Food, life

Well Cheesed & Well Pleased

Today is National Grilled Cheese Day and as good fortune would have it, my daughter has the day off.

So we headed to Commonwealth.

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As soon as you walk in the door you know the sandwich is going to be good.

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Ah, there it is: Manchego, Boursin + grilled Halloumi cheeses on ciabatta w/ tomato soup for dipping.

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The ciabatta was perfectly light and fluffy with a thin, crispy outer layer. The cheese combo was brilliant with the nice little kick of the tomato soup.

Upon taking the first bite my daughter exclaimed, “This is the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever had!”

I’m pleased to say it was one of the best I’ve had, too.  Though I myself have made some darn good grilled cheese sandwiches in my day.

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Sunshine, blossoming trees and grilled cheese.

Happy Day!

#wellpleasedandwellcheesed

 

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family, life

McDonald’s has its pink slime, I have purple.

I was just awakening from sleep when I heard a whisper.

“Follow the diet and exercise and you will beat cancer.”

I didn’t have cancer, my sister did.

Aware that I had no control over my sister’s diet and exercise, and aware that God often whispers things well in advance, I made a pot of my nutritious, delicious chicken, kale, carrot, onion and white bean soup – garnished with really good parmigiano reggianno – and took it over to her.

I suggested we walk the two or three blocks from her beautiful house into her darling down town.

Just in case.

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile you know that my sister did not beat cancer.

Actually, she did, because she didn’t let it wreck her life.

Then Bebe was diagnosed with cancer in October and I thought maybe the whisper was for her.  I could control her diet and exercise so I took her for long walks, cooked balanced meals and carefully administered Chinese herb blends and supplements.

She died, as you know, in January.

So we adopted Dixie.

And almost immediately upon her adoption she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Unusual in dogs.

So now I’m cooking like her little life depends on it.

Because it just might.

She had her first chemo treatment yesterday – an injection of Carboplatin.

She seemed to handle it just fine until nausea kept interrupting her sleep and mine.

When she turned her nose up at her usual breakfast this morning, I made her some healthy snacks.

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I love the color combo.

1 cup organic wild blueberries
2 tsp. turmeric
2 Tbsp. dried basil – 4 Tbs. fresh basil is better but I’m out
2 Tbsp. coconut flour

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all whirled together

Add a pound of organic ground turkey.

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McDonald’s has its pink slime, I have purple.

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Plop the purple slime on a cookie sheet.

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Flatten it with a fork.

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Bake for 25 minutes at 350.

Normally she’ll gobble down as many of these as I’m willing to give her. Today she stopped at 2.

So I gave the food processor a quick wipe and made a batch of her other favorite.

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Whirl together a can of sardines,  1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1 egg, 3 Tbsp. almond flour and 3 Tbsp. hemp protein powder and plop it on the same cookie sheet. Why dirty another one?

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Flatten them with a fork and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Oh, yes, she was interested in these – ate 3 of them, I think.

Next up I made meatloaf: 2 pounds ground turkey, 6 Tbsp. ground hemp seeds, 4 oz. can of sardines, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 2 eggs, 2 ounces beef liver, 2 ounces fresh broccoli, 2 ounces fresh baby spinach, 2 ounces fresh red bell pepper.

Whirl it all together, spread it in a 13×9 pan and bake at 325 for an hour.

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The juices soak back in as it cools.

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Portioned out for dinner – Dixie gets 6 ounces, Maxy gets 12.

She gobbled a good bit of the meatloaf down.

I hope Dixie is the one who beats cancer.

But of course the whisper could have been for me.

This week I had two more pre-cancerous lesions removed from my legs – from my shins, which were flung over the edge of an inner tube exposed to the hot sun all day as I floated down the Verde River in Arizona while visiting my cousins in my youth. Sans sunscreen.

I don’t think they even had sunscreen way back then. Just tanning oils – shudder to think.

I remember putting cool washcloths on my badly burnt flesh that night. And I remember the steam rising from my legs as I did.

So if the whisper was for my future, what diet?

I trust I’ll know when the time comes.

