Halloween Harvest Ball by Amelia Levin

The Green City Market Junior Board’s mission is to engage young professionals in market activities, but also assist with fundraising; with your help, our Meet the Market events this summer raised a total of $4,981 for GCM’s LINK card program, with the final MTM in September at The Signature Room racking in a whopping $894!

Now it’s time to show your support once more this season – and have some fantastic fun – by coming out Sunday, Oct. 28 to the GCM Junior Board’s Halloween Harvest Ball! Proceeds from the 2nd annual fall fundraiser will again go to the LINK card program as well as to other initiatives encouraging local, seasonal eating.

Throw on your spookiest costume – this ghoulish event will feature many of Chicago’s top chefs, pastry chefs and mixologists offering seasonal bites and drinks utilizing products from Green City Market farms.

Bid on a dinners at Frontera Grill, Yusho and other top restaurants, brunch at North Pond and brewing at Goose Island, cooking classes, demos, and more featured in the silent auction. Proceeds benefit GCM initiatives.

Guest DJs, Jeff Maimon (GCM Junior board member) and Mark Psilos (GCM Associate Director) will spin spooky tunes with plenty of opportunities for dancing. We will also be awarding a prize for best costume!

The Details:
Sunday, Oct. 28: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Ravenswood Event Center
4011 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, IL 60661
(773) 426-6738

$75 per ticket 
(Green City Market members will receive a special discount – please email admin@greencitymarket.org to receive the code, limit 2 tickets per member)

Purchase tickets here.

Participating chefs include:
Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp, Sunday Dinner
John Manion, La Sirena Clandestina
Eric Mansavage, Farmhouse
Mark Mendez, Vera
Matthias Merges, Yusho
Ryan Poli and Greg Bastien, Tavernita
Mike and Pat Sheerin, Trenchermen
Jared Van Camp, Nellcôte and Old Town Social
Jared Wentworth, Longman & Eagle
Andrew Zimmerman, Sepia

Pastry chefs include:
Dana Cree, Blackbird
Patrick Fahy, Sixteen
Jennifer Jones, Topolobampo

Drink masters include:
Jordan Johnston, Frontera Grill
Danielle Pizzutillo, Embeya
Adam Scheiderer, Ada Street
Jared Rouben, Goose Island (supplying limited edition Farmer’s Market Series beer)
Jason Wagner, Nellcôte and RM Champagne Salon (wine)

Other beverage sponsors: Death’s Door Spirits, FEW Spirits, Goose Island Brewpub, Illinois Sparkling Co., New Holland Artisan Spirits, Tenzing Wine and Spirits, Virtue Cider.

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Day in the Life of a Farmer…by Amelia Levin

While all of us enjoy talking to the farmers that supply our food and support our land, many of us don’t know what it’s like to be a farmer, and what goes into preparing for the weekly Wednesday and Saturday markets. In fact, harvesting, packing up, traveling to and from and working the farmer’s markets can be very physically taxing. Let me share with you a typical Friday/Saturday for two different farmers. Knowing this, we can thank our friends for their hard work and show them the respect they deserve!

 

Heartland Meats

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Having worked for Heartland Meats at the market, I know that Pat and John Sondgeroth rise at 12:30 a.m. to load up the trucks and get to Green City Market by about 4 or 4:30 a.m. (a 2 ½ hour commute from Mendota, Ill.). John would set up the carts for me at Green City, then drop Pat off at the Evanston market, then drive back to Oak Park for that city’s market. I had it easy. I just had to show up at 6 a.m. to set up the tent, write in the prices for the day with a sharpie on the magnets and then slap them in place on the signs. Sometimes, if there was a lot of work to be done in the fields after loading up the truck, John won’t go to sleep at all.

 

The day doesn’t end after the Saturday market. Pat and John often stay overnight in the city to be able to do deliveries at restaurants in the afternoon, and then head out to the Mount Prospect farmer’s market the following day. By Tuesday, it was already time to pack up and load the truck for the next morning’s drive back to the city for the Wednesday Green City Market. Then the cycle continues for the weekend.

