A Garden in Mid-October

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Posted: October 27, 2009 at 7:41 am

A lone pumpkin sits in a corner of the garage. Vicki, of Genesis Growers near Kankakee, let us scour her pumpkin patch for the biggest gourd we chose to carry home the eve of The Local Beet Farm Dinner in September. She also gave me four different types of onion (white, Spanish, sweet and Bermuda), from her enormous hoop-house drying huts, which I’ve put to good use. My younger son, Pikachu, slashed a growling face into the orange orb after we hollowed it out for Halloween. Nothing says fall like a carved pumpkin, awaiting trick-or-treaters.

The Square Foot and uncovered gardens are all black now. Their exhausted soil is covered in last year’s compost—a well-deserved reward for a job well done. As I prepared for last week’s frost (followed by this week’s mild weather!), I tore up every plant except the snap peas, which are still somehow bearing fruit.

As I uprooted the fruitless and space-wasting tomato plants from the uncaged portion of my garden I noticed some chunky slugs hanging onto the undersides of the leaves, and I realized why the garden had been such a popular hangout for the neighborhood birds. I flicked the meaty gray and white invertebrates on top of the garbage can and left them to their fate. I know that inflicting cruelty on pests does not set an example for other pests to learn from. It’s more a reward for the birds, who did a good job controlling insects in the uncovered garden and who looked pathetic trying to stick their beaks into the poultry netting of the Square Foot Gardens in pointless attempts to reach prey.

My neighbor got a far better crop from the potatoes I gave him in the spring than I did and I’m happy for him. He cautioned me to pick my volunteer melons before they rotted on the vine, but I had bet they were really squash and left them to mature longer, even though most of their leaves were dead. Turned out I was right, and the delicious spaghetti squash made a great dinner. If I had to guess, I’d say some seeds from a squash meal in 2008 survived their stay in the compost bin and made a new home in the garden in spring 2009. Not only did this happy accident result in another meal, but the leaves never conflicted with the eggplants, which resulted in three nice medium-sized fruits that went into a Thai stir-fry dish.

The last edible bits of the harvest were the Brussels sprout. Each of the two spine-like stalks bore 30-40 tiny nubs resembling mini cabbages. I sautéed them before steaming, and even my mother-in-law, who hates hates hates Brussels sprouts, enjoyed them. Although my wife maintains that her mom exaggerates how much she likes my cooking just to make me feel better. I’ll take it either way.

The winds are helping cover my lawn with colorful leaves from someone else’s trees. The compost tumbler is filled with the excess of the garden plants and the cages, stakes, netting and fencing are put away for the winter. It’s going to be a long wait until the next planting. I don’t even know if it will be at this house, so it’s hard to start planning already. Looking out over the backyard, though, is a mixed bag of emotions. The piles of dirt that gave us so many interesting meals throughout the summer and fall sit quiet with the promise of another season to come.

With so many lessons learned, I feel confident that next year I can not only break even financially, but beat my current record and feed my family for more than a full week from our yard. Although I made many naïve errors, generally, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I successfully fought of birds and rodents, wind and excess rain, lack of sunlight and insets to grow more food than I had hoped for. With complete faith that the Good Earth will come through for me again, I look forward to next year’s planting with eagerness and determination.

Expenses: $250
Benefits: $165
Days family could survive off our crops: 4.5




The Local Calendar Says Stock Up

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Posted: October 23, 2009 at 11:18 am

If we say anything at the Local Beet, and believe you me both, we are prone to repeating ourselves, we say “the reasons to eat local do not end when the markets close up for the season.”  Sure, this Local Family will find bananas in the school lunch and oranges on the table over the winter, but we will still be doing are darndest to eat local.  We will rely much on what we stocked away. 

Let me backtrack for a second, this winter more than ever in our area, we have the ability to obtain local foods in the fall, winter and early spring.  We may not need to put as much away.  We have several Fall/Winter CSAs we can subscribe.  We can order from Irv and Shelly (which is a good resource for seeing what is available local in the winter). Cassie’s going strong and will be pulling stuff from Windy City Harvest, AquaRanch and other cold season farmers all the time at her Green Grocer.  The Downtown Farmstand draws from many of the same sources.  Logan Square will have a winter market this winter.  And who’s not looking forward to what they will have at the Metra Market.  Oh, and let’s not forget that Green City is year round.  On the downside, the roving winter markets of the last few years will not be as often this winter.  Still, we should be able to shop.

Still, we need to stock.  Stock for a few reasons.  Stock because, multiplying options as they may multiply, we do not fully know what we will find come winter.  And argue as I may (and I’ll get around to making this argument plenty), the winter markets will mostly contain lettuces, spinach, chard and the like.  Your roots for your root cellar, I’m saying start getting them now.  Same with other things to put away, onions, garlic, squashes; you may or may not find them, so why not be safe.  The second reason to stock up now is to take advantage of prices.  With most markets running only a few more weeks (and some markets already done), farmers are motivated to move their inventory.  You may especially find good prices on lingering summer items.  There may be the last plum tomatoes to can or eggplants to do something.  You will also find good prices on apples, pears, grapes, potatoes when you buy in bulk.  It always pays to ask if something, an apple or a potato, is a keeper, but generally the items in the market now are keepers (the one exception being McIntosh apples which do not store well).  Stock up.

How to keep your food in a good condition after you have stocked up?  The foods you can keep and store fall into two categories: cold and dry/colder and moist.  The foods that do not require a lot of cold to last are onions, garlic and squash.  These items should be kept somewhere not so damp, which in Chicago area homes is usually about anywhere.  Keep onions dark too, to prevent sprouting.  The rest of the stuff needs more chill, around forty degrees or lower but not freezing, is ideal.  A refrigerator is a good a place as any to get that kind of cold.  The problem with a fridge is that it’s not very moist generally.  That can be solved by placing the foods in sand, wrapping in towels or keeping in plastic bags that retain some moisture.  Beyond your fridge, you can use your root cellar if you got one or find a makeshift root cellar (we’ll talk about this more some other time).  This Local Family has found that its unheated attic makes a fine root cellar in the sky.  Stock up.

What else is there to do besides stocking up?

Saturday, October 24 is the International Day of of Action on the topic of climate change.  There are many events going on around the Chicago area.

The beginnings of what will be Baconfest go fourth this Sunday at the Publican.

We should be telling you more about the nascent Glenwood/Rogers Park Farmer’s Market on the Local Beet.  Until then, you should go help them get started by attending this fundraiser Sunday, Oct. 24, at the Glenwood.

The Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance puts on its bi-annual show this weekend, focusing on beef.  They’ve managed to schedule a Maxwell Street food run in too (Sunday), for all those who missed my show last week.

I wish I could be around for this deli discussion next Thursday, Oct. 29 at Manny’s but I’ll be in Texas.

Some things that should already be noted on your Local Calender:  Seventh Generation Ahead Annual Dinner is November 7, at the Union League ClubMutton family dinner at Mado, October 25.  Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP) fundraiser at Birchwood Kitchen on Oct 26. 

Something to put on your calender for next week: Green City Market is having an awesome Halloween party.  Screw candy when you can get treats cooked up by Allie Levitt of Mado.

Hope you have fun stocking up as well as taking in all that is on offer on the Local Calendar.  As always, if we have missed anything, please feel free to add in the comments.




There’s More to Bourbannais than the Bears

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Posted: October 23, 2009 at 9:08 am

What do you do when you have a couple of hours to kill before going to The Local Beet’s Farm Dinner? You get to the farm early and help Melissa, Michael and Rob set up, right?

Naw. I hung out at a brewpub. Brickstone Brewery, in Bourbonnais, was right along the route.

Everyone has personal biases. For a brewpub, or even a beer bar, I like an old, maybe slightly grungy, well-worn appearance. Perhaps the best, most authentic version I’ve ever been to is McSorley’s in New York, serving beer since 1854 (and serving women, only since 1970 [no, you can’t order off the menu and have them bring a woman to your table. But if you happen to be a woman, and want a beer, you would’ve been out of luck at the McSorley’s of 1969.]). But the beer list there (“light” or “dark”) sucks.

In Chicago, I love the atmosphere at the Map Room, the Hopleaf, and Quenchers, to name a few. I’m on record as being a big fan of The Livery, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and Silver Creek, in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. All with a decent grunge factor.

So when I see slick façade in a suburban shopping area like Brickstone (or like St. Francis Brewery, in St. Francis, Wisconsin, just south of Milwaukee), my suspicious hackles are immediately raised.

BrickstoneExt

Inside Brickstone, it got worse. Entering, I saw a nice, clean room, accented by stone walls (again, similar to St. Francis). Unlike my Chicago faves, I couldn’t ever imagine someone regurgitating on the floor here. This can’t lead to a good beer experience, can it?

Well, maybe. When I think of Chicago-area towns with brewpubs, Bourbonnais is not the first place that comes to mind. And it shouldn’t be. But based on this visit, it should certainly be in the top five, or ten, anyway.

Per our usual procedure, we got a sampler.

BrickstoneBeer
l to r, back row: 557 Light Lager, Cherry Ale (they were almost out of it), Blonde Ale, American Pale Ale, Golden Promise IPA, Robust Porter
front: Replic Ale, Forbidden Wheat, Heady Betty Double IPA, Irish Red, Belgian Dubbel

I was surprised by the 557 Light Lager. It’s obviously their offering for the basic BudMillCoors drinker, but it had a genuine hopiness, both in the aroma and the flavor. It takes guts on their part to offer a beer with real taste to drinkers who are used to drinking thin, watery dishwater.

I was also surprised by the Cherry Ale. This ain’t no robust Cherry Ale like New Glarus’ outstanding Wisconsin Belgian Red. Instead, think of it as the bastard child of Bud Light and Cherry Kool-Aid. At best, it’s a beer for people (not to be sexist, but mostly young women) who don’t really like beer.

The standout of the afternoon was the Double IPA (although, admittedly, I’m a hop-head). They claimed it chimed in at 80 IBUs, but I would have guessed 50 or 60. (For reference, most lawnmower beers are in the 8 – 10 IBU [International Bitterness Units] range – a measure of the beer’s bitterness from hops.) Still, the hops were the star of the show. At 9.0% ABV, it’s a big beer, but it retains a bit of sweet maltiness to balance the hops. I could go for even more hops, but I did like it as it was.

Sadly, the Replic Ale, another highlight, may not be long for this world. It was created for the Illinois Craft Brewers’ Guild’s Alefest last July – an event in which many breweries are challenged to create their own takes on a specific beer style – in this year’s case, Belgian Wit. At that event, there were many good wit-style beers – it was fascinating to compare them. There was no one winner, nor should there have been, but Brickstone’s was among the best I sampled. And re-sampling it at the restaurant/brewery, its lemony, herbaceous character made for a beer that I could have drunk all afternoon – if I didn’t need to get down to the Local Beet Farm Dinner. Our server said there were no plans to make it a permanent menu item.

Based on a single visit with a single server, though, I was impressed. Asking questions about hop varieties, grains used, and mashing techniques, the bartender – who suggested he worked there only part-time – had credible, informed answers for 3/4 of my questions. And for those that stumped him, he texted the brewmaster, and got back to me within minutes, if not seconds.

Everything else I tried there would suggest a trip down to Bourbannais might be a good idea, even if it’s not Bears training camp season.

Brickstone Brewery
557 William Latham Drive
Bourbonnais, IL 60914
815-936-9277




Pining for Public Markets on Linky Wednesday

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Posted: October 21, 2009 at 9:17 am

Oh, we’ll have our usual highlighting of locavores around the nation and some other bits and pieces of note, but today’s edition of Linky Wednesday focuses on a topic vital to me, other writers for the Local Beet, and the local food community generally: Public Markets.

We pine for a public market type thing-ee in Chicago.  We wonder why Cleveland of all places should have it but good, but truth be told, we should not look so much at Milwaukee for inspiration.  We hope.

Art at Pleasant House hopes and explains and digs up background and foreground and certainly fleshes things out.  An excellent primer for the market piners.

And for all that pining, are our prayers about to be answered.  Last week, I got the press release announcing the latest round of vendors for the Metra Market.  I’d say that I’m pining for opening day.  This line-up‘s got me thinking thankful thoughts instead of wishful prayers.  In full disclosure, I know the market’s PR person, but I have to say that press release really has me pining.  Look at some of the offerings: City Fresh Market focusing on fresh poultry and grass fed beef; a place called Fumare promising Montreal style smoked meat; the French Nuns of Fraternite Notre Dame, who the French operators of the Metra Market recognized as something close to their hometown breads, and a shop centered wholly on Wisconsin cheeses.  There are, so far, Korean, Vietamese, Mexican, French and Dutch/Belgium food offerings.  If you read the good press release language, they seem far from ordinary offerings.  Let’s all meet there on opening day!

