The Local Calendar Says Stock Up

Posted: October 28, 2011 at 8:16 am

Potential Root Cellar Items Courtesy David Hammond

Potential Root Cellar Items Courtesy David Hammond

Do you know at markets this week, we still saw summer: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants.  A locavore can stop time.  Still, as much as we hate giving up on these items, we do (finally) believe you should turn towards stocking up.  After all, this weekend is the final weekend for most Chicago area farmer’s markets (if your farmer’s market has not already shut down).  Believe you me both, we have plenty to say in the coming days on the good and bad, what makes us happy and what makes us mad about cold weather eating around here.  This weekend just concentrate on stocking up.  Then, look to the Local Beet for advise and commiseration for your eating local needs the rest of the year.

Use this week to stock up.  We encourage you to use this week to stock up for a few reasons.  First, this may be your last chance to buy from a fully stocked farmer’s market, so you will have more choices.  Second, as this is the last week for many farmers, they are often (almost always) willing to offer discounts on big purchases; get that 50 lb bag of onions, the 1/2 bushel of apples, you won’t have to pay a lot for all of that.  Third, think about what you’ll need to eat the rest of the year, and for the firs several months of next year; do you have enough garlic, herbs, those little things necessary to make your food taste good.

For assistance in stocking up, the Local Beet has several resources for you.  We’ve given you a shopping list here, and for having that root cellar to keep it, see here for ideas.  Beetnik David Hammond is getting back to his roots, converting an un-used darkroom into a suburban root cellar.  You can read his first three diary installments here, and here, and here.

We will soon have a post up on area winter markets.  In addition, as markets dwindle to a few each week, we will list them in the Local Calendar.  For this week, we want you to continue to use our Farmer’s Market Locator to find a market near you.  Just know, into November there will be several markets in Chicago, in Evanston, Woodstock, Geneva, and other places.  Check back for details.


We think, especially, this weekend, focus on the items for storage that may not be around a whole lot longer or focus your buying on items being off-loaded for the year.  For instance, get your garlic before the farmers run out; they will.  Get your onions now, you will need them AND you can probably get good deals.  We like to get 1/2 bushels of apples we know will be designated for cooking.  Like, if we get a big bag of green mutsu, we won’t confuse it with other apples for eating.  Winter squash last a whole long time, for you; for farmers, they’re often trying to get rid of it and will sell it to you for good prices now.  We always wish for more rutabaga than we see in winter markets, so that’s another one to get now.


There will be tomatoes.  At this time of year, you will have two choices in tomatoes.  There will be tomatoes wholly green and there will be tomatoes leaving green.  You can make culinary use of green tomatoes, for instance in Melissa’s recipe here.  My wife makes a great pasta dish combining raw and cooked green tomatoes.  Still, if you see a glimmer of blush in your tomato and you can exercise some patience, you will find they eventually will ripen.  It’s not the great tomato of summer, but it is a much, much better tomato than the “vine-ripened” ones at grocery stores.


Find a farmer’s market near you with our market locator.

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 always look for local foods at neighborhood grocery stores like Caputo’s, and we do see local things like squash and, especially, apples.


October 29 - Little Bee, Big Mystery Part 3: Chemistry of Honey – Once again, Slow Food Chicago and the Illinois Science Foundation team up to talk about the wonderful things bees do for us. This sweet program will delight and enlighten you with what bees actually do to make honey, how it’s harvested and other fun facts. Tickets are $15 (includes Nature Museum admission) and are available here.

October 29 – Empty Bottle Halloween Themed Farmer’s Market – Costumes encouraged! – Dress up and have a bloody mary while you stock up on fall produce. 12 PM – 5 PM – Market details on their facebook page here.

October 30 – Masquerade de Mercado at Carnivale – Put on your favorite Halloween costume and join the Green City Market Junior Board at their inaugural fall fundraiser.  There will be live drawings featuring dinner packages, theater tickets and more! Proceeds from this fundraiser go to support Green City Market’s educational programming and upcoming winter market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.  Additional information and tickets here.

November 2 – For a few years now, food writer, Martha Bayne, has organized soup nights at local club, the Hide-Out to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  And for the second time, Martha has organized the results of these events into a cookbook.  Sales of the cookbook will, of course, also benefit the Food Depository.  Be the first to get the new cookbook at a release party this night at the Hideout – 7 to 9 PM, 1354 W. Wabansia

November 9 – Remember we told you about an extravagant meal orchestrated by our friend Steve Plotnicki at North Pond.  Well, did we ever tell you that the date got moved.  Sorry about that.  If you can (and can afford it), this event will allow you to sample from some of the most interesting chefs in the Midwest.  We really want to see local cuisine develop alongside local eating, and these chefs may just do that.  Dinner details can be found at the North Pond web site.

Stock Up, A Shopping List

Posted: October 28, 2011 at 7:47 am

This weeks Local Calendar says stock up.  We have listed below items you can still find at area farmer’s markets.


You may still see the following at area markets

  • Tomatoes – If the tomatoes have some blush, they will eventually ripen, and with some good luck you can have local tomatoes for several more weeks; some root cellarists believe you can keep tomatoes even longer, wrapped in newspaper and kept in the cellar, but our one time trying that did not work.
  • Peppers – There are still all sorts of peppers, sweet and hot at the markets.  One way to extend this crop is to roast and place in oil.  Another way to extend is to pickle.


You will find the following items at area markets but consume these within a week or two

  • Lettuces
  • Kale
  • Chard and spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Bok choi and related
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Smaller radishes


The following items will last with good handling for about a month or slightly longer:

  • Pears, especially Asian style pears
  • Grapes
  • Larger radishes such as black radishes and daikon
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes


The following items will last through winter with good handling (*items will last longest):

  • Kohlrabi (use the greens within a week)
  • Turnips (use the greens within a week)
  • Carrots*
  • Parsnips
  • Beets*
  • Rutabaga
  • Celery root*
  • Parsley root
  • Onions*
  • Winter squash*
  • Sunchokes*


The following items will last you through early spring or beyond with good handling:

  • Apples (Note: McIntosh apples are ver poor keepers)
  • Potatoes

A is for Apple-licious

Posted: October 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Did you know that October is National Apple Month? We at Purple Asparagus sure do! These days our cars are smelling all apple-licious as we cart varieties like Mutsu, Razor Russet, Scarlet O’Hara, and Lucky Jon’s to Chicago Public Schools all over the city.

See Purple Asparagus is a non-profit that educates children, families and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet. Our cornerstone educational program, Delicious Nutritious Adventures, teaches elementary school students about fruits and vegetables in season. Starting with a tasting and ending with a cooking lesson, each program is designed to get kids excited about eating fresh, local and seasonal produce.

