The Local Calendar 9/27/12 Chicago Gourmet Festival, Indie Spirits, and Pumpkins

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Posted: September 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Tomatoes are dwindling at the farmers markets and gourds and squash are starting to appear. Fall has arrived! Time to go to the markets with lots of empty bags to scoop up what is available now and listen to Chief Beet Rob Gardner and start “Tamaring“.

Lots going on this week, Indie Spirits Expo, which includes FEW spirits, written about here on the Beet, is Wednesday, a sold out (except for Sunday)Chicago Gourmet Festival, the ground zero this weekend of all things culinary and of course get to the farmers markets now!!!

Some of the farmers markets are coming to an end for the season, the Green City Market Wednesday markets end October 31 and the market moves to the Peggy Notebaert Museum. As Associate Beet Editor, Wendy Aeschlimann reports, the Pleasures of Fall Cooking Contest has started and ends on November 4th, get cooking, now onto the weeks ahead!!!


September 27

Chicago – Daley Plaza Farmers Market – 7am – 3pm–Ends October 18th. Lots of vendors including Nichols Farm, River Valley Kitchens, Katherine Anne Confections and Abbey Brown Soaps (made in the West Loop).

Chicago - Meet the Market - Last Green City Market Junior Board Meet the Market event for the season at The Signature Room with Leaning Shed Farm 6-8pm. This is the last one for the season and it is going to be good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 28-30

Chicago – Chicago Gourmet Festival presented by Bon Appetit. The “Ground Zero” this weekend of all things culinary in Chicago and the country. Demonstrations include Rick Bayless, “Fresh Ingredients:From Rooftop to Tabletop”, “Cooking for the new Family Table” John Besh, “innovation and Tradition” Homaru Cantu and Tony Priolo, wine seminars and lots of walk around sips and tastings. Unfortunately this event is sold out for Saturday but there are still a few tickets left for Sunday but I doubt they will be available for long!

September 28

Chicago - “I am Your Neighbor” It’s THE Neighborhood Party A Benefit For Common Pantry 7-11pm Architectural Artifacts 4325 N. Ravenswood Ave. All coming together to help their neighbors in need as they launch the new book, “I am Your Neighbor“. $100 Tickets can be purchased online here.

Chicago - The Hamburger Hop – Harris Theater Rooftop Millenium Park – 6-9pm. It is a hamburger showdown and the startoff event for the Chicago Gourmet Festival. Top chefs compete to create the city’s best burger. Go to the link for further information and tickets.

 September 29

Chicago – Green City Market - Southern end of Lincoln Park, 7am to 1pm. 10:30am Chef demonstration will be Daven Wardynski, 676 Restaurant at the Omni.

Chicago – 61st Market sponsored by Experimental Station –  Go to their website for further details. New vendors include Penny Pastries, look for Axel.

Eureka, Il - Annual Henry’s Farm Potluck and Farm Tour

Evanston –  The Downtown Evanston Farmers Market 7:30am to 1pm at University Place and Oak Ave. (just east of Railroad Ave.) behind the Hilton Garden Inn. Free parking is at the adjacent 1500 Maple garage.

Morton Grove – Morton Grove Farmers Market -6210 Dempster St. 8am-12pm. It will be held under the drive-thru between Harrer park and the Morton Grove Civic Center on Dempster.

Oak Park –  Oak Park Farmers Market – 460 Lake St just one block west of Ridgeland Ave. 7am – 1pm The Market is much more than a farmers’ market. It is an Oak Park tradition, a Saturday gastronomic event (the donuts have a devoted following), a concert site, a social event and a great place to pick up super-fresh produce, traditional and unusual plants, fresh cheeses, honey, flowers, vinegars, herbs, and much more.

Woodstock – Woodstock Farmers Market 8am – 1pm at historic Woodstock Square

September 30

Chicago - The Logan Square Farmer’s Market 10-3pm  Logan Boulevard

Chicago – The Glenwood Sunday Outdoor Market 9am – 2pm Glenwood Avenue on the west side of the CTA Red Line between Morse and Lunt Avenues in Rogers Park from June 3 – October 28, 2012

October 1

Chicago Craft Spirits Week Starts – Go to the link to check out all the events including Wednesday Independent Spirits Expo.

Chicago - The Big Palate Challenge Benefitting Share Our Strength - Sono Wood Fired Pizzeria 6:30pm – 9pm 1582 N. Clybourn Ave. Chicago’s Food-Scene Glitterati are given 30 Minutes to Identify 20 Ingredients by taste only…while blindfolded. Who Will Prevail!? The Contenders: Anthony Todd - Chicagoist, Huge Galdones - Galdones Photography, Michael Gebert - Grubstreet.com, Chandra Ram - Plate Magazine, Nick Kindlesperger - SeriousEats.com, Heather Sperling - TastingTable.com, Tatiana Abramova - TheBrideScoop.com $20 per person. FULL PROCEEDS BENEFIT SHARE OUR STRENGTH Wine, Beer, and Passed Hors d’oeuvres

October 2

Chicago – Re-Thinking Soup Jane Addams Hull House 12pm – 1pm 800 S. Halsted Chicago Fair Trade Lentil Vegetable Soup

October 3

Chicago –  Green City Market Chef demonstration Mark Payne The Ritz Carlton 10:30am

Chicago – The Second Annual Independent Spirits Expo – Carmichael’s Warehouse 1052 West Monroe 7-9:30pm Ittt’s baaackk!!! We like independence! For the second year, the Independent Spirits Festival returns to Chicago and will be held at Carmichaels Warehouse. Meet the distillers, brand owners, importers and others who make it possible for you to enjoy a great a variety of small batch, unique and artisinal spirits from around the world, including many Beet favorites, like FEW Spirits.  Purchase tickets here.

SAVE THE DATE

October 12

Chicago - NOURISH Meals on Wheels Annual Celebrity Chef Ball – Dozens of chefs, lots of entertainment Venue One 1044 West Randolph St 6:00pm -12:30pm Purchase tickets here

October 19

Chicago – Michael Ruhlman, Brian Polcyn, Rob Levitt, Book Signing and DemoFloriole Bakery Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn in celebration of their new book, Salumi. Rob Levitt of The Butcher and Larder will be butchering a Catalpa Grove Berkshire hog as described in Salumi and they will be discussing the hows and whys of what he is doing and how it relates to the craft of salumi.  They will be available to sign books and answer questions.  The event will be held at Floriole Bakery and Cafe at 7pm.  Chef Polcyn will be providing his own salumi to sample and Virtue Cider will be supplying libations.  Tickets are $95 (includes a copy of the book) and can be purchased over the phone (773-687-8280) or in person at the shop.

October 20

Chicago – Lunch at Naha with Diane Morgan – 12:30pm Join Cookbook author Diane Morgan and Chef Carrie Nahabedian along with Chicagourmets for a delicious luncheon and book signing of Diane’s latest cookbook titled Roots.

October 21

Elburn – Autumn Harvest Supper and Fundraiser - Heritage Prairie Farm – 2N308 Brundige Road 3-6pm Top Chef Alum Sarah Grueneberg and chef Chris Marachino of Spiaggia will create dishes that highlight the season’s bounty at Familyfarmed.org’s annual fundraiser. Dance to bluegrass tunes and drink local libations. Participating farms include Becker Lane OrganicsMint CreekSeedling Orchard, and more. The unique thing about this event is that you don’t have to drive, buses will be leaving from Glencoe, the Goldcoast and Spiaggia at 1:30pm and you will return by 6:30pm with mixologists on board!! Purchase tickets here.

