them with really crunch bread (later to be discovered as a stale baguette Grandma brought home from the diner), a thin layer of mayonnaise, sprinkle of salt and freshly cracked pepper. Throw in some knob onions, basil and a garlic clove just dug out of the ground, and you have just whipped up my favorite childhood memory. And even when my mouth would sting from the acid in the tomato and my tongue was like sandpaper from the rough bread, I would eat on.

I’m lucky enough to still get to enjoy those flavors with my family because of the great produce we have available to us from local farmers who grow heirloom produce. My wife and I cook at home like Grandma used to, and we have a moment of our day where we connect over a meal; taking great pride in the food on our table and celebrating the individual to put so much love and care into each item. The summer growing season brings many different folks together. It brought the Signature Room and the Local Beet together, and hopefully it brings you to one of our tables in the near future. I hope to see you soon!

Read the previous installment of “Chef at the Market”

Time For Lunch

Posted: August 25, 2009 at 10:31 am


Tomorrow from 11:30am to 1:00pm, join Purple Asparagus and The Local Beet in Daley Plaza as we participate in Slow Food’s Eat-In to demonstrate our support for getting good, healthful food into our schools.

Sounds great, but what does this mean and why now? Is it because school’s right around the corner? While the timing sems right in terms of focusing our attention to this issue, but there’s more to it. At the end of September, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, which authorizes all of the federal school meal and child nutrition programs, will expire. Does this mean that children will go hungry if Congress does not reauthorize the law? Not exactly.

The School Breakfast, National School Lunch, and Special Milk Programs are authorized permanently. However, many of the other programs such as the Child and Adult Care Food program, Summer Food Service Program, Afterschool Snack and Meal Program and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC), the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrtition Program and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program are not and would expire without further Congressional action.

Given the surging interest in local, sustainable foods, and the interest we’ve seen from the White House about this subject, we may finally have an opportunity to improve the foods supplied by the existing programs. We also should advocate for the National Farm to Table Program to finally receive funding. Congress established the Farm to Table Program in 2004, the last time that the Child Nutrition Act was reauthorized, gave it a $10 million authorization but never appropriated any funds to it. It may go without saying to those who read this blog that farm-fresh foods taste better. If the lunches taste better, it’s pretty likely that participation in school lunch programs will rise among paying students and adults. Increased participation rates among paying customers means more money for school food services improving the financial viability of the programs.

Improving school lunches isn’t just about giving more fortunate children an option to brown bagging it. This programs funded by the Child Nutrition Act make a real difference in lives of many in at-risk communities. According to the latest USDA data, 12.6 million children lived in households facing a constant struggle with hunger. During the 2006-07 school year, 8.1 million low-income children received free or reduced-price breakfast and 17.9 million free or reduced-price lunch. Getting better food in the schools to these children could make a lasting public health change.

If you care about these issues, speak out. Come to the rally tomorrow to join forces with other individuals and organizations who care about these issues. For more detailed information about tomorrow or to order your lunch beforehand, visit Slow Food Chicago’s website.

If you can’t make it tomorrow, consider hosting your own Eat-In on Labor Day. To learn more, visit Slow Food USA’s website.

Also, you can support Purple Asparagus’s grassroots, on-the-ground programs in the schools by attending our annual fundraiser Corks & Crayons or participate in our online auction.

For more details, visit our website. Finally, come to Cooking Up Change on October 29 at Salvage One to show your support for Healthy Schools Campaign, a national advocacy group working on all issues related to health in our schools.

To learn more about the Child Nutrition Act or the Farm to School Initiatives in Reauthorization, visit the Community Food Security Coalition to sign up for their listserv.

This post was originally published on my new blog, Little Locavores, a site for baby beets.

