Friday, November 07, 2008


I shall probably be off-line, or infrequently online over the next week as I forsake local food for Texas BBQ. Please stay tuned to the the Beet; lotsa new developments:
  • Our resource pages are starting to come online. The great thing about the resources, is that the information is culled from our personal experiences, not just from Google.
  • We should have an additional blogger up soon. A great and dynamic voice, and one that will greatly expand the ideas presented on the Local Beet.
  • Since you will be longing for my stellar version of "prose", there should be an article by me up soon on the Local Beet feature page.
  • Michael beet (haha, get it) me to posting on the NYTimes great article on root cellars. We will continue to speak and report on how one can cellar and cold store on the Local Beet. You can also chart the inventory here.
  • All the rest of the Local Family news in my latest blog post there.

Talk to you soon. Eat well!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Getting to, er, Michael Pollan

Department of Better Late Than

The VI family gets two papers each Sunday, the CTrib and the NYTimes. From these, I am surest to read the Trib's sport section (not missing the weekly poker column). Next in priority is usually the Times Travel section. Leisure brings, in no particular order, the Times Book Review, the Trib Travel, the Week in Review, the front sections and maybe something in business and style. From there, onward. These days, because I try to make Sunday a, well if not at least a work day, but a productive day, I do not get too deep into my papers. Instead, around Sunday night, I start parsing and sorting and saving for some other time, as our recycler comes on Monday morning. Hopefully, in the week to come, I will get to my paper parts. A long story to say that I saved Michael Pollan's recent food polemic to re-jigger our food system, but never got around to reading it. Luckily, I happened today, to run across Michael Ruhlman's summary of Pollan's solutions to the problems in our food system.

For you readers who might bookmark Ruhlman with the idea of going back (and then, of course going back to Pollan), here's my summary of the summary. Some really good and urgent things that should happen.

—Train a new generation of farmers, spread them throughout the land, and make farming a revered profession.
—Preserve every acre of farmland we have and make it accessible to these farmers.
—Build an infrastructure for a regional food economy—one that can encourage and support the farms and distribute what they grow (rebuild or create regional distribution systems).
—Provide cities grants with which to build structures for year-round farmers markets.
—Create local meat-inspection corps so that we can create more regional slaughter facilities, perhaps the biggest impediment to our being able to find local hand raised meat. (This is huge.)
—Food stamp debit cards should double in value when swiped at a framers’ market; give farmers’ market vouchers to low-income women and children (why does he exclude men, I wonder; a different subject perhaps).
—Make changes in our daily lives: teach children how to cook; plant gardens in every primary school and equip them with kitchens; pay for culinary tuitions (or forgive loans) by requiring culinary graduates to give some service back to such undertakings such as teaching kids how to cook; increase school lunch spending by $1 a day; grow more of our own food and prepare and eat our food together at a table; accept the fact that food may be more expensive and eat less of it.

Do read what Ruhlman has to say, but do, especially, read what Pollan has to say.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sob Time

Weep here.

Winter Markets Soon!

This weekend brings the Chicago area the first of two winter markets organized by my hard working friend Robin "Winter" and the team at the Churches Center for Land & People.

  • Chicago / Beverly - Saturday November 8, 2008 - 9am to 1pm - - Church of the Holy Nativity - 9300 S. Pleasant Ave.. Chicago, IL 60643

  • Elgin - Sunday November 9, 2008 - 1pm to 3pm - Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin
    39W830 Highland Ave., Elgin, IL 60124

A wide variety of local foodstuffs should be available at these markets:

• Grass- & grain-fed beef
• Pastured pork
• Free-range chicken
• Mushrooms
• Milled flour & cornmeal
• Goats' milk soap
• Natural tilapia
• Honey
• Basil & other herbs
• Swiss chard, lettuce, kale & other greens
• Onions, garlic & shallots
• Sweet basil vinaigrette
• Raw fibers, yarns & woolen goods
• Yogurt
• Potatoes
• Eggs
• Tomatoes & bell peppers
• Root vegetables
• Hot peppers
• Winter Squash
• Apples & cider
• Beauty & spa products
• Salsas, sauces & preserves
• Infused vinegars, herb blends & rubs
• Cheese & cheese curds
. . . and much more!

There is no reason local eating has to stop. By the way, I recommend that you sample the delicious brunch at the Beverly market, but also save room for two of my area favorites: Top Notch Beefburger and Cupid Candies.

The New (Local) Beet

Redesign out. Catch the Beet!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Eat Local Now and Forever

Inventory Update

When the Localbeet's new design is up and running, you can see how this local family has continued to build its inventory for now and the foreseeable future. We eat some, set much aside, and process other to make it last. Some of the processing makes it last a lot longer, some of the processing makes it last a bit longer. For instance, of the last red bell peppers arriving, some went into the freezer, others were roasted and oiled and still more were roasted and vinegar-ed. Half our giant stalk of Brussels sprouts was shredded, a Mado inspired dish to last a bit. Another Mado dish my wife loves to make is Delicata squash, roasted, which will also last a bit. The tomatillos in the fridge finally went into salsa, and then, some of our large stock of beets were roasted and marinated. The full accounting of what's been processed is here.

The inventory of raw foods is below. We won't be starving for a while, but I worry that its staying too warm for all of my keepers.

Bok choi - 2 large heads

Celery - 2 bunches of heirloom

Brussels Sprouts - Enough to fill a newspaper bag

Cucumbers - 2

Arugula - 3 bags

Apples - Cox orange pippen for immediate eating, then another six or so in the weekly CSA + 1/2 bushel of mutsu, a 1/2 bushel of mixed including northern spy, akane, winesap, courtland, granny smith and a few other varieties; 1/2 bushel of granny smith; 5 lbs of mixing baking (cortland and law rome); 5 lbs of mixed, empire/fuji; 8 large romes (for baked apples) + quart bags of raritan and empire.

Pears - About 15 lbs left including 8 new Asian pears from Oriana, the papple lady, (sold via Green Grocer Chicago)

Grapes - A big handbasket is mostly full of grapes in our downstairs fridge - Somewhat forgotten

Tomatoes - All of the red tomatoes have been eaten; the keeper tomatoes did not keep, but we have a bunch of green tomatoes to process or fry

Red bell peppers - About 8 or so medium peppers

Green bell peppers - About 4 or 5

Jalepeno peppers - Tons

Serrano peppers - Some

Cayenne peppers - 1 pint, but letting them dry

Other hot peppers - poblanos, habeneros, pasillas, etc. - tons

Beets - Maybe 24 smaller and 16 larger

Rutabagas - Maybe 6

Cabbage - 2 larger green; 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

Radish - 1 beauty heart; some French breakfast radishes, some regular ol' radishes + 2 daikon

Collard greens - 2 bunches

Celery root - About 8

Cauliflower - 1 head

Eggplants - 1 large, about 8 Nigerian red and 8 or so skinny

Lettuce - bag

Carrots - lots

Garlic - More than enough as we got a braid of local garlic

Leeks - 6 bunches of 3

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 + more red torpedo

Shallots - 5 or so lbs

Sweet potatoes - A good amount

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 + many heirloom (German butterball, fingerlings, etc.) + several pounds of yukon gold, kennebec, norland

Kohlrabi - 2 large; 2 medium

Winter squash - 1 large-ish spaghetti; 8 delicata; 6 acorn, 4 Mexican style pumpkin, 4 butternut

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

Parsley root - 5

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