Tag Archives: local

Creative Cooking: Design a Unique Recipe with Local Ingredients

Eating locally is not only good for your pocketbook and the economy, but it’s also good for your taste buds and it can help you explore your culinary creativity.  If you’re new to cooking or your local food scene, sometimes it can be daunting to get started.  That’s why I’ve teamed up with Skillshare to offer this FREE online course about how to craft a unique recipe entirely from local ingredients.

Over the 2 weeks of this class, we’ll cover how to learn more about foods raised in your area, source ingredients, create and modify a recipe and cook it. By the end of class, you will master a self-made, locally-sourced dish and gain skills, confidence and insights into your local food community.

And as a bonus, it will also help you learn about the ways you can use Evernote, the most phenomenal application ever made, to help you create a library of local food producers, craft your recipes and record your cooking experiments.  Pretty good for a simple two week course that costs exactly $0.

Note: This is not a class on “how” to cook, although you will get some great resources that will help you increase your skill.  This is a class that is meant to help you expand your connection with your local food scene and gain some experiencing in creating your own recipes from scratch.

[button link=”http://www.skillshare.com/Eat-Local-Creating-a-Locally-Sourced-Recipe/905220535/186633331″ color=”#75c271″ size=”3″ style=”1″ dark=”0″ radius=”auto” target=”self”]Click here to sign up on Skillshare[/button]

Lunasa Market Mac & Cheese

I miss my Needle Lane farm share.  Shopping for your own vegetables is just not the same.  It lacks the surprise and the built-in push to experiment with new things.  I suppose I could just go to the grocery store, stand in the produce section, blindfold myself and blindly grope around until I grab something…but I’m sure you can see how that will probably just get me a one way ticket to Bannination, population: me.  And on top of that, winter is looming like a giant, frozen marshmallow puff above our heads and soon the farmer’s market will be no more; in fact, some have already ended.  How will I hobnob with the salt-of-the-earth people who grow my food now? How will I get my fresh air market fix?

Well, I guess that’s where Lunasa comes in.  Luna-what-a? you ask.  Lunasa.  It’s a new-ish farmer’s market in Ann Arbor that we’re trying out for the winter.  From their website,

“Lunasa (loo-nah-sah) is an annual Celtic harvest celebration traditionally begun in August. Getting back to our roots and supporting local farmers and craftspeople is something we feel good about doing, for us personally, our families, our neighbors, and our local communities. Come celebrate with us!”

The market itself is kind of an interesting idea: it’s a cross between a membership club and a farmer’s market.  They do have “open house” days where anyone can stop by and shop around but for the most part, you have to purchase a membership to join and regularly shop.  At $40 a year, we weren’t sure if it would be worth it but figured we could give it a shot at least for this year.  And as a market-addict, I’ll apparently do almost anything for my fix….I said almostContinue reading

What I’m Eating: Simple Sandwiches

You know, there’s a lot of good cooking that doesn’t go in this blog.  Okay, maybe not a lot but a fair amount.  It’s not usually fancy, it’s not usually unique, but it’s generally really pretty good.  And I don’t want those things to go quietly into the gastronomical night.  That, I’m bored and I’m not yet prepared to write posts on recent experiments in buttermilk fried chicken (really good) and pancakes made with cream (really freaking good) until I’ve had a chance to eat some more try them again.

This weekend I’m on my own, as Josh is traveling in the Great Dark that is Ohio for a conference about Linux.  Yeah, I know.  I forgive him these little lapses in judgment.  Anyway, I was on my own, me and my two dogs…

