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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Last Week's Farm Photos

This week I visited some farms to familiarize myself with their land and their stories.

There is one key thing that I have learned from many farm visits over the years:
Everyone does it differently!
5 different growers in SW michigan- 5 different approaches.

I love hearing every grower's stories and approaches- and most importantly witnessing every one of these farmers passion for providing the best product to their customers.

As consumers, we are always a customer of a farm- whether directly or indirectly! Know the Story!
Currently we are working with businesses in the city to create these farm stories- and to build our site.
Please contact us at for information on how to participate.

We can hardly wait for what's in store!

by Kate

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Taste of the Nation Chicago

Buy your ticket to the hottest food and wine event of 2009 and help fight childhood hunger.

Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation® is the nation's premier culinary benefit, featuring top chefs and mixologists -- all of whom are coming together to donate their time, talent and passion to end childhood hunger in America.

Please join host and 2009 Taste of the Nation Chicago Chair Chef Mindy Segal (HotChocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar) for the premiere culinary tasting event in the city. The evening will feature over 25 of Chicago's best chefs, mixologists (led by Bridget Albert), Craft Beers, entertainment and much more.

Thursday, August 13, 2009 
The Ravenswood Billboard Factory
4025 North Ravenswood Avenue
Chicago, IL
6:00 - 11 PM

Oh, This is going to be real good! Happy Bellies all around! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Green City Market CHEF'S BBQ 2009


I awoke Thursday feeling the excitement of Christmas morning. But this grown up version was in anticipation of tasting the creations of over sixty Chicago area chefs as well as numerous beer, wine and spirit distilleries all gathered for Green City Market’s annual barbeque – all in only two hours (and all for $60 I might add)!

In preparation, myself and hundreds of others arrived early gain the advantage of walking into the BBQ at 6pm on the dot. And despite an early onslaught of rain, the weather did clear up which made visiting tables and chatting with the 2500+ other guests a decidedly enjoyable Chicago summer evening.

The evening was truly one of indulgence – from food to alcohol and conversational opportunities, there is no possible way to experience all the BBQ has to offer. But from my perspective, all in attendance made a valiant effort.

With no map to go by, I walked in and was happy to stumble upon Naha’s braised elk with salad, kohlrabi, candied onions, peaches and tarragon dish. From there I tried the wonderful offerings at Prairie Grass including not only a grilled mushroom crostini with goat cheese, but a drink of muddled peaches, local honey, mint and north shore vodka. At this point, with two plates and two drinks in my hand, my stomach was already cautioning me to slow down, but my mind said “go go go!”. I tried some dishes that made my pallet say wow like the Korean BBQ sandwich with Kimchee from Urban Belly, the Seedlings hard cider sorbet and grilled rabbit sausage with fennel relish from Crofton on Wells, the goat sausage with apricot butter from North Pond (it is a BBQ afterall), and the blueberry ice cream soda from Ritz Carlton. At an event where room in your stomach is at a premium, I also made some choices I afterward regretted (Mado’s beef tongue didn’t do much for my taste buds although kudos for the ingredient choice!) I’m so sad about everything I didn’t try (Vie, I didn’t know you were there until too late!) But I left that evening with too much of everything in my stomach so this event goer deems the GCM BBQ a huge success.

My advice for next year:
Buy your ticket early, map out your plan of attack before those gates open, don’t eat for a day or two before the event, and tell work not to expect you in the office the next day!

By Kyle Schott


Chicago Green City Market

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fresh Screening July 30th!!!

FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet.

Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur’s 2008 Genius Award; sustainable farmer, entrepreneur and charmer, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, challenging our Wal-Mart dominated economy.

The film is great and be sure to thank Matt & McCall for making the screenings in Chicago possible!


Complimentary beer will be provided!
Doors open at 7pm, film starts at 7:30.
$10 donation suggested to help cover the cost of the venue and film license fee.

RSVP via email: as seating is limited

Location & Directions:

EP Theater

1820 s. Halsted

EP is accessible via the #8 Halsted bus, the Halsted Metra stop, or 90/94. Enter the theater through the back door, opposite the Halsted facade.

The link to the press release with all the details:

Fresh Website:

By Stephanie

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sustainable Ag- What about it?

Last night at a BBQ a couple folks asked about sustainable agriculture and where to find more information. Great Question.
Our favorite online go-to resource is :
"Sustainable agriculture involves food production methods that are healthy, do not harm the environment, respect workers, are humane to animals, provide fair wages to farmers, and support farming communities. But rather than focus on the problems, Sustainable Table promotes the positive shift toward local, small-scale sustainable farming."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

International CHERRY PIT SPIT!

I do something a little different every 4th. When I found out about the annual International Cherry Pit Spitting Contest held at Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, MI- I knew it was the perfect adventure. So I packed up the car and headed down and around the lake.
But no 4th is complete without a small town parade. So it was just my luck upon riding into town that I discovered I was just in time to catch the slice of Americana I was looking for: Perfectly detailed floats carrying teenage pageant queens and farmers rolling bright green antique John Deere tractors down Main Street, U.S.A.

