Eat Local Ginseng and Other Great Links – The Weekly Harvest

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Posted: March 28, 2013 at 10:32 am

We hear these food swaps are quite fun.  Do join.

Sustainable food loses its biggest champion in Washington DC.

Chicago Tribune confirms what we’ve been saying, “It’s business as usual in Wisconsin, which produces the most and best cheese nationally, but the culture is growing in new ways.”

A big list of sustainability bloggers who are on Twitter too.

Everything has to start again, but everything already has started again,” Bittman interviews Carlos Petrini of Slow Food.

Eat local ginseng.

Eat greens locally grown in Bedford Park.

Eat local video.

Also, see here for our collection of links related to the recent Good Food Festival.




Winter and Spring Join Forces for New Menu at Bar Pastoral

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Posted: March 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Bar Pastoral recently updated its menu for the first time since opening, drawing inspiration from both winter and spring to offer the best of both worlds while the rest of Chicago moans about the weather. The Pastoral brand has long been a major player in the local cheese game here in Chicago, supplying numerous cheeses from throughout the Midwest at its shops, along with offering other locally sourced specialty goods. The opening of Bar Pastoral took that concept of locality to another level, utilizing these cheeses and purveyors in new ways  The Pastoral A-Team of chef Chrissy Camba, beverage director Mark Hayes, and cheesemonger Bryan Bland combined on the new menu. Local cheeses remain at the forefront, served as standalone nibbles and woven throughout composed dishes. For the latest iteration, Camba wanted to serve up a last hurrah to winter (or a good riddance) while simultaneously welcoming spring with some lighter touches. Straddling between the two seasons (spring + winter = “sprinter”?), Camba is cooking up items that she wants to eat right now, calling the dishes “comforting and not too heavy.” So this new menu is basically comparable to that coat you’re wearing now that keeps you sufficiently warm without smothering you.

Escargot tartine with fromage blanc, garlic, parsley, and pickled carrots

Housemade pretzels are newly on deck, served warm with whipped salami, a cheese ball, and mustard. The cheese ball is actually made with Widmer’s 1-year aged cheddar from Wisconsin, so get your mind out of the culinary gutter. Also new: roasted bone marrow bedecked with lemon confit, braised short ribs with curried carrot puree (the Easter bunny might like this if it was carnivorous and terrifying), and a mac ‘n’ cheese dish inspired by Camba’s childhood. “I grew up eating a tomatoey mac ‘n’ cheese, so I wanted to put that on the menu,” says Camba, who layers gemelli pasta in tomato béchamel with  two cheese, Beecher’s Flagship cheddar and an Asiago Fresco; then tops with breadcrumbs. These are all wintry comfort foods that almost make me forget about spring. But then there’s lighter fare such as arugula salad with charred eggplant puree, an escargot tartine with pickled carrots, and gnudi with mushrooms and spinach, that quickly erase that notion. Altogether, the new menu is a harmonious ode to seasonal cooking in Chicago, and a nifty example of how one chef maneuvers through the Midwest’s fickle seasons.

Braised short ribs with bacon, curried carrot puree, apples, and mustard greens

In terms of new cheeses, Camba says she loves making the fromage blanc for the escargot tartine, and she especially loves using ricotta, which she uses in the gnudi and a pear- and almond-enhanced grilled cheese, something I sorely wish I could stow in a lunchbox. Per usual, Midwestern cheeses are well represented on the menu, including Minnesota’s Bent River Camembert, Wisconsin’s Crave Bros. Petite Frere, Iowa’s Gubbeen cow’s milk cheese, and Marieke Gouda, another hit from the Dairy State (and recent winner of the US Cheese Championship!). For dessert, cheese options include Eldon sheep’s milk cheese from Prairie Fruits Farm in Illinois, and Rush Creek Reserve cow’s milk cheese from Uplands Cheese Company in Wisconsin, while cream cheese from Zingerman’s in Michigan lends itself to Camba’s lemon and cheesecake tart.

Don’t forget to get tipsy! Local beverage purveyors help fill out the beverage menu as well. Two Brothers and Central Waters Brewing each lend a brew to the beer list, while Quince & Apple provides orange-cherry syrup for a non-alcoholic Spicy Sparkler and a Quince Cup cocktail decked out Koval rye vodka, lemon juice, bitters, and Fentimann’s ginger beer.  We’re liking what they are doing with Sprinter at Bar Pastoral

Bar Pastoral
2947 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 472-4781




Local Calendar 3/27/13 Hoop House Greens Continue, Flowers Appear At the Markets

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Posted: March 27, 2013 at 9:07 am

Spring is in the air. Flowers are starting to appear at the markets which is always a hopeful sign that Spring is truly here!!! Hoophouse organic greens are still on the tables, like the mesclun greens from Genesis Growers at the Green City Market above. They had baskets of napa cabbage and bok choy as well. Go here for more “What’s In Season” from Chief Beet Rob Gardner.

Farm dinners (FD) are starting earlier this year.  We have listed dinners we are aware of so far, with some of the leading sustainable farmers in the area, Mint Creek Farm, Prairie Fruit Farms and Slagel Family Farms. The dinners book up pretty quickly so time to get a-scheduling! There are other “road trip” (RT) opportunities ahead, morel season is soon, ramps will start appearing at the markets, spring is here!!!

Farm Dinners 2013

Mint Creek Farm - Stelle, IL 4/21, 5/11 All meet-up at The Greenouse Bed & Breakfast just down the road from Mint Creek. Dinners are BYOB and include a farm tour. Mint Creek is known for their sheep but ask Farmer & Poet Harry Carr to recite one of his poems or bring a poem of your own to share!!

Outstanding In The Field - National farm dinner tour, has set the bar for farm dinners with their connected tables of white table cloths and stemware. Here are their Midwest dates, go to the links for reservations. 8/4 (Shooting Star Farms, Chef Tory Miller, Mineral Point, WI), 8/5(Pinehold Gardens, Chef Dan Van Rite, Oakcreek, WI), 8/7(City Farm Chicago, Chef Jared Wentworth), 8/8(Mick Klug,Chef Brian Huston, St. Josephs, MI), 8/10(Seedling Farm,  Chef Stephanie Izard, South Haven, MI)

Prairie Fruit Farms -Champaign, IL  5/18, 5/25, 6/1, 6/15, 6/29, 7/13, 7/27, 8/10, 8/24, 9/7, 9/21, 10/26 The Prairie Fruit site describes the chef, theme and menu. Here is brief description of what to expect. Reservations can be made on the Showclix site, only 40 seats available per dinner and only 4 tickets can be purchased per person, the price incudes tax, tip not included BYOB. Prairie Fruit is known for their goats and cheeses but they ,also, make some killer gelato!

Slagel Family Farms - 5/186/87/208/109/14 The Slagel Family has teamed up with some well known Chicago chefs who have supported farm to table food for a long time. For each of these dinners, transportation is included in the price from Chicago to the farm, and its BYOB. Slagel pork among their other meats has been a sought after menu item at some of the top restaurants in Chicago and Farmer Louis John Slagel has been a leader in sustainable farming.

We try to keep up on events but miss some, some sites to check out for further detail on sustainable food/urban ag are the Illinois Stewardship Alliance out of Springfield and the Advocates for Urban Agriculture here in Chicago as well as WeFarmAmerica which has tons of weekly events. The Peterson Garden Project has lots of information and workshops for the urban gardner, Matt Kirouac described their Victory Garden they showcased at The Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Now on to the very busy week ahead.

WHERE TO FIND LOCAL FOODS

These stores specialize in local foods:

Artisanal Wilmette – 414 Linden Ave. Wilmette

Butcher and Larder 1026 North Milwaukee in Noble Square, Chicago

Dill Pickle Food Co-op – 3039 West Fullerton, Chicago

Edible Alchemy Foods Co-op - Located in the near-SW Pilsen neighborhood, the co-op has grown to five locations in, including Hyde Park, River North, Lakeview, and Logan Square

Green Grocer 1402 West Grand Ave in West Town Check out their produce share January 9th through May 4th. You can still subscribe even though the share has started already.

