Cochon 555 Heritage Breed BBQ is Back! Sunday 9/27 Morgan Manufacturing

Posted: August 31, 2015 at 3:57 pm


It’s back the 2nd annual Cochon Heritage Breed BBQ celebrating family farms and heritage breed pigs at Morgan Manufacturing 9/27.  If you are a Beet-ster you probably have some kind of knowledge of what a heritage breed is. But there really isn’t any specific definition. The Livestock Conservancy describes heritage breeding as more an art than a science. But heritage breed is to meat, the way heirloom is to vegetables and fruits. The heritage breeds are historic and retain essential attributes for survival: self sufficiency, fertility, foraging ability, longevity, maternal instincts, ability to mate naturally and resistance to disease, all of which have been mostly lost in factory farm breeds. Heritage breeds are known for their juiciness, flavor and tenderness and just taste better! They are basically, the opposite to CAFO (confined animal feeding operations). Heritage promotes breed diversity and the local family farmer. Most are raised with minimum to none antibiotics and given organic feed. The more people are aware of what a heritage breed is and like the taste of the meat, the demand will then help to put pressure on grocers to supply it.

Last year the farmers lineup (I will update this post with the current farmer lineup closer to the event) included Catalpa Grove Farm with a Hereford. Originating from the U.S. during the 1920’s, the Hereford is a rare, but well-known breed. Resembling Hereford cows, these hogs have a distinguished reddish-brown coat and white face. The Hereford is known for its calm disposition and ability to thrive on pastures. It is a slower-growing breed, yielding rich colored, marbled meat. (Thanks to Blackberry Farm’s Field Guide to Heritage Breed pigs for the descriptions on all the heritage breeds).

Friend of the Beet, Slagel Family Farms is providing a duroc. Durocs are known for its sweet meat, marbling, amazing shoulders and spareribs. Slagel supplied a chester white as well. Chester White’s are revered for the cutability .

La Pryor Farms provided a duroc and hampshire. The English breed, Hampshire is known for its amazing carcass, hardy vigor and superior fat to meat ratio in the belly and loin.

Finally, Triple S Farms provided a large black. Originating from Chinese breeds brought to England, the Large Black is a critically rare breed known for its taste, pasture foraging skills and overall hardiness. Large Blacks have short black hair, wide shoulders and a long body. When harvested, even at 200 pounds, the micro-marbling, short muscle fibers and excellent bellies produce exceptional bacon and moist meat with old world flavor.

You will be able to do a tasting to determine which heritage breed is your favorite and vote on your favorite dish.  Although the local farmers and pigs are the main focus of the event there is a lot more going on.

The event is setup as a friendly competition to celebrate global grilling cultures as well. The culinary competition challenges [5] chefs to cook one whole, family farm-raised, heritage pig for a group of 20 notable judges. Chefs have seven days to prepare one whole pig and present a “Judge’s Plate” consisting of 6 dishes scored on utilization, global influences, cooking techniques and overall flavor. The winner in Chicago will be crowned the “BBQ King or Queen” and takes home more than $3,000 in prizes. In addition to sampling the competitor’s dishes, the all-inclusive ticket includes “BBQ Traditions”, a tasting inside the event where 10 notable chefs prepare one dish from their favorite BBQ culture in non-competitive spirit. If you love global flavors and star-studded culinary events, this educational event is like a top chef classroom including grilling-styles like Hibachi, Korean BBQ, Asador, Braai from Africa, Char Siu, Caja China, Churrasco, Barbacoa, as well as regional American BBQ styles from Texas to Kansas City.

Sunday, September 27, is the main event, Heritage BBQ, hosted at Morgan Manufacturing. This year’s competing chefs include Alfredo Nogueira of Analogue, Ed Sura of Perennial Virant, Scott Manley of Table, Donkey & Stick, Chris Curren of Seven Lions and Jonathan Meyer of Freehand Chicago – Official Hotel of the Heritage BBQ weekend. Each chef will be given a 180 pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts. Non-competing chefs cooking BBQ Traditions include Chrissy Camba of Maddy’s Dumpling House, Dave Ochs of Maple & Ash, John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina, Mitch Cavanah of GT Fish and Oyster, Phil Whingo of Pork Mafia, and Dylan Lipe of Blackwood BBQ.

The weekend kicks-off on Friday, September 25 at 10:00PM with Chef Abe Conlon hosting a Late Night Asian Speakeasy Dinner at Fat Rice. This priceless experience is an all-inclusive guest chef dinner that pays homage to the best Chinese, Sichuan, Korean, Thai and Japanese establishments that have inspired some of the best menus across the country. On Saturday, September 26, Cochon555 teamed up with Chicago Gourmet to host the inaugural Punch Kings, Pigs n’ Tiki on the Harris Theater Rooftop from 8 to 11 p.m.

The whole purpose of these events is to raise the consumer’s awareness about meat. To quote Brady Lowe, the founder of Cochon 555, “This event returns the BBQ conversation to the original context of local meats, cooked with native spices, over fires and shared with a community. Therefore, the event will tilt the scales back towards creating long-term relationships for family farms and big protein buyers like BBQ restaurants. It’s only a matter of time until people demand better food choices when standing at the counter. We are standing right there with them, promoting honest food and a choice to buy safe food.”

