Chicago Market – A Community Co-op

Posted: August 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Local Beet2

I am a proud owner of Chicago Market!

Chicago Market is a start-up grocery cooperative on the north side of Chicago that is committed to changing the food system by offering sustainably and ethically produced goods of all kinds. Chicago Market will help both owners and producers by re-establishing the connections between them and offering fair prices for the whole community.

I am an owner because I think it will make life as a locavore easier and it will help support the farmers and artisans that work so hard to give us our food. Being an owner of Chicago Market means that I am a partial owner of the grocery store which means that I have a vote in what happens in the store. This is exactly what I have been looking for – a way to own my food choices. I have been lucky enough to be a part of it since Greg Berlowitz founded it last March.

Chicago Market now finds itself in the homestretch of its first campaign to get 1000 members in 100 days. This is a very ambitious goal, yes, but it is what the food system in Chicago needs. It is a community that is built around helping everyone and encourages actively thinking about your food choices and habits. As a cooperative, Chicago Market will require transparent and honest business practices and give fair wages to its employees. It will give back to the community by engaging the whole community.

The great thing about Chicago Market is that everyone has their own very personal reason for becoming an owner. Some owners have young kids and want to make sure that they are being fed organic food. Some owners are very active in their communities and want to create programs to help educate others about making educated food decisions. I believe strongly in creating a store that sells ethically raised meat and practices whole animal butchery. Chicago Market allows me to say that and feel like my voice is heard.

I strongly encourage everyone to become an owner with me and take the food system into your hands. Chicago Market’s next information session is on September 6 at Edgewater Library. Come and hear many members of the Steering Committee talk about their stories and ask any questions you may have and consider becoming a part of the next great grocery store in Chicago: Chicago Market!

Weekly Harvest of Places Where they Are Eating Local + Other Links

Posted: August 28, 2014 at 10:30 am

Eat local Milwaukee.

Only a 100 days?

Nothing to do with eat local, but I do love Turkish breakfast.

Bookmark this for future reading.

The joys of CSA subscription.

Eat local cover crops.

Eat local for safety.

Eat local Austin–Remember it’s on MAY-nor road

Eat local Athens (Georgia).


Eat Local Peppers

Posted: August 27, 2014 at 2:11 pm

I Live for Pepper Season

padron peppers

What’s on the Local Family table a lot this time of year? Peppers. By August, we’re into pepper season, and there’s all sorts of ways to enjoy. My pepper recipes tend to be a mix of serendipity and aspiration.


My greatest discovery with peppers, coming last summer, was to forgo peeling. There is no task in the local kitchen that I both love and loath more than peeling peppers, for I love so much flame-roasted peppers, yet so hate the process of making them.  How to skip the loath and just get the love? Believe me, I’ve tried 30 million ways to peel a pepper, and the best of ways still amount to drudgery and mess. Then, somewhere I discovered pepperonata, which is essentially (almost like) making roasted peppers without the peeling. See, by cooking the peppers a bit, with a little liquid, the skin softens enough. You get the delicious cooked flavor without nearly as much work. I’ll also say this, it’s a good way for using thinner pepper that may lose too much flesh in flame roasted. The liquid comes two ways. First, peppers themselves throw off a fair amount of water when cooked, and second, you add a few chunked tomatoes to the pan. Start with a layer of sweated onions, add a mix of peppers, sweet and hot, red and green, finally, the tomatoes. It takes about 20 or so minutes to soften and meld. Smoked paprika gives it a very Spanish flavor. Otherwise, all you need is salt. Finish with herbs.

serbian peppers

Pepperonata may be my most recent pepper discovery, but my most enduring came after a visit to Old Town Serbian in Milwaukee about 12 years ago. We had a lot of good dishes at this dinner of about 10 chowhounds, who ventured from Chicago, but the dish that stood out, which stays in my mind to this day as I work all the time, now, to re-create, roasted hot peppers. Somehow, in the 40 or so years I had lived up until that meal, I had never had the variation of roasted peppers made with hot banana peppers. I have since made this dish often for others, and often (most), I find the same epiphany. There’s something about the combination of flame roasting and capsicum that makes all the hassles of peeling worth it, and unless you grew up somewhere in the former Yugoslavia, you probably weren’t doing it.   Change that now.  You can find all sorts of hot Hungarian, wax, banana, poblano, etc. peppers now.  This time of year, we almost always have a spare dish of this pepper dish. Making it, it’s never easy. I allow myself a good half hour of skinning time and zumba music on the Spotify. And method, I’ve come to believe a knife works best as compared to hands, messy, and water, destructive. Personally, I use the stove’s flame, but I guess you could get by with an oven roaster. That time allowance was for peeling. Make sure you also give yourself enough time to sweat the peppers in a bowl sealed well with plastic. This helps a lot. After scraping off the skin, snipping the tails, and removing the guts, I cut the peppers into decent strips. Don’t forget to season with salt; then a splash of vinegar, sherry if you have it, and a good drench of good olive oil. Chunks of garlic add that Serbian touch but are not necessary.