See You TODAY – Daley Plaza

Posted: August 25, 2009 at 9:04 am



It’s Time for Lunch
in Daley Plaza
 Wednesday August 26, 2009



Our Program Will FeatureM.C. Mike Nowak From the Mike Nowak Show on WCPT
Lynn Peemoeller
President Slow Food Chicago



Jim Braun co-Chair IL Local & Organic Food & Farms Task Force & Slow Food USA Board Member
18th District IL State Representative
Julie Hamos
Celebration of passage and signing of Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Act



Cleo Record Growing Power Youth Intern
Lucy Gomez Feliciano Logan Square Neighborhood Association

Josh Viertel
  President Slow Food USA



Slow Food USA Policy Platform~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Every school day, we have an opportunity to build a strong foundation for our children’s health by serving them real food at school. Children who grow up enjoying food that is both delicious and good for them learn healthy habits that last throughout their lives. Each year that we fail to satisfy our children’s right to real food is another year we deny our children good health, we diminish their ability to learn and we close the door on their opportunity to succeed.

The need for real school food has never been greater. Today, one in four children is overweight or obese, and one in three will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime. In the face of this crisis, our schools are financially struggling to feed children anything but the overly processed fast food that endangers their health. For many children, school lunch is their only guaranteed meal of the day. Right now, those children are forced to choose between going hungry and being unhealthy.

Our leaders in Congress need to hear that when it comes to our children and the legacy we’re leaving them, change can’t wait.  Visit the Slow Food USA website to learn more and how YOU can get involved

Host your own Eat-In on Labor Day, September 7thLearn How

Slow Food USA is organizing a National Eat-In on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2009. On that day, people in communities across America will gather with their neighbors for public potlucks that send a clear message to our nation’s leaders: It’s time to provide America’s children with real food at school.


Bring your lunch or PLAN AHEAD and order here from our lunch providers~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~     Green Bag Lunch
     Gourmet Gorilla
     Southport Grocery
     Hannah’s Bretzel
     City Provisions


Stop by an information table for a complimentary piece of fresh, succulent & seasonal fruit from local farmers


Special thanks to our partner organizations and all of our volunteersHull House, Local Beet, Angelic Organics Learning Center, Chicago Cooks, Windy City Harvest, Seven Generations Ahead, Green Mama, FamilyFarmed, Edible Chicago, Green City Market, Dawes School, Food, Farm & Jobs, Organic School Project, Chicago Honey Co-op, Purple Asparagus, Seedling Orchard, Lehman’s Orchard, Stover Farms, Mick Klug Farms


Visit our website for more information

Slow Food Chicago  






One Comment

Local Ham Comes In Third

Posted: August 25, 2009 at 7:59 am

I am all about local triumphalism.  I sell local by the goodness of our food.  Still, I have to be honest, and when the local ham, the prosciutto di Iowa, went up against two of Spain’s finest, including the ungodly expensive pata negra, it came in third.

The challenge occurred at Carnivale the other night.  My wife and I dined with another food obsessed couple.  Soon after sitting, while one of us quizzed the Carnivale waiters in their signature itsy-bitsy ties, the rest of us began the dinner negotiation.  Me, I went straight for insisting on the ceviche sampler.  Someone else wanted the ham sampler.  I demurred, thinking I could just go buy my own ham, but when push came to shove and chowhounds like us were throwing in our orders, the appetizers included the hams and the fishes.  I was not going to turn down the plate, the very, very generous platter of hams, once it hit the table.

I needed to see how the local ham compared right?  The Carnivale server advised, after asking, eating the Serrano ham first, then the La Quercia, and finish with the Iberico.   You know what.  We found the Serrano the consensus favorite.  Maybe it’s a cheaper thrill, but the Serrano had a nice saline jolt to prepare you for its buttery finish.  The Quercia is subtle, just a bit too subtle against the Spanish hams, although it tied the Serrano in richness.  This was my first sampling of the long embargoed pata negra, a ham marbled like Kobe beef.  And that’s what it reminded me of, beef, like carpaccio.  Of course it melted in our mouthes.  Still, it was all a texture thing.  On this day, I preferred something more.  I’ll continue to buy my local ham whenever I get the chance.  Coming in third is not such a bad thing.

