Sunday, May 24, 2009

Local and Delicious

Since the weather has improved and now I'm eating more food I've really been focusing on buying local as much as possible. I'm giving myself another personal challenge; to eat local foods as much as I can. I have to admit right here that there are some things I don't want to give up, like fresh fruit in the winter (apples) and specialty foods like capers and curry powder made from freshly ground Indian spices. So I'm not going to even attempt to go there. But I do feel like it will be an exciting journey to eat veggies when they're in season, not just when I'm in the mood. I am embarrassed to say that I don't really know what is in season and when (which comes from a long history of supermarket shopping). I'm excited to see what sort of bounty there is to be had in this region.

So I joined a local organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). That right there will show me exactly what is in season. And it will force me to get more variety, as most farmers growing on a local and smaller scale will put more diversity in their crops. And many are reviving certain foods that were not able to keep up with the supermarket demand for durability above all else.

I am located in the mid-west, Chicago to be more specific, so I will be writing about only what is going on here of course. In New Jersey, where I used to live, the season seems to be about 2 weeks ahead of this area. I can't speak specifically for other areas but most of the food I'm getting here should be available in many regions of the U.S. at some point.

So I went to the large and lovely Green City Market yesterday and I saw a ton of asparagus, some mushrooms, some lettuce and spinach (grown in a hoophouse), some maple syrup, and lots of cheese, meat and eggs. Cheese, meat and eggs are easy to do local all year-round so that is already a large amount of food that we have no excuse for not buying local. As for the fruit and vegetables, I plan to eat a large portion of them fresh and, by hook or by crook, to preserve the rest of them to be eaten in the colder months.

The asparagus we have eaten lightly steamed with hollandaise sauce and roasted with mushrooms, olive oil, butter, garlic, salt and pepper. And I'm going to make soup next week. After next week I will buy a tidy amount and freeze it to be made into soup in the winter. Apparently asparagus is not the best (taste-wise) after being frozen and is then better suited to be eaten in soups.

Mushrooms can be eaten in an infinite number of ways so I don't think I have to go into that. As to how long they will be available locally, we shall have to see. I roasted some with my asparagus today and I will saute them with the spinach tomorrow. As the mushroom season draws to a close I will pickle them. My great-grandmother from southern Italy used to pickle them and that was probably one of the most divine condiments I ate as a child. I'll have to get the recipe.

I also bought some beef bratwurst at our local farm (biodynamic). The wife is from Germany so I figured she should know what she was doing. And she does! It was absolutely delicious! I cooked them in some filtered water in a covered frying pan for a bit and then took the top off and browned them. I also cooked some finely chopped shallots in white wine (2 tbsp) and beer (1/2 cup) until it was a syrupy consistency, I let it cool and then added it to some creamed butter (1 stick) with mustard powder (2 tsp), freshly crushed brown mustard seeds (1 tsp), prepared mustard (2 tbsp), and sea salt. We ate this mustard-butter with the bratwurst and it was wonderful.

I had to take a moment to remind myself and my family how fortunate we are to be able to eat such fantastic food. And we don't have to feel guilty about eating butter and beef because we know it is some of the healthiest food you can eat. It's funny how the food we really want to eat can actually be healthy if done right (ie: meat and dairy from pastured animals).


  1. Which CSA did you join? We are in the NW suburbs and joined Angelic Organics this year, and have done Sweet Earth Organics and Homegrown Wisconsin in the past...also Sandhill Organics farm markets at Prairie Crossing too.

    I'm also on the WAPF Elgin Yahoo group too, and clicked on your blog link. :)

  2. I belong to the CSA of Harvest Moon Organics. Their produce is really good but the boxes are a little small. The pick up is very close to my house though and I do feel loyal to them. I'm familiar with all of those farms though and right now I'm trying to create a simple website for our group (Chicago WAPF) and for the public to get information on local farms, csas, coops, farm visits, markets, etc.
    I will be sure to put all of those farms on there.