Marion Street Cheese Market 100 South Marion St. Oak Park

Provenance Food & Wine - 2 locations Logan Square 2528 N. California Lincoln Square 2312 W. Leland Ave.

Publican Quality Meats – 835 W. Fulton, Chicago

Sauce and Bread Kitchen - 6338-40 N. Clark, Chicago

Standard Market – 333 East Ogden Ave., Westmont Be sure to say hi to Rockstar Butcher Joe Parajecki!!!

This Week’s Calendar And Beyond In Local Food:

March 27

New!!!!!! Chicago – Spring Fund Raiser Growing Green for CFCWhirlaway Lounge – 3224 West Fullerton 7pm – close Please join Corner Farm Chicago and The Whirlaway Lounge in celebrating the start of the ASCF’s 5th growing season and KMCF’s 1st full growing season! Your suggested donation of $10 gets you one raffle ticket and big smiles Additional raffle tickets are ridiculously cheap (6 for $5! I mean, really…) Raffle Drawing takes place at 10pm!

Chicago - Soup and Bread at The Hideout - 1354 W. Wabansia  5:30pm -8pm This week’s theme is “Alliums & Asparagus” — or soups of tentative spring. We’ve got a full complement of cooks on board, with a return visit from Sunday Dinner Chicago, plus Mark Smrecek, Christian Austin, Hunter Seamons, and more. Our DJ this week is our own Michael Slaboch, and bread is generously donated by Publican Quality Meats. Pay-what-you-can donations benefit Teen Living Programs. Come support Associate Beet Editor Wendy Aeschlimann who will be serving a soup!!!

Chicago – Seed Starting and Garden Planning WorkshopGrowing Home Wood Street Urban Farm- 6pm 5814 s. Wood St. One of their farmers, Elspeth McGarvey will cover the different techniques of planting and tell you when to start vegetables by direct seed or seedling. Get your questions answered about anything from planning and planting to tricky garden pests. They welcome beginner gardeners and seasoned green thumbs to join us! Participants will take home a flat of their own planted seeds* and experience a free tour of the Wood & Honore Street Urban Farms.This is a family-friendly event so feel free to invite a child, relative, neighbor or friend for some fun learning and fellowship.

March 28

Chicago – Uptown Market Uptown Farmers’ Market is year round. Every Thursday from 7-1 inside Weiss Memorial Hospital or in the parking lot during the warmer months. 4646 N Marine Drive This is an appropriate day to stock up on Spark of the Heart Soups

Chicago - City Chicks WeFarmAmerica Urban Homesteading in Chicago Chicks in the City 6pm Green Exchange 2545 West Diversey $20 Reserve here

March 30

Chicago – Green City Market at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 8:30- 1pm 2430 North Cannon Drive The market runs indoors through April 27th Bring your children to Club Sprouts at 9:30 – 10:15am. Chef Martin Cabrera of Barrio Urban Taqueria in Nature’s Lunchbox.

Chicago - Bee Keeping Class Chicago Honey Co-op - Jane Addams Hull House 10am – 3pm $75

Elgin - Winter Market at Habitat for Humanity ReStore Elgin - 800 North State St. 9am – 3pm (thru May) Their mantra is “Keepin It Local1″ As such, their intention has always been to supply the local community with local products and crafts.

Evanston – Winter Evanston Farmer and Artisan Market at the Ecology Center  9-1pm 2024 McCormick Blvd.  The market will be at this location for the next 5 months, today and every Saturday through April 27, 2013. Spark of the Heart Soups and C & D Family Farms will be there

La Fox – Heritage Prairie Saturday Farmer’s Market  9am – 1pm 2N308 Brundige Road

March 31

Chicago – Logan Square Winter Market – 10-2pm Congress Theater Lobby 2135 North Milwaukee

SAVE THE DATE

April 2

Chicago – “It’s Not You, It’s Brie” by Kirstin Jackson: Book signing, cheese and wine pairing, includes BOOK! City Winery 7pm $55

April 3

Chicago –  Book signing by Kirstin Jackson “It’s Not You, It’s Brie“Provenance Wine and Spirits – Lincoln Square

Chicago – “The Weight of the Nation” Market Movies The Experimental Station – 6:30pm 6100 South Blackstone Complimentary popcorn will generously be provided by Mother Butter’s Popcorn and Confectionary, one of your very own 61st Street Farmers Market vendors.  Another Market vendor, B’Gabs Goodies, is located inside Experimental Station and will be open until 7pm to satisfy your juice, smoothie, or raw vegan meal fix.

April 4

Chicago – Fete Night Market 5:30pm – 10:00pm Room 15201520 W. Fulton St. (at Justine St.) Ring in the weekend with a lively nighttime market featuring two floors of food and design. Come hungry: Grab dinner at pop-up restaurants from Ruxbin, Parson’s Chicken & Fish and Trenchermen; snacks from La Sirena Clandestina, Pecking Order, Pleasant House, Panozzo’s and more; sweets from Dana Cree (Blackbird), InterUrban and dozens of others. Sip complimentary Virtue Cider and 5 Rabbit beer, drink cocktails from Longman & Eagle and Local Wine & Spirits, and shop goods from 40 of the finest food and design artisans from Chicago and beyond (see the vendor list). A portion of the night market’s proceeds benefits Fresh Moves. Tickets here…

April 5

Chicago - Fete Chicago  - Adopting Cuisine: A Conversation with Matthias Merges (Yusho) and John Manion (La Sirena Clandestina) Led by Chandra Ram of Plate Magazine 4:30pm – 6pm La Sirena Clandestina, 954 W. Fulton Market (at Morgan St.) Admission: $20 (Ticket includes a variety of Brazilian, Argentine, and Japanese snacks from Yusho and La Sirena.)

Chicago – Fete ChicagoProcess and Raw Materials: Gillion Carrara, Kristin Mariani and INDO’s Linsey Burritt and Crystal Grover Friday 5:30 – 7 p.m. INDO, 1008 W. Randolph St. (at Morgan St.) Come join a discussion led byPitchfork/Nothing Major Creative Director and Show ‘N Tell Show host  Michael Renaud about the artists’ processes of transforming organic materials into works of art. Admission: $12 (Ticket includes beer and bites.)

Chicago - Fete Chicago2nd Story Presents: Tales from the Table, featuring Ina Pinkney, Mike Gebert, Molly Each, and Jessica Young 5:30pm – 7:30pm na’s, 1235 W. Randolph St. (at Racine Ave.)
Admission: $20 (Ticket includes appetizers prepared by The Breakfsat Queen herself; cash bar.)

April 6

Chicago – Fete Chicago continues - Discovering the Plant: An Inside Look with Founder John Edel 10:30 a.m. – noon The Plant1400 W. 46th St. (at Bishop St.) Admission: $12 (Ticket includes samples and snacks from The Plant’s tenants.) BUY TICKETS HERE SOLD OUT, Bridgeport Rising: A Conversation with Arthur Jackson (Pleasant House Bakery) and Ed Marszewski (Maria’sCo-Prosperity SphereProximity MagazineMash Tun JournalLumpen) Led by Chuck Sudo of Chicagoist, 2 – 4 p.m. Co-Prosperity Sphere3219-21 S. Morgan St. (at 32nd St.)Admission: $10 (Ticket includes pastries from Pleasant House Bakery and Maria’s ginger beer.) BUY TICKETS HEREStudio Tour: A Rare Glimpse into the World of Crucial Detail aturday  3:30 – 5 p.m. Crucial Detail, 2000 W. Carroll Ave. (at Damen Ave.) Admission: $10 BUY TICKETS HERE SOLD OUT.

Chicago – Think Global, Drink Local: A Cocktail Party at Kendall College for the Kendall Charitable Trust 5pm – 7pm Take a tour of Chicago through unique and delicious cocktails! Created by some of Chicago’s best mixologists from local hotels and restaurants, each signature drink will feature a local, sustainable ingredient. $35

April 7

Chicago – Chicago Food SwapLocal Goods Chicago – 5354 West Devon  To register go here. Curious as to what the Food Swap is about? Read Emily Paster’s account here on The Local Beet of the February swap at Katherine Anne Confections.