 

Leaning Shed Farm

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For Leaning Shed Farm, Dave and Denise Dyrek, typically harvest their produce the day before the Wednesday and Saturday markets, rising early in the morning for five straight hours of “pretty back-breaking work,” Dave Dyrek says, noting that his brother- and sister-in-law will help out during peak harvest season. “Then we have some lunch and go back out to pick more produce for the market. Then we wash it and bunch it and make it look presentable. By the time we’re finished it’s a 12 hour day.”

 

A few months ago, the Dyrek family harvested as much as 40,000 garlic scapes. They’ve also spent four hours on strawberries alone.

 

Even after the 12-hour harvest, the work isn’t over. Dave loads up the truck, baskets, signs, tables, tents and all for the next day’s roughly two-hour trip to Chicago. “I try to get to sleep at 7:30 or 8 if possible on the night before market,” Dave says. “Then we wake up at about 2 a.m. Michigan time, 1 a.m. Chicago time. That’s one of the hardest things is the hours. On market days you have to get up early and the rest of the day all you want to do is sleep, but you don’t want to go to bed too early after the market and sleep that long. It’s also hard to get to sleep when it’s light out. Being a zombie about four days a week is what it’s all about during market season.”

 

Still, Dave says he loves being at the markets, meeting and talking to people, and he knows his customers like to meet and talk with him too. So the payoff is there.

 

Once arriving at the market, in the peak season it takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes to set up the booth so it’s presentable. Earlier and later in the season, it takes about an hour, Dave says. Even though he gets to the market around 4 a.m., he’s not able to set up until 4:30 a.m. because of city and market regulations. So it’s a little after 7 when he and Denise finish. Because the prices change by week, they use dry erase markers and wipe-off signs to write in all the prices for the between 50 and 70 different types of peppers and tomatoes.

 

After the market closes, the Dyreks will take home as much produce as they can to use and share with neighbors, while Denise takes some of the leftover onions and peppers, dehydrates them and makes them into spices. If it rains and it’s a particularly slow market day, they’ll donate the leftovers to the Lakeview Pantry.  So, remember to stock up when you’re by the booth!

 

During pepper season at the peak of harvest, the Dyreks will bring in some extra help at the farm. “We could probably pick a few days before the markets, but I’m really into fresh produce so we try to get 100 percent done the day before the market,” Dave says.

 

On non-market days, the Dyreks spend most of their days planting new crops and rotating others, regularly checking for bugs, pests and weeds. Generally, it’s a seven-day-a-week job from April to the end of October, Dave says.

 

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FRUGAL LOCAVORE RECIPES – TOMATO GRATIN AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP by Locavore Gal

Green City Market’s locavore challenge has once again inspired me to try new dishes with my favorite local ingredients. This year, in the interest of frugal locavorism I feasted on lots of rustic, hearty fare like bean salad with black turtle beans from Breslin Farms, a big pot of simple cauliflower soup and poached Kinnikinnick eggs on Crumb toast. But, the winner of the week was discovered when I was forced to rustle up dinner with little more than the last of my juicy overripe tomatoes and a heel of bread. This inexpensive dish was a real hit. It was inspired by a recipe in ‘Cold Weather Cooking’ by Sarah Leah Chase.

TOMATO GRATIN
Serves 2

3 tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil
2 cups diced stale crusty bread
3-4 cups diced juicy tomatoes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional – 1 garlic clove & 1 sprig of thyme or basil

-First I fried 2 cups of stale diced bread cubes in a little Wisconsin sunflower oil.
-Once the cubes were browned I added a few cups of diced juicy tomatoes.
-I have some thyme growing in a pot at home and had a garlic clove on hand so they were chopped and added to the pan at this point along with a some salt and pepper. That said, with flavorsome local tomatoes you can skip the garlic and herbs and still enjoy a knockout result.
-I cooked the tomato and bread mixture for 5 minutes and then poured it into a shallow baking dish and baked it for 30min until the top was brown and the juicy tomatoes had bubbled up nicely.
The end result was delicious served warm alongside a small mixed leaf salad.

