Make Your Last Minute Labor Day Plans Local – Locavore Guides to MI, WI

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Posted: August 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm

With the forthcoming “end” of summer and extended weekend, many of you are looking forward to one last vacation.  So, get in the car and find some local food.  You have excellent opportunities in communities nearby.  Beetniks Wendy Aeschlimann and Tom Keith have done some legwork for you.

In June, Wendy provided this excellent directory of options for those heading into Western Michigan.

A couple of weeks later, Tom provided an equally excellent directory of options for those heading into Wisconsin.

Make the last bit of summer fun, and we know of no better way of making it fun than to explore the food and drink of our region.   Please also share with us some of your eat local finds out on the road.




The Mob Goes Radical

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Posted: August 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm

cropmob chicken

Over the years as first a customer, then volunteer and now Potter’s Cracker vendor, I’ve become familiar with many of the farmers at Green City Market. I know the layout of their booths – where I can find tomatoes, chard or fennel, and enjoy taking these ingredients home knowing who they came from. The side of the equation I’m less familiar with however is what takes place on the farm. So I was excited to participate in Green City Junior Board’s first Crop Mob at Radical Root Farm!

crobmob group

Last Saturday at 7:30am, about a dozen of us gathered at Green City where we arranged ourselves into carpools and headed north to Radical Root Farm. Located in Grayslake, IL, about an hour north of the city, this 4-acre certified organic farm is situated on Prairie Crossing Farms, a Conservation Community you can learn more about here. We joined up equipped with our gardening gloves, sunscreen, water, and dishes we’d brought for the potluck lunch.

Up at the farm, Alex and Alison gave us the lay of the land. We heard about what a tough season it has been – starting out with a cold spring and continuing with a deluge of rain and wind that gave the crops quite a beating. We boarded the back of a tractor and Alex drove us into the farm where we received a demonstration on weed pulling. That morning we got our hands dirty clearing weeds from beds of celeriac and leeks and harvested potatoes which we found to be reminiscent of participating in an Easter egg hunt. The weeds gave us a run for our money with their deep roots. It was more of a workout than we expected and I think we all agreed we’d be feeling sore the next day. As we learned, farming can be synonymous with managing weeds that compete for sunlight and nutrients. And on a farm of this size, where nearly all work is done by hand, weeding is hard to stay on top of. A dozen extra sets of city hands makes weeding quicker and more entertaining than on a standard day on the farm. It was good to feel that our efforts added value.

cropmob tractor

When Alex called it a day we were excited to head back to the barn and enjoyed the dishes everyone contributed to the potluck. This crew of junior board members and farmers market enthusiasts sure can cook (or buy Hoosier Mama pies, as the case may be:). Piling back in the cars we all shared a great sense of accomplishment. I now know a lot more about my Green City neighbors and will appreciate those leeks all the more knowing what went into bringing them to market!

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Stay tuned for details on the next Crop Mob by becoming a fan of the Junior Board facebook page where we will post details as we have them.

Kyle Schott is a member of Green City’s Junior Board and the owner of MidwestRoots, a company that provides sales and support to help grow artisan businesses. Check out her blog at mwroots.com.




Join Me on the Board of Slow Food Chicago – Applications Being Taken Now!

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Posted: August 30, 2011 at 11:15 am

Last January, I joined the Board of Slow Food Chicago.  For years, I’ve admired their actions and also the intentions of the Slow Food Movement.  I participated at times in various events and projects, especially their guidebook and the 2009 Lunch-In at Daley Plaza.  I finally thought, enough being on the sidelines, get more active.  I’m glad they accepted my application.

Slow Food Chicago is entirely a volunteer run group, and I will say, it is a group with its hands in a million different plots.  They are always looking to sprout up good, clean, fair food.  I mean, I am specifically in charge of our marketing and communications efforts, and it seems like a constant challenge to keep on top of all the things happening.  If it is not a Pig Roast one week, it is a $5 Challenge the next.  There are book clubs and canning workshops and dinners and sit-downs.  It’s volunteers making that all happen.  Slow Food Chicago continues to need good people to keep that stuff going.  Consider applying now to be on their Board.

