Dane County Report: Fungi Edition, With a Side of Ramps

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Posted: May 30, 2013 at 9:06 pm

One way to watch the seasons up in Wisconsin is to keep track of the mushrooms at the farmers markets. Morels in the spring, Hen of the Woods in the fall, and buttons and cremini filling in between. This past weekend? Morels, morels, morels. Everywhere I looked, morels!

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I’ve been going up to the Dane County Farmers’ Market for a number of years now, and the supply of morels was as plentiful as I’ve ever seen. Farmers tell me that they will still be around this Saturday.

Not to be outdone, though, were the oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane, and a new one to me – nameko mushrooms. The nameko mushrooms have a mild flavor that nicely compliment the shiitake mushrooms.

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Ramp season is winding down; I’m not sure that we will see displays like this again this year:

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But rhubarb season is in full swing, and will be around for a while yet:

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Notice the jars in the picture. Many farmers have prepared offerings on their tables, ranging from the rhubarb jam seen here, to pestos, flavored vinegars and oils, meat pies, soups, last year’s frozen corn and berries, and fresh pressed apple cider later in the summer. It’s pretty easy to put together a complete meal that can be eaten as soon as one returns home from the market!

The outdoor Market runs on Saturdays from from 6:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m. through November 6th at the Capitol Square in downtown Madison, an easy & well worth your time day trip from Chicago. Check herehere and here for my previous reports on the Market.

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UPDATE! Is the Only Fruit in Season a Vegetable – Updated What’s in Season Now

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Posted: May 30, 2013 at 10:48 am

UPDATED JUNE 15! IS IT SUMMER BECAUSE THERE’S SUMMER SQUASH

We’ve updated our guide to what’s in season now to include what we’re seeing in Chicago area farmer’s markets now.

As all Chicago area eat local fans know, it’s been a very rough period for local fruit.  Crazy weather last year, too warm and then too cold, decimated much of the area orchard crops.  We all mourned the loss of our peaches, but where its really hurt us is in the field of apples.  In years past, the fruit in season at this time of year at area farmer’s markets would still be last year’s apples.  Instead, the only fruit around now is a vegetable, rhubarb.  Still, we are hearing reports that the first strawberries are turning red, and you might just find some in your market shopping.

What’s In Season Now

Fruit

Rhubarb’s ample now, strawberries meager ample.  Cherries, raspberries and blueberries several week’s away–hearing cherries are around the corner!

Vegetables Newest

It’s starting to look like summer, regardless of the weather at the markets.  There’s summer squash/zucchini, kohlrabi, beets, and carrots all fluffing out the green nature of early markets.

Vegetables Newer

Peas are hitting the market.  We’ve seen both sugar snap peas and shelling/English peas; expect snow peas to be there too soon.  If there’s peas, favas should be near too.

You may not expect it or believe it, but through the magic or hoops or latitudes, there’s summer out there.  We’ve seen a few  cucumbers, and a lot more tomatoes than you might think.

Vegetables New

It’s nearly all green, unless the asparagus is purple or the chard’s rainbow.  Much  other leafy greens include spinach,  bok choy (and other Asian greens), collard and mustard greens, arugula, and lettuces.  There’s also early season roots like radishes and turnips.  All the roots also have delicious greens.

Also very much green this time of year, onions and garlic.

You can find good local herbs, last week we found lemon balm, and there’s tons of chives.  

Vegetables Old

Don’t forget what’s left.  It’s still local and delicious.  We’ve seen rutabaga, celery root, potatoes, winter radishes, and onions–amazingly, nearly all of this stuff is still around.

A nice surprise, we’re seeing more dried beans in the market than in prior years.

WHERE TO FIND LOCAL FOODS

Your ability to purchase what’s in season is finally expanding.  Jeannie, in the Local Calendar is keeping you ascribed on key markets, and we’ll have our fuller 2013 Market Locator up soon.  There’s still plenty of time to find a CSA box too.  See our big list to find a CSA for you.  Our friends at Fresh Picks have a good and growing inventory of local food, or you can try one of these stores that specialize in 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 Watch this fantastic video about GMOs, sourcing local and see what you are missing if you don’t shop at the GG.

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

 




Early season look at the Peoria Farmers Market at the Metro Centre

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Posted: May 29, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Although I farm, I haven’t given up my day job in Downstate Peoria. Since I work in Peoria this gives me a chance to hit some of the farmers markets there from time to time. I had a little time at lunchtime today and checked out the oldest farmers market in Peoria, and although it is early in the season, there are a few good items to be found at the Peoria Farmers Market at the Metro Centre.

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The farmers represented today at the Metro Centre had a few early season crops like radishes, green onions and lettuce.

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They all had potted vegetables and herbs.

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I took advantage of this and bought a few herbs that we need in our herb garden.

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There were a few tomatoes grown in a hoophouse, like the ones from the Garden Spot, a farm and farmstand in Princeville, Illinois run by Jim Buckley along with his mother Lillian Jacobs. I bought one to see what the low acid tomatoes taste like.

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I spoke to Ron Dieter, who has a greenhouse at his place in Brimfield, Illinois and whose wife Donna happens to help start many of the heirloom seeds that I grow. He was helping out at the Garden Spot table and he said “the market really gets going in late June and July when there is much more produce available and many more vendors.” The Peoria Farmers Market is about a block long and there is space for many vendors but there were only a few today.

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Some Southern Illinois Strawberries stretching what is “local.”

 

According to The Peoria Farmers Market ‘s Local Harvest listing: The Peoria Farmers Market at the Metro Centre was founded in 1977 by community leader Marvin L. Goodman. It was his vision to promote healthy eating while bringing-together consumers and farmers from all over Central Illinois to a marketplace with a wide variety of fresh, locally grown produce. Thirty plus years later his vision still holds true.

I have been to this market in the past as it shares its Metro Centre location with another Peoria local food purveyor, Pottstown Meats. For dinners that she serves in her wine shop in Galesburg, my wife often needs sausages or unusual cuts of meats that you would not find in a supermarket and Pottstown has always come through. Having a meat market that has meat from local farms such as Kilgus Farms in Fairbury, IL across the parking lot from a farmers market is a convenient way to create an almost totally local meal!

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Metro Centre 4700 North University Peoria, IL 61614 Peoria Farmers Market:

http://shopmetrocentre.com/ai1ec_event/peoria-farmers-market-2013/?instance_id=188&ai1ec_event=Peoria%20Farmers%20Market%202013

Pottstown Meat and Deli:

http://www.pottstownmeat.com/




Local Calendar 5/29/13 Grilling Season Has Begun and GMO Labeling Campaign Heats Up!

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Posted: May 29, 2013 at 8:58 am

HeatherTerhunecookingGreengrocerproduceMarchagainst

Chef Heather Terhune of Sable Kitchen & Bar gave the demo last Wednesday at the Green City Market. She made ricotta and rhubard chutney, chamomile flowers crostini. Yet again, a chef showed how easy it is to cook with ingredients that you buy from the market and how really tasty the end product is. The Wednesday chef demos are such a great opportunity to pick up cooking tidbits that can up your game in the kitchen and a way to get to know the chefs at some of the top restaurants in the city and a really easy forum to ask any kind of  ”stupid question”you may have. Chef Rick Bayless is giving the demo today! Green City BBQ, July 18, tickets are on sale now.