Perhaps beating them to the punch will be the Logan Square Farmer’s Market, which is setting up an indoor market this winter.  They promise news soon on their Facebook page

How ’bout a market just dedicated to local beer.  Half Acre Brewery has opened up a market for their local beer.  Chuck checks in.

Are your apples looking redder this year?

Here’s some people eating local in a place colder than Chicago.  Inspiring.

Here’s someone who found a warm place does not lead to easy local eating.

Locavores are a dime a dozen in the Pacific Northwest, but good blogs are always to be treasured.

In New Hampshire they sum it up really well.

Keeping your kids smart on food?

Need tips on winter locavorism?

Hey Peter, leeks!

Any other good links, especially on public markets?


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Days of Squash and Pumpkins

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Posted: October 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm

IMG_4009

Every year, it seems to happen overnight. One day, we’re enjoying the last of the corn and savoring the fall crop of raspberries and then the next the season changes for good and autumn settles in. Although the days have been gradually getting shorter, the night abruptly feels long when we first fire our home’s heater and harvest the last of the obstinately green tomatoes.

As we pull out the corduroys and fuzzy wool sweaters, track down our gloves and coats, it finally feels right to turn to the steady and sturdy hard-skinned squash. Having spent months with the easy, yet elusive, flavors of summer, it’s comforting to spend the time to peel away the squash’s resilient rind and then melt away the rigidity of its flesh. These are the days of squash and pumpkins.

Despite the name, the squash that makes its way to the farmers’ markets of autumn is a warm-season vegetable that can be grown in most parts of the country. Unlike “summer” squash, hard-skinned squash are harvested when the seeds have matured and the skin hardened. At this stage of maturity, the squash can be stored throughout the winter, earning the designation “winter” squash. Another botanical oddity is that although the squash is a fruit of the vine, usually sweet and often used for dessert, we consider it to be a vegetable.

I’ll be spending a lot of time with the locavore’s thick skinned friend having picked up my squash sampler from Farmer Vicki of Genesis Growers on Saturday, a box full with varieties beyond the pie pumpkin and butternut squash. In addition to those and the acorn, we’ve got delicata (sweet potato squash), buttercup, red kuri, green and scarlet kabocha, dumpling and spaghetti. My mind is bustling with visions of lamb and pumpkin stew, sausage and apple stuffed acorn squash, pies and gratins.

IMG_4023

Interestingly, I was chatting with Farmer Vicki of Genesis Growers at Green City Market on Wednesday. Apparently, even though she sells some of the best squash at the market, her guys don’t eat it. Or more accurately, they will only eat it when it’s been doused with brown sugar. As a result, they make pretty terrible salesmen when it comes to a large percentage of her autumn inventory.

We were talking about squash recipes for squash-hating, farm workers when the idea of squash and sausage, together, came to me. I won’t suggest that this was an original idea, but it certainly was the first time that I’d given it any thought. So sausage and squash – what would complement these two? Certainly, onions. Garlic too. I’d need some herbs too – to give the dish a fresh taste, fresh parsley and thyme sounded right. Now the mixture had flavors that were rich, sweet, and fresh. It needed a counterpoint. Rummaging through my crisper, I found a tart apple and a bit of fresh celery for crunch. For sparkle, I added a touch of apple wine. Acorn squash served as the vessel. I didn’t want to overcook the sausage and vegetables, but I wanted the squash to be tender so I pre-roasted the squash at 350 F with about 2 cups of apple cider and 1/4 cup of apple wine in the base of the pan. The vegetable and sausage mixture was cooked on the stove top in a saute pan. When the acorn squash was about 1/2 hour away from being done, I stuffed the sausage and vegetables into its cavity, basted it with the apple cider, and returned to the oven. When the squash was tender, the dish was done and ready to serve. With a green salad, it was a simple and satisfying Friday night supper.

Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash
4 servings

1 acorn squash
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups apple cider
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup apple wine or other semi-dry white wine
1 1/2 Tropea onions or 1 small red onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove minced
2 small celery stalks, finely chopped
3/4 pound bulk pork sausage
1/2 large tart green apple, diced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons apple wine or semi-dry white wine
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, drained

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Slice off the top 1 1/2-inch of the acorn squash. Remove the seeds, reserve for toasting if desired. Peel the top piece and cut into large dice. Slice off a small piece off the bottom of the squash to allow it to sit levelly in the baking pan. Set it into the baking pan and pour the cider and 1/4 cup of apple wine around it. Cut 2 tablespoons of the butter into small pieces and add to the squash cavity with the thyme sprigs. Ladle 1 cup of liquid into the cavity and put the pan into the oven. Bake covered with aluminum foil for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the squash is almost completely tender.

In the meantime, melt the remaining butter over medium heat in a saute pan. Add the onion and cook until softened, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic, sausage and celery and cook for an another 10 minutes. Add apple and herbs and cook for 5 minutes or until the apple is slightly softened. Add wine and horseradish and cook, stirring for one minute. Add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Turn off the heat. When the squash is almost tender, remove it from the oven. Stuff the squah with the sausage and vegetables. Baste with apple cider and return to the oven. Bake for a an additional 30 minutes or until the squash is tender. Serve.

This site is a great guide to unusual squash varieties.

For more of my squash and pumpkin recipes, including Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins, Delicata Squash Gnocchi and soon-to-be-posted Red Kuri Squash Stew with Chestnut Crepes, check out Little Locavores.




The Waiting Game: Pickling at The Talking Farm

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Posted: October 20, 2009 at 9:23 am

Growing food is a test of patience to begin with. Preserving it stretches that patience further in anticipation of a bold, new taste to come. Or sometimes with the result being a messy waste of otherwise good produce. In either case, it hearkens back to an era when greens in winter weren’t as easy to come by and a well-stocked root cellar meant the difference between starvation and surviving until spring.

Happily, that’s not an issue now. So when canning queen Toni Camphouse demonstrated pickle making on a chilly October Wednesday evening, it was all about the flavor. And the snap of a crisp pickle.

“Compared to store-bought pickles, homemade ones lack preservatives but are more flavorful,” she told half a dozen canning acolytes in the basement of the Evanston Society of Friends building, “And you get to determine how spicy or bland they are.”

Now, if you thought Quaker cooking was all about oatmeal, take a look at this fantastic chutney (though not, technically, a Quaker recipe).

chutney

A sweet, flavorful mélange of the fall harvest: apples tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers garlic and ginger, boiled down with vinegar, salt and sugar, then packed away by a woman who knows her way around a kitchen.