Corrie ten Boom’s father didn’t give her the ticket until the train pulled into the station.

That’s probably when my Father will give me mine.

#symptom

P.S. No one wants to see a photo of a pile of dishes, but after all that cooking this morning, I’ve got a big one. Plus a million other things to do.

Serving God one beagle at a time.

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faith, family, Food

Kneading Prayers

The sweet potato rolls I make every Thanksgiving require 8 minutes of kneading, which works out perfectly. I knead 1 minute of prayers into the dough for the families of each of my six sisters, a minute for my family and a minute for my mom and her husband.

I’ve been kneading prayers into various doughs ever since Sarah gave me the idea two years ago.

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Tomorrow I’ll spend most of the day making the rolls for a support group that meets weekly at my church.

And though they are strangers, I’ll be kneading 8 minutes of prayers into the dough for them, too.

Friday I get to help serve the Thanksgiving feast.

And meet the eaters of my prayers.

If I have time, I’ll make them a pie, too.

Or maybe these apple blossoms.

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Sweet Potato Rolls

Combine 1/4 c. warm water with 1/4 oz. dry yeast. Let it get foamy.

Scald 1 cup milk in a small saucepan, remove from heat.

Stir in the following:

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Let cool slightly.

Place 2 cups roasted, peeled sweet potatoes in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Combine them with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Beat until smooth.

Then beat in 1 large egg, the milk mixture and the foamed yeast.

Mix in 7 cups of sifted, unbleached all-purpose flour, one cup at a time.

Switch to your dough hook and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. The dough will be sticky.

Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled. (approx. an hour)

Punch dough down and knead again with your hands just until smooth.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Using a bench scraper cut the dough into 20 equal pieces. I weigh each piece because I’m a spaz and they bake better if they are uniform. Shape each piece into a roll.

Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheets and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Snip an X in the top of each roll with a pair of kitchen scissors. Brush each one with melted butter.

Bake until tops are brown, about 20 minutes, rotating pans half way through.

Cool on a rack.

I make two batches: a rounder, smaller dinner roll and a larger, slightly flattened roll like the ones in the front of the picture. I use the larger rolls for turkey sandwiches.

You can make the dough the day before, shape it into rolls and put the sheets in the fridge. Take them out of the fridge about 45 minutes before you want to bake them, snip, brush, bake and serve fresh from the oven.

It’s the cardamom that makes them so good.

Bon Appetit.

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life

We’re supposed to want to fork it?

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Tine Steiss, Creative Commons

A commercial running here in the U.S. of A. is making my tv watching life so much worse.

Worse, even, than the incessant and gnarly political ads.

The product for sale is some sort of frozen, highly processed food.

That in itself is troublesome, what with all the cancer and diabetes running rampant around here.

We’re supposed to want to “fork it.”

Seriously?

In the ad a guy spanks his naughty mac and cheese (or whatever the heck he’s eating).

Ew.

Then his co-worker applauds the perversion with a gleeful perversion of his own.

Makes my skin crawl.

Reminds me of an episode of Criminal Minds in which two highly disturbed, highly sick individuals living in the same neighborhood find one another and become partners in sadistic crime.

Like some sort of creepy radar.

Someone way back when said, “Sex sells,” and a whole “subliminal seduction” ad genre was born.

Born and grown-up into a hideous adult.

A blatant, perverted, nothing-subliminal-about-it adult.

Well, guess what?

That adult doesn’t sell.

Not to me anyway.

I’d rather eat my own vomit than “fork” anyone’s product.

For a refreshing, edgy, radical change of pace, madison avenue, let’s see if pure, noble and lovely will sell.

#irksome

 

 

 

 

 

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life

Buyer’s Remorse

Remember that 60 Minutes exposé about grocery stores engaged in underhanded commerce?  It showed them doing things like marinating meat that is past its prime in teriyaki or other flavorings to disguise the off taste.

Maybe it was another national news mag like 20/20.

Or maybe it was a local news report.

If you remember it, too, then it was national.

Anyway, ever since that report aired many years ago, I’ve been leery of the pre-made kabobs and other marinated offerings from the meat counter.