It is never too late to take a produce share at the Green Grocer Chicago. If you just don’t have the time to scour the markets or just want a steady supply of local produce, the Green Grocer makes it easy for you by gathering a wide variety of organic produce sourced from different farmers and all you do is take 5 minutes to pick it up!

Last Saturday, there was a worldwide March Against Monsanto, including here in Chicago.  Here is a video showing events that took place all over the world. The Huffington Post covered it here.  The momentum for clean, GMO free food is building!!You can support Illinois The Right To Know campaign and The Just Label It Campaign. Concerned about how to tell whether what you are buying at the store is GMO free or not? Well, there now is an app for that! Wenonah Hauter, the Executive Director of Food and Water Watch, will be at The Book Cellar, June 9th, signing copies of her book, Foodopoly.

Finally, the Rhizome Alliance needs your help in funding a project, Rooting: Regional Networks, Global Concerns, a symposium highlighting emerging programs and projects around food by artists, cultural workers, radical chefs, rural and urban farmers, and small businesses they want to hold here in October. The program spotlights creative responses to the extreme environmental, social and economic changes facing local and global communities with a focus on the Chicago region and New Delhi, India. They need to raise $12,000 by June 14 to cover airfare, speaker fees, documentation and administrative costs for the symposium. If you can support this project with a donation, in any capacity, they can make this idea a reality!  To donate and learn more, click here

Our full list of area markets can be found here (and remember this list will only get bigger) Food Day Chicago (Oct. 24) is celebrating the onion and the many benefits of the allium family for the month of May as part of their Eat Real Chicago campaign. If you check out their Facebook page and “like” a post or their page you stand a chance to win a “grillion” this week, supplied by the National Onion Association, the contest ends Friday at noon, right in time for grilling season.

Now on to the busy week ahead including, of course, the many markets that have opened, a canning class on Saturday at The Experimental Station  and the last day to buy seedlings from The Talking Farm at their Howard Street Farm is this weekend.

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 Watch this fantastic video about GMOs, sourcing local and see what you are missing if you don’t shop at the GG.

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

Sharpening By Dave  - Green City Market and other locations throughout Chicagoland. If you want to eat local, you need to have sharp knives to prepare the produce!!  Let Dave know that you read about him in the Local Beet and you will get one dollar off each knife sharpened. 

THIS  WEEK’S CALENDAR AND BEYOND  IN LOCAL FOOD:

Food The Nature of Eating Exhibit continues at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Skokie- Last weekend- Seedling Sales The Talkng Farms’s Howard Street Farm - 10am – 2pm 3701 Howard St.  Cool Weather seedlings: spinach, swiss chard, peas, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, collards, seed potatoes Warm Weather seedlings: (beginning May 11th)tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, melon, basil, and cilantro Associate Beet Editor Wendy Aeschlimann elaborates on it.

May 29

Andersonville- C & D Family Farms delivers 4-7pm

Chicago – Edible Alchemy Foods All Co-op Meeting – 5:30 pm ECO 2042 W. 21st Potluck

Chicago - Wednesdays at Wood Street - Growing Home Wood Street Farm Stand 11am – 4pm 5814 S. Wood St.

Chicago - Green City Market Lincoln Park Location 7am – 1pm Chef demonstration 10:30am – 11:30am Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill, XOCO, Topolobampo.

Chicago - Advocates for Urban Agriculture Steering Committee Meeting – 4:00-6:00PM Openlands  25 East Washington Street, Suite 1650  Open to all

Chicago – Wine Wednesdays at Province – Seasonal farm to table 5 course tasting menu with pairings $49 159 North Jefferson A Gold level LEED certified restaurant with 3 stars from the Green Restaurant Association.

May 30

Chicago - Daley Center Farmers Market - Market will run May 16th through October 31. There are now microgreens and wheat grass sold by Alex Poltorak of The Urban Canopy and Seasons Soda is there as well!

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

Hyde Park - C & D Family Farm delivers 7-11am Harold Washington Park

June 1

Champaign, Il -  Prairie Fruit Farms - Virant’s Can Can - 4pm What better way to celebrate the beginning of summer than with some fantastic preserves and incredible food! All of this will be brought to you by Paul Virant! A seasoned veteran in the wide world of preserving, pickling, and canning, Paul follows his Perennial Virant philosophy to a tee – “eat what you can – can what you can’t.” $107

Chicago 61st Farmers Market -  9am – 2pm During the outdoor season, which lasts through the end of October, the Market is located on 61st Street between Dorchester and Blackstone Avenues. The 61st Street Farmers Market accepts LINK and Senior Farmers Market Coupons. They also match LINK purchases up to $25 per cardholder, per market day, as long as funding lasts.

Chicago Green City Market Lincoln Park 7am – 1pm 10:30am Chef demonstration Sean Sanders Browntrout

Chicago - Iron Street Farm Stand - 9am – 3pm 3333 S. Iron St.

Evanston - Downtown Evanston Farmers Market - This market will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Saturday through November 2. Location: Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. (behind Hilton Garden Inn, east of East Railroad Ave.) In 2013, the market will celebrate its 38th year.

Glencoe – World Environment Day at The Chicago Botanic Garden Support your planet, a day to take action,

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

Oak Park - Oak Park Farmers Market - The market will run every Saturday through 10/26/13 7am – 1pm Pilgrim Church, right next door to where the market is held, offers fresh warm donuts, juice and coffee, with live bluegrass music nearby. The Oak Park Farmers’ Market is located at 460 Lake St., just one block west of Ridgeland Avenue.

Oak Park – Uncork Illinois Wine Fest - 1-9pm

Woodstock - Woodstock Farmers Market Outdoors 9am -12pm

June 2

Chicago - ”Putting Up with Emily: An Intro to Canning” 4:30-6:30pm Experimental Station 6100 S. Blackstone Avenue This is a hands-on class. You’ll get a jar of jam and one of pickles, made in the class. Cost is $25 per person, but you can bring a child for $15.  Children, under 14 years old, must also be accompanied by a paying adult. Please pay in advance to reserve your spot, as space is limited. Email Emily to reserve at ingramsjb@gmail.com

Chicago – Glenwood Sunday Outdoor Market opens! – It is the 4th anniversary for the Glenwood Sunday Outdoor market and they have a very loyal customer base! June 2, 2013 and run until October 27, 2013.  The Outdoor Market is located Glenwood Avenue on the west side of the CTA Red Line between Morse and Lunt Avenues in Rogers Park. Hours are 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Sundays

Chicago - Logan Square Outdoor Market 10am–3pm Logan Blvd between Whipple and Milwaukee Ave; May 19–Oct 27

Chicago – Pilsen Community Market -9am–3pm  1800 S Halsted St Chicago Community Bank parking lot

Chicago  - Portage Park Farmers’ Market 10am – 2pm Portage Park, Berteau and Central Aves; June 2, 16, 30; July 21; Aug 4, 18; Sept 15, 29; Oct 6

SAVE THE DATE

June 7-8

Makanda, IL – Giant City Urban Wild Mushroom Foray - The 2013 Wild Mushroom Foray will be hosted at Southern Illinois University’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center adjacent to Giant City State Park in Makanda, Illinois.This free event is open to beginners and anyone out there who wants to enjoy a day in the woods exploring for summer mushrooms. Early registration is encouraged. There’ll be programs for all ages with hands-on opportunities to forage from experts while learning how to identify

June 8

Chicago - Midnight Sun Farm Tour and Picnic hosted by The Sugar Beet Coop 10am – 2pm Midnight Sun Farm is just an hour away from Oak Park and is excited to host The Sugar Beet Co-op for a farm tour and catered picnic lunch. We will start the day by exploring the 5-acre organic vegetable farm that is also home to chickens, turkeys, pigs and goats. After a guided hayride tour by farmer Nick Choate-Batchelder, we will feast on a delicious farm picnic catered by Crème Crafted Parties & Events.