Details, from Slow Food Chicago are below:

Board terms are for 3 years.  And, specific skill sets we are seeking are Event Planning & Execution, Accounting, Food Advocacy, Volunteer Outreach and Producer Relations.  But even if you do not have one of these skills still apply… there are many ways to contribute to this ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ working board. Here’s an overview of the board selection process and timeline:

September 9:    Applications are due for all individuals interested in being considered
September 19:  Application screening by the Slow Food Chicago Board Development Committee
September 26-27:  In person interviews for selected candidates conducted at KendallCollege
October 10:   Review and approval of slate by Slow Food Chicago’s Board of Directors
October 13-21:   Vote of the slate by Slow Food Chicago’s membership

Interested in applying? Click here to download the application.

Any questions? Contact Joel Smith at elections@slowfoodchicago.net and he will get you answers.




Be an Urban Agriculturist – Organic Farming BOOTCAMP!

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Posted: August 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm

You keep on reading that a lot of the coolest things in agriculture are happening in the city, urban agriculture.  Ever want to be one, an urban agriculturist?  Urban Habitat Chicago is offering a one day, intense lesson on urban farming this Saturday, September 3 at Northside Prep High School, 5501 N. Kedzie, Chicago.

The class will offer you the ability to effectively create your own organic garden, or maximize yield from your urban farm. Essential organic agriculture techniques covered will include fertilization, planting, pest-control, maintenance and harvest.

Cost: $72.00 for non-members ; $56.00 for UHC members. Go here for additional details and ticket information.


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Do You Want (Another) (or New) CSA? – Feedback Wanted for Fall/Winter CSA Guide

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Posted: August 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Last February, we released our 2011 list of Chicago area CSAs or Community Supported Agriculture.  To help you choose from the many, many local CSAs identified by Wendy Aeschlimann and her scouts, we asked for your feedback.  We got tons of great comments, and Wendy compiled them in her article on picking a CSA.   In addition our yearly CSA Guide, we’ve also put out a special fall/winter CSA guide, and we are in the process of getting that one ready for 2011.  With that in play, we are asking again, for your feedback.  If you have subscribed to a fall/winter CSA in the past, please tell us about it.  Share your experiences.

We are especially keen on hearing about your fall/winter CSA experiences because we know that these CSAs provide a different role.  In the summer, we have options from our gardens or our neighborhood markets, but by October, we have very limited abilities to get local food.  The fall/winter CSA, many that go through December, really pick up the slack for locavore needs.  Does that change your CSA perspectives?  Do you want more or less from your fall/winter CSA?

Remember, if you want to keep your CSA opinions between you and us, you can ask that we not publish your comment.  In addition, you can reach us using the Contact Us on the bottom of the page.

Cover photograph by Local Beet Contributor Roderick Gedey




Hail Rex, Can We Depose You?

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Posted: August 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm

My wife and I ate lunch today at Rex on Harlem in Norridge.  There are two constants when we eat lunch at Rex.  One, we will have a very good lunch; today octopus salad, tomato/spinach focaccia, and “Sicilian eggplant” (a triplex of stacked, sauteed eggplants, a sprinkling of cheese and herbs and a pour of red gravy).  Two, I will bemoan the availability of a Rex with my sensibilities.  I mean I like, really Rex.  I mean I always struggle to find just a few things to eat, but I would really love to love it.  I love to love a Rex that made their many salad offerings from market fresh ingredients, and as much as I like the way the house handles eggplant, I only want to see them handling eggplants in the summer.  I long for regime change.

Rex daunts and taunts you with a 20 foot long display case.  The case contains all manner of salads, fried vegetables, and other dishes that would make an antipasto course in an Italian restaurant.  Given the Sicilian heritage of the store’s management, there are many offerings of that part of the world.  Like I say, there are always many eggplant preparations such as caponata, rolled, stuffed eggplants, and grilled eggplants.  There are salads with green beans and tomatoes and potatoes.  Believe me, it almost all tastes good.  But, ah, could not it taste better?