Easiest way with peppers, fry them whole. Generally, one frys thinner fleshed peppers like shisheto, Melrose, Beaver Dam, or those padron’s pictured above. Yes, like a lot of you, I’ve been influenced by Calvin Trillin’s account of eating padron peppers in Spain. Now, I have never eaten padron peppers in Spain, so I cannot relate to how well my local peppers would stand up to Mr. Trillin’s quest to find something closer to his home that compared to Spain. I do know this. Trillin talks of the odd bomb. That part of the fun of eating padron peppers in the occasional Scoville mine that goes off in your mouth. I guess in Spain that happens about 1 in 10. With my peppers, usually purchased from Farmer Vicki’s Genesis Growers, it’s more like 9 in 10, or the fully palatable one is the exception. Still, once you get past the pain, they taste great. Just a little oil in a medium hot pan until they collapse.   Invite Bud Trillin over.

tunisian grilled veg salad

Peppers play so well with their summer friends. As Tom Colicchio says, what grows together, goes together. There’re all sorts of classic dishes that combine summer vegetables like eggpants, tomatoes, and zucchini with peppers. Last summer, I learned to make the best. The Spanish call it escalivada, and it tends towards chunks; you see each component. The Tunisians call it mechouia and make it best. I’m talking about a “grilled vegetable” salad. As you would flame roast peppers, you also flame roast the other ingredients, the tomatoes, eggplant, etc. Peel them as they are done, discarding the skins, seeds and excess liquid. I like to go fine, but not quite puree when it comes to dealing with the cooked vegetables. Dress with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. What makes it Tunisian, as compared to other versions is a heavy hand in the spice cabinet. Add to your cooked vegetables, ground caraway, cumin and harissa until it tastes both delicious and exotic.

Do take full advantage of what’s in season now.

The Local Calendar 8/27/14 Cochon Heritage BBQ Goose Island Brewery Sat., Put Spence Farm Foundation Harvest Feast On Your Calendar

Posted: August 27, 2014 at 12:00 am


Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, it is that heirloom tomato time of year! Do you know the name of the tomato you are buying? It could be an Early Girl, Black Prince, Cherokee Purple, Gold Medal, Green Zebra, Orange Oxheart, Ponderosa Red, Violet Jasper, Tasmanian Chocolate, and Wapsipinicon Peach or many others. Know your tomato!

There are a lot of events on the horizon, including tomorrow’s AUA’s Movie and Mingle Night, Cochon 555 supports the small farmer and knows how to throw a really fun party, their Heritage BBQ is this Saturday at Goose Island’s brewery and next weekend is the Windy City Wine Festival.

Events on the horizon: AUA Movie & Mingle Night, Cochon Heritage BBQ, Windy City Wine FestivalRadical Supper in a Barn on a FarmSpence Farm Harvest Feast, Talking Farm Hullabaloo, the action-packed Chicago Gourmet weekend

Need info - Organizations in Chicagoland providing resources, classes and advocacy on local food: Illinois Stewardship AllianceAdvocates for Urban AgricultureThe Plant ChicagoAngelics Organics Learning CenterWeFarmAmericaThe Peterson Garden Project and The Talking Farm.

Here is a list of the city of Chicago farmers markets! Sign up to become an owner of Chicago’s newest Co-op here, the Chicago Market.  Now on to the busy weeks ahead:

                                                                   The Week’s Local Calendar and Beyond!!!

August 27

Champaign - Prairie Fruit Farms & Creamery Open House 3-6:30pm

FM – Chicago (Lincoln Park) - Green City Market - 7am – 1pm  For anyone who has the time, visiting the market on a Wednesday is a luxury!!!!!! Chef Abe Conlon, Fat Rice demo today 10:30am !!

August 28

Chicago – Green City Market Junior Board’s Meet The Market at Sportsman Club

Chicago - AUA Movie and Mingle Night - Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab from 7-11pm. They will be screening “Edible City”. Check out the trailer here:

FMEli’s & Wright College’s Farmers Market 7-1pm

FM – Chicago - Daley Plaza Farmers Market (Through Oct. 30) 7am-3pm Katherine Ann ConfectionsNichols FarmsRiver Valley Kitchens and more.

FM – Chicago (Uptown) - Uptown Farmers Market at Weiss Memorial Hospital - 7am – 1pm (Through Oct) 4646 N. Marine Drive

August 30

Chicago - Cochon 555′s Heritage BBQ - 4-8pm Goose Island Brewery 1800 W. Fulton Heritage BBQ presented by Goose Island Beer Co. is an all-inclusive event, a stand-up tasting where five notable chefs will each be given a 200 pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts. A panel of 20 respected judges will vote for the city’s “BBQ King or Queen.” The events raise awareness for responsible family farms, culinary schools, local food producers, craft brewers, great winemakers, and prestigious distillers wanting to celebrate with an amazing food event during National Bourbon Month. The cause is local, the flavors are global, the talent is unbridled.

FM – Chicago (Lincoln Park) -  Green City Market 7am – 1pm Right across from the Hotel Lincoln Chef Gale Gand Spritzburger chef demo 10:30am

FMChicago (West Loop) Green City Market Fulton St. Market is located at 222 N. Halsted, on the southwest corner of Halsted and Fulton.  Parking is available along Halsted and in the lot on the southeast corner of Fulton and Halsted

FM – Chicago(Hyde Park/Woodlawn) - 61st Farmers Market ( Through 12/13, goes indoors as of Nov.) 9am – 2pmChicago - Fork and The Road Bike Tours Architect’s Diet

Chicago - Growing Power Iron Street Farm Stand - 10am – 3pm 3333 South Iron St. Pick up your salad greens and they are selling at select Walgreens on the south and west sides!!

FM – Elgin - Market Elgin - 9am -1pm 800 North State St.

FM - Evanston - Downtown Evanston Market - (Through 11/8) 7:30am – 1pm Located Intersection of University Place and Oak Ave. (behind Hilton Garden Inn, east of East Railroad Ave.)