The cauliflower soup was just as simple and will become a locavore staple of mine beyond the challenge. This recipe is lightly adapted from Paul Bertolli’s ‘Cooking by Hand’.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Serves 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (6 ounces), sliced thin
1 head very fresh cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), broken into florets
5 1/2 cups water, divided
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

-Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sweat the onion in the olive oil over low heat without letting it brown for 15 minutes.
-Add the cauliflower, salt to taste, and 1/2 cup water. Raise the heat slightly, cover the pot tightly and stew the cauliflower for 15 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Then add another 4 1/2 cups hot water, bring to a low simmer and cook an additional 20 minutes uncovered.
-Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender to a very smooth, creamy consistency. (I used an immersion blender instead). -Let the soup stand for 20 minutes. In this time it will thicken slightly.
-Thin the soup with 1/2 cup hot water. Reheat the soup. Serve hot, drizzled with a thin stream of extra-virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

I hope you’ve also discovered some delicious new staples this week and enjoyed your own frugal locavore success stories!

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2012 Locavore Challenge: Tomato Soup by Kitt Healy

This year, the Locavore Challenge coincided perfectly with a shift in the weather. We found ourselves suddenly lifted out of the sweltering, watermelon-craving heat of summer and arriving in a land of cool mornings, sweaters and, most importantly, soups. This is also the perfect time to appreciate the bounty of the farmers market because almost everything (except for strawberries, asparagus, etc) is in season. There’s no excuse for not eating local at this time of year! It’s so easy and so rewarding!
Tomato basil soup is one of my all-time favorites, so I picked up a giant bag or multi-colored fragrant tomatoes this weekend at Green City Market. I’ve copied the recipe below, noting substitutions I made to keep it local. Enjoy!

Ingredients (I tripled this recipe so I’d have extra soup to freeze)

1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (sunflower oil from Century Sun Oil at GCM)

1 large red onion, diced

½ c chopped celery

½ c chopped carrot

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey (Honey from Heritage Prairie, Ellis Farms or the Chicago Honey Co-op)

4 cups whole roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 jar sun dried tomatoes, drained and rinsed (I’ve been dehydrating cherry tomatoes from Leaning Shed all summer long)

4 cups low sodium, fat free chicken broth or veggie stock (Veggie stock is easy to make from veggie scraps, but I didn’t end up needing this because the celery and carrot add such a nice flavor contrast to the tomato).

1 c picked basil leaves

Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste (not much you can do about this!)

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes plus more for topping (happened to have a dried cayenne from Genesis lying around!)

1 Tbsp shaved parmesan plus additional sprinkles for topping, optional

 

Instructions

1.  In a large saucepan and a little olive oil, caramelize the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and brown sugar.

2.  Add the tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and bring to a simmer*. Season with salt & pepper.

3.  Add the stock, simmer on low heat until very soft, at least 20 minutes. Add the basil and puree.

4.  Add crushed red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.  Check for seasoning and enjoy!

Makes 6 1 1/2 cup servings

*If you have a food mill, it’s always nice to put your tomatoes through it to get the seeds out. I don’t have a food mill and I don’t mind my tomato soup with a little texture.

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Meet the Market Events Raise More Than $2,100 for GCM’s LINK Program

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by Amelia Levin, Junior Board Member

So far this season the Green City Market Junior Board’s Meet the Market events have raised more than $2,100 to support GCM’s LINK matching program. LINK is Illinois’ food assistance program enabling families to purchase wholesome, local and seasonal food.

Thanks to private and state grants, Green City Market now offers each LINK customer up to $10 a day in matching funds. If the Green City Market Board and Junior board secure more funding, however, that number could increase to $20 per day. But they need the community’s help.

