Friday, November 21, 2008

Live Bloggin' the Expo

I'm gonna try to check in a few times over the course of the next few days from the Family Farmed Expo. Results at the Local Beet.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I'm glad I'm on Helen's good side (for now, what she could say about my editing skills...). See here for some of the less fortunate at the very indispensable MenuPages Chicago.

Deep Thought

Opening a new jar of "good" peanut butter is not nearly as much fun as that first stab of Jiffy.

Cool Weather Crops Available

Daily Herald discovers local food still around (h/t Ronnie Suburban)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Local Food Inventory

Subtraction by Subtraction

As I mentioned on the Local Beet, the VI family went through one of its periodic local food purges. Too much ambition, too much travel, too much working, too much love buying. It was worst than first reported; yesterday I found more crappy food: collards, a few too soft pears, the rest of the grapes. We've subtracted quite a bit from the inventory, but we always manage to buy. Here's where we stand today. (Last report here.)

Strawberries - Yes, local strawberries (indoor grown). I managed to squirrel away two pints from Robin at last week's winter market. These are not truly part of the inventory as they've all been eaten, some cooked into pancakes. Not the world's greatest strawberries but not as bad as supermarket either.

Fennel - I took half of Robin's strawberries but all of her fennel. On Sunday, I slow cooked the two heads for fennel marmalade, which has not been eaten. I've saved a bit of the stems/fronds for stock.

Salsify - The key find at the first winter market, five or so roots worth.

Bok choi - Last week's CSA contained one head; one head of bok choi is not the easiest thing to use

Celery - 4 bunches of heirloom from the first two Fall CSAs; these are mostly for stock and related. I have a batch of vegetable stock in me soon.

Brussels Sprouts - Enough to fill a newspaper bag x 3

Cucumbers - I think there's one somewhere in the fridge. Could be more purge material.

Arugula - 1 bags, but some of questionable quality. Stock!

Apples - Each week of the fall CSA has included apples, but those are mostly gone. In storage: 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; a quart from Seedlings I'm forgetting which type...

Pears - Five bosc pears and some Asian

Tomatoes - I hit the Green City Market two weeks ago, and a few of the tomatoes purchased are still alive and well. There's some in the attic but let's not talk about them today.

Red bell peppers - All of the last red peppers have been roasted. Some have been packed in oil; the rest in vinegar.

Green bell peppers - About 2 or 3

Jalepeno peppers - Tons (still)

Serrano peppers - Some

Cayenne peppers - 1 pint, but letting them dry

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

Beets - Most of my beets have been roasted and eaten or have gone to mold, but about six holding out.

Rutabagas - Maybe 6

Cabbage - 3 larger green; 1 whole red

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

Turnips - We keep on getting turnips in our CSA boxes. I've steamed some. We also have some from long ago that might still be edible.

Radish - 1/2 beauty heart; some regular ol' radishes + 2 daikon

Celery root - About 8

Cauliflower - 1 head

Eggplants - The skinny had been around for weeks. I roasted them on Sunday, not the best of foods but passable. The several of the globe eggplants that I had plans for did not make it. The Nigerian eggplants, I bake tonight.

Lettuce - 2 bags

Carrots - lots

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

Leeks - 6 bunches of 3

Dry onions - Plenty, including some Tropea and several pounds of cippolini.

Shallots - 5 or so lbs of larger and about 1 lb of smaller

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; I thought I used the greens when I made the rest of our collards yesterday, but a check of the upstairs fridge finds them out and about.

Winter squash - 1 large-ish spaghetti; 8 delicata; 8 acorn, 4 Mexican style pumpkin, 4 butternut + 2 butternut that have already been souped, soup 1/2 drunk.

Herbs - rosemary, parsley, dill, marjoram, mint, cilantro

Parsley root - 5

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

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

Now You've Done It - The Scary Parts

Sky Full of Bacon 06: There Will Be Pork (Pt. 2)

Well, this is the video we have all been waiting for. MikeG takes us deep into the heart of darkness to (almost) witness the critical act between farm and table. What we do not see, we feel through the thoughtful words of Lula's Jason Hammel (who also provides an interesting twist on the celery of all things).

I think it is good and important to have seen your food in its natural state. I certainly got to see my cow on the prairie before she became my gobs and gobs of kefta. I'm not as certain it is necessary to witness the slaughter or as Jason says, take the next step at DO the slaughter. Still, I think it is good and important to see the process, as we can, through the lens of Sky Full of Bacon. A real service to all.

In tribute to the woman who is the master of the re-cap, go read Helen's comment's on Mike's There Will be Pork Part 1. and the resulting dinner.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Latest in Local Beet News

Introducing the The Sustainable Cook By Melissa Graham

Before I headed to Austin Texas, I promised a few new items at the Local Beet. Foremost, I mentioned that the Beet was adding a dynamic voice that would greatly expand the ideas presented. Melissa debuts her new blog on the Local Beet today. The spirit of her intentions are captured:
We can impact the food world in big ways, by making lots of good small decisions everyday. This feature, the Sustainable Cook, will provide information and tips to help you make these good decisions. If we all were to make even some small changes each day, we would go a long way to healing our planet
Make the Sustainable Cook part of your regular reading.

You can also find Melissa blogging here, including some great use for bubbly.