Chicago – Fete Chicago continues with more events here…

April 10

Chicago - Pig Butchering Demo Butcher and Larder 5pm 1026 North Milwaukee

April 14

Chicago - Bread Class at Floriole - 3pm 1220 West Webster Complimentary glass of wine and pizza dinner, $75

April 17

Chicago - “We Can Change The Food System” Hosted by Food Tank 5:30pm – 7:30pm  Piazza Bella restaurant 2116 W Roscoe St.(About a 10 minute walk from the Brown Line Paulina Station) A very special evening bringing together the Chicago food movement hosted by Food Tank: The Food Think Tank

April 20

Chicago - BACONFEST - UIC Forum It is Sold Out but there are creative ways to win tickets here...

Chicago - Pinot Days  Navy Pier 2-5pm

Chicago - Red Meat Market Spring Lamb Butcher Class - With Ben Harrison Master Butcher Whole Foods Lincoln Park and a cooking class with Ryan Hutmacher of Centered Chef Studios. 10am – 1pm 177 North Ada Learn, eat and take some some good meat! $150

Chicago – SEE FOOD: // graze issue three release party  8pm Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art 756 N. Milwaukee Hop on board with Graze as we celebrate the release of issue 3 Your ten dollar ticket gets you: // one free copy of issue three // the music and tapping of Sidewalk Chalk (!)

April 21

Chicago - Calling all kids!!! Earth Day at Sandwich Me In - 11am – 7pm 3037 North Clark(near Halsted) All day event with snacks and guests, sustainable farmers, learn how to make bread, music, arts and crafts.

Stelle - Mint Creek Farm Sunday Brunch & Farm Tour 11am Meet-up at The Greenhouse Bed & Breakfast  3606 N 1700 E Rd. $50 For more information contact Julie at Jlarsen@mintcreekfarm.com There will be plenty of time to visit all the animals living on the 200+ acre farm including cows, chickens, pigs, sheep and goats.  Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. See the 3 minute short film on Farmer Harry Carr by Storybuzzmedia here.

April 23

Chicago - Great Lakes Sustainable and Invasive Species Dinner Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet Shop 2070 N. Clybourn 7:30pm – 9pm $65 Celebrate the Great Lakes distinctive seafood bounty including the controversial Asian Carp. Sponsored by Lake Michigan League of Women Voters For further information and reservations email LWVFood@gmail.com

April 26

Chicago - Whiskyfest It sold out pretty darn quickly last year!! Better get your tickets now!

April 27

Chicago - Third Annual Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival Chicago French Market Go to the link for tickets, although it is free, there still is a maximum capacity and I think this year they will reach it!!! Meet+eat+shop w/ 90+ culinary producers. GO here for the full press release. It is bigger, butchering demonstrations with Rob Levitt of the Butcher and Larder and Brady Lowe of Cochon 555, artisanal beverages and more!!

April 28

Chicago - Michael Pollan lecture at Elmhurst College  “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation”

Chicago - Cochon 555 Four Seasons Hotel

May 4

Chicago - Bull Breakdown Class & Tasting 10am – 1pm Red Meat Market 10am – 1pm Cut, Cook & Carry Toro, Toro, Toro hosted by Centered Chef Studios.

May 7

Chicago - 11th Annual Growing Home Benefit 6pm Salvage One 1840 West Hubbard Chef Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno and Food For Thought Order tickets online here...

May 11

FD!! Stelle- Mother’s Day Eve and Farm Tour - Mint Creek Farm BYOB $60 3pm Meet-up at The Greenhouse Bed & Breakfast 3606 N. 1700 E. Rd. For more information contact Julie at Jlarsen@mintcreekfarm.com

May 16-26

Chicago – 1o day celebration Chicago Craft Beer Week

May 17

Chicago - Half Acre Brewery Anniversary Party - Hee hee!! Stay tuned!

May 18

Champaign - Celebrate Spring! The start of Farm Dinner season at Prairie Fruit Farms in Champaign. 4pm 4410 North Lincoln Ave. This is our first dinner of the 2013 season.  As has become our tradition, expect an explosion of spring flavors such as Caveny Farm Katadin lamb, ramps (wild leeks), spring greens, sweet turnips, asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries. Purchase tickets here. (FYI, they make some killer gelato!!)

Fairbury - Slagel Family Farm First Farm Dinner of the Season! Transportation included from Chicago to the farm and back. $125 BYOB The dinner will be prepared and served by Guest Chef Nicole Pederson of Found Kitchen and Guest Chef John Asbaty of Panozzo’s. Please BYOB, lemonade and water will be provided and of course includes a tour of the farm, butchering class on sustainable meat practices and lots of food!!

 




Eat Local Passover on Menu Monday

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Posted: March 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm

 

This post is going up, obviously, not on Menu Monday but on no name Tuesday.  Myself and the whole Local Family were way too busy cleaning the Bungalow and preparing the festive sedar meal to have any time to blog on Menu Monday.  Still, if you had any doubt, yes it was a very local Passover celebration for us.

Passover, like its cross-religious related holiday, Easter, is supposed to feature elements of Spring and re-birth in its meal. Not for this Local Family; between the time when Passover fell this year and the cold weather, this was very much a backward looking meal. It featured a lot from our root cellars, although we could brighten things up slightly with some hoop-house greens. There was no asparagus, fava beans or peas on our table. There was Grandma’s Tzimmes.

My wife, the Condiment Queen, the Other Cookbook Addict, took one look at the piles of carrots, and knew exactly who to call for the holiday recipe. My Mother prides herself as the keeper of Grandma’s (or Bubbie’s) Tzimmes. This sweet medley of vegetables was a specialty of my Dad’s Bubbie or Grandmother, and she (Grandma-Grandma to me when she was still alive) deemed my Mother a good enough cook to take over the dish. Grandma’s tzimmes is distinguished from other tzimmes in a couple of ways. First, unlike many Jewish tzimmes recipes (tzimmes simply means mix), it does not contain meat or dried fruit. Second, it also contained a potato-matzoh meal ball, we called bulkes. The magic of the tzimmes was supposed to be in the existence of the bulkes, but 90 percent of the times my Mother made her otherwise excellent rendition, the bulkes disintergrated into the the rest of the mess, with the carrots, the brown sugar and the sweet potatoes. This, my wife called to learn how to make. And after the call, it turns out the keeper of the recipe has no real sense of how she does it. There’s no recipe. It’s all in her head. And her hands. Her one imparting thought, you don’t add the brown sugar until later.

OK, there are some general guidelines to making tzimmes. You cook your vegetables in a big pot of liquid. Mom just uses water, but the Condiment Queen used a mix of water and local apple cider. Others use orange juice. Carrots, of great cold weather storage, were one of the few widely used vegetables of Eastern European Jews. Thus, tzimmes, is, I believe, historically, a carrot dish. Other root vegetables can be used, like turnips and rutabagas. My Mother always used sweet potatoes, for textural contrast but also for another layer of sweetness to what is a cloy dish for sure. We did not have any local sweet potatoes left, but a few assorted winter squash played the same role. My wife, with the help of one daughter, seasoned her tzimmes a bit more exotically, including Chinese five spice powder in the blend. The bulkes, like heavy matzoh balls from the inclusion of potatoes, managed to stay in one piece. They stayed so well, that my wife served them in a seperate bowl from the rest of the tzimmes. It did not taste quite like Grandma’s Tzimmes as made by Mom, but it was the start of a very new, very good tradition.

It is also tradition, in the Local Family to eat bollito misto on Passover. In fact, outside of Emiliga-Romagna and nearby regions, there may not be other kids who know bollito miso more than the Local Kids. They know it as a great holiday dish because only when you have more than ten is it a dish worth doing. Bollito misto is the Italian name for mixed, boiled–nay simmered–meats. It requires several cuts of meat and several sauces. Again, it is a dish that works well with what we have in stock this time of year. We could make its stock from old leeks, old onions, and old carrots left in storage. A good bollito should contain meat from at least three animals, in this case, Wisconsin veal, a large chicken raised on Tomato Mountain’s farm, and grass-fed beef. It should also vary between leaner, fatty and bonier parts. You want somethings like oxtails or shanks to add ooph to the broth. A veal breast did that very much so, if perhaps too fatty so, for some. We actually had a fourth meat, playing the kosher part of the cotechino sausage often used in versions, some fresh made chicken sausage. Yet, also playing the part of the thing we forgot about, we forgot to poach the sausages.  There still was a lot of meat.