Chicago/Fairbury - Slagel Family Farm Tour & Dinner Event with The Publican! 2:30pm  The dinner will be prepared and served by Guest Chef Brian Huston of The Publican. Please BYOB, lemonade and water will be provided. Bus transportation from Chicago will be provided, when purchasing your ticket please select if you would like that option. The Bus will pick everyone up at 837 W Fulton Market Chicago, IL 60607 at 12:00 noon on June 8th. Children are welcome as long as they have parent supervision. $125June 13

Chicago –   Eli’s Cheesecake & Wright College Farmer’s Market Grand Opening Fresh fruits and vegetables from Nichol’s Farm and the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences, hand crafts,flowers & more Continental Breakfast Lunch on the grill will be offered each Thursdaybased on what’s in season!

June 9

Chicago - No Kid Hungry No Dessert Left Behind - Little Goat 820 West Randolph 2nd floor Come support Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign . There will be patio seating and full bar along with baked goods from Chicago’s finest pastry talent. A portion of all drink sales will go directly to the charity as well.

June 11

Chicago - Food Day Chicago – All hands meeting – Everyone welcome who is interested in learning more about planning an event for day, events to participate in and find out more about the Eat Real Chicago campaign. 10:00-11:30am 233 N. Michigan Ave. 13th Floor Conference Room RSVP Required! Please RSVP to FoodDayChicago@gmail.com

June 12

Chicago - Meet Wenonah Hauter Executive Director Food And Water Watch -7pm  The Book Cellar 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave (Near the Western- Brown Line stop) Come to the Book Cellar in Chicago to meet Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter as she reads from her new book, “Foodopoly” and discusses current campaigns in Illinois!

June 15

Chicago - Mash Tun Festival - The festival is a celebration of the release of Mash Tun: A Craft Beer Journal issue #3. The Mash Tun is a publication put out by your buddies at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar and The Public Media Institute, a non profit arts and culture organization based in Bridgeport.

FD!! Champaign, IL -  Prairie Fruit Farms  City Pub in the Country 4pm Bar Pastoral is a new cheese and wine bistro adjacent to the original Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread, and Wine Shop in Chicago. Chef Chrissy will be showcasing her love of cheese, charcuterie, pickles, and other local ingredients. $107

June 21

Chicago – CigarBQue –  6:30 – 9:30 pm Beyond Design 4515 North Ravenswood Avenue Join chefs, Rick Gresh, Cleetus Friedman and Giuseppe Tentori for an intimate evening of fine cigars, food prepared by some of the country’s best chefs, beer, wine and cocktails by master mixologists. This is an outdoor smoking event; there is no designated non-smoking area. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Cigar Family Charity Foundation$150 per person

June 26

Chicago - Logan Square Night Market kicks off today – Palmer and Kedzie in Palmer Park 5pm – 9pm weekly through September 4th.

June 27

Chicago - Argyle Night Market kicks off today – Argyle and Broadway 5pm – 9pm weekly through September 5th

June 29

Champaign, Il – -  Prairie Fruit Farms Summer Vegetarian 4pm Thad Morrow, chef/owner of Bacaro, Champaign is back for another season. He will be making the trek from Bacaro, in downtown Champaign, across town and out into the country! His SUV will be packed with lots of early summer vegetables. $107

Chicago – 2013 Hunger Walk  7am Care for Real at Soldier Field as we fight hunger by participating in the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s (GCFD) 28th Annual Hunger Walk. The walk steps off at 8:30 on the 29th and is a 5K (3.1 Mile) from Soldier Field to 31st street and back. The event is important to Care for Real as the funds are a vital part of our efforts to provide food to the thousands who turn to us in a time of need.

July 13

Champaign -  Prairie Fruit Farms - – Big Grove Tavern “Local Comfort Farm” SOLD OUT

July 18

Chicago – The Locavore’s Real Taste of Chicago - The Green City Market BBQ Tickets on sale now!

Some sites to check out for further detail on sustainable food/urban ag are the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (get their policy updates here) out of Springfield and the Advocates for Urban Agriculture who is having their spring gath  WeFarmAmerica has tons of weekly events and The Peterson Garden Project  has lots of information for the urban gardener.

July 27

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms - “Greek Feast” SOLD OUT

August 10

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms - Jared Van Camp “Downstate Reunion” SOLD OUT

August 14

Chicago - Taste of the Nation – Returning for the third time to the historic Grand Ballroom and east lakeside plaza on Chicago’s Navy Pier! Join event chair R.J. Melman (Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises) and nearly 100 of Chicago’s most innovative and renowned chefs and mixologists as we gather together to end childhood hunger in Illinois and America.

August 24

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms – “Fiesta Mexicana” SOLD OUT

 

 


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A Second Helping at the Green City Market

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Posted: May 29, 2013 at 6:30 am

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My first visit of the season to one of my favorite farmer’s market was a chilly ‘Chicago gray’ kind of day.

This past Saturday we visited the Green City Market with the kids and some friends. As soon as we got close to the market I could smell some of the delicious fresh food being cooked. It was lunchtime and I was starving. Now I just had to pick something to nosh on.

I saw the River Valley Market Grill booth had a line-up about a dozen people deep. I figured those people all knew something that I didn’t so I decided to follow the line. With deliciousness like grilled mushroom burgers, fresh asparagus and vegan gluten-free tamales, I was sold.

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I got an order of tamales and an an order of fresh grilled asparagus. I inhaled the asparagus. It was so fresh, right off the grill and topped with a sauce of onions and mushrooms, it was heaven. The tamales were insanely delicious as well.

As we were leaving the market I went back for more. As I was in line they yelled out that their last order of tamales was up for grabs. I was like a fourth grader waving my hand in the air and yelling ‘MINE!’ I happily stuffed my face with another order of tamales.

gluten-free tamales and grilled asparagus

gluten-free tamales and grilled asparagus

Some other things I picked up:

Tomato mountain salsa. After sampling half a dozen varieties, I couldn’t pick just one, so I picked three; garden tomato, habanero and roasted tomatillo.

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I also picked up a few portobello mushrooms, which that evening I marinated in red wine, balsamic vinegar and steak spice and turned into juicy portobello burgers, and topped with grilled onions, grilled avocado and roasted red peppers while I snacked on Tomato Mountain roasted tomatillo salsa and organic corn chips.

grilled portobello bugers

grilled portobello burgers on a gluten-free bun

I’m looking for your recommendations, what did you munch on at the farmer’s market this weekend?

For plant-based and gluten-free recipes inspired by farm-fresh food, check out my site Barefoot Essence and sign up for weekly updates.

 

 


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We’ve Always Been Fans of Our Newest Sponsor

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Posted: May 28, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Welcome Fresh Picks

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The Local Beet and Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks started not too far apart in time.  MIT grads Irv Cernauskas and Shelly Herman wanted to have local and organic food for themselves and their kids.  In 2006, they found this goal to be harder than they wanted.  They knew there had to be a better way to get local food on a regular basis.  Then, they realized that they could identify good farmers, aggregate the product, and deliver directly to customers.  From just them, one van and a handful of farmers, Fresh Picks has grown to twenty employees, four vans used six days per week, and over 100 farmers as partners.  Each week, users can go on to their web site  and find a full array of eat local foods.