After the show, I was again on my way to Tree-Mendus Orchards- and arrived to catch the Women's and Men's Championship Rounds. This was the real deal- some Serious pit spittin' like I had never seen before! I ate a cherry brat and contemplated a cherry waffle "boat" while thoroughly entertained by the face and body gestures- and impressed by the distances the pits were projected.
After the spittin' ceased, and the Champions prized, I scoped out the grounds and snapped some photos. (Actually only a tiny fraction of it because it really is "Tree-Mendus"- including a store, picnic areas, goats, and pie cherry pitting facility.) I met family members Cindy & Olivia who took me for a horseback ride and practiced some pit spittin'. Later that evening I had a chance to meet members of the Teichman family- including founders Liz and Herb. They gave a little background about the farm and stated that one of their visions over 30 years ago was to provide a country haven for city dwellers- towering blocks of concrete in exchange for infiinite rows of trees dripping with fruit.

Its the perfect one-day getaway- solo or for a big ol' group.
For more info about Visiting and the Pit Spittin Contest:


Highlights from the rest of the weekend include:

Froehlich's, Three Oaks, MI
Skip's Farmers Market, New Buffalo, MI (Sat & Sun from 9-2)
Round Barn Winery, Baroda, MI

By Kate

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Thats right- Now you can rent you very own Certified Organic Apple Tree at Earth First Farms! Its so easy- and a fantastic deal.

Tom Rosenfield tells us how it works:

"For $50 you get the full harvest from a single tree of your choosing. You choose the variety (Paula Red, Macintosh, Empire, Jonathon, Red Delicious, Gold Delicious, Rome and Ida Red), and whether you want to pay us to pick your apples this fall and deliver them to a drop point in Chicago($60). Then, when we approach harvest, we will coordinate with you to join you with your apples. A typical tree yields 80 - 120 pounds of apples!"

This calls for summing up some family and friends having your very own little harvest party- making a day of it. OR plan on picking during EF's Annual Harvest Party- which is usually the first Saturday in October.

Times running out (one week!)- Its quite a commitment... But we're in! These apples are the BEST!


Earth First is about 2 hours from Chicago in Berrien Center, MI

Friday, July 3, 2009

Muddle Your Way Through the 4th- Strawberry-Basil Style...

Representing Slow Food Chicago last month, Mixologist, Adam Seeger & Suburban Homesteader, Amy Cox gave a demo at the Green City Market that just about blew my notion of a summer cocktail out of the water:
Muddled Fresh Strawberries and Basil, San Pelligrino, Apple Cider & a Splash of Balsamic Vinegar! No alcohol for the demo because it was at the market (...unless you had your flask on hand.)
I went straight home and made one or two more-- with whiskey. (Rum or Whiskey are perfect!)

For Adam Seeger's Recipe visit the Chicago Slow Food website (It differs a bit from the one at the demo.)

Happy 4th & Enjoy!!

By Kate

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Heritage Prairie Market's Farm Dinner

Visiting Heritage Prairie's (HPM) farm stand at the Green City Market, one is certain that there must be some sort of magical land behind it. There is an army of glowing glass honey bears, unique sweet and savory tarts & other kitchen creations, a spread of perfect mini greens and organic vegetables, and hand outs promoting kids camps, workshops, and farm dinners.
HPM farm founders Bron and Bob and daughters Margaret and Grace are fun to talk with- especially when it comes to hearing about all the exciting endeavors taking place on the farm.
The best part about hearing about the farm: It's an invitation.
So last Thursday we headed out for the first family style farm dinner of the season.
The entire evening felt like a mini summer vacation. We arrived early via train from Chicago on a perfectly hot sunny evening. We poked our heads in the buzzing kitchens and said hello to Portia, Pat, Alex, & Co while marveling over their creations. Then we took an insightful farm tour with Bob, talked to the goats, shopped the market, and socialized while snacking on hors d'oeurves and sipping strawberry cocktails.
We sat down to the colossal dinner table speckled with fresh bread & cheddar straws, strawberry-basil jam, honey butter, and a variety of irresistible pickles. When the salads arrived the sun was still high. We ate and ate- Orzo with feta and mint, rosemary grilled chicken & braised greens, roasted root vegetables... The perfect summer meal progressed as did the summer sun- until our mixed berry pie and ice cream were twilight.
Back at the train station we laid under the stars, listened to the crickets, and marveled over the parade of dishes, deciding which one was our favorite:

Stephanie's: Orzo, Feta, & Mint salad.

Kate's: Pickles, irresistible.
Upcoming HPM Thursday night Farm Dinners:
July 23, Bastille Day Farm Dinner
August 20, Mid-Summer's Night Dream
September 24, Mexican Fiesta on the Farm
October 22, Oktoberfest Farm Dinner

HPM farm is about 2 miles from the La Fox station on Elburn Metra line. Meet up with a ride or take your bike!

Dinners Fill Up- Make your reservations soon!:

By Kate & Stephanie

Duke's Alehouse & Kitchen, Crystal Lake, IL

On my way to Lake Geneva, WI via Metra train to Harvard, IL Saturday- I ended up with an hour layover in Crystal Lake.
Across the street from the train station I found the perfect interlude:
Duke's Alehouse & Kitchen.
Wonderful organic and local farm menu and selection of booze.
I opted for a for a Scrumpy's Hard Cider from Flushing, Michigan and tempting as the menu items looked, I saved an appetite in favor of dinner at my final destination.
Chatting it up with restaurant manager, Aaron Andrews, I learned a bit about the restaurant's commitment to using fresh and local ingredients- and the growers they work with.
I'll definitely return soon- Prepared to eat well!
You never know what kind of magic is around the corner...

For more info:

By Kate

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The Dishes & Dirt blog explores some of what Chicago has to offer when it comes to eating delicious sustainable food and supporting our local food economy.