Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vacation 2008: In search of summer food

photo courtesy of Newsday

With regards to summer vacation I'm with Clark Griswold: summer really isn't summer if you don't log some miles in the family car. Also like Clark, my determination - rather than unanimous family member enthusiasm - is the driving force behind most of our excursions.

In addition to mastering Pad Thai, I have only two summer goals. They both satiate food- and travelust. Lucky for the family, they don't include trans-continental road trips. Here they are:

1. Frequent Chicagoland U-Pick farms. How else can I meet my goal of eating my weight in strawberries? It's just not responsible to spend the entirety of one's grocery budget on costly summer berries at Whole Foods. Even the innocuous neighborhood farmer's market is cash carnivore at berry time. Enter the U-Pick farm: a small entry fee and strawberries at $3/pound. If only there were a U-Pick TOMATO farm. That would be awesome!

2. Weekly excursion grocery shopping to Pilsen, Chinatown, Maxwell Street, Devon Ave and any other interesting locale. We had a ton of fun visiting Mitsuwa Marketplace a couple of summers ago: great food court, groceries and cooking equipment, and the kids dug the bakery. HMart, the Korean market in Niles is up first, as soon as Mina and I can nail down a date. I'm lucky Mina has offered a guided tour as she'll tell me what to buy. I am SO looking forward to improving my Korean BBQ beef!

What are your summer cooking and eating plans?


Unknown said...

And what are you going to do with all those strawberries? (Besides eating them straight out of the bowl.)

Katie Fairbank said...

Besides eating them out of the bowl! I hadn't considered other options!

Actually, I'd probably freeze some for smoothies.

Or make some strawberry ice cream.

Strawberry tarts are so pretty, but I prefer to make individual berry tarts which don't have to be cut for service (thereby ruining the pretty design on top) and individual tarts take soooo long. This is why I'm not a pastry chef - I told you I'd lost the love. :)

what would you do?

Unknown said...

You might try slicing and dehydrating some for additions to wintertime oatmeal (for a reminder that there is a summer out there somewhere after 7 months of winter!!)Also, you could make a strawberry vinaigrette, perfect for spinach salad, I would blend them with Olive or sunflower oil, champagne vinegar and maybe some tarragon and fresh pepper - great with strawberries!) Our summertime food plan is to eat 90% local and organic - all from the farmers market and other suppliers through October! Can you tell I just finished read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle???

Katie Fairbank said...

i do love dehydrated strawberries. do you do that yourself? send me your tips and i'll experiment.

way to go on your summertime food plan. it's ambitious, sure - especially given your altitude, but possible for a creative and talented cook such as you!

Unknown said...

I've never done this, but I think I might cook some and freeze the resulting compote, to have with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I still every year make the "rhubarb soup" Dad used to make by cooking rhubarb chunks with sugar and a little water, and I always toss in a bag of frozen organic strawberries or raspberries (which I think are even better with rhubarb, though seasonally incongruous). It's never occurred to me to cook just berries, but then I've never had a surfeit of them.

Unknown said...

Katie, I have a food dehydrator, so it is just slice and dehydrate -I also heard you can do this in an oven at a very low temp, but have not tried it. Also, I have to admit, I have dehydrated other fruits and vegetables but have NEVER had too many fresh strawberries around looking for a way to be useful!!!!

Jessica Paul said...

I was just reading your recipe for carnitas, and your recommendation for garnishing with chopped onion and cilantro jogged my memory of a favorite taco spot and also general location for authentic Mexican food supplies. Have you been to La Pasadita on Division and Milwaukee? There are several "La Pasadita" store fronts on the block, but the one closest to Division is the ONE. My friend Monica who is from Monterrey, Mexico claims that the tacos there are the closest to the ones at home. I got addicted!! She would order the ribeye tacos for us which was just braised, chopped ribeye served in soft, warm corn tortillas, served with onions and cilantro, fresh lime wedges for squeezing and lots of salt. I could eat 4 or 5 in a sitting and we began making weekly trips to get tacos and horchata. Across the street is the only grocer in Chicago that she could find the hard corn tortillas she ate growing up. At home she would squeeze lime onto them, douse them in hot sauce and a sprinkle of salt. So satisfying. It's probably not as good as Pete's, but might be a fun lunch adventure this summer!