Support Purple Asparagus – Corks and Crayons 2010 Benefit – Aug 29

Posted: July 31, 2010 at 10:43 am

My wife and I unexpectedly ran into my c0-editor, Melissa Graham, the Sustainable Cook, a few weeks ago at the Forest Park Farmer’s Market.  We marveled at how she seems to be everywhere.  I mean she is.  If it’s not with our friends over at Eli’s, she’s demonstrating at the Downtown Farmstand or putting on showings of What’s on Your Plate.  She lives her mission of Purple Asparagus

You know Purple Asparagus wraps up their mission statement in a few sentences. “A non-profit dedicated to bringing families back to the table by promoting and enjoying all the things associated with good eating,” but when you see all the places Melissa and Purple Asparagus are, you know it is more than that.  They are crusading for healthy schools and promoting sustainable, local living.  Sure, they have programs, but especially, they are about being out there, meeting, teaching, providing a face for positive change.  To help keep all these things happening, Purple Asparagus holds a yearly fundraiser at UnCommon Ground called Corks and Crayons.

Corks and Crayons gives you a chance to meet Melissa and all the others involved with Purple Asparagus.  It gives you a chance to taste the delicious food of UnCommon Ground and see the amazing roof-top garden there, and it gives you a chance to bid on some fantastic (and very usable) items with their silent auction.  It also gives you a chance to support Purple Asparagus.

It’s Sunday, August 29 from 4 – 7 PM.  Go here to get your tickets (now).

CSA Gaffe: City tries To Shut Down Simply Wisconsin CSA Dropsite

Posted: July 30, 2010 at 3:12 pm

In a Stew blog entry that’s quickly making the rounds today, it was reported that the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection was called to a CSA dropsite because it “mistakenly believed the family was selling the produce from their front porch,” and issued a cease-and-desist order to the family that hosted the Andersonville dropsite for Simply Wisconsin. The officer for the department apparently had never heard of a CSA when the order was issued.

After Alderman Gene Schulter’s office stepped in to explain to the department that the family was not selling the produce (for which they’d apparently need a license), the department shot back that, regardless, it was illegal for them to “warehouse” the CSA boxes at their home.

If your mouth is agape at the City’s attempt to stop the distribution of vegetables — yes, vegetables — to families who subscribe to this CSA, you’ll be relieved to know that they seemed to have done an about-face, and have since withdrawn the cease-and-desist order. Hopefully this ends this embarrassing episode for food regulation enforcement by the City of Chicago.


What’s on Your Plate – Go See on August 1

Posted: July 30, 2010 at 1:05 am

Purple Asparagus and My are screening What’s on Your plate again, this Sunday August 1 at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago from 3 – 5 pm.  What’s on Your Plate follows two eleven-year-old multi-racial city kids as they explore their place in the food chain, meeting food activists, farmers, to understand what’s on all of our plates.  Additional details on this event can be found here.

Angelic Organics Farm Dinner and Benefit – August 14

Posted: July 30, 2010 at 12:53 am

Jen Mayer, who makes us incredibly jealous with her recipes at the 24 boxes blog (and book), reminds us in the comments that tickets are available for Angelic Organics Learning Center’s 4th Annual Peak Harvest Farm Dinner benefit, to be held on Saturday, August 14 at 5:00 p.m., at Angelic Organics Farm near Rockford, IL. Guests will enjoy a gourmet five-course meal made from fresh, sustainable, and locally sourced food, prepared by chefs Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp of Sunday Dinner. Proceeds support Angelic Organics Learning Center’s work to bring urban and rural people together to build our local food system. The evening’s program will include remarks by Farmer John Peterson, subject of the award-winning documentary The Real Dirt on Farmer John.

The event starts in Chicago with a pre-event local snack and beverage tasting at Green Grocer Chicago (1402 West Grand Avenue). A shuttle bus will transport Chicago residents to the event. The dinner will feature cocktails from Death’s Door Spirits, and attendees are also welcome to BYOB to enjoy with your meal. Vegetarian menu is available. For further information and to purchase tickets, visit


The Beer’s in Oak Park Again on Aug 21 – 7 Generations Ahead’s Micro Brews, Micro Waste

Posted: July 30, 2010 at 12:19 am

We like all the good things Gary Cuneen and Seven Generations Ahead do, building green communities and fostering sustainable eating.  In fact, our path to locavorism got a big kick start many years ago on a Seven Generations Ahead farm tour.  We also like the fact that Gary and Seven Generations like to wash their good works down with good beer, including beer brewed with hops grown by Gary.  For the third year, Seven Generations has turned their love of good beer into a good event in downtown Oak Park.  They’ve gathered up all those brewers doing good things around here these days, guys like Half Acre, Metropolitan, and, of course Goose Island, for a fundraising party of August 21 from 3 to 7 pm.  As in past years, the brewers at Rock Bottom are keenly involved in the fete, and will show several special beers.  It’s not just Chicago brewers either.  The lineup includes Founders, New Belgium, and others.