FM - Glenview - Glenview Farmers Market(Through 10/11) – Wagner Farm 1510 Wagner Road 8am – Noon Expanded with more vendors!

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

FM - Oak Park – Oak Park Farmers Market (through 11/1) - 7am – 1pm 460 Lake St.

FM – Sugar Grove - Sugar Grove Farmers Market - (through 9/27) 8:00 a.m. to noon Village of Sugar Grove Municipal Building Parking Lot, 10 Municipal Drive

August 31

FM – Chicago (Pilsen) - The Pilsen Community Market  9-3pm 18th and Halsted

FM – Logan Square - Logan Square Outdoor  Market  (Through 10/26) 10am–3pm

September 1

Happy Labor Day!

FM – Lyons - Lyons Community Market - 2-7pm Veteran’s Park Ogden Ave & Lawndale Ave. (every Monday through Sept. 29)

September 2

FM – Chicago - MCA Farmers Market - 7am – 3pm Downtown at the MCA (Every Tuesday through Oct. 28)

Chicago -Publican Quality Meats Guest Chef Burger Night - 6-9pm


September 5-6

Chicago(Bridgeport) - Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar Three Floyds Beer Extravaganza 7-10pm

Chicago - The Windy City Wine Festival – Buckingham Fountain  A celebration of wine, beer, food, music and friends. The festival provides an opportunity to sample from more than 300 wines from around the world. Learn about new and exciting varieties from the experts in a relaxed festival setting.Wine seminars and cooking demonstrations are conducted by event sponsors, exhibiting wineries, area chefs and restaurateurs. Some of the area’s best restaurants and caterers will sell their signature dishes. Live music will be performed on the festival stage. This event takes place RAIN or SHINE.

September 6

ChicagoFork and The Road Bike Tours Italy, not Eataly

September 7

Chicago(Logan Square) – Comfort Food Potluck – The Dill Pickle Coop Block Party 11am – 4pm Comfort Station Logan Square 2579 N. Milwaukee

Chicago(Uptown) - 5th Annual Kegs For Kids The Hopleaf Bar Tasting Party – 12pm – 5pm A benefit for Edgewater’s Helen C. Pierce Elementary

September 13-14

ChicagoMod Mex & Mod Mix – Kendall College Four of the world’s finest Mexican chefs unite in Chicago this fall to cook, compete, and create.  Join them for two days of hands-on demonstrations, intimate conversation and the most memorable meal of your life: Chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill/Topolobampo/XOCO, Chef Curtis Duffy, Grace, Chef Fany Gerson La Newyorkina Brooklyn, NY,  Chef Pablo Salas Amaranta Restaurant, Mexico City

September 13

Chicago(Hyde Park) - Common Threads Produce Stand and Open House - 10am – 1pm 4901 South Kenwood All the following workshops and activities are FREE!! 11 am & Noon: Introduction to Permaculture – Matthew Stephens, Permaculture Expert Ongoing: Cooking in the Garden – Stephanie Folkens, Common Threads ChefOngoing Kid’s Activity: Make Your Own Chia Pet

Fairbury - Slagel Farm Dinner with Three Aces, Bedford & Carriage House 2:30pm Bus option available from Chicago.

September 14

*****New!!! Chicago (Pilsen) - Mindful Medicine Worldwide Chef’s Garden Supper Club - The Convent in Pilsen, 1718 S Racine Ave. 6-9pm Sauce and Bread Kitchen will be there with your favorite eats from, and as a bonus, you’ll be supporting a great cause. Mindful Medicine Worldwide is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing integrative health care to people of developing areas.  $75

September 20-21

**** Chicago – Windy City Coop Tour Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts - 10am -2pm each day 29 hosts in and around Chicago invite you to learn from their personal experiences with backyard chickens, ducks — and more! Visit Hosts’ yards and coops, ask questions, and take photos. More info 

September 20

ChicagoFork and the Road Bike Tours Poultry Slam

New!!!! Chicago(Lincoln Park) - Beaver Dam Pepper Celebration The Green City Market - Green City Market and Scrumptious Pantry will celebrate rare heirloom fruits and vegetables with deep roots in the Midwest. At the center of this celebration will be the Beaver Dam Pepper, named after Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.  Menu specials from the prepared food vendors, a scavenger hunt for the kids and a fundraiser for Green City Market’s Edible Garden in Lincoln Park will raise awareness for our regional heirlooms in delicious and fun ways!

Skokie - The Talking Farm Hullabaloo The Howard Street Farm 2-6pm They’ve hosted the Hullabaloo annually since 2011, the year they attained the land that would become the Howard Street Farm. The Hullabaloo is an open house for the community to see their progress in creating the Farm out of vacant land filled with invasive species. Though they’re continuing to build the Farm and its adjacent woodlands, this is the first year they’re celebrating their harvest so the Hullabaloo will be more festive than ever!! Join them as they celebrate the fruits of community innovation and cooperation — as well as the fruits of the Farm — at this family-friendly, leisurely event.

September 21

Chicago – Red Meat Market Bison Butchering Class - Their 3 hour, hands-on class will guide you through the process from the moment the bison carcass is delivered to when it reaches the kitchen! Participates will have the opportunity to breakdown a half carcass. You’ll then start to break it into standard and some special cut! Learn knife skills, butchering techniques and how to breakdown a carcass into tasty steaks, tenderloins, roasts and ground!  You’ll feel the meat between your fingers, experience the smooth cut of the knife, smell the fresh aromas and be part of the renaissance of the local butcher.

