Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Winner, Winner, Bacon Dinner!

As a Rockstar community garden,  I find my self showered with affection, praise, and the occasional extra ticket or two to the premier events in Chicagoland.   Sadly, like so many community gardens, I am also a plot of land and find it hard to pull myself away from all the important things going on, especially at this time of year as Spring springs.

Congratulations to Tammy Green over at Chicago Bites who sprung into action and donated at least $10 to me via SlowFood Chicago and the preSERVE garden team.  She was the winner of my two tickets to the 2011 Baconfest Chicago extravaganza this past Sunday.  It sounds like she had a great time, and I came away with money for an apple tree, a berry bush, or maybe a set of tools that volunteers will use to clean me up and get me ready for the season.  If you missed out on the tickets, you can still come help the preSERVE team - just follow this link.

Read all about Tammy's experience on her blog:

And kudos to everyone who brought cans of food to Baconfest Chicago to support the Greater Chicago Food Depsitory.  It sounds and looks like they took in quite a haul.   This was taken only about half way through the event.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm giving away two tickets to Baconfest Chicago 2011

YOU:  An heirloom tomato lover desperately seeking tickets to the sold out Baconfest Chicago 2011.

ME: An urban community garden in Chicago desperately seeking fruit trees to attract bees and grow fruit.

YOU: Willing to donate $10 to me for a chance to win two tickets to Baconfest Chicago.

ME:  Willing to give away my two tickets to the sold-out BaconFest Chicago happening THIS WEEKEND at UIC to one lucky winner from everyone who donates $10 to me (Slow Food Chicago's preSERVE Community garden) between noon today, April 7 2011 and 10:00 AM tomorrow morning, April 8th.

YOU: Not reading this blog anymore, already googling Slow Food Chicago and preSERVE, and donating $10 again and again for multiple chances to win.

ME: Wondering why you quit reading when the link to our donation page is right here: Slow Food Chicago's preSERVE Community garden

YOU: Donating for a chance to win.

ME: Saying thank you to Slow Food Chicago for all the work they do for me and to all the volunteers who will come and help on my first volunteer day on April 16th.  You should come too!  Thaks also to Candid Wines, the wine sponsor of Baconfest Chicago and the folks who provided these tickets. 

The Fine Print:
The winner will be drawn at random from everyone who donates $10 between 11:45 on April 7 2011 and 10:00 AM on April 8th 2011.
The winner will be notified by email and will then be contacted by the good folks at BaconFest Chicago during the day on Friday.
Each donation of $10 qualifies for one chance to win.  Multiple donations can be made.
The winner will be picked at random by members of the board of Slow Food Chicago.
All proceeds go to Slow Food Chicago, a 501c3, and will be used for the preSERVE garden. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Opening Day, Plant Swiss Chard!

From a Slow Food Victory Garden.
It's a big day here in Chicago as the Cubs open up at home in front of thousands of soon to be disillusioned fans and the South-Siders trade their mitts for mittens in snow-laden Cleveland.  On this day as the city prepares to argue for the next few months about which team is better, there is one thing everyone can agree on: 2011 is the year Swiss Chard will finally win it all in Chicago

You don't have a clue what I am talking about, do you?  Well that is because you haven't wandered over to
 One Seed Chicago to learn about NeighborSpace and it's efforts to unite this city behind one thing we can all agree is important - great food grown locally.  We at Chicago TomatoFest are supporting Swiss Chard because Swiss Chard supports Tomatoes!  It's true.  Companion planting pairs veggies and flowers that are interact with one another in a small garden and Chard and Tomatoes are an easy and useful pair.  As the link above describes, Chard is attractive to many "useful" insects and repels some of the bad ones so it's a great part of an organic plan, which we of course is crucial for delicious Tomatoes.

On the plate, Chard could not be much easier to integrate into wonderful, nutritious food pairings as well. 
Take a walk with me through this delicious scenario:

1) You volunteer with the team at the preSERVE garden to help prep the garden and plant Sweet Potatoes (next volunteer day is April 16th, 2011 join us!)
2) You come back to help us harvest, just like we did last year
3) You take a few of the Sweet Potatoes you earned home and make this incredible Sweet Potato / Chard Gratin:
Find the recipe and more great shots at

If you don't want to wait until Fall to eat your Chard, and you shouldn't, try one of a hundred fast and easy ways to grow your Chard and eat it too.  Making quiche?  Throw in some Chard.  Making Lasagna?  Add some Chard.  Making scrambled eggs, use Chard instead of Spinach.  Eating at The Publican?  Order the Smoked Whitefish on Brioche with a poached farm egg and pickled Chard stems!  (Editor's Note: Item may not be on the menu anymore, but it's entrenched in my memory).   Don't hesitate to use Chard nearly everywhere in your spring and summer cooking, you can cut and cut, but you will almost never be able to stay ahead of your Chard plant.
Swiss Chard and Cremini Mushroom Lasagna

But wait, there's more!  Swiss Chard is one of the healthiest, nutritionally dense foods we can grow here in Chicago.  In fact, some say that it is one of the top two nutritionally-rich vegetables that can be grown anywhere!  

So don't wait.  Today is the last day to vote for Swiss Chard as the plant that should be supported, shared and widely distributed in town by the good folks at One Seed Chicago.  It's fast and easy to vote - you can do it between innings while you wait on line for the bathroom or another beer...Come on Chicago - VOTE SWISS CHARD!


PS - Here is one more reason to eat Vote Swiss Chard: Do you really think Eggplant has a thong with it's name on it?


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Canned Tomato Quiche

Thanks to a great effort with friends and family last fall, we've had a cupboard full of canned tomatoes all winter.  Now, on March 31 when Spring is reportedly springing in cities other than Chicago, we are faced with the wonderfully high class problem of eating everything we have left so that we can be ready for ramps and other sources of happiness.  This weekend's solution was a tomato quiche inspired by the tartes in Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook. We also did two canned corn quiche, one with and one without hotsie totsie. 

We used two and a half pint jars of cherry tomatoes, removing the most intact and roasting them for about 30 minutes to dry them slightly.  The canning liquid was reduced down to 2 cups, per the recipe and then added to eggs from Temple Farm Organics which are ridiculously fresh each week at the Logan Square Farmer's Market

If you are thinking "wow, that looks great, but you really should have focused the camera", then you are having the same thought I did.  Camera phone quality pic aside, the quiche did look great, but it was a little bit disappointing.  The tomato juice with the eggs did not set as well as we wanted and while it was tasty, the texture was not great.

Happily, we also tried some canned corn quiche, using the same ratios and found the texture much better as the starches set with the eggs and was more of a custard-like texture.

On the right is the corn quiche with Hotsie Totsie - canned garden peppers from last year.  It was the best as the corn alone was fairly sweet, but all were eaten happily.