As you can see from the finished product, bollito misto is a bit of the drab side. The meats are rich but plain. Which is fine because bollito misto is all about the sauces. My wife scored enough local herbs at the Logan Square Farmer’s market last Sunday to make a killer salsa verde, the most classic of bollito sauces.  It is also a tradition at our sedars to use the green sauce with hard boiled eggs, eggs which are the first thing eaten after the first round of service.  Another classic is a red sauce or salsa rossa, which she made by doctoring up Tomato Mountain whole roasted tomatoes with savory spices. Finally, she made a horseradish sauce with grated horseradish, olive oil and lemon juice.

The rest of the meal included various other local foods. There were slices of stored radishes for nibbling. Instead of gefitle fish, we had local whitefish cooked in a traditional North African manner with summer dried chili’s (to those Jews as much a holiday staple).  Local potatoes and turnips were put to use in kugel or a pudding, and for the one green thing on the table, a big salad of frost-kissed spinach. The rest of the menu this week, you can see this week, will be leftovers.




It Doesn’t Get More Local than the Chicago Food Swap

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Posted: March 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

On Super Bowl Sunday a group of thirty-five people assembled at Katherine Anne Confections storefront in Logan Square far away from any television. There were young women in their twenties, moms with kids in tow, and a few husbands and boyfriends as well. They carried boxes full of homemade creations: loaves of bread, toothsome sweets, exotic jams, drink syrups, flavored mustards, and pickled vegetables. A buzz built in the room as the proud cooks began admiring each other’s offerings and peppering one another with questions: How did you make that? How do you use it? Would you like to trade for one of mine? Welcome to the February meeting of the Chicago Food Swap.

What is a food swap? Food swaps were one of 2012’s hottest food trends and are only becoming more popular. At a food swap, home cooks and gardeners trade their homemade and homegrown food stuffs. Everything is made by the swappers themselves and no money changes hands. Along with the food, cooks find themselves trading inspiration and forging relationships with other passionate foodies in their community.

Food swaps are the natural outgrowth of the expanding do-it-yourself movement that is causing people all over America to raise backyard chickens, plant vegetable gardens and revive the lost art of home food preservation. After all, at some point, one family cannot eat all those eggs or all that jam. Why not swap your jam for someone else’s homemade granola or spice mix?  With the popularity of social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, it has become easier than ever for these DIY cooks to find one another.  Consequently, food swaps have popped up all over the country from Brooklyn to Austin, TX to Los Angeles.

In 2011, after reading a story about the Philadelphia food swap and discovering that no such event existed here, I approached my neighbor, Vanessa Druckman about bringing the food swap trend to Chicago. As food bloggers, we wanted to meet other people who are as passionate about food as we are.  We started small with only a dozen swappers at our first event in December 2011. But by our fourth swap in August 2012, we had to cap the participants at forty and turn away several people from the wait list.

Now, eighteen months later, registration for a Chicago Food Swap event fills up days after it opens. Due to space constraints at our host businesses, we typically have to limit registration to between thirty and forty swappers.  We had previously been holding swaps every other month, but as demand has grown and more businesses have been willing to open their doors to us, we have moved to holding swaps more frequently. However, even with this growing demand, the Chicago Food Swap does not charge admission. In the interest of keeping the community spirit, it is always free to participate.

The Chicago Food Swaps follow a similar format. Swappers arrive and set up their offerings. Everyone fills out a swap card for each different item that they bring listing its ingredients and suggested uses. The first half hour is spent mingling and checking out the different offerings. If a swapper sees something interesting, he or she suggests a trade on the swap card for that item.  After thirty minutes, the actual swapping begins. All swaps are negotiated individually and no one is obligated to swap with anyone else. Luckily, it usually works out so that everyone goes home happy with their arms full of delicious food.

You certainly don’t have to be a gourmet cook to participate in a food swap. As long as you can make one delicious thing worth trading, you are welcome to join us. As summer approaches, a food swap is also a great way for gardeners to get some value for their homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs. The truth is, the Chicago Food Swap is all about building community and forging connections through food. You will find us to be a warm and welcoming group.

People interested in participating in a future food swap, should check out our website (www.chicagofoodswap.com) or like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/chicagofoodswap. The April 7 swap at Local Goods Chicago is full, but there will be another swap on May 12 at The Scrumptious Pantry in Logan Square. Registration for the May swap will open on April 1.

We move the location of the swaps all around the Chicago area from Hinsdale to Logan Square in order to reach as many people as possible. If you know of a possible location for a swap in your area, please let us know that as well. We have found that local businesses with a food or local focus, such as spice stores or local craft boutiques, are often amenable to hosting a swap as a way to reach out to potential new customers.

Hope to swap with you soon!


Emily Paster is a freelance writer and mother of two living in the Chicago suburbs. She writes about food and parenting on her blog, West of the Loop (http://www.westoftheloop.com). She co-founded the Chicago Food Swap with Vanessa Druckman in 2011.




UPDATED! – Frost Kissed Spinach and What Else is In Season Now

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Posted: March 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm

 

WHAT’S IN SEASON NOW

Based on our market intelligence, we believe you may be able to find  local produce in the Chicago area now.  What’s out there is a mix of indoor grown crops and storage crops.

Green Stuff

As the days get longer, farmers are able to coax even more out of their hoop-houses, and we know our friends at Tomato Mountain have a banner crop right now of frost kissed spinach.  This spinach is leafy and sweet and works well in salads and even for stuffing.  FarmedHere, an Illinois company is selling aquaponically grown basil and arugula (see below).  We have also seen lettuce, chards and collard greens.  Don’t sneer but sprouts make a nice vegetable this time of year.

NEW! – Other early crops

We have not heard any reports of locally foraged ramps, but we have heard of bok choy and napa cabbage in area farmer’s markets.

From the root cellars

Storage crops still around include beets, cabbage, carrots, turnips, winter squash, potatoes, onions, sunchokes, burdock root, celery root and parsnips.

We caution that farmers often bring a limited supply of these crops to their markets, and they move fast.

 

WHERE TO FIND LOCAL FOODS

You have a few options for finding local food this time of year.  There are a limited amount of farmer’s markets.  See our weekly Local Calendar for markets around the Chicago area.  You can order your local food.  Our friends at Fresh Picks have a good inventory still of local food, or you can try one of these stores that specialize in local foods:

Artisanal Wilmette – 414 Linden Ave. Wilmette

Butcher and Larder 1026 North Milwaukee in Noble Square, Chicago

Dill Pickle Food Co-op – 3039 West Fullerton, Chicago

Edible Alchemy Foods Co-op - Located in the near-SW Pilsen neighborhood, the co-op has grown to five locations in, including Hyde Park, River North, Lakeview, and Logan Square

Green Grocer 1402 West Grand Ave in West Town Check out their produce share January 9th through May 4th. You can still subscribe even though the share has started already.

Marion Street Cheese Market 100 South Marion St. Oak Park

Provenance Food & Wine - 2 locations Logan Square 2528 N. California Lincoln Square 2312 W. Leland Ave.

Publican Quality Meats – 835 W. Fulton, Chicago

Sauce and Bread Kitchen - 6338-40 N. Clark, Chicago

Standard Market – 333 East Ogden Ave., Westmont

We strongly believe that local food is where you find it.  We recently saw the Illinois grown FarmedHere products at the Caputo’s in Elmwood Park.  We have also seen there greens at the Fresh Farms in Niles.  There’s a good chance you’ll find something local at Whole Foods.  Just buy local when you see it.




UPDATED! – Good Food Festival Links

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Posted: March 22, 2013 at 9:49 am

Time Out Chicago highlights a few of the exhibitors.

Highlights of the Chicago Food Policy Summit

Chicago Foodies shows you what you missed if you missed Localicious.

Here’s Ashley’s report and pictures.