It would not be a Seven Generations Ahead event if it was just about beer.  Putting their commitment to green living forward, they are making sure that micro-waste goes with micro-brews.   Only Seven Generations Ahead has pulled off a zero waste event at an event like this.  Come for the beer, stay for an education in reducing your footprint.

We cannot resist all those local beers, and we cannot resist a cause like Seven Generations.  See you in Oak Park on August 21.

Where’s the Local Food at Your Neighborhood Supermarkets This Week

Posted: July 29, 2010 at 10:40 am

Has the local food trend passed?  A perusal of the flyers in this week’s Chicago Tribune finds much less advertised local foods than in previous weeks.  Only Jewel still feels the locavore love.  On the other hand, the near white California strawberries being shown by Ultra Foods practically compels the looker to seek out local food.  Let’s see what we got this week.

Caputo’s – Usually your best place to get local foods in a grocery store, advertises no local food

Ultra Foods – No local food

Food4Less – No local food

Jewel – Plenty of local food

  • Michigan blueberries
  • Michigan celery
  • Michigan green peppers
  • Michigan cucumbers
  • Illinois herbs
  • Illinois mushrooms
  • Illinois corn
  • Indiana watermelon

Dominick’s – One indeterminate local item

  • Summer squash (yellow crookneck and zucchini)

Something to do Friday – Forest Park Farmer’s Market

Posted: July 29, 2010 at 9:59 am

Editor’s Note: We’ve known about the new Friday Farmer’s Market in Forest Park for a while, but we finally made it there a few weeks ago.  Just because we love all farmer’s markets did not mean we did not especially love this one.  A great mix of farmer’s including a fellow who brings eggs and the chickens who lay them.  Besides the produce there’s some outstanding prepared products including Humboldt Park’s own Co-op Hot Sauces.  We also love Anne’s Crumb breads, the same Ann who’s home made matzoh we reported on way back.  Forest Park Market Manager Kim Zandstra gave us this report on her market.  It’s well worth a visit tomorrow or any Friday in season.

The inaugural year of the Forest Park Farmers Market is in full swing!

Billed as “Friday Night Fun”, the market is the only one in the Chicago area that runs on Friday evenings.

In addition to emphasizing local farmers and food artisans from the 4-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, the primary mission of the market is funding and stocking the Forest Park Food Pantry.  The food pantry has seen a huge uptick in demand over the past two years, and has struggled to provide fresh food and produce to its patrons.  Part of the vendor fee is a per-market donation of $10 worth of fresh product, which has been a boon for the food pantry and very well received by its patrons.

With over 20 vendors, the market offers everything from knife sharpening to gourmet chocolates and ice cream, to the locally-famous Mirai Sweet Corn from Twin Garden Farms.  Meat, eggs, milk, bread, fresh fruits and veggies, pasta and sauces, honey, tomato and mushroom products, caramel corn and organic skincare products round out the assortment.  The Farmers Market Grill serves up burgers, brats, kebabs and other goodies supplied by the vendors.  All Grill proceeds benefit the Forest Park Food Pantry.

The market runs every other Friday, June 4 – October 22 from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the parking lot of the Howard Mohr Community Center, 7640 Jackson Blvd.  The next market date is Friday, July 30th.  At the corner of Jackson Blvd and Des Plaines Ave., the market is also conveniently located one block North of the Forest Park stop of the Blue Line.

For more information, search for ‘Forest Park Farmers Market’ on Facebook, or call 708-771-7737


Fungal Abundance – Introducing There’s Food in Them There Hills

Posted: July 29, 2010 at 9:08 am

Editor’s Note: Sometimes (most of the times) you shop for your food, sometimes you find your food.  Our world abounds with edible products, from weeds, I mean greens. like purslane and lamb’s quarters to berries and especially exotic and interesting fungi.  In our first installment of “There’s Food in Them There Hills” our Forager, Eric May finds some of those mushrooms around his Michigan home.