Meet the Market events in support of GCM’s LINK matching program take place each month at some of the hottest restaurants around the city. The weeknight, after-work events are free and open to the public, highlighting a farmer and chef each time. Complimentary small bites showcase the farm’s best in season and the hosting chef’s creativity, while the majority of the sales from cocktails – also showcasing local produce – go directly to the LINK program. The events are also a rare chance to talk one-on-one with farmers and ask questions about farming, local, seasonal food and more outside of busy market days.

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Last week’s Meet the Market at Farmhouse event netted $472, with apps by Chef Eric Mansavage and cocktails using fresh produce from King’s Hill farm in Southwestern Wisconsin. The previous MTM event at The Bedford showcasing Peter Klein of Seedling, FEW Spirits and delicious creations by Chef Mark Steuer (a Junior Board member) raised $642, surpassing the Junior Board’s goal of raising a minimum of $500 at each event.

Earlier this season, the Junior Board kicked of the MTM series at Sepia with Chef Andrew Zimmerman and Erika Allen of Growing Power, which raised $600, followed by Balena, with Chef Chris Pandel, Pastry Chef Amanda Rockman, René and Bruce Gelder from Ellis Family Farms in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and cocktails by celebrated mixologist Debbi Peek and Death’s Door Spirits. That event raised $588. Funds for LINK ($464) were also raised at Goose Island Farmer’s Market Series Beer Garden event.

Next up is Nellcôte on Thursday, July 26, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. featuring Mick Klug Farms in St. Joseph, Mich. and the family’s fruits, peas and veggies, along with Chef Jared Van Camp. So come out for some FREE food, Death’s Door cocktails in support of LINK, and meet the farmers, the chefs and some new friends.

Later this summer, look for MTM events at Ada Street (August) and The Signature Room (September).

Have an idea how the Junior Board can improve these events? Can’t make the event but want to donate to LINK anyway? Email juniorboard@greencitymarket.org.

Curious about LINK? Read more about the state and GCM matching program below.

Recent Developments with GCM’s LINK/EBT Token Program:

Last season, Green City Market dramatically increased the amount of LINK/EBT traffic at the market. To accommodate the higher numbers, the market has worked to make the LINK acceptance process less cumbersome for farmers and shoppers. The new system uses no paper. Instead, customers use their LINK card to purchase tokens that they then spend like cash at the market. This system has allowed the market to implement a matching program, by which LINK customers can receive up to $10 in additional funds per day to spend at the market. This program was made possible by grants from the Auer Family Foundation and the LinkUP Illinois Program of the Experimental Station.

GCM’s Farmer Relations and Outreach Coordinator, Kitt Healy, wrote a grant to the Auer foundation last December, and the Market was awarded $3,000 from that group to start the Link matching program.  GCM recently received an additional $2,000 from LinkUP Illinois. According to Kitt, the market is currently giving each customer up to $10 a day in matching funds, but could increase that number up to $20 per day if the Green City Market Board and Junior Board can help to secure more funding.

If the Junior Board raises enough money this season, it could sustain the EBT matching program for three to four years.

FAQs about LINK:

LINK vs. EBT vs. SNAP: What’s what?

All of these acronyms refer to the federal nutrition assistance program former known as Food Stamps. Since the programs are administered on a state-by-state basis, LINK refers to the Illinois version of this program. EBT stands for “Electronic Benefits Transfer” which refers to the credit card style of payment. SNAP stands for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” and refers to the national program administered by the USDA and funded through the Farm Bill.

What can be purchased with LINK?

Customers can use LINK tokens to purchase anything at the market except for items that are served hot or ready-to-eat as well as flowers.

Does Green City Market Accept Out-of-State EBT purchases?

Green City Market CAN except EBT cards from other states. Cards do not necessarily need to be LINK. Matching funds, however, may be given for LINK purchases only.

Does the market accept WIC (Women, Infants and Children), SFMNP (Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program), or City of Chicago Market Match Coupons?

Some farmers do and some do not. The City of Chicago has its own EBT matching program with matching coupons that cannot, however, be used at Green City. Green City uses the token system instead.