Getting local food in with the big buyers.

Wynn enjoyed the good food.

NEW!City Girl Country Roots says, “The Good Food Festival Chicago - founded by Jim Slama of Family Farmed - was brimming with passionate & knowledgeable folks sharing their products and ideas, and I can honestly say after participating in the Festival my life has been forever changed for the better.”

NEW! – Pictures and recap from Chicago Now.

NEW! – Friend of Beet Kate Gross and Cobra Corn (video).

NEW!Buedel Meats liked the Fest.

NEW! – Of course you can always go to FamilyFarmed for a whole set of links explaining the Festival.




The Next Weekly Harvest

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Posted: March 22, 2013 at 9:32 am

Will we really see a permanent farmer’s market with its own dedicated, year-round facility in the Fulton Market area?  (If they ask us, we have a very building over there we think would be ideal) (h/t BR).

Friend of Beet Moma Cuisine has a nice graphic on eating organics for less.

Eat local fish while you still can.

Does your school lunch have an eat local day?

Another drop-out to urban ag.

When we first started eating local, people would ask, how’s it going.  We’d say, don’t ask us now, ask us later.  You cannot know how it’s like eating local until you have tried it for a while, especially for a while through leaner periods.  Likewise, as this article points out, you have to make you plans for eating local later now.

Enough of the pig head, what about the other end.  The Butcher of Butcher and Larder, Rob Leavitt has some ideas for using the tail end of a hog (hat-tip Wendy).

We love beets, right?  Much beet info on this page.

Sula goes a-tamar’n from corned beef to corned beans.

Our collection of links from last week’s Good Food Festival.

 




Good Eggs: Some Eggcellent Advice From Two of Chicago’s Eggsperts

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Posted: March 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm



       With Easter right around the corner, I thought it was appropriate to revisit the age old question, what makes a good egg? I couldn’t find any of Batman’s nemesis, Egghead’s tear gas eggs laid by chickens fed on a diet of onions. But I did go to two people I think of as Egg-sperts in the Egg world here in Chicago, Ina Pinckney of Ina’s and Stanley Rutledge of Stop Foodborne Ilness. The ones above in the center, seeming to exude Easter pinks without any touchup to the photograph, are from Kinnikinnick Farm at the Green City Market. Having worked for Farmer David Cleverdon last Fall, I saw first hand how sought after his eggs are. We would be sold out, sometimes as soon as two hours after the market opened. Dave’s chickens are raised completely organically, no antibiotics given to the hens or arsenic in the feed and the eggs in the picture above just exude life, energy, health, good food!! One thing I did learn from Dave, speaking to him at the market last week, he has to wash his eggs in order to legally be able to sell them. But he recommended if you ever have the chance of farm fresh eggs, not to wash them, the hen puts a protective coating on the eggs. With the coating on it, the eggs will last much longer.

I still wondered what makes a good egg? Why all the worry over Salmonella in eggs and I decided to go to one of the top egg-sperts in Chicago that I know of, Ina, the Breakfast Queen, who is celebrating the 12th anniversary this year of her eponymous restaurant.  I asked Ina, what makes a good egg? “Freshness is what I seek in any egg preparation I make.  When I’m home on Mondays, I ALWAYS have the same breakfast which is 2 eggs up, toast and coffee.  I adore sunny side up eggs but can never eat them at work since I like to eat them immediately and that ain’t never gonna happen at work!”

With the fear of Salmonella out there, what should customers be asking when they go into a restaurant, “Because we switched to pasteurized eggs years ago, my customers never need to ask if they can have soft poached or eggs up.   Customers might ask if the eggs are organic, but that doesn’t mean safe.  Only pasteurized eggs are safe.” For anyone concerned about eggs, Salmonella  and what they are eating. Ina, has done the due diligence for you with her eggs!!!

Stanley at Foodborne Illness points out, “Chickens carry the bacteria in their own bodies, and pass Salmonella along to the yolk and white while the egg is forming in the ovaries. Chickens can pass bacteria to the eggshell and through the shell pores into the inner egg, when the egg is laid. Chickens can harbor Salmonella without being sick themselves.

I asked Stanley, “what do you consider a good egg?”

“A good egg is one that has an intact shell, has been stored under refrigeration conditions (40 ℉) and has been fully cooked before consumption(pasteurized) to kill any Salmonella that may be present.

Raw, shell-on egg should be cooked(or items containing them) to 145 ℉ and held at that temperature until consumption, or alternatively cooled to room temperature 70 ℉ within two hours and to refrigeration temperature 40 ℉ within six hours of preparation.

Alternatively, some companies have started to sell shell-on pasteurized eggs. Pasteurization is a process that kills bacteria, which allows the eggs to be consumed raw without the risk of contracting Salmonella. Pasteurization does not guarantee that the chicken has been raised organically without antibiotics or arsenic.

No matter the source, even from a small organic farm, it is important to safely store and cook your eggs before consumption. Organic eggs are free of the antibiotics and arsenic that are used in conventional egg production. As Saveantibiotics.org, Moms for Antibiotic Awareness attest, the antibiotics in eggs present another whole host of issues. Yet again, it boils down to know your farmer, who knows his livestock and really cares about the product he/she is bringing to the markets.

If you ask any buyer of Kinnikinnick or Meadowhaven eggs from the Green City Market, fresh, organic eggs just taste better in an indescribable, yum factor way. The yolks are bigger of an organic egg. I challenge you to do an experiment and crack open a store bought egg and a farmers market egg and just look at the difference!  Although organic eggs do not guarantee they will be salmonella free, although, you stand a much greater possibility of that being the case, your stomach and your family’s stomachs will notice the difference. Go out and do the egg test yourself, become an egg-spert!!

The issue of good versus bad eggs is not egg-zactly clear. It still comes down to know your food source, take time to learn how the food you are eating was cooked and where it came from. For further information on specifics about eggs, storage of eggs, Salmonella and anything else you wondere about egg safety, you can go to:  Stop Foodborne Illness, their helpful sheet on good eggs is accessed here which has its own links to further resources : SaveAntibiotics.org , official guidelines for eggstore , information on salmonella from the CDC website, tips on eggs and egg products from the USDA , playing it safe with eggs from the FDAall you needed to know about eggs from farm to table published by the USDA, all you need to know about eggs but were afraid to ask, the Safest Choice pasteurized eggs website

A huge thanks to Stanley Rutledge, Program Director at Stop Foodborne Illness and Sarah Starke his intern for their guidance on eggs and well as Ina Pinckney for serving delicious breakfasts using good eggs!

 




Highlights From the 8th Annual CFPAC Food Policy Summit

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Posted: March 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Our friends at the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council want you to hear the good things that happened at their recent summit held in coordination with the Good Food Festival.

We had an EXCELLENT line-up of breakout sessions this year, and are incredibly grateful to all of our presenters for making this one of the best attended CFPAC summits!

Highlights Include:

Open discussion, including several higher education representatives, around how universities can support the Good Food Movement

Tools for organizing around food justice from CFPAC’s Neighborhood Action Council Working Group

Street Vendor Organizing and Policy Goals from the Asociacion Vendedores Ambulantes

Strategy sharing around youth engagement in food policy work

Announcement of Growing Power’s Farmers for Chicago Program with support from the City of Chicago and Mayor Emanuel. Click here for the Mayor’s Official Press Release.

CMAP presentation on Local Food as an Economic Tool

Best Practices and examples of Healthy Neighborhood Food Options from leaders in the field in Chicago and Milwaukee.

Information on GE Labeling from Food and Water Watch

Introduction of two pieces of legislation that will remove barriers for Illinois rural and urban farmers and gardeners to compost HB3319 & HB2335. Contact your representative and ask them to co-sponsor!

Historic Panel on Innovative Land Tenure Strategies featuring representatives from the Chicago Park District, NeighborSpace, Washington Park Consortium, DHED, Growing Power and Openlands/Cook County Land Bank

To continue policy development and strategizing around responsible food policy, get involved with CFPAC’s work year-round! Join us at our next Working Group Meeting – Saturday, April 6th from 10:00-12:00pm @ Iron Street Farm (3333 S. Iron Street). RSVP: info@chicagofoodpolicy.org




The Local Calendar 3/20/13 Spring Equinox, Farm Dinner Season Starts Early!