Fungal Abundance

Foraging for Mushrooms in Western Michigan

The whirring of annual cicadas fills the air and monarchs flitter about the garden. The table is piled with voluptuous peaches and tomatoes. It’s the time of the season we around here call “deep summer”. It’s the time when the land is expressing itself in ripe displays of abundance. Edible mushrooms are popping up in spectacular numbers. Mushrooms are actually the fruiting sexual organs of unseemly vast and complex organisms that primarily exist as networks of silky webbing called mycelium which are embedded in decaying organic matter. Fungus for much of its lifespan is invisible to our immediate sight. The mushrooming season started somewhat slowly this year with an unseasonably hot spring which was not suitable conditions for a fruitful morel harvest. In central Illinois I found flushes of blown out and rotting morels in mid-May. There was almost nothing to speak of growing here in Saugatuck, Michigan. I would find sporadic and isolated oyster mushrooms through June as well as a few non-edible, but ethnobiologically significant species such as reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) and Amanita muscaria. Last summer, being on the cool and damp side, yielded an earlier season for chicken-of-the-woods and large flushes of oysters. This summer has been hot and of recent, quite damp. So finally, early last week, the woods blossomed in a brilliant display of fungal fecundity.

I have been mushrooming for only about two years. My good friend and fellow cook, Mikey Henderberg has been at it for awhile and my inner nerdy science kid was definitely intrigued by the far out curiosity of the specimens he’d haul in from the woods. It wasn’t until I tasted my first batch of deeply savory and earthy sautéed hen of the woods mushrooms that it actually occurred to me that I could go out and find my own free gourmet shrooms. Its really the perfect hobby for me, a crossroads of my interests in culinary exotica, poking around the woods, and my aforementioned fascination with biological taxonomy. I am incredibly fortunate to spend my summers in Western Michigan on 120 acres of pristine virgin mixed forests and sand dunes. Collecting wild mushrooms is unfortunately illegal in Cook County and surrounding counties, so I’d be out of luck if I didn’t migrate north in the summertime.

As for this year’s mid-summer cast of characters: its always the chicken of the woods, aka sulfur shelf (Lactiporus sulphureus) that first piques our interest in scouring the woods for other things. In general, we play it fairly safe when gathering mushrooms for culinary purposes, avoiding cap and stem mushrooms with gills, which comprise the majority of mushroom species including most of the seriously poisonous ones. We stick primarily to polypore funguses, which release their spores from pores rather than gills. Many of these mushrooms grow in easy-to-identify shelf- like clusters on dead or dying wood. “Chicken” is the perfect beginner’s edible mushroom forage as it is dead easy to identify with its neon yellow and orange coloration and otherworldly polyp- like appearance. They grow on dead hard wood, typically already felled trees. They can be common on cut logs or stumps and can be found in suburban lawns and even in city parks. This mushroom has an intense, umami rich flavor but a texture that is rather dry, especially as it matures. Young specimens are knobby and yellow, the orange color develops as they age. These young tender mushrooms are most desirable for eating. In older specimens you can trim away the more tender outer growth and save the woody interior for stock. Like most wild mushrooms, I like to prepare them simply by sautéeing them in butter with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, eaten on toast. The dry flesh of the chicken mushroom benefits from a splash of cream, wine, or liquor in the pan. We also throw them in soup stocks or thinly sliced in miso soup. Vegan friends of mine love a chicken-of-the-woods noodle soup. We have had pretty good luck this season so far.with this mushroom. Another co-worker, Erin, who knows the greater area around here and its woods quite well hauled in a bounty of probably about ten pounds of tender young growth earlier in the week.

