The Local Calendar Says Stock Up
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.
WHAT TO BUY NOW
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.
WHERE TO FIND LOCAL FOODS
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.
WHAT TO DO NOW
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.