Look All Over With This Local Calendar (The Return of Affordable/Accessible Local Food)

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Posted: July 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

We’ve been keeping our eyes open for this, and now we can report: it’s the time of year when you can find local food all over.  Our key source, the flyer’s distributed in the newspapers.  Through this intel we espy the availability of local food at various area grocery stores and supermarket chains.  Of course we supplement this with our humint, correspondents out and about looking for local food where ever they can find it.  And we’re finding it.  Whole Foods is making good on their promise of stocking more local.  We’ve seen green beans, blueberries, peaches, greens and other local foods at their Chicago area stores.   For other places, let’s turn to the papers.

Using our flyers, we see that Ultra Foods has locally grown green peppers and locally grown cucumbers.  The place that really surprised us was Jewel, not necessarily known for their commitment to local foods.  Jewel advertised this week Indiana corn, green peppers, and watermelon; Michigan green beans and summer squash and Illinois mushrooms.  Dominick’s too showed well too, advertising locally grown summer squash, celery (yes!), spinach, and blueberries.  Surprisingly, Caputo’s, where we expect to see much local food displayed in the ads, displays no such thing.  Our scouts did note that earlier, Caputo’s had advertised local cucumbers and local summer squash.

We do not believe you should forsake your area farmer’s market for the supermarket.  We love market buying, and we believe you will always find the freshest, most interesting produce there.  We also beleive in the high value of interacting with the farmers at the market.  That whole Michael Pollan urban meets rural kind of thing.  Still, we also believe strongly that local foods should be accessible and affordable.  There are various times when it makes sense to get your local food from the grocery chain.  It is nice to save too.  More importantly, the more we buy, the more they will sell.  Convince the Jewels and Dominick’s of the world to supply you will local food.  Not just the summer bounty but also winter storage crops and seasonal extension hoop-house crops.

We think you can find a supermarket on your own, but for those outstanding area farmer’s markets near you, use our searchable, sortable, Market Locator.  Then, take our farmer’s market shopping tips to get the most out of your area market.  And don’t forget to put enough away for local eating later.  See our suggested best practices for preserving the seasonal bounty.

WHAT TO BUY NOW

The cherry season is running out.  Tart cherries freeze well for winter pies, and God knows they make the best jams.  Now’s the time to stock up.  Plums are entering the market.  Over the course of the summer, you will find several kinds of local plums, from small, sweet yellow ones to dark tannic Damson, edible to eat only if made into jelly.  Don’t put off buying a local plum this week because that variety may be gone by next week.  We are also seeting local melons in the market, and we believe with all the rain this year, that the melons will be especially delcious. Don’t think apples are for later.

When going for vegetables this week, don’t forget to consider the whole beast, the entire plant.  For instance, follow Wendy’s advice and turn your excess celery parts into local celery salt.

WHAT TO BUY SOON (OR LOOK FOR KEENLY)

Pears, more varieties of apples, more colors of sweet peppers.

STORAGE NOTES

Please remember that the seasonal apples, onions and potatoes in the market now are not meant for long term cellaring.  In fact, the need to be kept in the fridge or they will spoil easily.

WHERE TO FIND LOCAL FOODS

These stores specialize in local foods:

City Provisions Deli in Ravenswood, Chicago

Downtown Farmstand in the Loop, Chicago

Green Grocer in West Town, Chicago

Dill Pickle Coop in Logan Square, Chicago

Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park

Butcher and Larder in Noble Square, Chicago

See the introduction for other places to find local food.

WHAT TO DO NOW

August 2 – Slow Food Chicago presents “Farm Together Now” discussion + potluck with local author Daniel Tucker.  Free admission, seats available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bring a side dish or dessert to share for a potluck.  See herefor additional details.

August 3 — Outstanding in the Field with Paul Virant of Vie and Bare Knuckle Farm, Northport, MI. There are a lot of great farm dinners with local farms this summer with Outstanding in the Field, but join The Local Beet in making the trek north for this one, as it promises to be special as anyone who has tasted Bare Knuckle’s pork belly from Duroc Cross hogs can attest. More information here.

August 4 – 4th Annual Micro-Brew Review in Oak Park to benefit Seven Generations Ahead – Go here for tickets.

August 6 – Open House at Growing Home – Don’t miss Growing Home’s Summer Open House at the Wood Street Urban Farm, Chicago’s first USDA Certified Organic production farm with year-round growing capabilities. Enjoy the summer harvest with a cookout, a tour of the farm, a gardening workshop for all ages, and of course, fresh veggies at the farm stand. – 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm – 5814 S. Wood Street, Chicago

August 14 – Slow Food Chicago Book Club – This month’s selection, Cod: A Biography of a Fish that Changed the Worldby Mark Kurlansky.  First Slice Pie Cafe, 4401 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago – 2 -330 PM.

August 16 – Little Bee, Big Mystery – Join the Notebaert Nature Museum and Slow Food Chicago for a thought provoking series about bees, including a screening of the film, the Vanishing of the Bees.  Free, but you must RSVP to adultprograms {at} naturemuseum(.)org.

August 24 – Our friend, the man we love to disagree with, the ever opinionated, yet never wrong Steve Plotnicki, helped curate a team of Midwest chefs who source from the farm yet cook from the modern playbook for a group dinner at North Pond.  This event features five of the most exciting guys around our parts, and on this night you get the chance to sample from all of them as well as have the chance to go mano-a-mano with Steve himself.  It should be a extremely fun night.  If you can afford $140 a person for a dinner, this is one you should not miss.   See the North Pond web site for more details.

August 28 – Cork & Crayons Benefit for Purple Asparagus at UnCommon Ground – The family-friendly event brings foodies old and young together to celebrate the joys of family meals and healthy eating all for and to support the good works of our friends at Purple Asparagus.   The event will include a mini farmers’ market sponsored by Harvest Moon Organics farm, music from Old Town School of Folk Music artists, a raffle, and a silent auction for bidding on gourmet treats, getaways, and more. Guests will enjoy selections from Uncommon Ground’s kitchen and Candid Wines. Attendees will also be able to tour the certified-organic green roof atop Uncommon Ground where the restaurant grows some of the produce on its menu.  $60 for adults ($65 at the door), $15 for ages 5-20 ($20 at the door). Kids under 5 are free.  Tickets can be purchased via credit card at www.brownpapertickets.com or by check payable to Purple Asparagus sent in care of Melissa Graham, 1824 W Newport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 - Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon Ave., Chicago

September 11 – Slow Food Chicago Presents 3rd Annual Pig Roast at Goose Island – SAVE THE DATE!




