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 FROM COLLEEN MCNICHOLS:

The Oak Park Farmers’ Market is going strong with three Markets remaining. Not only do we have ample varieties of hardy produce, but many hoop house-grown crops.  I look forward to Farmer John Smits, from The Farm, bringing his first 150 pound pumpkins. It takes three people to carry them and they are lovely and worth all the effort. Our edible and carving pumpkins have been growing all summer and will be appreciated throughout October.

Do not forget to pre-order your Thanksgiving turkeys from our meat vendors, who will drop them off in Oak Park prior to the big day. Katic Breads should be introducing their first gluten-free Keto bread this month.

I roast our chestnuts, along with all our root vegetables, and enjoy the Fall harvest. I feel child-like with enthusiasm for Halloween and making warm soothing meals with my Market swag. See you this Saturday, bright and early, for Church donuts and more goodies.

I am grateful to Laura Lencioni, Chairwoman of the Market Commission, for sharing some Market tips and Halloween recipes below.

–Colleen McNichols, Manager of OPFM

UPCOMING EVENTS:

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

Bake Sale:  Oak Park Women’s Guild

Vendor Update: Sitka Salmon Shares is back with their individual seafood to purchase and to discuss joining their Spring CSF Share (Community Supported Fish).  Our veteran vendor, Herbally Yours, is back with their exceptional seasoned vinegars and herb seasonings. Brian Severson Farms grains will be sold at the Breadman booth (East end of Market)  for the remainder of the season, as Severson’s staff went back to college.

MARKET INSIGHTS FROM LAURA LENCIONI:

In the car with my son today, I was discussing the fact that Halloween is in a few weeks. Neither of us has given our Halloween costumes much thought, but we both agreed that a trip to the thrift store to get costume inspiration was in order. It got me thinking, what Halloween inspired treats can be made from farmers’ market ingredients? I wanted to share a few recipes I found and a few old favorites as well. 

Donut Vampires from One Little Project Blog:

https://onelittleproject.com/halloween-monster-donuts/

This recipe requires a box of our famous Pilgrim Church donuts, so get to the market early!The other ingredients are vampire’s teeth, M&M’s and a little donut glaze.

Homemade Gummy Worms:

For this recipe, make fruit juice out of market grapes or cranberries. Lots of vendors have beautiful grapes right now, and last week I got some gorgeous cranberries from Ellis Farms! I like to make juice by putting the berries in a pot with some water and sugar (optional), bring to a boil, then let it cool. I then coarsely blend them in my Vitamix. I pour the resulting liquid through a nut milk bag (like this one: https://amzn.to/2OxezvK) to strain out all of the pulp and seeds. The resulting juice can be used to make the gummies, used to make jelly, or just drink it straight.

Then, make your homemade gelatin mix. I use Great Lakes brand gelatin. Here’s an excellent article on how to make gummies: https://bit.ly/2p2ew0w

But, to add a Halloween twist, use these gummy worm molds that can be found on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Vo9wzc

 You can make gummy worms using plastic straws as well, but I’d prefer to invest once in the silicone molds than to use single-use plastic straws that will end up in a landfill every time I make gummy worms.

During the next few market days it is time to pick out your Halloween pumpkins! Lots of vendors have pumpkins of all sizes and shapes, and many of them will make great Jack O’ Lanterns. But do you do with all of those pumpkin seeds you scoop out? Make roasted pumpkin seeds! I always get some cookie sheets ready when I’m carving pumpkins because I love snacking on the seeds later.

First, separate your seeds from the pulp. You can rinse them if you like, but I actually prefer mine with a bit of pumpkin still on them. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil and mix thoroughly. Then, spread them out evenly in a single layer on your cookie sheet and sprinkle generously with sea salt or pink salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Then, with your oven on low (around 200-325), roast until your seeds are dry and just starting to brown. Keep an eye on them because every oven is different, but these will probably take about ten-fifteen minutes to make. Then enjoy! Pumpkin seeds are loaded with nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and antioxidants, just to name a few.

While I’m spending an evening carving pumpkins, I like to enjoy a nice bowl of butternut squash soup. I take one butternut, scoop out the seeds (these can be prepared and eaten just like pumpkin seeds), and roast face down in a shallow roasting pan. I put a little water to keep it from burning. Once cooked, I take a pint of bone broth, about a cup or two of roasted butternut squash, a couple of cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, fresh turmeric, fresh ginger, a touch of molasses and a cup of coconut milk and blend it together in the blender. I then simmer the soup on low for about a half-hour or so and serve it with some pumpkin seeds on the side.

My drink of choice while carving pumpkins is spiced apple cider. I like to use Walt Skibbe cider, but there are a few other vendors that have apple cider this time of year too. I add a few cups of cider to a saucepan (depending on how many people you are serving), and I add some cloves, cinnamon, ginger root (I bought some from both Genesis Growers and Prairie Wind last week), some apple slices, pear slices and maybe even a few cranberries. I simmer this, on low, until the fruit is very soft, and ladle it into mugs. This is delicious spiked with rum or just as is.

-Laura Lencioni

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