The event was sponsored by The Talking Farm and the theme of the class was patience. Watching The Talking Farm grow has also been a lesson in patience. For several years, the nonprofit organization has negotiated with Evanston, Skokie and the Metropolitan Sanitary Waste District to farm a vacant plot near the channel along McCormick Blvd. Everybody concerned seems to think an urban/suburban farm is a great idea, but working with three bureaucracies takes time. I admire the fortitude of the Farm’s volunteers in pursuing the matter tirelessly. As proponents of improving our reliance on local food production, The Talking Farm also hosts classes on canning, dehydrating and other preservation methods.

The pickling class fits in nicely with the Farm’s mission to educate the suburban/urban community on how to make the most of local food sources. Toni brought with her a bushel of fresh produce that six participants helped her cut, peel and boil to create an aromatic extravaganza. The foods smelled so good that it was torture to know we wouldn’t get to eat them for at least a month. Watching her put away the colorful, mouth watering chutney was an exercise in endurance.

Watching the canning process is quite an exercise as well. “Canning is all about community,” Toni said, noting that canning by oneself is harder work and requires even greater patience. Although Toni had several of us to help her, the laborious process looked like, well, a lot of labor anyway. And it’s the kind of labor you’d only want to do in the chill of fall, what with all the steaming pots and scalding metal and glass to manipulate.

First the jars and lids must be sterilized in boiling water. After the veggies are prepared with vinegar, salt, and a variety of herbs and not-so-secret ingredients, they are ladled through a funnel into the jar. The acrid smell of cooking vinegar contrasts the pleasant odors from the fruits and vegetables, and the entire enterprise is conducted in the haze of steam rising from several pots.

pickles

Then, using a plastic spatula, excess air is poked out of the bottom of the jar (to make more room for the veggies and brine, as well as eliminating bacterial hiding spots). The metal seal is held in place by a screw-top lid, then the cans are “rolled,” by immersion in rapidly boiling water for several minutes. This cooks them a little bit, but, more importantly, seals the specialized lid to the rim of the jar.

canning

Toni also prepared dilly beans, pickled ginger and, the star of the evening, a faster version of dill pickles she calls “quickles.” We all went home with several glass jars too hot to handle bare handed. For better or worse, we ran out of time and Toni was unable to seal a few jars of chutney, so I was able to eat it within a few days. It was fantastic. I’m keeping the flavors in memory so I can compare a month from now when the sealed jars are properly pickled. Canning offers something to look forward to in the middle of a bitter Midwestern winter.


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Soup’s on Menu Monday

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Posted: October 19, 2009 at 10:37 am

We said a freezer was near essential to eating local, and last week we re-invigorated our freezer friendship.  Want to know what else is essential to eating local.  Soup.  Locavores need soup.  We need soup for a few reasons.  Soup rescues surplus foods.  What locavore worth his canvas tote does not wind up too often with a forgotten cauliflower, a bag of rocket that did not get fully used.  Even the most exact will find kohlrabi leaves and beet stems there for the taking, extra meat, so-to-speak, that can be used as soup or at least stock.  I mean we accumulated a couple of cauliflower that never found there way to our tables.  They wilted a bit, gained a few dark spots.  Yet, a little scalpel action later, and they are good to go.  Cooked through; cooked down, who cares if they started soft.  Not only does soup rescue food before it rots, it gives space for food that cannot make it on its own.  Our CSA box, for instance, contained one bag of spinach.  Sauteed, it would make a condiment at best.  With other bits and pieces, it makes soup.

My wife likes to make soup.  She recently unearthed her boat motor, a/k/a her immersion blender.  There is no more essential add-on to the soup pot than the immersion blender.  It easily changes that pot of cooked down cauliflower to a pot of cauliflower soup.  Thing is, my wife likes to make a lot of soup.  After several episodes of white cauliflower soup, we moved on to white potato-leek soup.  Thing is, it hardly takes much leek to make a leek soup.  We still have many leek in house, and my wife already dreams of another leek soup recipe.  She has one in mind, by English chef, Shaun Hill that includes that non-local ingredient, saffron.  We will have soup on Menu Monday as well as several more days this week.

We will eat remaining chicken too.  As I noted last week, after going through our freezer, we found several chicken.  For Friday night, my wife roasted two, on a bed of fall–diced apple, sweet potato, cauliflower and red onion.  We will have leftover chicken as big salad, and she has her eyes on pot pie again too.

We have eggplants lying around, and these I do not believe, will make for good soup.  My wife has her eyes on a gratin/tian for these, although between you and me, I’d rather fry them up.  See, while I accept the need for soup on Menu Monday, I still bristle.  I’m a salad guy, a mezze guy.  Is that a generally accepted conflict, the soup guys vs. the salad guys?  Let me boil it down to this.  My wife likes to have one big pot of soup that feeds us for several days in a row.   I like to have multiple plates of salads to go with meals each day. Since I do not compromise much, if enough, we often find our tables with soup and salad.  Last week I made my famous garlic-y lemon cabbage salad.  We had leftover carr0t-jalepeno salad with toasted cumin seeds and marinated roasted peppers too.  I think our eggplants should go into the salad column.  Also for the salads, long red peppers that came in our box a few weeks ago for frying.

Our larders our full on Menu Monday.  Two delicata squash got roasted and agro-dulched the other night, but that leaves us about two spaghetti squash, two butternut squash and two pie pumpkins.  We are building our reserves of potatoes.  There are green tomatoes from a neighbor, the last of the red tomatoes from the weekend market.  We have more than a few big cabbage and one stalk of many, many little cabbage heads known as Brussels sprouts.  And there’s cauliflowers that will probably get shunned aside until there is nothing left to do with them except for to make soup.

Note: I have made sure all the apple purchases this week were segregated and noted.  Look the to the Beet blog for various apple noting.  Also, forthcoming on the Beet blog this week: we have re-stocked our local cheeses, and we have some good cheeses to note.


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Bloggin’ My CSA: #9 Looks Like Fall

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Posted: October 16, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Delivery eight went down pretty easy. The mystery green was indeed mizuna, which I don’t much care for. It makes a decent bitter green salad, but there’s only so much of it a person can eat.

Everything else was pretty standard. My kids loved the pears. We still have some cabbage left, a good portion of it went into “The World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage” from Molly Stevens’ All About Braising. It is the single best green cabbage recipe I know of, but it must be followed to the letter. Overall, a great book.

