Monday, March 23, 2009

mar 2009 | meat | contents

Ground Beef (2 lbs)
Pork Sausage (1 lb)
Ribeye Steak
Ham Steak
Chicken (one whole and two half fryers)
One Dozen Eggs

Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm is an old-fashioned family farm located north of Ottawa, IL on the banks of Indian Creek. Jody and Beth Osmund returned to this family farm to five years ago to embark on sustainable farming and raise their sons: Richard, Duncan and Jack. Their animals are raised in healthy environments, so drugs and hormones aren’t necessary to promote growth or maintain health.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The March Melting Pot

I often come across articles, events or tidbits about cooking or local food, but they’re not enough on their own to warrant a whole article. So, I thought I would start collecting these and post a miscellaneous article with random thoughts, resources and interesting information. Here goes:

First up, the 5th Annual Ramp Fest at the Garfield Park Conservatory on Friday, April 5. Ramp Fest is The Land Connection’s annual Spring fundraiser, inspired by the wild ramp, allium tricocum, which is the first edible green to come up each spring, and which Chicago was named after (who knew!). Enjoy spectacular dishes featuring the vegetable of honor created by the likes of Paul Kahan: Blackbird Restaurant, Carrie Nahabedian: NAHA, Sarah Stegner & George Bumbaris: Prairie Grass Cafe, and Paul Virant: Vie Restaurant. For ticket information, visit > events.

Which leads me to my second feature: The Land Connection.
Their Vision
: to support and foster the growth and creation of community-based food systems in the Midwest, in which every farmer has the opportunity to grow food in a sustainable manner, and every person has the choice to enjoy local and organic foods.
Their Mission
: to establish successful farmers on healthy farmland, ensuring an abundance of delicious, local, and organic foods.
A great cause that is worthy of our support (and you get to eat ramps!). For more information, visit

I found out about the Ramp Fest and The Land Connection in the latest issue of edible Chicago, a magazine featuring news of the region’s family farmers, brewers, food artisans, chefs, home gardeners, and others who have a dedication to producing and using sustainably produce, local, seasonal foods. You can pick up free copies at various locations around the city and suburbs (I grabbed mine at the Chopping Block), you can read the content online, or you can subsribe and have it delivered to your door four times a year for $28.

Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand is now open on a permanent basis and offers edible local and seasonal products all produced within 250 miles of Chicago. The Farmstand was recently featured on WGN Lunchbreak and highlighted local buttermilk, scone mix, soups and more that are available for purchase. For hours and more information, visit the Farmstand’s website.

And one more local, seasonal shopping spot that’s not open quite yet (as far as I know, but someone please correct me if I’m wrong), but very soon we’ll be able to buy local, organic and healthy food at the Dill Pickle Food Co-op in Logan Square. For updates and more information, visit or call 312-523-8299.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Slow-Cooker Chicken Stock

I finally broke down and purchased a slow cooker that I had in my Amazon wish list for almost a year. It’s been close to a month since it arrived all shiny-new and stainless steel and, funny thing is, the only thing I’ve made so far is chicken stock – lots and lots of chicken stock. It’s become a joke now in our house that I’m stocking up on stock (you can never have too much homemade chicken stock). Making stock in a slow cooker cannot be any easier. And after doing some research online and reading up at Cook’s Illustrated, I determined that you don’t need a lot of ingredients to end up with a really flavorful, full-bodied stock. Throw some chicken (wings, backs and/or necks), an onion (with the skin, adds a nice golden-brown color), garlic, salt and bay leaves in a slow cooker, set it to cook and forget about it. Eight hours later (or four hours on high), you’ve got yourself three quarts of homemade stock that you can use within a week or freeze for up to three months.

For safety reasons, it’s always a good idea to cool down soups, stocks or stews before transferring them to the refrigerator. Putting hot-off-the-stove foods directly into the refrigerator can increase the interior temperature to more than 50 degrees – which is unsafe for all of the food inside. You can let the food cool down on the countertop for an hour and then transfer to the refrigerator. Or, you can cool it down more quickly with a cooling paddle. A Rapi-Kool Food Chiller, or cooling paddle, cool sauces, soups, stews, and other hot foods quickly and easily. It allows you to insert a shaft of cold directly into the core of the food. You can find cooling paddles at restaurant supply stores online such as Ace Mart, item number KATRCU-64.

Click here to download and print a pdf of this recipe:

Slow-Cooker Chicken Stock