Chicago - Dose Bomb -  at Morgan Manufacturing in the West Loop, get a big Dose of the freshest and the best at the Dose Bomb, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 401 N. Morgan. An ever-dynamic marketplace devoted to showcasing the finest designers, chefs, makers, bakers, entrepreneurs and artists, Dose is the place to discover those in Chicago doing it right. There’s no better way to spend a Sunday.

Fairbury(Chicago-there will be transportation)Harvest Feast Spence Farm Foundation -4-7pm  Join them at Harvest Feast to enjoy a beautiful evening of local ingredients turned into extraordinary edibles followed by a charity auction supporting Spence Farm Foundation’s programming like Chef Camp. (The bus will leave at 12:00 pm from Chicago | Evanston area and will arrive there at about 10:00 pm after the Harvest Feast)

Libertyville - Radical Supper in a Barn on a Farm – 31330 N. Milwaukee 5-8pm Radical Root and The Stew are teaming up to bring you a radical supper, in a barn, on a farm. You’ve heard of ‘farm to table’, but this time the table isn’t even leaving the farm. They’re hosting it right there, in a 100 year old barn. You’ll get the pristine produce from Radical Root, transformed into the deliciousness you love from Sauce and Bread Kitchen. Come along and let them treat you to a magical night!

September 24

****** Chicago (Ravenswood) - Dinner In The Beer Garden6:30pm River Valley Farmer’s Table 1820 W. Wilson Calling all Chicago area locavores! We invite you to join us at River Valley Farmer’s Table for a feast-ive celebration of harvest season inspired by Lucy Saunders’ new book, ‘Dinner in the Beer Garden‘. This relaxing, come-as-you-are dinner features local, seasonal ingredients from the organic garden of River Valley Ranch & Kitchens (Burlington, WI), presented in five, family-style courses prepared by chef Jordan Rose.
The meal will include selected local craft brews that are expertly paired by Lucy (@lucybeercook) and Jim Javenkoski (@localfoodwisdom), the co-hosts of this informative event. Additionally, River Valley Ranch & Kitchens owner Eric Rose will be present to share his story about the farm, which is renown for its cultivation of mushrooms. Each guest who purchases a ticket will receive a copy of Lucy’s new book, ‘Dinner in the Beer Garden’, a $28.95 retail value! Doors open at 6:30 PM and the first course will be served at approximately 7 PM. Menu details are forthcoming… $50 per person

September 26-28

Chicago - Chicago Gourmet Weekend – Millenium Park – Ground Zero for these 3 days in the world for all things culinary. Checkout the link for tickets, information, schedule, events for this action-packed, food and beverage celebration!!

September 28

ChicagoChicago Market’s Farm-To-Market Bash: A Co-Op Celebration, noon to 4 pm.

October 4

Chicago – Fork and the Road Bike Tours Vedging Out


Another Harvest of Eat Local Links (with Unfortunate Sad News)

Posted: August 20, 2014 at 11:52 am


Five ways to eat more sustainable.

The death of Rush Creek Reserve should act as the canary in the coal mine for all American raw milk artisan cheeses, because just as our great American artisan cheese movement is in serious full swing, the FDA has basically declared a war on raw milk cheese.  More here and here from MikeG.

Eat local flour.

Eating local not by choice.

My dream day: playing poker and eating at a restaurant called Locavore.

Another idea I can appreciate.

Eat local Utah!

Share with us some of the things you’re reading.

Farmers Markets: Rules, Regulations and Reforms – Webinar on current and future farmers market regulations

Posted: August 20, 2014 at 9:16 am

From the Central Illinois Sustainable Farming Network (CISFN):

Farmers Markets: Rules, Regulations and Reforms – Webinar on current and future farmers market regulations

Two webinars, Monday, August 25: 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. and Thursday, August 28: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m., will provide an opportunity for farmers market vendors and farmers market managers to learn about new regulations and reforms that impact farmers markets and provide input to the Governor-appointed Illinois Farmers Market Task Force about future farmers market regulations. This year the Illinois General Assembly passed and Governor Quinn signed into law HB5657, Smarter Rules for Farmers Markets, that made a number of reforms to farmers market regulations in Illinois to support consistency, transparency and economic opportunity. This webinar will provide an overview of the reforms that HB5657 made and what farmers and market managers need to know about the new law. Additionally, the Illinois Farmers Market Task Force is currently reviewing all regulations for farmers markets in the state and will make recommendations for changes at the end of this year. Farmers, farmers market managers and others have an opportunity to provide input on farmers market regulations including the following topics: products sold at the farmers market, hand-washing stations, refrigeration, sampling and more.

Galesburg Farmers Market  Galesburg Register Mail

Galesburg Farmers Market
Galesburg Register Mail

Both webinars will have the same content and will be held twice to accommodate a larger audience. For those who are unable to attend the webinar, written comments can be submitted Illinois Stewardship Alliance at or 230 Broadway, Suite 200, Springfield, IL 62701. To register for the webinar, click here: or call the Sangamon Menard Extension office at (217) 782-4617.

The webinars are sponsored by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Illinois Farmers Market Association and University of Illinois Extension. Questions? Call Illinois Stewardship Alliance at (217) 528-1563 or email

Illinois Stewardship Alliance is celebrating its Annual Harvest Celebration!