In October, we taste 6 or 7 varieties of locally grown apples ranging from tart to sweet. Our students compare the texture, the taste, and of course the appearance of America’s favorite fruit. During the tasting, we learn about Johnny Appleseed and his role in spreading the seeds of apple love to most of the Continental United States. He was quite persuasive and today each of the 50 states can boast its own variety of apple. In America alone, we grow 2,500 different kinds. Worldwide, the number of apple varieties rise to 7,500. If you were to eat a single apple variety every day, it would take over 20 years to eat every kind of apple grown. That’s a lot of apples!

Apples range in size. The smallest member of the apple family grows on a shrub and is smaller than the size of a penny. The largest recorded apple weighed in at over three pounds. In between, most of the apples, we get from the grocery store or the farmers’ market are about ½ pound each.

Even if Purple Asparagus doesn’t visit your child’s school, there’s lots of apple fun to be had this autumn. The farmers’ markets are stocked with heirloom apple varieties. Within a quick drive you could visit an orchard, picking your own supply of apples (apples keep well for several weeks in a well-ventilated, cool, and dry space). And next week, November 4 at 7pm, you could visit with me and my son as we celebrate the fun of apple picking and make a variety of family friendly apple recipes at Kenmore Live Studio located at 678 North Wells in Chicago. There will be tastings, prizes and lots of family fun. Kids welcome.

Apple-Pumpkin Pancakes
Serves 4, making 8 large pancakes, 16 small ones

Chock full of fragrant spices, these pancakes are the epitome of fall cooking. You could always double the recipe, cook the pancakes over the weekend, and the reheat over the week for easy pre-school breakfasts.

¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 extra large egg+
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup 2 % milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ large apple, grated
Butter for cooking

Stir together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk together the wet ones in another medium bowl. Stir the dry mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes. Cook on a hot griddle with the remaining butter until browned over medium low heat. Serve with maple syrup.

Root Cellar Diary, Part 3: Getting Down the Basics

Posted: October 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Potential root cellar items, courtesy David Hammond

Potential root cellar items, courtesy David Hammond

Last week, we started storing food in our root cellar, and Rob Gardner, Editor-at-Large of had a few questions for me.

“What,” Gardner asked, “are you doing to make sure you have enough humidity in the air?”

Humidity is required so that vegetables don’t get all dry and funky, and because we’re using a converted darkroom with running water, my plan is to periodically fill the sink so the air stays moist and the vegetables stay fresh-tasting.

“Are you sure it’s going to be cold enough down there,” queried Gardner.

Our former darkroom/current root cellar used to be in a brick basement stairwell, so it gets pretty damn cold down there. Actually, a big problem may be that it can get hit freezing temps, which is, of course, also bad for vegetables. However, if we leave the door open from our laundry room to the root cellar, it warms up in there fast. This is not an ideal situation, and it requires regular monitoring, but it will have to do for now.

After answering Gardner’s questions, I had one for him.

His wife, Sheila, who works at Tomato Mountain at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market, had told me that they’d found some great deals on bulk food at a few Wisconsin markets, so I emailed Gardner, “If you would, I’d like to tag on to some of your purchases. We have a pretty large household now, so we can handle volume probably comparable to your household. We’d like to get apples, potatoes and carrots. If you buy any of these items in bulk, could you double your order and get some for us?”

Gardner emailed back, “Three words: Ca-pu-to’s. Last week they had several varieties of Michigan apples for 39 cents/lb. They had tons of local winter squash for low prices–actually whole foods had local fancy squash @ good prices too–we also recently got beets @ caputo’s. “

Gardner has never steered me wrong, so we’re planning to go to Caputo’s next weekend to see what kind of high-value produce we can put by in our cellar.

We’re also planning on keeping some herbs going in the house this winter; there are still a lot for sale at the Oak Park Farmers’ Market at vendors like Ted’s Green House.

New to the roots quest; catch up on part one and part two.

Grant Anyone?

Posted: October 27, 2011 at 10:26 am

In the latest email from Alan Shannon, of the USDA who manages the group, that considers itself a network of networks, that meets once a month, downtown in the Loop, he noted:

  • Information available for beginning farmers
  • Grants available for farmers markets supported by the USDA
  • How to sell food to the USDA
  • Urban farming
  • Community Food project grants
  • Bee keeping, home canning

If any or all of these things sound kind of interesting, or if you are a supporter of local food in Chicago, all this information and more is provided by

Goodgreen’s members are diverse: food growers, advocates, promoters, educators, community activists, public and private sector.

What is Good Good Greens is a federation of organizations and individuals who come together, once a month, in the spirit of collaboration to affect positive change in the way we grow, harvest, process, distribute and consume food. Good Greens is a network of networks spearheaded by the USDA.

To me, there seems to be so many groups and people that care about promoting sustainable local food in Chicago but all the groups seems to be off on their own course and not necessarily collaborating with one another. The USDA through the Goodgreens group is seeking to promote collaboration by providing a forum that everyone and anyone who cares about sustainable local food is invited to.

I attended their September meeting. Good Greens meets on the third Thursday of every month. I found that the people there definitely swayed to the public sector but were full of information.  The other theme for me with the meeting was business and economic development, part of our discussion was focused on how to help small, tiny businesses flourish that promote local, sustainable food and products. Finally, the USDA has many programs focused on the farmer throughout the Midwest region. For anyone who is looking to increase their knowledge of what programs are going on in the city to address healthy, local food and what resources are available this meeting and the website of Good Greens is abundant with information. Anyone interested in starting a neighborhood program, learning about what programs exist or what programs are going on in the city to address any or all of these issues, I found that this meeting is a great one to attend.

The next meeting for is  Thursday October 27th. The best place to find out more information about the group is to go their website or, contact Alan Shannon of the USDA, his email address is on the website as well.