Pining for Peppers on Menu Monday

Posted: August 31, 2015 at 9:37 am

Stove Top Cooking



This is some but not all of what came in our Tomato Mountain CSA box last week.*  What you don’t see is more kale, more lettuce, and many more peppers.  My pepper pinings are finally being addressed.  Before getting to the peppers pined, let me update you on what else entered the bungalow this week.  From the Condiment Queen’s next door neighbor at Andersonville, Big Head Farm, we got some okra. At the Oak Park Farmer’s market on Saturday, our purchases included grapes, pears, cukes, and even more peppers.    To the stove Robin.

I told you last week that this week’s post would be about using the stove, but not using it to flame broil peppers.  Rather, I would flame broil eggplants, as Onur over at LTHForum said I can.  When I hit the kitchen on Saturday for my weekly Tamar-ing, I stuck to the stove top.  I did peppers.  I did eggplant.  I did not flame broil anything.

Eat local peppernata.

As much as I love roasted peppers, I don’t so much love roasting peppers. I’ve blogged and tweeted about this for years. I cannot find a way to master roasting peppers. Yes, via knife, I have found a good way, but not an easy way. So, a few years ago, when I found you could just slice up your peppers and cooked them, no peeling necessary. I was like, that’s my dish. Making peppernata is about like making anything else I make these days. I make a sofrito of cooked onions, some loosely chopped garlic–remember to put the garlic in after the onions had a head start, and a hot pepper sliced. Add to this base, several peppers julienned. Use an array of colors and throw in a few hot peppers too. After you get these in the pan, add one or two ripe tomatoes, skinned if you’re of that sort. Now, to make it taste like peppernata and not just stewed peppers, you must finally add a healthy dose of smoked paprika. Also, let me add, so you don’t forget, to season at each stage.  Salt after the onions go in the pan.  A little salt on the sliced peppers; a little salt after you add the tomatoes.  Of course, see if you you need any more salt when you’r done, but you need to season as you cook.  Let it come to a quick boil, and then turn down to a slower simmer. Cook until the peppers reach your desired state of tenderness, about 30-45 minutes. Once you have peppernata, you can use it with eggs or on a sandwich; it’s versatile.

I did make eggplant. We have some from a previous CSA box, the longer, skinnier kind (but not an Asian variety). I cut them in half, used my cast iron grill pan, and got good grill marks. Once grilled, I tossed them with honey, locally made raspberry vinegar, and ras al hanout. Finally, on the stove, I did about my same basic recipe but with the kale pictured above and the okra.

Here’s a mish-mash of some of the stuff I cooked up over the last week or so.  It’s what the Cook Book Addict packed for lunch today.  There’s fresh shelly beans we got last week, the kale, some green beans also from last week, and some baked veg that’s barely hanging in there in the fridge.  What will be on your menu this week?

august lunch for CQ

*The Condiment Queen works for Tomato Mountain

Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links

Posted: August 30, 2015 at 9:19 am

Where Else May You go to Eat Local & Other Things to Know

Which is more shark-jumpy for local foods, this article about Wal-Mart and local food or the fact that the article is in Fortune?

Let’s get rid of the silver tray and embrace the dirt; is farm to table just a trend?

Eat local goat cheese.

Should we eat less local salads?

When did something become a local food?

No one eats more local than Vancouver (area).

Eat local Iowa.

Is Martha Vineyards a local foods paradise?

Not purely an eat local trend, but most of these food halls are locavore focused.

Eat local Ipswich (UK).

Eat local   Richmond, Virginia

Eat local Charlotte, North Carolina

It’s Busy Season – What’s in Season and Where to Find it Sponsored by Vera

Posted: August 28, 2015 at 8:13 am

Eat Local Frezzele



For a lot of locavores, it’s a busy time of year.   For instance, many of you are reaping the harvests of your backyard farms.  You may also be working to put away your home grown tomatoes.  Putting dinner on a plate may be a hassle with all that’s going on in your kitchen.  So, skip the plate, put it on a frezzelle.  Frezzelle?  It looks a bit like a bagel or shall I say a half of a bagel.  A very hard bagel, the point of frezzelle is that they’re baked and dried to a crisp.  The reason for frezzelle was to have bread after the wheat ran.  With an everlasting supply of grain these days, why do we need frezzelle.  Because it’s summer.  See, you take your frezzelle, which by the way, can be found in any grocery  or store that stocks Italian type stuff, D’Amato’s makes frezzelle for instance, wet it just a bit, you need to give it a head start, but mostly it will be refreshed by the liquid from your tomatoes, and you top it with stuff you have around.  Believe me, there is something about the interplay of this just off bread with tomatoes, cheese, herbs, etc.  Like I say, the only reason to eat frezzelle is that it tastes good.  And it’s easy to prepare.  Busy in the kitchen, there’s always frezzelle.

Vera-LOGO-Fpattern (1) (1)


Now, if you have some time in the kitchen, what about tackling something else in season now, fresh beans.  Do like Chef Mendez at our sponsor, Vera, and make fabada.   Fresh peas like black eye peas and crowder peas are also in season now.  We love combining fresh peas with other seasonal items like hot peppers and summer onions.  Some of the summer fruit, apricots and some colors of plums are running their course, but there’s still peaches and more types of apples and pears.  We would not be surprised if you saw some hard squashes in the market this week.

What’s In Season Now

From the Ground

  • Finally some peppers that aren’t green?
  • Sweet corn
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Field peas a/k/a black eye peas, crowder peas, etc.
  • Shelling beans eg, pinto, shelly, etc.
  • Okra
  • Celery
  • Melons
  • Some of the more “fall” herbs like sage

From the Trees and Bushes

  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Plums
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Asian pears

Year round

  • Meats, poultry, lake fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk, cheese and other dairy
  • Mushrooms
  • Grains and breads
  • Preserved and jarred products

Where to Find Local Food

Almost all markets are running now.  We’ve highlighted some of our favorites.  For some adventures look at this post.  In addition to markets, there are several stores in the Chicago area that focus on selling local foods.  Also, as we noted this week, it’s the time of year when local food is everywhere.  You can also go to Jeannie’s Local Calendar for resources, events and other happenings.