If I could prop up a new Rex, its display case this week might not look that different than it does now, although I promise you the tomato salad would look a lot different.  Yet, my Rex’s case in a month from now would have maybe a few less eggplant dishes, maybe a few more dishes from red bell peppers.  As the weather got cooler, the case would migrate to roasted root vegetables and cabbage salads, and sauteed kale.  There would be a challenge, sure in winter, but my Rex would relish the challenge.  There would be potatoes many ways, of course, and pumpkins, and celery root remoulade. There are always beans.  We’d make do until the first nettle crostini greened up the space, and eventually it would be six thousand ways to cook the asparagus.

At present, we are ruled by a king with the best intentions.  Rex reigns over Harlem.  Would not we want, however, a new ruler?

Rex

4431 N Harlem Ave
NorridgeIL 60706

(708) 457-0177




Local Beer Collaborations … try one at City Provisions.

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Posted: August 27, 2011 at 4:28 am

One of the hottest trends in beer these days is collaborations between brewers, and sometimes between brewers and chefs. We’ve already told you about an especially successful collaboration here.

Perhaps the best-known brewer-chef-collaborators is Jared Rouben, a former chef himself, at Per Se, one of the nation’s best restaurants, located in New York City. He’s now the head brewmaster at Goose Island Clybourn

But this article has nothing to do with Jared.

It’s all about Cleetus Friedman, the guy behind City Provisions (named Local Beet’s Restaurant of the Year). He loves his locally-produced beers. And most recently, he’s collaborated with Nick Barron, brewmaster at the award-winning Flossmoor Station, to produce a one-time-only beer, called Kirsch Von Blücher, a cherry-based dunkel weiss. “Cleetus named it,” said Nick. It’s a tribute to the 100 lbs. of cherries that were included in the 15 bbl mash. It’s also a tribute to Frau Blücher (if you’ve ever seen Mel Brooks’ film Young Frankenstein, you’ll get it). You’ll need to get to City Provisions (1820 W. Wilson, Chicago) or Flossmoor Station (1035 Sterling Avenue, Flossmoor, IL) soon, to try a sip. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

So, what actually happens in a collaboration?

“We kicked around some ideas. We were thinking about doing a dunkel weiss [a dark wheat beer], and Cleetus suggested something with fruit in it,” said Nick.

“I was originally thinking about something with fennel and orange — a witbier,” related Cleetus. “Or maybe something with a seasonal fruit. But I wanted it to be a beer with just a few notes of fruit to it.” So he didn’t want a candy-fruit flavored beer. And he got what he wanted.

He picked up 100 lbs of cherries from Seedlings, in South Haven, Michigan, and delivered them to the train station in Flossmoor. There, Nick and his partner-in-crime, Mark Weinert, added them to the dunkel weiss mash, and let them ferment out.

It’s an interesting beer, well worth trying. The beer isn’t particularly sweet (a good thing), but the cherry flavor evokes images of sweetness. The toasty, caramel notes, which you’d expect from a dunkel weiss, make it a fairly complex, very worthwhile beer

This is just the start of collaborations for Cleetus. He’s planning a series of monthly beer collaborations with other brewers; he wants to focus on limited releases, available primarily only at his joint.

And, he’s featuring hard-to-find products on sale at his place from other locals. For example, I noticed a couple of bottles of Evanston-based FEW distillery products (more on that coming soon to The Local Beet).

Go there. Eat, drink. It’s all good.




Say Muskmelons with This Local Calendar

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Posted: August 25, 2011 at 9:50 am

Are you still wondering why the Green City Market needed to move aside for the Air & Water Show.  Given the awful weather last Saturday, it seems an especially good decision in retrospect, huh?  Well, this week you can safely visit the market by Lincoln Park.  We hope the forced closure helped show you the many other fine markets around town but also showed you some of the things that make GCM special and unique.  Whether you want to re-visit Green City or find a new market, Use our searchable, sortable, Market Locator to find a market near you.

We’ve been on you for a while to make plans to attend the Cork and Crayons benefit for Purple Asparagus.  You only have a few more days to get your tickets.  If you cannot attend, you have the chance to participate via their online silent auction.  After that, there are many other good things to do on the Calendar.