When Life Gives You Celery, Make Celery Salt

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Posted: July 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Inspired in part by the recent New York Times article about eating your “veggie offal,” as I call it (or “whole animal, vegan-style,” as Rob calls it) and in part by a post on Heidi Swanson’s site, 101 Cookbooks, I decided to face my antipathy about “true” farmer’s market celery by making celery salt.  (By “true” farmer’s market celery, I mean the kind that has a deep green color, an abundance of leaves, and thinner stalks.) Although I admit that this type of celery has a truer, more assertive flavor, I’m not a fan of the tough stalks.  I’ve braised it in the past, Marcella Hazan-style, but the dish didn’t excite me.  So although I’ve made salsa verde from the leaves with satisfactory results, I groan a bit inside whenever celery arrives in my CSA box.

Recently, I was clicking through the San Francisco-based 101 Cookbooks, and came upon a post in which Heidi makes celery salt. As much as I’m a huge fan of 101 Cookbooks and Heidi’s recipes, I felt my color rising a bit when I read what Heidi said about celery salt: 

“A few weeks back I mentioned I like it sprinkled on this corn soup. It’s just as good on buttered corn-on-the cob, in yogurt, sprinkled over eggs. This time of year its great on things like macaroni salad, or egg salad, this shaved fennel salad, or this buttermilk farro salad. I bet it’d be great on Sara’s Green bean salad, or Deb’s Israeli salad. You get the idea.”

Um yeah, hi, what about hot dogs?? 

Then, as I was a little puzzled at the sight of the puny, yellow celery leaves Heidi was using to make her celery salt, I read her admonition:

“You have to find celery with leaves still intact. You’ll likely have more luck at farmers’ markets, but I’ve noticed more and more grocers sparing leaves from the trash. Also, leaves hide. You’ll find more and more as you work your way from outside stalks to inside ones.”

You have to work your way from outside stalks to inside ones just to find enough celery leaves?  Huh? Given our use of the quaint seasoning on the ubiquitous Chicago-style hot dog, and the abundance of great celery at farmer’s markets and in CSA boxes, it was at this moment that I realized, us Chicagoans are uniquely positioned to enjoy homemade celery salt. Just look at our celery (this bunch is from my Angelic Organics CSA box):

Picture 002

This celery was made for the job. So, after I carefully washed the leaves and dried them well with a towel, I meticulously picked off the leaves and placed them on a sheet pan. After I was done using the oven for something else, I shut off the oven and allowed the residual heat to dry out the leaves. I didn’t want any moisture left, but I didn’t want them coloring to yellow or brown. It only took a few minutes — I kept an eye on the leaves, and removed them from the oven when they looked like this:

Picture 007

Then I crumbled the leaves with my hands and mixed them in a bowl with approximately 2 oz. of Portuguese sea salt:

Picture 008

The fresh celery smell is so alluring. I can imagine it seasoning a variety of foods (hmmm, maybe Heidi was onto something there), but yes, charred or steamed hot dogs would be my first use.

Picture 003

So what did I do with the stems? (In an odd turn, it’s the stems that are now the veggie offal, and the leaves the most desirable part.) I slipped them into a Ziploc and put them into the freezer. A few stalks, although limp and gnarly, will flavor a future homemade stock quite well.

Any other ideas for using celery?


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Fryday

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Posted: July 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm

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For some, the second day of the week is enjoyed, mindfully, as Meatless Monday. The Local Family likes that. We like keeping meat off of our table several days a week. We do it to reduce meal costs. We do it for the health benefits and most of the Local Family find themselves in need of girth reduction, and we do it because we believe in the eco-benefits of reducing meat consumption. We just don’t necessarily make it a point on Mondays. See, we have more important things to cook up on Mondays. As it has happened in the past, Mondays are a night that Mom works, and when Mom works, Dad and the kids get out the oil jug. Mondays are once again fry-days for most of the Local Family.

Fry when Mom’s not around. The smell bothers her. She mess bothers her even more (although truth be told, half the fry days I don’t get the mess cleaned up). She’s really not keen on being tempted by fried foods. She knows, like we all know, that Fryday is one of the most tasty yet caloric days of the week. She wants no part of Fryday.

Not the rest of us. Home frying is not the easiest thing to do, before you get to the mess part. It’s tricky getting and keeping the right temperature on the stove. There’s never enough room to lay out the finished product, and did I mention the mess. On top of that, there’s the problem of how much oil needs to be used for 3/4′s of the Local Family. Nonetheless, fried foods taste great, and frying surely enhances meatless Monday.

What better way to treat vegetables than to fry them. Eggplants, enormous receptacles of oil that they are, so take to frying. I cooked up a big batch of the deceptively named “marinated eggplants”, which is eggplant slices fried and then tossed with copious amounts of garlic and some white wine vinegar. It’s supposed to last for days in the fridge, but we ate it all up on Fryday. Same with the zucchini scarpece, another fried and marinated treat, we ate it all.   I should point out, for the record and as the photo shows, there was also ample use of herbs in the dishes.  Really, the herbs, parsley in the eggplant and mint with the zucchini, add essential counterpoints to the dishes.  You must have fresh herbs in the house for Fryday.  There was also fine whole grain Red Hen bread for palate relief, and un-pictured, the first of the year corn. We cannot wait to see what we do next Fryday.




“I joined a C.S.A. because I wanted to be frugal and I thought it would force me to be creative in the kitchen, but it generated a huge amount of work and all this debris.”

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Posted: July 27, 2011 at 8:10 am

Way to go New York Times,  Today’s main feature in the dining section covers the blessing and the curse of local living, the food.  Specifically, the fact that your CSA broccoli comes whole: flowers, stalks, and even some leaves.  To my chagrin, at least, that always means more work than I especially want to handle.  I am not one of those Zen in the kitchen kinda guys, going into some form of felicity after 50 pea pods shucked.  I am, however, cheap.  Thrifty, I mean.  I have long exulted the double duty available to CSA users.  Kohlrabi leaves go with the pot likker.  Market beets provide three meals, make use of the roots, the leaves and the stems in distinct dishes. Today’s article covers an array of throw-aways, some I’ve known, some I forgot about, and a few I never figured.