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What Do I Do With…Garlic Scapes? by Amelia Levin, Green City Market Junior Board member

Time for garlic scapes. Those spiraling, twisty turvy green stalks that look like thin, lime green snakes weaving their way around a garden. Except, these snake-like things (actually nicknamed “serpent garlic”) are delicious.

Pungent and sweet like green garlic but far less strong, garlic scapes are the unopened flower buds of the hardneck garlic plant that appear about a month after the first leaves.

Last Saturday I caught a tangled bunch of the loveable Midwestern herb at the River Valley Ranch tent last Saturday, and wondered, what should I do with this?

In the past, I’ve substituted the scapes for chives in a summery dip with crudités or atop simple baked sweet potatoes and sour cream. But the nice woman at the mushroom stand suggested something else much more intriguing – how about a garlic scape pesto?

To make it, simply substitute the scapes for garlic and basil and add the usual pesto additions: good quality extra virgin olive oil, Italian (not Chinese-sourced) pine nuts, and Parmesan or pecorino-Romano cheese. In my case, I’d probably add back in a little basil plucked fresh from my pot outside, but just a little – maybe a few leaves or so. I wouldn’t want to overwhelm the delicate garlic flavor.

On my way out from the market that day I passed by River Valley Ranch’s other booth at the opposite end selling portabella mushroom burgers on buns spread with the garlic scape pesto. Marinate those meaty ports in a little of River Valley Ranch’s portabella mushroom steak sauce and some aged balsamic vinegar, fire up the grill (or broiler), spread a little scape pesto on a Bennison’s Bakery pretzel bun or Ciabatta roll, and you have yourself a nice little lunch – or meatless dinner.

Another option: garlic scape pesto and wild mushroom-flavored linguini from Pasta Puttana (Jessica Volpe), another GCM vendor. Cooked al dente, mixed with a little of the pasta cooking water and the pesto, and topped with a few shavings of pecorino, I’m not sure what else is needed for a freshly-made pasta like that. Did you know Jessica uses local farm eggs for her dough, too?

Here’s a quick recipe for that garlic scape pesto (adapted from Epicurious). This makes enough to coat about 1 pound of pasta. I prefer Pecorino versus Parmigianino cheese for its gentler, nutty flavor, again not to overshadow the scapes. Enjoy.

 

Garlic Scape Pesto

(Makes about 1 1/2 cups pesto)

 

10 large garlic scapes

1/4 cup Italian pine nuts

1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano)

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

In a blender or food processor, puree the garlic scapes, pine nuts and cheese until very finely chopped. Slowly pour in oil with the motor running or in between pulses. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The pesto will stay fresh in the fridge, covered, for a week, or freeze for up to a month.

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At the Market by Nick Kindelsberger

Greetings!
 
“At the Market” plans to look at the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available at the market each week, both to help clue you in, and also to provide a few recipes to help you take advantage of the bounty. Honestly, I thought this post wouldn’t need to come out for a few more weeks, but thanks to some unseasonably warm weather in March, spring sprung early this year. This bumped up the dates of a number of spring vegetables that usually aren’t available at this time.
 
Here are five things you should look out for at the next Green City Market on May 5th (the first outdoor market of the year). 
 
1. Morels
As soon as I walked in last Saturday’s market, I heard the whispers about morels. River Valley Kitchens had a few of the mushrooms around, but they were long gone by the mid-morning. If you want to take advantage of the fresh spring morels, they advised showing up as early as possible. If you do manage to snag some, this recipe from Daniel Boulud’s Cooking with Daniel Boulud, pairs them with chicken and fava beans; another prime spring ingredient. 
 
2. Asparagus
Asparagus, on the other hand, is plentiful and all over the place. I spotted some at Ellis Farms and Mick Klug Farm, but other places definitely have it. Of course, due to the crazy warm weather, asparagus started showing up in March, but it’s never a bad thing to have asparagus season last a little longer. I know it’s common to serve it simply, maybe with a fried egg, especially when it’s just popped up. But I also have a soft spot for this bacon and asparagus sandwich from Saveur. Sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it’s simply and satisfying. 
 