Boletes are cap and stem mushrooms that release their spores from sponge-like pores from the underside of their caps. There are very few, if any, reported findings of poisonous boletes in the Eastern states, which makes them a safe bet for foraging to eat. It is a diverse and expansive family of mushrooms, the most famous of which is the king bolete, also known as the porcini or cep, one of the most esteemed and expensive culinary mushrooms. I have found only one king bolete so far in my foraging career up in Northern Wisconsin. But this year around here a wide variety of boletes have been popping up and I’ve been collecting them and cooking them up. I have found numerous chestnut boletes (Gyroporus castaneus) which have a buff colored cap that flips from convex to concave as it ages. I’ve found that boletes are quite delicate mushrooms that are also enjoyed by the many critters of the woods. So, while I’ve found them in ubiquitous numbers, many times they are nibbled upon or past their edibility prime. These chestnut boletes, in particular, take on a bitter, medicinal taste in older, drier, and concave specimens. The very young little guys have deep flavor that goes a long way, I have prepared them mixed with more mild species. I also have found red capped boletes (Boletus rubellus), which have a pronounced color as to their namesake. The undercap has an olive green to yellow color that bruises blue with even a faint touch. They are quite psychedelic looking after having been handled and sliced up. These mushrooms are quite delicious with a sweet flavor that yields a minerally aftertaste. Again, I saute these and eat them simply. When trying new mushrooms, I skip butter and use a more neutral light olive oil. Once I become more acquainted with their flavors I may eat them with a fried egg, in an omelet, or tossed with pasta. I tend to pair wild mushrooms with mild ingredients to let their flavors shine. Stronger mushrooms can stand up to the tang of  finely grated hard cheeses. A few days ago I made an astonishing discovery deep in the woods of a freakish new-to-me specie of bolete, the old man of the woods (Strobilomyces floccopus). These guys stand on tall stems and have a very dark, shaggy, almost primordial look to them. I recognized them from my field guide immediately and knew that they were edible. Like other boletes, they cook up somewhat on the wet side. Their grey flesh bruises almost black and when sliced up and cooked they take on an inky appearance. Their flavor is actually of the more subtle in my adventures cooking various new boletes. 

As much as I love cooking and eating mushrooms, the thrill is in the discovery- finding diversely eccentric fungal fruits which may provide a rarified eating experience back in the kitchen. Its looking like a great season already, Mikey just pulled in basketful of fresh oysters. As the season matures, I will report my findings. I anxiously await seafoody lion’s mane mushrooms and my favorite of all, deeply savory and wonderfully textured hen-of-the-woods mushrooms.

Eric May is a Chicago-based artist and the head chef of Ox-Bow School of Art and Artist’s Residency in Saugatuck, Michigan. He directs a nonprofit gallery in Chicago’s Noble Square neighborhood called Roots & Culture.

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Summer’s Blushing Maiden: Apricot-Lavender Jam

Posted: July 28, 2010 at 9:30 pm


There’s little more sensuous than summer stone fruits. Take the cherry, dripping with ruby juices – how many double entendres can you think of of using that small pitted orb? The peach is a brash redhead with its luxurious fuzz; the nectarine, only a slightly tamer and more refined cousin. We mustn’t forget the plum, a little tart with brightly covered vestements.

But what about the apricot, the blushing maiden of summer? We’ve never quite developed the same level of desire for it. Perhaps, it’s our lack of knowlege about of the little fruit – many years it barely appears at the market, hiding behind more showy relations. Others, it does but proves to be a terrible disappointment, fibrous and flavorless. What a delight then it is to have a year like this. Easily freed from its stone, this year’s apricot is the color of a Caribbean sunset melting into a red brick building. The flesh is firm, yet tender, perfect for preserving.

The apricot may make only one more appearance at our markets and therefore my suggestion is to run, not walk, to yours to find even a small box. Once you do, run, not walk, back home to capture its maidenhood in your canning jars.

Apricot-Lavender Jam
1 1/2 pints

3 cups peeled, sliced apricots
2 cups granulated sugar
1 sprig lavender

Mix together the ingredients in a medium, non-reactive bowl. Cover and let sit overnight. Scrape the mix into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, mashing the slices to a pulp. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the jam drops in large gobs from the spoon and the apricots have broken down. Remove the lavender sprig and pour into hot, sterilized jars. Process for 5 minutes in a hot water bath. Remove the jars from the bath and cool on a clean towel without touching. Check the seal and then store in a cool, dark location.

Ravinia Farmers Market, 7/28/10 Update

Posted: July 28, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Roger Williams Dr., East of Green Bay Road
Adjacent to Jens Jensen Park
Highland Park (Ravinia), IL

Hours: 7:00 AM – 1:00 PM Wednesdays, June 16th through October 20th

This week, and in the weeks to come, along with the farmers market update, I will be featuring interesting local places and things in this lovely, low-key little Highland Park neighborhood, which could be described as an upscale version of Mayberry.