It may not be the biggest market in the Chicago area, but it is the only market with a free breakfast of Eli’s Cheesecake Cafe (and the only market where you can gorge on cheesecake samples).  We maintain a special place in our heart for this market, Thursdays – 7 AM – 1 PM - 6701 West Forest Preserve Drive

Green City Market  is overflowing right now.   Saturday  from 7 AM to 1  PM –  Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1817 N. Clark) 

It it’s Thursday and we’re in the Loop, you cannot do wrong with Daley Plaza, which is filled with vendors including produce, breads and prepared foods.   7 AM – 2 PM - This market accepts the LINK card. - 50 W. Washington

We’ve always been impressed by what they’re doing at the Glenwood Market.  Sundays from 9AM to 2 PM - Southbound Glenwood Avenue between Morse & Lunt

Oak Park

Have we mentioned donuts.  Family ties?  Well, what about one of the few area markets with locally tapped maple syrup?  Jim the Vinegar Guy?  Sadly, no Hazzard Free grains this year.  Saturdays from 8 AM to 1 PM - 460 Lake


There are often times, when we think about these things, quantify these things, we say this is the best there is in the Chicago area.  There’s the heirlooms, the regular, meats, cheeses, breads, the unique and the mundane, about all you could want in one market.  Saturdays from 730 AM to 1 PM - University Street & Oak Avenue

Morton Grove

Very close Beet ties to this one, so get there on Saturday and shop, shop, shop.  Saturdays 8 AM to Noon - 6210 Dempster


Do you think we’re not gonna include something way far away?  The Geneva Green Market has been focusing on organic and sustainable farmers for a while and is worth the visit if you are anywhere close (or not as it’s a great drive or a great train ride).  Thursdays 9 AM to 1 PM - 327 Hamilton Street


In memory of Mom.  She was a volunteer here - Wednesdays from 7 AM to 1 Pm –  Cherry Lane and Meadow Road


What's In Season and Where to Find It - Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago

What’s In Season and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago

What’s In Season Now – Local Food – (Hey John B)

Posted: August 27, 2015 at 2:24 pm

The Season of Accessible and Affordable Local Food


treasure island


A commentator, John B, wrote:

These posts about what local goods are in season barely scratch the surface of where to find them around town. Your self-imposed requirement to only mention farmers markets (which are littered with non-local goods) provides a huge disservice to your readers, particularly those with logistical or scheduling challenges as these markets are significantly fewer in numbers and with small operating windows compared to traditional retail and grocery banners. But hey, let’s keep this whole local thing to just those with means and free time. If everyone can eat local, we’ll have to find something new to care about to differentiate “us” from “them.”

I replied to his comment basically saying, I agreed with him and was doing something about it.  This post has been in the works for ages, showing that local food is not just for the farmer’s markets.  See, I am forever doing two things. I am always looking where ever I shop for food, for local food, and I scan the ads for local food. My pal Monica Eng may be examining the seafood at dollar stores, I’ve bought local onions at such. I’ve scoured places as diverse as Costco, Whole Food, Jewel, and Aldi for evidence that they had local food in their stock, and by local I don’t mean Kraft cheese. I mean either produce grown in Illinois or neighboring states or small-scale food manufacturing–from Tomato Mountain on one end to Eli’s on the other. And there’s always something local I can find, if nothing else, russet potatoes from Wisconsin–always too at low-low prices. Like, for instance, I was pleasantly surprised at the selection and value of Coop Hot Sauces on a recent trip to Mariano’s. I got locally made salami at Eataly.  And no time can I find local food better than this time, harvest time.

Since I cannot be every where, nor do I that much week-to-week shopping at groceries, what with the CSA and ample Oak Park market, I review ads. I like to think of it as analogous to Tommy Lee Jones/K reading the supermarket scandal papers for alien intel. In other words, there’s more to these ads than meets the eye. To me, they reveal a locavore paradise lurking under our jaded eyes. In past years, I’ve worked hard to specifically address John’s comment. For instance, look what I did here. This year, I worked almost as hard. Over several weeks, I documented what local food different places were carrying, for instance, the pic above is from last week’s Treasure Island ad in the Chicago Tribune. Then, each week rolls around, and I don’t have the time to post (against my other things to post and other things to do, non-Beet). John shammed me.

Except this week, I did not take any pictures of the ads. Instead, we’ll have to go the source. Here’s Angelo Caputo’s current flyer. Look at all that local produce: tomatoes, onions, peppers, potatoes and more. Here’s the Treasure Island ad, showing locally grown peppers and eggplant for sale. A & G International Fresh Market has Michigan apples at a very good price. Even better, look at the price of Michigan peaches from Ultra Foods. Maybe no other supermarket chain makes a bigger deal of their locally sourced produce than Meijer, and look at what they are advertising this week. So, John, who do you trust, my defensive comments or my links?

You can find local food anywhere, and we’ll help you do it on the Beet.

Please share with us any local food you are finding at your neighborhood supermarket.