But yesterday, while shopping at a high-end market, I spotted a package of two lovely salmon patties – salmon, spinach, feta, panko, etc. – in front of the seafood counter.

The hub and I are trying to eat more fish so I threw it in my cart.

Then – and here’s where the remorse comes in – while one of the butchers was grinding me some grass-fed beef, I asked his young assistant about their pre-made offerings.

I said (and I’m cringing right now), “You guys aren’t disguising less-than-fresh meat or using up scraps of fish in your pre-made items are you?

The young man looked confused. He was too young to know anything about the exposé.

“Pre-made? You mean like the chicken, spinach and feta patties?”

“Yeah, but more specifically the salmon, spinach and feta patties ‘cuz those are the ones I just threw in my cart.”

The head butcher looked up from his task.

“They’re all good recipes,” he said.

He was old enough to have seen the 60 Minutes piece, but clearly he didn’t.

And then his expression changed.

And I think it dawned on him.

I was stupid for two reasons:

  1. If he really was disguising old meat or using salmon scraps, he certainly wasn’t going to admit it.
  2. He’s always been a good, decent and helpful butcher.

Oh and one more:

3. You’re supposed to flirt with your butcher, not insult him.

Next time I shop I’ll make a sincere apology.

“The salmon patties are really good,” the young butcher-in-training said as I walked away with my meat, “I’ve tried them.”

They were good – on light, airy brioche buns with a thick slab of heirloom tomato and a big spoonful of tzatziki sauce.

#Imanidiot

 

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Food, Michigan

Michigander

The hub, my shingles and I went up north for a long weekend.

Yep, shingles.

Woke up Wednesday morning with a raised rash on the back of my neck. I couldn’t see it but I could feel it.  Thought maybe I brushed against a poison ivy leaf when I was picking raspberries.  But it wasn’t itchy.

The hub noticed it while I was making dinner, said it was pretty red. It was starting to itch a little.

I wouldn’t normally go to Urgent Care for a red, mildly-itchy rash, but I had been pretty tired and a little off for a couple of days and we were heading out of town in the morning.

I didn’t want to take something contagious with me.

The doc said it was shingles and that it isn’t contagious. I could, however, give chicken pox to anyone who hasn’t had them, but only if they come in direct contact with the rash.

So I packed the antiviral he prescribed, some Benadryl, in case it got really itchy and Motrin in case it started to hurt. Doc said he’d give me Norco if it got real bad.

Norco if it gets real bad?

God, I hope not.

I’ve heard stories, I’ve seen fear-mongering commercials.

We headed north Thursday morning as scheduled. First stop: Harbor Springs.

We walked the pier at twilight. Felt like a date.

Next morning we snubbed the hotel’s complimentary breakfast and went into town in search of something good. No offense to the lovely, hospitable hotel.

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High atop a hill sat Small Batch at the Cupola, with its welcoming porch.

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Oh. Linen tablecloths. This is going to be expensive.

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But the little cow creamer was cute.

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Flash-fried spinach is my new favorite thing.

The hub ordered a Hansel and Gretel Waffle – gingerbread waffle topped with a maple and peach syrup and a cinnamon cream. He gave me a bite. Oh. My.

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I had to snag this photo from their Facebook page to show you because his didn’t last long enough…

After breakfast we headed to Mackinac Island, taking the long, coast-hugging way so we could see the property on which my sister’s retirement dream house will soon be built; the final resting place for her ashes.

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Men arrived and began clearing trees.

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Arriving at the Island never loses its thrill.

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You (meaning me) can’t visit Mackinac Island without saying “hi” to John.

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John is the extraordinary father of my delightful niece, Mary.

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He’s also the Senior Vice President of the Grand Hotel. If you don’t know the Grand, click here. It’s quite special. If you’ve been reading my blog from the start you’ve been there before.

One of these days I’m going to interview John and tell you all about him. In the meantime, this is his bike.

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It’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Many who visit Mackinac Island never venture beyond the town, except to rent bikes and ride around the entire perimeter of the island.

I prefer the interior.

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I like to hike to Arch Rock.

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And check out the view.