Winston and Maggie

…and clearly they were going to be troublesome.  Not to mention, I was starving after a busy day at work and just wanted something right now, not a hundred minutes from now (which was actually then but I’m writing now so it all works out).  I had on hand some leftover roast beef from yesterday’s “Anticipate the Lazy” crockpot dinner, and most of a loaf of Italian bread, plus that Great Midwest leek-and-morel cheese that I am close to obsessed over and that I’ve been putting on damn near everything.  I also had a bunch of organic arugula that I bought specifically for this weekend because I knew that Josh was going away and for some reason, I thought that this occasion was in dire need of arugula.  I was right.  Totally an arugula weekend.  I had an arugula salad yesterday with just a bit of salt, pepper and some blood orange infused olive oil I picked up from Old World Olive Press in Plymouth.  I think later this weekend, I’m going to grill some pizza dough and top it with thinly sliced apples, the blood orange olive oil and I dunno.  Something else.  It’ll come to me later. Continue reading

You look like the milkman…

I’m feeling pretty old-school these days.  We bought a house that’s 150 years old.  I don’t have a microwave anymore.  My grandmother wants to give me a butter churn.  And we have a milkman.

Yes, that’s right.  We have a milkman.  His name is Stan.  Stan the milkman.  I’ve never met Stan but I heart him oh so much.  Not just because I enjoy saying that I have a milkman, not just because our weekly dairy delivery is always on time and neatly done, but also because thanks to Stan, I don’t worry nearly so much about running out of butter (a constant trouble previously, what with all the baking I do) and I spend less time battling crowds at the store.  Yay!

How did I arrange this magnificent thing, you ask?  Well actually, Josh arranged it.  Through Calder Dairy.

If you don’t know about Calder Dairy, now is a great time to get educated, especially if you live in Michigan.  Calder is a local, family-owned dairy farm and around here you can often find their glass-bottled (!!!!!!!) milk and delicious stacks of butter in various stores, like the Ypsi Co-op or Whole Foods or Busch’s.  Their milk is delicious, as is their butter.  But they also have home delivery, which means that if you live near a route, you can arrange to have milk, cream, buttermilk, eggnog, butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, bread, even ice cream…and lots more….delivered straight to your house. Continue reading

Farm Share Goodies: Stinging Nettles

Oh yeah, you read that right.

Our farm share started up again–finallly!  One of the best days of my year is the day that I can start picking up our produce box from Needle Lane Farms. This year has the added bonus of us being able to pick up our box at the Depot Town Farmer’s Market in Ypsi on Saturdays, which I love, being that I love a 1 minute drive or 10 minute walk from Depot Town.  Love.  It.  Also, I appreciate local organizations giving local love to Ypsi.

So yeah, last Saturday was a banner day.  Not only had we just come back from our trip to Alaska, but I was all geared up to make my own food and the arrival of the farm share was the culinary equivalent of choirs of angels heralding the dawn.  Well, close anyway.  I was prepared for the usual late spring suspects: the garlic scapes, the radishes, the lettuces, the rainbow colored Swiss chard.  But once again, Needle Lane blew me away and introduced me to something I had never even considered being a possibility:

stinging nettles. Continue reading

Friday Foodie Finds: the Ypsilanti edition

So normally on Fridays, I post links to interesting things I’ve found throughout the week.  This Friday, though, I decided to post a slightly different set of links.  Inspired by conversation in the comments section of an article by Nicole, of simmer down! fame, about a day spent hanging out and performing in Ann Arbor, I decided that this Friday I would post links to my Five Favorite Ypsi Establishments.  If you’re in the area, you need to check these places out.