Irv and Shelly make it possible to fully live the locavore life.  First, they carry much more than you can find at a farmer’s market. They have all kinds of meats, dairy, and prepared foods, including salsas, grains, and way more. Second, they operate year-round; just when you think there cannot possibly be any local food available, Fresh Picks has found it, packed it, and will deliver it to your door.  They’ve been an outstanding resource to our community for nearly ten years.

Irv and Shelly’s impact on the community is not limited to deliveries.  They are both very involved in various good food organizations around the Chicago area.  I personally have worked with Irv on several Good Food Festivals.  We’ve chaired the committee responsible for the Farm to Fork Financing Fair, and Irv has participated in many panels over the years.  Irv and Shelly both have been involved with the Land Connection and Seventh Generations Ahead.

The Local Beet is very pleased to have Fresh Picks sponsor our site.


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Weekly Harvest’s Late from the Holiday

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Posted: May 28, 2013 at 4:35 pm

This Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links

 

 

The enterprise we most want to see realized.

We’ll miss Grub Street Chicago.  They have been a long time friend of the Beet, helping spread word of our site since we launched.  Mike G, who has edited the site for the last year or so, has been especially good at doing this.  Besides our vested interest, Gebert also took the site in the direction of many of our favorite topics and people; for instance this recent piece on Iliana Regan of Elizabeth.  His take on the end can be found here.

Good adventures in urban gardening, with a nice shout-out to us.

Another person looking to define the taste of the region.

Not exactly an obscure reference, but something worth reading nonetheless.

And more important reading from Big Media.

 




Edible Chicago Magazine 5th Anniversary Issue Is Out, Look For It!

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Posted: May 24, 2013 at 11:35 am

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Our friends at Edible Chicago magazine have let us know that their 5 Year Anniversary issue is out on the streets this Memorial Day weekend. That is a picture of Seedling Farms strawberry ice cream on the cover, a hint of things to come at the farmers markets this summer. Stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter for updates on their distribution locations. Website will be updated within the week.




Farmer’s Markets are What’s In Season Now

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Posted: May 24, 2013 at 9:27 am

 

  • VISIT FARMER’S MARKETS

The most up to date information on markets, farm events and other eat local happenings occurs in our weekly Local Calendar.

We love when it is easy to get local food, and as May rolls into June, it’s getting a lot easier to get local food. Farmer’s Markets are in season now.

It’s easy to focus on a few markets, like Green City because they so strongly meet our eat local needs. Yet, there are 100′s of markets across the Chicago area, into Indiana, up into Wisconsin and all across Illinois. Find new farmers, unique products, and more ways to expand your locavore life.  The Local Beet has the biggest, most comprehensive list of area, and we define area broadly, farmers markets around.  In addition, the list if searchable and sortable.  See what’s out there.

  • KNOW WHAT’S IN SEASON

Before heading out to one of those many markets, take the time to know what is in season.  Set your expectations.  Study recipes.  Know what to find.  And know what to find here.  First of all, you have to know what is in season for our little corner of the earth, not what’s in season in California or even what’s in season in Springfield, Illinois.  Second, you have to know what’s in season now, this year.  We keep up with what’s actually in the markets, now what could be in the markets.  We update our What’s in Season Guide as needed to ensure you know.

  • MAKE THE MOST OUT YOUR MARKET EXPERIENCE

Knowing what’s in season is just one of the many tips we provide to help you shop the markets.

  • SHARE!

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oak park donuts - may 18




Morels for the Holiday

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Posted: May 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm

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It’s a balmy 45 and I considered covering my precious tomatoes this evening. I decided against it, convinced that it’s Memorial Day weekend and they will be OK. I’m pretty sure that last year couldn’t have been a more different setting. I feel like everything came early last year and I wasn’t prepared for it. At a recent Chicago Cooperative meeting the ice breaker question was what is your favorite spring vegetable? Without blinking an eye my answer was morel mushrooms… Well, River Valley Ranch had photos of their morels up last week at the market, so if you are able to find them, I recommend this morel mushroom ravioli courtesy of the Parsley Thief as a long weekend project for the family or friends because it’s amazing, albeit a bit time consuming but completely worth every minute of work put in. It’s buttery and creamy and textured and melts in your mouth. Homemade pasta has more flavor and is more fun to eat because there’s more to the experience. The flavors that come out are more surprising and exciting than dried pasta and this recipe with the fresh morels drives it home.

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Cut and wash 8-10 ounces of morel mushrooms in water. Beware, ants may fly out of them… totally normal, don’t freak. Drain when you’re sure they’re dirt and bug free. Heat some butter in a skillet and add 2 or 3 large shallots that are minced (if you’er lucky, River Valley Ranch will have some grown from their mushroom compost). Cook until translucent. This is one of those times where you really use real butter… like super awesome high quality butter and don’t skimp ladies and gents, this ravioli is serious (Nordic Creamery I’m looking at you). Add the mushrooms and let them sweat out all the water they absorbed for 10 or 12 minutes. Pour 1/4 cup dry white wine into the pan and let the mushrooms absorb it. Add 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon (I used dry from the Spice House and wasn’t disappointed). Remove from heat and let cool.

Drain 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese for 15 minutes. Since you’re already taking the effort to make the pasta from scratch, might I suggest also making the ricotta (seriously, Smitten Kitchen where would I be without you)? Many local farmers have both milk and cream for sale. I have used Kilgus Farmstead but there are many options. Chop the mushroom mixture and mix it into the ricotta along with an egg (farm fresh or bust), a pinch of nutmeg and a cup of grated Parm. Make the fresh pasta courtesy of Mark Bittman and roll it out into sheets. I used a rolling pin (i.e. empty water bottle/wine bottle) to roll my dough out. You don’t have to be fancy about it! Lay out 2 sheets of pasta and take the advice to use cornmeal dusting because it will stick. Spacing an inch apart, mound some heaps of mushroom goo onto one of the sheets of pasta. When you have a reasonable amount, carefully lay the second layer on top. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges of the pasta so they’ll stick together.

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Cut the ravioli with a knife, or a ravioli press, or a cookie cutter… whatever works and lay on a pan covering with a towel until the process is complete. You should get about 24 ravioli out of it. Boil a pot of salted water and carefully drop them in one at a time. Cook for 2-3 minutes until they’re floating on the top. Drain and serve with some melted butter, parm, or mushroom oil and just let the emotion take control. Thank you Parsley Thief for a great recipe and River Valley ranch for delightful morels! Happy mushrooms!




Stumbling Upon a Relic, Connecting with the Past

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Posted: May 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Many of the things that make gardening and farming worthwhile are not apparent until you stumble upon them. Obvious enjoyment in the act of working the soil comes from the sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency they provide.  The cheap produce grown with your own hands and the knowledge of what went into creating the produce are another plus.

After a while, while musing about your garden and what you are planting, you realize that you are gleaning knowledge that should make you eligible for college credit. You gain experience in soil science, biology, botany, meteorology, geology, and of course, agriculture. Gardening and farming can also give you a sense of connecting to history. A couple of ways this may happen is through the heirloom vegetables you are growing or the old fashioned methods you use to grow your crops. Another way you can connect to history while gardening or farming, which crosses over to a different realm outside of these two pursuits, happens when you find artifacts in your soil.

