Fox River Flower Farm

The Fox River Flower Farm was born out of necessity, but really it was many years in the making. In my previous life, some 20 years ago, I was a journalism graduate of Columbia College who worked as a music writer for various Chicago publications. But as print media shifted to online and newspapers and magazines had to bow to advertorials to survive, I became less and less enchanted so I switched gears.

I got a literary agent, sold a book about the best food trucks in America and spent a year traveling the country researching, photographing and getting to know people from every walk of life bound by a common thread. Their foodways sparked a renewed interest in seed-to-plant, farm-to-table, and I decided to enroll in the U of I’s Master Gardening Extension. Meanwhile, a few Chicago restaurant friends — Graham Elliot, now of Master Chef and Stephanie Izard, Top Chef — asked if I could help them with various plant and floral projects for their restaurants. For Graham Elliot, the concept was to create tabletop terrariums of hand blown glass and seasonal botanicals that would change as the menu did. My company Bottle & Branch was born of that project.

I brought on a couple of employees and set up a design studio in the Chicago Humboldt Park neighborhood. Over the last 10 years we grew to have a full-service floral business, a ‘light landscaping’ division focusing on seasonal container design via sidewalk patios and rooftop gardens, as well as an interiors division that designs, installs and maintains interior plants. Close to 100% of our clients are restaurants and hotels. When COVID hit, we went from roughly 60 clients to four overnight (those four were hotels that kept us on to maintain plants in the now-empty hotels during the shutdown...quite eerie). I was forced to furlough all of my employees, including myself, and as I was helping the team navigate the unemployment process I started to reevaluate my business, which had grown to the point that I was essentially managing people rather than playing in the dirt. If I wanted to get back to that and wanted a more direct interaction with consumers outside of the hospitality industry, I knew I needed to grow things.

I enrolled in the UW Madison’s School for Cut Flower Growers and met Jeanie McKewan of Brightflower Farms, who would become my mentor and friend. While apprenticing at Brightflower, my husband Brandon and I converted a portion of our half-acre lot into a small flower farm and then expanded to a generous neighbor’s lot. At the Fox River Flower Farm, we grow all of our flowers from seed and practice no till and organic methods. We keep bees (who make deliciously floral honey), plant gobs of pollinator attractors and grow cut flowers in varieties that hopefully stand out in a crowd. We have a Flower Farm Club subscription service that’s available as a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly delivery so that our customers can watch the season change with us. And now as the restaurants and hotels are coming back to life, we are bringing that seasonality back to the tabletops, host stands and special event spaces. During the shutdown, we survived by building relationships with residential clients looking for a bit of brightness delivered to their doorstep and that continues to be a huge source of happiness for me personally, one that I might not have found if not for being forced to slow down and just watch things grow. These days as the city reawakens and we’re fully back in business, I’m still most at peace in the greenhouse starting seeds, thinking of how such big and beautiful things can come from something seemingly so small.

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Skip the Monocultures

Author: Greta Taylor, Food Shed Co-op Outreach Coordinator

Local farming reduces monocultures which strip soils of nutrients, reduce biodiversity and usually require more pesticides.

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Duke's Alehouse Recipes

Perfect Pressure Cooker Black Beans

Use for soup, as a side, or just with some hot sauce and fried egg.

1 lb dried black beans, no need to soak
1 slice of bacon
2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
½ onion peeled and quartered
8 C water
1.5 T kosher salt

Pressure cook on high for 20 minutes and release pressure naturally. Enjoy. Even better after being stored overnight in the fridge.


Perfect Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is always a great thing to have in the freezer.

1 Chicken Carcass with Wings
2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
1 onion peeled and large dice
4 carrots peeled and large dice
4 celery stalks large dice
1 sprig thyme
1 ea clove
8 Cups water
1-2 T Kosher salt, season to taste, I prefer to add some salt to stock so you know how it tastes before using. You can always omit if you prefer to season later.

Pressure cook on high for 45 minutes and release pressure naturally.


Lentil, Beef, and Sweet Potato Soup

Delicious protein loaded soup.

4 slices bacon
1 lb ground beef
1 T brown sugar
2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
1 onion peeled and large dice
4 carrots peeled and large dice
4 celery stalks large dice
1 large sweet potato large dice
2 cups shredded kale
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 sage leaf
1 C lentils
4 cups water
1 12 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
4 cups chicken stock
1-2 T Kosher salt, season to taste

In a large pot saute bacon until rendered and the bacon has become slightly crispy. Drain off fat and reserve. Set aside bacon. Return pot to heat and add a tablespoon of bacon fat back to pot and heat until oil is crackling a bit then add ground beef and allow to brown while stirring and liquid has reduced. Add brown sugar, vegetables and kale to pan and saute until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils are just barely cooked. Serve warm with crusty bread.


Braised Chicken

Use for bbq chicken with sticky rice and steamed broccoli. Use for tacos or sandwiches.

2 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
1 onion peeled and large dice
2 carrots peeled and large dice
2 celery stalks large dice
1 sprig thyme
8 Cups water
1-2 T Kosher salt, season to taste

Bring everything but chicken breast to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add chicken breasts and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove chicken breasts from broth. Using two forks, pull apart the chicken. Toss with BBQ sauce (if desired) while still warm then store up to 6 days in fridge. Reserve broth for soups or rice. In fridge for up to 6 days or freeze for up to 2 months.


Grilled Chicken Legs

Tender and moist grilled chicken every time.