Somewhere Beet Founder Michael Morowitz wrote about making salsa verde from celery leaves, but I cannot find that post; try figuring out your own version. I knew about cauliflower greens because the Welsh family that cooked me Sunday lunches many years ago while I was in Graduate School did that, and radish greens I always want to do because of the way Fergus Henderson writes it up in Nose to Tail.  I find peach leaves on the menus of Chez Panisse, which I love to check up on, but I’ve never managed to make my own peach leave dish.  In today’s article they suggest steeping in red wine.  I’ve made infusions from cherry pits (the almond of the North!) but never thought to take a hammer to them for panna cotta flavoring.  The article does note that double duties require a bit of caution. “Cherry pits, like peach leaves and apple seeds, contain minute amounts of cyanogens, compounds that can produce the poison cyanide. Other plant parts can also contain small amounts of toxins, so be cautious when eating them.” Still, don’t get to scared. Relish “the strange shoots that emerge when a garden has bolted from too much heat: cilantro flowers, broccoli seed pods and tough lettuces that cry out for creamy, rich dressings and bacon-fat vinaigrettes.” “Milk” corn cobs for their sugary syrup (or use the cobs in chowders). Check out the story for several more ideas for using the whole beast, vegan style.  And share with us your ways for handling these things.




Breaking news: FEW spirits are coming

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Posted: July 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm

July 26, 2011 — Exclusive to The Local Beet — Evanston’s FEW Spirits, the area’s newest craft distillery, inked its distribution deal this afternoon, according to distiller Paul Hletko. That means FEW’s excellent hand made White Whiskey and its  complex version of Gin will be available at a small, select number of outlets within the next two or three weeks.

Ironically, FEW makes its spirits just a mile or so down the street from the house of Francis Elizabeth Willard (FEW), founder of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Is FEW’s name a tribute to her, or an acknowledgement that they intend to make just a FEW bottles of high-end liquors?

We’ll have more on FEW in the next FEW weeks.

http://www.fewspirits.com




One Chance Left for 2011 Outstanding In The Field

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Posted: July 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Now that the heart of summer is upon us, be on the lookout for the Outstanding In The Field bus, which is making its way to the Midwest as we speak.  OITF describes itself as a “roving culinary adventure,” and since 1999, they aim to reconnect diners with their food by setting up tables smack-dab in the middle of a farm, which hosts a meal prepared by a well-known local(ish) chef, using local produce and meat.  Dinners are held around the world, some of the most popular occur in California wine country, but some are also being hosted in places as far away as Radda in Chianti, in Tuscany, Italy.

The first Midwest dinner will be held in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin on July 28.  A bucket-list dinner, it pairs legendary-to-those-in-the-know cheesemaker Willi Lehner of Bleu Mont Dairy with the ultimate locavore Madison fine-dining restaurant, L’Etoile.  (Some say L’Etoile features more local producers and farmers than any other restaurant in the country.)  Unfortunately, it is sold out.  So is the Dietzler Farms/Longman & Eagle dinner (July 30, Elkhorn, WI), the Heritage Prairie Farm/The Bristol dinner (July 31/La Fox, IL), and the Bare Knuckle Farm/Vie dinner (August 3/Northport, MI), featuring Chicagoland über-locavore, Paul Virant. 

However, your last and only chance to go to a 2011 OITF dinner is one that features the awesome Asian fusion king of Chicago, Bill Kim (Urban Belly, Belly Shack) and local farmer’s market stalwart, Green Acres Farm, in North Judson, Indiana, on August 1st.  North Judson is located only approximately 2 hours from Chicago.  If you’re still on the fence, check out my pictures from a Dietzler Farm dinner (albeit, not an OITF dinner) with Onesixtyblue.  If that doesn’t entice you, I give up.  For details on purchasing tickets to the Bill Kim/Green Acres dinner, go here.




Green Beans 4 Ways, 3 Ways & a Lot of Other Stuff for Rest

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Posted: July 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Deep into our Friday night dinner, with the introductory courses of soft cheeses two ways, goat and sheep; Key West shrimps put on the barbie; smoked rainbow trout, some dried sausages; past, the many salads: eggplants, peppers and a half an onion grilled and then chopped; summer squash also grilled, a heavy dose of chopped mint spewed all over; my famous lemony cabbage salad, which on this night was made only with shredded vegetables needed to weaken a version I made earlier in the week with too much salt, and the yogurt-garlic-cucumber mix that might also be a salad but was more there as a sauce for the other items off the grilled, when I asked, “was green beans three ways” (down from green beans four ways) “a specific recipe?”

The Local Family Matriarch, the woman also known as a Cookbook Addict, has, let’s be frank, a unique approach to the kitchen.  If we were all racing around doing too many dishes and trying to clean up a bit, and shhh don’t tell anyone, but one of the Local Family decided to throw a hissy fit, green beans four ways could only be something she read.  It was really A dish; four ways on one plate, right.  Barbara Kaftka or Deborah Madison or one of her other heros must have written it up with a touching story of how they served it to an 89 year old founding mother of some original farmer’s market. Or one of them created it to deal with an overabundant garden.  Yes, green beans four ways had a have had a good story to it.  Well, it does.  The mania of throwing together three seperate green bean dishes to complement all the other foods for our regularl;y scheduled Friday night dinner.  That’s the story, right, haha. Let’s look back and laugh.  Awestruck.

“I came up with it.”  As she is wont, the also Cookbook Addict, does not mince words when questioned of her cooking choices.  Granted, she had faced down a bushel of green beans picked up from a farmer friend for the entire week.  For days, she topped and tailed the beans, and now, with a big dinner looming she finally decided to make them all down.  She raced through the library for ideas.  Until, of course, she found herself stymied by the roadblock of Local Familyhood.  Remember that hissy I mentioned.  Well, that hissy fit locked off a needed Tyler Florence book.  See, he had one of the recipes, for a sour cream based salad inside.  She would need to improvise.  Bookless.  She would also improvise, a Greek style tomato sauce-y dish because that Molly O’Neil book was also not available.  Luckily, the last book being unfairly guarded contained a recipe not hard to manage.  Elizabeth Schneider’s Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini inspired her with simple advice of, boil and then use your best butter possible, and in our case we happened to have some very best butter, Joe Burn’s hand rolled butter from Brunkow Cheese’s supply of Jersey cows.  She completed, delayed from the drama over locked away recipes, only three of her original plan.  I’m not sure what the fourth way was, but I know that Green Beans Three Ways seemed good enough, a good enough story for now.

And we only ate two ways, the sour cream salad and the best butter.  She put aside the tomato sauce version for winter eating.  We passed around platters of ground grass-fed beef mixed with spices and called kefta (or as one Local Kid calls it, “kifka:) and sockeye salad on sale at Whole Foods and marveled that on top of everything we also had the green beans.  Dinner took a lot out of us.   We waited a bit before digging into the flourless chocolate cakes nicely accomplished by Ms. Kifka.  After all of that, who would not want to rest the rest of the week.