Today:  Baker Boys, a pocket-sized brand-new bakery just north of Roger Williams Ave. and Jens Jensen Park, at 733 St. Johns Ave.  The bakery features individual cheesecakes, scones, cookies, cupcakes in two sizes (including lemon meringue), éclairs – and frozen custard in several enticing flavors.  Beverages include Julius Meinl coffees and teas.  Baker Boys keeps interesting hours for a bakery: 7:30 AM to 9:00 PM, Tuesday through Sunday. (; website is still under construction.  Tel: 847.433.0430)

July 28th Update – What was new and in season this week:

-          Klug Orchards, Berrien Center, MI:  peaches, plums, the end of the early red raspberries; also, Kevin Klug is raising both lambs and beef cattle, for sale later this summer.  The livestock is raised on organic pastureland, and is primarily grass-fed, and finished on grain, and will be slaughtered and dressed by a local South Haven MI butcher, Bob Philbrandt of Bob’s Meats. The beef will be parceled in units starting at 50 pounds, at $6.95 per pound; the lamb, units starting at 16-20 pounds, at $8.95 per pound.  (email Mr. Klug @ for further information and the exact schedule for delivery.)

-          K&K Farms, Coloma, MI:  peaches, raspberries, and blueberries; sadly, both the sweet and sour cherry seasons are now over

-          Red Barn Farms, Woodstock, IL:  besides the typical high summer crops – sweet corn, tomatoes, basil, green and yellow beans – cabbage is now coming into season; Red Barn grows three types, green, white, and Savoy, bargains at $1.50 per head

-          Oosterhoff & Sons, Momence, IL: zinnias, gladioli, tuberoses, dianthus (AKA Sweet William); the end-of-season $1.00 house-grown perennials continues

-          White Star: featuring both goat cheese and fresh-made guacamole this week, in addition to small baked goods, and lemon/limeade; spotlight baked item: “Moans,” meaning a cross between a muffin and a scone, containing various combinations of fresh fruits, for $2.50

-          High Rise Baking Co., Chicago: Ciabatta rolls, tomato-cheese ciabatta, pumpernickel (

-          Rugela-licious, Bensenville, IL: several varieties of very tender hand-made rugelach, available in single or combinations of flavors (

Two Farm Dinners: One with Tony Mantuano @ Nichols Farm, the other with OneSixtyBlue @ Dietzler Farms

Posted: July 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm

If you’ve ever wanted to dine on a farm, there are two upcoming opportunities.

The first is August 7th, and involves the crew from OneSixtyBlue (not sure if MJ will participate). Board a bus at the restaurant, and travel up to Dietzler Farms in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Once there, you will tour the farm, and settle down for a five-course meal, including beer, wine pairings and . . . s’mores. $150 includes transportation, food, wine, tour, tax, and service. More information here.

The second is on August 15th, and involves a trip to Nichols Farm in Marengo, Illinois with Tony Mantuano of Top Chef Masters and Spiaggia fame, along with Spiaggia executive chef Sarah Grueneberg and sommelier Steven Alexander. In addition to a tour of the farm and a three-course lunch, the event includes bocce ball, croquet, and a “quickfire challenge.” More information here.

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Morton Grove Update

Posted: July 28, 2010 at 8:39 am

My family held a garage sale in Morton Grove last weekend. One of the bonuses of a garage sale (in addition to turning our useless crap into cash) is getting to chat with neighbors we might otherwise never meet (which is also a bonus of attending your local farmers’ market). A local restaurant owner bought the receiver I used in high school and told us his plans for expanding his business; a Korean war vet bought a dartboard and printer and gave his opinion on current events in the DMZ; mom’s browsed through our knickknacks, books and clothes while my wife entertained their kids.

When I talked with each visitor, I casually inquired if they’d been to the Farmers’ Market yet. Some had while others hadn’t even known about it (shame on our publicity chairman for his laziness!). This led to some polite, yet opinionated discussions as to how early we should have started the Market, who should participate, where it should be held, etc. My goal was to spread the word about the Market, what with me being the publicity chairman and all (Drat! I let it slip! Shame on me!).

Publicity and visibility are the two biggest challenges (and lousy weather) we’ve faced this season. While we’ve enjoyed some sizable crowds, some people have complained that they passed by the market several times without knowing it because we are concealed by a nondescript office building on Waukegan Road. The signage (banners, posters) don’t seem to make a difference. I think passers-by are looking for activity, humans, tents and movement rather than static signs. Some of the better markets we’ve had are due to one of our volunteers dressing up in overalls and a straw hat and waving at drivers. Attempts to hire a dedicated person to fill this role have failed and we’re considering employing a robot rather than a human for this job. More on that in a future post.