Did you sign up for a winter CSA yet?.

We’re approaching the end, and you tell by looking at this box

What’s in there?

  • Leeks I love leeks. My wife really loves when I fry them in olive oil to make little crispy leek rings for a fish garnish.
  • Cilantro: Again, herbs are always welcome.
  • Tomatoes: One is severely under-ripe and will be fried.
  • Peppers. Bell peppers and jalapeños. One is useless, the other is useful. Faithful readers know how I feel.
  • Garlic I was once a garlic fanatic. I now appreciate garlic well enough to know not to use so much of it. Still, it’s always welcome.
  • Mustard greens long and slow with pork fat is the way to go here.
  • Carrots Beauties!
  • Red onions
  • Sweet potatoes The longest, skinniest ones I’ve ever seen.
  • Squash The sure sign of fall. One butternut, one acorn. I love acorn squash.
  • Jar of apple cider jelly Tasty on toast.

One more delivery!




Morton Grove Farmers Market Update

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Posted: October 16, 2009 at 12:01 pm

The Morton Grove Farmer’s Market committee met again on Thursday, October 15. Our first location fell through because of insurance concerns by the property owner. We’ve still got a number of places willing to work with us, but it’s a complex formula determining the ideal spot. Good visibility, ample parking, easy access from Niles and Edgebrook, avoiding major roads that will be under construction in 2010. Nonetheless, we’re making progress. A small group of vendors has shown sincere interest in participating and multiple community groups in the village have pledged their support. All this is being driven by the immense willpower of committee leader Kristina Otte, whose tireless efforts, phone calls and e-mails spur on the volunteers, potential sponsors and vendors. In addition into identifying the perfect spot for the market, we’ve got to move ahead with becoming a non-profit corporation, which will make all the future steps that much easier.




On the Local Calendar: Better Apple Noting

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Posted: October 16, 2009 at 8:41 am

If you shop weekly at a farmer’s market (and if you need to find a market to shop, use the Local Beet’s Market Locator), you will probably see many apples to select.  At the Oak Park Market, where I shop almost weekly, between Nichols and Skibbes, I would say weekly I have more than 30 apples to go through.  Making the decisions that much easier, Nichols has been offering their apples for only $1.50/lb.  Granted this is still double what a Michigan apple would cost at say, Caputo’s.  Still, does Caputo’s give me a range of old apples.  I like old apples.

At least in theory.  I look at all the notes Nichols puts on the apples, and I look for apples noted for being old.  They sell no apple older than the Cox Orange Pippen, which dates back, they note, to the 1600′s.  I find the Commander York and the Roxbury and the Northwest Greening and a few others who were not developed by the University of Minnesota in the Reagan era.  I like ‘em old.  I bring the apples home, and the Local Family starts tasting.  Ever taste an apple that tastes like celery.  Well one of the older apples did.  Another tastes especially like apple juice, which is not really a great thing in an eating apple.  Tasting old apples makes you soon realize why they were mixing Jon and Gold, why scientists worked hard to patent the Honeycrisp and Zestar!!.  A lot of old apples seem rather deserving of dying out.  Still, can I tell you which ones?

I have resolved to take better apple notes about 18 times since I began reporting on farmer’s markets.  I bet if you look at my first market reports on Chowhound.com, you would find me promising to take better apple notes.  I’m fully capable of writing down the apples we buy but never seem capable of keeping them apart once we get home; really once they enter their bag.  Some apples need no good notes.  The Roxbury Russets are the russeted ones.  Cox Orange Pippens are highly distinguishable from their orange-ness.  Not only that, COPs are one safe old apple.  It requires no noting.  COPs do not taste like celery.  Which one tasted like celery.  The Fameuse?  Northern Spy?  Yorkie?  I do not know which apples I will buy this week.  I will take better notes.  In case one of the old apples tastes like celery.

My Local Calender says take better notes.  What else does it say?

The season of harvest dinners continues.  This one at the Lill Street Art Center.  Saturday.  The Logan Square Harvest dinner is a week from Monday, October 26, but you should get your tickets this Sunday at the market.

Know about Serosun Farm organic community west of Chicago?  Me neither, but I ended up on their mailing list.  Neat looking stuff, and they are having a harvest festival on Saturday.

Sunday, come join me and some artsy types for a little Maxwell Street Market tour.

Help 86 hunger.  A series of local restaurants are hosting up coming dinners to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Seventh Generation Ahead Annual Dinner is November 7, at the Union League Club.  Seventh Generation Ahead promote local food and other green living issues.  Please show your support (and tell them I sent you) by coming to this party.

MikeG found time on his calender to can, can you?

Mutton family dinner at Mado, October 25.

On October 26, Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP), dedicated to preserving and promoting rare fruit orchards in the Chicago area, has a fundraiser at Birchwood Kitchen.  See the CROP website for details.

Anything else to note?




Yard House Rant

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Posted: October 15, 2009 at 8:39 am

Last weekend, my brother was in town from Dallas. He insisted on watching the Cowboys, who were nearly embarrassed by narrowly eking out a victory over the hapless, winless Kansas City Chiefs. He was staying in Glenview, and the only place I knew of in that area that had all NFL games was the Yard House, in the Glen.

The Glen is that part of Glenview that used to be a Naval Air Station, and might have been Chicago’s third airport (a whole lot more convenient than Peotone), but instead turned into a Disney-esque version of a town dotted by golf courses, chain restaurants and McMansions.

Despite that, I was looking forward to going to the Yard House. Yard House, as a chain, claims to have the “World’s Largest Selection of Draft Beers.” But while there are well over 100 selections on tap, I have to wonder who’s doing the selecting. Certainly it’s not someone who has any idea about the local beer scene.

To be fair, there are a few nods to local brews … but very few. A few Goose Islands and Bells, and one or two Three Floyds (including Gumballhead, incorrectly classified as a “White Ale” …a la Hoegaarden. It’s not a White Ale. It’s an American Wheat beer.) New Holland is represented only once – by one of their less interesting, and less representative brews (Full Circle Blonde Ale … New Holland’s offering for BudMillCoors drinkers. New Holland is known for its big beers … none of which made it to the Yard House menu.)

Where was the Half Acre? Where was the Flossmoor Station? Where were the Two Brothers? Where were Dynamo Copper Lager, Flywheel Bright Lager, and Krankshaft Kölsch?