The Promise of Fall

Posted: October 26, 2011 at 10:08 am

Puffball_bluets_MushroomsAutumn is the most bittersweet of seasons.  A beautiful fall day spent enjoying perfect weather, beholding the spectacular display of the woods in full color is about as good as it gets. You can romp around the outdoors all day and then retreat to the comforts of home with a pot of something rib-sticking and soul satisfying slowly bubbling on the stove, filling the house with nostalgic aromas. But the light recedes, every day, in the morning and evening. We look back wistfully on the passing warm months, the frolicking reverie of summer, knowing that the northern wind’s bracing, icy grip is just weeks away. I always hated fall as a kid, getting herded back into the classroom, shut off from those wandering days. As an adult I’ve come to cherish its evocative memories and fleeting beauty. And above all autumn’s order in the natural cycle is what I find most compelling. Foraging for mushrooms has especially taught me to appreciate the fall. It reminds me that, no, the woods are not dying, merely transitioning and that there is a new cast of life that blossoms forth in the midst of the decay. In the spring, the hunt for morels is thrilling, but they’re the only true players of the early season. The summer is temperamental, but yields its surprises of oysters, chanterelles, and boletes. However, above all, the fall is the true king of mushrooming season.mushroom2

I made one long weekend trip back up to Michigan this fall, around the third weekend in September, which is usually prime time for hen-of-the-woods and sometimes chicken-of-the-woods. The first half of the month had been quite dry though and I arrived in the middle of the major cool and rainy front, so it wasn’t the most productive time yet. The season was pretty weak overall for chicken, I saw a ton in June, then just a scant specimen here and there in late summer. And found none that fall weekend. The hens seemed like they were just starting, I found a couple in usual spots. One was large enough to harvest and a slug had just moved in, so I felt obliged to take it. I felt pretty ho-hum about my findings, compared to off-the-charts hauls of hens by the dozens of pounds in years past. Still, I brought home a nice chunk.  Its still probably my favorite eating mushroom, I just love its deep umami and springy chew. I also found my first wild lion’s mane in several years (I grow them at home nowadays). They are a brilliant treat with their otherworldly look and delicate seafood flavor. I sautéed both the lion’s mane and the hen with butter and white wine for a simple pasta and then topped a pizza later in the week with the rest of the hen. My friends in the area fared a little better in early October, hen-wise. Like this summer, at least in the area where I forage most, it was a pretty underwhelming season for the usual suspects.


Later that same weekend I made an astonishing discovery, a log covered in pearlescent, very wet jelly-like fungus. Otherworldly and gorgeous. It was a gross-out thrill to poke at its slimy and jittery folds and I had a hunch it could be edible. I was hoping it was wood ear and ran down to the computer and field guides to ID. It lacked the distinct cup-like form of the wood ear, it was more brain like, feathery and folded.  I identified it as Leafy jelly (Tremella foliacea), which like wood ear, is enjoyed in Asian cuisine but disregarded by most Western foragers as being tasteless. I thought it was worth a shot, so I gathered a bit, brought it home, and I gently poached a few slices. Sure, enough the mushroom had very little flavor and a gelatinous texture. It lacked the crunch of wood ear and had even less flavor. I decided to dry some to see if perhaps that would change its texture and I have yet to work with it. Very cool stuff to find and play with, nonetheless.

My biggest discoveries were made here in Illinois in woods with prohibitive laws that I shall not name. Firstly, worth mentioning is that I stumbled across a fantastic resource online a few weeks back,, which has regional forums for mushroom gatherers. The Southern Michigan board is kinda sleepy, but the Northern Illinois board is hopping with very serious foragers who avidly post about their findings. It’s kind of like the LTHForum for mushroom hunting and equally as addictive for one with this obsessive hobby. The folks on the board are rather nonchalant about discussing hunting on restricted lands and refreshingly pretty open about mentioning their favorite spots. I learned on the board and through my explorations in unsaid woods that there is a huge mushrooming culture in the Chicagoland area. Throughout my big day out in the woods in locations southwest of the city (actually my hometown) I saw other folks poking around the bases of trees with their sacks and pocket knives at the ready. I found evidence of a harvested chicken that was responsibly gathered, with the requisite 1/3 of the mushroom left intact to spread its spores.

I found astonishing things that day in those woods. When I was in London earlier this year I came across a fantastic wild mushroom stall at the Borough Market. Those folks had a big pile of gorgeous lavender hued cap and stem mushrooms called blewits. Unfortunately, we were staying at a hotel without cooking facilities, so I could only admire their visual beauty. I later read that they grow in North America and I became engrossed in the hope that someday I might find some. That day poking around old oaks searching for hens, I spotted the telltale blue violet color peaking out of the leaf litter. I brushed aside the leaves to find knobby fist-sized toadstools with lavender colored gills. I was almost certain what I had found, and pretty excited to find about a half a dozen at that. I doubled my score from the base of another oak and was a very happy forager. I took a spore print at home just to be safe, and they turned up pale pink and sure enough I had found Wood blewits (Clitocybe nuda). Like always cooking a new-to-me mushroom, I sautéed them in butter with a little salt and pepper. They exuded a bit of liquid, which comingled wonderfully with the butter, creating a silky gravy. With other mushrooms, I like to sauté them until I get a bit of caramelized color, letting the juices to evaporate and perhaps then deglazing the pan with wine or cream. However, after a little nibble of the blewit I appreciated its delicate texture and pulled them off the flame while they were tender and served them with their lovely juices aside a celeriac mash and roast chicken. One of the most remarkable mushrooms I have tasted, delicate with an anise note. Perfect with the mash.

Back to the woods- already giddy from the blewit score, I loosened up from my pensive, no-stone-unturned hunt mode and enjoyed a leisurely hike. Approaching a turn in the trail I spied the unmistakable bright white glow of globular Giant puffballs (Calvatia gigantean) across a ravine. No time to snake around the trail, I did a tightrope walker act across a fallen tree and scurried up the side of the ravine to find three human-head-sized puffballs. I took two out of three, observing the 2/3rds rule. Literally overstuffing two tote bags, I had now scored serious poundage. I owed a friend a favor, so I would gift one and keep one. Giant puffballs are somewhat common and have a mixed reputation as an edible, since it is quite delicately flavored. I had found some years ago in Maine, before I was a serious forager, and cooked up a chowder that was pretty good, but the mild mushrooms got somewhat lost in the creamy broth. I gave one of the puffballs and a handful of Blewits to my pal, Art Jackson of Pleasanthouse fame and took his lead on prepping the puffball. Coincidentally Art had received a cookbook from his mother a few days earlier, Connie Green’s “The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes”, which had a recipe for panfried puffball with a simple breading. After checking out Art’s pics of his creation on Twitter, I was sold. For brunch one morning I dipped sliced puffball in eggwash and then dredged in seasoned fresh breadcrumbs. I fried until golden and oh man, what a treat. The texture is very creamy, like tofu but drier. The savory mushroomy-ness is subtle but definitely present. With fresh bread and eggs it made a fine breakfast. The other half of the puffball was prepared similarly but covered in parmagiano reggiano and broiled for a sec., then served with sautéed rapini and a simple pasta pomodoro. Fantastic!

The season is over now for the most part. Fall oysters are still going and if I find time in the next few weekends, I might have a looksy. All said, I think my foraging days have wrapped up for another season. To recap, it was a big summer of oyster mushrooms, kind of light on the chickens and hens, but a very exciting and delicious fall full of new discoveries. I’ll be back when the tender buds of the forest floor begin to awaken and hopefully stumble across a morel or two.

