Saturday, October 18, 2008

Inventory Storage Options

Another week of CSA, the Saturday Oak Park Farmer's Market. We are loading the Bungalow with food. We make full use of the Bungalow and its fixtures to deal with this food. We have our basement "canning room", a room far from the furnace and close to the outside. Up until about September, this is the coolest spot in the house, so all onions, squash and potatoes went there. Generally, it is un-wise to store potatoes and onions together, something about competing gases (maybe). Also, potatoes need more cold. With the turn to colder around here, we go to our attic. This is the coolest part of the house. Today, I moved the potatoes in the basement up to there. The onions we bought today (and we bought a lot), went to the basement. We had already placed our apples in the attic, and the 1/2 bushel I bought today, that went there as well. Finally, we have an extra fridge. That is used for the least giving products. For one thing, it has more summery things not yet eaten or still arriving, like some eggplants and some collard greens. For another thing, it has product that will last but really needs more cold: pears, grapes, cabbage, roots. When it gets even colder, I can trust some roots to the attic, but right now we have not stocked up much in roots anyway.

The newest inventory is below, updated from here--note from there may be some discrepancies in the lists due to my imperfect re-call.

Raspberries - 2 quarts

Apples - Our weekly CSA includes about 6 apples, those get eaten during the week. In storage we have 1/2 bushel of mutsu, a 1/2 bushel of mixed including northern spy, akane, winesap, courtland, granny smith and a few other varieties. In addition to these, we have quart bags of raritan and empire.

Pears - Last year, the Chicago area had a very limited pear crop. We are making up for that this year. Well, it is not so much that it's a bumper crop; it's that we are making a big effort to have pears so that our winter fruit is not so apple-y. We have about 20 lbs right now of various pears, including Asian style pears (papples) in our two fridges. Besides school lunches and other out-of-hand eating, pears make for a good salad course too.

Grapes - A big handbasket is mostly full of grapes in our downstairs fridge, the latest CSA came with 2 quarts, but then one daughter who refuses to fess up, dropped it all over the basement floor.

Watermelon - There is some watermelon left, but after serving my kidz melon in their lunches for days, I let them have a melon-atorium. Now, I wonder if it's not spoiled. Nonetheless, it counts in the inventory for now.

Tomatoes - Still finding tomatoes to buy, so we got a few pints of cherry tomatoes and another seven heirloom tomatoes. The 20 keeper tomatoes have been wrapped in newspaper and set aside in the attic.

Red bell peppers - About 8

6 Green bell peppers - 7 a few tiny speciality peppers (e.g., chocolate) that taste like green peppers

Jalepeno peppers - About 8

Serrano peppers - 4 or so

Cayenne peppers - 1 pint, but letting them dry

Beets - Maybe 24 smaller and 16 larger

Cabbage - 1 larger green; 1/2 of a red; 1 whole red

Garlic scapes - forgotten but amazingly holding up, will make a strange taste of Spring in Fall

Turnips - 2 large white, 3 red "salad" turnips plus a dozen or so sitting around since last spring

Turnip greens - The greens attached to the 2 white turnips

Bekana - One of Farmer Vicki's Asian greens, looks a bit like a long head of romaine; we have two heads

Radish - 1 beauty heart; 1 bunch of French breakfast radishes

Collard greens - 6 bunches

Celery root - 1 large

Cauliflower - 1/2

Eggplants - 2 large

Tomatillos - 12

Lettuce - 1/4th of a bag + 1/2 head of romaine

Carrots - lots

Garlic - Some

Green beans - About 1/2 a Sunday newspaper bag's worth

Dry beans including yellow-eye, Great Northern and red kidney - A good amount

Dry onions - Six or so smaller red; two quarts red torpedo, about five Tropea, several pounds of cippolini; 22 lbs of yellow

Sweet potatoes - 11 (lost one to spoilage)

Potatoes - 25 or so smaller + 1/2 bag of Yukon gold; when I did the move from basement to attic, I found more potatoes than I thought we had. Cool!