Posted: August 20, 2014 at 9:02 am


The Illinois Stewardship Alliance will be celebrating its Annual Harvest Celebration on Sunday, September 14th in Springfield.  Six Central Illinois chefs will be preparing small plates featuring fresh, seasonal, local food. Each of the chefs represent restaurants that feature locally sourced products. Included in the lineup are:

  • Dustin Allen, Edge by Dustin Allen, Peoria
  • Aurora and Jordan Coffey, American Harvest Eatery, Springfield
  • Alisa DeMarco, Prairie Fruits Farm, Urbana
  • Michael Higgins, Maldaner’s Restaurant, Springfield
  • Ryan Lewis, Driftwood Cocktails and Eatery, Springfield
  • Josh Lanning, Harvest Cafe, Delavan

In addition to the food, there will be live music and a silent auction.  Obed and Isaac’s Microbrewery, Rolling Meadows Brewery, and several Illinois wineries will provide beer and wine for the event.

The Illinois Stewardship Alliance is also looking for sponsors. Companies or organizations that do sponsor the Harvest Celebration will have their logo featured prominently in all event signage and in the program for the evening. Sponsorship opportunities are available at varying prices.

All proceeds raised from the Annual Harvest Celebration will go to Illinois Stewardship Alliance to help them continue their work promoting and increasing access to fresh, local food; providing education on conservation practices; and advocating for policies that aid small, family farmers.

The Illinois Stewardship Alliance Annual Harvest Celebration  will be held Sunday, September 14th at 5:00 p.m. at the Inn at 835, located at 835 S. Second St. in Springfield.

Purchase tickets by September 9th. Prices are as follows:

$75 for members

$85 for non-members

To learn more click here.


This Week’s Harvest of Eat Local Links is Today

Posted: August 13, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Local Beet contributor Emily Paster has two ways to get your kids a-cookin’.


We still think of these as local food.

Don’t let the pinkish rind scare you from trying this local cheese.

Happy anniversary Pastoral.

Linked without comment.

Start reading about local seafood.

Five good reasons to join a CSA.

Five ways to eat local beyond a farmer’s market.

Never know where you’ll find the love for our food.

Tomatoes Make Everything Taste Better/Eat Local Tomatoes Now

Posted: August 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm

You Sell That, Now?

shame on eataly

I like Eataly, our new Italian mega-store in River North. They are especially strong in salumi and related cured meats. The bread is in the top five in a city going through a huge renaissance in quality bread (subject of a post hopefully soon), and their gelato is the best in a city that I wish was going through a better ice cream renaissance. And don’t get me started on the Italian candies. I’m wasting hundreds of dollars on this addiction. One thing I am not getting at Eataly is tomatoes. A few weeks ago, the best they could do was the lab grown “vine-ripened” offenders pictured.   On a more recent visit, they had other tomatoes, ones whose roots touched the earth, but believe you-me-both, they were not worth the time or the money.  I think I might create some kind of decal or pin to slap offenders who serve rotten tomatoes this time of year. For instance, take Boston Seafood in Des Plaines, you may be my favorite restaurant of the moment, you fry up so well, your mess of lake fish, but how, my friends, can you offer a “village” salad with those tomatoes? Cannot we all find good tomatoes right now?

Surely eating a bursting, sweet-tart, seasonal tomato is its own pleasure, but the beauty of tomatoes, their real impact, the reason I love eating this time of year, the reason I would never dare get a tomato with a sticker on it is that tomatoes make everything taste better.

onion roll lox

Do you know how much better lox tastes when it’s hand sliced? Do you know what lox is? What’s above is sold as lox but it’s not. It’s smoked salmon. A/k/a Nova. Or Novy if you’re Morey Amsterdam. No one knows anymore from lox, the cured stuff. The stuff that’s so salty you need to eat it with cream cheese to cut the saline intensity. We all get smoked salmon. But I’m digressing. You know what makes a lox and bagel sandwich better, even when it’s not lox but smoked salmon, a good, in season tomato. Not just salmon. A schmear of whitefish salad, a chunk of sable, trout, they all taste better with tomato.


How many fressers know what lox is and know what a frezzelle is? You have to live in a place like I do, near the Parks, Melrose and Elmwood. Who else eats frezzelle. It’s like an Italian bagel, no–that’s kinda what they look like. You still use tomatoes. To make your own frezzelle you need two things. First, access to a grocery that carries these frezzelles. Second, you have to know that they need the briefest splash of water to become usable. Not too much or they become soggy. Not too little unless you’re teething. The highest purpose of a frezzelle is to soak up the juices of your best summer fruit.  It’s also an example of the marriage between tomatoes and cheese.  Blue cheese and tomatoes, a classic.  Stick a tomato between slices of grilled cheese, classic too.   Need another idea.  Try spreading fresh sheep milk’s cheese on your tomatoes.  Thank me after you’ve found the fresh sheep’s milk (hint, try a Polish grocery).

An August Turkish breakfastaugust veg plate

greek salad

Is there any bit of summer bounty better served for putting away than tomatoes? As I recycled this week on the Beet, there are many ways to put away tomatoes and many ways to use your put away tomatoes. Still, don’t you just want to eat ‘em now. Make yourself a Greek salad, a Turkish breakfast, or just add them to whatever else is on your mind. It will make everything taste better. As long as it’s a real tomato.

One Comment

Morton Grove Farmers’ Market 2014

Posted: August 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm

I haven’t written about the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market on The Local Beet for a while now. Running it has kept me too busy to write about it. But as I go back to read older posts about the Market I’m struck by how often we realized that our crowds were thinner than they should have been. And the difference between today’s situation and how it was several years ago is dramatic enough to justify a whole post about it.