The Last Round-up: North Shore Farmers Markets, 2011

Posted: October 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Sadly, fall is now upon us, and with it inevitably comes the end of the harvest, and of the 2011 farmers market season.  To keep you from showing up, bags and money in hand, to find that your favorite market is no more, here is a listing of the 2011 end dates.  Note that the five Evanston markets have five different closing dates!


- Saturday downtown market:  the last day will be November 5, 2011.

- Central St. Green Market: last day: Wednesday, October 25.  Holiday poultry orders will be available;  check with Janet Morse at the Trail’s End Farm booth.

- West End market:  the final market will be on Saturday, October 29.

- Ridgeville market, SE Evanston:  market has already closed for the season.

- Downtown McGaw YMCA market:  last day will be Wednesday, October 26.

Glenview:  closed for the year.  However, the adjacent Wagner Farm does continue operating on a daily basis, and offers natural autumn decorations, and Christmas trees in season.  Visit the website, or call for additional information and hours of operation (847- 657-1506).

Ravinia:  The last market of the year will be held on Wednesday, October 26.

Skokie: The 2011 season finishes on Sunday, October 30.

You Can, with Slow Food Chicago

Posted: October 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Photo by Megan Larmer

Photo by Megan Larmer

The Summer months here in Chicago are definitely bountiful. And, through a partnership with Slow Food USA, Anolon Cookware is helping us extend that bounty to the other seasons. Slow Food Chicago hears all the time that our community wants hands-on food production workshops; they want a sense of self-sufficiency and they want to learn! Particularly important to us are affordable opportunities that demystify the canning process, extend the harvest throughout the year, and that connect individuals with local produce on an intimate level.

Anolon stepped in to support this great cause, generously providing Slow Food Chicago with over $1,000 in cookware and utensils to start up a pilot canning and preservation program, which will be held seasonally, throughout the year. The first two workshops, organized by Megan Larmer, Slow Food Chicago board member, and Samantha Radov, workshop instructor, were held over the summer at Logan Square Kitchen, a “shared kitchen” that supports local entrepreneurs getting their start. As a bonus, it’s the only LEED Gold private event space in Chicago.

“Anolon’s donation is invaluable. By not having to purchase cookware, we made a profit on the first workshop. We also were able to plan the entire series at once, knowing the equipment will last. Now we can begin improving the workshops with the very next installment.  This gift ensures the longevity and success of the workshop series,” explained Larmer.

Slow Food Chicago received an enthusiastic response to the canning classes, which sold out quickly. Thirty people joined instructor Radov, a Slow Food enthusiast and pastry chef at Publican, to can tomatoes. The workshops were fun, informative, and absolutely messy. As one person said, “I’m interested in the sourcing of my food, and preserving it for myself. I never knew [that] I liked tomatoes until I had “real” one. FOOD IS SO COOL!”

We agree! Holding these canning workshops was for some a way to connect with near-forgotten family traditions, and for others a time to start a new one. Slow Food Chicago is excited for its future workshops: apples in November, citrus in February, and rhubarb in May. Onward!

The following post originally appeared on the Slow Food USA Blog.

Getting much closer to a year-round farmers market in Chicago

Posted: October 25, 2011 at 8:02 am

We haven’t even started eating our Halloween candy (70% cacao dark chocolate and apples) yet, but we can already start thinking about fresh, local food come winter time. This year promises to be the best winter for availability of locally grown food.

The Green City Market will be a more frequent option this winter. After a month-long break in late December and most of January, the market will be on every Saturday through the winter and spring. Contrast that to last year where we had 1 session of the Green City Market in a 51-day stretch.

The longest you will have to go without the Green City Market is from December 22 through January 20. The Saturday routine starts up again on January 21.

Those in and around Andersonville will have a new indoor option with a monthly market at the Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 W. Foster (right near Paulina). The Sunday market will run from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on November 20, December 18, January 15, February 19, March 18, and April 15. Given its proximity, even if there is a blizzard, I’ll be there for this market.

Sundays are also a good time to go to the Logan Square Market. And there are other markets throughout the winter, depending on your neighborhood.

The demand for more Green City Market sessions has been there, and we are very glad to see more opportunities.

As much as this is about good, locally grown food in the dead of winter, these wintertime farmers markets are also a chance to see familiar faces, both selling and buying. An excuse to get out of the house in between blizzards to be social and eat better.

My dream is still for a year-round indoor farmers market, such as St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. Until then, a Green City Market most every week combined with local efforts is closer than we’ve ever been, closer to that dream of easy access to locally grown food 12 months a year, except for a blizzard or two.

NOTE: Here is a link to the Faith in Place winter farmers markets. The first one starts November 6 in Brookfield, IL. They are scattered throughout the Chicagoland area, so look for one near you. Or somewhat near you.


Masquerade del Mercado at Carnivale Less than a Week Away

Posted: October 24, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Ever want to dress up and eat local at the same time?  You have an opportunity this week.  Our friends at the Green City Market Junior Board are holding their inaugural fundraiser this Sunday, October 30 at Carnivale, and it’s a costume party.  Be creative because best costume of the night will take home dinner for 2 to at GT Fish & Oyster.

Note, if you buy your tickets from Monday October 24 through Wednesday October 26, you get a BONUS of 5 live drawing vouchers for the event giveaway–see below for details on the giveaway.  Tickets are $65. Purchase Tickets here.

In addition to the market, there is an online auction for your participation.  The auction includes dinner for four at Schwa, with wines as well as dinner for 4 at Old Town Social, followed by a night on the town with chefs Stephanie Izard, Mike Sheerin, Jared Van Camp, brewmaster Jared Rouben and Green City Market friends—the chefs will guide the winners around Chicago to their favorite watering holes after dinner.  Make a bid!

Chefs cooking for the Masquerade del Mercado include:

- David Dworshak, Carnivale
- Jared Van Camp, Old Town Social and Nelcôtte
- Dale Levitski, Sprout
- Mark Steuer, The Bedford
- Greg Biggers, Cafe de Architects
- Jason Vincent, Nightwood
- Jeffrey Hedin, Leopold
- Justin White, Small Bar
- Pat Sheerin, The Signature Room and The Trencherman

And Pastry Chefs:

- Tony Galzin, MK
- Elissa Narow, Vie

Choo Lipsky (MörSo), Clint Rogers (The Gage/Henri), and Sarah Busen (Tiny Lounge) will be mixing up cocktails using Death’s Door spirits, plus beers from Goose Island brewmaster Jared Rouben, and Tenzing wines.