What’s in Season Now – Preserving the Seasonal Bounty – Learn How Aug 29 with Angelic Organics Learning Center

Posted: August 26, 2015 at 9:04 am

How Do You Eat Local Year Round

food preserving

The Local Beet advocates eating local, and we say all the time, the reasons we advocate for eating local do not end when the farmer’s markets pack up.  How do we (and you!) do it.  We put away the seasonal bounty!  Over the years, we’ve put away on the site many articles and references about canning, preserving, root cellaring and such.   This is the time to focus on putting away, and we will be re-posting several of our pieces in the coming weeks–just today, we re-posted this piece on canning tomatoes from long time Friend of the Beet, Damien Casten.  We also would love to hear from you about your efforts.   As much as we feel we can guide you, we know there is only so much you can read.  You have to do, and it helps to have a good teacher.  We have one for you.

Food Preserving 101

This Saturday, August 29, the Angelic Organics Learning Center will be offering a hands-on class on food preservation.  The class will cover freezing, dehydrating, and canning, using tomatoes as an example.  Attendees will bring home a jar of canned organic tomatoes.  The class is from 1 PM to 4 PM at their center in Caledonia, Illinois.  The cost of the class is $45.

1547 Rockton Rd
Caledonia, IL 61011
United States

Additional information and registration here.

RECYCLED – Damien Casten’s Thoughts on Canning Garden Tomatoes

Posted: August 26, 2015 at 8:30 am

Editor’s Note: Between the ample harvest and the strong whiff of cool air around, it’s time to start canning (if you have not already).  Probably the best thing to can, something that takes to canning so well, is tomatoes.  Once put away, you can use your taste of summer year-round for pasta sauces, braises, and anywhere else the warm red flavors will take you back.  Enjoy this re-post on the basics of canning tomatoes. Canning is process.  Enjoy the process and you’ll enjoy canning.  I’m Damien Casten, tomato evangelizer.  With my friend Mo Ferris, we are happy to share the process of putting your tomatoes up for later enjoyment.

Yes, that does say "Hotsie Totsie"

Yes, that does say “Hotsie Totsie”

As we prefer to focus on what is enjoyable as a general rule, we are going to do just that.  Still, there are some critically important details to think about when putting anything into a can today that you hope to eat in good health months from now.  For those details, we encourage you to explore the University of Minnesota’s detailed page on how to can tomatoes safely.  Read it twice. Let’s talk processes. Each stage of the canning process offers a chance to enjoy the right here and now of life. For some, canning begins with a seed catalogue in February and thoughts of warmer days.  In an ideal world, the leisurely perusal of Seed Savers or Heirloom Seeds takes place over a bowl of pasta dressed with last year’s harvest.  The fact is though that few of us have the space to plant so many tomatoes that we have enough to eat in season and can as well, so let’s fast forward to the harvest when growers from across Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan are looking forward to greeting you at your local farmers’ market. A week ahead of time: You’ll need quite a few tomatoes, 23 lbs for 7 quarts as you read on the U of M’s extension page, so plan ahead for your budget.  It is true that farmers’ will often offer a discounted deal at the end of a market day, but they will offer you a deal on what they have left, and not necessarily what you want.  Better to go to the market a week ahead of your canning day and talk to your farmer about your needs.  They are likely to offer suggestions on which varieties are fun, which they prefer, and they may offer a discount due to the volume you are purchasing.   With this one small act, you have accomplished many things: You know who is growing your tomatoes, you have committed to a day of canning next week, and you have learned about this season’s growing conditions.  We told you the process is fun. Fight the urge to overbuy and plan reasonably.  You will not can four bushels of tomatoes on your first attempt, or even on your fortieth, no matter how badly we (we mean you) want to have a cupboard full of summer goodness the day after you’ve canned. During the week: Browse the web for specific instructions on materials needed.  Here is a site that does a nice job of presenting the details.   During the week ahead of your canning day, double check that you have all the required materials including the canning pot.  Make a list, check it twice.  Read this forum for a comprehensive overview.  Personal experience indicates that running out for additional jars, rings, pots, pans, salt or anything else when you are up to your elbows in prepped tomatoes is a part of the process that is better avoided.  Avoid it with a good plan. Canning Day! Gather a group of folks who share your enthusiasm.  It’s possible to can alone, but working with friends is a guarantee that you’ll have a group that wants to come together this winter to share in the next part of the process. Think through the process that you have detailed.  Again, once you have jars warm and clean, tomatoes peeled and juiced and herbs prepared, it’s a real pain in the arse to have to stop because you are missing something.  The French must do a lot of canning because their term “mis en place” is the first term you should learn.  Roughly translated, “mis en place” means “everything in its place and a place for everything”.  The precise translation is “line up your ducks”, or maybe that’s what Confit de Canard means.  Our suggested mis en place includes: Jars - sterilized and kept warm either in the closed hot dishwasher or in a 200 degree oven.  Consider the size of your canner and the amount of jars you’ll need.  Have enough ready to go before you start. Canner – whether you will be using a pressure canner or a water canner, have the pot ready to go with as much warm water as needed.  Take fifteen minutes before you start to read the instructions carefully. Lids – have a pot of water on the stove and the lids you’ll need submerged and ready. Clean towels – The rim of each jar needs to be wiped clean to ensure a proper seal.  One paper towel will be used quickly.  Have a few ready to go.

Jar lifter

Tools – Oven mits for hot cans.  A laddle for the tomatoes you will transfer into the can.  A glass of wine paired with the appropriate music.  A pitcher or something like a pitcher to pour the tomato juice and or water into the cans.  A few essential tools that might not be obvious include a jar lifter which serves to remove the cans from the hot water when cooking is complete and a canning funnel that allows you to pour the tomatoes into the jar cleanly.