The Local Calendar Has Weeds

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Posted: July 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

As wont for the event, we ate exceedingly well Thursday at the Green City Market BBQ.  As last year, we could not possibly taste all of the fare, or drink all of the beverages, but we left confident as always that the way to eat best was to eat local.  For instance, a tiny slice of peach within Dale Levitski’s yogurt, granola, herb, berry concoction really stood out for flavor intensity.  Still, the best dish of the night in our eyes, and we say this not just because it included our namesake beets, was the smoked trout, purslane and zingy dressing offering from Leopold (it would be unfair to single out all the other great food, there was so much).  Of course not only do we like beets we love eating our weeds.

We think it is the thriftiness of it that makes us love edible weeds.  Between a cultivate leaf of rocket and a wild leaf of lamb’s quarter, does one really taste better?  Yet, on our plates, we always prefer the bonus bit that nature provided.  There are other arguments in favor of edible weeds.  Michael Pollan has written on their extra nutrional intensity.  We bet there are various eco reasons too about using the things that sprout up instead of the things needing to be planted.  If anything, we wish the market bore more weeds.  Prime weed season, of nettles and edible ferns, tends to come in early Spring when our markets are just anticpatory thoughts.  Still, careful shoppers can find some good stuff out there now.

We saw huge bunches of wild watercress from Nichol’s Farm this week.  Our market intelligence suggests that purslane and lamb’s quarters can be found.  At Green City Market, the farms of Three Sisters and Green Acres are especially good places to find the latest in edible junk.  Generally, we like our lamb’s quarters quickly cooked, one of those saute with the clinging water kind of recipes.  Purslane, which can be found abundantly in sidewalks all over Chicago, we like raw, in Middle Eastern style  tart salads.  By the way, looking for your own weeds, check out this old Beet piece from Michael Gebert.

Find weeds and the rest of the summer produce at a market near you, with our searchable, sortable, Market Locator.  Then, take our farmer’s market shopping tips to get the most out of your area market.  And don’t forget to put enough away for local eating later.  See our suggested best practices for preserving the seasonal bounty.

WHAT TO BUY NOW

It’s time to indulge in summer.  We’ve seeing tomatoes, cucumbers, the first hot peppers, eggplants and sweet corn.  There are peaches.

In other fruit news, try some currants, they won’t be around that long, and if you missed strawberries, a crop of everbearing is showing up in the market.  Don’t think apples are for later.

WHAT TO BUY SOON (OR LOOK FOR KEENLY)

Melons

STORAGE NOTES

Please remember that the seasonal apples, onions and potatoes in the market now are not meant for long term cellaring.  In fact, the need to be kept in the fridge or they will spoil easily.

WHERE TO FIND LOCAL FOODS

These stores specialize in local foods:

City Provisions Deli in Ravenswood, Chicago

Downtown Farmstand in the Loop, Chicago

Green Grocer in West Town, Chicago

Dill Pickle Coop in Logan Square, Chicago

Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park

Butcher and Larder in Noble Square, Chicago

We have received reports of some local foods at Whole Foods including blueberries, beets, herbs, and lettuces.  This is the time of year were you will also begin to see local food at your neighborhood market.  Caputo’s noted in their weekly flyer that their cucumbers and green beans came from local farms.

WHAT TO DO NOW

July 23 – Really need an excuse to visit the Logan Square Farmer’s Market?  Well, after the market packs up, go over with the hipsters to the Summer Sessions on the Square.  People who know these things tell us the groups are very good.

August 3 — Outstanding in the Field with Paul Virant of Vie and Bare Knuckle Farm, Northport, MI. There are a lot of great farm dinners with local farms this summer with Outstanding in the Field, but join The Local Beet in making the trek north for this one, as it promises to be special as anyone who has tasted Bare Knuckle’s pork belly from Duroc Cross hogs can attest. More information here.

August 2 – Slow Food Chicago presents “Farm Together Now” discussion + potluck with local author Daniel Tucker.  Free admission, seats available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bring a side dish or dessert to share for a potluck.  See here for additional details.

August 4 – 4th Annual Micro-Brew Review in Oak Park to benefit Seven Generations Ahead – Go here for tickets.

August 6 – Open House at Growing Home – Don’t miss Growing Home’s Summer Open House at the Wood Street Urban Farm, Chicago’s first USDA Certified Organic production farm with year-round growing capabilities. Enjoy the summer harvest with a cookout, a tour of the farm, a gardening workshop for all ages, and of course, fresh veggies at the farm stand. – 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm – 5814 S. Wood Street, Chicago

August 14 – Slow Food Chicago Book Club – This month’s selection, Cod: A Biography of a Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky.  First Slice Pie Cafe, 4401 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago – 2 -330 PM.

August 16 – Little Bee, Big Mystery – Join the Notebaert Nature Museum and Slow Food Chicago for a thought provoking series about bees, including a screening of the film, the Vanishing of the Bees.  Free, but you must RSVP to adultprograms {at} naturemuseum(.)org.

August 28 – Cork & Crayons Benefit for Purple Asparagus at UnCommon Ground – The family-friendly event brings foodies old and young together to celebrate the joys of family meals and healthy eating all for and to support the good works of our friends at Purple Asparagus.   The event will include a mini farmers’ market sponsored by Harvest Moon Organics farm, music from Old Town School of Folk Music artists, a raffle, and a silent auction for bidding on gourmet treats, getaways, and more. Guests will enjoy selections from Uncommon Ground’s kitchen and Candid Wines. Attendees will also be able to tour the certified-organic green roof atop Uncommon Ground where the restaurant grows some of the produce on its menu.  $60 for adults ($65 at the door), $15 for ages 5-20 ($20 at the door). Kids under 5 are free.  Tickets can be purchased via credit card at www.brownpapertickets.com or by check payable to Purple Asparagus sent in care of Melissa Graham, 1824 W Newport Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 - Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon Ave., Chicago

September 11 – Slow Food Chicago Presents 3rd Annual Pig Roast at Goose Island – SAVE THE DATE!




RECYCLED Eat Local Apples Now (Summer Apples)

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Posted: July 22, 2011 at 12:47 am

Note: We are seeing the first apples in the market.  You may think why eat an apple now, but as we explained last year, there is a special seasonal treat to these summer fruits.