October 23

Springfield – Healthy Farms, Healthy People: Supporting Local Food Systems and Improving Public Health 9am to 4pm The Statehouse Inn 101 East Adamst St. - Healthy Farms Healthy People Illinois is a symposium that will bring together health and agricultural stakeholders from across the state of Illinois to explore the intersection of food policy, agriculture, and health. Keynote speakers and plenary sessions will be followed by working roundtables that discuss and generate possible solutions to the challenges of the Illinois food system. Register here.

October 24

Food Day Yes It is the Second Annual Nationwide Celebration of Food Day supported for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Go here to find out about Food Day nationwide and to find an event in your area, and here is a link to the Chicago Food Day website that lists all that is going on, including a super-sized Re-Thinking Soup this time at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

October 28

Chicago – Halloween Harvest Ball - Join the Green City Market Junior Board for their second annual fall fundraiser. 4-8pm Ravenswood Event Center 4011 North Ravenswood Avenue They have an incredible lineup of savory and pastry chefs, beverages, dancing and more!!!!!! Purchase tickets here

 

November 11

Chicago – Flavors of Fall Cooking Contest Final Showdown Party - 3-7pm Centered Chef Studios 177 N. Ada St. The Flavors of Fall Final Showdown pits the top vote getters from the artizone.com “Flavors of Fall Contest” to see what at-home chef has what it takes to demo their dish live on WCIU’s You & Me This Morning. The party will showcase the three finalists from the contest in a food showdown to select one grand prize winner as judged by our panel of fall food experts.




Calling All Home Cooks: Flavors of Fall Cooking Contest

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Posted: September 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm

During the month of October, Chicagoland’s best at-home cooks can become contestants in the Flavors of Fall Cooking Contest by creating a dish incorporating a secret ingredient chosen by the food people at artizone.com, an artisanal food delivery service, and MyDailyFindChicago.com, an online lifestyle magazine.

Cooks will incorporate this secret ingredient into a fall flavor dish — it could be soups, chilis, slow-cooked meals or baked goods.  Then, all the contestants need do is to upload a photo of their dish to the contest’s Facebook page, where people can vote on their favorite dishes. (Of course, contestants will be encouraged to share their dish with their personal social networks to get more votes.)

The three dishes with the most votes move on to the “Flavors of Fall Showdown” Party on November 11 at Centered Chef Studios for a chance to win the Grand Prize – $500 to Artizone.com, a farm-to-table dinner for six at City Provisions, and a chance to demo the winning dish live on WCIU’s You & Me This Morning. The final will be judged by Jeanne Sparrow of WCIU, Cleetus Friedman of City Provisions, Amanda Skrip, chef and wellness consultant, Patty Erd of The Spice House, and Art Jackson of Pleasant House Bakery. The two runners-up won’t walk away empty handed, and will receive $250 credits to Artizone.com. All participants will receive a $25 credit to Artizone.com.

If you want to attend the Flavors of Fall Showdown party, it is open to the public, and tickets can be purchased here for $10. Food and drink are complimentary with a ticket purchase, and kids are welcome. A portion of the proceeds from the Flavors of Fall Showdown Party will benefit the Lakeview Food Pantry.




Recycled – Apples & Honey for a Sweet New Year

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Posted: September 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm

A few years ago, Beetnik Brad Moldofsky created two epic posts, one on apples, one on honey; the foods that combined, are the traditional tastes for the Jewish New Year.  Between the opening and closing of the Book of Life’s we thought you’d enjoy re-visiting these posts.

For the apple side to the story, read A Tale of Two Orchards.

The honey tale can be found here: The Bee Gardener,

Finally, read Brad’s follow-up on the bee’s.

 

Like what you saw?  Catch up on all Brad’s dispatches for the Beet here.

 




Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts Unite

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Posted: September 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm

The Advocates for Urban Agriculture, Angelic Organics Learning Center  and Windy City Coop tours are offering visits to over 18 area chicken coops this weekend. Here is a map of the tour locations.

Angelic Organics Learning Center offered their first Basic Backyard Chicken Care workshop in fall 2008 for about 45 people who already had or wanted to get chickens, and the Google group started right after that to keep everyone in communication and helping each other.  By the end of 2012, they expect ~250 people will have taken their workshop.  The Google group numbers ~400, and there are many more people around Chicago and suburbs keeping chickens and working to create pro-chicken policies where they live.  Beloit City Council approved allowing chickens there on Monday (see Beloit Backyard Chickens on Facebook).
The Google group finds homes for lost or abandoned birds (and other animals), and several small support businesses have launched in response to needs expressed on the Google group – Home to Roost backyard chicken consulting, and Backyard Chicken Run home delivery service for pet and chicken supplies, and carpenters who specialize in coop construction.  Several area garden and pet supply stores have added products for the growing backyard chickens market to their inventory.  We’re an engine for the local economy!
We want to help people raise chickens well for the sake of their birds, their neighbors, and other chicken keepers who are relying on everyone else to keep standards high.  We recently worked up baseline standards that we think chicken-keepers in Chicago should aim to meet (or exceed).  They are the CCE Recommended Practices (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Tx9tDR5-yIheZ2crpinmOA_ko0wTFMLkbpM9nqeqbb0/edit).



The Local Calendar 9/21/12 Fall Is In The Air, Fruit Pie Contests, Peppers and Food Trucks

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Posted: September 21, 2012 at 11:58 am

The signs of Fall, gourds, the oranges and reds of peppers are beginning to show at the markets as we are just past the peak of the harvest which was earlier this year because of all the crazy heat, frost and heat. It is the 100th anniversary of the Beaver Dam Pepper which is pictured here. Chief Beet Rob Gardner will be eating lots of pie tomorrow as he is a judge at the Morton Grove Farmers Market Fruit Pie contest. Finally, all sorts of fun, happening at The Plant on Saturday, Monster Food Truck Rallys, Tours, movies, food.

If you are a chicken enthusiast, Windy City Coop tours have an itinerary of 20 coops within Chicago to visit. There are plenty of ideas on the Beet for making the most out of your local produce, like Rob’s post on playing the Locavore long game! Now on to the very busy weekend and weeks ahead!!

September 21-23

Chicago – Beaver Dam Pepper Centennial Celebration – Restaurant meals and tastings all over Chicago(go to the link to find out what is going on closest to you) Why give a “hoot” about the Beaver Dam Pepper? It has been included in the Slow Food Ark of Taste, “The Beaver Dam Pepper is a Hungarian heirloom pepper that was brought to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in 1912 by the Joe Hussli family.  The pepper’s first fruits mature 80 days after transplanting, at which point they ripen from lime-green to red.  The crunchy fruits are mildly hot and when seeded, they hold an excellent flavor.  Rated as 3 on a heat scale of 1-5, the Beaver Dam is great for making fresh batches of cool and tangy salsas.”

September 21

Chicago - Small Bites, Small Bands - Chicago Lights Urban Farm- 44 West Chicago – 4:30pm – 6:30pm This all-ages event is a great way to meet community members and learn more about the Farm.

