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.

MARKET HIGHLIGHTS:

Pie Bake-Off on September 7th: Do not miss out on tasting the fresh pies baked for the annual Pie Bake-off this Saturday. After the Market pies are judged (beginning at 9:30am) and trophies are awarded, we cut up the 13 pies for sampling by shoppers (until it runs out). Come watch the judging and learn the Market ingredients used by our local bakers. The contest occurs right next to the Info Tent on the East side of the Market. 

Upcoming events:

  • Stone Soup giveaway, closing day, Oct. 26
  • Knives sharpened every week at booth
  • Live Music, every week, starting at 9:00am
  • Church donuts, coffee (iced and hot), OJ, every week

Bake Sale: St. Christopher Episcopalian Church Youth Group 

Vendor Update: Green Fire Farms is back with sustainable meat and eggs from pasture-grazed animals. Ask Farmer Jacob about sequestering carbon in the soil with regenerative agriculture practices. Brian Severson Farms grains will be sold at the Breadman booth for the remainder of the season, as the Severson’s staff went back to college. I Love Native Plants are back to sell you natives for Autumn planting in your home gardens. Herbally Yours will be back next week, as they enjoy a family vacation this week. 

MARKET INSIGHTS BY COLLEEN MCNICHOLS: RIVER VALLEY RANCH VISIT

The Fine Art of Cultivating and Cooking Artisanal Market Mushrooms — River Valley Ranch is like no other farm in the Midwest

The delicate woodsy flavor and versatility of mushrooms motivate me to experiment with new recipes every week after market. We are fortunate to offer the delicacy of organic mushrooms and specialty products from River Valley Ranch (RVR) at OPFM. Their exquisite, seasonal, foraged wild mushrooms sell out quickly, as they are such a rare treat for city-dwelling foodies. Price is not an obstacle for market shoppers, when  chantarelle mushrooms make their rarified appearance in Oak Park.  I am thankful we can experiment, in our own kitchens, with RVR’s lovingly cultivated mushrooms year-round.

RVR Farm is the oldest mushroom farm in the Midwest, providing synthetic-free mushrooms to Markets, local restaurants, food artisans, and community members for over 40 years. They use a ton of food from their farm in their handcrafted food products and farm-to-table cuisine in their Chicago restaurant (Ravenswood) and at the Wisconsin store on the farm.

In 1976, Farmer Eric Rose’s father sold his restaurant in Elk Grove Village to open a mushroom farm when he could not source enough quality mushrooms for his recipes.  What began as a two-man (father and son) operation has evolved into a year-round harvest of five varieties of cultivated mushrooms (portabella, oyster, crimini, shiitake, white button) and a seasonal harvest of vegetables and herbs and wild seasonal foraged morel and chantarelle mushrooms

Last week I visited  Eric at RVR and watched him create his weekly supply of 40 tons of organic compost to serve as a medium for his mushrooms to flourish. The whole operation is much more extensive and complicated than I expected. I was mesmerized by the many growing houses and gigantic heat compost-generating system. Eric behaved like a scientist in a lab, controlling all the variables for the perfect fungi growth.

Since mushrooms synthesize the nutrients they need from organic material, they do not rely on sunshine. Eric has built a seemingly state-of-the-art compost arena which utilizes organic matter from surrounding Wisconsin farms. The PH balance is tested at a lab every week. The compost is loaded into long rows of shelves and microscopic pores are added to become our beloved mushrooms in dark growing houses.

His passion for his mushrooms and products is obvious, as he spends intense and long days at his expanding farm operation, commercial kitchen, restaurants, and farm store. RVR is truly is a ranch of creativity and productivity where nothing seems to go to waste.

Our wonderful market assistant, Joshua Arends, (a professional photographer) joined me on the road trip on a perfect summer day to Burlington Wisconsin. He is credited with many of these fine photos. In addition, Joe Kreml (Award-winning VOP Media Manager ) shot video for the Village. It turned out to be a rewarding (and delicious) farm inspection. We enjoyed an exceptional lunch of mushroom tamales, vegan mushroom tacos, and farm-fresh artisanal salads at the Farm Store Café.

In addition to fresh mushrooms offered weekly at the Oak Park Farmers Market, River Valley Kitchens is their line of handcrafted foods made with fresh ingredients from their farm and local farmers they trust. At market, they offer a wide variety of eats including pickled mushrooms, pasta sauces, salsas, hot sauces, ravioli, tamales, veggie burgers, and so much more. I am partial to their salsas, cherry bomb hot sauce and granolas but really love their spicy olive bruschetta. If you ever drive to Lake Geneva Wisconsin, enroute you can shop at their gourmet farm store on Rt. 50 and enjoy an excellent lunch featuring their farm fresh ingredients. But in the meantime, enjoy the riches of forty plus years of passion, knowledge, science and growing experience from RVR every Saturday at OPFM.

MUSHROOM CARE TIPS FROM FARMER ERIC ROSE:

Farmer Eric suggests you store fresh mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the lower part of your refrigerator, but not in the crisper. Wipe with a damp cloth to remove excess dirt. He suggests rinsing your mushrooms under water, just before cooking them. Your RVR fresh mushrooms should keep for up to one week. If you purchase them at a grocery store, expect a shorter shelf life.

MARKET READY RECIPES FROM RIVER VALLEY RANCH:

Shiitake Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices bread 
  • 4 slices swiss cheese
  • 4 slices havarti cheese
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
  • 3 roasted red peppers (sliced)
  • 1 onion (medium, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

Add butter to a skillet and caramelize the onions for a couple minutes. Add mushrooms and saute for another couple minutes after which you can add the roasted pepper and saute one more minute.

Lay slices of cheese, Swiss on one slice, Havarti on the other, repeat for the other sandwich.

Add grilled veggies and grill on skillet, flip when first side browns. Grill until cheese melts

PORTABELLA MARINADE AND GRILLING INSTRUCTIONS

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • sprig of fresh rosemary or basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  •  2 medium portabella mushroom caps

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Pour over the mushroom caps and marinate for 30 minutes, minimum. Grill 4-6 minutes per side, starting with the cap side down first. The mushroom is done, when it bends easily with a pair of tongs.

GARLIC MUSHROOMS WITH ARUGULA

  • 8 Garlic scapes, minced
  • 2 Large Onions (red or white)
  • 1 lb Crimini Mushrooms
  • 3 Stalks of Celery
  • 1 C. arugula
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Julienne onions and celery and place in cold pot on low heat, with the oil, garlic and seasoning, cover. Once the onions are melted but not caramelized, add the mushrooms and raw garlic and cook for 10-15 minutes covered.  Once the mushrooms have reduced in size by 1/3 add the arugula and remove from heat. Try adding diced jalapeno for a little kick or a shot of Worcestershire. This recipe also works very well with Shiitake and oyster mushrooms in place of half of the Crimini

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:

http://www.oak-park.us/our-community/oak-park-farmers-market

REMINDER: Please remember to bring your yogurt containers or storage containers to bring your berries and fruit home. Keep your bag clean and berries safely protected. We have given out all of our compostable shopping bags, so please remember to grab your bags on the way out of the door,

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