I tried again today to get my wife to eat a summer apple.  “I don’t want an apple. I want a peach.  Or a nectarine.  Give me some berries.”  She means that she has plenty of time to eat apples.  Still, between you and me, she’s not a huge apple lover.  She has her macoun season, and she likes to make her Hoosier Mama taught apple pie recipe, but she’s not really wedded to apples.  She does not thrive on them like the local kids.  They eat their local apples now.  They eat them in the fall, and they eat them from storage practically right up until those first strawberries release them to new fruit each year.  They know that summer apples have their own charm.  They eat local apples now.

I tried to explain that charm to my wife.  See, you could eat apples all year long, but you could only eat these apples now.  Two things make a summer apple.  First, they possess bright, sharp, especially intense flavors, not really found in later ripening apples.  These are the citrus crop of apples so to speak.  Second, they are not built for lasting.  You cannot find a cold spot and keep your lodi, your transparent, around.  You need to eat them now.  Need more?  When ever we need apple info, we go to the Vintage Virginia apple site.  They say this about the yellow transparent:

YELLOW TRANSPARENT has the synonyms Grand Sultan, White Transparent, Russian Transparent and Early Transparent. It originated in Russia or one of the Baltic States and was introduced into Europe in the early 1800s, and into the United States in 1870. Medium in size and round in shape, the smooth skin is a greenish-white that ripens to a pale-yellow with inconspicuous dots, russet or green in color. The white flesh is crisp and juicy with an acid flavor. Refreshing, well-flavored, soft, pale-cream flesh, whose acidity can make it too sharp for some tastes. Cooks to a cream puree, sweet, balanced, flavorsome. The medium-sized tree grows upright and vigorously and is exceptionally hardy, with short and crooked branches that are heavily spurred. The oval to ovate shaped leaves are medium to yellowish-green with dull serrations. Yellow Transparent is subject to both scab and fireblight. The fruit is easily bruised, and thinning is necessary to increase the size. It will store for only a few weeks, and ripens in late June and early July over a 3 to 4 week period.

Or not.  Summer apples are classically made into apple sauce.  They may be sauce apples because of how quickly they go soft, but they are also sauce apples because of their complex flavors stand up to saucing.  Remember, you can freeze apple sauce as well as can it for a taste of summer, apple style.  We should say buy local apples now.

Summer apples are one of those things you pretty much have to go to a farmer’s market to find, but you can find them around town now.  Eat local apples all the time.




Calm Reactions to Farmer’s Market BS

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Posted: July 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Within the Local Family, I think I’m the one with the biggest reputation for going off handle, throwing tantrums, blowing up.  I mean you should have heard me yesterday when I found out we had locked ourselves out.  Still, I’m working on smoothing out the rages.  I mean I’ve been stewing on some Farmer’s Market Bullshit Bullshit* thing for a couple of days now without throwing myself fully into the fray.  Is this a new, calmer, VI?

I do, really, hope to debut the more steadfast, even keel Vital Information sometime in 2011, but I confess my ability to yet go all ape on people calling farmer’s markets BS is more due to me trying to understand what I’m up against than any great patience built into my constitution.  Last year, a Chicago Food Snob got my hackles with a blog post denigrating farmer’s markets.  I took my usual offense here.  A year later, Michelle Hays, who does some food things I admire, got the bait, I mean the ball rolling on LTHForum by linking to an article by British food critic, and Top Chef Masters Judge, Jay Rayner.  Rayner asked if shopping at farmer’s markets could change the world.  Rayner, to his credit, answers the question with the extreme narrowness of the Rehnquist era Supreme Court.  What he really means is will shopping at the farmer’s market ruin the profit margins of your neighborhood supermarkets.  No, he accurately surmises.  You won’t put Salisbury’s (or its US equivilant) out of business.  Nor are you, he adds, living like your peasant ancestors when you market shop.  Still, to all the BSers, he does not go after all the sacred cows (no pun really intended): food miles, grass-fed/humane, global warming, etc.  He’s agnostic on all this potential world saving.  Yet, here he is on LTHForum, as proof of market BS.  I’ve got nothing to say because Rayner has not said much in his article.

Then, another LTHer, another person who’s food chops I’ve mostly admired, comes out and says it.  Alan “Jazzfood” Lake says on the Forum, “Getting back on thread, Chicago’s farmers mkts are bullshit. But they’re all we’ve got and better than nothing. It’s not like we’re the beneficiaries of yr round growing climate.”  Bullshit how?  I’ve been trying to come up with that all week.

  • The  stuff costs too much – Compared to what?
  • It does not taste as good – It’s no Baylor melon or Georgia peach; I’ve had both and prefer the local, but what do I know
  • It’s not really from a farm – You know I actually heard that one today from a farmer, and I believe that it is true.  There are market stands misrepresenting local fare.  That’s bad, but it does not taint all marketers.
  • Not all the people taking your money are farmer’s – True, but one can find plenty of farmers too.  Does it matter though?  Can I not buy cheese from Marion Street Cheese because I’m not buying from the cheesemaker?
  • It’s a fad, a place to be seen; alternatively, it’s a place to gaze at famous chefs – I’m not sure why these reasons amount to more than just cynicism
  • Your science is all wrong – I’m more than willing to go to bat on these things, and believe that analysis and study show that Big Ag aint doing things very well and there is acute needs to farm better the way nearly all market farmers do
  • Our markets are a fraction of the size of the one in Madison – That, of course is true, and would be true no matter how much better we build our markets in Chicago, but Chicago has many, many markets.  Much more than most places.  So, there is not one huge BIG market.  Marsha Guerro, Alice Water’s gardener, commented to me how well our markets stack up to ones in California, and I’ve heard good things from other out of towners.  I find plenty that can be improved, but I have a hard time finding our markets bad.
  • What can we do, we live in the North.  - We live in the midst of some of the best agriculture land in the world.  We are lucky to be close to SW Michigan where a special micro-climate enables the growing of stone fruits.  Other crops, like cherries, benefit from being in cold climates.  What can grow here, and a lot can grow here, grows very well here.  What can’t, olives, almonds, citrus, dates, etc., I”m willing to go elsewhere.
  • Our season is too short – For the most part, our seasons are not shorter, they’re different.  Sure California has asparagus in February and cherries in April but they don’t have them when we do.  We should be atune with our seasonality and relish our moments to shine.  It used to be traditional in New England to eat peas and new potatoes (and salmon) on the 4th of July.  We don’t all have to subscribe to a mythical sense of seasonality based on some Medeteranian ideal.
  • We have winter – Yes we do, and the supply of local foods dwindles.  Eat local later.  Make your own root cellar, you can eat well and long from what goes there.  Freeze and can.  Don’t give in to the tyranny of the fresh, it is seldom better.
  • What else?