WHAT TO BUY NOW

We feel like we can, and should, tell you to keep on buying tomatoes, but we know we should move on to other items.  So, this week, we say get melons.  After all, the season for local melons is not that long.  If you always thought a watermelon tasted best when trucked in from the south, try one from the farmer’s market to make sure.  Here’s another thing, want to sound like you know what you are talking about, say muskmelon not cantaloupe, because what you will nearly always find at farmer’s markets are muskmelons, not cantaloupe.  Of course, muskmelon or not, there are all sorts of heirloom and speciality ones at the markets.  Peter Klein of Seedlings likes to grow fancy European varieties like cantaloupes.  Besides muskmelons and watermelons, you can find other types of melons around.  Nichol’s Farm may be the best for exotic melons, but Henry’s Farm in Evanston usually has some Asian varieties this time of year.

This is peak peach season.  Gorge.

WHAT TO BUY SOON (OR LOOK FOR KEENLY)

Each week will bring in new and different varieties of apples.  Keep an eye out for your favorite.  Same with pears.

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

Pay attention, the local supermarkets continue to advertise local foods.

WHAT TO DO NOW

August 25 – Beer at City Provisions Deli – You know we think highly of Cleetus Friedman and his City Provisions Deli.  We also like that he’s always doing new things just to impress us.  For instance, now he’s working with local brewers to produce new and interesting beers.  He unveils his first collaboration on Thursday, August 25, Kirsch Von Blücher (a sweet cherry dunkel weiss beer), made with Flossmoor Station Brewery.  Tasting and schmoozing from 6 to 8 PM.  Our beer guy, Tom, is hoping to hop by for a sample (or two).

Kirsch Von
Blücher(a sweet cherry dunkel weiss beer), his
collaboration with Flossmoor Station Brewery

August 26 -Farmageddon opens at the Gene Siskel Film Center.  Additional information here.

August 27 – Crop Mob – Join the Green City Market Junior Mob, I mean Board, for a Crop Mob at Radical Root Farms.  Expect a bit of hard work followed by a nice lunch as well as tons of intangible rewards.  Well worth the daytrip.  Details here.

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

August 28 – Head straight from Cork and Crayons to another good cause.  Local ice cream maker Kris Swanberg came to the attention of the State food police who want her to switch from fresh fruits to syrups and packaged “milk” from good, local milk.  Her friends at Revolution Brewery have offered their space and their beers to help raise funds and awarenessfor the plight of Kris and others in her similar situations.  5 PM to 8 PM at Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee, Chicago.  Additional information and ticket information can be found here.

September 9 – Spence Farm Foundation Benefit Dinner — White Oak Gourmet will cater a 5-course menu featuring local products from Spence Farm, Sabeno Farm, and Faith’s Farm. All proceeds from the dinner will benefit the educational programs of the Spence Farm Foundation.  For more information, see here.

September 11 – Slow Food Chicago Presents 3rd Annual Pig Roast at Goose Island – Simply, local chef’s serve local pig.  Five area chefs have their way with hogs from Illinois’s Slagel Farm for the benefit of Slow Food Chicago.  2 – 5 PM at Goose Island, 1800 W. Fulton Street, Chicago.  Go here for details and tickets.

September 11 – County Fair – Cook is a county too.  A county fair will be held to celebrate the agricultural traditions and possibilities on the West Side of Chicago.  11am – 4pm - Garfield Park Conservatory




Farmageddon Time – Friday – Monday, Then Wednesday

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Posted: August 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

Does your farmer grow food?  So many of the families that work the land don’t grow food.  They harvest raw materials.  Or the ones closer to the food chain, do they raise animals or do they process meat.  The ability to eat local, to eat the kinds of food we want and need, relies wholly on farmers.  We need farmers both in touch with the old ways of doing things and farmers in the know of better ways of doing things.  Are these kinds of farmers at risk?

The movie, Farmageddon, posists that farmers on the edge, farmers looking to practice outside the realms of Ag, face crackdowns from government forces, especially the Food and Drug Administration.  Farmageddon focuses especially on farmers wanting to sell raw milk to consumers who want raw milk.  It, of course, makes us think of a food business close to home also using milk.  What is the balance between safety and desire; consumption and control.