Flavors -

Flavors so simple a child will love them.

  Your mis en place will inlcude whatever you might want to add to the jars, but we advise you to think simple, bright, and clean. Happiness is the smell of summer tomatoes on a cold day in February. We suggest being as pure as possible in your flavors. Garlic, herbs and spices can all be added to the sauce that you will make months from now and a clean jar of tomatoes will allow you to follow whatever mood you are in when the time comes. A jar full of tomatoes flavored with other things might be wonderful, but do you want 8-12 jars of the same? The only times we recommend tomatoes and lots of other flavors is in case of a family recipe that one knows to be delicious and in case of a cupboard already full of simply canned tomatoes. The picture at the top of this post shows “Tomatoes with Hotsie Totsie” that we made last weekend. Note that its a small jar as compared to the others. This was an experiment that we did after canning more than a bushel of tomato and basil. We’ll see how it tastes this winter. As the picture at right shows, a bit of basil fresh from the garden is more than acceptable in our book.

Tomatoes -
Last but not least we have to talk about your choice of tomatoes!  “Canning tomatoes” likes Amish Paste and Romas have a lot of flesh and not too much liquid.  They are not quite as tasty fresh as a Cheorkee Purple or a Paul Robeson, but they will be fantastic in February.  Whichever type of large tomato you select, you will want to peel each before canning.  We encourage you to can a mixed selection of cherries as well.  The colors and flavors are great fun to look at for the next few months and even more fun to eat.  Most of these choices should be made during the planning stage, and the always critical “talking to the farmer” stage.  Listen to what the folks at the market have to say and you’ll be on your way to canned happiness.
Time to eat!
We suspect you won’t need much help here, but we do suggest that you see the eating as a critical part of the process and one that should be shared with old and new friends.  You might use the opening of a can as an excuse to call some of the people who helped grow and can the fruit.  You might also take a can to a group of new friends – nothing says hello like summer in February.  Finally, we end with the suggestion that you should also be ready to simply open a can on a Tuesday night with nothing special going on.  Even if you pour it over some pasta while reading the newspaper, the fruit of your labors will be a wonderful reminder of the process, the flavors, and the people worth celebrating in your life.
Damien and Mo

Mo Ferris has been canning on her days off from the restaurant she manages in Chicago and is a graduate of Johnson and Wales.  Damien Casten is the guy whose inability to stop ordering heirloom seeds led to the birth of Chicago TomatoFest.

One Comment

On the Menu This Monday, Peppers That Taste More Serbian?

Posted: August 24, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Elusive Balkan Flavors

Serbian pepper

No Serbian peppers

Not Serbian peppers

For years, I’ve a thing for Serbian food or at least what I perceive of as Serbian food, that would mostly be Serbian food by way of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and as I’m sure I’ve written about before, the motivating taste, my Serbian madeline, so to speak, were some roasted and marinated peppers about ten years ago at Old Town Serbian in Milwaukee. I’ve had peppers about as good at various other Serbian restaurants, but never have I made any at home that have come close. And I make very good roasted peppers.

They just never taste Serbian enough. I did another batch recently. Was so busy cooking and doing other stuff on Saturday that I never got around to taking pictures of what I made. Trust me, the peppers tasted very good, but when I asked my older daughter for a taste test, she said, “Not Serbian.” Why.  ”Not spicy enough…” she thought some more, “not enough, you know…” What.  I was doing the best I could.

Let’s draw back a few days. I had a delicious Bulgarian lunch with a Romanian and Serb. The conversation, well it’s me, I moved the conversation invariably to roasted peppers, which got the Romanian a bit perturbed. See in their country, they take as much pride in roasting peppers as the Serbs. With both claiming bona fides, I asked then, what was I doing wrong. First, the Serb said I was not using the right peppers. She clicked on her iPhone to show me what she meant. They were longer, thinner red peppers, sold at Caputo’s at least, as “ancient”. They were not, she said, either wax or banana. So, right off the bat, I was behind. Then the Romanian added, you have to use the juice. Yes, I never use the juice. After our long lunch of Bulgarian specialities–that would be with much yogurt and much feta or another way to describe Bulgarian food: Turkish food with more pickles–we needed to go our separate ways. Use the juice was the last words I remember as I headed back to the Bungalow.

I took all these wrong peppers to flame on Saturday. I burnt. I sealed in plastic. I scraped. How do you save the juice? Does anyone know how to save the juice when you roast peppers, and by juice I mean the liquid inside the peppers after roasting. I’m flummoxed how to discard the hard seeds yet save the succulent (and necessary) juice. The best I managed was what accumulated in the bowl of the cooling peppers, that is after I charred the peppers, I put them in a wide bowl to sweat, making peeling easier. With only so much juice, I thought I could make it up in garlic.

Look at the “real” Serbian pepper, from a meal at Dunav, a Serbian restaurant in Brookfield.  You see lots of garlic.  When Hannah said my peppers did not taste Serbian enough, she pointed to the lack of vampire reducing tendencies of what I did.  I added a lot of garlic.  I guess for the taste of Serbia, you need another pepper, more juice, and twenty percent more garlic after you think you’ve used too much garlic–it’s like the axiom of packing, after you think you’ve got the bare minimum, take half; here it’s after you added the maximum, add more.  Maybe on another Monday, they will taste more Serbian.

Perhaps for next Monday, a Turk says I can roast eggplants on my stove’s flame the same way I do peppers.  True?

We’re up to 148 top breweries in Chicagoland!