Kohlrabi - 2 large; 2 medium

Fennel - 3 stalks

Winter squash - 1 large-ish spaghetti; 6 delicata; 2 acorn

Herbs - rosemary, parsley, thyme, mint, oregano, marjoram

Parsley root - 2

Grains - Michigan grown and ground pastry flour; Illinois grown and ground corn meal; Illinois grown and milled all purpose flour

Friday, October 17, 2008

Meet Ken Dunn

Have I met Ken Dunn? I do not think so, although I might have. I am, however, very, very familiar with his works. I love the stuff they do at City Farm, right in the heart of Chicago, and that's Ken Dunn. I hear restaurateurs rave about his help in making them green, reducing their waste via recycling and composting with the Chicago Resource Center, that's Ken Dunn. I certainly know people who know Ken. They love him.

So, when a little birdie dropped off this link last night to a podcast to a Ken Dunn interview, well I did not regale it to my spam drawer. I wanted to share. So, I hope you enjoy meeting Mr. Dunn too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Eat Local Strawberries - Now!

The by product of eating locally is eating seasonally. Us locavores will not partake in the ample asparagus or strawberry supplies found around town. Nor would we think of eating a sugar snap about now. Would we?

We would. Well, certainly not the asparagus, but what if there were local strawberries, local snow peas. Now. What if there was someone in Northern Illinois who planted fall crops of these things. Would you eat? Well you can. There's a fella, Bob, he has, it's not a u-pick, rather it's one of those u-pay things (unless he's around). In a room on his property you can find an array of produce he grows, with prices, a scale, and a money box. Be honest!

Here's what he has now:
Red Raspberries Fall weather is their favorite. They are really producing full force now and will continue to do so until the first hard frost (28 degrees or lower).

Strawberries They too like this weather. Likewise they are full of blooms making new berries and will produce abundantly until that hard frost.

Green Beans Beans should be available until the first frost.

Red Potatoes Plenty on hand.

Sweet Potatoes We just started digging and will have an abundant supply.

Tomatoes Plenty available but only until any kind of frost.

Bell Peppers Like tomatoes, any kind of frost will kill these plants. Don’t expect any after frost.

Honey We have an abundant supply obtained from a local bee keeper from whom we rent the hives for pollination purposes. We then buy honey from him for re-sale. We are receiving excellent feed-back from customers regarding this honey.

Egg Plant Plenty available until frost.

Beets Only a very limited supply is left in the field.

Okra We have plenty of okra. Because we want okra when it is still rather small, it is picked 3 times per week.

Snow Peas We planted for a fall crop and it too enjoys the fall weather. Plenty of snow peas available.

Apples There are plenty of Red Delicious apples in storage; however, the supply of Granny Smiths is limited. All other varieties are sold out.

Pumpkins We only have pumpkins available upon advanced notice as we do not grow pumpkins, but they are available from a fellow grower.

Watermelons Like pumpkins, we are obtaining melons from a fellow grower as our supply is exhausted.

He's not too far from the Southern reaches of Chicago. He encourages you to call him (815)428-7382 or cell (815)471-7383 to see what he has, and also to give you good directions. I'd add that when you are driving around this section of Eastern Illinois, you might find a few other farmers with stuff for sale in their front yards. It might not be as unseasonable as Bob's stuff, but it will still be good.

Drink Local

Hey, I could have been like all the cool bloggers and got press credentials for the Chicago Gourmet Festival in Millenium Park. Noooooo. I was instead exercising my first press pass at a Midwest Wine Expo in Rosemont. I wanted to find out more about local wines. I have found enough to write something, either here soon, or maybe on Until I do, Bill Daley's talking local wine's at the CTrib (hate the redesign, finding the web site not much better)
Midwest wines have not received their proper share of attention—or appreciation. Chicagoans generally ignore these wines, believing them inferior to the wines of France or Italy or California. I'll leave it to others to argue over that. For me, Midwest wines are often, well, different and that's good.
Well, for now, all I will say is I do agree with the different thing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What's New at Cassie's Green Grocer

Fall Harvest Party!
Green Grocer Chicago (1402 W Grand Ave.) is in love with this time of year! Leaves are turning brillant colors, the air is crisp and the fall harvest is in full swing!!! Join us on Monday October 20th from 5-7 pm for our Harvest Party, an open house celebration of friends and food. There will be fresh fall produce, samplings from your favorite local food producers, the first-release of Nice Cream ice cream (a brand new gourmet organic ice cream company), hot cider, info on winter farmers markets, vegan pumpkin pie, and so much more! For more information please go to

Making Lists

I've updated the inventory below. Here's how I got there.