These are good and important questions.  Farmageddon plays opens this Friday at the Gene Siskel Film Center.  There are shows on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and then another show on Wednesday – August 26, 27, 28, 29 and August 31.  See here for additional information.




I No Longer Pack a Local Lunch…But They Do

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Posted: August 24, 2011 at 8:35 am

Today the Local Kids marched off on their first day of school.  In all the hub-bub of new outfits, new haircuts, remembered supplies, my older daughter failed to get sentimental that this was her very last, first day of school.  She did, like she has done on the first day of school for several years now, leave with a local lunch.  I had planned on simply recycling last year’s post on packing your kid a local lunch, until I realized that I no longer pack the local lunch.  Some time last year, we finally trained the kids to make their own lunches.  Freeing me up to do more productive things in the AM, like Twitter.  Hopefully, next year, in her first year of college, she will also pack a local lunch to start the year.

Today, their local lunch included Wisconsin cheddar cheese sandwiches (on Turano rolls) and Tomato Mountain radishes and cherry tomatoes.  It’s easy this time of year to fill up a local lunch.  Still, many weeks from now, they will still be packing local lunches, even if it means their veg is a big bag of sprouts.  Besides all the produce, there are other ways to make the lunches local.

Cheddar is just one of many local cheeses that can go on their sandwiches.  The Local kids are especially fond of goat cheeses, and we have an array of fine ones from the small farm Prairie Fruit Farms to the commercial yet high quality Mont Chevre.  If we can plug Tomato Mountain some more, you can do no worse than a goat cheese and TM sun gold preserve sandwich.

For days without cheese, you have some excellent choices for local cold cuts, much better choices, in fact, than when I was packing the lunches.  For instance, you can now visit City Provision’s Deli or Butcher and Larder for fixin’s.  At many area farmer’s markets you can find Crystal Nellis and her C & D Pastured Pork.  She makes an excellent ham.  Just at your neighborhood Caputo’s, you can find the well made turkey from Michigan’s Golden Legacy.

We still have not found local peanut butter, but we still love locally made peanut butter.  Cream-Nut peanut butter created in Grand Rapids, Michigan tastes like peanut butter should.  Because my wife works for Tomato Mountain, we have endless supplies of strawberry preserves leftover from samples.  Lucky us!  There are so many other great local jams and jellies out there at the markets if you don’t make your own (or work for someone who makes their own).

As I noted last year, you do not have to limit their lunches to sandwiches.  This is the time of year, for sure, for the “blue cheese ala Hananh.”  Take one of those red peppers finally now in season.  Split.  Seed.  Find a good local blue cheese.  We’re partial to the products from Wisconsin’s Hook’s if you can track down.  Let it come to room temperature (to soften).  Then fill the red pepper cavity.  [ed. great also for adults on low carb diets!]

Hey, just because I’ve finally been relieved of the lunch making burden, does not mean I don’t hold a keen interest in local lunches.  I’ll try to do a decent job of reporting their efforts.  Don’t you especially want to know what kids do left to their own devices.  And I want to know about the local lunches your kids take, whether packed by you or them.  Let’s strive for local lunches this year.




SOLD OUT – Try Again for Slow Food Chicago Canning Classes

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Posted: August 24, 2011 at 7:36 am

A few weeks ago, we told you about some canning classes being offered by Slow Food Chicago at the Logan Square Kitchen.  They presented the first of these classes last night, August 23, and they will offer their second class on Sunday, August 28.  If you had not signed up early on, you found the classes already booked.

Their next workshops will focus on apples.  This Fall you’ll have the chance to learn how to can your own applesauce, apple butter and more.  Keep an eye on Slow Food Chicago’s email newsletter or this Blog for dates and to find out when tickets go on sale.




Eat, Drink and Support Purple Asparagus and Local Foods

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Posted: August 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm

2011.04.08_PurpleAsparagus_McNair
Photo Credit, Artisan Events

Imagine a class full of children swearing that they hate vegetables. Not hard to envision, right? Come back in an hour and watch them swarm the teacher’s desk for any leftovers from their veggie tasting. Believe that? I’ve witnessed this transformation on hundreds of occasions while teaching in the Chicago Public Schools for the non-profit that I founded and run, Purple Asparagus.