  • Beezy’s Cafe: Uh, I don’t know what to start with.  The awesome laid back environment?  The fun and fabulous staff?  The ohmygodimightdiejustreadingthemenu special french toasts every Saturday?  (We’re talking about special—like pb&J french toast or peaches and vanilla french toast–like ohmigod).  The awesome soups that get exchanged out two or three times a day?  The best breakfast bagel sandwich anywhere?  The fact that I live within three blocks walking distance?  There is nothing to not like about this place.  (Downtown Ypsi)
  • Aubree’s Pizzeria and Tavern: I love this place.  They have just really delicious pizza.  Good other food too, nice relaxed bar atmosphere, great sidewalk seating in the summer but just…really fantastic pizza.  Mm.  Pizza. (Depot Town, other locations)
  • Cafe Luwak: When I was young, I used to go to Cafe Luwak with friends to get ice cream.  Now that I’m old, I go to Cafe Luwak with friends to get ice cream.  It’s a nice place to be.  But wait, there’s more!  They also have soups, sandwiches, weekend breakfast buffet, baked goods…and by the way, their chili offerings for this year’s Chili Cookoff were amazing.
  • Bill’s Hot Dog Stand: I won’t go on for too long about Bill’s because I have already waxed poetically about this place and how much I love it.  We’ll just go with the basics: friendly fast service.  Fantastic chili dogs.  Best root beer ever tasted.  No options and no competition.
  • Gabriel’s Hoagies: Ok, I’m just going to say right here and right now that if you live in Ypsi and have never been to Gabriel’s, get out now.  Just get out.  You don’t have to leave the city but you do have to get in your car, on your bike or on the nearest bus and get there right now.  Like don’t even finish reading this post.  Just go and get yourself one of the most delicious (possibly greasiest) concoctions ever known to man.  When I was a kid, Gabriel’s was a frequent stop…and not just for my 6’3″, 230 pound dad.  My nanny–a woman who weighed maybe 100 pounds wet and was all of 5’2″ tall–could and would scarf down one of these cheesesteak hoagies within minutes.  It is that fantastic.

So there you go.  The next time you’re in town, downtown, anywhere near town, stop in Ypsilanti and try out one of these places.  Happy Friday!

Eat At Bill's

Neehee. Heehee.

Last night, Josh and a couple friends of ours ventured out into the streets of Canton to experiment with something new and fantastic to us: Indian street food.  In Canton? Yeah, I know, right?  Now, Indian food is not new to us…I looooove Indian food.  And I’m blessed that there’s a few good Indian places in town to eat at, but those are the usual sit-down restaurants.  This place, Neehee’s, on the corner of Ford and Canton Center roads, specialized in vegetarian street dishes.  I know some of you might be saying, “Vegetarian?  No thanks.”  But seriously, with flavor and sustenance like this, you won’t even miss the meat.  Instead, your stomach will be thanking you with all sorts of contended feelings and sounds.

So anyway, we walked into Neehee’s.  It’s a small, brightly colored place in a strip mall next to a Bombay grocery store.  Pretty busy and not a lot of space to sit, so we opted to order out.  All along the walls are pictures and descriptions of the types of food they sell and their origins.  The smell was fantastic. Continue reading

Leek Onion Rings

Looking for something to do with the leeks from your farm share?  Already tried the uber-delicious French leek gratin? Looking for something casual to eat alongside that BBQ beef sandwich?  How about onion rings?  Well I guess that’s leek rings.  I tried them tonight (alongside a bbq beef sandwich), adapting a recipe from Alton Brown.  Pretty good!  Crunchy, light onion flavor, quite good.  I forgot my camera at work though, so sorry…no pics just yet.

Leek Rings
3 quarts peanut or canola oil
12 ounces leeks, cleaned and trimmed of outer leaves
1 1/2 cups milk or cream
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
2 tsp black pepper

Preheat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat to 375 degrees F.

Slice the leeks into 1/2-inch wide rings, separating the layers out a bit.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and the egg. In another medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, black pepper and 2 tsps salt. Divide the flour into 2 separate, shallow dishes and place the milk and egg mixture in a third.

Going 1 small handful at a time, dip the rings first into the first flour mixture, then into the milk and egg, and then into the second flour mixture. Working in batches, fry the rings for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the rings to a cooling rack set inside a half sheet pan and allow to drain for 2 to 3 minutes; sprinkle with salt and serve.

Farm Share Goodies, October 6: Our Man Jack is King of the Pumpkin Patch

I have a pumpkin.

I have named him Jack.  Jack the Pumpkin King.  This has everything to do with my obsession with the Nightmare Before Christmas and absolutely nothing to do with anything normal.