Do the managers at Glenview’s Yard House not have the bullocks to stand up to the corporate office, to replace their slower-moving, European brews (which occasionally don’t travel well) with fresh stuff, produced locally? Or do they just not care?

I don’t have a clue. But if anyone out there does, let me know.


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Re-Acquainted with My Good Friend the Freezer

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Posted: October 13, 2009 at 10:05 am

Menu Monday seems to follow banker’s hours.  Of course, we all know what we’d have found.  Pining over the last tomatoes.  A day later, let’s discuss something else.

When we turned on the lights at the Local Beet, the first bit of advice I proffered was to consider a spare freezer; an essential eat local purchase I called it.  Freezing is an easy way to preserve your seasonal bounty, and a freezer allows you to space to purchase bulk local meat.  We picked up our extra freezer several years ago.  We did not feel the need to spend a lot on that freezer.  We did not spend on any frost free features.  I do not rue this decision.  Sometimes my children push me on this.  They’ve been known, too often, to leave the freezer door just enough ajar, just not fully closed.  When a frost-free-free freezer gets a wisp of extra air; when the seal is broken slightly, it can build up a White Witch worthy ice village inside.   Last week, my wife fought back.  Chipped away.  In the process, she got us re-acquainted with the contents.  Meet our good friend the freezer.

We found more than anything, beneath the ice, ground meat.  It’s been a long time since we got our half-cow, Bessie, to the kids.  A side of cow, one finds, is mostly ground beef.  In the years since we have had Bessie, she’d provided us many burgers, often seasoned becoming kefta.  There’s been meatloaf and chili and for the last two Sukhots but not this year even though we talked about it, stuffed vegetables.  All that ground beef is finally, almost, believe it or not, gone.  In its wake, however, is package after package of ground pork.  Did our lost head hog, Anne Boleyn, really have that much grindings.  It seems she did.  And it seems this may be the winter of spaghetti and meatballs.  In there, a bit too of Bacon, our lamb, the rack is left.  Another posh cut found, we have some NY strip steaks that never got eaten.

We find in the freezer, vegetables mostly frozen in times past.  There are peas and corn that my wife cannot part with simply as a side.  They should be for something, I guess ideally, a pot pie.  In her rate of parsing, they have piled up over the years.  On the other hand, we found in there, another packet of plum tomatoes.  They were supposed to freeze just fine.  We did not agree, so never got around to this other batch.  Let’s give it another shot.

There are many containers, some more mysterious than others.  We know for sure that the white cylinders contain Michigan sour cherries.  We though another container contained one of many Bolognese my wife once created (yes, with that abundant supply of ground Bessie).  It surprised us last week instead, with an Indian-ish veggie stew featuring eggplants and summer squash.  No one remembers the creation of this.  We all liked it with pasta anyways.  We have identified and isolated containers of chicken stock, although with celery wilting from an older CSA box, it is time for more stock making.  It turns out, once we moved things around, we have several local chickens too, as well as two local duck.

From forays to Madison, one of those chickens turns out to be a smoked chicken.  We used last week’s and the week’s before CSA collards to make that a good freezer find.  Not only did we have greens for dinner.  We learned that one of the local daughters has a high appreciation for the liquid from cooking greens, pot likker in the vernacular.  Today’s the second time she’s bringing a thermos full of pot likker for her school lunch.

We have always valued our friendship with the freezer.  Like a lot of valued friendships, it got neglected.  We allowed systems to fall apart.  When it became harder to find things, we went less to look.  Going less, we sent down the teens.  We know what happened next.  The Local Mom worked hard to make up for those careless kids.  She’s opened the door (hahaha) to a renewed relationship.  We are going to use you, freezer.  Your meat will keep us hale and hearty as things get chilly.  Your fruits and vegetables will help us stay local as our market choices dwindle.  We find you an essential part of our Local Family.




Harvest Celebration to Benefit The Land Connection

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Posted: October 13, 2009 at 9:30 am

On October 15, from 6:30-9pm, Evanston’s Now We’re Cookin’ (1601 Payne Street, Unit C) is hosting the 2nd Annual Harvest Celebration benefiting The Land Connection and the Evanston Farmers’ Market. Chefs from many of Evanston’s most critically acclaimed restaurants partner with prominent Midwest sustainable farmers and producers to celebrate the bounty of the autumn harvest. Guests will rotate among tasting stations, where the celebrity chefs will serve samples of dishes utilizing the autumn products of their partner.

Tickets are $80 prepaid and $100 at the door.

Chefs from Restaurant Michael, Food For Thought Catering, Now We’re Cookin’. Quince, The Stained Glass, Va Pensiero, Chefs Station, Mollenhauer Catering, Uncommon Ground will be cooking with products from:
* Blue Marble Creamery
* Green Acres
* 1st Orchards and Greenhouses
* Nichols Farm
* Heartland Beef
* Henry’s Farm
* M&D Farms
* Gast Farms
* Organic Pastures
* Seedling Orchard

To buy tickets or for more information about the event, visit The Land Connection




Bierbrand — What do you get when you boil your beer?

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Posted: October 13, 2009 at 9:23 am

It came out of a happy confluence of mistake and geography. Doug and Tracy Hurst, of Metropolitan Brewing, had 30 barrels of their Dynamo Copper Lager that didn’t quite meet their standards. Rather than dump it, their next-door-neighbors in Ravenswood, Koval Distillery, agreed to take it.

As Metropolitan’s Tracy Hurst explains it, “The fact that we’re in the same building was purely coincidence. I walked by there one day and saw their fermentation tubs in there and I couldn’t believe my eyes. They came running out – ‘we’ve been waiting to meet you! We were kicking around the idea of doing beer brandy’ (which I guess is an Austrian style) … and we thought, ‘Oh, you know, that might be a cool idea.’

The “they” she was referring to are Sonat and Robert Birnecker, founders, master distillers, and full time baby-sitters for the true manager of the operation, Lion Birnecker.

Koval
Sonat, Lion (the boss) and Robert, in front of their custom-designed, handcrafted still from Kothe Destillationstechnik in Eislingen, Germany

Tracy adds, “One day we were testing a batch – one of our earliest batches of Dynamo, and it just was not up to snuff. It was thin, the yeast didn’t work on it properly, and there was no way we were going to package it and put it out there. So I just went next door and said, ‘Yknow, we’re about to dump 30 barrels of beer – do you want it?’ … So they said “Absolutely!’ … and they made Bierbrand.”

