Sunday Market Score

For once, we remembered when the Glenwood Sunday Market was holding a winter market – the last one of the year. Though with temps nearing 80 today, saying we were going to a winter market was a little weird. And it certainly wasn’t austere – the place was jam-packed and we came home with a nice haul – a pint of field-ripened strawberries (it’s true!) from Hardin Farm, fresh garlic from Montalbano, an entire bag of red potatoes from King’s Hill, and mushrooms from River Valley Mushrooms.We also picked up a breakfast treat from Bennison’s – two chocolate croissants for me and two chocolate doughnuts for husband. And last but not least, we got some lettuce and plant starts from our favorite market vendor, Midnight Sun – a Patio Star summer squash, a couple of Italian parsley and four miniature sunflowers.

It was great to dig in the dirt this morning planting. I put the four sunflowers in our window box on the deck railing, and they look gorgeous. Once the three morning glories get a bit bigger, I’ll plant them in front so they can cascade down to the patio. It’ll look great. The parsley went into our blue glazed planter, and the squash went into one of the mid-sized planters on the patio so it can get plenty of sun. I didn’t go hog wild at the market today with plants because Becky let me know that their seedling list is up on their website and that she’d be happy to put together an order for me to pick up the first outdoor market in a few weeks. So of course the first thing I did when I got home was email over my order –

1 dill
1 lavender
4 Improved Rainbow Swiss chard
2 Lacinato kale
1 Roma tomato
1 Sungold tomato
3 of the container tomatoes we asked you to grow (I am having a brain freeze on the name at the moment)
2 Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers
Other than forgetting the name of the tomato I specifically asked for last fall and that they obligingly agreed to grow out this season, I think I’m pretty well set on plants now. We’ve got our four types of hot peppers that are doing fairly well along with a few basil starts that are looking good. We need to restart our edamame and peas – I know it’s kind of late for peas since it’s getting hot already, but I’m going to try a couple anyway and see what we get.
And of course, despite my best laid plans for what I planned to grow, my list is always a bit different once I start to get things in the dirt. But that’s what I like about gardening – you can always mix it up and see get a lot of good stuff! It’s too bad we don’t have any batteries for the camera today (need to put that on my next shopping list) or I’d take a picture and show it all off. Good thing we’ve got the whole season ahead of – you’ll be able to see the garden in it’s full glory soon enough.

Cool Weather Comfort Food

Shhhh…. the baby’s sleeping. You know I can’t stay away for long. He’s two weeks old today, and my goal for the time being is to do at least one post here a week. It’s good me-time and I want to keep sharing all the great stuff I’m still somehow managing to squeeze in. So what have I been up to?

Keeping us all fed. With a little one that needs attention nearly round the clock, this is no small task. But with the crockpot, there is good food on the table at our house! It’s been raining for weeks here. We have little glimpses of golden fall sunshine, but mostly a lot of rain. And the weather has turned cool – tonight it’s supposed to be in the forties! So crockpot dinners and soups have been playing big into our dinner times recently.

We’ve turned to two of our favorite soups recently for quick dinners – bacon and whiskey chili with cornbread on the side and cioppino with sourdough bread. I can’t believe I haven’t posted my recipe for cioppino yet – it’s so good. If you’re not familiar, it’s a seafood stew that is rumored to have originated in the San Francisco area. It’s got a white wine, tomato and clam juice base, and usually contains a white fish (I typically use cod), shrimp, mussels (I prefer the smoked ones), and crab. I’ll have to get the exact recipe I use listed here soon – you have to try it. Since those are both quick dishes, we just did them on the stovetop. The cornbread was quick in the oven and we splurged and purchased the sourdough from Bennisons at last weekend’s farmers market.

But the crockpot has had equal play as well. I found two recipes online recently that sounded pretty good, so I decided to give them a try. My husband was able to get a pork roast at a good price at the store, so I wanted to do something special with it. CDKitchen has some great crockpot recipes on their site, including one for Apricot Glazed Pork Roast. It only uses five ingredients – pork roast, apricot preserves, chicken stock, dijon mustard and an onion. It was pretty good, and I served it with egg noodles for a simple side dish. We’ll be having it again, since my husband liked it so much.

We also did a crockpot Moroccan chicken from the site, but I need to play with this recipe a bit. It didn’t have enough of a flavor punch for me – it ended up tasting a little bland. Okay, a lot bland. I only had powdered ginger on hand, so next time I’ll use the fresh that the recipe calls for. And instead of the orange juice, I’ll use whole fresh lemons and juice. And I’ll punch up the garlic a bit too – two cloves wasn’t enough for our taste.