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3. Rhubarb 
Honestly, I was most surprised to hear that rhubarb was on the way. It had all sold out at Growing Home by the mid-morning, but they promised to have more next week. I’m all for a rhubarb pie, but for some reason, rhubarb reminds me of a refreshing cocktail. This recipe from Serious Eats is not a bad place to start. 
 
4. French Breakfast Radishes 
I was glad to see that small French breakfast radishes were available at King’s Hill Farm. Sure, you can slice these up and toss them in salads. But I think the most delicious way to take advantage of these is to just serve them with some softened butter. 
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5. Lettuce 
Sure, hearty winter greens are delicious, but it’s thrilling to find a collection of tender lettuce leaves, from romaine to red leaf, available at a few of the stalls. Now that I talked against the salad in the previous pick, I’ll go all in on a fresh spring salad for this one. In fact, take an idea from Saveur, and pair the lettuce with something crunchy.  Saveur has a whole gallery of options.

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Green City Market Junior Board’s Sepia Dinner

2011 was the inaugural year for the Green City Market Junior Board, and it was a busy one at that. With the development of educational programs that will launch this year, the popular restaurant and farmer meet ups called Meet the Market, and the fall fundraiser at Carnivale, we were constantly on our toes. And we’re not letting up for 2012.

It all starts on March 28th. We’re thrilled to announce our first event of the year hosted in partnership with Sepia (http://www.sepiachicago.com/) and Growing Power (http://www.growingpower.org/), a Green City Market vendor. Representatives of Green City Market will join Chef Andrew Zimmerman, along with Erika Allen of Growing Power, for a night to celebrate Growing Power’s Winter Market Menu, with proceeds from the evening benefitting Green City Market.

The night will begin with a welcome reception with hors d’oeuvres and a market-inspired cocktail created by head bartender Josh Pearson. A five-course, local and sustainably sourced dinner will follow, crafted by Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman, with wine pairings by Wine Director Arthur Hon.

The format is a brand new one for the Junior Board, as this is the first multi-coursed meal the group has planned. Seats are $115 per person, which includes the cost of food and wine, tax, gratuity, and a Green City Market donation. The dinner, hosted in Sepia’s brand new private dining space, is expected to sell out quickly. Call the restaurant directly at (312) 441-1920 to book seats. The evening will begin at 6:30pm.

Later this year the Meet the Market series will return, as well as the crop mobs, a new Book Club, and educational programs at the outdoor market. But to whet your palettes for now, here’s the what to expect from the Sepia menu:

Welcome Cocktail:

Spring Starter

First Course:

Kabocha squash sformato, smoked brown butter, sage, candied walnut

2008 Forlorn Hope Semillon Nacré-Yount Mill Vineyard, Yountville

Second Course:

Tilapia, scallop mousseline, grey dove mushrooms, lemongrass

2008 Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons, Albert Bichot

Third Course:

Duck fat fried chicken, sweet potato, mustard greens, miso

 

2010 Fessina Laeneo, Rosso Sicilia

Fourth Course:

Lamb loin and neck, roasted carrots, vadouvan, lamb jus

2009 Cahors, Cèdre Héritage

Dessert:

Amaretto cake, tart cherry compote, crème fraîche

Rare Wine Company Malmsey Madeira New York Special ReserveImage

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by | March 16, 2012 · 5:02 pm

Eating Local Beyond the Challenge by Locavore Girl

Well, it’s the last day of the Locavore Challenge! Like many of you I aim to eat local as much as possible year round but having never participated in a Locavore Challenge before I am proud to have spent these fourteen days feasting only on the bounty of the Midwest. It’s been a delicious educational experience.