September 22

Chicago – Chicken Enthusiastists Unite – Windy City Coop Tours  City folks WILL flock to see backyard birds on September 22 and 23! Windy City Coop Tour Tour Organizers have been working hard to get coop list and maps together for the 2012 Tour of backyard chicken coops.We have ~20 Chicago area coops on the map — some hosting Visitors on Sat 9/22, some on Sun 9/23, and some on both days.

Chicago – Monster Food Truck Rally& Urban Agriculture Showcase Showdown – 11am – 5pm 1400 West 46th St. Advocates for Urban Agriculture and The Plant This day-long extravaganza will showcase some of Chicago’s most exciting garden and farm projects (a few will even be bringing some produce to sell!) and include live music, screenings of “Food Deserts in a Land of Plenty”, tours of The Plant, and of course tasty treats from some of Chicago’s best food trucks.  It’s going to be a ton of fun and is not to be missed!  (At $7 admission, it’s also quite a bargain; tours of The Plant alone normally cost $10!)

Chicago – Green City Market -Southern end of Lincoln Park, 7am to 1pm. Chef demonstration will be Joshua Kulp and Christine Cikowski of Sunday Dinner, they will be preparing honey butter fried chicken. 10:30am

Chicago – 61st Market sponsored by Experimental Station –  Go to their website for further details. New vendors include Penny Pastries, look for Axel.

Evanston –  The Downtown Evanston Farmers Market 7:30am to 1pm at University Place and Oak Ave.(just east of Railroad Ave.) behind the Hilton Garden Inn. Free parking is at the adjacent 1500 Maple garage.

Morton Grove – Morton Grove Farmers Market – 2nd Annual Fruit Pie Contest -6210 Dempster St. 8am-12pm Chief Beet Rob Gardner will be one of the judges. It will be held under the drive-thru between Harrer park and the Morton Grove Civic Center on Dempster. All I can say is this sounds like it will be really good local eats, who does not like fruit pie?

Niles – Fresh Picks Fall Farm Dinner – $65

Oak Park –  Oak Park Farmers Market – 460 Lake St just one block west of Ridgeland Ave. 7am – 1pm The Market is much more than a farmers’ market. It is an Oak Park tradition, a Saturday gastronomic event (the donuts have a devoted following), a concert site, a social event and a great place to pick up super-fresh produce, traditional and unusual plants, fresh cheeses, honey, flowers, vinegars, herbs, and much more.

FD!! Stelle – Mint Creek Farm Dinner and Tour – 2:30pm 1693 E. 3800 N. Road. The guest chef will be Chuy Valencia of Top Chef and Chilam Bilam.

Woodstock – Woodstock Farmers Market 8am – 1pm at historic Woodstock Square

September 23

Chicago - The Logan Square Farmer’s Market 10-3pm  Logan Boulevard

Chicago – The Glenwood Sunday Outdoor Market 9am – 2pm Glenwood Avenue on the west side of the CTA Red Line between Morse and Lunt Avenues in Rogers Park from June 3 – October 28, 2012

September 24

Chicago – Slow Food Quarterly Canning Series – Kendall College 6-9pm Lemon Cucumber Pickles

September 25

Chicago – Re-Thinking Soup Jane Addams Hull House 12pm – 1pm 800 S. Halsted Food co-op movement in Chicago. As the food movement expands, many communities desire clean, fair, and local food but lack options within their own neighborhoods. At this week’s Re-Thinking Soup, hear from two communities that decided to tackle the issue themselves. Representatives from the Dill Pickle Food Co-op and the Sugar Beet Co-op will discuss their solutions for the Logan Square and Oak Park/Austin communities and the challenges and successes of starting food co-ops in Chicago.

September 26

Chicago –  Green City Market Chef demonstration Patrick Sheerin The Trencherman 10:30am

Chicago – The Hideout Veggie Bingo- 1354 West Wabansia 5:30pm – 8 Free hot dogs provided by Hot Doug’s Win fresh produce provided by Irv and Shelleys Fresh Picks. $2 a card, 3 for $5  Callers: Perry Kim and TBA
Garden: Jean Carter-Hill Community Garden at Nicholson School

September 27

Chicago – Daley Center Farmers Market

Chicago - Meet the Market - Last Green City Market Junior Board Meet the Market event for the season at The Signature Room with Leaning Shed Farm 6-8pm

SAVE THE DATE

 

September 28-30

Chicago – Chicago Gourmet Festival presented by Bon Appetit. The “Ground Zero” this weekend of all things culinary in Chicago and the country. Pre-sale tickets already sold-out so you had better keep a watch so you don’t miss out on this action packed weekend of chefs, sommeliers, incredible beverages, food and lots more. You can buy regular tickets here . Do you have your tickets yet?

September 28

Chicago - “I am Your Neighbor” It’s THE Neighborhood Party A Benefit For Common Pantry 7-11pm Architectural Artifacts 4325 N. Ravenswood Ave. All coming together to help their neighbors in need as they launch the new book, “I am Your Neighbor“. $100 Tickets can be purchased online here.

Chicago - The Hamburger Hop – Harris Theater Rooftop Millenium Park – 6-9pm It is a hamburger showdown and the startoff event for the Chicago Gourmet Festival. Top chefs compete to create the city’s best burger. Go to the link for further information and tickets.

September 29

Eureka, Il - Annual Henrys Farm Potluck and Farm Tour

October 3

Chicago – The Second Annual Independent Spirits Expo – Carmichael’s Warehouse 1052 West Monroe 7-9:30pm Ittt’s baaackk!!! We like independence! For the second year, the Independent Spirits Festival returns to Chicago and will be held at Carmichaels Warehouse. Meet the distillers, brand owners, importers and others who make it possible for you to enjoy a great a variety of small batch, unique and artisinal spirits from around the world, including many Beet favorites, like FEW Spirits.  Purchase tickets here.

October 12

Chicago - NOURISH Meals on Wheels Annual Celebrity Chef Ball – Dozens of chefs, lots of entertainment Venue One 1044 West Randolph St 6:00pm -12:30pm Purchase tickets here

October 20

Chicago – Lunch at Naha with Diane Morgan – 12:30pm Join Cookbook author Diane Morgan and Chef Carrie Nahabedian along with Chicagourmets for a delicious luncheon and book signing of Diane’s latest cookbook titled Roots.

October 21

Elburn – Autumn Harvest Supper and Fundraiser - Heritage Prairie Farm – 2N308 Brundige Road 3-6pm Top Chef Alum Sarah Grueneberg and chef Chris Marachino of Spiaggia will create dishes that highlight the season’s bounty at Familyfarmed.org’s annual fundraiser. Dance to bluegrass tunes and drink local libations. Participating farms include Becker Lane Organics, Mint Creek, Seedling Orchard, and more. The unique thing about this event is that you don’t have to drive, buses will be leaving from Glencoe, the Goldcoast and Spiaggia at 1:30pm and you will return by 6:30pm with mixologists on board!! Purchase tickets here.

October 23

Springfield – Healthy Farms, Healthy People: Supporting Local Food Systems and Improving Public Health 9am to 4pm The Statehouse Inn 101 East Adamst St. - Healthy Farms Healthy People Illinois is a symposium that will bring together health and agricultural stakeholders from across the state of Illinois to explore the intersection of food policy, agriculture, and health. Keynote speakers and plenary sessions will be followed by working roundtables that discuss and generate possible solutions to the challenges of the Illinois food system. Register here.

