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Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 03:02 pm

See you at the Holiday Farmers’ Market

I’m going through withdrawal. It’s not from the pain meds prescribed for a recent injury. No, I go through this withdrawal every November:

Farmers’ market withdrawal.

From May through October, unless I’m out of town, I can be found at our local farmers’ markets at least once a week, and usually twice. My husband and I begin anticipating the markets in early spring; when they end in October, there’s a hole in our routine. Saturday mornings seem especially empty without a trip downtown to the market. In large part that’s because of the wonderful local food. But as important is the street scene. It’s always a festive, congenial atmosphere. Friends greet each other, and smiling vendors describe their wares. There are dogs (on leashes) and lots of kids, some selling their family’s products.

Fortunately, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Slow Food Springfield are helping me and others like me to make our farmers’ market withdrawal at least more gradual. For the third year, they’re hosting a Holiday Farmers’ Market: Meet Your Local Producers in the Illinois Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Festive as the regular farmers’ markets are, Holiday Markets are even more so, and this year is no exception. There’ll be music, kids’ activities, cooking demonstrations, and many farmers and vendors will offer samples. For lunch there’ll be soups and sandwiches made with local ingredients. There’ll be fresh and dried holiday wreaths and arrangements. There’ll be handmade soaps and lotions (my daughter swears by Afterthought Farms’s goat milk lotions), herbs and herbal products. There’ll be pies, cakes and cookies, breads and rolls, tortillas and pizza dough – even homemade dog treats! There’ll be turkeys, beef, chicken, pork and eggs. There’ll be cheeses and wines. There’ll be a wealth of produce: lettuces and greens, squashes and pumpkins, apples and pears, and much, much more.

Many of the vendors will be familiar to regular farmers’ market-goers, but there are also newcomers. Groth Farm will be selling pastured pork. Rolling Meadows Brewery is just getting started; they’re still in the licensing process, but will have information.
Gail Record of Clarewood Farm and Bakery will be selling the first baked goods whose ingredients are primarily from local sources. She raised her own pumpkins for her pumpkin pies, and got her flour and oats from an area farmer. Eventually she plans to grow and mill her own flour, and grow berries and other fruits for her baked goods.

Chef Chip Kennedy will be doing the cooking demonstrations, as well as providing the lunch of soups and “upscale” sandwiches. Kennedy and his business partner Josh Sonneborn began their catering business, Five Flavors, in 2007. They specialize in stylish, contemporary menus; soon they’ll begin offering cooking classes, some with unusual topics, in their new facility on West White Oaks Drive. Springfield natives and friends since childhood, both graduated from the Scottsdale Cordon Bleu culinary school. Sonneborn returned to Illinois; Kennedy journeyed west to Portland, Ore. That’s where he became enthusiastic about local, sustainable ingredients. I’m looking forward to trying his lunch offerings, especially the butternut squash soup drizzled with black walnut cream, topped with black walnut crunch.

 I’ll be demonstrating how to cut up a chicken. The most popular cooking class I taught was called One Chicken, Two People, Three Meals. The concept was simple: Use chicken breasts for one meal, leg-thighs for another; then make stock from the carcass for soup, using the wings and meat from the bones in the soup. Someone who’d taken many of my classes told me recently it had been the most useful to him.

Before the first one, I timed myself showing how to debone the leg-thighs and breasts, thinking that was probably something many people had never done. I’d figured on demonstrating with a whole chicken, then have half the students do half a chicken, then the rest deboning the remaining half.

What I hadn’t realized, much less planned for, was the fact that no one knew how to cut up a chicken, much less deboning one. As a result, the class took almost two hours longer than I’d planned; thankfully, it was on a Saturday morning; if it had been a night class, we wouldn’t have finished until almost midnight! In a dozen repeats, with a dozen people per class, only one person, an 80-year-old woman, knew how to cut up a chicken.

You’re probably not surprised by this, but I sure was. I’ve been cutting up whole chickens for so long that it never even occurred to me that it wasn’t something most every cook knew how to do. Apparently it’s a skill that’s been lost with the convenience and cheapness of buying already cut birds. It’s still a skill worth having and using for, among others, economic, environmental and culinary reasons. I’ve written about those reasons in past IT columns and articles, most recently in my 5/28/09 column, White Meat vs. Dark.

Once learned (and with practice), cutting up a chicken is quick and easy. Even now, with limited mobility in my right shoulder and arm, it only takes me five minutes – and only a few minutes more to completely debone it.

Kennedy’s cooking demonstrations will be at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 12 p.m. I’ll be cutting up chickens at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

Contact Julianne Glatz at realcuisine.jg@gmail.com.

RealCuisine Recipe:
Five Flavors Ratatouille of Winter Vegetables

Kennedy will be demonstrating this unique take on ratatouille at the Holiday Farmer’s Market. He says, “This recipe has been very popular over the years for me. I love this dish because it uses unusual ingredients, such as rutabagas and turnips. People try it and love it.”

His recipe calls for fresh sage to be chiffonaded. This culinary term means the ingredient is to be sliced into the very thinnest slivers. The easiest way to chiffonade is to stack the leaves and slice them horizontally.

The Marsala called for in this recipe is in the family of fortified wines, which includes sherry, port, vermouth, Madeira, and others. All are made with wine to which alcohol is added to stop fermentation. Originally this was done to keep wine from turning into vinegar during long, often hot, ocean voyages; today they are appreciated for their wonderful flavors. An added benefit of the fortification is that they don’t need refrigeration or special treatment after being opened, and so are ideal to keep in the pantry for cooking. Many Marsalas are reasonably priced and can be found in groceries as well as wine or liquor stores. There are both sweet and dry styles; either would be suitable for this recipe.

All the vegetables used here should be peeled.

  • 1 c. medium diced rutabaga (about 1 whole)
  • 1 c. medium diced parsnips
  • 1 c. medium diced turnips (1 to 2 whole)
  • 1 c. medium diced sweet potatoes (1 whole)
  • 1 c. medium diced carrots
  • 1/4 unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. Marsala wine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. chicken stock
  • Dash of cayenne pepper, or to taste, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chiffonaded sage leaves (about 5 leaves)
  • Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Let melt and bubble until it starts to brown. Immediately take off stove, and pour 1/4 cup Marsala wine, 1/4 cup chicken stock, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Pour over vegetables, and mix well.

Put vegetables in a casserole dish, and cover with foil. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take off foil and continue to cook until fork tender. Take out of oven, and gently stir in cayenne, salt and pepper. Top with the fresh sage.
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