Posts Tagged ‘Oak Park Farmers Market’

I posted this earlier today, but, after a few comments about the song, I thought you might enjoy this update.

Oh Sweet Pea 
come on and dance with me 
come on come on come on and dance with me 
Oh Sweet Pea 
come on and be my girl 
come on come on come on and be my girl  – Tommy Roe

Saturday’s errands included a trip to the Oak Park Farmers Market. Always a feast for the senses, this market hosts primarily organic produce, meats, cheeses and several floral vendors, as well as a pick-up band that plays folk and blue grass and, well, whatever the musicians who wander in and out choose to render. I walked past the long line of patrons waiting for the markets’ famous Saturday morning donuts, and I maintained some self-control and didn’t buy any gardening plants, but the fragrance of sweat peas beckoned me to a small booth filled with freshly cut flowers. Before I knew it, a lusty bouquet, wrapped in brown craft paper and tied with twine was in my arms, a floral baby that cooed all the way home.

There are string beans and zucchini waiting to be roasted with some new potatoes for a savory Greek vegetable stew tonight. Some good, crusty bread for sopping up the sauce is in order. For now, I think I will just bury my nose into the sweetest of peas that are with me this fine Monday morning.


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We have finally experienced our first hard frost here on the Cutoff. While I won’t say I welcomed it, I know its time has come. We been fortunate with warmer weather this fall. I don’t really mind the change in the air, but, a steady and sturdy wind has been blowing these past few days, reminding me once again that I am not in charge. The last of the leaves and pots need tending to and there is some cutting back of roses and such to do. All in good time, I know, and then there is Thanksgiving to prepare for, reminding me today that the turkey needs thawing, the linens pressing, the silver polished, and thankful thoughts remembered.

These grasses were ethereal, swaying in the November breeze, and breathtaking in their simple elegance. They had a rather “America the Beautiful” air about them when I passed by.

A pot of Jerusalem Cherries that I bought at the Oak Park Farmers Market in October is still bright and colorful in a sunny spot on our deck.  What a wonderful site it is from the kitchen and a bit of a harbinger of the reds of Christmas ahead. 

In spite of a few deer nibbles, the Oak Leaf hydrangea is stunning in its red coat,

and tiny crabapples are hanging on for dear life in Kezzie’s tree, which is surrounded by fencing, lest a randy buck tries to spar with it again this year. They remind me of the cranberries that will soon be chopped for our festive cranberry relish.

Now, about that turkey . . .

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Isn’t she cute? Those are button for eyes, held it by stick pins. The straw hat is just what was needed to top it off.  This was one  of many decorations at the bulb sale in the Oak Park Conservatory, my first stop on Saturday morning.

I want to add more Allium to the late spring garden. The have such a long display time, from their big blooms in late spring, to mid-summer, as the blossoms fade. I was able to pick up quite a few bulbs for a reasonable price, and get some fall decorating ideas to boot.

Like this scarecrow, who had taken up his post in the conservatory. Click on for a better view of the face, which is a bag of leaves.

I love the colors of hay and of gourds. They just naturally lend themselves to decorating for fall, don’t you agree?

Then, it was a short jaunt to the center of Oak Park and their renowned Farmers’ Market, which I wrote about last year.

The market is full of all thing fresh, winter squash, apples, potatoes, honey, and lots of flowers and plants on Saturday. I resisted the donuts, but, did stop for a spell to listen to pick-up band. The group strumming and singing, mostly bluegrass with a few gospel songs mixed in. It was toe-tapping and humming along for the crowd gathered round. My favorite was I’ll Fly Away, led by this wonderful singer.

You can hear I’ll Fly Away by clicking here or, here, both sung by Allison Krauss.

I just love the spontaneity of this group, their ability to work so well together, taking turns leading and collaborating on songs. Today,  a young boy  around 12, joined in with his fiddle. I recognized a few from last year, especially one gent who played several instruments. Can you find him in the pictures?

Gosh, but it was a glorious day!

I hope yours was as well.