October 28

Chicago – Halloween Harvest Ball - Join the Green City Market Junior Board for their second annual fall fundraiser. 4-8pm Ravenswood Event Center 4011 North Ravenswood Avenue They have an incredible lineup of savory and pastry chefs, beverages, dancing and more!!!!!! Purchase tickets here

 




A Necessity For CSA’ers & Canners: Kuhn Rikon 4th Burner Pot

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Posted: September 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I rarely plug products. That I’m willing to do so now is a testament to the rare utility of the Kuhn Rikon “4th Burner” Pot. It was first brought to my attention last year when Serious Eats published its gift guide. What seemed at first glance to be a funny-looking aluminum pot turned out to be a powerhouse in the kitchen. Yes, it’s conveniently shaped — a tall cylindrical pot doesn’t crowd your stove. And the steamer basket insert is perfect for steaming and boiling tall vegetables like corn and asparagus. And all the parts are dishwasher-safe! This pot is especially useful if you only want to make a 1/2 pound of dry pasta — the water boils quickly, and the strainer lid obviates the need for a separate colander.

Before you write off this post as a low-grade infomercial, pay attention: What sends the Kuhn Rikon over the top is its utility as a small-scale canner. The steamer basket has little feet on the bottom that raise it up off the bottom of the pot, so your jars won’t scorch. And it has a heat-resistant silicone handle, so it operates as a handy jar lifter — no awkward jar tongs! Why are small-scale canners necessary for CSA’ers? Although most people imagine canning to be an all-weekend endeavor involving several bushels of produce, if you have a CSA (or are an avid marketeer), your fall produce bounty falls somewhere in between a manageable amount for immediate eating and concerted purchases of boxes of produce for canning.  During harvest time, CSAs slip extra produce in the boxes, or finish off certain crops that cannot withstand the colder temperatures. Markets are offering deals on baskets of vegetables. Many people (as I did recently) will find themselves with 10 bell peppers in their CSAs  — too much to eat at once, and not enough for an all-day canning project. It’s probably not worth using your huge kettle canner for what is probably a maximum yield of 1-2 jars of pickles. This is when the Kuhn Rikon is your friend. Today, I put up 1.5 pints of pickled sweet peppers. Tomorrow, it will be a jar of giardiniera with a scattering of random hot peppers, carrots, bell pepper and cauliflower. I expect a mini-glut of green tomatoes, so 1 or 2 pints of picalilli are in my future as well. You can make this task a one-pot deal. Sterilize the jars in the pot, dump the water, put together a brine in the same pot, and by the time your jars are filled with produce, the warm brine is ready to top off the jars. Fill the pot again with water, and by the time it comes to a boil, you’ll have finished preparing your one or two jars for the canner. Not having to wait all day for a huge pot to boil is exactly what makes the task of small-scale pickling bearable.




Eat It to Save It – Join the Beaver Dam Pepper Centennial Celebration!

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Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:57 am

Editor’s Note: We’ve known Lee Greene and her company, Scrumptious Pantry, for a few years.  We’ve always been impressed with her efforts to create new products from local food.  More importantly, we really like how Lee has advocated for a more defined Taste of the Midwest, an appreciation of the terroir of eating local.  We gave Lee the chance to write about that last year.  

This year, Lee’s doing something else that we really like.  She’s working hard with Slow Food Chicago to promote the saving of rare and forgotten foods.   One of Slow Food’s primary tasks has been to populate the “Ark of Taste“.   The Ark catalogs foods threatened by industrial standardization, the regulations of large-scale distribution, and environmental damage.   Since 1996, more than 800 products from over 50 countries have been added to the international Ark of Taste. The U.S. Ark of Taste profiles over 200 rare regional foods.  As Slow Food notes, the Ark “is a tool that helps farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, retail grocers, educators and consumers celebrate our country’s diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage.”  Lee has walked on to the Ark to find a special product from our area, the Beaver Dam pepper.  Read more about what she found, and what she’s doing to celebrate it.

Joseph Hussli left his home in Apatin (then Hungary) 100 years ago. He packed his dreams, a few belongings, and made his way to the New World. One of the precious things he decided to bring along on this trek to his new life in America were some pepper seeds, tucked away in his garments. In September 1912, he stepped ashore Ellis Island, and settled in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin,  where the pepper seeds were finally planted. He must have been overjoyed when he saw that these peppers were thriving in the climate and soil there. Soon, he was passing seeds onto others in Beaver Dam, to Austrian-Hungarian immigrants who were thirsty for the flavors of home, and anyone who wanted to grow this delicious thick-walled pepper with a warm, flavorful heat, which lends itself so well for stuffing, grilling, roasting and pickling. And so this pepper became known as the Beaver Dam Pepper.

But then came the hybrids. Perfected peppers that did not need to be trellised (the Beaver Dam Pepper grows 9 inches long and hence needs to be supported), and that required less work to prevent diseases and pests. In short: perfected peppers were easier to cultivate. So, one by one, growers switched to hybrid peppers, and the Beaver Dam Pepper became a rare treasure with a few stewards fighting for its survival. Among them was Larry Hussli, a grandson of Joe, who still grows 500 plants every year in his home in Edwardsville, IL, and passes on seeds to other immigrants from Apatin (which has been part of Serbia since 1918). Another is Slow Food, an international not-for-profit that is working to save and promote regional foods, food traditions, heirloom varietals, and biodiversity. One of the tools Slow Food uses to promote these goals is the Ark of Taste, a listing of varietals that have not been touched by genetic modification and have been handed down through generations — outside the usual commercial channels – and, as a result, are now threatened by extinction.

The Slow Food Ark of Taste is where I discovered the Beaver Dam Pepper when I was looking for regional heirloom varietals to use in The Scrumptious Pantry’s line of heirloom foods. After many phone calls to farmers in Wisconsin I finally got lucky when I spoke to John Henderickson at Stone Circle Farm. He had read about the seeds in the Seed Savers Exchange catalogue that same year, and being close to Beaver Dam, he was intrigued by their story, just as I was. That year, he grew a couple of experimental plants to see how they performed. They. Were. Delicious. The thick flesh made them a perfect pepper for pickling, and in 2011, we rallied another farm – Schauer’s Good Earth Farm – and started cultivating the Beaver Dam Pepper in earnest. 2,000 jars of Heirloom Pickles Beaver Dam Peppers were what we put up the first year. This year, we have already grown enough for 7,000 jars. Few in the world of industrial food production, but a lot for a pepper that no one knew about two years ago.

Over the last two years, I have often thought of Joseph Hussli, and how important these seeds must have been to him that he decided to bring these seeds, not others. That he decided to bring this seeds, not a family photo. I wish I could have thanked him. So to celebrate Joe Hussli and the Beaver Dam Pepper, Slow Food and The Scrumptious Pantry have organized the Beaver Dam Pepper Centennial Celebration. On September 17 -23, we will pop-up at Chicago Farmers’ Markets and stores to tell Joe’s story, and give out samples of the pepper and seeds for those wanting to help keeping the Beaver Dam Pepper around. We are very happy to have some amazing local restaurants supporting the pepper by creating delicious menu specials – Birchwood Kitchen, Green Zebra, Lula Café, Standard Market, Uncommon Ground Devon & Clark and Vera will be showcasing the Beaver Dam Pepper from September 21 to 23 (complimentary seeds will also be available at those restaurants). The full schedule for the Beaver Dam Pepper Centennial Celebration can be found online–see below. We hope you will join us and eat it to save it!

http://scrumptiouspantry.com/celebrating-100-yrs-of-the-beaver-dam-pepper-eat-it-to-save-it/

Facebook event Chicago https://www.facebook.com/events/299451623495903/

Facebook event Milwaukee (09.28-30) https://www.facebook.com/events/411904728869106/




Do We Have to Look Really Close at the Papers to Find Local Food

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Posted: September 19, 2012 at 10:17 am

 

Do we need to look really close at the papers this week to find evidence of local food sold at the neighborhood grocery stores?  Well, if you’ve shopped Caputo’s like I have this week, you know that you’ll find local produce beyond what’s advertised in the flyers.  Still, what do the papers say.  Our weekly round-up does show a few items even if one of the items requires you to look really close.