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Posted: March 20, 2013 at 9:40 am

Spring officially arrives tomorrow! Soon tables of spring onions will appear at the markets and the supply of local product will continue to improve from now on. Make sure to check the Local Calendar often, as we update it with the latest information on farmers markets and farm dinners. They tend to pop up suddenly just like spring flowers.

Farm dinners (FD) are starting earlier this year.  We have started a section, listing some of the dinners on the calendar we are aware of so far, with some of the leading sustainable farmers in the area, Mint Creek Farm, Prairie Fruit Farms and Slagel Family Farms. The dinners tend to book up pretty quickly so time to get a-scheduling! There are other “road trip” (RT) opportunities ahead, like the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Competition in Grand Rapids. Morel season is soon, ramps will start appearing at the markets, spring is here!!!

We try to keep up on events but miss some, some sites to check out for further detail on sustainable food/urban ag are the Illinois Stewardship Alliance out of Springfield and the Advocates for Urban Agriculture here in Chicago as well as WeFarmAmerica which has tons of weekly events. The Peterson Garden Project has lots of information and workshops for the urban gardner, Matt Kirouac described their Victory Garden they showcased at The Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Now on to the very busy week ahead.

Farm Dinners 2013

Mint Creek Farm – Stelle, IL 4/21, 5/11 All meet-up at The Greenouse Bed & Breakfast just down the road from Mint Creek. Dinners are BYOB and include a farm tour. Mint Creek is known for their sheep but ask Farmer & Poet Harry Carr to recite one of his poems or bring a poem of your own to share!!

Outstanding In The Field – National farm dinner tour, has set the bar for farm dinners with their connected tables of white table cloths and stemware. Here are their Midwest dates, go to the links for reservations. 8/4 (Shooting Star Farms, Chef Tory Miller, Mineral Point, WI), 8/5(Pinehold Gardens, Chef Dan Van Rite, Oakcreek, WI), 8/7(City Farm Chicago, Chef Jared Wentworth), 8/8(Mick Klug,Chef Brian Huston, St. Josephs, MI), 8/10(Seedling Farm,  Chef Stephanie Izard, South Haven, MI)

Prairie Fruit Farms -Champaign, IL  5/18, 5/25, 6/1, 6/15, 6/29, 7/13, 7/27, 8/10, 8/24, 9/7, 9/21, 10/26 The Prairie Fruit site describes the chef, theme and menu. Here is brief description of what to expect. Reservations can be made on the Showclix site, only 40 seats available per dinner and only 4 tickets can be purchased per person, the price incudes tax, tip not included BYOB. Prairie Fruit is known for their goats and cheeses but they ,also, make some killer gelato!

Slagel Family Farms5/18, 6/8, 7/20, 8/10, 9/14 The Slagel Family has teamed up with some well known Chicago chefs who have supported farm to table food for a long time. For each of these dinners, transportation is included in the price from Chicago to the farm, and its BYOB. Slagel pork among their other meats has been a sought after menu item at some of the top restaurants in Chicago and Farmer Louis John Slagel has been a leader in sustainable farming.

March 20

Chicago – Penny Pastry Fundraising and Tasting and Preview Borelli’s 2124 West Lawrence Ave. 7-9pm Food prepared by Chefs Axel Erkenswick and Peter Becker $20/person donation requested All funds go towards helping Penny Pastry get off the ground in a new space!

Chicago - Soup and Bread at The Hideout - 1354 W. Wabansia  5:30pm -8pm This week it’s another geographic showdown–this one transcontinental. Are you ready for soups pitting Paris against Tokyo? Our soup cooks include Chicagoist editor Chuck Sudo and a return visit from the good people at Vera, plus Alana Zaritz, Rebecca Lyon and Justin Dennis, Bari Singh and Emily Bouchard, Sam Zelitch, Justin Jackson, and Bradley Newman, executive chef at the University of Chicago’s Quadrangle Club. Our DJ next week is our own Ryan Hembrey; bread graciously donated by Publican Quality Meats. Pay-what-you-can donations benefit Common Threads, which teaches cooking and nutrition to low-income kids.

March 21

Chicago - Green Cleaning Basics WeFarmAmerica The Green Exchange 2545 West Diversey $20 Reserve here

Chicago – Uptown Market Uptown Farmers’ Market is year round. Every Thursday from 7-1 inside Weiss Memorial Hospital or in the parking lot during the warmer months. 4646 N Marine Drive This is an appropriate day to stock up on Spark of the Heart Soups.

March 23-24

RT!! Grand Rapids, MI - Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition - The Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association, a not for profit organization formed to showcase and promote the art of apple and pear fermentation beverages and provide related educational opportunities, is the sponsor of this competition taking place at the Courtyard by Marriot in downtown Grand Rapids.

March 23

Chicago - Food The Nature of Eating exhibit opens at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Chicago – Green City Market at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 8:30- 1pm 2430 North Cannon Drive The market runs indoors through April 27th Bring your children to Club Sprouts at 9:30 – 10:15am. Chef Heather Terhune of Sable Kitchen is giving the chef demo at 10:30.

Chicago – The Empty Bottle Farmers Market – Noon – 5pm 1035 N. Western Chicago Seed Library will host a Seed Swap!

Elgin - Winter Market at Habitat for Humanity ReStore Elgin - 800 North State St. 9am – 3pm (thru May) Their mantra is “Keepin It Local1″ As such, their intention has always been to supply the local community with local products and crafts.

Evanston – Winter Evanston Farmer and Artisan Market at the Ecology Center  9-1pm 2024 McCormick Blvd.  The market will be at this location for the next 5 months, today and every Saturday through April 27, 2013. Spark of the Heart Soups and C & D Family Farms will be there

RT!! Grand Rapids, MI – Michigan Cider Takeover in Celebration of the Cider and Perry Competition – Hopcat -25 S. Ionia

La Fox – Heritage Prairie Saturday Farmer’s Market  9am – 1pm 2N308 Brundige Road

RT!! Michigan City, Indiana - Wine Tasting by Candlelight - Road trip to Michigan City for a local wine event sponsored by the Tryon Farm Institute. 7:30pm – 10:00pm Shady Creek Winery 2030 Tryon Rd. Celebrate Earth Hour in style.

Oak Park – Wettstein Organic Farm Buzz Cafe 12pm – 3pm Beef, pork and eggs

March 24

Chicago – Logan Square Winter Market – 10-2pm Congress Theater Lobby 2135 North Milwaukee

Chicago – Pig Butchering Demo - Butcher and Larder 5pm 1026 North Milwaukee $50

SAVE THE DATE

March 28

Chicago - City Chicks WeFarmAmerica Urban Homesteading in Chicago Chicks in the City 6pm Green Exchange 2545 West Diversey $20 Reserve here

March 30

Chicago - Bee Keeping Class Chicago Honey Co-op - Jane Addams Hull House 10am – 3pm $75

April 4-7

Chicago - Fete Chicago - A 3 day celebration of food and design Grubstreet Chicago has all the details.

April 10

Chicago - Pig Butchering Demo Butcher and Larder 5pm 1026 North Milwaukee

April 14

Chicago – Bread Class at Floriole – 3pm 1220 West Webster Complimentary glass of wine and pizza dinner, $75

April 20

Chicago - BACONFEST – UIC Forum It is Sold Out but there are creative ways to win tickets here...

Chicago - Pinot Days  Navy Pier 2-5pm

Chicago - Red Meat Market Spring Lamb Butcher Class - With Ben Harrison Master Butcher Whole Foods Lincoln Park and a cooking class with Ryan Hutmacher of Centered Chef Studios. 10am – 1pm 177 North Ada Learn, eat and take some some good meat! $150

April 21

Chicago - Calling all kids!!! Earth Day at Sandwich Me In – 11am – 7pm 3037 North Clark(near Halsted) All day event with snacks and guests, sustainable farmers, learn how to make bread, music, arts and crafts.

