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CCFB News» October 2023

TOUCHDOWN! Thank a farmer for those fall football feasts

10/02/2023 @ 1:30 pm | By Carrie Steinweg, Special Feature Writer

In the fall, the weather cools and we tend to crave warm, hearty foods that will fill your belly. It’s also time for a lot of fun fall celebrations- and most involve food.


Though it often goes unnoticed, agriculture plays a big part in all those weekend football-watching gatherings, tailgating parties and Halloween get-togethers. Without farmers, we wouldn’t have the meats that make their way beneath two buns, the gooey cheese that we scoop up with chips or the veggies that we put on the side of the plate to help balance the calories we might be taking in.


Garry Kopping, a fourth-generation farmer on an 1870 farm in Lemont, raises mostly Black Angus cows. “Beef is one of the more versatile meats that are used in many different recipes,” he said. “From burgers to tacos to steak.”


Beef will definitely be a big part of fall festivities. “It’s great for fall grilling and barbecues or for chili,” he said. 


“Fall is game time for farmers. Just like in football, it’s time to get out all the equipment to make sure that it’s working because this is the day we have worked all summer for,” said Ruth Zeldenrust, owner of Zeldenrust Farms and Greenhouse in Chicago Heights. “When harvest time is upon us, that’s what we’re working for, so it’s a ‘game day’ so to speak and its happy time for farmers for ones that at are lucky enough to harvest and have good crops and we’re thankful for all that.”


In the fall her stand is brimming with apples, pumpkin, cauliflower, kale, tomatoes, different varieties of squash and apple cider- as well as the last call for sweet corn. A favorite fall recipe of hers is Squash and Apple Bake, a filling side dish that utilizes the best of the fall produce (see recipe below).





2 lb. Butternut squash (or use a mix of winter squash varieties)

2 honey crisp apples (or favorite baking apples), cut in 1/2-inch slices

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon to taste (optional)


Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Peel and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange in a lightly greased 12 X 8-inch baking dish. Top with apple slices. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well then spoon over apples. 


Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees or until tender.


Source: Ruth Zeldenrust, Cook County Farmer




1 pound ground beef 

1 green bell pepper, finely diced

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

1/2 cup diced mushroom (optional)

2 cans diced, seasoned tomatoes

1 can mild chili beans

1 can dark red kidney beans (drained)

Black pepper

Red pepper flakes

Sea salt

Steak seasoning



Chili powder

Barbecue seasoning

Garlic salt



Brown ground beef with peppers and onion on medium heat. Once full cooked, drain and return to heat. Add cans of tomatoes and beans (and mushrooms if opting to add them) and add seasonings to taste. Simmer on low for 30-40 minutes.


Scoop into a bowl. Suggested toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced chives, diced raw onion, oyster crackers. 


You can also substitute or add additional meats, including ground turkey, diced Italian sausage or bratwurst, diced steak, diced brisket, pulled pork or shredded chicken


Source: Carrie Steinweg,






Hamburger sliders

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Giant Sub Sandwiches

Ground Beef Nacho Platter

Baked Potato Bar with Bacon, Pulled Pork, Brisket toppings

Warm Buffalo Chicken Dip with chips

Sloppy joes




Meatball subs


Carrie Steinweg is a freelance writer, author, blogger and photographer living in Chicago’s south suburbs with her husband and five sons. Her work has appeared in dozens of print and online publications and she is the author of seven books. A passionate foodie, Carrie thoroughly enjoys traveling and visiting new restaurants and craft breweries, attending food festivals and trying out new recipes and kitchen gadgets. She writes about her food experiences at

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