Farmer's Markets & Food Memories

I am writing this in the wee hours of Sunday morning because I have a big day coming up and I want to be sure I get my post in for the week. I would like to get an early start and go to the Mount Prospect farmer's market which is one of the best in the area. When Mother and I had the store, we were part of the group who originally launched the Marche Francais annual French farmer's market which is held every September and is still going strong today. I cannot believe it is August now and I have not been there yet. I have gone to the Arlington Heights farmer's market a few times which is held on Saturday mornings and is about 2 miles straight north of Mother's house. It is not a big market but they have nice offerings. My two favorites in Arlington Heights are B's Sweet Bites and the large produce booth where I pick up red leaf and green leaf lettuce every time I go. B's Sweet Bites has awesome baked goods and you have to get there early before they sell out. I am not a massive fan of fruit in dessert but their homemade pop-tart style cherry pastries have got to be the one of the most delicious items I have ever eaten. I also love their homemade English muffins, they are thicker and more dense than the grocery store versions but make a fabulous sandwich. Their breads and pound cakes are really good too. I almost hate to spill the secret because they are hard to come by as it is!

I am hoping Hahn's Bakery in Geneva has been participating in the Mount Prospect market this year. I loved visiting Geneva when things were "normal", it is one of my favorite suburban downtowns. I enjoy checking out bakeries in different areas and Hahn's is good stuff. Every time I had an estate sale meeting near Geneva I made it a point to stop in. I was really excited when they started coming to Mount Prospect every week. Their specialty is their crumb cake. The layer of crumbs (well, they are more like huge hunks) on top of the cake is twice as tall as the cake itself. My favorites are the plain and chocolate drizzled versions. I wish my grandpa would have been able to experience this crumb cake, he would have loved it so much. Every meal was a ritual for him and breakfast always had to include white toast with butter and coffee cake. He was not a coffee drinker but always drank hot tea. He had a sweet tooth like no one I have ever known and when I was a kid I used to bake up a storm because I have a huge sweet tooth as well. Once I made him a 20-layer German cake, I individually broiled each thin layer. It was a pleasure baking for him. Looking back on it, I think half the reason I got into baking growing up was so we would have nice treats to eat. Mother does not have a sweet tooth, she is more of a salty snacks person. She used to buy Almond Windmill cookies and Salerno butter cookies because they don't taste amazing and she would not be tempted to eat them. If I did not make goodies we would not have them around. My go-to with nothing but basic ingredients in the house were always Snickerdoodles.

I definitely have fond food-related memories from my grandparents. When they would come to visit from the Milwaukee area, two things they would always bring were a 2-pound plastic tub of butter and a big coffee cake wrapped in wax paper. Real butter was a treat because Mother is a butter fanatic and would buy margarine so she would not eat too much butter. She loves to dip pretzels in butter! Wisconsin people love their dairy products, my grandma put butter on everything including a peanut butter sandwich. I did not care for that! Grandma was an ice cream nut and always had a 5-quart tub of ice cream in the freezer. Every dinner had to have "two starches" with the meat. A favorite meal that she made me was Hormel ham patties and macaroni and cheese. Grandma always made sure chocolate covered marshmallow cookies and Pop-Tarts were around as well. We did not go out to eat much with them but when we did, it was Heinemann's restaurant a few blocks away - yes the same folks who make the baked goods. My grandparents held court at that restaurant, everyone knew them - customers and staff alike. They had a dessert called Lush Torte which was fantastic, layers of cake with a crunch and chocolate frosting. Heinemann's is no more but it has actually been replaced with a great breakfast and lunch spot named Blue's Egg.

I got off on a tangent but later in the day Sunday we will begin to pack up our Barrington Hills combined sale. I took this opportunity to totally reorganize the larger home decor and furniture items I am looking to sell. About two years ago I purchased a big lot of beautiful wool area rugs and metal sculptures by Indian designer Raju Peddada. The rugs are handmade in India from 100% New Zealand wool and many of them are in very vibrant colors. They are modern in style and look especially great with mid-century modern decor. The metal sculptures are very interesting and function as fruit or centerpiece bowls, candleholders, pitchers and more. Some of them have a dual purpose and can be displayed more than one way. I have had the Peddada items up for sale on a high-end website and have sold some pieces but I still have a lot remaining. A man came to my house and photographed everything but I was not happy with the way the rug photos turned out. They do not show how beautiful they are. My time with the website will be ending at the end of this year so I thought it was a good time to send everything to Barrington Hills to regroup. I wanted to see if any could be sold but also to shoot photos of them in a real environment with hardwood floors. Then I will try my own hand at selling them online. I am keeping five of the rugs for a future decorating project but there are still plenty to choose from. It is going to be a big job but they are now out of my shed and will go to the storage unit. I am looking forward to getting my shed back after two years, I have not been able to stow away my patio furniture in the winter and I also would like to store our extra displays for our pop-up sales there.

There was some other news this week - August 1 is the first day to sign up for the fall Vintage Shop Hop but when I read the e-mail I found that we no longer qualify to participate. They have decided to only allow pop-up events if the location is zoned commercial. Although we will no longer be affiliated with Vintage Shop Hop I do really like having our pop-up sales the first weekends of March and October. I used to literally pop-up when we had estate sales nearby and sometimes it was in conjunction with the Mount Prospect village wide garage sales, which for a long time was the end of April before they moved it to the third weekend in May. I participated in garage sale weekend for eleven years but it was not drawing the crowds it had in the past so I had decided to try the weekend before Mother's Day. However the early March dates have proven to be the most successful. Although March typically goes in like a lion, I think there is great optimism because Spring is right around the corner. Also, now that we have been going to the Tucson Gem Show every year in late January and early February, the timing for an early March sale is perfect to prepare and launch our new collections.

Early October is my favorite time of year. My birthday is October 7 and the weather is usually beautiful and sunny, not too hot or too cold. It is that last bit of time before it starts to get cold and rainy. Kuochun's birthday is October 18 and the weather always seems to turn by then. The first weekend of October is my very favorite of the year to host estate sales as well, not only because of the weather but because it starts the prime time for holiday shopping. As a result, I will be keeping this schedule of the first weekend in March and first weekend in October for pop-up sales for now, following the estate sale schedule of Thursday-Sunday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM each day. In Mount Prospect we are allowed three garage sales per year so I may add a third holiday sale the first weekend of December. Years ago we participated in an in-home craft show called Procrastinator's Boutique which was always the first weekend of December. It was a great show and a great name for the show as well.

I would also like to get back to a modified schedule of jewelry posting, it may only be once a week as we continue to be so busy with estate sales. Sunday evenings have traditionally been the best time of the week to sell online and if possible, I am hoping to get a lot of Native American jewelry posted on Sunday. If I do, I will report on it next week. Well I better go catch some ZZZs before I think of more to write about!