Since we began in 2009, the Market has lost all but one (me) of our founding mothers and fathers (although some still come to shop regularly) and we’ve got a marketing coordinator, designated vendor coordinator, bookkeeper and volunteer coordinator. We’ve focused more on signage and our location on busy Dempster St. has resulted in an influx of first-time shoppers, out-of-towners and other unexpected patrons each Saturday.

In the olden days, we used to see the same few dozen regulars show up Saturday after Saturday. Some days, between the thrill of opening month in June and the threat of closing in October, not much more than the regulars would appear. We hosted festivals, recruited more entertainers, invited community groups and partnered with sponsors, but we put in a lot of effort for relatively little payoff.

In 2014, the combination of thoughtful signage and street visibility has helped give us visibility both in Morton Grove and neighboring communities. Each Market day, I greet visitors who had never heard of us before but passed by on their way to work or to the highway. They saw a sign or the tents and stopped by to investigate.

We’ve sent out direct mail to every household in the village and passed out coupons at festivals and parades. This has helped somewhat, but I sense that many people just stay home Saturday morning out of habit or inertia. On the other hand, someone who is already out in their car may be more inclined to make an extra stop compared to someone who must still get dressed and start the car.

We’ve increased our email blasts and social media presence as well, which has helped solidify our existing fan base and make them aware of what’s will be in season and who will be performing. Whenever a vendor drops out or has car problems, patrons inevitably ask where they are. Few absent vendors go unnoticed.

We’ve taken on several new, excellent volunteers who are both a pleasure to work with and very talented at what they do. Setup and takedown, which used to be physically difficult and tedious chores, fly by in less time and with less hassle than ever before.

Both the Park District and village have been wonderfully cooperative in helping us overcome minor obstacles and ensure the safety of our vendors, sponsors, volunteers, and shoppers in what is essentially an unused parking lot. In return, I like to think that we bring a certain level of prestige and pride to the village and subtly enhance the lives of all our residents.

I may be making too much of this, but I think we have earned a reputation as being one of the friendliest and most innovative farmers’ markets in the area. To top that off, our daily visitor rate has grown steadily. As a result, we regularly turn down vendors and entertainers vying for a chance to be at our Market because we can only handle so much. And we still put in the effort to visit each farm at the start of each season to verify that they have begun growing what they say they will sell later in the summer and fall.

On the days when I was the designated Manager on Duty (and even when I wasn’t), I could tell when vendors were having a good sales day when they lacked time to chat with me. If we had long conversations, it was because they had no customers. Happy as I am to chat with them, I’m happier that I often only get a chance to talk to some vendors during setup and shut down or when reimbursing them for the coupons, gift certificates and EBT tokens (newfangled food stamps) that they accept from our customers. And when I’m managing the Market, I rarely hang out at the Welcome Booth. I typically pace the Market, keeping an eye on things and helping answer anybody’s questions.

Through a generous donation from Northshore University Healthsystems, we can double the value of a LINK card transaction (up to $25), which has attracted many customers who might otherwise not have purchased local, fresh produce. The end result is thousands of dollars in additional sales that we believe would not have materialized without the grant and without the state subsidy.

So far, we’ve had only one rain date (when the Lieutenant Governor came to visit and play banjo, of all days!), and even then, enough people shopped to give a few vendors decent sales.

My favorite pasttime at the Market is talking with patrons (my least favorite is ejecting people who come with their dogs). I ask if it’s their first visit, how they heard about us, where they’re from and other nosy, personal questions (you don’t get THAT at a chain grocery store, do you?). With few exceptions, they share information with me, compare us with other markets they’ve attended, talk about what they might do with the produce they bought, offer ideas and suggestions, and thank me for my interest. I direct them to the Welcome Booth where they can enter a free raffle to win a basket of Market goodies or borrow a wagon to cart their kids around. I’ve met people who were jogging along the nearby bike trail and detoured just to see what was going on. I’ve met a number of young couples who had just moved to Morton Grove. I’ve talked with lifelong residents who’ve lived across the street from the Market for years but only just decided to visit for the first time. I’ve never met anyone so grouchy or bitter that I couldn’t disarm them by listening respectfully to their viewpoint or offering solutions. As a man who has spent his whole career in office jobs, seldom dealing with customer service issues, I’ve surprised myself at my ability to remain calm, professional, and deferential to people I disagree with.

I’ve gotten to know solo musicians and small bands as I’ve booked them to play the Market. We’ve chatted about their other gigs. I’ve helped them set up and carry their equipment. I have bought them coffee and listened to their wonderful performances and watched them work the crowd and liven up the Market with their music. I’ve also had to ask them to turn down the volume, which is slightly less appalling to me than banishing dogs, but still has to be done sometimes.

All in all, planning and running the Market these past five years has consumed an enormous amount of my free time. There are Saturdays when I would rather sleep in than carry tables and tents across a parking lot. But I do it almost every week and my co-managers help me when they’re not the Manager on Duty, which makes it easier on all of us. And even when I’m not technically in charge, I’m happy to spend the morning schmoozing with the other volunteers, asking vendors how their week went, listening to the free music, talking with customers about their meal plans for the week, and contributing–in my own small way–to helping build a stronger supply channel for local entrepreneurs, farmers and craftspeople to bring their products directly to the consumers who enjoy them. I can always sleep late on Sunday.

A Week and a Day Since We Harvested Our Eat Local Links

Posted: August 5, 2014 at 9:31 am


Help local farner’s

Drink local bitter booze.

Jeannie wants you to read this.

Anxious to try farm to hearth cooking.

For now, local squash blossom quesadillas.