Stelle – Mint Creek Farm Sunday Brunch & Farm Tour 11am Meet-up at The Greenhouse Bed & Breakfast  3606 N 1700 E Rd. $50 For more information contact Julie at Jlarsen@mintcreekfarm.com There will be plenty of time to visit all the animals living on the 200+ acre farm including cows, chickens, pigs, sheep and goats.  Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. See the 3 minute short film on Farmer Harry Carr by Storybuzzmedia here.

April 23

Chicago – Great Lakes Sustainable and Invasive Species Dinner Dirk’s Fish & Gourmet Shop 2070 N. Clybourn 7:30pm – 9pm $65 Celebrate the Great Lakes distinctive seafood bounty including the controversial Asian Carp. Sponsored by Lake Michigan League of Women Voters For further information and reservations email LWVFood@gmail.com

April 26

Chicago - Whiskyfest It sold out pretty darn quickly last year!! Better get your tickets now!

April 27

Chicago - Third Annual Pastoral Artisan Producer Festival Chicago French Market Go to the link for tickets, although it is free, there still is a maximum capacity and I think this year they will reach it!!! Meet+eat+shop w/ 90+ culinary producers.

April 28

Chicago - Michael Pollan lecture at Elmhurst College  “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation”

May 4

Chicago – Bull Breakdown Class & Tasting 10am – 1pm Red Meat Market 10am – 1pm Cut, Cook & Carry Toro, Toro, Toro hosted by Centered Chef Studios.

May 7

Chicago – 11th Annual Growing Home Benefit 6pm Salvage One 1840 West Hubbard Chef Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno and Food For Thought Order tickets online here...

May 11

FD!! Stelle- Mother’s Day Eve and Farm TourMint Creek Farm BYOB $60 3pm Meet-up at The Greenhouse Bed & Breakfast 3606 N. 1700 E. Rd. For more information contact Julie at Jlarsen@mintcreekfarm.com

May 16-26

Chicago – 1o day celebration Chicago Craft Beer Week

May 17

Chicago - Half Acre Brewery Anniversary Party – Hee hee!! Stay tuned!

May 18

Champaign – Celebrate Spring! The start of Farm Dinner season at Prairie Fruit Farms in Champaign. 4pm 4410 North Lincoln Ave. This is our first dinner of the 2013 season.  As has become our tradition, expect an explosion of spring flavors such as Caveny Farm Katadin lamb, ramps (wild leeks), spring greens, sweet turnips, asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries. Purchase tickets here. (FYI, they make some killer gelato!!)

Fairbury - Slagel Family Farm First Farm Dinner of the Season! Transportation included from Chicago to the farm and back. $125 BYOB The dinner will be prepared and served by Guest Chef Nicole Pederson of Found Kitchen and Guest Chef John Asbaty of Panozzo’s. Please BYOB, lemonade and water will be provided and of course includes a tour of the farm, butchering class on sustainable meat practices and lots of food!!

WHERE TO FIND LOCAL FOODS

These stores specialize in local foods:

Artisanal Wilmette – 414 Linden Ave. Wilmette

Butcher and Larder 1026 North Milwaukee in Noble Square, Chicago

Dill Pickle Food Co-op – 3039 West Fullerton, Chicago

Edible Alchemy Foods Co-op - Located in the near-SW Pilsen neighborhood, the co-op has grown to five locations in, including Hyde Park, River North, Lakeview, and Logan Square

Green Grocer 1402 West Grand Ave in West Town Check out their produce share January 9th through May 4th. You can still subscribe even though the share has started already.

Marion Street Cheese Market 100 South Marion St. Oak Park

Provenance Food & Wine - 2 locations Logan Square 2528 N. California Lincoln Square 2312 W. Leland Ave.

Publican Quality Meats – 835 W. Fulton, Chicago

Sauce and Bread Kitchen - 6338-40 N. Clark, Chicago

Standard Market – 333 East Ogden Ave., Westmont Be sure to say hi to Rockstar Butcher Joe Parajecki!!!




It is Spring or the Season of Dread for the Illinois Locavore

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Posted: March 20, 2013 at 9:33 am

Welcome to the Hungry Months

I’ve walked the dog. I can safely tell you, it does not feel like the first day of Spring. Yes, I prefer not to wear a parka on the first day of Spring, but the expected warm-up does not put me in a good mood. Rather, I dread what this time of year means to our eat local efforts. In this part of Illinois, we face three hurdles in our eat local challenge.

Stores Get Depleted

To have local food to eat during the winter, we put away food in the cold places in and around our Bungalow such as the onions pictured above. Better, this year, we have also relied on food put away from our CSA farm, Tomato Mountain*. No matter who does it and how well you do it, by April, you face the twin devils of simply having consumed what you had or losing what you did not consume. For instance, as I mentioned the other day, we had a good portion of local beets lost to the mold bug.  The biggest problem now is that there is little opportunity to replenish the stocks.

It’s Also a Market Problem

There is a sense that we have no Spring season in this part of the world; that it is way to early to plant.  It it is true that it will be a long way until we get peas, let alone asparagus–as noted in the last point, even longer this year.  Still, looking for what may be in season in warmer parts of the world is a short-sided way of finding local food in the Spring.  There is or there can be local food in late March, April and May in Chicago.  Farmers can harvest over-wintered roots, especially parsnips and carrots.  These mondo vegetables will be sweet from fighting the against the ground chill.  Other crops that can be easily over wintered are sunchokes and leeks.  The lengthening days of Spring also make it easier to get things from hoop houses, not just greens but harvests of radishes and other small roots like salad turnips.  Finally, there are all the wild or semi-wild things that let loose this time of year.  There was a time when people survived on these foraged crops.  From stinging nettles to dandelion greens, these items were also considered necessary to cleanse and detoxify the body from winter’s heft.  It’s there, the problem remains, how to get it.  How many markets are there in Spring in the Chicago area, and of the markets, how many have these Spring wonders.

Some Years are Worse

Remember, it’s climate change, not just global warming.  It was in the 80′s last year at this point.  We had a rampant asparagus crop by mid-April.  We won’t see that this year.  We won’t see that a lot of years.  In some ways, looking at the long game, I’m happier with this frigid Spring.  Last year we had early food. We also had late frost.

That was the cherry tree outside my window right about now, last year. After so many trees blossomed, they succumbed. We had a fraction of the local fruit we would normally have because of the odd weather. Believe me, we can wait.

The Local Family dreads, a bit, this time of year. Some of it is the fault of nature. A lot of it is the fault of the structure of our local food system. We’ll manage. We just won’t like it until it at least warms.




Missed a Beet on Menu Monday

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Posted: March 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm

The last time I checked in in with you on a Menu Monday, I was inventorying the food we had in the Bungalow. I mentioned “un-assigned beets”  as something we had for menus forthcoming. Well between that post and the anticipated roasting, it seems all the household beets gave in to the mold bug. It was a lot of un-salvageable local beets for the compost bin. Luckily, as pictured above, our winter CSA from Tomato Mountain* contained beets this week. The Local Family does plan on tacking them soon lest they succumb too.

Our CSA this week also contained spinach and carrots. In my whole locavore life, I’ve always felt I needed to be careful with carrots. I actually resolved one year to eat more carrots, but even then, the carrots were mostly saved for braises, stocks, gravies, and if then there was surplus, to stick sticks in the kid’s lunches. All those Moroccan carrot salads and French marinated carrots seemed like luxuries I could not afford. Roast too many carrots and where would they be when we needed them. With our winter CSA, we have not needed to worry about divvying up our carrots. Having a lot of carrots is something I do not mind at all.

Neither is having too much frost-kissed winter spinach. As previously noted, the greens this time of year are nearly too sweet for salads. My wife has also found them an excellent tool to add to leftovers when we go for Asian soup noodles. She can make one dish from Chinatown last at least three meals with our CSA greens. She also likes to give them a quick saute and add a fried egg for an easy meal.

Over all, this week is kind of a placeholder week in menu-making. Next Monday is Passover, a holiday Jews celebrate with much, much food. A sneak peak at the menu would tell you it includes bollito misto with locally raised veal, whitefish done in a classic Jewish North African style, using local, dried red peppers; and potato kugel with Wisconsin russets. Of course, our glut of carrots will be used for the meat stock. We also plan on a tzimmes, using the carrots and butternut squash still around.

