Are you savoring the dog days of summer and making the most of the remaining sun-filled, fun-filled days before school starts and daily routines get back to normal (whatever ‘normal’ is for you)? If you are like me, you will have said more than once “Hey, where did the summer go and why did it go by so fast?!” Well, never fear, there’s still time to soak up some fun in the sun and devour all the great summertime taste treats, but you’d better get busy!
#5 – Cookouts, BBQs, and any opportunity to fire up the smoker
#4 – Rooftop bars
#3 – Sidewalk cafes and/or beer gardens
#2 – Rosé all day. Even better: Frosé all day. Yes, frozen rosé. Check it out but beware of the brain freeze!
#1 – Farmers markets and all that fresh, local produce. Oh yeah!
Dan and Greg love Option #1 so much they made a dinner party theme out of it! We each picked a course and began to plan. The guys’ guidelines were to use ingredients found at the farmers market or grown in our own gardens.
Living in the Midwest, farmers markets are plentiful and bountiful. Not only do they provide ultra-fresh fruits and veggies, eggs and meats, flowers, and homemade pies and preserves, they also offer a gathering place for neighbors to meet, greet, and share community news, gossip, and recipes with one another. Farmers markets form a significant part of the social fabric, so what a treat it was to recognize and appreciate them with a dinner party theme in their honor! Take a look at the menu.
- Drinks - Ellyn: Daisy Cutter and Pimm’s Cup cocktails; Assorted wine
- Appetizers – Ann & Ilise: Crudités with Whipped Goat Cheese & Herb Dip; Tomato Granita
- Main Course – Greg & Dan: Spatchcocked Chicken flavored with Herbs and Mustard; Mushroom Mixed Grill; Witmor Farms Macaroni Salad
- Dessert – Kathleen & Karen: Fruit Pie Fake-Out and Mixed Berry Tart
Some of the larger farmers markets in our area invite local musicians to perform for the shoppers. I've heard the ukulele version of Over the Rainbow on repeat almost every time.
This playlist is not that.
Instead may I offer up for your listening pleasure the Farm Aid 2018 playlist? It's jam packed with familiar artists and a few who might just become your new favorites.
Turn it up and enjoy!
2 ounces of gin, 1/2 ounce of lime juice, and 1/2 ounce of Door County Cherry grenadine. Shake with ice. Pour into martini glass and add sparking water. Cherry at bottom and lime slice floater for garnish. BOOM
And because if one is good, two are better, Ellyn treated us to another cool cocktail -- truly a farmers market in a glass: The Pimm's Cup, a classic British summertime drink loaded with fresh fruit. Interestingly (to me, anyway) Pimm's Cup is the beverage of choice served at a cricket match. Here's the recipe that Ellyn used as her starting point. Pip pip, cheerio, and down the hatch -- these were both excellent cocktails! Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
We also served tiny portions of tomato granita packed into petite flowerpots. I confess that this was meant to be a sorbet but something went wrong and the texture became more icy than creamy. Maybe the tomatoes were too watery? In any case, we decided to roll with it, using a fork to scrape the frozen concoction into flavorful ice crystals. A sprig of basil garnished each serving. Yum! Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
- Chicken from Finn’s Steak and Egg Ranch, where they proudly claim “All Poultry is 100% Free Range on pasture all the time and supplemented NON-GMO Feed…..All our products are Naturally Raised as close to organic as any can be. We will have our Certification soon.” They sell at the Streeterville SOAR Tuesday farmer’s market, the Thursday Green City Market next to Wrigley Field, and the Glenwood Sunday Market in Rogers Park
- Parsley and basil from Smits Farm; sage, oregano and thyme from our own garden
- Recipe method and flavor inspiration from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen, Workman Publishing, 2001. Here's a video with Steven showing how to spatchcock a chicken.
Mushroom Mixed Grill
- Mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, garlic, parsley and basil from various market vendors at the Daley Plaza Thursday morning market as well as the Evanston Saturday morning market
- Recipe method and flavor inspiration from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen, Workman Publishing, 2001. Click this link to find a similar recipe on his website.
Witmor Farms Macaroni Salad
Our faux dessert (hahaha) was two individual church-lady pies (cherry and apple) from the Evanston Farmers Market and a handful of cherries. Our real dessert was a berry tart, a riff on Ina Garten’s Strawberry Tarts recipe.
We used strawberries, raspberries, black raspberries, and blueberries, as well as butter and eggs, from the market. The mint was from a neighbor’s garden, and the brandy and Nassau Royale (and of course the peach jam, flour, cornstarch, vanilla, and heavy cream) were from our personal stores.
Hungry for more Foodies dinner party stories? Find them here.