Category Archive: Adventures

  1. Kilcherman’s Antique Apple Farm

    October 9, 2017

    Northport Apple FarmThe Kilcherman Family grows more than 250 varieties of apples on their farm near Northport, MI on the Leelanau Peninsula. Many of the varieties grown are from antique seeds which are no longer available in most orchards or in the market-some of the varieties grown on the farm date from the 1600’s. Through extensive research and a collection of rare books, journals and publications on the subject, the Kilcherman’s have become a treasure much like the varieties they lovingly cultivate. Rhode Island Greening, Salt Shaker Apple, Winter Banana and Old Fashioned Snow Apple are a few of the many varieties you will find. The farm has been honored with an award of merit by the Historical Society of Michigan, featured in the New York Times, and commended by Governor Engler for their contributions to Michigan history. In addition to antique varieties, the farm also specializes in modern varieties. John and Phyllis have also published a book, available here in addition to being available at the farm.

    Visiting the farm market is fascinating. There are apples upon apples laid out in quart containers on long tables. All are labeled with a brief history of the variety, as well as the best use for the apple- baking, frying, eating out of hand, food pairings, etc. If you are as interested in food as I am, you will appreciate from an educational standpoint the amount of care and time it took to research, grow, and present these apples.

    In addition to all the apples, the farm also boasts a collection of over 10,000 antique pop bottles. The silk screened labels and the glass bottles themselves are each a piece of art from years past. They are alphabetized by title, which makes looking for your favorite varieties from years past easier to find.

    But my favorite part of visiting the farm is the icy cold cider. All these varieties combine in the press to make a unique tasting and utterly delicious cider with the perfect acidity. It’s such a treat!

    Next time you are in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the farm- it is genuine Michigan-and you won’t be disappointed.

    Phyllis Kilcherman

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  2. Mexico Travels | Mexico City: Hipódromo & Centro

    April 4, 2015

    This is the fourth and final post in a series about my recent trip to Mexico. Catching up, slowing down, cultural immersion, and time in the sun all proved long overdue and much needed. It goes without saying that food was a big part of the travels, too…

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    For the last leg of our trip, we opted to stay in a hip, up-and-coming neighborhood in Mexico City called Hipódromo. Funky and eclectic with tons of Art Deco architecture, Hipódromo has a completely different vibe than Coyoacán. Street art, lovely boulevards and a mix of upscale and low-brow (I mean that as a compliment!) made this neighborhood great for exploring. Nearby neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma also had great spots to explore on foot. Roma Market is a modern collection of vendors of artisanal cheese, tea, spices, charcuterie and chocolate shoe-horned among delicious food stalls with everything from sushi to contemporary Mexican fare, all under one roof. Only a quick jaunt away is the super traditional Mercado Medellín, which has every kind of produce, meat, floral, housewares and hardware item you could imagine, in addition to an amazing piñata collection and my favorite street snack, fresh fruit with chili and lime. This is the essence of Mexico City to me…the seamless blending of old and new, side by side. Cultural traditions are maintained, honored and revered, while the younger generation bring in urban influences from all over the globe.

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    Next on the list was a trip the the insanely mind bending Museo Nacional de Antropologiá.  By far the coolest museum I have ever visited, the route through the Museo essentially starts with the Pre-Columbian Aztec codices and winds through time, moving closer to modern day as you make your way through the museum. The collection is absolutely unparalleled, and laid out in such a way that it easily digestible in it’s enormity. In addition to full scale replicas of temples and murals, all the galleries open to gardens, which have sculptures that coincide with the particular gallery. For example, one has a scale model of the ancient Aztec capital of Teotihuacan made of concrete in the center of the garden. All these gardens connect, as well, so essentially you could walk the whole perimeter of the museum, moving through a different gardens. Between the layout and scale of the collection and the brilliant architecture of the building itself (by Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vásquez), this is a do not miss!
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    All that history makes one hungry. Taking the recommendation of friend, we opted to eat at Quintonil. The food was sublime, with my favorite item being an unexpectedly delicious loaf of freshly baked wheat bread with peanuts, served with huitlacoche butter. The smoked marlin was also lovely, and I love cactus anything so the sorbet was a high note as well. We paired it with a Mexican rosé. Hipodromo08 Hipodromo09 Hipodromo10 Hipodromo11 Hipodromo12 Hipodromo13