And just tonight, I improvised a bean stew in the crockpot. I used half a bag of dried white beans (pre-soaked overnight), an onion, a couple of carrots, a can of tomatoes with chiles, chicken stock and the leftover bland Morrocan chicken. I seasoned it with cumin and Mexican oregano. It was pretty good for something just thrown together while the baby napped. I also managed to make a loaf of bread on a subsequent nap! Not a time consuming yeast bread mind you, but bread! I’ve been craving home made white bread lately. Quick bread was the answer, and after some internet searching I came across a suitable candidate – herb quick bread. It’s a baking soda-risen bread, flavored with caraway, thyme and nutmeg. It’s a denser loaf than a yeast-risen bread, but still has a nice crumb. The flavorings have a bit of a Scandinavian profile, but the great thing about it being a white bread base is you can flavor it any way you want. You could do garlic, thyme, oregano and rosemary for an Italian-style bread, or layer cinnamon sugar and butter into the dough for a breakfast bread; anything really. This will definitely be a standby in our house.

Tomorrow if I can get some sausage at the store, I may do a crockpot jambalaya – I’ve been wanting to try the recipe that came with my crockpot for awhile now. And in other news, we plan on walking to the library and we need to clear out the garden and move the herbs indoors – the nights are getting cold! And I’ve been thinking about relaunching my Etsy site, so I need to some brainstorming on that… oh and plenty of baby-tending, a nap or two and hopefully a little time with a good book.

Apartment Farmer: The Next Generation

It’s the first day of fall, and it feels like it. It’s barely crawled out of the upper fifties today, and the leaves on the tree outside our window are turning yellow and rustle in the breeze. I’ve had a cardigan on all week, and we’ve switched over from iced tea to hot tea with honey. Fall is my favorite season.

I’ve got a minute here to type, because my Little Guy is asleep in his crib in the next room. He was born a week ago today, at 9:59 pm, on another very fall-like day with overcast skies and drizzle off and on. He is doing remarkably well and we’re all trying our best to settle into this new life that we’ve created for ourselves. I’m exhausted, but in this crazy way that’s backed up by adrenaline and bliss.

We have mostly been doing insular things – learning how to care for each other with the feeding, diapering, playing, sleeping (and plenty lack thereof). Husband and I have been able to watch a few DVDs together of an evening after baby boy goes down for a doze, and last night we spent a little time on the back deck grilling bratwursts, sweet corn and baked potatoes. When we first got home from the hospital, husband had to do a quick freezer job on a quart of peaches that were starting to go soft, but we were able to salvage them. And I’ve got a quart of apples in the fridge I need to deal with as well – I was thinking about just cooking them into apple pie filling for the freezer at this point – maybe today, maybe tomorrow. They seem to be holding their own in the fridge. The funny thing was, right before we left for the hospital last Friday morning, I stopped to make sure all the perishable fruits and veggies were in the fridge before we left – while I was in full blown labor! Apartment Farming never stops. ūüôā

This weekend will continue on very low key. If the weather is nice on Sunday, we’ll take the baby on his inaugural stroller ride down to the farmers market for the first time. Only a few good weekends of it left, and we can’t wait a whole season to show him the bounty. And now, if I have any sense at all, I’ll run along and take a nap while he is. Our wee babe was a bit of a night owl last night.

Sunday Scores

I feel like I made up for yesterday’s doing nothing in a few short hours this morning. We were up by 8:30 so we could make it to farmers market at opening. I was glad we had the head start too, because it was really hopping today. I stopped by and spoke to a couple of farmers that I’d been emailing about bulk tomatoes, and I think we have a winner – Midnight Sun Organics is going to have canning seconds for about $1.00 per pound, starting in August. I’m going to have to do a mad dash of canning before the baby comes, but it will definitely be worth it.

And we got an amazing assortment of fruits and veggies this week – a pint of big red raspberries, a pint of cherries, a zucchini, a bunch of carrots, scallions, rainbow chard (since ours is still recovering),¬† a pint of small wild black raspberries (the BEST kind), ciabatta bread, two chocoloate croissants (breakfast for me) a chocolate doughnut and cup of coffee (breakfast for husband), half a pint of crimini mushrooms, and a bunch of black eyed Susan wildflowers. What a haul! The red raspberries I think I’ll make up into a tart or a small cobbler. Likely a cobbler, since I’ll be making apple hand pies later. The black raspberries probably won’t make it past today, since I’ve been craving them for my entire pregnancy. The rest of the produce we’ll just play it by ear for dinners this week.