Corks & Crayons: Fundraiser for Purple Asparagus at Uncommon Groud

Posted: August 24, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Foodies old and young will come together once again to celebrate the joys of family meals when Purple Asparagus holds its Fifth Annual Corks & Crayons benefit dinner at Uncommon Ground Edgewater (1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago) on Sunday, August 30th from 4-7pm.

The all-ages, end-of-summer party will feature a sampling of healthy, delicious, family-friendly selections from Uncommon Ground’s menu. Grown-ups can also sip wine donated by Candid Wines, assorted beers from Three Floyds, cocktails by Templeton Rye and iced coffee from Crop to Cup while younger guests can select from age-appropriate beverages from the restaurant’s non-alcoholic menu.

The event will include a mini farmers’ market for kids, a gardening demonstration by The Organic Gardener, live entertainment, a raffle and a silent auction for bidding on gourmet treats, great retreats and more. During this kid-friendly fundraiser for Purple Asparagus, families will also be able to tour the certified-organic green roof atop Uncommon Ground where the restaurant grows much of the produce on its menu.

Purple Asparagus is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization founded by Chef Melissa Graham in 2005 to bring families back to the table by promoting all the things associated with good eating. The group has partnered with Green City Market, the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs for a wide variety of cultural and educational programs. It is a valuable resource for schools, museums and farmers’ markets, educating both kids and adults with cooking demonstrations, tastings and other activities. The group has hosted family dinners at restaurants including Erwin, Volo and May Street Market.

Tickets for “Corks & Crayons” are $50 (nonmembers $55) for adults, $22 ($25) for young adults ages 13-21 and $12 ($15) for ages 5-12. Kids under 5 are free. Money raised at the event will help Purple Asparagus expand its school programs and enable the organization to teach more families about the pleasures and importance of eating well. Tickets can be purchased via credit card at www.brownpapertickets.com, or by checks payable to Purple Asparagus sent in care of Melissa Graham, 1854 W Newport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657. For more information on the event and Purple Asparagus membership, visit www.purpleasparagus.com.

One Comment

The Ways of Kale on Menu Monday

Posted: August 24, 2009 at 3:06 pm

How much resistance did you show at the market last week?  I feel I showed incredible restraint.  No restraint on Catalina Farm’s jewel box mini summer squash.  I went for quarts of peaches, pints of pears, nectarine seconds that mostly already went into a cake, gobs of tomatoes, peppers more expensive than I should really pay.  All that,  but I decided to skip Farmer Vicki’s “lipstick” peppers that looked a hell of a lot like big red wax lips.  I went past all the fingerling potatoes.  I saw the first grapes of the year, but did not purchase.  Much other stuff I where I showed restraint.

A few days before the Oak Park Farmer’s Market, I got my weekly CSA box.  It came with sweet corn, muskmelon, summer apples, many assorted peppers up and down the Scovile scale, two bags or rocket, eggplants, cherry tomatoes, heirloom yellow cucumbers.  I also picked up last week at Caputo’s some green tomatoes for a pasta recipe I saw in a new book.  I have fruit still from points east, plums and pears.  I have a bowl full of green “roasting” peppers from like two CSA’s back turning shades of red in the dining room.  I could look back at assorted other Menu Monday posts to be reminded of other foods still around.  I will tell you, however, what I do not have, kale.  Still, our friend at Eli’s Cheesecake “MailorderAndie” wants to know about kale.  Let’s put kale on the menu this Monday. 

Andie looked at our 44 (now 46 with comments) ways to use peaches and said:

i need 44 ways to use Kale. Chad gave me a boatload of it yesterday and I’m up against it to get it all used in a few days.

We are here for you Andie. We love kale.  Actually, we love kale best in the fall when kale is nicely thriving when all the other plants find it too cold.  Then, kale will be at its sweetest.  Do not just throw your current boatload in the compost though; we think you’ll enjoy it anyways.  Kale is one of those “greens”, meaning leafy things that are too tough and too strong in flavor to eat raw (except in their most immature forms).  Kale also falls into the pot with the heartier greens, collards, turnips, mustard as compared to the softer ones like chard, spinach and beet greens.  Hearty as it is, it does not need to be cooked for hours to enjoy.