Those who have not yet delved into the world of local eating are often impressed or nervous at the idea of subsisting on such a seemingly limited menu. The dirty little secret is that it’s not actually that hard. Here in Chicago we are blessed with an abundance of local produce with a climate that lends itself to the production of a vast array of foods for a large part of the year.  Of course not all Chicagoans have easy access to this fresh fare and there are many dedicated organizations and individuals working tirelessly to address that disparity. I count myself very lucky to have Green City Market and a host of other excellent markets and food outlets at my door.

As the Locavore Challenge wraps up I’ll continue to include local foods in my diet as much as possible. The timing of the program is no accident – falling at a period when the best of our summer produce is hitting the table and fall crops are starting to pop up for harvest. However despite our freezing winter, with only a little extra effort we can easily enjoy local produce right through the year.

Of course the market vendors will continue to supply us with wonderful root vegetables, meats, eggs, sprouts, breads, apples, cheeses, mushrooms, pies, pastas, winter crops and more right through the cold months. Fellow market goers will know that there is still plenty to fill your shopping bags in mid-winter. Add those items to produce that has been canned, stored, fermented and frozen during the year and you have yourself a veritable cornucopia of local foods.

I’ve dabbled modestly in fermenting and canning and love to support those who do it well by buying their wares. I’m trying to be a good country mouse by stocking up on jars of items I use regularly. Buying bulk from your favorite market vendors is a great way to cut costs and stock up for winter. My 12 jars of Tomato Mountain roasted tomatoes will have my household set until next years batch arrives. Of course buying the produce itself in bulk and canning it yourself is wonderfully rewarding and even more economical. I hope to try my hand at canning more next year.

In the middle of January your freezer can also be a busy locavore’s best friend. If you buy a little extra of your favorite freezables during the year you can smarten up your meals with locally produced warm weather ingredients. Or simply freeze an extra portion of that pasta sauce, dessert or casserole made with local warm-weather produce. A bag of blueberries or peach slices tucked into the freezer in August will have you enjoying a summer fruit smoothie in January. The extra box of spring peas I froze early this year will taste extra sweet in a warming December soup. It’s a nice indulgence to enjoy these local flavors while the snow is piling up outside and needles to say it cheaper, tastier and kinder to the earth than importing the same ingredients from warmer climes.

I hope you all enjoy the last day of the program and will join me in continuing to savor local flavors beyond the challenge. Happy eating!

Locavore Gal

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Ham and Cheese Quesadilla with Grilled Peach Salsa by Phillippa Cannon

At the end of a busy day without lunch, I arrived home tired and hungry. Because I am trying to eat local during the challenge, I did not want to pick up the phone to order delivery.   After looking forlornly in the refrigerator for a few minutes, I realized I had enough local ingredients on hand to create a quick and satisfying ham and cheese quesadilla with grilled peach salsa. The sweetness of the peach salsa compliments and mutes the smokiness of the ham.

I started with a burrito-sized tortilla from local tortilla maker El Milagro.  On one half of the tortilla I layered four or five thin slices of City Provisions smoked La Pryor Farms’ ham, followed by four slices of Brunkow jack cheese with morels and onions.  I folded the tortilla in half over the ham and cheese and placed it on a hot griddle.  I weighed it down with a cast iron weight designed for grilled sandwiches, but a heavy pan will do the job just as well.  I turned the quesadilla when golden brown on one side and browned the other side.   When the sandwich was brown on both sides I removed it from the griddle and sliced it into triangles.  While grilling the quesadilla, I prepared a grilled peach and basil salsa using a luscious Flaming Fury peach, Italian basil from my back porch herb garden and diced green chili pepper.  I sliced one skinned peach and placed it on the griddle for about two minutes each side.  When lightly grilled on each side, I removed the fruit slices from the griddle, chopped them into quarter inch pieces and added about ¼ teaspoon of finely chopped green chilis and three or four leaves of chopped basil to create the salsa.  Serve the quesadilla with the peach salsa on the side. (Note: To remove the fuzzy skin from peaches, place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water for five minutes, turn the fruit a couple of times so the entire piece of fruit comes into contact with the hot water.   The skin will then come off easily with a sharp knife. )

 

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