Favorable newspaper articles have helped create awareness, but the biggest draws seem to be word of mouth and the doorknob hanger fliers we passed out in late winter. As a result, we’ve kept the vendors happy and well paid, created a following of regular customers, attracted more volunteers, sponsors and entertainers and turned an otherwise vacant parking lot into a thriving communal event each week.

Of course, we’re not the only farmer’s market in the area, and when people compare us to other markets (so and so has more produce, this one sells this product, etc.) , I honestly reply that I don’t feel like we’re in competition with them. I’ve personally met several managers of neighboring markets, and they’ve all been generous and helpful with their advice. Each village’s market has its own personality. Some feature artisans and craftsmen, others have a particular ethnic flair. Our Market looks and feels pretty much how we envisioned it a year ago when we first started planning it; a weekly communal event where neighbors come to buy fresh local food, enjoy free entertainment and learn more about gardening, ecology and agriculture. So far it’s been a rewarding experience for all of us on the committee, and I hope to meet LocalBeet readers at our Welcome booth in weeks to come.

A Garden Returns to Nature

Posted: July 28, 2010 at 7:20 am

Because we sold our house recently and due to my 50-hour-a-week job and long commute, It was untenable for me to plant a garden this spring. Also, helping start and run the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market took up a good chunk of my free time and gave me an outlet for my green and locavorist tendencies. Surrounded by professionally grown fresh, seasonal produce every Saturday morning, I was less inclined to spend time planting my own.

It is no great tragedy to let a garden lay fallow or let a farm return to nature. The glorious chaos that occurs when many species make a home in the careful order we once enjoyed is the way of all things in the end. I don’t want to get too melodramatic about this, but agriculture is a struggle against life’s tendency to spread out and occupy every fertile nook and cranny. In the wild, you never find a single type of plant lined up neatly in a row with nothing else occupying the neighboring soil. And it is better that plant roots should hold the soil in place than that wind or rain should carry the loose nutrients into the alley or the sewer system.

At the same time, I am amazed (and a little bit flattered) at how tremendously fertile my garden plots are. While my sparse lawn features patches of brown interspersed with green weeds, the garden plots are so covered in a cornucopia of useless (for people) and unloved plants that I have to push aside several layers of thick stems to see the black soil. It’s not just crabgrass, chickweed and dandelions. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in my three plots, and I’d guess at least a dozen species of green things growing in there. The weeds have blanketed the plots in some cases. Near the fence, a few volunteer tomatoes came up this spring, as well a return of the beans and squash. I cleared weeds away from the stems of these plants to give them a fighting chance at producing fruit. The squash blossomed nicely, and despite Melissa Graham’s suggestion of frying, I ate some raw right off the plant. They have a very mild, and not unpleasant flavor and are so thin they almost melt in my mouth. The tomatoes have yet to produce fruit and we will close and be out of the house before anything interesting might happen with them.

I hope the new owner will appreciate all the equipment I am leaving her and the careful siting of the square-foot gardens she is acquiring. In future springs I might swing by the old house to check out what she does with the garden. If she decides to replace it all with sod, that’s her business. But my secret wish is that she’ll take advantage of the easy access to the rain barrel, the optimal sunlight exposure and the critter-proof cages and grow something special on soil that was lovingly blended, poured and nurtured by someone who really cared about what grew on his land.

Skokie Farmers Market, 7/25/2010

Posted: July 26, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Skokie Farmers Market

Sundays, June 27 through October 31
7:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
5127 Oakton St.
Free parking lot between Skokie Public Library and Skokie Village Hall
Skokie, IL

Finally, a perfect summer Sunday for the market, which until today has been plagued with either excessive heat or violent t-storms this season.  All of the vendors were out in force this weekend,  including a new one, Patz Maple & Honey Farm, of Pound, WI.  Patz carries many, many types of honey, both naturally-produced varietals (such as Tupelo, orange blossom, and clover) and flavored creams (such as raspberry and jalapeno), as well as all things bee-related – beeswax candles, lip balms, and bulk bee pollen.  They also feature maple syrup, maple sugar, and maple candies. Limited appearances at this market; the next will be on August 15, then one more in early September, on the 5th,  and one last visit on October 10th. (