    The following day was spent in the Historic District. We started in the most logical place, the zocalo, and wandered around from there, hitting all the important stops: notable churro and pastry shops, and of course, more markets.Hipodromo14 Hipodromo15 Hipodromo16 Hipodromo18 Hipodromo20 Hipodromo21 Hipodromo22 Hipodromo23 Hipodromo24 Hipodromo25 Hipodromo26 Hipodromo27 Hipodromo28 Hipodromo29 Hipodromo30

    The Palace of Belle Arts was a must on our list as well. With it’s stunning art nouveau exterior and jaw-dropping deco interior, the palace does not disappoint. Hipodromo31 Hipodromo32 Hipodromo33 Hipodromo34 Hipodromo35 Hipodromo36

    Clearly we like museums. Another one we opted to visit (you could literally visit a different museum every day for a month in Mexico City…it’s hard to choose!) was Museo Soumaya, which was built to house the private collection of one man- Carlos Slim. The collection has everything from renaissance works by Da Vinci and Botticelli to the impressionist through avant-garde gallery, full of works by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Vlaminck, Chagall and Miró.  The crown jewel is the collection on the top floor, comprised mostly of Rodin and Dali sculptures, among others. Hipodromo41Soumaya2Soumaya1 Soumaya3 Soumaya4 Hipodromo39 Hipodromo40Hipodromo38

    For our last night in Mexico City, we opted to dine at a restaurant we could walk to easily from our place. There were many, but we chose MeroToro, which was a restaurant that focused on the cuisine of Baja, California. The first item we tried was “Vuelve a la vida de maíz criollo con leche de tigre,” which loosely translates to “dried corn brought back to life with tiger’s milk”…which wasn’t much help in figuring out the flavor profile. I had to look it up, of course.  Tiger’s milk is essentially run off from ceviche, so although this dish didn’t have fish, per se, it had a lovely acid-forward fishy flavor and was super clean on the palate. A salad, braised iberico jowl with poached egg, and crunchy lamb with charred onions all followed. The finale was coconut wanna cotta with blood orange granita. It was the perfect way to end the night, and the trip.

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    So many adventures. Thanks for sticking with me through the mega post. Travel season is over and catering season is upon us….more to come from the Epicure Kitchen in the coming months.

    Gracias and hasta luego!

  3. Mexico Travels | Puebla & Cantona

    March 30, 2015

    This is the third in a series of posts about my recent trip to Mexico. The first week was spent at a yoga camp with some girlfriends and another ten days was spent traveling with my sister in and around Mexico City. Catching up, slowing down, cultural immersion, and time in the sun all proved long overdue and much needed. It goes without saying that food was a big part of the travels, too…

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    Puebla is about an hour and a half southeast of Mexico City, but seems to be off the beaten path of many travellers. The fifth larest city in Mexico, with 7 million residents, Puebla is indeed a major commerce hub, although you would never know it once you are in the Centro Historico. Founded in the early colonial era, it is one of the few cities in Mexico not built on an existing native community. Its beautifully preserved downtown features early colonial architecure in all its glory, and cialis generique has been designated a world heritage site by the United Nations. Ornate churches, palaces and ex-convents are all throughout the Centro Historico, many adorned with Puebla’s distinct signature, Talavera tile. It also has the prettiest zocalo of any of the towns I visited in Mexico.