Meijer - No Meiijer flyer in our paper this week.

Jewel - No local produce advertised

Ultra - No Ultra ad in our paper this week

Dominicks - A winner this week:

  • Michigan honeycrisp apples

Tony’s - Nothing this week

Super Low Foods – Another winner this week:

  • Wisconsin russet potatoes
  • Illinois red or golden delicious apples

Aldi’s - No local food advertised.

Angelo Caputo’s - A shopping trip here on Tuesday found locally grown green beans, cubanelle peppers, green bell peppers and a few types of Wisconsin grown potatoes.  In addition, their flyer advertises:

  • Locally squash – acorn, butternut, spaghetti

Food 4 Less - No local food.

A&G - Once again, the Chicago Tribune I picked up this week contained an A&G ad.  Unlike last week, A&G does not specifically advertise local produce.  Yet, if you look carefully at their ad for russet potatoes, shown above, you will see that the potatoes come from Wisconsin.  That’s good enough for me.

 




Atlas – I didn’t shrug

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Posted: September 19, 2012 at 3:19 am

courtesy Atlas Brewing

Quick quiz question:

What is a Monadnock?

a)     a Native American term for an isolated hill or a lone mountain that has risen above the surrounding area, typically by surviving erosion.

b)    a well-known summit in southwestern New Hampshire

c)     a mountain in Vermont

d)    a twin-screw, wooden-hull, double-turreted, ironclad monitor-class ship that saw action for Union forces in the Civil War

e)     the tallest commercial iron frame building with a load-bearing masonry exterior wall ever constructed, at 53 West Jackson, in Chicago

f)     a damn fine dark rye beer, brewed on Lincoln Avenue, just south of Diversey

Of course, the answer is all of the above, but as this is a column about beer, let’s focus on f – Atlas Brewing’s Monadnock Unfiltered Rye Ale. It’s made with 22% rye, but with all the toastier grains that give it its brown color, the rye spiciness is rather muted. But for anyone who likes Newcastle Brown Ale, this is a similar but far more complex brew worth trying.

Especially when paired with FEW Spirits Rye Whiskey. In an updated nod to the old corner bar ethos of “a shot and a beer,” Atlas is offering a special pairing of a pint of Monadnock Unfiltered Rye Ale with a shot of FEW’s Rye Whiskey.

The rye isn’t the only thing worth getting yourself to Atlas, though.

The 1871 Smoked Porter (a reference to the smoke produced during the Great Chicago Fire) is a dark beer that uses a Wisconsin-sourced cherry wood-smoked malt, resulting in rich, almost chocolaty/caramely 7% ABVbrew that plays to its malt strengths. At the other end of the spectrum, Hyperion Double IPA (10% ABV) showcases all the citrusy, grapefruit aromas and flavors that typify so many American hops.

I found the Demeter Belgian Wheat to be easy drinking, but without the level of esters that might be expected in a Belgian Wheat beer. Speaking with one of the brewmasters, Ben Siller (his brother John is the other brewmaster), he admitted it was an early batch. “Yeah, maybe we were a little low, to be conservative, on that one” referring to its fermentation temperature.

Clearly the recipes and techniques are still being tweaked.

And the relatively small system should be easy to tweak. Unlike some brewpubs, that purchase their equipment used from other failed brewpubs, the Atlas system is brand new, with all the electronic controls consistent with a state of the art system.

Likely, they can afford it. Unlike many of Chicago’s brewpubs, Atlas is supported by a successful local restaurant group – Spare Time, which also owns bowling emporiums Southport Lanes, and two Seven Ten Lanes, as well as Daily Bar & Grill, Firehouse Grill, New Line Tavern, and Popkin Tavern. They even bought the Atlas name – it had been the name of a noted Chicago brewery from 1896 until prohibition.

Atlas Brewing opened in late June 2012, and it’s at 2747 N Lincoln Ave in Chicago.




Keeping Up with the Neighbors

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Posted: September 15, 2012 at 9:54 am

All of us at the new house is pleased with the returns from the garden this year, although our Ukrainian neighbors have had a fantastic harvest. Since both gardens are close to each other, it’s hard not to make the comparison. The neighbor family’s grandmother lives with them and her gardening skills are remarkable. Of course, she spends 6 hours a day in the backyard, but still. Her cucumbers had nicely climbed up the tripods she’d built for them. Our cucumbers have been plump and sweet but not as bountiful as those of the Ukranian “baba” next door.

Some chives, peapods and fingerling potatoes

Her pepper plants were showing full, round peppers while mine were just barely poking out flowers. We get along great with the neighbors, and our kids play together, so they’ve been offering us excess produce out of pity for our paltry haul. In return, I’ve given them a few anemic squash and cabbage, which I think they’ve accepted also out of pity.

However, what we lack in tomato quantity, we’ve made up for in variety, as you can see from the photo. The yellow tomatoes are peachy and very sweet. Not acidic at all, and they even have a little fuzz like a peach. However, I suspect that bees have been cross-pollenating the peach tomatoes with other varieties and radically changed the resulting fruit so that the skins became smooth and shiny like traditional tomatoes. So while we don’t have enough tomatoes to justify home canning, we can walk through the garden and taste five or six different types at a time.

These are just some of the different tomato varieties we grew this year.

Brussels sprouts, however, are another story. By harvesting a few handfuls per meal, we’ve been able to keep these things growing and producing, as the heads keep getting larger. The bottom-most leaves continue to wilt and turn yellow. I pick them off and harvest the heads and, since the kids won’t eat them, we’ve had plenty to spare. Randy, of Providence Farms, has a booth at the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market and suggested I pinch the top leaves off the plants to keep them from growing taller and force more energy into enlarging the uppermost sprouts. I have done this and should see results in a few weeks.

Some peach tomatoes sit among a Brussels sprout harvest.

Speaking of the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market, next Saturday (September 22) is our annual pie contest. It is open to all amateur bakers, and TheLocalBeet’s own Rob Gard

A single beet

One of many delicious beets from our garden. The greens were more filling than the bodies.

ner will be one of the judges. So we need to remind him not to eat breakfast that morning. For details, check out www.mgfarmersmarket.com. If you’ve ever had an urge to see how your freshly baked pies stand against others, come join the contest. First prize is $50 in Market bucks. Hope to see you there.

 




Playing the Long Game – Locavore Challenge

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Posted: September 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

This is the time of year when our friends at Green City Market encourage Chicago area eaters to go locavore. For their Locavore Challenge, they ask us to “pledge to eat only local food, to the best of their ability, during that week.” Now, you may think I’m about to go cynical here. That myself and my Local Family pledge to do our best to eat local food every week, but I’m not going to go there. No. I fully support what Green City Market is doing, and I see much value with revving people’s locavore engines by challenging them. I just think that it’s also time to play the long game.