Posted: August 24, 2015 at 10:48 am

We owe a huge apology to our friends in Northwest Indiana. Although we originally included a few Northwest Indiana sites in our list of Chicago’s Top Breweries, we overlooked a lot more. So, we’ve corrected that. (Thanks, guys at Burn ‘Em Brewery, for pointing out our oversight. And, no, that’s not a sarcastic statement.) Eleven more Indiana breweries have been added to our list: 95ate5, Back Road, Burn ‘Em, Crown, Figure 8, Four Fathers,  Ironwood, Route 2, Shoreline, St. John Malt Bros., and Twisted K-8 Brewing. And, we’ve added Cahoots Brewing in Forest Park, IL.

So, we’ve now arbitrarily defined “Chicagoland” as within approximately 100 miles of my house. (Sorry, our apologies go out to South Bend, Elkhart, Culver, Mishawaka, Plymouth, Granger and Lafayette, Indiana — all of which have breweries worth checking out if you’re up for a road trip — but you’re a little too far for us to consider you as a part of “Chicagoland”.)

Also, the update reflects the decision of Chicago Brewing and 18th Street Brewing to start offering their suds in cans.

Check out the newly-revised list here.

The Harvest is in Season and Where You Can Find it – Sponsored by Vera

Posted: August 21, 2015 at 8:01 am

Eat Local Now!


Photo Jeannie Boutelle


It continues to be the most wonderful time of the year with the full bounty of locally grown tomatoes and all the other wonderful things summer has to offer. And did you find a really tasty, odd shaped tomato last weeK? The great thing about shopping local, hitting the markets, taking in the harvest, is that each week something new sprouts. New colors, new shapes. Enjoy..

Vera-LOGO-Fpattern (1) (1)


We told you that Chef Mendez at our sponsor,Vera, knows that you can do no worse than rubbing some of these local tomatoes across country bread, a/k/a tomato bread a/k/a pa amb tomàquet, but he’s also found other ways to use his tomatoes right now including  in a spicy “brava” sauce for potatoes and as a garnish for ceviche.  He’s also putting seasonal bounty to use in the roasted vegetable dish escalivada.  It’s a great dish to try at Vera and a great dish to try making at home once you’ve shopped the markets.



What’s In Season Now

Like we told you the other day, what’s in season now is the benefit for our friends at Purple Asparagus.  Do join the festivities this Sunday, August 23.  For additional farm dinners and other good things to do, don’t forget to keep an eye on Jeannie’s Local Calendar.

It aint all tomatoes right now.  In fact we hear that local grapes may be showing up this week.

From the Ground

  • Eggplant
  • Bell peppers – still mostly green!
  • Other shaped sweeter peppers – carmes, melrose, shishito, banana
  • Hot peppers – jalapenos, serranos, cayenne, etc.
  • Sweet corn
  • Truly *new* potatoes (how do you know they’re new?)
  • Tomatoes
  • Summer squashes
  • Shelling beans
  • Fresh “peas” a/k/a black eye peas, crowder peas, etc.
  • Herbs, especially basil

From the Trees and Bushes

  • Blackberries
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Melons – and nearly all those orange ones around here are muskmelons, not canteloupe!
  • Grapes
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Apples

Year round

  • Meats, poultry, lake fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk, cheese and other dairy
  • Mushrooms
  • Grains and breads
  • Preserved and jarred products

Where to Find Local Food

Almost all markets are running now.  We’ve highlighted some of our favorites.  If you want to roam, go back to this post for some interesting markets within a short drive.  What about the Sugar Beet Coop?  They got lots of local food as do these other stores.


There’s a good chance the Condiment Queen will have the justly famous Tomato Mountain sun golds this Sunday at Independence Park – 9 AM – 1 PM – Springfield and Irving Park

It may not be the biggest market in the Chicago area, but it is the only market with a free breakfast of Eli’s Cheesecake Cafe (and the only market where you can gorge on cheesecake samples).  We maintain a special place in our heart for this market, Thursdays – 7 AM – 1 PM - 6701 West Forest Preserve Drive

Good salumi at a farmer’s market is just one of the reasons we love the Logan Square Farmer’s Market.  Sundays 10 AM – 3 PM (yes!) – Logan Boulevard, just east of Milwaukee

What did you forget?  Well, there’s a Monday market by Loyola in the afternoon – 3 PM – 7 PM - This market accepts the LINK card. - 1200 W. Loyola Ave

Looking for the Condiment Queen and her sun golds and you cannot make it to Oak Park because you live in the Big City.  Well, Tomato Mountain and some of the other Oak Park Farmer’s Market faves like Geneva Lakes produce and Hardin Farms Michigan fruit are at the Andersonville Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays from 3 PM to 8 PM.  This market accepts the LINK card – 1500 Berwyn

Oak Park

Have we mentioned donuts.  Family ties?  Well, what about one of the few area markets with locally tapped maple syrup?  Jim the Vinegar Guy?  Sadly, no Hazzard Free grains this year.  Saturdays from 8 AM to 1 PM - 460 Lake


There are often times, when we think about these things, quantify these things, we say this is the best there is in the Chicago area.  There’s the heirlooms, the regular, meats, cheeses, breads, the unique and the mundane, about all you could want in one market.  Saturdays from 730 AM to 1 PM - University Street & Oak Avenue

Morton Grove

Very close Beet ties to this one, so get there on Saturday and shop, shop, shop.  Saturdays 8 AM to Noon - 6210 Dempster