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    I haven’t even gotten to the food…oh the food! Puebla is a culinary hub and the birthplace of mole.  The signature of the region is Mole Poblano, which is made from a base of dried chilis, nuts, herbs, cinnamon and chocolate. Pipián Verde and Pipián Rojo, which have a bit cleaner flavor are made with a base of tomatillos or tomatoes, respectively, onion, fresh chilis, pumpkin seeds and bread.  Then there are the robustly flavored Mancha manteles (which is actually Oaxacan in origin, and contains fruit, such as pineapple), and Adobo, which commonly contains orange juice and Achiote paste (also called annatto). Let us not forget that more stew-like incarnations like Mole de Panza (menudo) and Mole de Olla (deep meaty broth fortified with herbs, chilis and cactus or tomatillos and served with fresh vegetables) can all be found here, among others. It is an absolute joy to walk through the markets and see and smell the moles simmering away in huge cazuelas, the traditional earthenware cookware with handles.  It is truly a feast for the senses.

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    So the moles are one thing… but we must not forget the cemitas. Cemitas are tortas, or sandwiches, which are served on an sesame bun and piled high with carnitas, quesillo (string cheese) salsa rosa, avocados, onions and an herb called pápalo. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of a cemita because we ate it before it was captured! Ha, typical. Palenquetas, pozole and tamales were all part of our rounds.

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    Like many towns in Mexico, Puebla has a craft for which it is known…Talavera tile. Talvera pottery can only come from Puebla or a few neighboring towns, because of a specific type of clay found here. Traditional production methods go back to the 16th century, when the craft was originally brought here by the Spanish. This pottery has been woven into the fabric of daily life, appearing on building facades, in market stalls, and on the tables in many restaurants.

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    One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new city it to set out for a long walk with a relatively far away destination and no plan, stopping anywhere that looks interesting. The images below are from our walks.

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    One fantastic side trip from Puebla that I highly recommend is Cantona. Cantona is a Mesoamerican archaeological site about 2 hours from Puebla. It has only been about 10% excavated, which is a mind bending statistic once you are there, given it’s size. It is unique in that there is no mortar used in the construction. It also must be stated that we were one of about three groups visiting the entire site, which made it that much more surreal and breathtaking. I also thought that the dichotomy between the bus station we left from and the one we arrived into was worth documenting. More to come next week, if you’ve made it this far, I owe you a “thank you” !

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  4. Mexico Travels | Mexico City:Coyoacán

    March 23, 2015

    This is the second in a series of posts about my recent trip to Mexico. The first week was spent at a yoga camp with some girlfriends and another ten days was spent traveling with my sister in and around Mexico City. Catching up, slowing down, cultural immersion, and time in the sun all proved long overdue and much needed. It goes without saying that food was a big part of the travels, too…

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    After spending the better part of an hour trying to find one another in the Mexico City airport (hardest part of our trip, frankly!), we arrived in lovely Coyoacán on a Saturday evening. As soon as we arrived at our air b n b and met up with our host, we dropped our bags and headed our to stretch our legs and take in the atmosphere.

    Cortés used this area as a base of operations during his conquest of the Aztecs in the 1500’s. Many of the narrow streets of modern Coyoacán still maintain their colonial architecture, plazas, churches and gardens. Its own municipality until the 1850’s, Coyoacán is now one of the 16 boroughs of Mexico City.

    We walked to Plaza Hidalgo & Jardín Centenario, which is the main zocalo for the town, anchored by the beautiful Iglesia San Juan Bautista. The plaza was alive with couples on date night, families out for a stroll, street vendors, organ grinders and musicians. After a cocktail and a snack, we tucked in for a solid night of rest before our first full day.

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    Our only real agenda was a visit to Casa Azul, also known as the Museo Frida Kahlo. After a quick breakfast of Eggs La Michoacana (in a rich tomato and chili based broth, served with a generous amount of queso fresco and topped with avocado), we were on our way. Many of our guidebooks and suggestions from friends said there there would be a long wait so we planned to arrive right before the museum opened. It proved to be a great call.

