This weekend was a busy one in Chicago for me in my job capacity. I had lots to cover in the city and surrounding suburbs, PLUS a debate to get the cellist to. After handling all of my maternal obligations, I headed to the UIC forum on the city’s west side, and checked out the Good Food Festival and Conference for the second year in a row. I’m not positive that I blogged about it last year, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself again this year. I also came out of the festival thinking a lot about chickens and eggs.
I did approach the festival with different eyes this year. Since we are moving into our own home soon, I decided to look for things that could help make our food selections a bit better. This includes growing a garden and thinking about eggs. Fresh eggs that I can go back and retrieve from my backyard. Yes. I’m thinking about raising chickens. So, because I’ve been thinking about this, I spent quite a bit of time speaking to the good folks from Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts about what types of things that I would have to commit to in order to make this journey a successful and not annoying one.
I was told that chickens are social animals (which I guess I knew since my aunt in Mississippi had them) and that I will need more than one, but no more than four. I’m not sure that I can convince Mr. Houseful of that, but I’m going to try. We’re egg lovers and use them for so many things when we’re cooking, that I can definitely see the value in raising three chickens of our own.
I even asked about harsh winters in Chicago and the speaker assured me that they would be able to handle the cold as long as their shelter was sufficient. Challenge.
I’m going to admit to being a bit intimidated. Raising poultry is not something that I am convinced that I could do well, but following directions and using the resources here in Chicago make me feel that I do have a shot at it.
Now that I’m done talking about eggs, and fowl, I can give you a glimpse of some of the other classes that took place this Saturday!
There was a very interesting class on harvesting and drying herbs as well. The teacher was Marcy Launtanen-Raleigh and I loved her spirit.
She shared with us different techniques in using fresh herbs during the winter time. We learned how to conserve the herbs with sugar and cure with salt. She shared her recipe for herb infused vinegar (not oil unless you’re going to use it within 24 hours to prevent the botulism toxin from forming), butters and pastes. You can use them in everything!
I find myself becoming interested in food techniques that I know my grandparents and great grandparents took part in. Even though I know they did it out of necessity, I know that they were probably some of the most well fed people ever. I want that health. I’ll still shop at the grocery store, but I would like to become a little more reliant on my resources, as long as they don’t wake the neighbors!
Other classes offered were canning, and beekeeping (which I KNOW I won’t be getting into soon – just call me a scaredy cat) but I did get some great insight from one of the volunteers who does handle bees, and he validated my thoughts on bee stinging. It was an interesting conversation to say the least. I will leave the beekeeping to the professionals.
Suffice to say, I can’t wait until next year’s festival! You can also check out some of the awesome tweets under the #GFFChi hashtag to find some great businesses and farmers to follow.