I started gardening as a kid in Franklin Park next to a house that was built in 1915. Over the years as I turned the soil over I dug up parts of old, obviously antique bottles, chunks of coal, and for some reason marbles, tons of marbles! These finds always made me think of the people who lived in my house in previous decades. Who were the kids who played in the yard with all of these marbles? Where are they now? How old are these marbles? From the coal, it was clear to me that the house must have been heated by coal at one time. This made me think, did they make the kids who played with the marbles shovel the coal? I once found some kind a campaign coin that advertised “Vote twice for Alderman Anton Cermak President and Member, Board of County Commissioners.” Another prize from that old garden was an arrowhead made by some long ago Native American.

Cermak

Alderman Cermak campaign coin

(Click on pictures for better view)

These days we are gardening, and raising livestock, out at our farm in Knox County and the relic discoveries have intensified. Many relics pulled from the soil at the farm are just discarded junk, old electrical fixtures, broken jars, and bricks. Others have novelty value such as a nice collection of 1960’s era soda pop bottles churned out of the soil by the action of our hogs. They were possibly tossed aside by some farm kids of the time who were later chewed out for losing what were then returnable bottles. Two very intriguing relics that I also have to give my hogs credit for finding are more Native American relics. These were lying around for some time after being dug up but their importance was not apparent until further inspection revealed that they were ancient tools of some kind.

Porcine Archaeologists

Porcine archaeologists on staff at Smiling Frog Farm

Soon after it became clear that these were in fact relics, my wife looked up a website that listed relics found in Illinois. From this we deduced that the one old tool is a celt. A celt is an axe like tool which can also be used like a hoe. It is something like an adze. The other tool was not as easily identifiable. It looked like to us it was some kind of a hammer or, as the website described, a war club.  The age that the website put on these objects was incredible! They were said to have been used from between 2000 to 3000 years ago! I had been a little skeptical of this assessment as the website was selling relics and could be overstating the age of any relic posted to boost the price.

Metate and Celt

Metate and unfinished Celt

 

As I said gardening and farming can connect one to history in many ways. The arrowhead, celt, and the other object that have been uncovered in various gardens over the years made me wonder about the Native Americans who made them. How were the tools used? Why were they discarded? Where could I find this information? As luck would have it Kelvin Sampson of the Dickson Mounds State Historic Site spoke at the KnoxCountyHistoricalMuseum in Knoxville, Illinois on Sunday. He gave a great information filled presentation assessing any relics brought in by the general public. I, of course, brought in the arrowhead, celt, and the other object.

According to Mr. Sampson, the first object was indeed a celt, but one that was not finished. It did not have the polished surface that a finished celt had. Other people did bring in finished celts and he used them as examples. The second object, the one we were not so sure of, was next. He had looked at objects that other people had brought in and determined that, although they looked like man-made objects, they were natural pieces of stone shaped by water. The assumption suddenly came over me that our stone may be just that, a stone. But when Kelvin looked at it he held it to the audience and showed two dimples, one on each side. This told him that although it looked natural it was man made. He determined the relic to be a metate, or mealing stone. It was probably used to smash open acorns or nuts. These two relics were appraised by Mr. Sampson as being around 3000 years old confirming the website information.

I found the arrowhead when I was about 11 or so. Since that time I have always wanted more information on it. After reading up on the Native American history of the Chicago Area, I always assumed that a Pottawatomie had been hunting in Franklin Park back before the white man settled there and discarded the arrowhead.  I also assume that this was sometime before there was any trade for guns and other tools that the white people had to offer, probably before the 1600’s. But the first thing that I learned from Kelvin Sampson about the arrowhead was that it was not an arrowhead. An arrowhead is about the size of a dime and this object was about two inches long.

 

Dongola Scraper

Dongola scraper, spear point, or knife

What I have is a knife, spear point or a scraper. Also, it was made of what is known as “Dongola chert.” This chert comes from far Southern Illinois or Southern Indiana and was traded up north following the extensive trade routes of the time. The biggest thing that I learned though, was that after the Native Americans began to grow corn the need for the types of tools, like the one I thought was an arrowhead, were no longer necessary. So the object was much older than I had ever imagined. It may be between 3000 and 8000 years old!

I was 11 or so when I found the scraper. The other kids that I showed it off to would almost always erupt “That’s not worth anything!” of course referring to money. But the value this object had was the connection that it gave me to a person that lived centuries ago in the same spot where I grew up. Long before there was a Franklin Park, a person dropped a scraper. It became buried and possibly moved by later farmers, house builders or home owners trying to grow a lawn, only to be found by a curious gardener. Long before there was a KnoxCounty, somebody left their tools behind. The tools have marks on them that probably came from being hit by plows or disks so they probably were moved around many times as well, only to be found by curious hogs. Yes, some of the things that make gardening and farming worthwhile are not apparent until you stumble upon them!




Remember the Farm Bill… Its Back!

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Posted: May 22, 2013 at 12:38 pm

ISAlogo-4c-TAG2When it comes to food and farm policy the last week has been like a full on marathon, there have been a number of important developments both here in Illinois at the General Assembly and on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.—the biggest being action around the 2013 Farm Bill!

 As you may recall the Farm Bill, a large omnibus package of policies, programs and funding streams that structures our nation’s food and farm system, is typically written debated and passed approximately every 5 years. Last year after the U.S. Senate passed a new Farm Bill, due to election year politics the House refused to bring a Farm Bill to the floor for full debate, so instead we have been operating under a bad extension to the 2008 Farm Bill that left stranded a number of important local food and sustainable agriculture programs. Need a refresher on the Farm Bill process click here.

Last week both the U.S. Senate Agriculture and House Agriculture Committees debated and passed competing Farm Bills. Both bills end direct payments and renew funding for important stranded programs like the Farmers Market Promotion Program (now the Local Food and Direct Market Promotion Program), the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development program; but the House Agriculture Committee’s bill also contains very deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and is markedly less reform minded than the Senate Committee’s bill. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition had this to say about the House Agriculture Committee’s bill, “Despite its name – The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act – the bill includes no major reforms beyond the preordained elimination of direct payments.  It reinvests most of the savings from direct payments back into new commodity and crop insurance subsidies.  It increases the per farm commodity subsidy limitation by 92 percent and leaves in place current loopholes that allow individual farms to collect unlimited payments.  It places no caps whatsoever on farm insurance subsidies.”

In comparison the Senate Bill is over all much better and contains a number of important historic common sense reforms that will save taxpayers money, protect the environment and support local food and beginning farmers. However, among other important provisions, important limits to crop insurance subsidies that were included in the 2012 Senate bill were not part of the package—which brings us to the full floor of the Senate.

This week – starting today – the Senate will debate a new 2013 Farm Bill, and Senator Bob Casey, Senator Jon Tester and Senator Dick Durbin have introduced 3 important amendments that need to be included in the final 2013 Farm Bill.

  • [Senators Casey (D-PA) and Harkin (D-IA)] An amendment that authorizes a microloan program tailored for the needs of beginning and military veteran farmers and ranchers.  New farmers need access to land, credit, and capital to get their hands in the dirt, and this amendment will help them better access their #1 biggest need – financial capital to launch and sustain their farm businesses.

  • [Senator Tester (D-MT)] An amendment that will help keep a wide array of plant seeds in the public domain by ensuring that researchers can develop publicly held seeds for farmers – think the honeycrisp apple or non-GMO corn – instead of corporate-controlled privately held varieties that take control away from farmers. Classical seed breeding – and holding seed varieties in the public trust – is as old as agriculture itself, and is the source of the most-productive, best adapted seeds in the world.  Corporate giants like Monsanto are trying to privatize as many seeds as possible – so it’s critical that researchers at our public universities can access public research dollars they need to continue developing and improving the best possible seeds for farmers – and for home gardeners!