The distinguishing feature of kales, and these days in fancy markets kales can go by such fancy names as cavolo nero and lacacinto, is their hard, feathery or pebbly surfaces.  No one hides kale in a recipe.  And that’s the point too, take advantage of kale’s titanium skin.  Kale is used much in soups, like the traditional Spanish caldo Gallego or the Portuguese caldo verde.  Kale can stand up to a good hot broth.  It pairs nicely with beans.  You can, of course, cook that skin into submission with something porky, a prosciutto end, hocks, a slab of Nueske bacon.  For this kind of greens, I advise making a sort of stock by simmering your pork for about a half hour in water (a couple of dried peppers, a garlic clove or two could not hurt) then adding your greens and cooking for at least 45 minutes.  Cornbread if you got it.

Kale can be cooked in other things besides big stock pots.  David the Hat Hammond notes that kale can be kind of oven fried.  I like kale salads after steaming the leaves.  The bold nature of kale stands up to bold flavored dressings with soy, ginger, mustard, garlic or red chile pastes.  Kale can also be sauteed, although have your stock pot there too as most recipes recommend the kale be blanched first.   What I would not use kale for, are the things that I typically use chard or spinach. I would not use kale with scrambled eggs.  I would not mince it and use it in ravioli.  I would not use kale anywhere the green is there for a lot of color and not much else.  You do not ignore kale.

How else will you use kale on this late edition Menu Monday?


Eat In with the Local Beet, Daley Plaza – Wednesday!

Posted: August 24, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Please come to the big Slow Food Chicago Eat-In for better school lunches this Wednesday at Daley Plaza.  The Local Beet is one of several organizations that will be present.  We’ll be at the same table as Angelic Organics and Hull House.  The latest program for the Eat-In is below.

It’s Time for Lunch! Eat-In

August 26, 2009 in Daley Plaza, Chicago



6:30- 9:00      Setup tables & tents in Daley Plaza

                        AM Rush –  information booths & petitions


9:00-11:00     Table decoration & information booths & petitions

                        All are welcome


11:00-11:30   Seneke- African Drumming (not on stage)



11:30              M.C. Mike Nowak

From the Mike Nowak Show on WCPT

Lynn Peemoeller, President Slow Food Chicago


11:35              Jim Braun, co-Chair IL Local & Organic Food & Farms Task Force & Slow Food USA Board Member

State Representative Julie Hamos

Celebration of passage and signing of Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Act 


12:00              Josh Viertel, President Slow Food USA

                        Cleo Record- Growing Power Youth Intern

                        Lucy Gomez Feliciano, Logan Square Neighborhood Association

                        Green Bag Lunch- maybe

                        Gourmet Gorilla- maybe


12:45              Seneke – African Drumming (on stage)


1:00-2:00       Main stage program ends- information booths & petitions


2:00-3:30       Take-down


  • Main Stage program is subject to change


It’s Time for Lunch! Eat-In

August 26, 2009 in Daley Plaza, Chicago



Partner Organizations
Hull House

Local Beet

Angelic Organics Learning Center

Chicago Cooks

Windy City Harvest

Seven Generations Ahead

Green Mama


Edible Chicago

Green City Market

Dawes School

Food, Farm & Jobs

Organic School Project

Chicago Honey Co-op


Lunch Providers- special thanks

Green Bag Lunch

Gourmet Gorilla

Southport Grocery

Hannah’s Bretzel

City Provisions


Fruit Provided by the following farmers

Mick Klug Farms

Seeding Farm

Stover Farms

Lehman’s Orchards


Kids Corner

Purple Asparagus

Bloggin’ My CSA: Crustless Quiche

Posted: August 22, 2009 at 12:49 pm

You generally don’t think of whipping up a quiche in the middle of a hectic evening, but it’s easier and quicker than you think, if you’re willing to go without a crust.

When I was trying to figure out dinner and looking over some of the less storage-friendly ingredients that we had from the most recent CSA delivery, quiche seemed like a great idea. A tip of the hat to Heather for planting the idea in my head in the comments.