In a few hours, I’ll be sweating my ass off at the Green City Market BBQ.  I’m sure there, I’ll have a hard time trying to figure out why people find markets BS, but maybe tomorrow I’ll go off to Jewel or something for some research.  I”m working hard being the new calm, collected Rob.  If I address this farmer’s market BS thing, I’m sure I’ll do it in the most measured, fair minded way possible.

*On John Stewart the other night, they were saying bullshit like crazy.  Since when have they been able to do that?




Eat Local Later – Local Beet Guide to Putting it Away Now

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Posted: July 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm

We’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times; the reasons to eat local do not go away once the markets pack up for the season.  We want you to eat local all the time, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to put away from the summer harvest.  We firmly believe that local produce, put away with care, will have you eating better in the winter than any other produce you can find then–excerpting seasonal winter items like citrus.  In addition, you will likely save money by putting away produce when it is at it’s cheapest.  Finally, we believe in the special pleasure in unleashing some summer glory, a tart cherry jam for instance, in the dead of winter.

We have provided below, best practice guidance for preserving what is in the markets now.  Look forward to additional updates as new items come into season, and also look forward to our magnum opus on the many ways to put away tomatoes coming soon.

We provide below, our favorite or preferred way to set aside various types of produce.  We note, however, that your ability to take advantage of different preservation techniques requires different skills, infrastructure, and time commitments.  Also, all preservation techniques (besides root cellaring) alter the texture of the food.  But does a pickle taste less good than a cucumber?  Use the following considerations when picking your preservation method:

Freezing

  • Requires freezer capacity
  • Easy
  • Can accommodate  many but not all recipes for jams, pickles, relishes, etc.
  • Certain items do not freeze well
  • Generally preferred taste for vegetables

Canning

  • Good for people without freezer space, e.g., apartment dwellers
  • Takes time and the ability to follow directions
  • Investment in canning supplies
  • Multitude of tastes and flavors in jams, relishes, pickles, etc.
  • Generally preferred taste for tomatoes

Drying

  • Takes up little room
  • Intense flavors, can be re-hydrated for certain culinary use
  • May require special equipment
  • May take a long time
  • Much dried food should be further preserved such as by freezing

Fermentation

  • Taste preference and health benefits
  • Little work after the initial preparation e.g., shredding cabbage for sauerkraut
  • May produce strong odors
  • Much fermented foods should be further preserved such as by canning

Use  our previously published Making the Most of the Seasonal Bounty for detailed information on the food preservation techniques discussed.

The following items are commonly found in Chicago area markets and gardens in July

Salad Greens - The season for salad greens is waning as lettuces do not grow well in hot, hot weather.  Get your greens now.

Stock/Soup – There can be a lot of lettuces or similar crops like rocket around this time of year.  You may not get to as many salads as you want.  Can anything be done with those browning leaves?  We believe in making vegetable stock from your odds and ends, and things like lettuces can be just fine as stock builders.  You can also make a nice soup from lettuce.  You’ll make dreck if you freeze lettuce, but you’ll be pleased if you freeze lettuce soup.

Other Greens

Freeze – Since greens like kale, chard, turnip and mustard are rarely eat raw, freezing matters little to their use.  A little blanching and there’s something for time ahead.  Now, spinach you can make a salad, but it freezes well too.

Kohlrabi

Store – The best thing to do with a kohlrabi.  Nothing.  Actually, this bane of CSA subscribers is much tastier than expected, one of the sweetest members of the cabbage family.  We like kohlrabi raw and cooked.  We just do not feel you need to be in a hurry to eat your kohlrabi.  Kohlrabies will store for a very, very long time in your fridge.  If the skins turn a little black, don’t worry because you peel it.  Do not ignore kohlrabi.  Just wait for the right moment.

Beets, carrots, turnips

Eat now – These are all root cellar fodder, but this is not the time of year to put these things down.  It’s hard to find too much of a root cellar now, and the version of these crops out first deserve to be eaten as is.

Cherries

Freeze – Since sour cherries are almost always used cooked, freezing matters little.  The only question, pit now or pit on thaw.

Apricots

Dry, fruit leather – The question really is, can you ever have enough apricots to put away.  Our local crop is never huge because it’s a fragile endeavor for farmers.  They’d rather put the land to use for peaches.  Then, when those few apricots show up, they’re so delicious, who wants to forsake eating them.  Apricots can be preserved many ways including jamming and the other ways peaches are preserved, but we all know that drying takes full advantage of apricot’s intense flavor.  Unless you use sulfates, your home dried apricots will turn dark.  So.

Onions

Eat Now – More and more onions are coming into the markets, but summer onions are eat now onions.  In fact, you should keep your summer onions in the fridge.

Herbs

Dry* – Dried herbs may seem like something from a generation ago, but as Greeks know, everything tastes better with a heavy does of dried oregano.  It is not quite clear, though if the flavor of Greece is best achieved with local oregano or local marjoram.  We are are in the process of drying both.  Check with us in a few months to see which we like better.  Mint and thyme also work well dried.  Dried sage and dried rosemary are used much, but we are less keen on those flavors.  We do not like dried parsley at all.  *Do not dry basil.  Instead make pesto and freeze.  Now, many people think you should leave the cheese out of your pesto before freezing.  See what works.

Cucumbers

Ferment – The best cucumber pickles use nothing more than salt and flavorings like dill and garlic.  No vinegar.

Eggplants

Prepare – To make your eggplant last, make some classic summer dishes like caponata or eggplant caviar.  These can last for a good period in your refrigerator or you can freeze them for extended storage.

Sweet Peppers

Freeze – Since fruits freeze well, and peppers are fruits, peppers freeze just fine.  Just slice and you are on your way.  The question, to roast before freezing.  You can easily get by without roasting the peppers first, but on the other hand, you have a harder time roast the peppers after you have frozen them.

Corn

Freeze – Corn turns to starch as soon as it is picked, so if you cannot eat it within a few days of picking, you should be freezing your corn.  Vegetables need to be blanched, put in boiling water for a short period and then put in cold (ice) water to stop the cooking.  Blanching stops enzyme actions that would other wise ruin vegetables even when frozen.  Let your blanched vegetables completely cool down before freezing.

Shelling beans

Freeze – Frozen shelled beans do not need to be soaked.  Blanch before freezing.