After the market we stopped by the store to pick up the few dry goods we needed this week. For some reason, we really had to load up on condiments like rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar and such – isn’t it odd how those things always tend to run out at once? We also picked up some ribs, so we’re going to do Marinated Barbecued Ribs for dinner tonight, and I think I’ll make up some Poor Man’s Risotto¬†with mushrooms¬†to go alongside – we haven’t had that in awhile.¬†To round out my food-centered day, in addition to the raspberry cobbler and apple hand pies, I’m also going to try a delicious-sounding recipe I came across recently¬†for Spiced Chai Cupcakes. I think I’m going to leave off the icing though, so they’ll be more like muffins.¬†So we’ll have plenty of options for breakfasts this week. ¬†

After the market, we picked up some quart canning jars. I found a lady in our neighborhood via a great community networking site called OhSoWe who had two cases of quart canning jars that she didn’t need. I was really surprised that they’re brand new, still in the box. I’m so excited to have them, because it saves me almost $35.00, which is about what they’re retailing for this year. I will be gifting back a few quarts of tomatoes to her in August in thanks. I just need one more case to have all the quart jars I’ll need for this season. But if I can find another two cases, so much the better.

All in all, a good Sunday thus far. It’s quite hot and humid, so unfortunately we’ve had to turn on the air conditioning (which I really hate doing) but since it’s on I have no excuse not to turn on the oven and bake this afternoon. And we’ll hopefully be able to get in some time on the deck¬†this evening once the sun starts to go down. Happy Sunday!

Sunday Morning

I really struggled to sleep last night since the baby was awake doing his jazzersize routine. On the plus side, I finished the book my husband got for me recently – The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure. Her experience really parallels mine with the Little House books, and I’m totally envious of her – this is a book I wish I could’ve written! I finished it in a near-record three days; it was a great read. Even though I finished the book, and it was worth staying up to 12:30 for, I had intended to sleep in. But I was up by 8:15 because my son was already up. Having a person inside of you who has a completely different sleep/wake schedule than you has it’s challenges. I see a nap on the horizon of my afternoon for sure.

We salvaged the morning quite nicely though. Being up and ready to go before nine meant that we could get to the farmers market right at opening, which was awesome. There were no crowds to contend with, just a regular stream of other early birds. We could actually get up to the Bennisons Bakery stall! After ten, when we usually stroll over, there is literally a crowd of four people deep there, so we rarely stick around to wait in queue for bread. We got a simple baguette, and I also grabbed a chocolate croissant for¬†a mid-morning snack (I’m actually looking at it now…). We also got our weekly supply of strawberries, since the main season for those is winding down. They say they will have some more next week, but that’s likely it. However, they anticipate having raspberries in next week. I’ve been waiting my entire pregnancy for farm-fresh raspberries! We also picked up a bunch of the first carrots and some amazingly red radishes, so I can have some healthy things to snack on this week. And we got our usual supply of scallions and crimini mushrooms. The criminis this week are huge – perfect for throwing onto the grill, so we got a whole quart of them instead of just a half. We’re sold on going early- we’ll be at the market for opening for the rest of the summer now. The hustle and bustle of the crowd can be festive and fun, but there’s something to be said for a leisurely stroll down the street, and being able to get up to the selection and talk to the vendors. And not tripping over dogs and strollers.

And going early, we beat the rain, which started up right after breakfast.¬†I made a simple¬†spread of bacon and eggs, with the fresh baguette we picked up at the market. It was cool and foggy this morning – coupled with the smell of frying bacon, it really reminded me of summer mornings on my great grandparent’s farm. Moments like that always seem to turn on that slideshow of history in my mind – watching the fog settle into the hollows from the front porch, the dew on the wildflowers brushing against your legs on the way to the chicken house for eggs, the smell of frying bacon and coffee percolating for breakfast. The stillness of everything, birds chirping as they get on with the business of their morning. Back here in the present, the overcast morning broke into a sudden, early summer rain for an hour or so after breakfast. The city sounded so still – you could hear the steady pitter-patter of raindrops through the open back door and windows, with the birds calling to one another. And now the rain has stopped and the sun is struggling to break through and burn off the fog. Sunday mornings in the summer are a nice place to be.