  • [Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Coburn (R-OK)] An amendment that takes a bold first step towards reforming ballooning crop insurance subsidies for wealthy mega-farms. It’s long past time to rein in these subsidies – this common-sense amendment will save taxpayers over $1.3 billion dollars and ensure maximum support goes only to those who need it, not a handful of mega-farms.

Among the hundreds of amendments (and those still yet to be introduced) the Senate will debate in the coming days, these stand out. They have the potential to make a real difference on the ground in the lives of farmers and communities, and represent a step in the right direction for getting our food and farm system back on track.

Help Make These a Reality – We need YOU to call today!

Here’s the contact info for your two Senators:

Senator Dick Durbin:202-224-2152

Senator Mark Kirk:202-224-2854

Calling is easy – just dial the numbers above and leave a message. Obviously you don’t need to call Senator Durbin about his amendment, unless you want to say thank you, but make sure you call Senator Kirk. When you call leave a message like this one below with the person who answers the phone:

“Hello, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent and a voter (and tell ‘em if you’re a farmer!). I would like to leave a message for Senator Durbin’s [or] Senator Kirk’s agriculture staffer. Can you take a message for me, please? The message is: I urge the Senator to support Senator Casey’s microloan amendment and Senator Tester’s Seeds and Breeds amendment (and Senator Durbin’s crop insurance amendment) during floor debate this week. These amendments will help family farmers, beginning farmers and sustainable agriculture. Thank you.”

We won’t get a better farm bill – and, with it, a better future for our nation’s food, farmers, air, soil, and water – without your help! Make that quick call right now – and help us spread the word!

 

State Policy Update – Composting Reform Moves Forward

While, much of our attention here at Illinois Stewardship Alliance has shifted from state policy issues to D.C. as the Farm Bill debate has heated-up and progressed, action at the State Capitol has not abated. Last week on Tuesday May 14th by a vote of 54-1 the Illinois Senate Passed HB 2335 the Urban Composting Reform bill that will make it easier for community gardens, schools, and urban agriculture projects to accept off-site materials like landscape waste and food scraps for composting on site. HB 2335 has passed both chambers and now head to Governor Quinn’s desk where we expect he will sign it into law making Illinois a national leader when it comes to urban composting. A similar bill, HB 3319, that will make it easier for rural farms to compost on-site by expanding the list of allowable materials for an IEPA on-farm composting permit exemption is scheduled to be voted on by the full Senate this we where it is expected to pass as well.

Wes King

Interim Executive Director

Illinois Stewardship Alliance

“Local Food Matters”

 

Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA) is a state-wide membership based grassroots non-profit that supports local food systems and sustainable agriculture through education and advocacy. ISA is currently in the middle of our 2nd Annual Membership Drive, sign-up to become a member today and get entered to win dinner for two to one of Illinois’ premier farm-to-table dinners or Patagonia luggage.

 

 




Roy’s Calais Flint Corn – Planting History in the Garden

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Posted: May 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

Dahinda, IL: It seems like everybody out here in Western Illinois who has a garden grows sweet corn. Of course, there is much city grown sweet corn, but since gardens in the country are larger than their city counterparts and there is more room to grow corn, it is a more common crop in country gardens. Also, regular field corn (or dent corn) is so common out here that it is not given much thought. It is just part of the landscape. But besides sweet corn and field corn there are other kinds of corn. Popcorn comes to mind but what about pod corn or waxy corn? Have you heard of flour corn or shoepeg corn or amylomaize, developed for its starch content?

High Amylose                                      Shoepeg

Electron micrographs of native high amylose starch, ×3000                                   Shoepeg Corn

The Journal of Nutrition                                                                                               General Mills

Most of the corn grown in the United States is dent corn, 85% of which is genetically modified. There are old heirloom varieties and varieties still grown in remote valleys of countries like Mexico and Bolivia that may hold the key in their genes that will revive the world corn crop in the event of a calamity, such as disease or pest that the current corn varieties have no defense against.  These varieties are usually very hardy and can be, through saving the seeds of the best specimens, be acclimated to most growing areas.  I myself have always wanted to grow an heirloom corn variety that I can grind myself for cornbread such as a flint corn. After some research I have found one heirloom variety of corn that do all of the above so this year I will try,  Roy’s Calais Flint Corn.

According to the website of Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste:

Roy’s Calais flint corn is an open-pollinated flint corn originally cultivated by the western Abenaki (Sokoki) people in     Vermont, and subsequently grown and maintained by pioneer farmers, including Roy and Ruth Fair of North Calais, VT. In 1996 Tom Stearns obtained the seed from local farmers like Mike and Doug Guy, who had received the corn and seed-saving information from Roy Fair.

ark-prod-royscalais_flint_corn-02                                             Roy

Roy’s Calais Flint Corn

Slow Food USA, Ark of Taste

Roy’s Calais Flint Corn is also a variety that has come to the rescue once during a past calamity. According to legend, it was one of the few varieties of corn planted in Vermont in 1816 that produced a reliable crop during what was known as the “Year without a Summer”. There were food shortages that year due to the eruption of Mount Tambora in what is today Indonesia. This eruption sent a huge cloud of ash into the atmosphere and crops worldwide were lost that year. Having come from a colder region where most corn varieties do not do well, Roy’s Calais Flint Corn has the genetics for a shorter and colder growing season.  Since I am busy in the spring I am not able to get all of my crops planted in time for the length of their growing season. With its shorter growing season (90-95 days) Roy’s Calais Flint Corn is a variety that I can put off planting until later. It is also said that it makes excellent cornbread and polenta. I will try this variety this year and if it turns out to be one that I like I will save the seeds for the future.

Polenta

Polenta with Wilted Escarole and Olive Oil Fried Eggs

Food52.com

Brigitte Derel of the High Mowing Organic Seed Company wrote a terrific narrative about  Roy’s Calais Flint Corn http://www.highmowingseeds.com/blog/a-narrative-on-roys-calais-flint-corn-by-brigitte-derel/ This is where I first became interested in this variety and where I first became informed about its interesting history.

Roy’s Calais Flint Corn is available from:

High Mowing Organic Seeds http://www.highmowingseeds.com/organic-seeds-roys-calais-flint-corn.html

Fedco Seeds http://www.fedcoseeds.com/seeds/search.php?item=682&




Local Calendar 5/22/13 Intl BioDiversity Day, Moving Into Summer

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Posted: May 22, 2013 at 9:14 am

VirantdemoCLUFSHonest Puree CSA

The Green City Wednesday market is a great time to shop and talk to the farmers in a relaxed environment rather than fight the crowds of  the Saturday market. Last Wednesday , I was fortunate to make Chef Paul Virant’s (Perennial Virant, Vie) cooking demonstration where he showed how darn easy it is to make ramp mayonnaise using a blender with tempura fried asparagus. The best thing about the Green City Market chef demos is that you can taste the food and interact with the chef and ask as many questions on how to cook things as you want.  Today Chef Heather Terhune of Sable Kitchen and Bar is up for it at 10:30am. Another new item at the GCM is baby food, Honest Purees, made by chef Dana Cox Lipe. She ,also, has organic, salads at her booth that you can eat as well. The GCM BBQ tickets are on sale already, too.