Purple Asparagus educates children, families and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet. Every year, we present Delicious Nutritious Adventures, our cornerstone education program, to thousands of parents and children throughout Chicago at schools, community centers, and farmers’ markets. Delicious Nutritious Adventures invites families to explore the foods we eat in an entirely different way. We teach about the farmers who grow the food, the places it comes from, what’s good about food grown close to the earth, and how to prepare healthy, delicious recipes. Combining nutrition education, food literacy, cooking, and fun, our highly popular hands on classes celebrate farm fresh fruits and vegetables.

Obesity is a national crisis, one that’s hit Chicago particularly hard. Overweight and obese children are at greater risk for diabetes, hypertension, increased risk of heart disease, and poor self-esteem. The issue is particularly prevalent in the underserved communities where good food is in short supply. Purple Asparagus is working to combat this issue in these communities by taking a new approach to healthy eating.

While teaching kids about healthy choices is a priority to Purple Asparagus, we’re sneaky about that message. Everything about our classes (even our name) is fun. Kids are more willing to try “healthy” foods when they’re not presented as such. A first grade boy will surely turn up his nose at a chickpea when told that it’s high in fiber and protein. Explain instead that its Italian name comes from its resemblance to a wart on a famous Roman’s face and he’ll climb all over his classmate’s to try it. Describe mint as a gum plant and a child’s resistance to the green leaves will melt. We explore food in a way that’s interesting and fun that makes kids happy to try new foods.

In the 2010-11 school year, we provided 250 hours of free educational programming to schools, community centers, farmer’s markets, and health fairs in Chicago serving roughly 2,500 students in over 30 Chicago neighborhoods on a shoestring budget with an all volunteer staff. We also served as a lead partner with Healthy Schools Campaign on the largest coordinated response to Michelle Obama’s call to chefs, Chefs Move to Schools. Through this program, we trained over 175 chefs who visited close to 200 schools reaching 8,000 children.

All this is great, you say, but how can I help? It couldn’t be a better week to ask this question. Purple Asparagus’ annual fundraiser, Corks & Crayons Benefit at Uncommon Ground, 1401 W Devon Ave, Chicago, on Sunday, August 28, 2011 from 3-7 p.m. The family-friendly event that brings foodies old and young together to celebrate the joys of family meals and healthy eating all for a good cause. The event will include a mini farmers’ market sponsored by Harvest Moon Organics farm, live music from Old Town School musicians, the Kohl Foundation Storybook Bus as well as Truck Farm Chicago, a traveling mini-farm exhibit connecting kids to food and health.

If you cannot attend, please consider bidding on our online auction. We have some terrific auction items to buy now as well as some new items coming on in the next few days – even for out of towners!




All the Cool Kids Crop Mob

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Posted: August 23, 2011 at 10:20 am

Last year we attended a “crop mob” organized by Tom Leavitt of White Oak Gourmet at Illinois’s Spence Farm.  We shucked sorghum, planted garlic and heard the story of how Marty Spence helped save Iroquois corn.  A very fulfilling day!  You can read our report here.  Tom’s organizing another crop mob at Spence Farm for the fall.  We think we’ll be there again, and we hope you join us too.  In the meantime, we have another crop mob for you to join.

To crop mob is to descend on an area farm for the purpose of providing a hand and learning a bit of farm life.  It’s a win-win, as the farm gets some key help and us city-folk understand a bit better the origins of our food.  On August 27, the Junior Board of Green City Market will crop mob at Radical Root Farm in Grayslake, Illinois.  Join them at 730 at Green City Market, where several carpools will be organized.  Then, expect a day of farm work–dress accordingly.  Your reward, a potluck lunch at the farm.  This is our kinda day.

We really enjoyed our day last fall at Spence Farm.  We really believe in the value of the crop mob, both in the help it affords the farm and in the experience it provides the mobbers.  We’ll get you more details on this year’s Spence Farm event when we have it.  We can give you more details on this Saturday’s event here.  Mob up.