Do you think we’re not gonna include something way far away?  The Geneva Green Market has been focusing on organic and sustainable farmers for a while and is worth the visit if you are anywhere close (or not as it’s a great drive or a great train ride).  Thursdays 9 AM to 1 PM - 327 Hamilton Street


In memory of Mom.  She was a volunteer hereWednesdays from 7 AM to 1 Pm –  Cherry Lane and Meadow Road


Did you want to get a head start on the weekend by hitting a Friday market?  How about this one which runs from 930 AM to 1130 AM - 190 S. Roselle Road


Why not a farmer’s market by a farm?  Glenview lets you do that on Saturdays from 9 AM – 12 PM - This market accepts the LINK card. - 1510 Wagner Road


What's In Season and Where to Find It - Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago

What’s In Season and Where to Find It – Sponsored by Vera 1023 W. Lake, Chicago

The Little Over a Weekly Harvest of Eat Local Links

Posted: August 19, 2015 at 4:21 pm

They Use the Real Food Calculator in Maine and Other Things to Check Out


Eat stinky local cheese from former Beet Reporter Eric May.

Some very refreshing words to the various cheap shots our movement endures (the price of appearing too holy for sure).

Will you see any of these stories in the Local Beet (well maybe Chefs have tattoos!!)

Speaking of chefs with tattoos, Beet sponsor and incredible locavore, Iliana Regan has this to say about kitchen culture, “I create pressure by emphasizing to the staff that only a fool would dine at Elizabeth and only give me the credit.”  The whole thing is a reat read.

Men grill their beets.

Critical need for friend of Beet Janet Fuller and us.

Eat local from the Sugar Beet and other coops.

Eat local Colorado.

Eat local Maine (University thereof, and if you do crosswords, you know wherein thereof)

Eat the local “Chestnut Provisions” tasting.

Myth or reality.

Low carb or low fat.

Not good news.



What’s In Season Now – Corks & Crayons – Sunday August 23

Posted: August 19, 2015 at 9:21 am

Support Purple Asparagus




Melissa Graham was one of the first Beet Reporters. We knew her from way back in the Chowhound days when she was MAG and hosting bread tasting parties. In those far away days, Melissa worked as an accomplished attorney. She soon gave up that career for her passion of cooking. She formed a catering firm, but that enterprise only showed her that her passion was not just in cooking but in spreading the word of a sustainable lifestyle. The logical progression was to leave catering and form an organization, Purple Asparagus, where she could educate children, families, and the community about eating that’s good for the body and the planet.  Through thei flagship program, Delicious Nutritious Adventures, they teach food literacy to children in Chicago Public Schools.  Purple Asparagus emphasizes real foods, especially of fruits and veggies.

Now on their 11th year, Corks & Crayons is Purple Asparagus’s annual fundraiser. Corks & Crayons will be held this year on August 23 from 3 PM to 6 PM at the Greenhouse Loft (located in the Green Exchange), 2545 W. Diversey Avenue, 2nd floor Chicago.

As with each year, Corks & Crayons provides food, drink and entertainment for the whole family. Mom and Dad get  craft cocktails, local beer, wines from our friend Damien Casten/Candid Wines, and tastings from top restaurants like Big Jones, Trencherman, and White Oak Gourmet. For the kids, there will be a photo booth, singing and dancing with Miss Jamie, balloon twisting with Miss Jamie’s Farmhand Scott, and an art experience. For additional information and tickets, go here.

Chicago Food Trucks: Who’s Locally sourcing?

Posted: August 18, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Fish tacos from Real Food Street Bistro in Bend, Ore.

Fish tacos from Real Food Street Bistro in Bend, Ore.

Locally-sourced food is utilized by some Chicago-area restaurants – but how (if at all) is it being used in our city’s popular food truck scene?



Menu Monday has Pepper Possiblitities

Posted: August 17, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Can and Can’t This Time of Year


pepper possibilities

On this Menu Monday, I am very much thinking about how I will cook some peppers this week. I am also, though, thinking about the peppers I will not be cooking this week. Remember all those cool days of June and July. Remember when the August heat did hit and it was like, where’s summer been. The good news, our electric bills are down. The bad news, all those cool, rainy days delayed greatly, the arrival of ripe peppers. Peppers come to the market in two colors: green and everything else. Leaving aside certain “chocolate” peppers and pale “gypsy” peppers, the color in peppers indicates ripening and sweetness; for many like my beloved Cook Book addict, peppers are at their most enjoyable when colored not green. In fact, in this Local Family at least, we are forbidden from making too many dishes without not green peppers. It means the pepperonata, the peppers grilled or baked as parts of assortments, these are off the menu this Monday. Our stock barely includes enough, not green, peppers to makes these dishes worth the effort. Instead, the not green peppers are reserved for salads and similar use.

You cannot pretty much tell from that picture above, but I have three kinds of peppers in the Bungalow. First is a few of the aforementioned ripe ones, for salad. Then, there are a bunch of jalapenos I got the other day and some serranos I had not finished from the week before. They will go anywhere and everywhere. For instance, I made a tuna-bean salad this am, and I included about a half a jalapeno in it. Finally, the bulk of the long peppers are various “banana” or “wax” or “hungarian”–to be non-technical. They will be roasted on an open flame, peeled taking up way more time than I expect, and marinated with olive oil, a dash of red wine vinegar and tons of garlic.

It’ll look like that but with more color.

I talked about prepping the CSA box the other day. Now that it’s Menu Monday, let’s discuss what to do with what’s been prepped.

Eat it.