A Lazy Sunday

I’ve been working long days at the office over the last week, and gearing up to do another week of early mornings starting tomorrow, so we needed a low-key weekend to recover. And somehow we still managed to do too much. Saturday, we needed to stop by the bank and post office, so we did that first thing after breakfast (nothing elaborate this week – scrambled eggs with bacon). And we went by the Edgewater Community Yard Sale, hoping to find some good stuff for the baby, or the canning jars and Saveur magazines I’m always looking for. Well, for all that walking around in the heat, we came away with three things and spent four bucks – a fleece sleep sack, a screenprinted short sleeved onesie and a bilingual French storybook.¬†Pretty much a total bust. We escaped the heat by ducking into Indie Cafe (our favorite Thai place) for a quartert of appetizers and some water for lunch. We got chicken satay with peanut sauce and cucumber salad, spring rolls, baby egg rolls and gyoza, which was a a perfect light lunch. I also picked up the newest Saveur while we were¬†out. Being tired and overhot, we then headed home, but the damage was done, especially since we¬†had to rearrange the bedroom and build the crib, since our shower is next weekend. Husband did the heavy lifting and moving, but¬†it was another couple of hours¬†on sore feet. So¬†my feet are a total wreck today – completely sore, blisters from my sandals (why does this happen to me every summer!?) and swollen ankles. And I’m exhausted.

So today, we vowed to do next to nothing. We had another low-key breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and some leftover jalapeno cornbread and then stopped by the farmer’s market to pick up a few things. We ducked into the dollar store real quick¬†to grab four citronella candle buckets to create a bug-free perimeter on the deck (adding $16 to our deck expense tally). And we’ve been home and sitting ever since. Miscellaneous leftovers for lunch. Reading my new Saveur on the back deck. And lots of time on the couch surfing the internet with my poor suffering feet elevated. They certainly feel better than yesterday, but I’m thinking an epsom salt and rosemary oil soak is in order before the day is out.

For dinner, we’re doing some low key grilling – Italian sausages and grilled polenta. I’ll whip up a quick pasta sauce using fresh oregano and bay from our garden to serve alongside it. We’ll relax on the deck while grilling and eat out there if it’s not too cool – some severe thunderstorms passed along to the south of us today, so it’s only been in the low 70s and mostly overcast so it’s cool in the shade. And that’s it – a lazy Sunday at Apartment Farm.

Opening Day at the Glenwood Farmer’s Market

At long last, our neighborhood market is officially open for the summer! The Glenwood Sunday Market kicked off at 8:30 this morning with a Bread Breaking Ceremony. We showed up just at the end of the ceremony, in time for the blessing of the bread by a local pastor and the ribbon cutting by the market director and our Alderman, Joe Moore. The ribbon was awesome – it was a long woven strand of straw, with fresh bunches of carrots and radishes woven in. They used garden loppers to cut it. And the bread we sampled was a delicious challah with almonds on top.

The market started off this season with most of the vendors from last year, as well as some new faces. There was an amazing variety of product available, one of the great virtues¬†of waiting until June for opening day. There was asparagus, rhubarb, lettuce, greens, scallions, strawberries, mushrooms (crimini, oyster and shitake), preserves from last summer, fresh bread, frozen apple juice from last fall, eggs (chicken, duck and goose), a variety of meats (lamb, pork, chicken, goat, beef) cut flowers, bedding flowers, herb and vegetable transplants, herbal tea blends, flavored vinegars, honey and beeswax products, and prepared foods like chocolates, icecream¬†and even to-go artisan pizzas! Dave the Knife Sharpener was also in attendance. And¬†I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff.

We came home with half a quart of crimimi mushrooms, a large bunch of scallions, a pint of strawberries and a basil plant. It was great to be able to walk a block from our house and have such an abundance of fresh, local produce once more. For those that aren’t aware, all farmers and producers come from within 200 miles of Chicago, so we’re very much supporting our foodshed. It’s a great thing.

And the market will be continuing it’s Learn & Grow educational programs this summer. We stopped by their booth¬†so husband could grab a cup of coffee ($1.00 for a cup of Intelligentsia brew, with proceeds going back to the market) and chat with the ladies volunteering at the table¬†about the forthcoming event schedule. They’re still finalizing the line up, but they confirmed that they will likely have another worm composting day as well have Milton Dixon lead another forgaging walk through the neighborhood – both events that I’m eager to attend since I missed them last season. The schedule will be posted on their site as soon as it’s available.

Oh, and if you love the market as much I do, be sure to vote for it in this year’s America’s Favorite Farmers Market poll by America’s Farmland Trust. I’ve already voted. ūüôā