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    Casa Azul was the house where Mexican painter Frida Kahlo was born, raised and eventually lived in with her husband, Diego Rivera, who was also a Mexican painter known for his murals. Their lives and art are absolutely fascinating…both were revolutionaries and are beloved by the Mexican people.  Having the opportunity to visit their home and learn more about their upbringings and political beliefs was really interesting and insightful. Her self portraits are so iconic but my sister and I were both really taken with her still lifes (and of course, the kitchen).

    Frida passed before Diego, who mandated the bathrooms in their home to be sealed off until 15 years after his death (1957). The woman who took over the estate left the rooms sealed and never opened them before her death (2002). The museum finally opened the rooms in 2004 to reveal all of Frida’s wardrobe, personal affects, and correspondence, among other things.  There was a fabulous collection of Frida’s clothing, curated by Vogue, while I was there… it was stunning. You can read more about Frida and her wardrobe here.

    After the visit to Casa Azul, we walked from Frida’s to the main zocalo. Cinnamon from churros and fresh cookies baking, coffee roasting, adobo and roast pork made for a heady mix of smells.

    After a trip the the craft market, which had booths offering everything. Piercings, tattoos and dreadlocks, huilaches (oaxacan shirt and dresses), silver pieces and Talavera pottery were all available.  Coming up empty handed, we decided that some ice cream was in order. The best ice cream in Coyoacán is on the zocalo, called Helados Siberia. I opted for the nuez de macadamia- Macadamia Nut,  while Jen went for the Maracuyá – passion fruit.

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    We really just spend tons of time walking around and checking out the architecture in Coyoacán. This little church, Iglesia La Conchita, was right by our place and was one of the first churches in Mexico City. The relief work, the paint jobs and the plant life combine to make this city very enchanting.

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    Just off the square on Calle Higuera is the Mercado de Antojitos. The mercado is a grouping of food stalls, about a dozen in total, selling everything from elotes to tacos, pozole and quesadillas. We got a tip about the fried quesedillas at booth number 14. 14 is my lucky number, so of course I took it as a sign that these quesdillas and I were meant to be together. There were many offerings, from panza (belly), sesos (brains) and requeson (cottage cheese) to huitlacoche (corn fungus), chicharrones (pork skin, slow braised then ground in this instance) and frijoles y queso (beans with cheese), which are the three flavors we opted for. Made by hand, right in front of us, then fried, these were packets of pure joy. They were served with crema, salsas rojo and verde, which you could add yourself in any quantity. We also opted for a glass bottle coke as an accompaniment. So tasty!

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    Evenings were spent strolling around. One of those happy accidents was finding the Cultural Center Elena Garro. This cultural center was built on the site of a colonial estate, where the facade still stands inside the bookstore. The cultural center also has a large courtyard and garden, cafeteria and offices.

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    All in all, our stay in Coyoacán was fantastic. We averaged about 8 miles a day on foot, just taking in the sights. Side trips to San Angel and Xochimilco were nice little respites and provided an opportunity to see more of this dynamic city. If you love architecture, mexican food, practicing your spanish, Frida & Diego and proximity to fantastic side trips, then Coyaocán is for you.

  5. Mexico Travels | Troncones

    March 15, 2015

    This is the first of a series of posts about my recent trip to Mexico. The first week was spent at a yoga camp with some girlfriends and another ten days was spent traveling with my sister. Catching up, slowing down, cultural immersion, and time in the sun all proved long overdue and much needed. It goes without saying that food was a big part of the travels, too…

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    Rare trips where you get to spend time with an old friend are such a gift. I’ve known my friend Kate for over 20 years, and we rarely get to see one another but when we do it’s like we haven’t skipped a beat. As if that wasn’t enough amazingness to absorb, we had a third, Danielle, who Kate has known forever but I had never met…what a gem!