As I’m also Editor of the Local Beet, I can tell you that next week we will re-run our popular and useful guide to preserving the seasonal bounty. As you can see from these freezer shots, the Local Family has been preserving the seasonal bounty for a while. We’ve put away, in our large freezer, asparagus, greens, sweet corn and a lot of berries.  We’ve also started accumulating a lot of onions and garlic (our Tomato Mountain CSA* has been way flush in them).  Still, the long game is really only starting now.  That’s why we’re putting back up our guide to preserving the seasonal bounty.

Now is time to play the long game for a few reasons.  First, this is peak harvest season.  For the next several weeks the markets will be as ample as they’ll ever be.  You will find the final surges of summer crops, all those peppers and eggplants and zukes and cukes and especially tomatoes that will miss the day they are gone.  In addition, we’re getting the first waves of cool weather crops: hard squash, potatoes and roots, and all the variations of the cabbage family.  Really, who can eat it all?  Putting it away is not just about having local food all year round.  It is an imperative for dealing with the seasonal bounty.  The second reason to play the long game now is that nature tells us to.  Nature encourages us to.  Nature makes it a lot more possible to.  We cannot play the long game as much during the summer because it’s too hot to use our root cellars.  We cannot play the long game in the summer because the versions of apples and potatoes and onions are not designed for long term storage. Starting now, we have the crops for storage, and starting now we have more conditions for storage.

I’m asked often, how can  you remain a Local Family in the winter.  I always have an easy answer. We eat from foods put away and we eat from foods we find at winter markets (and from our winter CSA).  It’s something that’s worked for many years.  What I get asked less often, why do you remain a Local Family in the winter.  Generally, I’ve proclaimed that if you believe in the reasons to eat local, you should believe in those reasons all the time.  Hence, the need to eat local all seasons.  That may be logically compelling, but is it enough?  Let me tell you flat out, I enjoy playing the long game.

I relish the long game.  I’ll admit there’s just something fun about staying local all winter.  Meet the locavore challenge in September and you’ve done something, but meet the locavore challenge in February, you’ve really done something.  Yet, are we talking the Alps.  Do we do it just because it is there.  I can tell you there are many more good reasons to play the long game:

  • It tastes better – There’s no doubt that the kinds of food we eat in the winter; frost-kissed, hoophouse spinach, frozen local berries, canned tomatoes, a wealth of storage crops are more delicious than the tired, flown in produce found at the supermarkets.
  • The variety is vast – There is a feeling that winter eating gnaws down to a bare bone pantry of onions and turnips.  That’s not just true.  For one thing, there’s a huge range of storage crops.  For another thing, we’re getting more and more options these days from sustainable indoor production.  Also, remember, that with a bit of care and pro-action, we’re eating grapes and tomatoes and pepper well into Autumn.  This keeps the boredom and scarcity further away.
  • The variety is vast – There’s also a feeling that winter foods lend themselves to few preparations.  Like we can only eat boiled potatoes.  Winter foods, however, lend themselves to multiple preparations, hot and cold.  For instance, many root vegetable can be grated for winter salads.  We love to take advantage of apples in many ways.  They go in lunch bags.  They get baked into pies.  They get fried into side dishes, and they get chopped into salads.  We don’t get bored thinking of what to do during the winter, even if all we have are apples.
  • We save money – At peak time, we find foods at their cheapest.  Putting away a lot now is a nice investment towards spending less money later.
  • Eating seasonally makes sense – In the heat of the summer we like to rely on endless Greek salads.  Come cold, we want hearty, warming foods.  When everything is eaten in its time, it tastes special and valuable, and, obviously it makes the first shoots and leaves at the end of winter taste that much better.

In the coming weeks, the Local Beet will be encouraging you to go beyond the Locavore Challenge by playing the long game.  We’ll re-post our various guides and resources to help you play, and I’ll be telling you how well the Local Family is playing.

*My wife works for Tomato Mountain




Our Papers Still Lead to Local Food (Barely)

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Posted: September 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm

 

Our sources within the weekly grocery store flyers don’t point to much local food left.  In fact, we only found local food advertised in two places, and one of those was an unlikely candidate.  See below for the results of our weekly survey.

Meijer - While Meijer usually plays up their “home grown” suppliers, this week’s ad failed to mention it. In addition, they did not advertise any local produce.

Jewel - After several weeks of no promotions, can we conclude that Jewel’s given up on local food

Ultra - Nothing this week

Dominicks - Nothing this week

Tony’s - Nothing this week

Aldi’s - No local food advertised.

Angelo Caputo’s - Only a few things advertised, but as I noted last week in my update (and confirmed this week), the available local produce also included many types of peppers, canning tomatoes, winter squash and eggplant.  The flyer

  • Locally grown string beans
  • Locally grown zucchini

Food 4 Less - No local food.

A&G - The Chicago Tribune I picked up this week contained an A&G ad.  A&G is a large grocery store on the NW side of Chicago.  It’s selection caters mostly to Poles and Mexicans living around the store, and in general their selections are good (with an especially interesting and varied selection of offal).  I rarely see, however, local produce there when I’ve visited (granted not often these days). Still, as pictured above they do advertise this:

  • Michigan green beans

 




The Local Calendar 9/13/12 Cultivate Fest, Farmers Markets of the Heartland

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Posted: September 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

 Chipotle Cultivate Festival, which takes place in Lincoln Park across from the Green City Market on Saturday is going to be huge. My name for it is “Farmapalooza”. They were already setting up for it yesterday. It will happen  rain or shine. There will be a lot of chefs, farmers, food, and beverages all celebrating food and the farmer. It is free, which is a beautiful thing!  Two weeks until Chicago Gourmet Fest, have you bought your tickets?

The Green City Market Locavore Challenge 2012  (Saturday 9/8/12 through Sunday 9/15/12), wraps up Monday with a Locavore Seasonal Potluck with Terra Brockman, author of The Seasons on Henrys Farm as the guest speaker.

You can sign up for a Fall CSA, Green Grocer’s Fall Produce Shares run 9/11 through 12/22 . What to buy and where to buy local, Chief Beet Rob Gardner is on top of it all here. Have you entered our Farmers Market of the Heartland Giveaway? Associate Beet Editor Wendy Aeschlimann wrote a review of the book in case you missed it.  Janine Maclachlan will be speaking at the Green City Market on Saturday as well. The Hideout Block Party is Friday, more farm dinners like the Slagel Farms Chefapalooza this Saturday and the semi finals of the Supreme Oyster Shucker Semi Final on Sunday!!

One thing that I do each week is try to buy a varietal that I have never tried before. Seedling Fruit gives you plenty of options when it comes to their melons, melon mania continues at their stand. My melon for this week was a “lambkin”. Have you tried a new varietal of a melon, fruit, tomato, or any other fruit/vegetable at the markets that you really love? Let us know in the comments below!!! Now onto the busy week ahead!!!

September 13

Chicago – Daley Center Farmers Market

Chicago – Canning (part of the Scrumptious Pantry Heirloom 2.0 event series ) – 6-8pm 3270 West Fullerton This class is going to be taught by Laura McLaughlin of The Glass Rooster. Laura is going to discuss how to identify good canning produce, the best seasons to can, recommended equipment types and brands, and as previously implied, tips on how to make canning less stressful and more fun!$25

September 14

Chicago - The Hideout Block Party – 5pm For all that the Hideout does to support local(their veggie bingo on Wednesdays all summer), SoupandBread in the winter and that this is just an awesome party with fantastic music!! Go to the link for the schedule of who is playing.