It’s a great box this week from Tomato Mountain*, but not a box that lends itself well to menu musings. There’s salad, salad, and salad on the menu, plus probably some salsa verde if I get around to it. The onions, shallots and garlic go for menus any week not just this week. Besides supplementing this stuff with peppers, I picked up a few more eggplants, some green beans and some zukes. I’m thinking eggplant salad with tahini, a/k/a baba ganoush; maybe some eggplant and zukes grilled, and probably a Greek style baked veg, a/k/a briami. It is also the time of year to make a good salade Nicoise, and I plan on boiling some green beans just for that.

What’s on your menu this week?

*Cook Book Addict works for Tomato Mountain

Prepping the CSA Box

Posted: August 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm

It’s Never Too Late

If you know me, really know me, you know I’m not so great with time management. In the, it’s never too late to change, I’ve been trying to clock my time spent at various tasks to see where I can be more KISS, you know keep it simple sweetie (or whatever you want that last S to stand for), and part of the KISS process is figuring out where you’re leaching time. It took me like forty-five minutes to deal with last night’s Tomato Mountain CSA box, and most of that was not even spent trying to compose the odd picture shown above. Having taken all this time this AM, I thought, now, how can I capitalize on it. Might as well make a post. You’re probably been getting your CSA box for a while and have your how ways to kill 45 minutes on a new arrival. Still, I thought, it’s never too late to share a tip or two.

Step One

The first thing I do with my CSA box is figure out what I have. This process actually begins at least one day if not several days before it arrives. “What’s in this week’s box,” I’ll start asking my wife early in the week. Sometimes she knows. While we get our CSA box on Thursday night, the first set of Tomato Mountain CSA boxes goes out on Wednesday. By Thursday am, I know the rough outline of my box. My Tomato Mountain newsletter does not come until later Thursday, and the picture starts getting clearer. It is not until I open the box on Friday AM that I really know what’s included. For instance, I heard eggplant, but are that fat Sicilian style better for roasting or skinny Asian style, better for stir frys. Over the season, I’ll get both. Which will it be this week. The thrill of opening the weekly CSA box never gets old.

hanging onions

Step Two

Assess and determine the plan of attack. Going through the CSA box, I need to figure out a few things. One, where am I going to put stuff. Two, what do I need to do to it before it goes away. This week’s box included lettuce, parsley, eggplant, tomatoes, and various alliums. The lettuce and parsley needed work. The tomatoes would go on a platter in the dining room, the eggplants would go in the basement fridge, and the onions, garlic and shallots would go in the “canning room” in a hanging basket.

It is important to know how to best keep your CSA produce, and making the decision on how to keep it depends not just on what the produce is but in what stage is the produce. For instance, lettuce keeps best in the fridge, pretty basic. Tomatoes, I’m sure you’ve heard, on the other hand, keep their flavor best at room temperature–store stem side down too. The onions, garlic and shallots, where? It depends. Summer onions, fresh onions, onions with thin skins, should be stored in the fridge. If the onions have been cured on the farm, that is set out and dried in the sun, they are better stored somewhere dry and cool. The problem in the summer is finding that spot. Our bungalow, like most bungalows, is coolest in the basement. Hence, the best spot to keep our onions. What I said also applies to shallots and garlic, which come in softer versions earlier in the season.

photo (40)

Step Three

Do the work. Tamar would tell you do the work of your everlasting meal. Get a pot of water boiling, the oven heated for roasting. No time like the present to cook your fare. Most of do not have the whereof all to just cook now. We need to find the right moments. Like I say, with all my new found time management skills, it’s all about doing things when they need to be done. There are things that have to be done with a box and things that can be done. What had to be done with this box was air dry the lettuce and trim the parsley. Chris at Tomato Mountain used to make a big deal about how he sent his produce to his customers all dirty; that dirty produced lasted longer; that once washed, the leaves started going. I guess customers wanted cleaner vegetables. My lettuce came wet. Since I believe what Chris told me before, I air dry it before sending it to the fridge. The parsley, as I learned a while back, needs to be kept in a plastic, lidded quart container. To get said parsley in quart container, I needed to trim off the stems. If I was a better person, I would save the stems for soup. I put them in compost. Do the work that needs to be done now.

There you have it. Three easy steps to make the most of your CSA shipment. Don’t forget to unfold your box and return it to your farm. They cost a lot of money!

*The Condiment Queen works for Tomato Mountain.

Many Local Tomatoes in Season and Where to Find Them – Sponsored by Vera Chicago Thursday, August 13th, 2015
It’s Grand! – Official Opening of Sugar Beet Coop Thursday, August 13th, 2015
RECYCLED: Eat Local Heirloom Tomatoes Wednesday, August 12th, 2015
The Local Beet’s Top 148 Breweries in Chicagoland Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
Eat Local Cheese and Call It Turkish Breakfast Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
All is Not Gorgeous on Menu Monday Monday, August 10th, 2015
From Mercado to Market Saturday, August 8th, 2015
The Local Calendar 8/7/15 Runoff The Movie, Veggie Fest 8/15-16, Purple Asparagus 8/23, Food & Wine Festival 8/28-29 Friday, August 7th, 2015
We Harvest Jeannie and More in this Week’s Summer Bounty of Links Friday, August 7th, 2015
The 2015 Garden Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Accelerate the Good Food Movement – Are You a Good Food Business Who Wants to Launch or Expand Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
We’re Number 2 – Eat Local Cheese Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
Smilin’ with the Bros at Smylie Bros. Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
The Best Place to Start Monday, August 3rd, 2015
Celebrate 16th Annual National Farmers Market Week! Monday, August 3rd, 2015