Crustless Chard, Sweet Onion & Corn Quiche

I didn’t have a crust, nor did I want to make one. Crustless quiche is quick and easy. You can prep (chop & sautee) whatever ingredients you need while the oven is pre-heating (400 degrees) and then get it all into a buttered pie pan for 30 minutes of cooking time. While it cooks, you can do other stuff like make a salad. I sauteed the chard, a sweet onion, and some corn kernels (we had previously roasted some of the ears of corn). I added the veggies to four beaten eggs and 1.25 cups of milk along with a bit of grated cheese. (Joy of Cooking tip: toss the cheese with a little flour to prevent it falling to the bottom and sticking.)


The 61st Street Market’s Saturday Line Up

Posted: August 21, 2009 at 3:01 pm

From Experimental Station’s Newsletter:
• Sherrie and Max at Genesis Growers are looking forward to introducing you to the many and wonderful varieties of vegetables they grow on their farm, right here in Illinois—Pearly Pink cherry tomatoes, rainbow-colored peppers, red celery….
• Ellis Family Farm and Hillside Orchards’ tables are starting to fill up with apples! There are also several kinds of plums (Methlys, Early Golds, Ontario and Shiro), as well as peaches, apricots and nectarines. I will try to relocate and send to you that fabulous apple pie recipe that Chuck Thurow (Hyde Park Art Center) made last year. Next week…
• On the meat front, Mint Creek Farm’s lamb is great for summer grilling, and Faith’s Farm bacon is outrageously good in a BLT. If you have not yet asked Brunos Organics about their meats, please do so. They carry grass-fed, sustainably-raised chicken and beef from Indiana.
• At 10:30am, making his return visit, Chef David West will be demonstrating preparation of his Amazing Anti-oxidant Fruit Salad.
• From 11:00am-2:00pm, join Pamela Martin and Esther Bowen from the University of Chicago at the Market School tent to learn how our food gets from the farm to Chicago.
• Lastly, don’t forget that the 61st Street Farmers Market accepts LINK, WIC, and Senior Coupons.

44 Ways to Use Local Peaches in Your Local Calender

Posted: August 21, 2009 at 9:41 am

Local food tastes better because farmers can pick their food at the right times (or as we like to say here, the ripe times).  Local food tastes better because farmers are not looking for shipability and box counts.  And sometimes local food tastes better just because we are lucky.  We are lucky for sure that our local food zone, the Big Ten Conference that sucks mostly in football, produces some of the best food.  Our local food tastes better because of our local peaches. 

This is it.  Local peach season.  When you find a market using the Beet’s locator* you will find some local peaches.  We can eat our peaches over the sink, sucking on the pit long afterward, but peaches lend themselves to much culinary use.  The robust peach stands up to a host of heavy flavors, which is why it used to be there in half, with the toast, on the plate of diner fried chicken.  As shown below, it is typical in French cooking, to roast duck with peaches.  Here then, are forty-four ways to use those peaches including with roast duck:

Grilled, alongside whatever else is on the barbie; chopped with jalepeno and red onion as a salsa; roasted with duck; baked with thick pork chops; dried overnight in your oven or using a food dehydrator, so you have a local fruit to give to the kids later on; not quite dried but ready for the trail when made into fruit leather; peach princess pudding; peach pie; peach cobbler, peach kuchen;  canned so that you make a melba to remember or a local diet plate; canned with spices for a winter relish (spiced peaches); mixed with even more spices for a chutney; peach pancakes; with bacon, an heirloom tomato, and rocket (arugula) for a PBTA; roasted, stuffed with fresh ricotta and drizzled with honey; pureed for Bellini’s; cold peach soup; peach ice cream, peach sorbet, peach granita (or peach ice); peach glazed BBQ ribs; peach butter if you cook it down a lot or peach jam which is cooked down but not quite; a salad with roasted pecans and goat cheese; mixed with summer berries for a fruit salad; fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of good balsamic; Italian peach wedding cookies; champagne poached peaches; stewed; stuffed into french toast; peach kugel; dried for fried pies; peach fried rice; with prosciutto or raw country ham; threaded with pork tenderloin and grilled as kebobs; brandied peaches; peach dumplings; peach donuts; peach muffins; upside down cake or do we call it (peach tarte tartin?); mixed into cottage cheese (not Breakstone); peaches and cream

Much else on the local calendar beyond peaches.

