via OPFM

The Oak Park Farmers Market, offering high quality, locally-grown produce, is held in the Pilgrim Church Parking lot at 460 Lake St. from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October. Call for a free pickup and ride to the Market (Tel. 708. 383.4806). Please call before 2:00pm on Friday.

I am grateful Laura Lencioni, Chair of the Market Commission, is sharing her Market expertise and passion for local food on my behalf this week. –Colleen McNichols, Market Manager


As we approach the end of June, it is starting to feel as though summer is actually here. Strolling through the market last week I noticed that the sweet cherries were just starting to arrive, and we can expect more sweet cherry goodness this week! Tart pie cherries are available frozen from K.V. Stovers, so if you are hankering to bake a cherry pie, this weekend would be a good time to stock up on pie cherries. Brian Severson Farm offers the best organic baking flour for the perfect crust. The fresh tart cherries arrive on July 6.

Again, like last week, you can pick up a bevy of perfect strawberries from several of our vendors. I also heard a rumor that the Breadman will be offering loaves of strawberry bread made with local strawberries. That sounds amazing!

In terms of vegetables, I’m excited to say that this week will bring the first of the broccoli and it is looking great. Personally, whenever I think of broccoli I have flashbacks to the cheesy broccoli soup a friend used to make many years ago, the recipe for which I never got. I have never been able to replicate it, although I suspect the secret ingredient was bacon. Maybe this week I will finally figure it out with the help of some fresh farmer’s market “tiny trees” and bacon from Finn’s Ranch, Mint Creek or Green Fire Farm. Yes, for those who are wondering, Green Fire Farm will be at the market on the 29th. 

But I digress. My mission at last week’s market was to make the perfect t-bone steak. Nothing says summer cookout to me like a nice t-bone on the grill, and I was hoping that by cooking my favorite steak I could convince summer to finally start, kind of the culinary equivalent of wearing shorts while it is still cold out. The only problem is that because I live in an apartment, I do not have access to an outdoor grill, so I had to settle for cast iron grill indoors.  did, however, find the perfect t-bone at Finn’s Ranch (antibiotic and hormone free steak). One can taste the difference, when the cows happily graze on the certified organic pasture in Michigan.

I bought some cremini mushrooms from River Valley Ranch (mushrooms and steak are a match made in heaven, in my book) to go with them. To round out this meal, I made some sweet potato chips fried in a cast-iron skillet (Iron Creek) and a mixed green salad (Prairie Wind Farm) and cherry tomatoes (Iron Creek). If you’re looking for a salad that is a bit heartier than your standard lettuce and tomato side salad, I recommend a warm beet salad (recipe from Prairie Wind Farm). I served the meal with a glass of red wine called “the Bluffer”. The recipes are below.  

To sum up, the list of produce to look forward to this week looks something like this: Beets, kale, mustard greens, chard, mizuna, lettuce heads and mixes, arugula, spinach, broccoli, sweet snap peas, kohlrabi, bok choy, carrots, cucumbers, garlic, green onions, herbs, mushrooms (largest fresh selection in the Midwest thanks to RVR), peas (snap/pods), radishes, rhubarb (probably last of), potatoes (all kinds including new and sweet potatoes), tomatoes, turnips and the fruits are strawberry and sweet cherry.

See you at the market!

Upcoming events:

  • Annual Corn Roast fundraiser on Aug. 10.
  • Pie Bake-Off (enter to compete, application available on our market website) Sept. 7
  • Stone Soup giveaway, closing day, Oct. 26
  • Chef Demos TBA
  • Sweet Corn arrives July 27! 

Bake Sale: OP Youth Football and Cheer-leading

Vendor update:

Green Fire Farm is back with meat and eggs from their regenerative ag farm in Wisconsin.

Herbally Yours returns with their homegrown flavored-vinegars and herb mixes and rubs.

Native, herbs, annuals, edibles, vegetables, container, hanging, bedding, flowering plants are still available this week. Enhance or create your home garden, as our weather favors a late planting schedule.


Warm Beet Salad

  • 6 medium beets with tops (about 2 pounds) (Prairie Wind Family Farm Organic)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (Herbally Yours, at Market this week)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (Prairie Wind Family Farm Organic)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallion (Prairie Wind Family Farm Organic)
  • Fresh goat cheese (optional) (J2K Capraio Creamery)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut off tops from beets and reserve. Wrap beets in large sheet of heavy-duty foil, enclosing completely. Cut off long stems from beet leaves and discard. Thinly slice the beet leaves. Rinse leaves under cold water. Wrap leaves in small sheet of heavy-duty foil, enclosing completely.

