Friday, April 27, 2007

With Eggs

Farmer Vicki told us (see below) that Spring is the time for things green (although Hat Hammond notes that there was a bit of purple this week as well.) A way my family enjoys these omnipresent spring greens is with eggs. A great natural partner, and many cuisines do the egg-greens combo thing. The eggs (good farm fresh like we get from Genesis Growers*) tap down some of the green's edge, and the greens boost the mildness of the eggs. Moreover, when you make the eggs strapazzatti, gently scrambled in large curds, you get wonderfully contrasting bites of egg and green.

This recipe started with Swiss chard, dropping the stems in boiling water a few minutes before the leaves. Some where in between, I added kale to the boiling water. You cannot have too much or too little greens for this dish. I lightly beat eight eggs with salt, pepper, and a good splash of heaven forbid non-local olive oil. Then, I sauteed the whites from three of this week's green onions in some olive oil--I used to bemoan all the spring onions Vicki gave, then I realized we needed to cook with the onion in season; green from spring through early summer, then the soft skin sweet onions (until they ran out) and finally, the rest of the year, the dry ones. The greens go into the pan to get introduced to the onions followed soon by the eggs. It's done over low heat. I don't use a classic French twenty-five minute scramble, but I do try to take my time. It's a recipe that will work with any green around, and like yesterday, especially good with something (my chard) that was on the tired side.

Of course, we were stayed as local as possible with a side of Michigan potatoes (boiled). Mesculun from last week (strong!) set us up for two local cheese from Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park: Prairie Fruit Farms moldorific ordorrific goat's blue called Huckleberry Blue and a slightly milder (anything would be milder) Amish edamish type of cheese whose name I cannot now locate. Had to stay local for the beverage, drinking hoppy (but too simple) beer from Two Brothers (nice post on them here.)

The box this week: the used kale, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce (a variety called Waldmans), Napa cabbage, radishes, beets, spring onions and a jar of Vicki's home canned apple jam (although I would have preferred the spiced apples I spied in her kitchen the other day!).

*The eggs are a hoot. Because the chickens are different breeds and ages, it's a dozen "mixed", ranging in size and color. Not eggs to bake with, per se, but as delcious as anything.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Eat Local - In Spirt

A long time ago, I touched on the notion that it was possible to Eat Local without actually eating local. That given the various constraints (see post below), it was not always possible to Eat Local (or as local as you wanted), yet one could always try to eat "as if". Was it made like local; artisanal; family (or small) farm, fair trade, organic, shade grown, free range, grass-fed, hormone free, without antibiotics, tuna safe--buzz words for sure, but pay attention, research. I have no hierarchy or scale (although I do tend to disdain corporganic like Horizon Milk). Just look for the products that seem best. Seek the products that would be like what you would get if you could find it local. Moreover, could it mimic the environmental impact of local; how many layers of packaging, could it be bought in bulk, how far did it travel.

A good read today, from the Chicago Tribune discusses the issue of plastic bags. In short: plastic bags bad (!). So, compare the amount of plastic bags needed to buy produce at the grocery store to my CSA box from Genesis Growers. Who gets more plastic? If you are not getting a CSA, however, you can still try, as if, by reducing your use of plastic bags. As they say in the article:

Avoiding the use of plastic bags is very difficult. My daily newspaper is usually delivered in a plastic bag. Most department stores, convenience stores and drugstores offer nothing but plastic bags. When I make a small purchase and say "I don't need a bag," I am usually greeted with disbelief. At a grocery store that customarily offers paper bags, I have to emphasize, "No plastic, please." At some establishments, for tiny purchases, many shopkeepers ask, "Would you like a little bag?" as if it were a courtesy.

Things do add up.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Honey We're In the New York Times!

Well not us per se (we were in the Sun Times), but today's New York Times notes [registration req.] the movement towards eating local. It's an OK article. It hits upon key elements on why; carbon footprint, tastes better, supports farmers, but especially as it focuses on purists, makes it seem quite hard to eat local.

First of all, if you peruse the Eat Local Challenge blog you find few (if any) absolutists. We wrestle with issues like spices yet accept many far away products. Some of it is craven addiction--see me without morning coffee, a lot of it (at least for me) is a sense of which items are meant to travel or have historically traveled. Spices have always been caravaned; apples have not. Second, as I keep on saying, it's not that hard (or maybe, it gets easier). Yes, it can require diligence and effort. Find farmer. Buy freezer. Enjoy turnip. Take what you can get. Help if the kidz love apples.

Granted, the article brought up some serious limitations. For one thing, the article talks about people forced to make odd sandwiches because there were no local grains. I mean coffee-shmoffee, if your area does have bread things, it can get tricky. For another thing, the article mentions the increased cost of local chicken. It does take some work and expense at being local. I mean if I wanted really local bread, I could bake it from Wisconsin wheat. If I wanted. To bake. On the other hand, I'm laying out some big coin for my 1/2 cow; it's not that expensive for beef, per se, but on the other hand as one purchase, it seems a lot.

Figure out what works because it can be done.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What's Local at My Local Whole Foods


It's fun to repeat blog posts, no? On Sunday, the sign advertised Harmony Valley turnips; the box said Cal-Organic.

*Actually, without a sign or any sign or other advertisement, Whole Foods was selling red potatoes from IGI Farms in Wisconsin.


I've culled some Eat Local links from

Fresh Eggs Near Wauconda

Wettstein's Meat in Oak Park

Grass Fed Beef in Chicago (granted not all of it is local)

Best CSA

Excess Radishes in Box, Now What

2007 Wisconsin Artisan and Farmstead Directory

Unexpected Delight at Green City Market

Local Produce in the Off-Season

Winter Green City Market

Beer and Cheese Tour of Wisconsin

Monday, April 23, 2007

Will('s) Special

Well, I was Mr. Proud Papa last week (thank's again Janet), but, as it turns out, compared to Our friend and Pal, former Chowhounder, current LTHer, YourPalWill, well, as those neighbors in Aurora would say, "we're not worthy, we're not worthy".

Let me explain:

Or digress, you see most foodies of a certain age, before we had the Internets to inspire and amuse us had books and magazines and stuff like that. We had, namely, Calvin Trillin and the Stern's. Mr. T writes some food stuff still, but without his beloved, he seems a bit less interested in that. The Sterns, even as one took a career change, go on, cranking out new editions of RoadFood every few years. Occasionally, they mix it up, as in their latest version, which focuses on the sandwich.

So, I see new book yesterday at Book Table in Oak Park. My wife and I start thumbing through the book, noticing all the places and sandwiches we've tried over the years: Casamento's oyster loaf, Katz's, Hoover's in Austin, when we get to the third (or so) page of contents. I (first) see Rivieria. Cool. Been there done that. Then, I notice the sammy listed for da'Riv.

Not just an Italian sub, but the Will freakin' special. The Will special. Granted, for those who know Will, take his girl scout cookie orders or otherwise hang with him, they know he's pretty darn special, but now all the nation also knows about the Will Special at Riviera. And (and!) Lthforum gets a plug too!

Check it out in bookstores everywhere! And get thee to Riviera for a Will Special.

Riviera Italian Imported Foods
3220 N Harlem Ave Chicago, IL 60634