String Beans

Freeze, prepare, pickle – We think there are many good ways to put away string beans, and we think there is one bad way, canned (without pickling).  Consider making a Greek or Middle Eastern style stew for a delicious meal many months from now.

Apples

Sauce/eat now -  Summer apples are often thought of as sauce apples.  It may be that people think of saucing summer apples because they go soft so quick.  We’d like to think it is because the sweet-tart taste of summer apples makes for good sauce.  Apple sauce can be as easily frozen as canned.

Berries

Freeze – Frozen berries do just as well in cooking applications as fresh, so all your frozen fruit can go towards winter muffins, cakes and pies.  You can also make jam from previous frozen berries.  Of course, nothing says healthy like a winter smoothie.  To preserve as much berry integrity as possible do a few things.  First, make sure your berries are as dry as possible before sticking in the freezer.  Second, if you can, lay them out on a tray and freeze them that way; then, after they are frozen, package them.

Peaches

Can – Not too long ago, your fanciest French restaurant used canned peaches for such typical fare as peche melba.  They did it because peaches take well to canning.  Sure, they get that gel-ish texture, but they maintain all their peak summer flavor.  More so,, that peak summer flavor can be enhanced with a bit of spices.  Can some pickled peaches now, they will go perfectly with your Thanksgiving meals.

Please share with us your efforts to eat local later.  Also, if you have a question for an item not listed, let us know.


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Be Like Mario Batali & Drink Michigan Wine

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Posted: July 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

It’s no secret that Mario Batali has a vacation home on the Leelanau Peninsula.  He tells Bon Appetit what wines (and cider and beer) he drinks while he’s there.  Full article here.  (Hint: Shoutouts go to Local Beet favorites L. Mawby and Black Star Farms.)




Evanston Farmers Markets 2011

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Posted: July 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Evanston Farmers Markets, 2011 – Mid-July Update

All five of the Evanston markets are now up to speed for the season, despite the usual vendor shifts and extreme weather woes.  The following is a status update on what the various farmers and artisans are up to, as of the second week in July:

Evanston Downtown, Intersection of University Place and East Railroad Ave.
Saturday, 7:30AM – 1:00PM

Noteworthy stars at this week’s market, which offers a huge selection of products of all kinds at this time of year, some of which are heart-breakingly brief in season:

-         Lyons Fruit Farm (MI): First vine-ripened tomatoes are now making an appearance, as are excellent-quality stone fruits.  Get there early for apricots, as they sell out fast.

-         Henry’s Farm (IL):  Wonderful selection of members of the Allium family now available: several varieties of young leeks, and ”knob” onions – young onions that are just forming the bulb. Great for grilling and salsas.  Several kinds are on sale: white, yellow, and purple, as well as the sweeter Walla-Walla, at $2.50 per bunch, or 2/$4.00.

-         Nichols Farm & Orchard (IL):  Another a prime purveyor of fresh onions, Nichols counters with Vidalias and red torpedos, as well as white and yellow varieties.  Fresh garlic is on sale, as well as the last of the season’s garlic scapes.  Just starting to make an appearance are sweet peppers, and broccoli and wax beans are in mid-season form; also available are fresh garbanzo beans (chickpeas), a recent addition to their selection of vegetables.   For the pesto lovers, Nichols is selling large bags of Genovese-type basil for a very reasonable $2.00.

-         Stover’s (MI):  If you are a cherry-lover, this should be your first stop this week.  Stover’s offers pitted sour cherries for a short time each year, and this is the time.  Large buckets are available for $20, and small one-pie buckets are available for $9.00.   This pre-done prep makes both pie and jam-making incredibly easy – and the plastic buckets can be frozen as-is.   Going forward, they will offer the sour cherries frozen, but for fresh, you must go now. Sweet cherries are also offered, as are the nearly as ephemeral tree-ripened apricots.

-         Oosterhoff & Sons (IL):  It’s lily season, but Asiatic and Oriental (the latter are the wildly fragrant ones).  Oosterhoff offered multiple stems for $5.00 last week,  making a statement-maker bouquet very affordable.   Big bunches of multi or one-color snapdragons were also on sale, as well as a rainbow of gladiolas.  For the avid flower gardener/bargain-hunter, a large selection of small but vigorous perennials was on sale for $2.00.  Plant now for a lovely display next summer.
West End, Intersection of Church St. and Dodge Ave. (Evanston Township HS parking lot)
Saturday, 8:30AM – 3:00PM

As the growing season progresses, Cozeake Nelson’s selection of produce continues to expand, as is the operation itself (more on this upcoming).  His first vine-ripened Evanston-grown tomatoes, juicy and full of flavor, appeared this week; Mr. Nelson’s knowledgeable and gregarious colleague ‘Dusty” told me that several varieties will be on sale in the upcoming weeks, including Green Zebra, a notoriously delicate and hard-to-ship variety.  Sweet corn should be available in the near future; other vegetables available now are beets, turnips, collards, and arugula.  Evanston-grown melons are on the horizon, as well.

Ridgeville (South Evanston), Intersection of Ridge Ave. and South Blvd.
Wednesday, 3:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Following the shift of “Crust & Crumb” to the Central St. market, High-Rise Bakery of Chicago has set up shop at the Ridgeville market.  High-Rise is a fixture at several other local markets, and sells reasonably priced artisan yeast breads and quick breads.

Also newly available this week at Ridgeville: excellent stone fruits from Lyons Fruit Farm (MI) – apricots, plums, and early peaches.  Highly recommended.  Also on hand now: raspberries, blueberries, broccoli, and wax beans.

Central St. Green Market, Independence Park, intersection of Central St. and Stewart St. (two blocks west of Green Bay Rd.)
Wednesday, 3:00PM – 7:00 PM

Available this week from Trail’s End Organic Farm (IL): ducks!  Whole fresh Black Swedish ducks are available (average weight: 3.5 lbs), at $22.00 each.  Black Swedish ducks, while not a rare breed, are not generally commercially available, and a visit to this farmer would be worth the time if you are a duck fan. Black Swede Trivia: with its black body and white throat/chest feathers, this breed is mentioned by more than one breeder as having been the model for Warner Bros. cartoon star Daffy Duck. Trail’s End will also have their usual array of grass-fed beef cuts and stewing hens in stock, so come early.

Lake Breeze Organics (MI) has an expanding selection of produce, which now includes fruit (tart cherries, blueberries), as well as broccoli, new potatoes, and copra onions (a small, strong-flavored variety – a great storage onion).