KovalBottle

From Sonat’s perspective, “This just was really gratuitous. We were talking with them and we were telling them how great it would be to make a bierbrand. Just for fun. And we were always talking about it. And we were saying wouldn’t it be great if we could collaborate in some way. But there wasn’t an opportunity. Then when they had this beer that was undercarbonated … ‘Don’t throw it away!’ This is a great chance to actually turn it into something wonderful and unique that you really can’t find anywhere else.”

Sonat has a casual, easy-going style, even when chasing after the tennis ball that her 14-month old son Lion has thrown across the distillery.

Most people that I know – myself included – weren’t aware of the history of Bierbrand – essentially a spirit made by distilling beer. (Some call it a beer whiskey, but Sonat told me that it can’t be considered a whiskey unless it spends at least a few seconds in contact with wood.) It’s a minor specialty of Germany and Austria, but it’s not especially common even there.

Only 50 cases (300 bottles) were made. I asked the spirits buyer at Binny’s for it. “Yeah, I tried it at Whiskeyfest. It was really good, but we couldn’t get enough of it to stock it.” In Fine Spirits in Andersonville may have it, Andersonville Wine and Spirits might have it, and a few other independent retailers could have it. But it’s not easy to find. (Last minute newsflash: Bierbrand has been spotted at Binny’s, and is now listed on Binny’s website – so it’s likely to be in most Binnys stores, at least for the time being.)

Will Sonat and Robert be making more Bierbrand? “It’s a special item. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Right now, they [Metropolitan Brewing] are working at complete capacity [to make their own beers]. So right now, it’s get it while you can.” But once Metropolitan increases its capacity, another collaboration is likely.

So I owe extreme thanks to Jenna Mestan, the manager at Courtright’s Restaurant in Willow Springs, for getting me bottle #27 from batch #1.

Full disclosure: I’m not a spirits kind of guy. (Some may even say I have no spirit whatsoever.)

As anyone who’s been reading these Local Beet columns may know (that’s both of you), I like beer.

I also like wine, but I’m not a sufficiently pretentious wine snob to be willing to comment on it. (“It’s a supercilious little quagmire of a mélange, resting on its haunched laurels, yet still seeming to rise up out of the omnipresent crepuscular nimbo-cumulus skies in a muted middle-finger salute to the evaporative terroir.”)

I promise I will never write that sentence again.

But I’m not even remotely qualified to comment on anything that comes out of a distillery.

So, that said, I’ll comment on Koval’s Bierbrand. But first I’ll let others comment on it.

Metropolitan’s brewmaster, Doug Hurst: “I was surprised at how much of the beer characteristic came through. It’s not like drinking a beer; it ‘s like drinking a spirit, but there’s sort of a malty character, Dynamo-esque malty character it has to it, and I think somehow some of the hops came through, too.”

Tracy: “And in the aroma in particular, babe.”

Doug: “I was surprised, because I thought that all would be driven off [by the distillation process].”

A frequent tasting companion: “Wow. The beer’s in there, and you get that flavor up front, and then you get that alcohol taste at the end. I get that grain up front, then I get that burn. Still, it’s so mild.”

Personally, I thought I detected a slight hoppiness in the aroma. Sipping, I got a definite malty/grainy flavor, followed by the slight burn from the alcohol (after all, it is 80° proof). The flavors linger in the mouth a long time.

Then I remembered an old custom used when tasting Scotch Whisky. Adding a splash of water to the bierbrand mellowed out the taste considerably, and gave it a very round mouthfeel.

Chilling mitigates the alcohol burn somewhat; chilled with a splash of water is especially pleasant. Might be very good served over ice.

Of course, Bierbrand isn’t Koval’s only product. Sonat and Robert make an extensive line of interesting, unique spirits and liqueurs – all organic, and all Kosher. And they have great descriptions of some of their products.

Rye Vodka: “As they say in Russia, ‘Potato is for the peasants, Rye is for the czar.’”

Midwest Wheat Spirits: “It has a refined entry and satisfying finish, like a really good date.”

American Oat Spirits: “Adds character to any cocktail when used instead of vodka, like a powder blue Jaguar XKE 1966 convertible vs. a midsized sedan.”

Levant Spelt Spirits: “Smooth as a silk robe worn on a balcony with a view to a spectacular sunrise.”

Other sprits are made from grains like Rye and Millet.

Not to mention a number of unusual, interesting liqueurs, like Rose Hip, Ginger, Walnut, Coffee, Hibiscus, and Chrysanthemum Honey.

And all their products are organic, Kosher, and as much as practical, locally sourced.

All their grains are from Midwestern farms. “We try to get as many ingredients as possible locally. Obviously, some ingredients, like for our Ginger liqueur … Ginger does not grow in the Midwest. We’re doing a jasmine liqueur, and our jasmine comes from Japan, and our coffee comes from Brazil. We sourced it there because they have a totally green – it’s not only organic – they are a completely green plant. It’s a zero-emissions plant … free trade coffee … We figured it was as good as we can get.

“Our honey [for Chrysanthemum Honey Liqueur], we get from just over the border in Wisconsin. So there’s a lot of stuff we source locally.” They wanted to use Chicago rooftop honey, but couldn’t get it in the quantities they needed. And the bees wouldn’t guarantee that the nectar they collected was strictly organic.

So, how did Sonat and Robert get started in the artisanal distilling business?

Sonat: “Robert’s grandfather is a distiller in Austria, and every time we’d go to Austria we would talk about the wonderful spirits, and wish that they had similar things in the US. They don’t, really, and are very hard to find. So then what happened was, we were trying to figure out what to do with our lives, when I was pregnant with him and we were trying to figure out what kind of lifestyle we wanted to have.

“We realized we did not like living in Washington DC. I did not like commuting an hour.

“And even being a professor [of Jewish Studies and German literature of the 20th Century], it does not provide you with a lot of time to be with your family. When you’re not teaching, you’re writing. And I was writing a lot. I worked on three books, and had never really had a vacation. Because every vacation, I had deadlines, and things I was working on. So I realized that was going to continue if I stayed there – even though I was tenured. Robert commuted as well, about 25 minutes, I commuted an hour even though I didn’t have to go in every day. An hour up and back to Baltimore.

“It was too much. So we wanted to have a quality of life change. Live in a city we love, raise a family, be able to spend as much time with him as we wanted. It would require starting our own business. There’s no other way to do that. There aren’t many companies that let you bring your kid into work every day.

“Well, what kind of business would we want to start? We decided to go with what we know, which is distilling. Robert grew up with it, he has all sorts of people that want to help him, and give him tips and advice. He already knew a lot going into it.

