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. Please support our local family farmers, as the struggle with extremely difficult weather conditions this season. Thank you for supporting local agriculture. –Colleen McNichols, Market Manager


This week it suddenly hit me….here we are, at the height of summer! That means it is fiesta time! This week I had a taste for tacos, but because I live in the Midwest and not the Southwest, I have my own take on the classic taco dishes and accompaniments. Featuring, of course, ingredients from our Farmer’s Market. You can find unique cuts of meat at the market if you spend some time talking to the farmers. I picked beef tongue to make tacos with this week. Beef tongue sounds strange, but it is delicious!

There’s a lot to celebrate with a bounty of fruits and vegetables available this week. And, while the corn isn’t quite ready to harvest yet (it will be here on July 20th or 27th), Severson Farms will be here on July 13 and they will be selling a couple of great certified organic bean varieties by Breslin Farm. In particular two varieties that will be at the market are Black Turtle Beans and Red Beans. 

Black Turtle Beans are believed to have originated in southern Mexico and Central America over 7,000 years ago.  They have a deep, rich flavor that works superbly in soups, chili, and as refried beans. Breslin grew both the modern Eclipse and an heirloom variety.

The Red Beans are a deep red with a white hilum, the Merlot variety is two or three times the size of a standard black bean. They hold their shape well when cooked and are perfect for Cajun-style red beans and rice. They are perfect in recipes calling for pinto or red kidney beans, like chili, salads, or soups. You might want to pick up these great varieties. I’ve included a recipe below that uses the Black Turtle Beans.

Do not forget the abundance of jarred items available this week with Bushel and Peck’s, River Valley Ranch, K.V. Stovers, Tomato Mountain, and Dennanne’s Apiary. Also try the award-winning cheese (goat and cow), meat, eggs, bread,grains and specialty items.The cut flowers will include the sunflowers’ debut at Geneva Lakes Produce.

Other great produce that can be found at the market this week includes: 

  • Arugula
  • Asian greens
  • Beans (fresh / green)
  • Beans (dried, red and black)
  • Beets
  • Blueberries
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Cherries, Sweet and Tart
  • Collards
  • Cucumber
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Green onions
  • Herbs
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce (head)
  • Lettuce (salad mix)
  • Mustard Greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas (shell)
  • Peas (snap / pods)
  • Potatoes
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb*
  • Strawberries
  • Squash (Summer)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini

Oak Park Farmers’ Market is committed to equal access to high-quality fresh food. We believe that anyone who wants to eat locally grown and produced food should be able to, regardless of their income level. Therefore; we accept SNAP/LINK cards for payment. We match each dollar spent with a Link card with a one dollar coupon (up to $25.00 per Market day). In addition, we accept WIC and Senior vouchers, as well. To learn more about our equitable programs visit our website:

Upcoming events:  All vendors will be giving out compostable bags in July as part of our Plastic Free July initiative. Single-use plastic bags are banned from the Market in July. We are accepting the plastic plant pots back, after shoppers go home and plant their gardens. The pots will be returned to the original vendors for reuse. We prefer everyone bring their own reusable bags or purchase one at the Info Tent. The compostable bags should be a last resort. Please ask us about the Village Compost curbside pickup program. Please remember to bring your yogurt containers or storage containers to bring your berries and cherries home. Keep your bag clean and berries safely protected.

  • Annual Corn Roast fundraiser on Aug. 10.
  • Pie Bake-Off on Sept. 7 (enter to compete, application available on our market website as of July 13) 
  • Stone Soup giveaway, closing day, Oct. 26
  • Chef Demos on July 20 TBA
  • Sweet Corn may arrive July 20–we will keep you posted on corn progress! 
  • Knives sharpened every week at American Pride Microgreens booth
  • Live Music, every week, starting at 9:00am
  • Church donuts, coffee (iced and hot), OJ, every week

Bake Sale: Assumption Greek Church

Children’s activities: No Children’s activity this week

Vendor update:

  • Green Fire Farm is bringing their sustainable meat and eggs. 
  • Herbally Yours are bringing their seasoned vinegars and home-grown herbal mixes and rubs.
  • Bushel and Peck‘s are back for their monthly visit with preservation kitchen items (more than just sublime sauerkraut and pickles).
  • Severson Farms is featuring Breslin red and black turtle beans for the first time this year.
  • Petals Farm is bringing more organic cut flowers, as the North Wichert Garden farmers have retired. Also, Farmer Scott of Geneva Lakes is going back to his Dutch roots and growing cut flowers this season including the first sunflowers this week. Look for all flowers in the South East corner of the Market. 


Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Beef Tongue Tacos


  • 1 beef tongue (Finn’s Ranch is the one I used this time, but Mint Creek and Green Fire Farm should have this too. Alternatively, you should be able to make this recipe with pork tongue but it will be a smaller cut of meat)
  • 4-6 chopped garlic cloves
  • 6 cups of broth of your choice, or water. 
  • 1 nub of turmeric root, about 1′ length, chopped
  • black pepper to taste, fresh cracked is nice but any will do
  • 2 plum tomatoes, roughly diced 
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • dried herbs of your choice: thyme, oregano or rosemary
  • 1 small jalapeno, chopped (I grew mine last year, chopped and froze)
  • salt to taste-I like sea salt or himalayan pink salt

Toppings & sides:

Chipotle salsa or tomatillo salsa from Tomato Mountain

  • refried black beans, Severson/Breslin
  • diced avocado, optional
  • Finely shredded cabbage from Geneva Lakes, or sauerkraut (this is easy to make at home but takes about a month to ferment, so in the meantime maybe see if Bushel & Peck has some of their excellent sauerkraut), optional
  • finely chopped green onions, optional
  • shredded cheese of your choice
  • Tortilla: El Milagro corn tortillas or your favorite brand. 


Rinse the tongue but don’t peel the outer skin. Place the trivet into the slow cooker or instant pot if you have one ( it will make it much easier to pull the meat out when you are done) and add the tongue to the slow cooker or Instant Pot. If using a slow cooker, you will need to cook this overnight. In the Instant Pot you will cook 120 minutes on high pressure and then allow it to depressurize on its own, about 20-30 minutes. Add broth or water, and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients evenly over the top of the meat except for the toppings. Once the meat is cooked, pull it out and let it the juices drain for a minute. then transfer the meat to a cutting board or platter and peel off the outer skin & gristle (It should be very easy to remove at this point). Then using two large serving forks or a bbq claw, shred the meat to the desired consistency. Warm your tortillas over the open flame on your stove; you can use metal tongs to flip them if you don’t want to get burned, or your hands if you want to throw caution to the winds and/or have good reflexes. Assemble your tacos and add your desired toppings and enjoy with a nice glass of  your favorite Mexican beer with a twist of lime or a lemonade with fresh Market basil. Or, If you prefer a mixed drink, try this take on the traditional margarita. 

Mostly Midwest Margarita

A Margarita is a tropical drink typically made from tropical fruits. However, I live in the Midwest. To keep this Margarita closer to local, I used the bounty of Midwest fruits and herbs for most of the ingredients. 


  • lemongrass or lemon verbena infused simple syrup (Geneva Lakes sells lemongrass plants, Genesis Growers sells lemon verbena plants and cut herb)
  • 2 tablespoons of Herbally Yours tarragon vinegar
  • frozen strawberries
  • sweet apple cider (Walt Skibbe Farms)
  • small nub of ginger
  • frozen blueberries (optional)
  • frozen peaches (optional)
  • frozen raspberries (optional)
  • tequila – for this recipe I used Patron Reposado, but you can use the tequila of your choice
  • touch of honey from Dennanne Farms (optional)
  • salt or sugar for the rim (optional)

Wash Farmer’s Market fruit, chop, and freeze overnight. While you’re at it chill a couple of margarita glasses. To make the simple syrup, bring 1 cup of water to a boil and dissolve 1 cup of sugar in it.  You can use brown sugar for a unique twist if you like. Take fresh lemongrass and pound the base a bit and chop the greens to release the flavor. Add lemongrass and/or lemon verbena to the simple syrup and turn the heat off, allowing it to steep like tea. Once the syrup has cooled completely, strain out the lemongrass and bottle your syrup. In a blender, add 1 cup of apple cider, 2 cups of frozen fruit, 2 tbsp of tarragon vinegar, nub of ginger, a touch of honey, and 1-3 shots of tequila (depending on how strong you want it to be). Blend on high until it is the desired consistency. Dip the rims of your glasses in either coarse sugar or tequila salt and pour your drinks. Serves 2. 

Nice n Spicy Refried Black Turtle Beans


  • Black Turtle Beans from Breslin Farm (co-op with Severson Farms)
  • small nub of turmeric, chopped
  • salt
  • garlic clove
  • black pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • cumin
  • coconut oil, bacon fat, duck fat, or similar rendered fat

Dried beans take a little bit of foresight but cooking with them tastes so good compared to canned. A day or two ahead of time, take about a cup of beans, rinse in a sieve, and place in a bowl of water in the refrigerator. Over the next day or so, drain and rinse the beans and add more water. This removes the part of the beans that causes gas when eaten, so this step is worthwhile. After a day or so the beans will be rehydrated and slightly softer and they are ready to cook. Place the beans in a pot with lid and add water just to the top of the beans. Boil them until they are nice and soft, and drain. In a skillet (I use cast iron), add the beans, and a couple of tablespoons of the oil/fat of your choice, as well as the salt, pepper, and cumin to taste, garlic clove, chopped jalapeno (or two if you really like spice), and chopped turmeric root. Cook on medium heat and mash with a potato masher. Stir constantly until it is the desired consistency. Serve either as a side to your tacos or as a topping. Or, if someone in your family really doesn’t like the concept of beef tongue tacos, there’s nothing wrong with a nice refried bean burrito or taco. It is quite healthy and filling.

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