Drawing packages include:
Bucktown Package: Fried Chicken Dinner for 6 at The Southern, coupled with a Style and Make-Up session with renowned stylist Trisha Starr-Perez of Karen Marie Salon (an organic and sustainable salon).
Goat Package: Bottle of Stephanie Izard’s ‘Goat Bandit’ bourbon (distilled with Buffalo Trace), a signed Girl in the Kitchen cookbook, and a Girl & the Goat limited edition tee shirt.
Lincoln Square Package: Gift certificate to Browntrout, Gift certificate to Bistro Campagne, 2 tickets to ‘Spirits & Sparklers,’ a champagne event at Fine Wine Brokers, and a personalized cocktail featured on the menu at Tiny Lounge.

No, Really, This is It on the Local Calendar

Posted: October 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

What have we been saying for weeks on the Local Calendar.  This is it.  It for summer.  It for summer foods like tomatoes and peppers, and for the last several weeks we have still seen summer foods like tomatoes and peppers in the markets. And you know what, it will probably be there at your market this week.  There will surely be tomatoes and peppers, mostly less than bright red but still there.  Still, it this week, we concede is fall produce.  With some good chill in the air, we know it is time for the cabbages, the radishes and the other cold hardy plants.  Remember, that nip in the air, that chill in the bone that makes Chicago so much more un-pleasant this time of year, makes the vegetables of Chicago taste so much better this time of year.  Remember that colder weather produces sweeter plants.  That’s what’s it.

On the other hand, it remains not fully it for the passing of area farmer’s markets.  As we told you last week, there are over many local farmer’s markets still going.  Use the the Local Beet Farmer’s Market Locator to find a market still going.  We will have information on winter markets soon.


Go ahead and grab your last tomatoes and green beans, but look more to the stuff that thrives in cold weather like radishes, larger varieties keep well; greens like kalechard, and mustard; and cabbages including cauliflower and broccoli, as well as white and red heads.  In addition, make efforts to stock up on garlic and onions for winter use.


There will be tomatoes.  At this time of year, you will have two choices in tomatoes.  There will be tomatoes wholly green and there will be tomatoes leaving green.  You can make culinary use of green tomatoes, for instance in Melissa’s recipe here.  My wife makes a great pasta dish combining raw and cooked green tomatoes.  Still, if you see a glimmer of blush in your tomato and you can exercise some patience, you will find they eventually will ripen.  It’s not the great tomato of summer, but it is a much, much better tomato than the “vine-ripened” ones at grocery stores.


Find a farmer’s market near you with our market locator.

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 always look for local foods at neighborhood grocery stores like Caputo’s, and we do see local things like squash and, especially, apples.


October 26 – Advocates for Urban Agriculture Autumn Meeting and Potluck – Community slide show, panel discussions, networking and work on the forthcoming summit with Michelle Obama – 530 – 8 PM – Jensen Room, Garfield Park Conservatory - 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago – Note, for potluck – Bring your own silverware & a dish according to your last name: A-F Entree, G-P Salad, Q-Z Dessert

October 29 - Little Bee, Big Mystery Part 3: Chemistry of Honey – Once again, Slow Food Chicago and the Illinois Science Foundation team up to talk about the wonderful things bees do for us. This sweet program will delight and enlighten you with what bees actually do to make honey, how it’s harvested and other fun facts. Tickets are $15 (includes Nature Museum admission) and are available here.

October 30 – Masquerade de Mercado at Carnivale – Put on your favorite Halloween costume and join the Green City Market Junior Board at their inaugural fall fundraiser.  There will be live drawings featuring dinner packages, theater tickets and more! Proceeds from this fundraiser go to support Green City Market’s educational programming and upcoming winter market at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.  Additional information and tickets here.

November 2 – For a few years now, food writer, Martha Bayne, has organized soup nights at local club, the Hide-Out to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  And for the second time, Martha has organized the results of these events into a cookbook.  Sales of the cookbook will, of course, also benefit the Food Depository.  Be the first to get the new cookbook at a release party this night at the Hideout – 7 to 9 PM, 1354 W. Wabansia

November 5 – Angelic Organics Learning Center – Basic Backyard Chicken Care – A workshop on best practices for basic backyard chicken care in Chicago and surrounding communities.  See link for registration and additional details.

November 7 – Sixth Annual Logan Square Chamber of Commerce Harvest Dinner – Logan Square Auditorium – 6 PM

5 Rabbit beers are part of a changing beer world

Posted: October 21, 2011 at 3:18 am

The world is changing.

It used to be, you could create a craft brewery, and as long as what came out under your label was even slightly better than anything from BudMilCoors, you could be successful (assuming you could navigate the murky waters of distribution and retail or on-premise sales). Other than offering good beer, you didn’t need to differentiate yourself from anyone else out there.

In Chicagoland, we’re lucky now to have a surfeit of breweries. Some of the older guys, like Goose Island and Two Brothers, are still working off the old model – “We’re guys who are gonna make a bunch of different, interesting beers …. whatever we feel like.” And they do make outstanding beers. But do they stand for anything beyond than good beers?

I asked the brewmaster of another well-respected area brewery what his joint stood for. “That’s a good question … I don’t know.”  You could see the puzzlement in his face. “Um, maybe classic beer styles well made?” He was asking me, not telling me. He didn’t know what made the brewery (again, a well-regarded one) special.

The new model, which I’m hoping will be more successful, is a brewery that stands for something identifiable. A brewery with a distinct personality. A niche. A brewery that, when someone asks about it, you can confidently say “Oh, yeah, they make great [easy descriptor here] beers.”

In the Chicagoland area, Three Floyds might have been the first brewery to assert a true personality. The slogan “It’s not normal” aptly describes Three Floyds’ generally over-the-top beers.

Since then, on the opposite end of the flavor spectrum, we’ve had Metropolitan introduce us to locally-made lagers — crisp, clean, and if anything, subtle in their complexity. Pipeworks is coming soon, to answer the burning question “how Belgian can Chicago brewers possibly get?

And that’s why it’s so great to see the emergence of 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. It’s all about a Latino approach to beer … and I’m not talking about that forever skunky Corona in the clear bottles.


Founders Isaac Showaki and Andrés Araya had no real background in actual brewing, although as management consultants based in Mexico City, they worked with a number of big breweries in Central and South America. And they’re smart management consultants. They recognized that craft beer is a fast-growing category. They wanted to be part of it. And they approached it in a very analytical manner — typical for guys with a background in management consulting.

The first question was where to set up shop. “In our countries, there are monopolies or oligopolies that control the distribution channels,” explained Isaac. “Small craft breweries can have a tough time. So we said, okay, let’s try to do it in the US.”

They set up criteria for the location of their cerveceria. “We had to find a city with a decent Latin population. We looked at Los Angeles, Austin TX, Chicago, Miami and New York.” They chose Chicago for its large Hispanic population, with a significant Latino middle class. “Chicago has a big craft beer scene, but it’s not as saturated as some of the cities on the West Coast. It’s also a city with a lot of beer knowledge,” said Isaac, citing Chicago’s internationally respected Siebel Institute of Technology, possibly the world’s leading institution for teaching the art and craft of brewing. “And Chicago has a great culinary scene.”

