Friday, September 01, 2006

What's Local This Week at Caputo's
What's Local Everywhere

Well before the farmer's market season started, my wife and I would find local food in the oddest of places--like Michigan apples and Minnesota potatoes at the dollar store. I also noted that on any given week, if one looked a bit, one could find something local at your neighborhood market; for instance Caputo's.

Am I just paying attention or is there more focus on local produce?

Whole Foods has realized that there is a 32 degree of food coolness out there, that organic hardly cuts it with the cutting edge foodies. They now offer pamphlets on how they stock local. Recent visits to their store in River Forest, Illinois found much local produce including many vegetables from Wisconsin (local AND organic); peaches from Southern Illinois and some so-so (and expensive) heirloom tomatoes from Michigan. The Seedlings people from Green City (and other markets) have told me that their melons will soon be for sale at Whole Foods (if they are not there now).

Or Sunset Foods on the North Shore. Scroll down their weekly flier to see the ads for local (really local) vegetables.

And my neighborhood Caputo's, plenty of Michigan apples and peaches and plums intertwined with their other produce.

My wife speculates that the stuff was always there; it's just that stores are labeling things more because local food is "in". I'm not sure that's the case. I think because local food is more in, the market has opened up more to local food. Regardless, it's a good thing.
Friday Cat Blogging

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Eat Local Challenge
The Spice Conundrum

I make no bones about not being pure to the Local Challenge. When asked/challenged, I pretty quickly throw out coffee and then olive oil. Because the first is crucial to my sanity and the second is necessary to most of my [or especially] my wife's cooking, they are things that always come to mind. If I think about it, however, I would come up with all sorts a other exceptions. A major challenge to the Eat Local Challenge is spices. After all, most spices come from exotic locations like the Malabar Coast or shall I say, "Malabar Coast"--you know what I mean. Surely, one needs spices to cook...or do they?

Right now we have peppers coming out of the wazoo. Went to Milwaukee and could not resist the bags of small peppers for a dollar, went to Minnesota and could not resist the bags of small peppers for a dollar--and I bought out the entire supply of micro bell peppers at a quarter each. At Madison I bought a godly amount of Hungarian hot wax because I want to duplicate the vinegar peppers at Old Town Serbian, and Farmer Vicki just keeps on piling them on me. There must have been 25 (at least) various peppers in our box this week.

Many of the peppers we are already drying; from there we can make our own spice powders or chile flakes. Other peppers are going into the freezer or into vinegar. Our intention is to create a slightly new palate to cook from. Of course, we have fresh herbs now and many dried herbs (some we have done ourselves, some from Farmer Vicki). I'm not saying we will never stir up a pot of curry again or dabble in international, spice dependent cuisines, nor would we skip nutmeg in a squash puree or cinnamon in an apple pie, or hell, I'm not skipping fresh cracked pepper on my salads, but over time, it will be a lot less of their spices and a lot more of ours.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Green City Market
August 30, 2006

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It's always fun to go to a farmer's market, and Green City is generally funner than most because of things found only there. Still, today's market was missing something. It's just that the market the other day in Oak Park seemed so over-flowing. Today's Green City seemed like, well just another week.

There were a few new spots for the week including the first grapes (no Concords yet) and new stuff from Trader's Creamery--fromage blanc and creme fraiche.

Japanese sweet potatoes are not something you run into too often.

It also seemed like melon week.

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There's always a market for weeds!
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Here's a few more shots form this week's market.
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Monday, August 28, 2006

Oak Park Farmer's Market
The Peak!

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If you ever wanted to see what the fuss was about farmer's markets, now is the time. Summer is still flowing with sweet corn, tomatoes (and more tomatoes) and other fruit/vegetables like eggplants and bell peppers. And oh the fruit, berries, melons, peaches, but also the start of fall: apples and pears.


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The tomatoes, mostly mini, in the first picture are from Farmer Vicki/Genesis Growers. Below, the okra and radishes come from Nicholl's Farm, the peaches from Hardin Farms and the apples, which are softball sized, come from the stand next to Hardin. The herbed oils are from my friend Jim at Herbally Yours.

Credit to my daughter Sophia for some of these pics (I'm not saying).

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Playing with Paint Shop

I have no idea what I'm doing. Look artisic?

It's stuffed grape leaves from the Parthenon in Chicago.
My First Food Pic

Nathan's at the Mall of America (where else?)

Seems not quite sharp enough, but otherwise, I'm happy.