As we move closer to summer, more local farmstands are opening in the city, including the Chicago Lights Urban Farm that is a collaborative project with Growing Power at 444 W. Chicago Ave. Wondering what is in season? Chief Beet Rob Gardner elaborates on it and gives his advice on how to shop at a farmers market. There are some great farmer newsletters to subscribe to that are full of tons of tidbits and detail on what is season, one is Terra Brockman’s letter of Brockman Family Farms that have a stall at the Evanston Farmers Market and the other is the 61st Farmers Market letter written by Connie Spreen but the only way you will get it is to subscribeOur full list of area markets can be found here (and remember this list will only get bigger) Food Day Chicago (Oct. 24) is celebrating the onion and the many benefits of the allium family for the month of May on their facebook page (Check it out for some health tidbits, recipes, onion trivia and “like” it while you are there.

Now on to the busy week ahead including International Biodiversity Day at the Field Museum today a kombucha workshop put on by WeFarm tonight, the end of the Chicago Craft Beer fest with a party in the West Loop and of course the many markets that have opened!

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 Watch this fantastic video about GMOs, sourcing local and see what you are missing if you don’t shop at the GG.

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

Sharpening By Dave  - Green City Market and other locations throughout Chicagoland. If you want to eat local, you need to have sharp knives to prepare the produce!!  Let Dave know that you read about him in the Local Beet and you will get one dollar off each knife sharpened. 

THIS  WEEK’S CALENDAR AND BEYOND  IN LOCAL FOOD:

Food The Nature of Eating Exhibit continues at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Skokie- Seedling Sales The Talkng Farms’s Howard Street Farm - 10am – 2pm 3701 Howard St. (April 20th – June 1st)  Cool Weather seedlings: spinach, swiss chard, peas, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, collards, seed potatoes Warm Weather seedlings: (beginning May 11th)tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, melon, basil, and cilantro Associate Beet Editor Wendy Aeschlimann elaborates on it.

May 22

Chicago Craft Beer Week continues through May 26

Chicago - International Biodiversity Day at The Field Museum

Chicago - Counter Culture: Fermented Dranks Playshop - Eco-Collective 2042 W. 21st Join Seneca and Katlin of WeFarm America and learn how to brew your own probiotic drinks

Chicago - Wednesdays at Wood Street - Growing Home Wood Street Farm Stand 11am – 4pm 5814 S. Wood St.

Chicago - Green City Market Lincoln Park Location 7am – 1pm Chef demonstration 10:30am – 11:30am Heather Terhune, Sable Restaurant and Bar

Chicago – Wine Wednesdays at Province – Seasonal farm to table 5 course tasting menu with pairings $49 159 North Jefferson A Gold level LEED certified restaurant with 3 stars from the Green Restaurant Association.

May 23

Chicago - Daley Center Farmers Market - Market will run May 16th through October 31. There are now microgreens and wheat grass sold by Alex Poltorak of The Urban Canopy and Seasons Soda is there as well!

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 – Meet The Market Green City Market Junior Board - BellyQ  - 6-8pm Green City Market Junior Board is kicking off this season’s Meet The Market series at bellyQ! Gather your friends for passed apps and featured cocktails from Koval Distillery and Green Acres Farm If you’re new to their Meet the Market events, here’s all you need to know: 1) It’s totally free to get in. No cover charge. No admission.  2) A portion of the proceeds from every Koval specialty cocktail sold funds Green City Market’s LINK matching fund which helps extend the food dollars of people on assistance when shopping Green City Market.

Hyde Park - C & D Family Farm delivers 7-11am Harold Washington Park

Lincoln Square – C & D Family Farm delivers 4-7pm Lincoln & Leland

May 25

FD!! Champaign, Il - Prairie Fruit Farms  – Sunday Dinner Club “For their Love of Chicken“ The Sunday Dinner Club Crew is back, and they will be frying up lots of local fried chicken at the farm!  Josh and Christine are joining us early this season, because they are getting ready to open a new restaurant in Chicago, come get a sneak peak of foods from their new venture, “Honey Butter Fried Chicken” $70

New!! Chicago – Join The March Against Monsanto – 1pm Federal Plaza Rallies happening worldwide

CBW!! Chicago - West Loop Craft Beer Fest - 12pm – 5pm  West Loop (Clinton Street between Lake and Washington Street) The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, the Chicago French Market, and the Fulton River District Association have come together to host their inaugural celebration to close out Chicago Craft Beer Week 2013. The city’s largest craft beer outdoor block party will commence with a VIP event beginning at 12pm, and General Admission running from 1pm to 5pm.The General Admission experience will include over 25 craft beers and hours of entertainment and food for purchase.

Chicago 61st Farmers Market -  9am – 2pm During the outdoor season, which lasts through the end of October, the Market is located on 61st Street between Dorchester and Blackstone Avenues. The 61st Street Farmers Market accepts LINK and Senior Farmers Market Coupons. They also match LINK purchases up to $25 per cardholder, per market day, as long as funding lasts. This means that LINK cardholders can double the value of their LINK purchases each week at the Market. This year, the Market will also be accepting DEBIT AND CREDIT, for those of you who are always short on cash!

Chicago Green City Market Lincoln Park 7am – 1pm 10:30am Chef demonstration Greg Ellis Two Sparrows

Chicago - Iron Street Farm Stand - 9am – 3pm 3333 S. Iron St.

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.

Evanston - Downtown Evanston Farmers Market - This market will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Saturday from May 4 through November 2. Location: Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. (behind Hilton Garden Inn, east of East Railroad Ave.) In 2013, the market will celebrate its 38th year.

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

Oak Park - Oak Park Farmers Market - The market will run every Saturday through 10/26/13 7am – 1pm Pilgrim Church, right next door to where the market is held, offers fresh warm donuts, juice and coffee, with live bluegrass music nearby. The Oak Park Farmers’ Market is located at 460 Lake St., just one block west of Ridgeland Avenue.

Woodstock - Woodstock Farmers Market Outdoors 9am -12pm

May 26

Chicago - Logan Square Outdoor Market

May 27

Chicago – Happy Memorial Day!

May 28

Chicago - The Stew Supper Club presents Super Dragon Slayer Spicy Supper  -7-10pm Sauce and Bread Kitchen 6338 N Clark St “Imagine if you will, a meal built for May where dragons will not triumph.  Think middle evil banquet with spicy goodness tempered only with what we describe as a steely samurai’s touch.  Eat much May with us then……”- The Stew

SAVE THE DATE

June 1

Champaign, Il -  Prairie Fruit Farms - Virant’s Can Can - 4pm What better way to celebrate the beginning of summer than with some fantastic preserves and incredible food! All of this will be brought to you by Paul Virant! A seasoned veteran in the wide world of preserving, pickling, and canning, Paul follows his Perennial Virant philosophy to a tee – “eat what you can – can what you can’t.” $107

June 8

Chicago - Midnight Sun Farm Tour and Picnic hosted by The Sugar Beet Coop 10am – 2pm Midnight Sun Farm is just an hour away from Oak Park and is excited to host The Sugar Beet Co-op for a farm tour and catered picnic lunch. We will start the day by exploring the 5-acre organic vegetable farm that is also home to chickens, turkeys, pigs and goats. After a guided hayride tour by farmer Nick Choate-Batchelder, we will feast on a delicious farm picnic catered by Crème Crafted Parties & Events.