    We were at a small yoga retreat on the beach in Troncones, which is about 30 minutes by car from Zihuatenejo, in the state of Guerrero. Kate (an interior designer) and Danielle (an attorney) both own their own businesses, like I do. We were all desperate to carve out some time where we could focus on ourselves and simply not have obligations or a schedule. A much needed regroup, if you will, in a beautiful setting and with great friends.

    The food, staff, grounds and architecture at our place were fantastic,  and other than a day trip to Zihuatenejo, we stayed in our small resort. Being in one place was important…usually when I travel I really push to see as much as I can (which I love), but it was so nice to be able to widen the scope and let my head fill with dreams and loves and ideas…or nothing. Nowhere to go, no phone calls, no meetings…just letting the days unfold as they may.

    Days were spent meditating (not my strong suit, but I’m learning), doing yoga (on what might be the most beautiful and peaceful yoga platform ever), and simply sitting on the beach while watching the birds. Egrets, pelicans, turns, cranes, and gulls put on a real show. We also indulged in bodywork with some of the best practitioners I’ve ever experienced. Swimming, walking, reading, and napping were also high on the priority list.

    Nights were spent catching up, chatting, and enjoying healthy meals of locally caught seafood. We may have even enjoyed a few drinks.

    I could get more into specifics (which I will do on subsequent posts…) but to be honest with you, I didn’t write down any notes. Enjoyed for the sake of enjoyment and nothing else, the week in Troncones was a gift.  I hope you have a chance to carve out time to do the same. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones. xox

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  6. Farm Visit: Christmas Cove Farm

    September 29, 2014

    One of my favorite things to do every fall is visit Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove Farm.

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    The Kilcherman Family grows well over 200 varieties of apples on their farm near Northport, MI on the Leelanau Peninsula. Many of the varieties grown are from antique seeds which are no longer available in most orchards or in the market-some of the varieties grown on the farm date from the 1600’s. Through extensive research and a collection of rare books, journals and publications on the subject, the Kilcherman’s have become a treasure much like the varieties they lovingly cultivate. Rhode Island Greening, Salt Shaker Apple, Winter Banana and Old Fashioned Snow Apple are a few of the many varieties you will find. The farm has been honored with an award of merit by the Historical Society of Michigan, featured in the New York Times, and commended by Governor Engler for their contributions to Michigan history. In addition to antique varieties, the farm also specializes in modern varieties.

    Visiting the farm market is fascinating. There are apples upon apples laid out in quart containers on long tables. All are labeled with a brief history of the variety, as well as the best use for the apple- baking, frying, eating out of hand, food pairings, etc. If you are as interested in food as I am, you will appreciate from an educational standpoint the amount of care and time it took to research, grow, and present these apples.

    In addition to close to 240 varieties of apples, the farm also boasts a collection of over 10,000 antique pop bottles. The silk screened labels and the glass bottles themselves are each a piece of art from years past. They are alphabetized by title, which makes looking for your favorite varieties from years past easier to find.

    But my favorite part of visiting the farm is the icy cold cider. Upon checking out, I asked “do you have any cider today?” Andrea Kilcherman replied with a smile “yes, it was pressed this morning”… music to my ears! All these varieties combine in the press to make a unique tasting and utterly delicious cider.

    Next time you are in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the farm- it is genuine Michigan-and you won’t be disappointed.

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  7. Farm Visit: Boss Mouse Cheese

    May 12, 2014

    Boss Mouse01I recently had the good fortune to enjoy a farm visit to Boss Mouse Cheese in Kingsley, MI. I met owner/cheesemaker Sue Kurta a while back and the more time I spend with her, the more I enjoy her company- plus anyone who offers me mid-day wine and snacks is kind of a hero. My dear friend Kristin, who also happens to be a cook and owner of K2 Edibles, joined me on the adventure.

