June has been officially named dairy month by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The great news for market-goers is that local dairy is in abundance. There are goat milk gelato, cheeses, and much more for market patrons to try and enjoy. Additionally, the cut flower selection at the market is finally coming into season. I saw some beautiful peonies last week and I am looking forward to an even larger selection this week. Cut flowers are such a nice feature of the market, especially if you don’t have a garden at home to cut your own. The produce selection at the market is really getting into full swing as well, with many vendors with fully stocked stalls the last couple of weeks.
This week at the market there will be a blood drive co-sponsored by Art Mart. The blood drive will happen inside Lincoln Square Mall, and all market patrons are invited to participate. If you would like to make an appointment to give blood in advance, you can do so here. All donors will be entered into a drawing for passes to Six Flags and a $100 gas card. The blood drive is also a bone marrow registry; potential donors can be added to the registry at this time. The blood drive and marrow registry is a great way to help out in the community with a very minimal time commitment if you are able to donate, so don’t miss this chance to help your friends and neighbors.
This week at the market, there will be lots of produce to choose from. Strawberry season continues with lots of flavorful berries. A few vendors were even offering items made with local strawberries, like strawberry breads or muffins, if you prefer not to turn on the oven at home. Greens like kale, swiss chard and lettuce will be available this week as well. We are also getting to the end of asparagus season, so if you haven’t had a chance to buy some yet, you may want to do that this week. I’ll be on the lookout for sugar snap peas. I love to put them in salads, or steam them to have with dinner. Bok Choi is also starting to be available. Bok Choi is from the turnip family and is often called Chinese cabbage; it’s in the same species as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Bok Choi makes an excellent addition to stir fry and can be a staple of some Asian-styles of cooking if you are looking to expand your horizons. Give it a try if you see some this week.
Also, if you haven’t given any of the local meat vendors a chance so far this summer, this might be a good week to try it out. I bought some really nice Italian sausages from one of the local meat vendors for my Memorial Day cookout and they were really tasty. The local meat vendors have a lot to offer and its nice to know where your food is coming from! I’m especially partial to getting a half a chicken from Triple S to have for dinner on Saturday nights, but there are lots of other great options as well. If you aren’t a meat eater, there are also lots of dairy and grain options to be found at the market, including baked goods and gluten free options. I suggest getting to the market very early though if you are in search of the famed Pandamonium gluten free chocolate doughnut. They sell out very fast!
Forms of payment: All vendors accept cash, and a few may take checks. There is an ATM in the Lincoln Square Mall just in case you buy so much you need a few more bucks. LINK card tokens are still available. See information about LINK here.
Parking: Parking is available in the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Square Mall and the lot south of Illinois Street for FREE! Bike parking is also available at the entrances to the mall and at the bike corral area past the entrance to the Market off of Illinois.
Information: The Market provides a lot of ways to get information. You can follow the Market on facebook and twitter. Sign up for Market mail here. There is a map of the vendors here. If you want more information you can email Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez, or call her at 217.384.2319. And check out the flickr for some great photos from the market each week. The market also has instagram; you can follow the feed here.
Pets: The market doesn’t allow pets, so leave your furry friends at home. But there are plenty of places to pick up a special treat for your pet at the market so they don’t feel left out.
The market runs from 7 a.m. to noon every Saturday through November 1st. All events are scheduled rain or shine.
C-U at the market!