Chicago/Fairbury - Slagel Family Farm Tour & Dinner Event with The Publican! 2:30pm  The dinner will be prepared and served by Guest Chef Brian Huston of The Publican. Please BYOB, lemonade and water will be provided. Bus transportation from Chicago will be provided, when purchasing your ticket please select if you would like that option. The Bus will pick everyone up at 837 W Fulton Market Chicago, IL 60607 at 12:00 noon on June 8th. Children are welcome as long as they have parent supervision. $125June 13

Chicago –   Eli’s Cheesecake & Wright College Farmer’s Market Grand Opening Fresh fruits and vegetables from Nichol’s Farm and the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences, hand crafts,flowers & more Continental Breakfast Lunch on the grill will be offered each Thursdaybased on what’s in season!

June 9

Chicago - No Kid Hungry No Dessert Left Behind - Little Goat 820 West Randolph 2nd floor Come support Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign . There will be patio seating and full bar along with baked goods from Chicago’s finest pastry talent. A portion of all drink sales will go directly to the charity as well.

June 12

Chicago – Meet Wenonah Hauter Executive Director Food And Water Watch -7pm  The Book Cellar 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave (Near the Western- Brown Line stop) Come to the Book Cellar in Chicago to meet Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter as she reads from her new book, “Foodopoly” and discusses current campaigns in Illinois!

June 15

Chicago - Mash Tun Festival - The festival is a celebration of the release of Mash Tun: A Craft Beer Journal issue #3. The Mash Tun is a publication put out by your buddies at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar and The Public Media Institute, a non profit arts and culture organization based in Bridgeport.

FD!! Champaign, IL -  Prairie Fruit Farms  City Pub in the Country 4pm Bar Pastoral is a new cheese and wine bistro adjacent to the original Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread, and Wine Shop in Chicago. Chef Chrissy will be showcasing her love of cheese, charcuterie, pickles, and other local ingredients. $107

June 26

Chicago - Logan Square Night Market kicks off today – Palmer and Kedzie in Palmer Park 5pm – 9pm weekly through September 4th.

June 27

Chicago - Argyle Night Market kicks off today – Argyle and Broadway 5pm – 9pm weekly through September 5th

June 29

Champaign, Il – -  Prairie Fruit Farms Summer Vegetarian 4pm Thad Morrow, chef/owner of Bacaro, Champaign is back for another season. He will be making the trek from Bacaro, in downtown Champaign, across town and out into the country! His SUV will be packed with lots of early summer vegetables. $107

July 18

Chicago – The Locavore’s Real Taste of Chicago - The Green City Market BBQ Tickets on sale now!

Some sites to check out for further detail on sustainable food/urban ag are the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (get their policy updates here) out of Springfield and the Advocates for Urban Agriculture who is having their spring gath  WeFarmAmerica has tons of weekly events and The Peterson Garden Project  has lots of information for the urban gardener.

 




Meal Planning around your CSA

By
Posted: May 22, 2013 at 6:30 am

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This post is for you if:

  • You like to eat dinner at home most nights of the week
  • If you prefer to make that dinner yourself
  • You order takeout a few nights a week and you feel guilt every time

Spending just 20 minutes thinking about your meals for the week can save you at least five hours in the kitchen a week. Planning your dinners takes a few minutes of thought and a few hours in the kitchen on one day, instead of an hour a night.

You’ll save time, money and sanity, especially if you’re like our family – we work full time out of the home and have side projects when we get home. We have two kids under the age of 5 and 2 fur kids that also need our attention. With a few hours spent planning and cooking on the weekend, dinner during the week can come together in five minutes.

The minimalist plan

I look to my weekly produce delivery for inspiration. A few days in advance, I find out what goodies I’m going to get. Then I create a loose plan to work the organic goodness into healthy meals for the week. Since produce needs to be used up first, I plan everything around produce.

 

Once I know what fruits and veggies will fill the fridge, I take stock of fridge and pantry for items I need to use up or restock. I choose our dinners for the week, then make a grocery list.

 

Prep. This is where the fun begins. When you get home from the farmers market, store, or when your produce arrives, crank some tunes or put on a movie, get to work, and don’t forget to have fun!

 

  1. wash and dry greens and herbs (a salad spinner speeds this along) and wrap in paper towels or kitchen towels
  2. peel veggies like parsnips, beets, or carrots, chop them for raw snacks, or shred them to throw into salads, stir fry’s, sauces or smoothies
  3. freeze bananas (peel, break into chunks, put into a baggie and freeze) for smoothies
  4. Roast veggies – chopped carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, potatoes, root veggies
  5. rice and/or quinoa – cook a big batch for the week (I usually make about 2 cups dry) – use for curries, rice bowls, soup, burritos, salads
  6. soup – make a big batch; carrot, sweet potato, black bean or tomato soup are all easily portable for lunches
  7. dips – bean dip, hummus, red pepper dip, eggplant dip
  8. sauces for pasta – tomato sauce, pesto

I mix and match all my prepped items – pesto on pasta, hummus with veggies, rice for quick stir fry’s. Near the end of the week is normally when I start making some fun combos to use up everything – this past week was marinara sauce with finely chopped and roasted cauliflower and broccoli – the kids didn’t even notice.

Once these cooked foods are in ready to go in my fridge; my kitchen becomes a fast food restaurant. There is no Chinese restaurant in Chicago that can take my order faster than I can assemble dinner.

Do you like to do some food prep for the week ahead? What kind of items do you like to prep?

Like this? Get more tips for minimalist meal planning at Barefoot Essence and be sure to like my Facebook page!




A Thin Start to the Oak Park Farmer’s Market Monday, May 20th, 2013
We Harvest Eat Local Links on Monday I Guess – Weekly Harvest Monday, May 20th, 2013
What’s In Season Now Looks Like Christmas Friday, May 17th, 2013
Gardening for credit at Roosevelt Friday, May 17th, 2013
Is Today Menu Monday? – Spring CSA Week 5 Needs a Salad Spinner Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Pattypan Squash – a great summer squash Thursday, May 16th, 2013
A Lazy Writeup of Chicago Craft Beer Week Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Illinois Stewardship Alliance Aims to Grow Membership Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Recap of the May Chicago Food Swap Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Asparagus Season! Check out 5 uncommon Ways to Prep it Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Local Calendar 5/15/13 Food Patriots Monica Eng at Experimental Station, Daley Plaza Market Opens Tomorrow! Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Hoop House in the wind – a word of caution Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
The 2013 season is getting off to a great start around Knox County in Western Illinois! Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
The Signs (and Animals) of the 61st Farmer’s Market Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Last Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links Monday, May 13th, 2013
Wherein Being Stuck At Home Isn’t So Bad. Monday, May 13th, 2013
Woodstock Farmers Market Friday, May 10th, 2013
2013 Local Beet Big List of Farmer’s Markets Thursday, May 9th, 2013
With Spring CSA Week 4, It’s Always Menu Monday Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Who doesn’t love a good before and after picture? Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
The Local Calendar 5/8/13 Asparagus Appears, More To Come/61st St. Mkt Opens This Weekend Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
The Best of All Worlds as Green City Market Moves Outdoors and Makes People Happy Monday, May 6th, 2013
The Chef at the Market Still Loves Asparagus Monday, May 6th, 2013
More new breweries added Saturday, May 4th, 2013
What’s In Season Now Tastes Like Spring Friday, May 3rd, 2013
Our Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
Local Calendar 5/1/13 Green City Outdoor Downtown Evanston Markets Open Saturday Wednesday, May 1st, 2013