So here’s what’s been happening…

Chicago Abandoned Lots Might Become Urban Gardens

In a project named Chicago Farmworks, presented to the City Council this past week, sustainability nonprofit NeighborSpace will pay $1 a piece to transform 11 city-owned lots at the southern end of Humboldt Park into 2.6 acres of urban farmland. The idea behind the project is to turn the lots, which will be managed by Heartland Human Care Services, into sources of fresh, sustainably grown produce for needy nearby residents. The first transformation is already underway, with zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cabbage and onions planted — all of which can be seen adjacent to the Metra near Fulton Street and Kedzie Avenue. The Greater Chicago Food Depository will distribute the produce throughout Cook County. While the City Council has yet to vote, the plan promises to create much needed change by delivering high-quality, locally-grown produce to low-income residents.

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Photo courtesy of DNA

Paula Deen Ain’t Quite Finished With Butter Yet

“Isn’t ‘Paula Deen’s Finishing Butters’ an oxymoron? Girl, you know she ain’t finished with butter,” tweeted James Beard award-winning Ruth Bourdain in reaction to the Food Network mogul and industry icon’s recent release of a new line of butter. The “finishing butters,” available in five flavors at Walmart, are being touted as genuinely healthy additions to “just the end of the cooking process.” We suppose it’s a part of Deen’s attempt at rebranding herself as healthy in the wake of her diabetes debacle and the ensuing chain of negative PR. “I’m trying not to use butter during the cooking process. I wait ‘til the end, and then I put the finishing butter on it,” said Deen on a recent appearance on the Today show. “That still counts,” Matt Lauer pointed out. To which Deen replied: “But it only counts once instead of like six times.” Touché. See also: The Onion’s icky take on the butter, and a recipe for Deen’s Fried Butter Balls.

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Artisanal Popsicles Trend on Summer Menus

Suiting up for an internship every day this summer doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your favorite childhood summertime treats. Chicago’s The Anthem knows this, and the retro sports bar has incorporated sophisticated twists on kiddie favorites like push pops onto its menu. Fresh fruit and fresh fruit juices like orange, raspberry, citrus or blueberry are blended with vodka to create grown-up popsicles, served upside in a rocks glass for just $5. They’re the perfect end to a meal of other throwback comfort foods on the menu like hamburger mac ‘n cheese, twinkies and classic Coca-Cola made with cane sugar. Other restaurants nationwide are also adapting the trendy dessert: New York City’s rooftop Ava Lounge serves fruit pops in glasses of champagne, while Lil’ Pop Shop in West Philadelphia serves up 20 flavors of artisanal pops in flavors like salted caramel brownie, coconut hibiscus and red hot mango chile pepper. Who knew something so frozen could melt away the stress of a grown-up summer?

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Photo courtesy of FoodBeast

Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant Up For Sale

Six months ago, Charlie Trotter was auctioning off items from his renowned Chicago restaurant. Now, the entire building is up for grabs. If you have a spare $3.8 million, consider helping Charlie out by taking the restaurant (complete with a test kitchen, office/work space, two-car garage, outdoor patio and a massive wine cellar) off his hands. The restaurant itself still contains over $1 million worth of restaurant equipment, and the swanky brownstone buildings date back to 1908. Trotter once served high-end, healthy multi-course meals and hosted PBS’s “The Cooking Sessions with Charlie Trotter” at the Lincoln Park restaurant, but has since decided to move on to the greener pastures of travel and grad school, citing a desire to earn a master’s degree in philosophy.

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Photo courtesy of Inquisitir

Cronut Craze Captures Nation

NYC pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s croissant-donut hybrid has inspired a country-wide frenzy for the fried, crunchy confection, complete with an emerging Craigslist black market in which entrepreneurs are hawking their homemade versions for up to $40 a pop. Bakeries worldwide have taken a crack at their own renditions, from the “doissant” in Washington, D.C.’s Chocolate Crust bakery, to Australia’s MoVida Bakery and their “croisnut”/”crodough”. The cronut pandemonium has reached such dire levels that Ansel has been forced to limit the amount of cronuts sold at one time to two per customer, due to scalpers who lurk outside his doors. Still, lines for the creations are forming as early as 6 a.m., and even Hoda and Kathie Lee expressed their rapture at the confectionary delight on national TV. Can’t make it to NYC anytime soon? Make your own makeshift cronut with Edd Kimber’s or Pillsbury’s recipe.

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Photo courtesy of Niko Triantafillou from Serious Eats

For Fun: Even gangsters gotta eat. And what’s more G than a croque monsieur? Not much, according to rapper Wordburglar, who name-drops the French ham-and-cheese sandwich in his latest rap. More importantly, the video features some drool-inducing croque monsieur imagery. For a comprehensive list of the 25 top food references in raps, check out First We Feast’s impressive compilation.