Brine:

2 whole chicken legs
4 C water
4 T kosher salt
2 T brown sugar
1 ea lemon split in half
2 ea garlic cloves smashed
2 ea bay leaves
1 ea onion quartered
1 bunch herbs (parsley, cilantro, thyme all work well)

Bring all items except chicken to a boil then remove from heat and allow to stand for about 30 minutes for flavors to infuse. Then chill. Pour chilled brine over chicken and store in fridge between 12 and 24 hours then grill to 155.

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From Owner #818

I am 73 years old.  I have been buying food through various co-op/buying clubs since my mid 20s.  Currently I belong to a club that purchases food through UNFI.  However, as the USA has become more and more interested in healthy food, we, as a buying club, are being forced out by places like Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, etc.  These companies have demanded that if a club is located within 50 miles of a retail store, they no longer want UNFI to continue selling directly to us, and frankly, we pay almost the same prices as the retailers and to be perfectly honest, paying their huge markups and driving almost 25 miles to shop is not something I want to do.  I miss the days of cooperative buying! I have been getting my fresh produce delivered from a company in Chicago, which is great, but not exactly ecologically correct.

I worked at MCC with Kim Haskins for years and watched her enthusiasm and excitement grow with each new Sustainability accomplishment!  I chose to become a Food Shed owner because I think that communities need to band together and become sustainable communities where small farmers and retailers can benefit from local support.  It makes me a little sad that it has taken so very many years for people to realize that eating healthy, natural food should be an affordable option for EVERYONE.  My family used to joke about my kids getting only organic, natural food but now they have seen the health benefits of  this type of living.

I am excited for the Food Shed to open. I miss going into a store where people talked, shared ideas, bought local food, and understood that communities are very important to the well-being of this country. I will do my best to interest other people in becoming sustainable members.

Thanks for all the work that is going on to make this world a better place.

Marie Day

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Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon

Recipe Round-up

Honey Mustard Roasted Salmon with Veggies from Misfits Market

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 delicata squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts (about 12 sprouts), sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli, cauliflower, or romanesco cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups radicchio, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1, 3-pound salmon fillet or 6, 8-ounce fillets
  • Microgreens, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme leaves, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. 
  3. While whisking, slowly stream in olive oil until emulsified. 
  4. Add a drizzle of olive oil onto a baking sheet and lay salmon across the pan. Pour 1/4 cup of vinaigrette over salmon and evenly spread.
  5. In a large bowl toss squash, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts with 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette. 
  6. Arrange the vegetables around the salmon. 
  7. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until the salmon is opaque and the squash is tender.
  8. Remove pan from oven and turn on the broiler. 
  9. Toss radicchio with remaining vinaigrette and spread over cooked vegetables. Return pan to the oven and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until radicchio is slightly wilted and salmon is golden. 
  10. Garnish with extra thyme leaves, microgreens, and serve with lemon wedges. 

Enjoy!

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Food Shed Co-op Needs Us:  We Need Food Shed Co-op

Food Shed Co-op Needs Us:  We Need Food Shed Co-op

Author: Donovan C. Wilkin, Food Shed Co-op owner # 13

Feb 2021, The US spends twice as much as the average OECD nation (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) on health care, yet we rank last in life expectancy and have the most chronic diseases and obesity.

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Zero Waste Cooking

Waste not want not: a small contribution to sustainability

By Leslie Cook - Food Shed Co-op Owner # 47

Today I was working on a post about sustainability. I got a little overwhelmed with the enormity of our problem even as I recognized how many smart, capable people are coming up with potential solutions in this area every day.

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Farming with Nature: The New Graziers

Author: Linda Balek, Farm Program Manager at The Land Conservancy of McHenry County and Food Shed Co-op owner #4

Grazing_-_Terra_Vitae_Farms_-_Woodstock_-_Kevin_Kelley.jpeg

McHenry County is seeing a rise in the number of grass fed beef and dairy operations. There are a number of farms throughout the county  where pastured meat and dairy products can even be purchased directly from the farmer. 

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Ethereal Confections

Ethereal ConfectionsEthereal Confections opened its doors in 2011 on the Woodstock Square and recently moved to our new home on Cass Street in the Fall of 2019; adding to our inviting café and chocolate kitchen environment a beautiful event space & Speakeasy. Since day one, we have continued to take the same care and attentiveness with each and every handcrafted bean-to-bar sweet, importing ethically sourced cacao beans from farmers producing single origin beans from Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, and Haiti.

The past year has been an unforgettable experience for us all and we will continue to focus much of our efforts on finding creative solutions to novel problems. Transitioning from grocery boxes filled with items that were scarce on grocery stores’ shelves, giving the people of McHenry County better access to our suppliers, and building a welcoming online presence that gives customers a touch of the café and speakeasy experience from home, to building relationships with the owners and future customers of the Food Shed.

Ethereal hopes to bring not only decadent organic confections to the shelves of our local community food store, but also build a broader partnership with the Food Shed.  We are excited to be on this journey with you all.

 

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Roasted Miso Ginger Glazed Eggplant

Roasted Miso Ginger Glazed Eggplant

Ingredients

  • 3–4 medium eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed or neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon white and/or black sesame seeds
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Use a sharp knife to score a diamond pattern across the flesh of the eggplant.
  3. Sprinkle eggplant with salt and place in a shallow baking pan cut side down. Let rest for 15-30 minutes, then use a paper towel to blot water droplets from eggplant and clean out any remaining liquid from the baking pan.
  4. Brush oil all over eggplant and return to baking pan.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together miso paste, ginger, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and water. Smear miso mixture over the cut side of each eggplant.
  6. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until tops begin to brown and eggplant is tender.
  7. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with chives and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
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