Like you need it, but 10 reasons to support farmer’s markets.

I know a tomato farmer who prefers hybrids to heirlooms.   Here’s a little background.

How’d our local cheese fare in this year’s American Cheese Society awards?  Not tops.  Not top 3, but pretty darn impressive none-the-less.

A 2014 Embarrassment of Local, Organic Riches

Posted: August 1, 2014 at 9:13 pm

It’s been a unique “summer” weather-wise. The abundant rain and bursts of heat followed by polar vortexy coolness have confused my plants to produce the most prolific garden I have ever planted. Although the lettuce plants have bolted, I am still giving away large plastic bags filled with lettuce on a weekly basis to whoever is willing to take them. Normally by the beginning of July, the Chicago sun and heat would have caused any lettuce in full sun to turn tall and bitter as it produces flowers and seeds. This year has been an exception. In fact, on the first day of August, we were getting fresh asparagus coming out of the soil!

More dill weed than we know what to do with

More dill weed than we know what to do with

On top of that, the peapods, which are normally a spring crop, are still coming back as fast as I can pick them. A neighbor at work is happy to share a half-pound bag a day with me. Sweet and crunchy as the peapods are, I’m happy to have someone else help me get rid of them.

One of many peapods that just wont stop growing
One of many peapods that just wont stop growing

In the space of a week, we’ve enjoyed several dozen plump cucumbers. Due to laziness and poor planning, many more cucumber vines survived than I have room for. The resulting jungle canopy has shaded the eggplant and peppers that, at first, seemed like they might be able to hold their own. Instead, the peppers are scrawny little things and the eggplant is nowhere to be found.

15 minutes' worth of harvest effort on top of the rain barrel

15 minutes’ worth of harvest effort on top of the rain barrel

The pole beans that share the raised bed with the cucumbers, however, have grown out of control. We have harvested hundreds and given away most of them. In my house, only my wife and I are interested in eating them. And the dog. Tesla loves them and will perform all sorts of tricks to get a piece. Lately we’ve been working on frisbee catching.

Can I come over the fence, please? I promise not to eat anything.

Can I come over the fence, please? I promise not to eat anything.

 Some of the beans have grown to be a foot long. They are so well hidden by the canopy, that some manage to evade several harvests in a row and continue growing.

Somewhere among these cucumber vines are pole beans and pepper plants

Somewhere among these cucumber vines are pole beans and pepper plants

The wildflower garden, which I planted to attract bees, has been largely devoid of bees most of the summer. Only in the past week or two have the bees started showing up, and I am happy to say that a variety of the social insects are browsing the petals of my garden. Mostly bumblebees and sweat bees, though. I don’t see a whole lot of the traditional honeybee in these parts.

Sunflowers agains the Morton Grove sky

Sunflowers agains the Morton Grove sky

Also, the wasps that last year saved my Brussels sprouts from devastation by moths and caterpillars have not been around lately. Combined with excessive water, these brassicas are not growing as tall and strong as they have in previous years. And the edible buds that grow just above where the leaves emanate from the stem have largely rotted and turned black. I don’t know whether these plants can be saved.

In sum, we’re producing enough volume of vegetables that we could easily eat every meal from the garden this summer and keep us going through the early fall. Thing is, we don’t want to. On several occasions, we’ve had friends over and sent them into the garden to fill plastic bags with whatever they like.

Ringo rests in his submarine beneath a lawn of wheatgrass

Ringo rests in his submarine beneath a lawn of wheatgrass

In fact, the wheat grass growing on top of Ringo’s aquaponic fish tank has been growing back steadily like Rapunzel’s hair. A co-worker has a masticating juicer and has been accepting small plastic bags of grass and enjoying them at home. Ringo, for his part, happily spends all day (except feeding time) hiding in his ceramic yellow submarine and artificial plants. I don’t know whether he’s happier than he was with a bare tank, but I hardly see him, so it doesn’t bother me.

Epic Labor Day Feast Heritage BBQ Presented By Goose Island Cochon 555

Posted: August 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm


How can you not like an event when they thank sponsors with this phrase”We thank sponsors for paving the way to a better food system“. Cochon 555 now has a summer version called Heritage BBQ. The official press release is below. The summer version is just as creative in the drink category, Bourbon Bar, Mezcal Bar and the Goose Nest(read below to find out what this is) and brings together highly talented chefs and a pop-up butcher shop with Rob Levitt of Butcher and the Larder to benefit Kendall College. The Cochon crew know how to throw a really fun event with heart and sentiment focused on heritage pigs and  local farmers. What is not to love about this event!



NEW YORK (Jul. 31, 2014) – Heritage BBQ presented by Goose Island Beer Co. is kicking off a flavor-packed, star-studded five city global BBQ tour in Chicago on August 30th over the Labor Day weekend. The local-food focused BBQ tour started by Brady Lowe, Founder of Cochon 555, invites five notable chefs to put their love of globally-influenced whole pig BBQ to the test in a friendly but fierce competition to promote the consumption of heritage breed pigs raised by local family farms.

This year’s competing chefs include Chrissy Camba of Laughing Bird, Carlos Gaytan of Mexique, Abraham Conlon of Fat Rice, Cary Taylor of Big Star and Nathan Sears of The Radler and D.A.S.. Each chef will be given a 200 pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts. A panel of 20 respected judges will vote for Chicago’s “BBQ King or Queen.” The BBQ will take place at Goose Island’s new Barrel Warehouse – a facility dedicated to the art of aging beers in wine and bourbon barrels.