September 15

Green City Market Locavore Challenge continues. Sign the pledge here.

Chicago – Green City Market -Southern end of Lincoln Park, 7am to 1pm. 9:30am – 10:30am The 2nd Annual “Pickle Jam!” tasting and final judging. Guest chef, Nathan Spears of Vie in Western Springs. 10:30am

Chicago – Edible Gardens Workshop 9:30am – 10:15am “Growing Locally:Tips for Gardening in Chicago”Chicago – Chipotle CULTIVATE Festival – Lincoln Park Chefs, Farmers, Food! 11am-7pm The all day festival, that is FREE and supports all things farm, chefs and fun!! There is so much jam packed you really need to go to the link to find out what it is all about!!

Chicago – The Hideout Block Party – 5pm How will it not be incredible. Go to the link here for details.

Chicago – 61st Market sponsored by Experimental Station –  Go to their website for further details. New vendors include Penny Pastries, look for Axel.

Evanston –  The Downtown Evanston Farmers Market 7:30am to 1pm at University Place and Oak Ave.(just east of Railroad Ave.) behind the Hilton Garden Inn. Free parking is at the adjacent 1500 Maple garage.

FD!! Fairbury – Slagel Family Farm Dinner – 2:30pm $75 BYOB 23601 E. 600 Noth Rd. Lots of Chicago chefs involved in this one, Heather Terhune, Sable, John Asbaty Panozzo’s, Matt Troost Three Aces , Zak Dolezal of Dukes Ale House in Crystal Lake and more!

Oak Park –  Oak Park Farmers Market – 460 Lake St just one block west of Ridgeland Ave. 7am – 1pm The Market is much more than a farmers’ market. It is an Oak Park tradition, a Saturday gastronomic event (the donuts have a devoted following), a concert site, a social event and a great place to pick up super-fresh produce, traditional and unusual plants, fresh cheeses, honey, flowers, vinegars, herbs, and much more.

Woodstock – Woodstock Farmers Market 8am – 1pm at historic Woodstock Square

September 16

Chicago - The Logan Square Farmer’s Market 10-3pm  Logan Boulevard

Chicago – The Glenwood Sunday Outdoor Market 9am – 2pm Glenwood Avenue on the west side of the CTA Red Line between Morse and Lunt Avenues in Rogers Park from June 3 – October 28, 2012

Chicago – Chicago Gourmet’s Supreme Oyster Shucker Semi-Final at BOKA – 12-3pm 1729 N. Halsted The semi-finalists go head to head for a chance to compete in the final four at the Chicago Gourmet Festival Supreme Shucker event.

Springfield – Harvest Celebration – Illinois Stewardship Alliance -5-9pm  Inn at 835 Springfield $65 members, $75 non

September 17

Chicago - 7 PM- Locavore Seasonal Potluck Celebration featuring Terra Brockman Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted
Join Green City Market and your fellow Locavores for a potluck and talk with author and activist Terra Brockman. Bring your favorite market-inspired dish and a few friends! RSVP required

September 19

Chicago –  Green City Market Chef demonstration Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia

Chicago – The Hideout Veggie Bingo- 1354 West Wabansia 5:30pm – 8 Free hot dogs provided by Hot Doug’s Win fresh produce provided by Irv and Shelleys Fresh Picks. $2 a card, 3 for $5 Callers: Sarah Dandelles and Sarah Bortt
Garden: Riverbank Neighbors

SAVE THE DATE

September 21-23

Chicago – Beaver Dam Pepper Centennial Celebration – Restaurant meals and tastings all over Chicago(go to the link to find out what is going on closest to you) Why give a “hoot” about the Beaver Dam Pepper? It has been included in the Slow Food Ark of Taste, “The Beaver Dam Pepper is a Hungarian heirloom pepper that was brought to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in 1912 by the Joe Hussli family.  The pepper’s first fruits mature 80 days after transplanting, at which point they ripen from lime-green to red.  The crunchy fruits are mildly hot and when seeded, they hold an excellent flavor.  Rated as 3 on a heat scale of 1-5, the Beaver Dam is great for making fresh batches of cool and tangy salsas.”

September 22

Chicago – Chicken Enthusiastists UniteWindy City Coop Tours  City folks WILL flock to see backyard birds on September 22 and 23! Windy City Coop Tour Tour Organizers have been working hard to get coop list and maps together for the 2012 Tour of backyard chicken coops.We have ~20 Chicago area coops on the map — some hosting Visitors on Sat 9/22, some on Sun 9/23, and some on both days.

Morton Grove – Morton Grove Farmers Market2nd Annual Fruit Pie Contest -6210 Dempster St. 8am-12pm Chief Beet Rob Gardner will be one of the judges. It will be held under the drive-thru between Harrer park and the Morton Grove Civic Center on Dempster. All I can say is this sounds like it will be really good local eats, who does not like fruit pie?

Niles – Fresh Picks Fall Farm Dinner – $65

FD!! Stelle – Mint Creek Farm Dinner and Tour – 2:30pm 1693 E. 3800 N. Road. The guest chef will be Chuy Valencia of Top Chef and Chilam Bilam.

September 28-30

Chicago – Chicago Gourmet Festival presented by Bon Appetit. The “Ground Zero” this weekend of all things culinary in Chicago and the country. Pre-sale tickets already sold-out so you had better keep a watch so you don’t miss out on this action packed weekend of chefs, sommeliers, incredible beverages, food and lots more. You can buy regular tickets here . Do you have your tickets yet?

September 28

Chicago - “I am Your Neighbor” It’s THE Neighborhood Party A Benefit For Common Pantry 7-11pm Architectural Artifacts 4325 N. Ravenswood Ave. All coming together to help their neighbors in need as they launch the new book, “I am Your Neighbor“. $100 Tickets can be purchased online here.

Chicago - The Hamburger Hop – Harris Theater Rooftop Millenium Park – 6-9pm It is a hamburger showdown and the startoff event for the Chicago Gourmet Festival. Top chefs compete to create the city’s best burger. Go to the link for further information and tickets.

September 29

Eureka, Il - Annual Henrys Farm Potluck and Farm Tour

October 3

New!! Chicago – The Second Annual Independent Spirits ExpoCarmichael’s Warehouse 1052 West Monroe 7-9:30pm Ittt’s baaackk!!! We like independence! For the second year, the Independent Spirits Festival returns to Chicago and will be held at Carmichaels Warehouse. Meet the distillers, brand owners, importers and others who make it possible for you to enjoy a great a variety of small batch, unique and artisinal spirits from around the world, including many Beet favorites, like FEW Spirits.  Purchase tickets here.

October 12

Chicago - NOURISH Meals on Wheels Annual Celebrity Chef Ball – Dozens of chefs, lots of entertainment Venue One 1044 West Randolph St 6:00pm -12:30pm Purchase tickets here

October 23

Springfield – Healthy Farms, Healthy People: Supporting Local Food Systems and Improving Public Health 9am to 4pm The Statehouse Inn 101 East Adamst St. - Healthy Farms Healthy People Illinois is a symposium that will bring together health and agricultural stakeholders from across the state of Illinois to explore the intersection of food policy, agriculture, and health. Keynote speakers and plenary sessions will be followed by working roundtables that discuss and generate possible solutions to the challenges of the Illinois food system. Register here.

