Groundhog Day on the Local Calender

October 9, 2009 at 9:58 am

Rob Gardner

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?