Friday, September 07, 2007

Eat Local Pie

Something Sweet for the Coming Eat Local Challenge

My wife got a chance this summer to bake pies for the Hoosier Mama Pie Company. When she started, I thought she'd be bringing home a pie each time. Boy was I wrong about that. Mostly, what I've got is lessons on how really (really) hard the pie business is.

Still, I've had a few pies along the way. Lucky me. Not every pie Hoosier Mama makes is purely local--the really local pies can be purchased Saturday at the Green City Farmer's Market. They make lemon chess and chocolate creams, but they also make great use of local fruit. I've tried the peach and the blueberry, and bias as I am now, it is really hard to find pies as good. There was just a clarity to the fruit that is missing from most other such things. The all butter crust is pretty special too, if those things matter (mais oui!). So, for people looking to eat as much possible local next week, and don't have time to fix a dessert, think about getting some pie.

Local as I wanna Be

Put It On the Menu

How many food bloggers have aspirations of opening a restaurant. Perhaps, someday, the VI clan will open its exceedingly local driven restaurant. Until then, we tinker with the menu, inspiring the above phase if a dish really works. This one did. I did not photo it, but pasta does not necessarily photo well anyways. Plus, the key ingredient of this dish would have been nearly invisible.

My wife's dinner creation: local Nicholl's Farm cauliflower ("what can I do with such a small thing") par-boiled; then added to a good does of Italian olive oil heated to near shimmer in a large saute pan, followed by local garlic (what a pleasure to begin using the new stuff as we finally tossed the remaining shriveled garlic of old), thin slice of Genesis Grower's red hot peppers that look like jalepenos (but are not, I forget what), and Wisconsin baby green and yellow summer squash and Genesis Growers pimientos. Cook over medium heat while pasta (non-local) gets ready. Just at the point of al dente she added the pasta to the pan with several chunks of Maytag blue cheese. Finished with an aggressive shake of pepper.

First of all, blue cheese really plays well against heat, the Motown rhythm section. In other words they made the dish sound right. The hooks, those wonderful Motown elements that differentiate the songs came from the assorted vegetables, mixing sweet and crunchy, suave and vegetal. I'd say a plate for young America, but I'm afraid my allusions run into the fact that many a youth detest the strength of blue cheese. On the other hand, my younger daughter liked it. Even she thought it ready for the place.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

How to Eat Local?

Does Fruit Have Recourse?

As typical, last Saturday I was up early. I went to hit the market before myself and the family would be volunteering at the Oak Park Food Pantry. I could not find much hard cash beyond a $50. At the market I did what any good localvore would do. Buy something big.

My wife had previously expressed a desire to can some peaches. I decide to fulfil this desire by buying a 1/2 barrel of peaches. Now, I won't name the vendor, which is a bit consumer unfriendly of me, I know, but these peaches really sucked. They seem dense and leather inside. I'm thinking of returning the bunch. Can I do that?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's Local at Costco (Oak Brook), What's Local at Caputo's (Elmwood Park) + Offally Good at Caputo's


Carr Valley's award winning cheeses, from Wisconsin were well stocked at the Oak Brook Costco on 9/2/05, at prices about $5/lb below Whole Foods (in River Forest). Varieties available included Cocoa Cardona, Morbay and 4 year cheddar.

Costco also had Michigan apples.


The local selection at the Capututo's in Elmwood Park is high. In past weeks they have had Michigan peaches. No more, but they have a few types of Michigan apples including Paula Red. I forget to blog about the big bushels of Michigan plum tomatoes for canning, but they're still there, if starting to looking a bit picked over. There were local onions, cukes, zukes, green peppers, eggplants and 10 lb bags of Wisconsin russet potatoes.

On LTHForum, Cathy2 asked about various cuts of offal for a stew she is making for the LTH picnic on September 8 (on that date, Forest Glen Forest Preserve will be the best place to eat in Chicago, and unfortunately I cannot make). I expected Capututo's to meet her needs, and when I visited today, as Cathy2 said to me when I gave her the lowdown, "offaly good." Fergus Henderson would feel right at home at Caputo's, at least the Harlem branch in Elmwood Park. They had the elusive calves brains, they had liver (beef, veal and pork); kidneys both veal and pork, tripe, lotsa extremities like tails and feet. The only couple of things I did not see were tongue (I'm sure it's there, just did not look) and sweetbreads.

I mention the offal not so much to gross people out, but because I think that eating offal is part of the whole Eat Local thing, that is showing respect for the creatures we eat, eating mindfully, and not just supporting the worst in factory farms. Of course, the offal at Caputo's may not be local, but it's one of those things, like buying in bulk, that's local in spirit.