Also this week: crepe-makers Gata Bee Crepes made their debut at the 7/13 market, making to-order crepes with a variety of fillings and toppings.

McGaw YMCA (Downtown), 1000 Grove St. (at Maple)
Wednesday, 9:30AM – 2:00PM

The sole vendor is Michigan-based 1st Orchards & Greenhouses keeps up their good variety of offerings:  green and yellow wax beans @ $3.00 a quart,  big ripe tomatoes for $3.00/lb, blueberries for $5.00/pint (or 2 for $9.00),  sweet cherries at $5.00 per pint, and zucchini or yellow summer squash for 3/$1.00.  Mixed bouquets of cut flowers and fresh eggs ($4.00/doz) are also available.  This mini-market is a nice option for one-stop shopping for downtown Evanston residents and workers.




Drink Your Cucumbers!

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Posted: July 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Cucumbers can almost be as polarizing as beets.   (Almost.)  People tend to either love them or hate them.  Cucumbers can taste watery, floral (and slightly bitter, if you eat the skins). For me, I’m neutral — I like their refreshing crunch, but they’re not really nutritious, so I don’t feel the need to make the effort to do much with them. Unfortunately, too, they don’t keep well, so into the compost pile do many go.

If your CSA box or garden is giving you more cucumbers than you can reasonably eat this year, one place where they shine is in drinks.  That’s right — drink your cucumbers.  Drink them in a Pimm’s Cup, or a Juliet & Romeo, or slice them up to flavor water. 

Pimm’s Cup

Depending upon where you’ve travelled, Pimm’s Cups either remind you of Great Britain or New Orleans.  For me, it’s London, because that’s where I first tried them.  Pimm’s No. 1 is a digestive made from gin, quinine, herbs and botanicals, and adds a lovely, reddish hue to a Pimm’s Cup cocktail.  It really doesn’t taste like gin, is low in alcohol, and has subtle citrus notes. According to HistoricalFoods.com, an Original Victorian Pimm’s Cup includes sliced cucumber (or a spear, like I do), orange, lemon, and mint with 1 part of Pimm’s No. 1 to 2 parts lemonade.  When I make them, I do 1 part Pimm’s to 3 parts of either lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale, or even Sprite or 7-up.  Just fill a Collins glass with ice, put in your citrus & cucumber garnishes, 2 oz. Pimm’s to 6 oz. of “weak”, lightly stir, garnish with mint, and drink. (I also add several drops of Bittercube’s Jamaica No. 2 bitters.)

Picture

* * *

Juliet & Romeo

Cucumbers can have a floral taste. Why not harness that feminine quality, and combine it in a drink that includes rosewater? Although it sounds like it would taste and smell like your grandmother’s old buffing powder, the few drops of rosewater and cucumber, along with gin, mint, and lime juice, go down smoothly. Consider this it to be a more elegant margarita.

I was first introduced to this drink many years ago at The Violet Hour. It has since become a much-anticipated seasonal sipper. This recipe is a variation of the one provided by TVH’s Toby Maloney on LTHForum.com (posting as “Alchemist”):

2 oz Beefeater (or maybe Hendrick’s)
.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup*
3 drops Rose Water*
3 drops Angostura
3 slices Cucumber
3 sprigs Mint
Tiny pinch of salt

Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Mint sprig and 1 drop rose water & 3 drops of Angostura Bitters.
Ice: None

Muddle the cucumber and pinch of salt. Add rest of ingredients. Let sit for 30 seconds (time allowing). Shake. Strain. Slap a sprig of mint leaf between your hands to bring out the flavor, and garnish the drink with the mint sprig, adding 1 drop rose water, and 3 more drops of Angostura on the surface of the drink.

Toby’s note: The pinch of salt is really, really small. It should be muddled with the cuke to bring out its freshness.

* Simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of sugar dissolved into water. An eyedropper is the best way to administer the rosewater to the drink. (You can buy them at The Container Store.)

If anyone else has any ideas for adding cucumbers to drink, please post! I hear that I will receive several more in today’s CSA box.


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Other Good Things About Local Beer/Get Your Early Bird Tickets for Micro-Beer Event

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Posted: July 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Time Out Chicago did an excellent run down on why our local beer scene is hopping, including a taste-off that show very well for the Local.  While we think it covered much of what makes our beer scene great, we think it missed a few things.

First, obviously, it missed one of the best things about our local beer besides drinking the beer.  That is the words of “Hoppin’ Around with Tom” Tom Keith.  If nothing else, Tom realized Chicago was a true beer Mecca over a half year before Time Out.  Since hoisting the beer beat, Tom, sometimes to my chagrin, has not approached things directly.  ”Can’t you just taste some bock beers”, I’ve admonish Tom (each Spring).  Tom has never just tasted beer, he’s tasted in the whole scene, and if you are truly interested in how things are hoppin’, take a bit of time to catch up with Tom’s archives.

Second, do you know about an opportunity not just to take in many of the great local beers but the opportunity to assist one of our favorite organizations, Seven Generations Ahead?  You can do this with their Annual Micro-Brew Review being held on August 20 in downtown Oak Park.  And if you act before July 20, you can get discounted tickets.  Want to wet your whistle?  See the list of participating breweries here.

Combine the two.  Tom will be in attendance at the event.  He’d love to chat beer with you.  Then, look forward to his event report.


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Tickets Still Available For Green City Market BBQ – This Thur – 7.21 Monday, July 18th, 2011
Dane County, Wisconsin Market Report Saturday, July 16th, 2011
Our Local Calendar Now Says Summer Friday, July 15th, 2011
Students at Daley Plaza – COUNTRY Financial Challenge Begins Thursday, July 14th, 2011
Chicago breeds Cicerones Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Support Agricultural Sustainability and Clean Water Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
The German Turnip: Kohlrabi, Cabbage and Apple Slaw Monday, July 11th, 2011
What Kind of Pickle Do You Like? Monday, July 11th, 2011
To Market with Mo: vegetable or flower? Sunday, July 10th, 2011
We Don’t Call Them New (Potatoes) on the Local Calendar Thursday, July 7th, 2011
CSA’s and Chard Fatigue Thursday, July 7th, 2011
Support The Peterson Garden Project With Groupon Thursday, July 7th, 2011
North Shore Farmers Markets, 2011 Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
Yet Another New Downtown Market Opens: Plaza 300, Tuesdays Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
North Shore Farmers Markets, 2011 Sunday, July 3rd, 2011
We Look in All Directions for the Local Calendar Friday, July 1st, 2011