Place foil package of whole beets directly onto oven rack. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes. Add foil package of beet leaves to oven and bake until beets are tender and leaves are wilted and tender, about 15 minutes longer. Open foil packages and let beets and leaves stand at room temperature until cool enough to handle. Rub beets to remove skins. Cut beets into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Whisk vinegar, oil and dill in large bowl until well blended. Add beets, beet leaves and onion and toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature with a sprinkle of goat cheese on top.  Serves 4.


T-bone Steak with Mushrooms & Sweet Potato chips 

Steak can be cooked in a skillet (I use cast iron) or on the grill outside. This serves 1-2 people (if you want to split a steak)  


  • 1 lb t-bone steak from Finn’s Ranch or Mint Creek
  • Sage, rosemary or thyme
  •  Non-stick spray, optional
  • 8-10 Cremini mushrooms from River Valley Ranch
  • Salt to taste-I like sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • Small nub of fresh turmeric root*
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic scape or clove of garlic, or, powdered garlic (optional)
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup of water on hand, as needed
  • Teriyaki or soy sauce, optional (I use soy-free coconut amino or coconut teriyaki
  • Aquafaba from black beans, pinto beans, or similar (optional)
  • 1 medium-sized to large sweet potato (I got mine from Iron Creek, but other vendors have them too)
  • Oil or fat of your choice**

For the Steak: If using teriyaki or soy sauce, pre-marinate the steak for half an hour to an hour. Don’t use too much though, you don’t want to overpower the goodness of the steak. Just use enough to coat the steak evenly. Preheat your skillet or grill, and when it is nice and hot turn the heat down to medium heat. Add a small amount of cooking oil or no-stick spray if using a skillet for the steak. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a small amount of sage, thyme or rosemary if desired. Fancy salt and fresh pepper are the best accompaniment to steak; less is more here. The steak won’t take long to cook, 4-6 minutes on one side and slightly less when you flip it, maybe 3-5 minutes on the second side. Be careful not to overcook! I like my steak rare or medium rare with an internal temperature of about 135 F to 145 F. Having a meat thermometer is very helpful here. Cook a little longer if you like your steak more well done, but in my opinion I’d rather accidentally under cook the steak and have to put it back on the heat rather than overcook it.  

For the mushrooms: Heat another skillet and add cooking oil or non-stick spray. Slice your mushrooms into the desired size. Chop the onion or garlic-scape and nub of turmeric root and add it, stirring the ingredients frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with a small pinch of herbs if desired. You can add a small amount of the same soy or teriyaki sauce if desired. Add water as needed to keep ingredients from burning. About halfway through cooking, add a few tablespoons of aquafaba (bean water) if desired. This will thicken the juices up a bit and add depth of flavor. Mushrooms are done when they have reduced in size and turned soft, onion has caramelized and the liquid is reduced to a nice browned coating. 

For the sweet potato chips: Don’t be intimidated by this. Once you get the hang of pan-frying, it is super easy to do and so delicious. The trick is to slice your potato as thin as possible, make sure you pat them dry carefully before frying (water causes oil to spatter), and keep the oil nice and hot but not smoking. First, add oil or fat of your choice to the skillet on high heat. As the oil heats up it expands, so add slowly. Once heated up it is important to turn the heat down to low! Once there is a layer of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of oil, slowly add the sweet potato slices in a single layer. Gently stir the potatoes until they are just covered with oil. Keep an eye on the heat and turn it up or down as needed. After 1-2 minutes, flip the chips to the other side. Cook until the chips are starting to brown and crisp up. Moving quickly, use a metal slotted spoon or similar tool to move the chips to a paper-towel lined plate and blot dry. You will most likely need to work in small batches unless you have a really big skillet. Once all of your chips are cooked, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Note that while you don’t want to pull the chips out of the skillet while they are still soft, they will crisp up a bit after they cool. It is helpful to have a lid or a spatter guard on top of the skillet to keep the grease off of your stovetop.  

*Genesis Growers will have tumeric root later in the season, I bought a bunch last fall, chopped and froze it for use throughout the year

**You can use vegetable oil such as corn oil or canola, but I like to save and reuse grease and fat from various high-quality meats like the ones purchased at the market. I save bacon grease and rendered duck fat in the freezer to get the full value out of my meat purchases. The flavor is amazing if the source meat is high-quality.  If you ask, Mint Creek sometimes has fat for rendering or even pre-rendered lard for sale.

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