-          KAP Farms, Fox River Grove, IL; also a downstate IL farm at Troy (field-grown tomatoes; signage noted a 50 cents per pound donation to breast cancer research, “in honor lf the late farmer Karen.” Also, red, yellow, and orange Bell peppers, dill weed featuring large seed heads, ideal for pickles, and rhubarb.  KAP again featured a great deal on overripe tomatoes, for $1 per basket, consisting of 4 large beefsteak-type fruits)


-          R&B Miller, Coloma, MI (blueberries, peaches; $10 half-bushes of overripe/bruised peaches on sale, for we jam-makers)


-          T&H Farms, Marengo, IL (gladioli, vine crops, tomatoes, honey, ‘knob’ onions)

-          Oosterhoff & Sons, Momence, IL ($1.00 young perennials in 4” pots; cut flowers included heliopsis, Sweet William, and the first asters of the season)

Miscellaneous Foods

-          White Star (the goat cheese was back)

-          That Pickle Guy, Lisle, IL (fresh, crisp pickles, several varieties, including garlic; packed Tuesday of the prior week; )

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Drink Local Spirits For A Good Cause At Speakeasy Throwback, Aug. 5, 6-9 pm

Posted: July 26, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Phillip Foss, the chef at Lockwood in the Palmer House Hilton, posted about what promises to be an incredible event on his blog, The Pickled Tongue. Speakeasy Throwback, a “Summit of Local Spirit Producers,” will be held on Thursday, August 5, from 6-9 pm at the Palmer House Hilton, and will benefit the Shawn Koch Foundation. Koch is a former Chicago beverage manager who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer.

The prohibition-themed event will feature live music, food and cocktails made with local spirits from Koval Distillery, North Shore Distillery, Death’s Door Spirits, Hum Botanical Spirits, Templeton Rye, and Rare Tea Cellar. In addition to Foss, featured chefs include Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat, Koren Grieveson of Avec, Mike Sheerin of Blackbird, David Carrier of Kith & Kin, Ryan Poli of Perennial, Curtis Duffy of Avenues, Frank Brunacci of Sixteen, John Des Rosiers of Inovasi, Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia, Brendan Sodikoff of Gilt Bar, Paul Fehribach of Big Jones, and Jerome Landrieu of Callebaut Chocolate.

Tickets are $85 per person in advance and $95 at the door, and can be purchased from

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Midwest Winemakers Get Respect From Chicago Tribune Monday, July 26th, 2010
Book Signing with Grace Young, author of Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge (7/24) Friday, July 23rd, 2010
Ravinia Farmers Market – July 21st Update Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
Local Snacking for Kids Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
Answering the Call – Helping Farmer Vicki Who Needed Help Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
A Beet Reporter Visits the Country’s Best Farmer’s Market in Madison Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
Local Food at Caputo’s, Jewel, Dominicks Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
From Our Beet Reporters – Market Profile, Sugar Grove Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
Facing Your Food Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
Sawyer Garden Market Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
Action Required: Child Nutrition Act Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
A Seasonal Delight: Fried Squash Blossoms Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
Eating locally can be religious and spiritual Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
Last Minute: Local Cocktail Co-op at In Fine Spirits — TONIGHT/FREE Monday, July 19th, 2010
Skokie Farmers Market, 7/18/2010 Update Sunday, July 18th, 2010
Ravinia Market, 7/14 Update Friday, July 16th, 2010
Jewel’s Eating Local – Accessible/Affordable Update Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
A Yearful of Blueberries: Blueberry-Corn Muffins Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
Chefs Move to Schools: An Unvarnished View Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
From Our Beet Reporters – The Skokie Farmer’s Market Monday, July 12th, 2010
Accessible Local Food Update Monday, July 12th, 2010
Call to Action: Comment to FDA on Suggested Rulemaking that Could Weaken Oversight over Antibiotic Use in Livestock Monday, July 12th, 2010
Go Help Farmer Vicki Who Needs Your Help Thursday, July 8th, 2010
Did You Notice that the Season of Accessible and Affordable Returned Thursday, July 8th, 2010
What happened to Flywheel at Fountainhead Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
Reporting From Ravinia – Beet Reporters Friday, July 2nd, 2010
Eat Local Later Now – Early Season Preservation Guide – UPDATED Friday, July 2nd, 2010