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If you know anything about Mackinac Island, you know there are NO motorized vehicles (except an ambulance).

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It’s all horses, feet and bicycles.

After lunch we strolled along the boardwalk, strolled past John’s house.

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Browsed some shops. Bought some fudge.

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And caught the 5:30 ferry back to the mainland. That’s the Mighty Mac in the distance.

The hub wanted to show me something so we took another short detour on the way back to Harbor Springs.

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In a beautiful park-like setting behind a Catholic church in the middle of nowhere waits a magnificent bronze sculpture.

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It weighs 7 tons and is 28 feet tall from head to toe.

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Truly a site to behold. Love the glow of the late-day sun on the tip of the cross.

Back in Harbor Springs we prowled the streets looking for somewhere not-fancy for dinner.

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There was a bar on the corner, down by the water, with a note taped to its door: “Friday Fish Fry $10.99.”

As we stood inside waiting to be seated, the hostess asked if we were there for the fish.  The hub nodded. “I’ll save you one,” she said, “there are only 3 left.”

In the morning I took my complimentary envelope of oatmeal to go as we checked out of the hotel and went forth.

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Early morning coffee in Charlevoix.

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Lunch in Leland.

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I make friends with beagles wherever I go.

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This is Bella. And her mom.

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You (meaning me) can’t be on the Leelanau Peninsula without stopping at Karl’s aka Brisling Pottery.

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Who am I to disobey?

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Treasures in tow, we headed to the hub’s favorite Leelanau wineries.

I lost a round of miniature golf. Only because I’m sick.

And then over to the Mission Peninsula to check into our B & B.

Dinner was pizza at a picnic table at the old State Hospital grounds.

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Those are pickled pears julienned on that pizza. A little tangy and very tasty.

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Yes, we did go back for breakfast the next day. I mean, look at that stuff.

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Rain Man.

The final day of our get-away began with fruit, yogurt, peach and lavender jam on english muffins, pleasant conversation and a goodbye to our B & B hosts.

It was another weather-blessed day so why not head to the tip of the peninsula, to the lighthouse and climb to the top?

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On no-more-than-four-inch steps.

While I climbed and took photos, the hub struck up an over-the-fence conversation with a stranger. It was all about fishing Lake Charlevoix.

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Hey, why not stop at a couple more wineries on the way back down the peninsula?

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The vines were pregnant, ready to deliver.

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Harvest is this week.

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With the warm weather we’ve had, Chateau Chantal says 2016 is going to be a very good year. Keep that in mind when you buy Michigan wine.

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I can’t have any because I seem to have developed an allergy to sulfites.

But you go ahead. I’m going back to the Pleasanton Bakery. Yes, I did already have breakfast. So what?

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Pleasanton Bakery chocolate almond croissant + Higher Grounds brew of the day = good.

Some coffee shops charge $5 for a cafe miel and I pay it. But at Higher Grounds I buy a $2.75 cup of their daily brew and add the honey, cinnamon and cream myself. And it’s really good.

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As you know from a recent post, I love it when old things are re-purposed. That’s why I love the old State Hospital. The old asylum.

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I wonder what this building will be.

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The hub isn’t going to read this post. He’s going to think it’s way too long. But he wanted to show me one more thing as we headed home.

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He ignored the “Private Property, No Tresspassing” signs like he owned the place and drove me through the woods and onto the grounds of the Pere Marquette Rod and Gun Club. He’s been there fly fishing a couple of times with my brother-in-law, Mike. He’s going back again in a couple of weeks. He wanted to show me and that’s okay. I like show and tell.

Stopping for lunch in Clare on the way home is kind of a tradition. A tradition we haven’t kept in several years. Lunch at Bob’s Broasted Chicken in the Saturday Evening Post Bar.

Back when the rooster was white, you could feed a family of four for $20.

Now that he has a new paint job, it’s $14 for 2.

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This photo-bombing patron ought to be in church.

I don’t know if it was the broasted chicken or all the ground we covered, but the rest of the ride home was kinda’ rough.

Might have been a little too much fun for an old gray mare with shingles.

Rainy day today.

 

 

 

 

 

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