Additionally this year, Heritage BBQ will debut “BBQ TRADITIONS,” a series of pop-up pairings where notable chefs will serve one dish that best exemplifies a culinary tradition and BBQ culture from anywhere in the world. Guests will have the chance to pair spectacular wines, brews, and spirits with globally inspired BBQ dishes such as Braai from Africa, Char Siu from China, Churrasco from Brazil and Barbacoa from Mexico. Heritage BBQ is an edible education on the finest social tradition in human history. Together with local food producers, craft brewers, winemakers and prestigious distillers, the Heritage BBQ tour motivates grilling communities worldwide to support local food producers, and to break ground on a new hyper-local, globally-themed BBQ while celebrating National Bourbon Month.

Guest interested in an ULTRA-VIP experience can purchase access into the Pilot Light Lounge, hosted by Paul Kahan (avec, Blackbird, Nico Osteria, Publican), Matthias Merges (Yusho, A10 Hyde Park, Billy Sunday) and Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Nightwood). Tickets are limited to 30 people and cost $300. They include specially prepared bites, chef-prepared cocktails, and best of all, 100% of the proceeds benefit Pilot Lounge, a Chicago-based non-profit that provides children with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to develop a healthy relationship with food.

The 500 person event features over 1,400+ pounds of heritage pig in an all-inclusive tasting. In addition to the 35+ chef-prepared global BBQ dishes, guests will also experience:

•       The Goose Nest, an area featuring the Bourbon County Brand Stout, and Vintage Ales from  Goose Island Beer Co.

•       Pop-Up Butcher Shop with Rob Levitt of The Butcher & Larder, benefiting Kendall College and Le Cordon Bleu with the support of Williams-Sonoma

•       Special “Summer Citrus” cocktail from Four Roses Bourbon

•       “Perfect Manhattan” Bourbon Bar to celebrate National Bourbon Month, featuring Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Breckenridge Bourbon, Templeton Rye, Four Roses and Luxardo

           TarTare Bar featuring Creekstone Farms,  an artisan cheese bar with Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine featuring Rogue Creamery, andKenny’s Farmhouse Cheese

•       Portfolio tasting of Crispin Ciders, amazing wines, and a Mezcal Bar featuring Fidencio and Mezcales de Leyenda

•       Pre-awards “Ice Cream Social” with James Beard Award Winner, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

“This is the new Q that celebrates hundreds of grilling – and smoking -traditions from around the world. We are on a mission to redefine BBQ as social eating, the act of gathering around fire, making friends and eating responsibly-raised animals. Together we work around the clock to preserve timeless family traditions from all over the globe. The bottom line is to host an event that develops the conversation of local food and heritage pigs, thus creating long-term growth, jobs on farms and better food choices for the future,” explains Brady Lowe, founder of Cochon 555. “We are passionate about promoting food sources that support a more natural, sustainable food system, and for the first time we are excited to announce Goose Island Beer Co. as a presenting sponsor of the Heritage BBQ series.”

Tickets for general admission start at $125, and VIP tickets for early admission are $200. VIP includes 60-minute early access to all the food (special, limited dishes) and a chance to mingle with chefs, judges and media. Both ticket prices are all-inclusive of food and beverage.

To purchase tickets, visit the website

Where:              Goose Island Barrel Warehouse 603 N. Sacramento Blvd.

When:               Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014     4 p.m. – 8 p.m.


Pilot Light is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that works with chefs and teachers to build classroom lessons that weave food and nutrition education into everyday subjects like science, English, and social studies, and then equips teachers to deliver them in their own classrooms.  Founded in 2010 by chefs Jason Hammel, Paul Kahan, Matthias Merges and Ryan Poli, Pilot Light’s mission is to provide children with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to develop a healthy relationship with food. In the 2014-2015 school year, Pilot Light will be working with six schools in low-income communities throughout Chicago, reaching over 1100 students with its engaging and motivating lessons that help teachers meet academic performance standards and reach their students with critical food and nutrition education at the same time. For more information, visit


Founded in Chicago in 1988, Goose Island is one of the most successful craft breweries in the Midwest and produces some of the most popular, and award winning, beers in the U.S. Since 1989, Goose Island beers have won a variety of awards at acclaimed beer events including the World Beer Championships, World Beer Cup, World Expo of Beer and the Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

Started in 2012 in an effort to bridge the gap between family farms and all categories of BBQ restaurants, Heritage BBQ by Cochon 555, is the first national BBQ competition dedicated to supporting a new direction for heritage breed pigs by expanding the conversation to a global economy. Created by Cochon 555 Founder Brady Lowe, Heritage BBQ engages existing BBQ restaurants in the local and sustainable food conversation taking place nationwide while simultaneously breaking ground on a new hyper-local, globally-themed, farm-supporting BBQ.
Cochon 555 was created in 2009 by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe in response to the lack of consumer education around heritage breeds. The festival is a national event series that takes place in 16 major markets. In addition to its flagship event, Cochon 555, the Cochon brand now offers a variety of experiences each year in the family of events. The events with national followings include Heritage BBQ, Heritage Fire, EPIC Cochon, All-Star Cochon and Cochon Island. Since its launch in 2009, the tour now serves over 10,000 guests annually and works with over 1,500 pioneers all supporting a better food system. Known for creating an impact on local agriculture by amplifying the conversation of heritage breed pigs through consumption, events include notable sommeliers, restaurateurs, chefs, media, consumers and independent business owners looking to champion a premium, responsible lifestyle. For more details about the events, visit or follow @cochon555 on Twitter.