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Jul 20, 2002 06:37 PM

Oak Park Farmer's Market 7/20/02

  • v

Mushrooms for breakfast? That's what the dapper one suggested as we angled for some crimini's at the Lyons stand. I thought today's link would be about how good ol' mushrooms have morphed into crimini mushrooms (and their bigger off-shoots, portabella's), but instead I found the link below. Dave's not the only one who's into mushrooms for breakfast. Actually, crimini's aside, the Oak Park market is not so long in mushrooms. We have no specialists like the mushroom people who populate the Division St. market. Yet, whenever I think about the lack of mushroom variety or the lack of a totally organic stand, I am drawn back to the magic fact, we have donuts.

And a lot of other things. The market was brimming today. The cheese people dragged along a refrigerator, soy nuts made a triumphant return, and The Farm, with their trailer loaded with sweet corn, finally took their deeded spot in the parking lot. It was not a week for big transitions, just a lot more of everything. Plums and the first sweet corn were the only new things I noticed, and the plums got snagged before I could throw my money down. Nichols unveiled the full fury of their potato variety. I sought advice from Mr. Nichols on which ones. He was no use. Use them all was his best advice. Well, I'll use all of them that run $2 a lb. The teensy fingerlings at $4 a lb., I avoided, even though Hannah yearned for a something called russian banana. We were already stocked up on fresh oregano and black cabbage from the Green City market, so we went a little light today. With enough money left over for Ms. VI to get a big bunch of glads.

I am glad she got glads and I am glad the aforementioned "The Farm" arrived. Without them, there are essentially three choices for vegetables at the market. First there is my love, Nichols Farm, then, there are two places bookending the eastern corners of the market. While Nichols brings great greens (and oranges and reds and browns) each week, their stuff aint cheap. The other two places, however, appear to get their produce from sources more akin to supermarkets. It's like buying at Stanley's or Caputos. It may be a bit better than Jewel, but not that much better, and unlike Caputos, there is no cardoons, baby artichokes or fresh almonds. The Farm, which is a farmstand in Plainfield splits the difference. It actually looks like produce grown on a farm, but not a farm so lovingly tendered as Nichols. I do just love their prices for cucumbers, cabbage and other plain things.

See you next week, first at Nichols and then at the Farm.


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  1. d
    David Hammond

    A few weeks ago, VI mentioned the baby eggplants at the Oak Park Farmer’s Market, and I think he felt that they were kind of pricey. At Nichol’s, both the small round deep purple ones (Little Bambinos) and the slightly larger green Thai ones (Green Kermits) are about $3.00 or more a pound, which is kind of high, but I like them and here’s why.

    The more common larger eggplants can be prepared many ways, of course, but I usually pan fry or grill them. Either way, they’re sliced and oiled – and they absorb a lot of oil.

    The baby eggplants can be cut in half or kept whole and fried. Either way, they absorb less oil. As an added bonus, because their skins are so tender, you don’t have to peel them at all before eating, and the luscious thin skin adds a lot of flavor. Also, being smaller, they tend not to have a trace of the mealiness that is sometimes found in larger eggplants.

    And that’s why I’m willing to pay a little more than I should for Little Bambinos and Green Kermits.

    1. v
      Vital Information

      I totally forgot to mention that the first apples appeared this week. I marvel at these summer apples for a couple of reasons. First, as I say again and again and again, one of the greatest things about a farmers market is watching various produce come and go with each week. I love how cherries appear one week, then peaches, and then each vanish in the weeks thereafter. Even though apples appear year round in the big stores, it is reassuring to know they actually have seasons too.

      Second, these summer apples are useless. Sauce apples. Yet, who makes apple sauce at home. OK, since this is chowhound, some viewers make home made apple sauce, but I cannot imagine too many do. But it is another great thing about the farmer's market, the stubborn insistence of selling the first summer apples, sauce apples, because, hey that's what's off the trees.

      See you next week (and almost for sure at the Green City Market as we did not buy enough this week)



      1 Reply
      1. re: Vital Information

        If you buy the apples I'll make the sauce, along with the beets. By the way if you see jalepenos get some and I will pickle them. They haven't appeared at our market this year.

      2. Hello!

        So after not having been for over a month (away 3 weekends out of 4 will do that for you)

        I saw the Nichols potato orgy. Having gotten farmers market potatoes only to see them go bad in a day before (damp, I guess) I skipped. Next week, though, I must get peppers, onions, zukes and eggplant for ratatouille. It freezes, so I'll do a BIG bunch.

        We have Henry's Organic - they do mostly greens, still lots of baby greens, but I also got cucumbers and garlic from them. And Purslane. Which may not be worth the work, but it seems to be extraordinarily good for you, so I'm trying. Fresh garlic is infinitely easier to peel than older, and you don't even have to slice off the root end of the clove. They also had a sign "organic meats here today" but I wasn't needing meat.

        Still only hot-house tomatoes (local hot house, but still). But since I have ripe tomatoes on my patio plants (bought from Nichols) I have hopes for next weekend.

        The big buy was the last raspberries, apricots and my beloved sour cherries at Stover's. Alas, though, not the IQF - they misunderstood. Those are apparently extraordinarily expensive this year. Instead I got a big bucket of fresh, pitted cherries and just divided them into pie-sized servings and froze them in bags.

        I did make 2 apricot/cherry tarts. YUM! I hope apricot season lasts until next week, because I only had one left to eat out of hand. I must get blueberries and peaches next week, too.

        And I just finished eating some great beet greens, cooked with onions and garlic, and finished with plumped currants, chopped mint leaves and a little cayenne and vinegar. I'll steam the baby beets later in the week.

        I got a few of the hot-house tomatoes to supplement my meager harvest, and used an entire head of the garlic to make bruschetta - the basil was from my window box :)

        The flower ladies were there - they make beautiful bouquets while you wait (and wait and wait!). You tell them "I'll take a $6 bouquet and two $8, no yellow" and they make it up for you right there.

        We did have an acordion player. and someone was cooking garlic and tomatoes, but I don't think he was giving out samples. I was rushed, so I didn't do too much investigating into the mushroom and cheese people... next week.

        1. Searching for purple basil. First preference "Purple Ruffles", followed by "Opal" (flat leaf) Would appreciate any leads.

          1. Thanks for bumping a long forgotten post. Boy have I learned!

            Anyways, there was purple basil at the Oak Park Farmer's Market (or Green City or other markets), but it may be too late in the season.

            You can surely check with Genesis Growers, Farmer Vicki, tomorrow at the Green City Market in Chicago.