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Sharon shared a simple, and simply delicious, recipe for an Italian Pasta soup with me the other day. I made it on Saturday night. As I was putting the ingredients in the pot, I was thinking about the Oak Park Farmers Market I visited earlier in the day and the stone soup that would be made by a local restaurant with ingredients supplied by the vendors; carrots, turnips, beans, parsley, thyme, whatever is still being harvested come October 30. They call their final market Stone Soup and hand out cups of soup to patrons, first come, first serve.

An article I read on Oak Park’s Farmers Market’s Stone Soup said the soup is ready at 9 am – and the pot is usually empty by 10! Imagine. Hot, tasty soup on a crisp, maybe even cold, late October morn with the freshest of ingredients served outdoors. Can you see the steam rising from the cup?

Stone Soup

Do you know the story? It is old, very old, and comes as a folk tale with variations from many countries; France, Russia, Japan, Portugal, to name just a few. The basic story is that someone(s) come into a village, hungry, tired, perhaps poor, and ask for some food, usually carrying a big empty pot. The villagers refuse to feed them until the crafty soldiers or monk or whomever the protagonist is, set the pot on a fire,  put water in the pot and add a stone or an axe or a nail, and proceed to make soup, admitting it would be so much better with seasoning. No matter who tells the story, no matter what language is spoken, a villager always offers up a carrot or potato or turnip to sweeten the pot. Not to be outdone, others ante up with whatever they have and sure as rain a tasty soup is quickly simmering and all are fed, especially the crafty fellow who wandered into the village that day.

Sharon’s recipe was outstanding and we have leftovers for another day. She and I are always sharing recipes and my life is more flavorful is so many ways for knowing her.

I was thinking about stone soup while the pot of Italian Pasta soup started to boil. I was pondering how much better our world would be if we each started a pot of stone soup to share with folks who are hungry or weary. Don’t you agree?

What ingredient would you give to a stone soup today?

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The lure is the donuts.

Every Saturday from May through October, someone, some charitable group, starts frying up donuts in the early morning hours in the kitchen of the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Oak Park and lines start forming for a donut and coffee. Originally begun as a fundraising project for the church, it was later opened up to various organizations.

Then, there is the pick-up band.

Banjos and autoharps, guitars and cellos. A mandolin here, a bodhran or cymbals there; musicians stepping in as spots become available and stepping out in an intricate dance known only to the musicians. You can pull up a chair, or enjoy your donut and coffee at a table, if one is available, and simply enjoy the music. Saturday, it was bluegrass, with some hearty foot tapping to go with the soft autumn breeze, and some of the sweetest voices this side of heaven.

For 35 years, Oak Park has held their farmers market in the back lot of the church. It is one of the biggest and longest running markets in the Chicagoland area. We try to go a few times in the season. This year it just didn’t happen, so, with the temptation of a fresh donut in mind and some locally grown produce my mission, I headed in to Oak Park and one of their last markets of the year.

Parking was premium. Pilgrim church is across the street from Oak Park River Forest High School and there was a football game being played. It was a madhouse just trying to turn into the parking garage, though I lucked out and found a parking spot right away. There was an air of festivity with the cheers of the crowds and the dueling whistles between the football game and the traffic policemen. Wagons were filled with huge pumpkins and cornstalks were leading their new owners to their cars or down the leaf lined streets surrounding the church.

It was such a good day to be a Midwesterner!

I listened to the music for a while, eyeing the extra long donut line, and, basket in hand, decided to peruse the market first. String beans and zucchini called me into one booth, a taste for Greek vegetable stew emerging. Mutsu apples for some applesauce – and two caramel apples to share with Tom later. Round I went, gathering produce and soaking in the sights and scents of the season.

My basket was heavy, my wallet was not, as I stopped to listen to the band one more time. They put down their instruments and smiled to the applause in appreciation for their efforts. The musicians and their music packed up for another day.

I never did get a donut.

I think I’ll come back on their last day, the 30th. Free Stone Soup until they run out on the last day of the market. All the vendors provide the ingredients and a local restaurant makes the soup. Sound good, doesn’t it?

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