Jack and I met this afternoon.  I had just hefted the box containing our second-to-last (how sad!) farm share goodies onto the counter, opened it up and began pulling out the lovely produce contained therein.  A couple more leeks, some celery, some potatoes….and then he caught my eye.  I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice at first but really, how could you not?  He was the greatest looking guy in the room–er, box.  That nice round body, that firm smooth skin, that orange glow…

There was a pumpkin in our farm share. Continue reading

Joie de vivre: bacon, onions, butter, potatoes, goat cheese, mushrooms, cream and wine

Tonight, I made gratin de poireaux and steak aux champignons.

First, I love the word “champignon.”  It is one of my all time favorite French words, along with “l’ananas,” “raplapla,” and “pamplemousse.”  A champignon is a mushroom.  The others are pineapple, wiped out, and grapefruit, respectively.  I mean, come on.  These words are fantastic.  And the only thing better than a great dinner is a great dinner with a kick-ass name.

Take “gratin de poireaux.”  It sounds so much fancier when you say it that way, rather than just “leek gratin.”  And it’s more fun to eat, too, especially when you’ve got a nice, French-inspired tablecloth down, some pinot grigio and a buttery croissant.  Oh and steak.  Cooked in cream.  Because we can.

For those of you who aren’t as taken with French things as I am (five years of French class in high school and college will do that to you), then just read the following words: bacon.  onions.  butter.  potatoes.  goat cheese.  steak.  mushrooms.  cream.  wine.

Now that I have your full attention, I will continue.

Continue reading

Thai Thai, Kerrytown and Cake Nouveau: Weekend Adventures in Local Food

This is a tale of three adventures.  Capers, really.  Even shenanigans.  Foodie shenanigans.  No, that makes it sound more cheeky than it really was.  Capers.  Definitely a caper.  This is a tale of three gastronomical capers.

Caper 1
On Friday, group of friends and I traversed across the vast swaths of town to the far east, to a small place of our acquaintance, a mystical, ethereal place known only as Thai Thai. We were a world-weary band of travelers, three young ones and seven others who just act young.  We descended on the tiny, tiny island of taste and took over about half the place.  We were treated with kindness and brought several succulent dishes of varying heat.  Josh and I partook of the spring rolls, being ravenous as we were, and considering that we had traveled to such lands before, consider ourselves connoisseurs  of that delicacy.  Then Josh sated his rumbly tumbly with a spicy dish called “Moo Pad Prig Khee Noo,” made of pork and fresh chili peppers and garlic.  Continue reading

Farm Share Goodies, Sept 16: I’m gonna make you a steak you can’t refuse

Once upon a midnight dreary Wednesday evening while I pondered weak and weary over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore after walking the dog 2 miles and he was still wanting more…Ah distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December cool Septembr and each separate dying ember stomach growl wrought its ghost upon the floor.  Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sough to borrow from my cookbooks surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore Dinner, for the rare and radiant maiden mealtime whom the angels name Lenore Dinner nameless here forevermore….

What?  I have a lot of time on my hands this evening. Continue reading

Homegrown Festival!

We had a lovely time wandering the second annual Homegrown Festival…and apparently, so did a lot of people, because it was packed! We didn’t sample much, mostly because of long lines and..well, many many people, but we did try out Project Grow’s tomato tasting booth, and shared a delicious oreo cheesecake from my favorite local cheesecake place, Old World Bakery, which is located in downtown Ypsilanti.  We spent most of our time wandering around, looking, reading and enjoying the fabulous weather.  Excellent festival indeed.  Click the link below for a few pics:

Homegrown Festival

Potato, Squash and Arugula Quesadillas: the non-recipe recipe

We got a good box from the farm share this week—purple potatoes, squash, peppers, a giant head of celery and even a giant one and a half pound tomato that I have fondly named Big Al (after my svelte but otherwise impressive grandfather):

To use up some of the potatoes and squash, as well as some of our own deck-grown red bell peppers and some frozen ground sirloin, I figured we could make ourselves a quick and tasty lunch of quesadillas–beef and cheese ones for Josh (manly quesadillas) and vegetarian ones for me (I’m feeling a tad delicate today).  Inspired by a recipe I have stored away from Bon Appetit for potato, greens and goat cheese quesadillas, I figured…hey, why not?