“We had a real advantage over a lot of people starting distilleries, who get into it, but don’t really have a background in it. They might be investment bankers, doctors or lawyers, also wanting a lifestyle change, but they have to learn everything from scratch. Whereas we didn’t, which was lovely. So then we decided to start this distillery. We’re really, really happy we did.

“It’s been a lot of work. Also, having a one year old with you every single day while you’re working means that your whole day 30% longer.

“We also wanted to produce something. We thought that manufacturing was something that made America great.

This whole corridor in Ravenswood used to be manufacturing. Now if you look at it … lots of condos. We thought it’d be nice to actually produce something. In a city we love, really high quality. And go from there.

“We figured we were going to do everything from scratch, and just make a lot of different things we like.

“Most distillers buy their base alcohol already finished from a factory. So they just get what they get – they’re not going to be able to start from a pure source.

In contrast: “We mash everything in house. I don’t believe a lot of people do that. It’s kind of insane – it’d be a lot cheaper for us not to do that. In fact, we’d make about $8 more a bottle, if we didn’t mash in house.

“But if we were going to do it, we were going to do it the way his family’s been doing it for generations. Really traditional. You can follow the quality, you can follow the process then from the very beginning. In a way you can’t if you get some finished product in drums brought to your door.

“And it’s a lot of fun. Each grain is very different to mash, too. Millet looks like a creamy vanilla frosting, whereas the rye is very sticky.”

I didn’t ask what the mash for the bierbrand looked like (although I could guess, from my own brewing experience).

Clay Risen, a writer for The Atlantic magazine, stumbled upon a bierbrand in Munich. An excerpt from his thoughts:

“… poking around the Munich airport recently, my eyes seized on a bottle of König Ludwig Bierbrand. Though not a true schnapps — it’s made with beer, not fruit — it was similar enough, and strange enough, to draw my attention. In this case, the Lantenhammer Destillerie, located in Schliersee, Bavaria (about an hour southeast of Munich), has distilled König Ludwig Dunkelbier, then aged it a bit in oak barrels. Who would’ve thought?

“The operative question, though, is why? As anyone who’s done hard time will attest, you can distill anything. But with all the options, why beer? Because the result is not at all pleasant. König Ludwig is a good beer, but it’s hard to discern quality from its distillation. It has a hint of sweetness, but the character of the beer is gone, leaving behind just a gustatory shadow, with a horrible aftertaste — like a generic light beer, but with a heavy alcohol burn. König Ludwig isn’t the only Bierbrand out there, so the style must have its followers.”

I’m betting Clay hasn’t tried Koval’s Bierbrand.




Groundhog Day on the Local Calender

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Posted: October 9, 2009 at 9:58 am

You know this column can write itself.  Must eat last of eggplants.  Woe, I hear word of frosts.  Whither my tomatoes.  Can I get by without cucumbers. Can there be any peaches left.  We find winsome again and again until those last ears of corn give way to entrepreneurial corn stalks.  Edible fruits give way to the decorative snake gourds.  We can only begin grieving when the crops of summer fully disappear. 

The best way to segue seasons is to take advantage of  seasonal treats.  Here’s one: green tomatoes.  When too much frost appears in the forecasts, our farmers know they must take any remaining tomatoes down.  Thus, our markets fill with green tomatoes.  Of course, if there’s a whisper of red, the tomatoes will eventually turn red.  Not the showpieces for slabs of Brunkow fresh mozzarella, but eminently usable.  It won’t heat up your house too much to roast them. Use some though still very green.  Green, tomatoes taste bright, and very, very acidic.  Green, they are much more like a fruit, although do not eat that way.  Fried green tomatoes, especially with a good home-made mayo, has become a classic.  A little easier, I think, is to broil them.  Slice thickly.  Breadcrumbs, a good grating cheese and a healthy dollop of olive oil, herbs if you got ‘em.  Take advantage of what the market gives.

Besides getting your last red tomatoes, your first green tomatoes, the remaining eggplants and cucumbers; the market should give grapes, pears, purple plums; apples in many incarnations.  It will offer much green: lettuces, spinach, chard, hard greens like collards.  Cabbages will be plentiful and cheap, and that includes the whole cabbage family from spicy turnips to tiny Brussels Sprouts.  There will be hard winter squashes and probably soft summer squashes, both small have to get picked and large-large, should have picked.  Continue to stock up on onions and garlic.  You’ll need them.  It’s still a giving time of year. 

Besides finding Groundhog Day, what else shows up on the Local Calender.

It seemed like only yesterday, we were welcoming the change of season with maple syrup tapping at the North Park Village Nature Center carved out of the old tuberculosis sanitarium.  This Saturday, they celebrate the change from summer to fall.

On Sunday Oct. 11, learn to make cheese, yogurt and butter with the Weston A. Price Foundation people, Edgewater Beach Apartments, 1-3 PM.  $12.50 per person.

Next Thursday, celebrate the harvest in Evanston, with a benefit for Land Connection.

On October 26, they celebrate the harvest in Logan Square, with a benefit for their market.  At the Logan Square Auditorium.  Get tickets at the market.

Don’t think of Seinfeld when you sign up for the next family dinner at Mado, October 25.

Also on October 26, the newly formed Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP), dedicated to preserving and promoting rare fruit orchards in the Chicago area, has a fundraiser at Birchwood Kitchen.  See the CROP website for details.

Did I say November 14?  For some reason, I, of the Host Committee, had the Seventh Generation Ahead Annual Dinner as November 14, but in fact the dinner is November 7, at the Union League Club.  Seventh Generation Ahead does great work promoting local food and other green living issues.  Please show your support (and tell them I sent you) by coming to this party.

Any other events you want to share?




Linky Friday – Talk of the Nation Friday, October 9th, 2009
Come Tour Maxwell Street – October 18, 10 AM Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Turkey Talk Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
A Plateful of Politics: Mystery Meat Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Gourmet Free Linky Wednesday? Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Veggie Bingo for and with Vera V Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Daddy Downer Does Menu Monday Monday, October 5th, 2009
Antibiotic Free Meat: Robert Martin @ GCM Monday, October 5th, 2009
The Local Calender Says Winsome Friday, October 2nd, 2009
The Permanent Indoor Farmers Market We Want is Not in Milwaukee Thursday, October 1st, 2009
Bloggin’ My CSA: The Eighth Box Thursday, October 1st, 2009
Farm Dinner Recap Thursday, October 1st, 2009