Monday, October 15, 2012

Where Have We Been? (and Sept Harvest Update)

It's been a really long time since we've posted on here - probably a longer gap between posts than we have ever had before. So what's the deal? Don't worry, we haven't run out of ideas or gotten tired of the blog. It's just that in the past week and a half, we've been... well, all over the place. But even though we haven't been local, we've still managed to eat local.

We started by going 305 miles to see Greg's family in the Chicago suburbs. It was great to spend time with them all again, considering it had been quite a while since our last visit.

We'd only been there a day before setting off 101 more miles to Milwaukee to coordinate winter storage for Greg's Dad's boat. Since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped at our favorite little locally owned bakery, Wild Flour. Everyone chowed down on delicious sandwiches made with breads baked fresh on-site. A popular (and tasty) choice was the Cranberry Bog, a turkey and Swiss sandwich on cranberry-walnut bread, topped with spinach, tomato, carrot, plus hummus and cranberry mustard. Yum!

The next leg saw the 101 mile return trip from Milwaukee plus a short jaunt (11 miles) out to the Arcedium Coffehouse in St. Charles, Illinois. This cozy coffeshop not only crafts fantastic lattes, it does so using coffee beans roasted right inside the store. In fact, the coffee roaster is the centerpiece of the entire shop, highlighting the importance of fresh and local roasting of the beans. On a cool fall morning, a pumpkin or chestnut latte made with freshly roasted coffee is hard to beat.

Since we were so close to Chicago, we had to go in to the city, so a short 39 miles later, we found ourselves wandering around Greg's sister's neighborhood. A highlight of this part of Chicago is Uncommon Ground restaurant, which specializes in locally grown food. Entire posts could be written about Uncommon Ground (oh, hey, they have been!), and this return visit didn't disappoint. The three of us who ate there got vastly differing entrees: a pork belly BLT, perch tacos, and clam linguine, and each one tasted as great as the next. Cocktails also made from local ingredients provided the perfect accompaniment.

The drive back home was long, so we decided to break it up into smaller increments. An even 200 miles from Greg's family's home is the small town of Elkader, Iowa. In many ways it's a typical rural Iowa town, but the fact that it has Schera's is pretty noteworthy. Probably the only Algerian restaurant in the entire state, the unassuming exterior belies the exotic flavors found in the perfectly crafted food. From flaky samosas to the spiced-and-seared apricot chicken, and even down to the beverages. One of the featured drinks is the Lemon Verbena drop, in which roof-grown lemon verbena is steeped on-site in vodka to create a real one of a kind flavor.

So you can see that even though we've been far from home the last week or so, we've still been staying true to our mission to support the ideas and producers of the local food movement. And, in the time that we haven't been traveling, we've been eating even more locally: from our backyard. September is long since over, but here are the numbers for what we harvested in that, one of our most productive months yet.

1.0 ounce of kale (though we could have gotten much more, but opted to leave it on the plants)
1.9 ounces of carrots
2.5 ounces of strawberries
2.7 ounces of Nebraska Wedding tomatoes
6.3 ounces of Poblano peppers
10.3 ounces of green bell peppers
12.7 ounces of Anaheim peppers
14.5 ounces of red bell peppers
1 lb 8.2 ounces of cherry tomatoes
2 lb 14.5 ounces of Early & Often tomatoes
3 lb 8.2 ounces of sauce tomatoes
3 lb 8.8 ounces of zucchini

and 120 farm fresh eggs!

After so much travel in such a short time, here's hoping we get to stay around the urban farm a little bit more in the near future. There always seems to be something to do around here, and it makes it hard to get it done when we're not here. The harvests will slow down as we get further into the fall, but construction, upgrades, and future planning continue on. We'll be sure to let you know how that goes.

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