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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, October 20

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« Chicago Mobile Food Symposium A Sweet Benefit for Food Deserts Tonight »

Event Wed Mar 28 2012

Good Food Forever

Last weekend's Good Food Festival (formerly Family Farmed Expo), which was held "[to] celebrate leaders, businesses, and individuals that sustain the burgeoning, locally-driven Good Food Movement," offered sessions and, well, good food!

Friday night's Localicious party was sponsored by City Provisions, hence the similar logo. The idea behind Localicious was to pair local restaurants with local farms/farmers. The setup was a lot like Baconfest 2011 if you happened to attend that... lots of chef/farm pairings handing out goodies around the perimeter of the room with all adult spirits in the center.

A few of the pairings were Province/Nichols Farms, Floriole/Ellis Family Farms, Saigon Sisters/Genesis Growers/Heritage Prairie Farms, and Uncommon Ground/Capriole Farmstead. Koval Distillery, Half Acre Beer Company, Crop to Cup, and August Hill Winery were among the spirit/beverage providers. I sampled Province's Pork with Black Beans, City Provisions' Smoked Chicken with Polenta Cake from Three Sisters Garden, Uncommon Ground's Goat Cheese/Pear Crouton and Ruth and Phil's Sour Cream Cinnamon Ice Cream--just to name a few. If it was there and didn't have beets, I sampled it!

The main festival floor was also home to many local vendors, eateries, farms, etc. The idea was to visit and get to know (in may cases) the actual people behind many of the names you may be familiar with.

The last day of the festival featured various sessions throughout the day. Attendees learned about saving, preserving, fermenting and canning. A few of the lecturers were Scratch Homemade, Vicki Nowicki, Paul Virant of Vie & Perennial, Tracey Vowell of Three Sisters Garden, Dana Benigno of Green City Market and more. All of whom use freshly grown ingredients--either from their own gardens or farmers markets.

Since I like to can/pickle/preserve already, I was able to get some tips on how to be better at capturing the harvest. One big thing I plan to try is regarding freezing; when freezing green beans, one has to blanch (submerge) them in boiling water then plunge said beans in ice water, put them in a freezer bag, then toss in a freezer. Well, in seasons passed, I would follow this process, then cook the green beans, however, they were always mushy. I learned that possibly my issue could be in the "blanching" process. I was given the suggestion of steaming the beans before going into ice water. That way, the green beans won't absorb water. This may solve my frustration & could also be a great tip for you as well. I know firsthand that feeling as if money was wasted is not pleasant. I have gotten pretty upset after having listless green beans!

One blanches to kill enzymes that cause different foods to grow. Blanching, then plunging into ice water stops any cooking, bacteria growth, etc. This is a good habit to have if you can't eat a fruit or vegetable before it goes bad or if you want to have "fresh" tomatoes in December.

Oh and speaking of tomatoes, I also learned that scoring (marking with an "x" with a knife on the bottom) the tomatoes before blanching/freezing allows for ease of peeling the skins after thawing.

The whole point is to savor the season's bounty. It really does encompass eating locally, eating seasonally and supporting those that bring us closer to where our food comes from.

If you take some time and really think about all the hard work and dedication that goes into what we eat, I know you'd appreciate it more. I know I do.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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