But there was still that sticking point – they really didn’t have much actual brewing experience. A serendipitous chance encounter changed things.

“We were at the Map Room (corner of Hoyne and Armitage in Chicago), researching Chicago, talking to people,” recalled Isaac, “and the wife of one of our partners started talking to [friend of The Local Beet] Randy Mosher.” Apparently, it was a revelatory discussion. “We had lunch the next day, and right away started on beer designs.”

Randy has long been known for his creativity in beer design, perhaps best embodied in his book Radical Brewing, in which he discusses obscure, orphaned beer styles, as well as beers made with unusual ingredients, like jaggery, quassia, bog myrtle, and sorghum, among many others. (I’m making a “Kentucky Common” beer now, based on his description in the book.)

It was Randy’s idea to make a Latin version of a Belgian witbier, using a bit of passionfruit instead of the common sour orange in the cerveceria’s 5 Lizard beer. And that idea, plus some other recipe tweaking, won a gold medal for 5 Rabbit at the Great American Beer Festival — an almost-unheard-of accomplishment for a brewery that had barely been open for six months. It’s one of the most fascinating beers I’ve had in a long time.

5 Rabbit production is still rather limited — currently, it’s made under contract at Argus Brewery, on the South Side of Chicago. But Isaac and Andrés have plans to build their own brewery within the next year or two. It’s distributed by Glunz, which is known for its impressive collection of specialty beer. So if your local store doesn’t carry any 5 Rabbit products, tell them to have a little, serious talk with their Glunz reps. You’ll be glad you did. And you don’t even need a Hispanic heritage to appreciate their 5 Rabbit, 5 Lizard and 5 Vulture beers. (More special edition beers are coming.)


If you’ve been able to try any of the 5 Rabbit beers, leave a comment and let us know what you thought.

One Comment

Got My Hand Pies, Now What Do We Do with All That Other Stuff

Posted: October 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm

In case you have not noticed, we have a lot of local food on hand.  I did an inventory last week to show you how much food we have around.  And between the Tomato Mountain CSA and my wife’s overall presence at the farmers markets selling for Tomato Mountain, the food keeps on arriving.  Luckily, I enjoy planning what to do with our food nearly as much as I like eating our local food.  Even more, I like when my wife has already planned out some meal.  All that chard and mustard greens around, “hand pies”, she suggested.  Given she makes the best crust around, I eagerly awaited that meal. It came last night.

Of course a family dinner’s worth of hand pies (and my wife cooks for an imaginary family of 9), we still had leftover cooked greens, not to mention a whole big bowl of chard stems we cannot simply compose.  We have gobs and gobs of bok choi and its baby brother, tats soi, and my wife has a plan for that too.  It involves bacon, so I’m happy here.  The six zucchini left from summer, we have a plan for that, our yearly attempt at stuffed vegetables.  Since I could not resist the large white heads of cauliflowers, and I mean, large, we have too much of that too, but she has a plan involving the food processor.  Yet, what of the green tomatoes coming any minute now (our CSA delivery comes on Thursday night); the hand basket of green beans I picked up last week, because I just don’t feel I ate enough green beans this year, and speaking of beans, what about the 20 lbs of fresh beans we recently shucked, blanced and shoved into the freezer.  You could think we don’t really need a plan on that, but with the freezing over-flowing sooner rather than later seems in order. On the other hand, the clear up freezer space, my wife just bought a new blender so we could make smoothies–possibly a true account.

A couple other notes, fruitwise, before getting to the inventory.  We are trying hard for ABA, anything but apples, knowing we have a long winter of them ahead, but our other choices are getting slim.  We have in the table fruit bowl pears and plums as well as apples.  For the long term, my wife has turned to various fruit vendors next to her at different markets.  For instance, on suggestion of keeper/baking apple, Hillside sold her a half bushel of Northern Spys, and on another day, she got a half bushel of winesap, also from Hillside.  These will go soon into the attic, but for now sit in the hall.

See below, our updated inventory and let me know some good ways to use it.  Note, although I mentioned above, the soon to arrive green tomatoes, the current inventory only includes stuff actually in house, no inventory accrual method here. The bok choy being used now, is also not mentioned for inventory’s sake.

Kitchen Fridge

  • Homemade quince-apple membrillo
  • Local eggs
  • Watermelon radish – UPDATE: 4
  • Broccoli – UPDATE: We have magic broccoli.  Although we made large qualities last week, in a braise and in a salad, we continue to have much broccoli
  • Lettuces
  • Rocket – UPDATE: Used
  • Summer squash, zucchini – UPDATE: Summer squash used
  • Cucumbers – UPDATE: Used, but new ones bought
  • Eggplant – UPDATE: Tossed
  • Herbs – UPDATE: Used, but new parsley purchased
  • Local grains – UPDATE: Used some in polenta, hand pies, but much remains
  • NEW: red cabbage, 2 heads
  • NEW: Wettstein’s bacon (partially used)
  • NEW: Scallions, bunch
  • NEW: Chard, leftover, cooked with onions and garli
  • NEW: Chard, stems

Kitchen, Dining Room

  • Winter squash – (2 acorn, 1 butternut) UPDATE: Where’d I get the 1 butternut.  We have at least 8 right now (with more on the way)
  • Garlic (5) UPDATE: About 8 more heads obtained
  • Apples – UPDATE: Rotating supply of table apples, but also winesap, spy for keeping
  • Pears – UPDATE: Used and new
  • Grapes – UPDATE: Used and new
  • Fresh beans, blackeye peas – to be frozen – UPDATE: Now frozen
  • Tomatoes – many – UPDATE: Many tomatoes but all of the roma or plum variety
  • Sweet peppers – many – UPDATE: less than many now
  • Hot peppers – many – UPDATE: see sweet peppers
  • Red onions – (6) – large
  • Yellow onions – (4)  - medium – UPDATE: About 6 more, large
  • Watermelon – large
  • Basil plant – UPDATE: Gone
  • Dried herbs (marjoram, oregano)

Basement Storage

  • Yellow onions – (25) – medium and large
  • Red potatoes – 10 or so pounds worth of small and medium – UPDATE: – Used and new
  • Canned tomatoes – whole, sauce, puree
  • Spiced peaches
  • Peach chutney
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Misc. pickles, jams, jellies, relishes
  • Dried beans

Basement Fridge

  • Cauliflower – 2 very large heads: – UPDATE: Used one, about to use the other
  • Leeks (6)
  • Red cabbage (3) – small
  • Kohlrabi (12) – UPDATE: The pleasure of a CSA, more
  • Carrots (6) – assorted – UPDATE: Used and new
  • Green beans –  UPDATE: Used and new
  • Local grains

Basement Freezer

  • Frozen fruits – blueberries, grapes, cherries, peaches – UPDATE: froze more blueberries
  • Frozen veg –  pureed squash, tomato puree, dried tomato, caponata, prepared green beans – UPDATE: beans as noted above
  • Local meat

Root Cellar in the Sky


The Local Beet’s Fall & Winter CSA Guide — Updated for 2011-2012

Posted: October 19, 2011 at 10:56 am

Yes, there’s such a thing!   And, for many of the CSAs, it’s not too late to sign up — even if you did not sign up for a summer share.  With the cold weather coming, it’s also a great opportunity to sign up for a meat CSA (denoted below).