Michael Jordan, Locavore!

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Posted: August 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Via, Urban Daddy, we received the menu (pdf) for Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, about to open in the Inter-Continental Hotel.  It did not take us more than a few seconds of perusing the menu to learn to our delight that ol’ number 23 is, like us, a locavore.  His Airness eats local!

Just look at the names dripping from his menu: Prairie Fruit Farms, Pinn Oaks Farm, Alder Kase Reserve, La Quercia, Nueske, SarVecchio, Tallgrass (we’ll accept it as local for several reasons).  Besides all the name brands, the menu features an array of produce that smacks of farmer’s market: heirloom tomatoes, opal basil, sweet corn.  Need more?  The ice cream comes from Black Dog Gelato.  The beer lists features Metropolitan, Flossmoor Brewing, Half Acre and other beers from nearby.

Like us, Mr. Jordan does not believe that eating local means only eating local.  We too are fine with lobster (very sustainable) and shrimp (assuming they’re Gulf).  It does not even bother us that a midst all of the local cheeses, the menu has a dish with Oregon’s Rogue blue and another with Vermont’s Spring Brook raclette.  We are not upset that the steakhouse did not go all 100 mile on us.  Practical approach.  That’s the way we like it.




May I Have the Envelope Please

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Posted: August 21, 2011 at 7:15 pm

And the Winner of the Foraging and Canning: An Ode to Elderflower Giveaway is (drumroll):

IMGP3037-1

City:

Helen Gunnarson said, ” Giveaway City! I maintain that I do not need to explain either why foraging isn’t a dying skill or why food preservation is experiencing a come back in our fast-paced world, because your post already PROVES those very points. Come on–here we have a busy Chicago litigator (vous) who’s plugged into all the latest gadgets, software, and web applications, serves on at least two active committees within her state bar association (one of which you chair, if I’m not mistaken), does I don’t know how many other cool things in her professional and personal life, tweets, and blogs not only about matters related to her profession but also about food AND, to top it all off, FORAGES, CANS, and MAKES HER OWN ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL, for heaven’s sake! I pride myself on my own knowledge of plants, learned mostly from my mother when I was a child in a small town downstate, but I had no idea that wild parsnip would do those awful things (though I did know it’s a noxious weed) and am not at all confident of my ability to distinguish elderflower from noxious and/or poisonous weeds. Filled with admiration at your prowess, and hope I get to win some of your cordial!”

and
City Winner #2:

Natasha said,  ”Giveaway City, for sure.  I don’t so much think it’s a dying skill, but I do think it’s making a comeback. Though, I’m not nearly so aware of everything as Helen is!

It just seems to me that there’s a few things going into all of this. A surge of creativity. An interest in getting our hands on our food. An interest in where our food is coming from & how it’s made. A desire to preserve the truly grand flavors that can happen when things don’t have to be shipped.

Maybe that’s just my reasons, but I think I’m not alone.

But wait, here’s what City Winner #3 had to say:

Maribeth said, “Giveaway City! I think preserving, canning and foraging never went completely away, but more people than ever are doing it because they miss their connection to real rather than processed food. People want a connection to what they eat and to see that even a rubble filled city lot can provide something edible is a revelation.”

I bet you’ve figured out by now there’s still another winner.

City Winner #4, Moira, said, “Giveaway City. Obsessed with elderflower anything, great pic and great bit of inspiration.”

Onto the Country Lovers and Winners:

From Jen Berman: ” Giveaway country! Canning is king! Combines art, craft, cooking, science and more. Can’t wait to spend my day on it on Saturday.

Question for you–where do you find unwaxed citrus fruit?”

Finally, Bryn said, ” Giveaway Country!! I’m not too familiar with foraging, but in our home, canning and preserving is alive and well! I’ve done batches of peach, blueberry and strawberry jam, and tomato products are on the horizon this fall (tomato jam, tomato sauce, tomato salsa). Canning is part of the HUGE trend in crafting, DIY, local eating and generally using your hands to create something. Canning is for cool kids!”

I had hoped to get some foraging done today for elderberries, but alas, it was not meant to be, perhaps next season.


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