    Sue grew up in Detroit, and her pursuits led her to a career in corporate finance in New York City. After a number of years she longed for a change. As a home cheese maker for many years, Sue knew she wanted to take her cheesemaking to the next level. She moved back to Northern Michigan and bought a farm in Kingsley. Except for the help of her awesome parents, Mike and Margaret, she is a one-woman show.  She produces about 100 pounds of cheese every week, and sources her milk exclusively from Moomers Creamery. Cheddar, montasio, Alpine-style swiss, havarti, parmesan, cheese curds- you name it. This woman likes to practice her craft, with delicious results.

    Andy and I are very fortunate to work with amazing food artisans. I am so grateful to Sue for hosting me! You can learn more about Sue from her website. The best way to get your hands on some of Sue’s cheese is to find her at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market in downtown TC.

    I’ve selected images from the day below (with narration, of course!), but there is a complete slideshow at the bottom of the post.

    Boss Mouse18We began the day in the creamery. Once the milk and culture are heated to the correct temperature,  vegetable rennet is added.

    Boss Mouse03Sue has an 8 x 12 temperature and humidity controlled aging cave. We spent some time in the cave while the milk was heating in the kettle.

    Boss Mouse06Just a little experiment, labeled “Yogurt Cheese WTF Wheel”.

    Boss Mouse08Havarti and friends.Boss Mouse12Tasting the cheese is essential. Sue uses a tool called a cheese trier to remove a core from the wheel.Boss Mouse13Sue checks for aroma, flavor and texture, among other things. Boss Mouse11After she tastes, she replaces the rind end plug of the sample from the trier into the hole to prevent air from entering the cheese as it ages. Boss Mouse16A girl and her cheese. Boss Mouse20While the warm milk, cultures and rennet were doing their thing, we had a chance to wander the farm and have wine and snacks. Meet Rudy, aka Princess Hitler. Boss Mouse24Back in the creamery, the curd is ready to be cut. Sue tests the consistency with a custom tool her father made for her. Boss Mouse26Cutting the curd on a batch of sweet swiss.Boss Mouse27Once the curd is hand cut, Sue adds another Mike-made device, which is basically a motorized paddle mixer. Mixing with the paddle provides a consistent curd shape. This step takes a while, so we wandered off again…
    Boss Mouse30The plumbing seems to be the most sophisticated infrastructure in every creamery due to the heating, cooling, cleaning and sterilization that needs to occur during the cheese making process. Boss Mouse is no different. This is Sue’s trusty schematic.
    Boss Mouse31Time for a tour of the barn! One of the many casualties of our record winter here in northern Michigan was the functionality of Sue’s barn door. The Dukes of Hazzard method proved to be the most successful means of entry.
    Boss Mouse35All the ladies (plus a rooster).Boss Mouse34Head cheese and rescue-rabbit, Licorice. Boss Mouse39Meet Cozy…
    Boss Mouse40…and Max. Boss Mouse45Meanwhile, back in the creamery it is time to separate the curds from the whey. Boss Mouse41Straining the whey. Boss Mouse49In this step, Sue puts the curds into the mold once they are separated from the whey.
    Boss Mouse50Sue packs the curds in the mold to help give the wheel a consistent shape.
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    Once the cheese is pressed into the mold, Sue adds weights to the mold, using another mechanism created by her dad. The weights press the remaining whey from the cheese. The wheel stays in the press for about 16 hours, and is flipped once during the process to keep the shape consistent.Boss Mouse55

    Me with Cozy, who is kind of a close-talker.

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    I had such a great day on the farm with Sue and Kristin! Farm visits are my favorite part of my job, and this was my favorite farm visit. xoxoxo

    See more images from my awesome Boss Mouse Cheese farm visit in the slideshow below.

     

  8. Maple sugaring | Leelanau County

    March 17, 2014

    Maple sugaring- tap used for sap collection

    Each Spring in Northern Michigan brings excitement for Maple sugaring in Leelanau County. “Maple sugaring” is the name given to the collection and cooking of maple sap to produce syrup. The Native Americans were the first to innovate this process, prior to the arrival of European settlers on American soil.