Here is The Local Beet’s running list of Fall and Winter CSAs:

Broad Branch Farm

An 8-acre organic (not certified) farm located in central Illinois. No chemical fertilizers, soil amendments, herbicides or pesticides are used.

Length of season/ # of deliveries:   Two deliveries. Choice of vegetable, egg and meat shares.

Pickup locations:   Central Illinois locations plus Naperville.

How to sign up or get more information: Or email

C&D Family Farms
[Meat share]

Indiana farm that raises hogs in their natural environment on pasture and in wooded areas where they graze on pasture or eat leaves, weeds, berries and acorns from their large wooded pens.

Length of season:  Year-round in 3, 6, or 12-month increments.

What you can expect:  Two share options available, and include various cuts of pork, beef, chicken and eggs.

Pickup locations:  Lincoln Square, Andersonville, Hyde Park, Beverly, North Center, Northbrook, Division Street, and the farm.

How to sign up or get more information:

Cedar Valley Farm
[Meat share]

Ottawa, IL farm raising animals without drugs or hormones, in a healthy and sustainable environment.

Length of season/# of deliveries:   Sign up anytime for 3 month, 6 month, or full year shares. Deliveries are monthly.

What you can expect to get:   Various cuts of beef, pork, and chicken, plus two dozen eggs per month.

Pickup locations:   Several north side Chicago neighborhoods, plus Naperville, Oak Park, and Oak Lawn.

How to sign up or get more information: Or email

Crème De La Crop

Organic food production farm in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Length of season/# of deliveries: Twice weekly storage harvest shares in November and December.  Two different-sized shares.

What you can expect to get:   A variety of winter squash, potatoes, onion and garlic.

Pickup:   Various points in Valparaiso, Indiana, and LaPorte and Lake Counties in Indiana.

How to sign up or get more information:

Erehwon Farm

Environmentally-friendly producers of naturally-grown (no pesticides or herbicides) produce, herbs, fruit and flowers near Geneva, Illinois.

Length of season/# of deliveries: 7 weeks of a 3/4 bushel box of fall produce beginning the week of October 24th.

What you can expect to get:   A variety of that includes eggs, winter squash, pumpkins, carrots, radishes, broccoli, cabbage, kale and much more.

Pickup Locations:   Farm, Elgin and Wheaton.

How to sign up or get more information:

Freedom Organix
[Pork & Grass-fed Beef Shares]

20 acres dedicated to their vegetable and meat CSAs. Land used for managed grazing of pastured livestock that includes Polled Herefords, hogs, turkeys, chicken, and pet Sebastopol geese.

Length of season/ # of deliveries: One delivery in November of a half or full share of pork.

What you can expect to get: A full share is 240 pounds, and a half share is 120 pounds.

Pickup locations:   Please contact the farm for pick-up information.

How to sign up or get more information:

Genesis Growers

20 acres in fertile north-central Illinois using natural methods: no pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizer.

Length of season/ # of deliveries:   Fall share starts in November and lasts six weeks plus one storage box. Medium and Large shares available.

What you can expect to get:   Seasonal vegetables rounded out with in-season fruits and herbs. Egg shares are available for separate purchase.

Pickup locations:   Several locations on Chicago’s north side as well as Hyde Park. Suburban locations include Forest Park, Highland Park, Mokena, Oak Lawn, Oak Park, Park Forest, Arlington Heights, Skokie and Wheaton. Please contact the farm for a dropsite near you, as many more drop sites are likely to be available.

How to sign up or get more information: or email

Grass Is Greener Gardens
[Meat share]

Nestled in the valleys of Southwestern Wisconsin, they use sustainable and organic methods, and raise lamb, chicken, eggs, produce, herbs and cut flowers. All animals are pastured.

Length of season/# of deliveries: Deliveries begin in November and go through April. Small, medium and large shares are available.

What you can expect to get:  A varying rotation of chicken, bacon, pork roast, steaks, ground meat and lamb.

Dropsites:  Pickup available on designated days in Chicago (Lakeview, Hyde Park), Oak Park, Evanston and Beloit, Wisconsin.

How to sign up or get more information:

Growing Home

Growing Home provides job training for homeless and low-income individuals in Chicago through a social enterprise business based on organic agriculture.  100% of the proceeds from the sales of their produce are used for their training program and upkeep of their farm sites.

Length of season/ # of deliveries:   Fall shares run from October 10 through October 31, 2011.

What you can expect to get:   In addition to late season peppers, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, rutabaga, and onions, the fall share will include hearty cold-weather favorites such as winter squash, as well as arugula and spinach.

Pickup locations:   Les Brown Memorial Farm (Marseilles, IL),  Joliet Junior College, Green City Market and Logan Square.

How to sign up or get more information:

Growing Power

A community-based urban farm that started in Milwaukee and is now a cooperative including other urban farms in the region.

Length of season/ # of deliveries:   The “Market Basket” is a cross between a mobile grocery store and a CSA. You place an order for a weekly pickup. You can do this any time you like, with no seasonal commitment.

What you can expect to get:   Late season produce including greens, root vegetables, and seasonal fruit. The majority of produce for the fall share will come from Growing Power’s farms and The Rainbow Farmers’ Cooperative, a collective of small, family-owned farms. During winter months, some produce may also be sourced from small-scale, locally owned wholesalers such as Goodness Greeness.

Pickup locations:   Delivering to neighborhood sites in Beverly, Bridgeport, downtown Chicago, Englewood, West Garfield Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Oak Park, and Wicker Park.

How to sign up or get more information: or call 773.347.1374 to leave a message on the hot-line. You can also email the market basket coordinator at

Iron Creek Farm

Certified organic farm in Southwest Michigan offering produce CSAs.

Length of season/# of deliveries:   Winter share runs from October 16 through December 10 (they will prorate for late signups).

What you can expect to get:   A large variety of potatoes, onions, leeks,celery,carrots, beets, broccoli, lettuce and more.