Volunteer for Family Farmed Expo

You all know I'm very in to this forthcoming Family Farmed Expo. Well, I know that volunteers are still needed. Volunteer for a 2 hour shift at the Kidz Corner and get free admission to this great local food festival. From Purple Asparagus:
On Saturday November 22 and Sunday November 23 from 11-4, Purple Asparagus will again be organizing the Expo's Organic Kids Activity Corner where you and your kids can have some fun while learning about sustainable foods. There will be crafts, face painting, story time, a reading corner of books related to food, farming nature, tastings of local food and a label reading discussion.

If you'd like to volunteer, contact Melissa Graham at

Tomorrow's Mado News Today

I probably do not need a trip to the Green City Market tomorrow, but two of my favorite chefs are doing a demo there. Come meet Mado's Rob and Allie Levitt and see what seasonal dishes they have to show. It's a full day at Green City, with well known cookbook author Sheila Lukins, signing her new book, TEN: All the Foods We Love and the Perfect Recipes for Each. Mado at 10:30; Silver Palate at 11.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Get a CSA

Local Beet Editor in Chief Michael Morowitz is very enamored with the Home Grown Wisconsin CSA he subscribed to this year. He summarizes the experience, with totals, at the Beet.

Me, whenever I hear discussion of a CSA, I have to give my lecture on all the great ancillary benefits of belonging to a CSA. Here's my comment to Michael's post
Gosh I wish I could be so organized! Very well done.

I've said this many a-time around the internets. I really enjoy and appreciate being part of CSA even as I have certain CSA reservations. Like you, I enjoy cooking, cooking new things and having a base of material. I also enjoy (maybe too much see forthcoming blog post) shopping. I like the challenge of cooking what is there, but I also like the pleasure in finding something at the market. If nothing else, I rue two things about CSAs. First, the quality of one particular item is often screwy, like not really enough kale. Second, there's always somethin' I'm not wild for, mostly an Asian green-ish type thing.

That all said, I would not even consider ditching my CSA. The most important thing about a CSA, it aligns you with a farm and a farmer. You are there when she needs you. She is there when you need her. It is altruistic, but beneficial too. To paraphrase something Michael Pollan said, by belong to a CSA, you learn about the real and true issues that affect farmers and affect our food. The forced interchanged from a CSA from country mouse to city mouse helps all.

A CSA helps in other ways. It affords one, typically, a chance to visit a farm, learn more. At times, a CSA might get produce too limited for other outlets. CSA subscribers earn extra benefits. The biggest one, I believe is ongoing access to the CSA, including access to other wise closed CSAs such as off-season CSAs.

Michael's done a good job of selling a CSA. Hopefully, I've sold some of the side benefits.
Remember #7 in the chai of local is subscribe to a CSA.

Family Farmed Expo Program Announced!

100's of Locavores, Chefs, Politicians, Activists, Retailers, Wholesalers, Farmers, Distillers, Butchers, Bakers and Candlestick Makers (and Combinations Thereof)

If you have any interest in local food. Cooking it. Eating it. Finding it. Selling it. Building better systems. Getting better items. The impact on the environment. The impact on the government. Having your restaurants more green. Having your shops and such more greeen. Cassie Green. Green grass beef. Green grass dairy. In the city, in the fields, on the farms. On your plate, in your glass. For the everyday. For the holidays. Fresh food fall all. In your school, in your store, at your neighbor's house next door. Learn it. Live it. Love it. Family Farmed Expo 2008.

I am quite pleased to be involved with Family Farmed 2008's gigantic festival of local food being held this forthcoming weekend, November 21 through November 23 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph. I will participate in a panel on November 23, hosted by my friend and favorite food reporter, Monica Eng, on making your holidays more local. In addition, I will reporting on the event, perhaps live blogging it, for the Local Beet.

This Expo serves several purposes. Foremost, it is a celebration of the foods and farmers of the Great Lakes. You can meet the people growing the food. Meet the people shaping the food into quality manufactured goods. Some of the most famous chefs in Chicago, Rick Bayless, Gayle Gand, Paul Kahan will teach you how to make best use of the foods. The whole local, local food world will come together for a localicious party on Friday Night. Beyond celebrating, it's about educatin'. It is about better reaching the consumer, better reaching the institutions. It's about the tiny, like growing your own patch of food, and it is about the whole, like the food systems in Illinois; from greening your backyard to greening the great big earth. The Family Farmed Expo is bringing them all together. It's got me impressed.

Wait. There's More. There will be a farmer's market, reminding you that even in late November, there is plenty of local food to be had as well as introducing you to foods you did not know could be had. There will be exhibitions by local manufacturers who create outstanding products. For the young uns, there will be a kidz area run by Purple Asparagus. No one's gonna walk away bored.

Keep your eyes peeled on these pages and the Local Beet for more information on the Family Farmed Expo. Please come out to see me chat. For a long time, I have been extolling the virtures and pleasures of the eat local lifestyle. Here's a chance to get yourself into it as well.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

ABC 7's Hungry Hound Covers Local Farmer

Meet My Farmer, Farmer Vicki

I should hardly say I have one farmer. I buy a ton of stuff from Chad Nichols at the Thursday Eli's Cheesecake market. I divide my fruit purchases between Hardin and Skibbes at Oak Park. I would buy more from Henry's Farm and Beth Ecles's Green Acres if given the opportunity, but then there is Farmer Vicki's Genesis Growers. She supplies me with a weekly box, Spring, Summer AND fall. The dead of winter, she's been known to have a stash or two of greenhouse veg for sale. We also get our eggs from her, our chicken, and we still eat from a cow she raised. She opens her farm to me a few times each season, and even has let me work it. Meet her in Steve Dolinsky, the Hungry Hound's, latest video.