Local Folks Foods

Excellent Kosher Food

December 20, 2012

Christkindlmarkt: Chicago 2012, Part 1

Over the years, I have really enjoyed going to the Christkindlmarkt (although marketed as Christkindlmarket) in Chicago. Through a chain of events, I was unable to go over the last couple of years. This year, I made my triumphant return. While there was pretty much the same things there every year, it's the anticipation of the event that I look forward to.

The vendors were all nice but just be prepared to bring cash and plenty of it (many of the vendors, specifically food vendors, do not take credit/debit cards). Now while I had fun (as a whole), it seemed to be MUCH tighter as it relates to space. It's on the same location it's always been on (Daley Plaza). It's easy to get to on foot (if you take the train). Once I got inside, the space they utilized seemed to be MUCH more cramped. How tight? For those who live in the Chicago area, imagine going into The Metro and it's at full capacity (actually, a bit more). That's what it felt like.  While I did go on a Friday afternoon (and a pleasant one weather-wise at that), it seemed MUCH more crowded. It seemed as if they consolidated into a much small radius in the same spot. I have to admit, I was getting a bit upset as I could not move with the ease of years past. If you want the entire German experience (in a festival), I think you can get your fill here.

So this is another adventure of mine. This being a food-related blog, I will focus on the foods of  Christkindlmarkt and I hope I won't make you hungry. Most of the vendors make the voyage from Germany to Chicago. They will stay from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. So below are just a sampling of some of the excellent food that is served. I didn't get to eat everything but I did get to enjoy enough. Most are vendors who have come over the years.

As I tried to upload pictures, it didn't seemed to play very nice to me. Which is why I am going to do this in 2 parts. I took an insane amount of pictures this year. So in part 2, I will upload what I didn't upload now. I doubt you'll be disappointed. I'll let the pictures do the talking for me. So let the show begin........

The picture speaks for itself.

The product. Live and in living color. I didn't get to eat these this year but have in years past. ABSOLUTELY delicious. 

Menu board..or at least part of it.

Brats.... brats and more brats!!!! Tasty!!

 Nice....... and piping hot....... potato pancakes!!! These were HUGE sellers from what I observed.

Notice the white signage that says "cash only" in this picture? Be prepared if you do come here to have PLENTY of cash in order to make any purchases. Only a select few accepts credit cards for payment and those are mostly middle to bigger ticket items.

I didn't get a shot of the apples  but below are the "covered treats" for review.

Now this was somewhat a surprise for me.I don't recall this business being here in past years.

Now when I think of tea, I normally don't associate it with Germany. This is an exception. This brand actually tasted pretty good (and I'm not a warm tea fan).

I smelled the different samples and I thought this one and the Winter Blend were the most appealing to me. Unfortunately, I was a bit low on cash and needed money for the train home. 

 On the left, one cherry strudel from Helmut's Strudel. On the right, a double chocolate brownie from Dinkel's (a local Chicago bakery). I ate these over a couple of days.

Part 2 of this will be done later on (as time allows me). There was so much more I wanted to put here but time is not allowing me to do so. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I may return this year but if I don't, I felt I needed to pass those greetings on.

December 3, 2012

Linguini on the Improv

OK. I know it's been a while since I put something here. Sometimes, things happen and this is just one example. So now, this is some linguini on the improv. This is so simple it's not even funny. As this goes forward, you see why I call this an improv. I also started cooking this around 11:PM for my lunch in the coming days (I was pretty busy and let time get away from me that day). Yes, this doesn't look pretty to start off but work with me. It WILL get better.

It came together as I went along. The picture above show around 1 1/2 lbs of beef (I hit the jackpot since I got some grass fed beef) and onions (I used about 1/2 a white onion but you add to your liking). I kept the initial spices simple- salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder (since I ran out of fresh garlic) and oregano. I also added on can of Rotel Hot Diced Tomatoes (shown below) during the sauteing process. I sauteed them in a part until brown (medium heat for about 8-10 minutes). Once the meat was browned, the fat was drained (ok, I drained most of it, around 90% of the fat).

Below, you see the can of Rotel and Local Folks Foods tomato and herb marinara.

I used Rotel Hot Tomatoes since I prefer spicy foods. 

Now, here's where the improv came in. I thought I had some nice cheeses on hand (parm-reggiano, mozzarella, provolone, etc). I didn't so I used old reliable Velveeta and folded it in with the sauce. Then added the sauce, Local Folks Foods. I kept the sauce on medium heat for about 5 minutes (long enough for the sauce and meat to properly marry).  There's nothing worse than meat with under cooked sauce. I eventually lowed the fire to low and just let it simmer, folding the sauce while if simmered. 

Now, on the subject of  over cooking, feel free to observe I used dried pasta but this is almost as good as fresh. I bought this pasta at a local Farmer Market and I decided to use this linguini, which was made by hand. I was warned when I bought this particular brand that I'll need to watch it when the pasta is boiled. Most pastas will boil for 7-10 minutes. With this brand, you have a glob of mess. It's much thinner than other brands. I sure didn't make that mistake. I decided to do this while the sauce was simmering. My Mom found these Chipotle Pepper Flakes so I added that and the other spices I mentioned during the simmering time. It took just under 4 minutes to boil this pasta (as my water wasn't at a rapid boil initially).  While I boiled the pasta, I stirred the pasta (also another suggestion by the vendor). I added salt and olive oil for flavor while cooking. For what it's worth, Sonoma Farms is a Chicago area businesses. Local Folks Foods is based in Indiana. 

 On this side is the payoff!!!  MAN it was worth it!! I was VERY pleased with how this came out. As I write this posting, I am about to have another sample of this dish. Buono Mangio!!!

This recipe made 5 days of lunch. While it wasn't my direct intention, I would up really going the local route with the products I used here. You can talk about buying local as much as you want. It still comes down to supply and demand as well as the free market system. Make something someone wants and the people will speak with their wallets. Food for thought.