I call this a non-recipe recipe because..well, I don’t have any real exact measurements here, and you can substitute pretty much any of the ingredients that you like.  It’s more of a method/idea suggestion kind of article today. Continue reading

Massive Brownie, courtesy of Afternoon Delight

This brownie must be shared with the world.

To look at, I mean, not to eat.  No, this sucker is mine.  It may take a few days, but I’m gonna get it all in my belly one way or another.  I am a tigress and it is my wounded antelope.

But no, I just wanted to share this.

This brownie came from Afternoon Delight, my current favorite brunch place in Ann Arbor.  Why are they my favorite?  Two words: frozen yogurt.  Two more words: For breakfast.  Two more words: That’s right.

Today is the first day of the fall semester at the university at which I work, and for my department, as well as most others, it’s…well, a crazy day.  To top it all off, the heavens are having a serious plumbing problem and it has been raining pretty consistently all day.  So already we’re off to a bad start.

And then my friend Brian walks in with three of these things, for me and two of my coworkers.  And the skies opened, the angels sang.  The peasants rejoiced.

I don’t know if, in that picture up there, you really get the full measure of just how massive this brownie is.  So to give you a sense of it, here’s the brownie standing next to a goomba:

Anyway, just thought I’d share, and now that you’re all nice and drooly, I’m gonna take my brownie over in the corner and nibble. Hope your day is good, and filled with chocolates.

Detroit Restaurant Week

Josh and I, fresh from our latest adventure at Eastern Market, were ruminating (I like that word) this afternoon on how we really need to spend more time in Detroit, because there’s so much there that we like and want to do, but we don’t often make the drive over there.

For any of you southeastern MI folk who feel the same, or for you out of towners who’d like to experience the city or for you Detroiters who want to try something new, Motown brings you a great new opportunity to experience some of D-Town’s best restaurants:

Detroit Restaurant Week!

Join us this fall for the inaugural Detroit Restaurant Week – a 10-evening showcase of downtown Detroit’s most outstanding chefs and cuisine. The city’s top dining establishments will offer a minimum three-course dinner for a fixed price of $27 (exclusive of beverage, tax and gratuity). Many restaurants are also offering specially-priced wine and beverage pairings to accompany the meal.

Crêpes! And other goodies from Detroit's Eastern Market

Once again, we found ourselves heading to Detroit’s Eastern Market this morning, sort of on a last minute whim, and a bit later than we normally go.  It was a beautiful morning and just what I needed to start the weekend off right.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the market here in Ann Arbor, but I have a special place in my heart for Eastern Market.  I think it’s the energy of the whole place.  You know, you pull up, you find a place to park…somewhere….reasonably within a walking distance and head on it.  There’s huge bins of watermelons on the side and beautiful ceramic planters for sale.  And once you start getting towards the center, there’s the fish fry place (“You buy, we fry”) and the vendors setting up their barbecue grills.  During the day when that barbecue has gotten started, Eastern Market smells like heaven.  And then, of course, the karaoke.  This morning when we walked in, about 9am, we were greeted by one lone but enthusiastic man singing Van Morrison’s “Moondance” to an audience of about three. Classic and fantastic.

Continue reading

Farm Share Goodies: Sept 4-Purple Mashed Potatoes

I got a fantastic little kick out of my farm share this week: potatoes.

Sounds boring, I know, and to the average person, it probably is.  After all, I’ve gotten potatoes from the farm share before.  But these potatoes were purple. And while I knew they existed, I had never actually had one in my kitchen before.  It was magical.  There were just a few, snuggled in with the standard white skin ones we normally get.  A few shining, purple nuggets just waiting to be savored.  I cut them open and the inside was every bit as beautifully violet as the outside.

How freaking cool is that? Continue reading