Pickup locations:   Delivery to several locations in Chicago, Indiana and Southwest Michigan.  Please contact the farm directly for details.

How to sign up or get more information:

Majestic Nursery & Farm

Certified Naturally Grown farm in Millbrook, Illiniois offering seasonal produce CSAs.

Length of season/# of deliveries:   Fall share runs from November 1st through December 17.

What you can expect to get:   Two share sizes — single or double.

Pickup locations:   Green City Market, Logan Square, Yorktown Mall (Lombard), farm

How to sign up or get more information:

Marr’s Valley/Country Haven Farm
[Meat share]

Marr’s Valley is a 580-acre Black Angus Beef Farm that has been in the Marr family since 1874, and works with Country Haven Farm, another family farm in Southeast Wisconsin.

Length of season/# of deliveries: Monthly deliveries begin in November for six-month share.  Three share sizes.

What you can expect to get:   Poultry, black angus beef, pork, lamb and eggs (cooperates with Marr’s Valley View Farms in nearby Mineral Point, WI for black angus beef and pork).

Pickup:   Pickup @ farm, and in Franklin, Milwaukee West, River Hills, Shorewood, WI.

How to sign up or get more information:

How to sign up or get more information:

Nature’s Choice Farm
[Meat Share]

Family-owned farm located 35 miles south of Chicago raising grass-fed beef, and pasture-raised pork, poultry and eggs.

Length of season/# of deliveries:   Year-round CSA available with 3-month shares.

What you can expect to get:   Each share will include 5 lbs. of pork, beef and chicken each month.  Egg option available. Kosher option available with 10  lbs. of chicken and 5 lbs. beef.

Pickup locations:   Pickup at farm in Grant Park, Illinois, or in Frankfort or Bolingbrook.

How to sign up or get more information:

Scotch Hill Farm

Family farm that grows NCIS-certified organic produce and flowers in Wisconsin.

Length of season/# of deliveries:   Two large deliveries in early and late November.

What you can expect to get:   A large variety of fall vegetables such as potatoes, onions, leeks, celery, carrots, beets, broccoli, lettuce and more.

Pickup locations:   Delivery to the Des Plaines and Lake Forest Oases, Oak Park, West Town (Swim Cafe), Andersonville, and Ravenswood.

How to sign up or get more information:

Tomato Mountain Farm

Nestled in the foothills of Brooklyn, Wisconsin, twelve acres produce organic fruits and vegetables.

Length of season/# of deliveries: 10 weeks beginning in October through mid-December (farm will prorate).  Large and small shares available.

What you can expect to get:   A variety of cabbage, carrots, garlic, greens, herbs, kale, potatoes, spinach, winter squash, and more.

Home Delivery/Dropsites: Tomato Mountain focuses on home delivery, but drop sites are available in Chicago Loop/North, Evanston/Skokie, and Chicago South & South/West/NW Suburbs and & other North Shore Suburbs.

How to sign up or get more information:

Trail’s End
[Meat Share]

USDA-Certified Organic farm in Putnam, Illinois that raises grass-fed Scottish Highland/Black Angus cross cattle; beef sold by halves and quarters.

Length of season/# of deliveries:   Year-round CSA with monthly deliveries.

What you can expect to get:   Two share sizes — 1/2 or whole cow. Each month you will receive 10-12 lbs. for 1/2 cow, or 20-24 for whole cow.

How to sign up or get more information:

Walnut Acres
[Meat Share]

Farm in Walnut, Illinois that offers meat free of antibiotics, hormones & animal by-products.

Length of season/# of deliveries:   Year-round CSA with monthly or semi-monthly deliveries.

What you can expect to get:   Meat (Range-fed beef, chicken, pork, turkey, eggs). Minimum 3-month commitment.

Pickup locations:   Farm, St. Charles, Ottawa, Streator, Yorkville, Naperville

How to sign up or get more information:

Non-CSAs that offer local winter produce boxes:

Green Grocer: Offers a box of locally-sourced Fall produce through December 24.  Contact Green Grocer for details.

Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks: Year-round home delivery of local and organic produce, meat, dairy and eggs. No subscription required.

New Leaf Natural Grocery: Produce boxes available year-round for delivery.

If we have missed anyone, please contact us.


Getting Back to His Roots – Root Cellar Diary, Part 2: So It Begins

Posted: October 17, 2011 at 9:44 am

Grapes and apples and Skibbes, courtesy David Hammond

Grapes and apples and Skibbes, courtesy David Hammond

Our family has grown by a few people over the last month (we’re currently hosting two young and hungry relations), so now more than ever, we need to lay in a store of grub for the winter months.

With our root cellar (a former dark room) cleaned out, I put in the first bag of produce…purchased from Costco.

First produce goes into root cellar, courtesy David Hammond

First produce goes into root cellar, courtesy David Hammond

This ten-pound bag of medium-sized organic carrots cost like $5, so it was a good deal, and it’s too large to fit into our regular refrigerator (it takes up a whole crisper drawer). The root cellar seems the perfect place for it.

But this was not according to the original plan.

We had thought we’d just store farmers’ market produce, but I can’t really think of any reason why we shouldn’t store good quality produce from anywhere that we get at a good price and that we can’t keep elsewhere. The Costco carrots look good, and they are organic, so they seem to qualify.

My overall philosophy is that the root cellar – a kind of big refrigerator without the low temperatures – should be used to store relatively large quantities of  good quality food that we’ve bought at good prices.

All three of these factors seem critical: large quantities, good quality food, good prices. Without any one of these factors, the root cellar starts not making sense.

So I’m cool with putting in my root cellar good quality Costco stuff (which by definition will be a large quantity at a good price).

Squash, courtesy David Hammond

Squash, courtesy David Hammond

Next week, we start laying in a stock of vegetables from the Oak Park Farmers’ Market; I’ve had my eye on some of the better looking stuff.

Eat Your Greens: Collard Green Spring Rolls Friday, October 14th, 2011
The Markets are Ending on the Local Calendar Friday, October 14th, 2011
Local Market attracts Scouts Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
Giveaway Contest Winner and Belated Can-It-Forward Day Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
This is It on the Local Calendar (Summer That Is) – Also Hot Dog Forum Friday, October 7th, 2011
Great American Beers in Chicagoland Thursday, October 6th, 2011
The Return of Inventory Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Eat Local Later – End of Season Preservation Guide Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Returning to His Roots – Hammond Makes a New Room in His Cellar Monday, October 3rd, 2011
Make Your Own Root Cellar/Store Your Own Food Monday, October 3rd, 2011
Exploring Mes Confitures: A Treasure of Jar-Worthy Preserves and a Giveaway! Sunday, October 2nd, 2011
Are you a plum or a prune? Saturday, October 1st, 2011