    In cold climates such as ours, maple trees store starch in their trunk and roots before the long winter. The starch is eventually converted to sugar in the form of sap. Maple sugaring in Leelanau County is a simple but relatively long process, but well worth the reward of that beautiful amber colored liquid that is a delicious Northern Michigan staple.

    The sap is collected by “tapping” the tree. Our sap run begins in late winter/very early spring, usually sometime in late February to the end of March. The sap is collected into buckets or bags. Some farms like to use plastic tubing from the tap to the collection vessel but a simple metal tap like the one pictured above works well, too. Once the sap is collected, the long process of heating the sap to evaporate the water begins.  A long shallow pan aids in evaporation due to increased surface area. Evaporating the water from the sap can take many hours; the syrup is determined as finished when it reaches a certain sugar content and color.

    It can take up to 10 gallons of sap to yield one quart of syrup. The sap is boiled at about 220 degrees, which is about 7 degrees higher than the boiling point of water. Under-boiling can produce a watery syrup while overcooking produces crystallization.

    Andy’s friend Russell Madson was kind enough to invite him along for the harvesting and cooking of the sap. Some more images of Maple sugaring in Leelanau County are below. If you are interested in purchasing some Michigan maple syrup, check out this site. Enjoy!

    Maple sugaring time- buckets hang from a maple tree under taps

    Maple sugaring time - fire under the evaporator is being lit

    Maple sugaring time - harvested sap being poured into the evaporator

    Maple sugaring time - harvested sop is being poured into the evaporator

    Maple sugaring time - the evaporator is a large flat pan

    Maple sugaring time - the temperature must be carefully controlled on the evaporator

    Maple sugaring time - the evaporator heats up

    Maple sugaring time - the fire must be stoked often under the evaporator

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    Maple sugaring time - Russell Madson works the evaporator

  9. Ice Fishing | West Grand Traverse Bay

    March 10, 2014

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    Ice fishing03Winter has had it’s icy hold on us for what feels like an eternity. I must admit I have spent way too much time inside as of late due to the frigid temps, and it was starting to take a toll on me mentally…I needed to get outside! What better way to spend the day than Ice Fishing on West Grand Traverse Bay? I’ve been asking the guys to take me out because I had never been ice fishing. Saturday was the day.

    Although I myself am not an experienced angler, both Andy and Tyler have spent many hours near the water, in the water and in this case on the water, in the pursuit of fish. This winter is unique in that 90% of the Great Lakes are frozen. We have never had this much ice in March before! These conditions have made for an amazing ice fishing season. Many of the fishermen I talked to informed me that this has been the best year for ice fishing in the last decade.

    The ice was about 18 inches thick. There were a bunch of people who drove out to the spot, although we opted to walk. It was beautiful- not much wind and the temps were around 25 degrees. Among the group, two lake trout and a whitefish were caught. It was great asking the guys how they were going to cook their catch. “Pan fried!” was the consensus. It was also consensus that the flesh is firmer and less oily this time of year due to the water being so frigid.

    It was a fantastic day! I got some much needed exercise, a sunburn, made some new friends and learned a lot. So, all in all a successful first foray into ice fishing. I can only hope I will be fortunate enough to spend more days Ice fishing on West Grand Traverse Bay.

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  10. Rabbit Hunt | Beaver Island

    March 3, 2014


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    Last Winter, Andy had the unique opportunity to go on a hunting trip to Beaver Island. Beaver Island is an island off the Northwest coast of Northern Michigan and is about 54 square miles in area. Accessible by plane or ferry from Charlevoix, Beaver Island is most popular as a summer destination, but offers fantastic small game hunting in the Winter.

    This particular trip was a rabbit hunt. One of the hunters who invited Andy has a cabin on the island and has been coming to Beaver Island since he was born. The group drove up to Charlevoix, then flew over to the island.