 

 




Review: Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland

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Posted: September 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Editor’s Note: In support of the Green City Market’s Locavore Challenge, we’re dedicating well-deserved real estate this week at the Beet to kindred spirit, Janine MacLachlan, and her book, Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland. She has a book signing this Saturday, September 15th from 9:30 am to 12 pm at the Green City Market. Also, we’re giving away an autographed copy of her book to someone who tells us what their favorite farmers’ market is, and why. So read about her book, then go this page, and enter to win!

While promoting her book, Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland a few months ago at a special dinner at Floriole, Janine MacLachlan said she wrote this book as a “love letter” to the farmers’ markets. However, after reading the book, I think that the book functions as much as a useful primer to farmers’ markets as a reverent homage to the markets themselves.

MacLachlan is not only a friend but a kindred spirit — like me, she splits her time between Chicago and Fennville, Michigan, a small, agricultural town on the edge of the touristy beach towns of Saugatuck and Douglas. Using Fennville as a part-time home base, MacLachlan was able to delve deeply into the patchwork of farmers’ markets throughout the Midwest. She includes large well-known markets like the Dane County Farmers’ Market in Madison, Wisconsin, and small ones like the Northport farmers’ market and its six vendors on the far Northern tip of the Leelanau Peninsula.

Although Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland is not a comprehensive guide to all farmers’ markets in the Midwest (and it’s not meant to be), she covers more than the four-state region represented at Chicago farmers’ markets, including markets in relatively distant Minnesota, Ohio and Missouri. Her enthusiastic tone begs us to take a road trip, and discover the rural, simple beauty and culinary treasures of the areas about which she writes. About the Broad Ripple Farmers’ Market in Indianapolis, she writes, “The Broad Ripple Market boasts a lively mix of anything you would like to eat, including My Dad’s Sweet Corn, which comes with a pledge that it was picked within the past twenty-four hours.” About the Mill City Farmers’ Market in Minneapolis, she writes that “The Mill City Farmers’ Market puts forward a striking presence on a cloudless, windswept, autumn day and seems to be the quintessential Minneapolis experience.” MacLachlan starts her book at the Green City Market, because that is where her “romance with farmers began.” Although she allows that Chicago’s gritty urban landscape is not the most evocative start to a book on farmers’ markets, she writes that it is the “center for food advocates dedicated to bringing fresh, nourishing food to its citizens.”

MacLachlan doesn’t eschew food politics entirely, but she doesn’t focus on it to the point of preaching. Instead, she gently educates people on shopping at a farmers’ market, highlights the various roles in local eating (farm foragers, the “best gig ever“), provides key facts (the average age of American farmers is 57), and a glossary, which, at first glance seems pedantic, but recognizes the reality in that the terminology associated with small-scale farming (like biodynamic or closed herd) is not easily defined or in our regular lexicon — at least not yet.

Even a part-time Michigander and farmers’ marketer like myself can be enlightened by Farmers‘ Markets of the Heartland, as I was after reading her brief history of the evolution of Michigan’s diverse fruit crops, an engaging story of individual grit and innovation. MacLachlan writes, “My home state of Michigan may always be the Automobile State…[a]nd yet many people do not know that Michigan is a food powerhouse, second only to California in terms of crop diversity.” She talks about Stanley Johnston, head of Michigan State University’s extension in South Haven from 1920 to 1969, who was the cultivator of the beloved Michigan Redhaven peach, and helped Michigan to be number one in blueberry production.

It’s not all lovely praise for the innovators; her discussion of Illinois agriculture takes a dark turn. She states, “In the 1970s, federal farm policy encouraged farmers to consolidate their crops and focus on commodities. Illinois farmers tell me that at that time, the United States Department of Agriculture decided the fertile soil of Illinois was best suited for corn and soybeans. In an ironic step, a state with great soil and ample water stopped producing food for people to eat and focused on commodity crops used primarily for manufacturing or for animal feed.”

Her book advocates for organizations that use agriculture to serve the greater good: the Resource Center, which operates the Farm Stand at City Farm, and which gathers and composts restaurant scraps used to nurture a farm in vacant lots in underserved areas, and Rick Bayless’ Frontera Farmer Foundation, which in its first five years, gave more than $500,000 to small farms that supply restaurants to expand herds of pasture-raised cattle, installing irrigation systems, and building hoop houses, are two such organizations discussed.

I anticipate that I will find myself going back to this book for inspiration, to help nurse me through a gray winter, or even to find a seasonal or heritage recipe or two. (The book contains several recipes from locavore chefs like Bruce Sherman of North Pond, Tory Miller from L’Etoile in Madison, Wisconsin, and pie woman extraordinaire, Paula Haney of Hoosier Mama, and her recipe for her splendid vinegar chess pie.) It is an honorable, just, and heartfelt homage to the hard work and determination of people who continue (or are new to) the Heartland’s centuries-old farming traditions.


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GIVEAWAY TIME! FARMERS’ MARKETS OF THE HEARTLAND

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Posted: September 11, 2012 at 11:58 am

[WINNER ANNOUNCED!! SCROLL DOWN.]

Readers! Stay tuned to this space this week, as we dedicate some much-deserved space to our friend, Janine MacLachlan, who methodically researched and authored Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland. Janine, who writes a food blog at RusticKitchen.com, is a dedicated supporter of our local farmers’ markets, and a former board member of Slow Food Chicago. She wrote this book as a “love letter” to the farmers’ markets in her home base in the Midwest. (Janine splits her time between Chicago and Fennville, Michigan.) Janine will be signing her book this Saturday, September 15 at the Green City Market, from 9:30 am to 12 pm. (The Green City Market is located at the South end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton.)

More than just a guide to farmers’ markets from Missouri to Michigan, Janine’s book gives poetic due to our region’s farmers, and features, among others, local favorites like the Cleverdons of Kinnikinnick Farm, Peter Klein from Seedling, and Mick Klug of Mick Klug Farm. (The Green City Market is prominently featured.) Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland details the history and evolution of modern farming in the Midwest, provides expert tips for shopping at the markets, and seasonal recipes from locavore chefs like Bruce Sherman of North Pond in Chicago. (See The Local Beet’s review of her book here.)

To kick off Janine’s book signing, we’re giving away an autographed copy of Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland. To enter, all you have to do is post in the comments about your favorite farmers’ market, and tell us why it’s your favorite. We’ll choose the response we like best (or at random). Comments will be closed at the end of the day on Sunday. Winners will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

*     *     *

WINNER ANNOUNCED!!  For her heartfelt tribute to her local farmers’ market, the lucky winner of our contest is Sarah Glover! Thanks all for playing — there were many great entries. Keep marketeering!


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Chickens Fight City Hall in Beloit and Win! Friday, September 7th, 2012
Fall Roasted Cauliflower with Peppercorn Goat Cheese Thursday, September 6th, 2012
On the Edge of a Locapocalypse Thursday, September 6th, 2012
The Local Calendar 9/5/12 The Peak of the Summer Harvest Is Now! Thursday, September 6th, 2012
Show Me Your Papers – UPDATED: Field Evidence Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
The Tamar-ing Never Ends – What’s Ahead Tuesday, September 4th, 2012