What will be on your local menus this week?

*Wife works for Tomato Mountain




18 Ways to Keep the Good Food Feelings Going

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Posted: March 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm

We had a great time at last week’s Good Food Festival, talking CSAs, learning about fermentation  walking the floor and otherwise schmoozing all things eat local. We connected with a lot of old friends and made many new friends. This is the time of year we’re all as high as possible on the possibilities of good food. And we have 18 ways to keep you on the right track. This is an updated version of something we’ve posted before.

    1. Familiarize yourself with what is local and in season. You can’t begin to eat local without knowing the local fare. Typically, there is more local foods available than realized, including local meat, eggs, and grains. Also, know when to expect foods. Charts on seasonality may be wholly inappropriate for your area. Find out what is actually in season, when. Pay special attention to new potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and grapes. The seasons for these can really vary around the country.
    2. Adjust your tastes and your expectations to those foods that are available. Instead of focusing on what you won’t be eating, learn to love what is local. An easy reward because the fresher and more vibrant local will easily out-taste the old. Moreover, you will find better versions of standard foods not bred for shipping and uniformity, like the many heirloom tomatoes. Finally, you will find a world of foods that you forgot about or never knew existed like regional nuts and rarely grown fruits like the gooseberry.
    3. Cook and bake. Local eating may require more effort in the kitchen. Local foods need to be stemmed and peeled and seeded and otherwise handled in ways unfamiliar. Learn to cook or bake better to best take advantage of local foods. A strong side benefit of local eating is that the greater emphasis on cooking, leads to a greater emphasis on meals together with family and friends.
    4. Do not make yourself nuts trying to eat local. You do not have to give up on foods that are basics.  Wake up with coffee, diet with olive oil and survive with salt. Two good rules to follow: if you can get a product locally, then only get it locally; favor the local over your non-local food. The former means do not touch that asparagus after its season ends. The latter means eat apples and oranges, but depending on where you live, eat more of one vs. the other.
    5. Likewise, make small changes first. Does every part of your diet have to be local? Start somewhere and grow as you learn to manage local eating and find local food sources.
    6. If possible, invest in an extra fridge or freezer. Ideally, a budding locavore will have both. Either will do, and they both serve purposes. Freezing is a great and easy way to preserve fruits and vegetables.  Freezer space allows the purchase of local meat in bulk, saving a lot of money. An extra refrigerator allows for stocking up each week, but also serves as a great place to keep many foods during the off-season.
    7. Subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or at least develop a strong relationship with a local farmer. Buying into a CSA means buying into a farm. It provides a farmer critical capital at a time when he or she needs cash. It ensures a steady supply of local food, and it commits you to local. With a CSA or a strong farmer relationship, you can learn about how your food grows. You can be privileged to special deals. You may be able to get food when no one else can, like in the winter. You become part of the food chain.  The Local Beet recently published its 2013 Directory of Chicago area CSA providers.our last list for ideas.
    8. Find a farmer’s market close to you. There are farmer’s markets in every state. Localharvest.org is a a good place to start to find a market, but in the Chicago area, there is no better list than one we’ve created, if we say so ourselves. Farmers markets bring seasonal fruits and vegetables to the consumer, so you see and taste what is local. Follow the changing colors to see what is in season.  Farmer’s Markets also offer an array of local products from cheese and other dairy products to meats to even local wool. You cannot go wrong shopping for local at a farmer’s market.   We’ve packed up a list of tips for you to bring on your next market visit.
    9. Read labels and ask around. It is easy to find local foods at a farmer’s market or in your CSA box, but where else can you find local foods? One place is on the label. If there are no labels, ask. An imperfect rule of thumb is, produce without labels is more likely to be local.
    10. Support local markets that focus on local foods. Entrepreneurs, seeing the demand and the need for available local food, have opened stores like Green Grocer Chicago, Artisanal Wilmette and Dill Pickle Coop.  We’re finally blessed with great butchers focused on local meats, like Rob Leavitt’s Butcher and Larder and Publican Quality Meat.  Shop at these stores and others like them around the country.
    11. Buy local when you see it. The Warehouse giant, Costco may sell tons of foods that are not local, but you may still find things there that can be defined as local. Whole Foods is trying to identify and support local foods. Many regional supermarket chains are carrying local foods–many always did.  Support these efforts. Where ever you see food that fits you idea of local, buy it. You will be surprised where you find local foods if you look.
    12. Ask for, nay, demand local foods. When there is no local specialist and the area grocery stocks no local, see if you can change their minds.
    13. Eat local year round. It is possible to eat local even in Northern areas for two reasons. First, you can store food by freezing, drying, canning and finding cold places. Second, there are farmers growing year-round and markets selling local year round. You can find local food always.  Use our primer on making the most of the seasonal bounty to see how you can do it.
    14. Grow your own food. Nothing is more local than food from your yard. Just a bit of gardening can supplement your needs. Urban dwellers can use window boxes and rooftops.
    15. Travel and learn your region’s food. There are small town butchers still making their own sausages from local meat. There are hidden grist mills long forgotten but still operating. Find dedicated canners and preservers selling jams, jellies and pickles. Roadside stands offer things that never make it to markets. Farmstead cheeses sell their wares for amazing prices. Explore.
    16. Take advantage of online resources. The world wide web is filled with people who have already taken the locavore plunge. See how they have done it. Also, there are many sites to identify markets, CSAs, etc.  In addition, join the discussions. Encourage each other and assist each other.  Each week, we harvest a set of eat local links from other web sites.  A recent example is here.
    17. When you eat out, eat out at restaurants featuring local foods. All around the USA, there are chefs, at fancy restaurants and neighborhood cafes who are dedicated to making their places as local as your homes. Seek these out.
    18. Have fun eating local. It is in an inspired choice that can affect the planet in big ways and small.  Reduce energy consumption by closing food miles, but also contribute to you local economy, supporting area businesses. Along the way, you will eat better than you have ever eaten before. In the end, focus on what you have, local food instead of wanting the foods you once had.

 




Weekly Harvest of Cheese Awards and Other Eat Local Links

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Posted: March 17, 2013 at 11:23 am

Local cheese rules!

Local food beyond the farmer’s markets–this article does not use any examples from around our area, but it could (h/t)

Eat local legislation

In cased you missed us!

More us is a nice wrap-up by Robin at Gaper’s Block on having good food

One place you may (or should) be able to get more local food is O’Hare Airport.

“There is nothing like a grand urban food market, which can anchor a neighborhood and even a city. Think of the 120-year-old Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia; the Ferry Building in San Francisco, which 10 years ago helped revitalize the Embarcadero; and the ever-popular Pike Place Market in Seattle. Even much-maligned Los Angeles has a permanent mid-city market, in business since 1934.”  Bittman longs for a grand market in New York City as much as we long for one in Chicago.  He has specifics on what can happen there.  Can we get that far here?

Chicagoist has some urban ag news.

As does Grist.




Local Calendar 3/13/13 Good Food Festival Is Front And Center This Week Wednesday, March 13th, 2013
Popcorn Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
The Local Beet and FamilyFarmed Want to Talk CSAs at the Good Food Festival Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Adventures at the National Maple Syrup Festival Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Update GE Labeling Wholefoods Mandate by 2018, Wenonah Hauter in Winnetka, Good Food Fest Saturday, March 9th, 2013
Weekly Harvest of Urban Ag and other Eat Local Links Friday, March 8th, 2013
Ham Goo to Ham Sandwiches – Tamaring a Local Ham Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
Local Calendar 3/6/13 Local Foods Awareness Day, Maple Syrup Fest & Farm Dinners Starting Earlier Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
Become an Urban Farmer (Or At Least Learn about Urban Farming) Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Support the Chicago Cooperative! Monday, March 4th, 2013
Menu Monday – How a Local Family Manages in the Cold Monday, March 4th, 2013
The Good Food Festival Gets Even Better and We’re Still With Them Monday, March 4th, 2013
Victory Today at Chicago Flower & Garden Show Monday, March 4th, 2013