Learn all you can learn about peppers, Saturday, at the Botanic Gardens.

The beer lineup is amazing for tomorrow’s Seven Generation’s Ahead Microbrew Review in Oak Park; what better way to support a great cause.

It’s great to help out a farmer in need, especially when helping out gets you a fantastic repast.  Ronnie “Suburban” Kaplan lets us know about this event for Illinois farmer Tracey Vowels on Sunday.

Our pals at Mado are moving over to Webster Wine Bar for a special competitive dinner this Sunday night.

If you are a veteran of Re-Thinking Soup at Hull House you can say, “hey I know Whitehouse Chef Sam Kass.”  And if you can make it there this Tuesday, 8/25, you can say, “hey I met Josh Viertel, President of Slow Food USA.”

 Not too many more days until the  Eat-in at Daley Plaza with Slow Food Chicago for better school lunches.  It’s next Wednesday, August 26.

Before hitting the Eat-In, you can learn about heirloom tomatoes at Green City Market.

Veggie bingo at the Hideout to finish the day on Wednesday.

Cork and Crayons, the benefit for Purple Asparagus is on August 30

Tomatofest is set for September 10, but I bet you are already knee deep in fancy BLT’s.

Local Beet’s Farm dinner is September 20.

Last, I stopped into my Caputo’s on Harlem in Elmwood Park this week, and I can tell you that local food is more accessible and affordable as ever.

Anything else?

*Less chance to find local peaches in Wisconsin


It’s Good to Be a Locavore Back Local Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Tuesday is Vegetarian Night Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Chef Mendez at GCM Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Bloggin’ My CSA: The Halfway Point Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Terra Brockman on Illinois Local Food Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Bringing the Farm to a VA Hospital Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
IL Food, Farms & Jobs Bill Signed by Gov. Quinn Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Where Those Eggplant Went Monday, August 17th, 2009
Local Beet Beer Update Monday, August 17th, 2009
Local Lobster Sunday, August 16th, 2009
Today’s Shopping Pics Sunday, August 16th, 2009
Morton Grove Resident Trying to Start a Farmer’s Market Sunday, August 16th, 2009
Local Meal Pic of the Moment Friday, August 14th, 2009
BLT Bonanza Chef Updates Friday, August 14th, 2009
Metropolitan Beer, Lager Evangelists Friday, August 14th, 2009
I’m Going to Pittsburgh, You Get an Abbreviated Local Calendar Thursday, August 13th, 2009
Remembering Abby Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
The Local Beet’s First Farm Dinner Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
Every Week Needs a Linky Wednesday – UPDATED Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
Cooking without a Net/Cooking with Alice Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
What Goes Better with Bacon than Artists and Tomatoes Monday, August 10th, 2009
Eat-In: Support a Better Child Nutrition Act Monday, August 10th, 2009
Guest Post – Grace from U of Wisconsin Monday, August 10th, 2009
Potential Food Coop in Evanston Monday, August 10th, 2009
No Peach Leaves on Menu Monday Monday, August 10th, 2009
August Garden Tour Monday, August 10th, 2009
Local Beet Beer Monday, August 10th, 2009
Your Accessible and Affordable Local Calendar Friday, August 7th, 2009
Did You Put Up Applesauce or Anything Else This Week? Friday, August 7th, 2009
Gaga Over Greens, Not Grammar Thursday, August 6th, 2009
Meet the Beet Today @ Daley Plaza Thursday, August 6th, 2009
Bloggin’ My CSA: Delivery Four Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
Another Go At Linky Wednesday Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
Eating Priorities: Local, In-season, Organic – Oh My! Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
The Best Market on Menu Monday Monday, August 3rd, 2009
Yes, I Can (I think) Monday, August 3rd, 2009