    There are about 8 guys who go on the trip. Many of the hunters are cooks; there is a large emphasis on honoring the animal and eating each animal taken. Days are spent out in the woods and evenings are spent around the wood stove, laughing and sharing food and drink.

    The group made the trek this year as well. As this winter has been far more bitter, the hunt was not quite as fruitful and the group ended up getting stuck on the Beaver Island a few extra days (which they were thrilled about!). The added down-time on the trip allowed them time to visit Mark Valente, who has lived on the island since 1978.

    Mark Valente is a furrier and owner of Flattail Furs, along with Lisa Green. With their combined skill sets, the pair produces beautiful mittens, headbands, hats and jewelry. Check out their Etsy shop (the mittens are awesome!).

    The images below are actually from last year’s trip. This year, the visibility was so poor that the hunting and photography opportunities were limited. Regardless, getting to hunt snowshoe hare on Beaver Island is a unique opportunity not afforded to many…and one I thought worthy of sharing.

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  11. Sunday supper | Bare Knuckle Farm

    September 26, 2013

    Of course, it is exciting so I’ll start with the menu. There is more text about the dinner below the images.

     To Start:

    Roasted potatoes with dill cream

    For Dinner:

    Beet and buttermilk terrine with radishes and horseradish-lardo vinaigrette

    Tomato bread salad with corn, zucchini and cucumbers

    Grilled sausage with blue corn polenta, kale, carrots and roasted red pepper-eggplant relish

    Idyll Farms goat cheese with fennel chickpeas, melon and chili oil

    For Dessert:

    White peaches and cream with brown butter sea salt cookies

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    Every once in a great while, our crew takes a Sunday afternoon off. What better way to spend it than to attend a farm to table (table being literally at the farm) Sunday Supper at Bare Knuckle Farm?

    Bare Knuckle Farm was established in 2009 by Jess Piskor and Abra Berens. We get the majority of our stunningly gorgeous produce from the team at Bare Knuckle, and we have them to thank for making our job of presenting food beautifully that much easier.

    Bare Knuckle Farm sits in an idyllic valley near Northport, MI. Although the farm has been in active cultivation with cherries and chestnuts for over a century, the frosty valley floor does not lend itself to tree crops, making the way for Jess and Abra to plant everything from potatoes and herbs to corn, radish, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, hearty greens and more. Jess handles the majority of the gardens while Abra uses her cooking skills honed at Ballymaloe to produce stellar farm-to-table cuisine. Simple, delicious food that is served as close to its source as possible. What could be better?

    We were thrilled to break bread at Bare Knuckle Farm, and recommend you take the time to not only visit this special place, but meet these magnificent people and take part in their delicious, lovingly grown and mindfully prepared cuisine.

     

  12. Easter Jeep Safari 2013

    April 15, 2013

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    I am a lucky girl. Sometimes my job takes me to some truly inspiring places. Recently, I had the opportunity to hang out in Moab, UT and cook for an insanely talented group of folks who man the helm (drive the Jeep?) at American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). Every year the week prior to Easter, there is a convergence of the off-road industry in Southeastern Utah. Days are spent testing vehicles, taking faithful customers on guided trail rides and training the newer drivers in the bunch. All of this hot 4 x 4 action can make a person hungry. This is where I come in. In the evenings, delicious dinners are a great way for these guys to unwind, refuel and talk shop. As any awesome day spent out in the fresh air should end, the evenings are spent around the campfire. I spend the week making box lunches, cooking dinners and catching some rays when time allows. It is a privilege to cook for this company, to see the passion they put into their work and the camaraderie they share. It is no wonder their brand is so strong and that they are at the top of their industry. While I was in Moab, my friend who happens to be one of the owners of AEV was doing some daily dispatches for the Detroit Business blog. You can read more from him about the trip here. I would love to thank them again, so …THANK YOU! You guys are the best. Until next year…

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