28 September 2008

The apple of my eye.

Today's post brought to you whilst I sip a delicious glass of my Leelenau Cellars Gewurztraminer, which accompanied the proceeding meal...

I decided today was the day. I was going to make my apple pie. I went and checked out the new Whole Foods (...and was happy to discover I can happily stay loyal to Plum. Nothing to necessarily bring me back, except the prepared foods section, which isn't as big as the other WF but is oodles bigger than Plum), on the search for pie crust. Guess what? I didn't find any. But I was still determined, even if it meant making a mess of my kitchen by making one from scratch again. I did a quick search for apple pie recipes and happened upon this: Swedish apple pie. No crust required! I was sold.

As always seems to happen to me, I was short on ingredients. This time, it was sugar. But I googled it, and it turned out I could use half brown sugar to fulfill the sugar requirement (who runs out of sugar? come on!). I also didn't use the full 3/4 cup of butter. I just couldn't do it. I used about 1/2 cup. Otherwise, I kept to the recipe. Even when it looked very strange...

The "crust" mixture on the left, the "pie" is on the right. Again, seemed super odd, but I figured it would still taste good, even if I screwed it up! haha!

The pre-cooked "pie."

It worked! It worked!

Once the pie was done and was cooling, it was time to make dinner. I carried the apple theme over, making a recipe I found in the new Martha Stewart: German sausages with apples, sauerkraut, and onions. The recipe calls for pre-cooked sausages -- oops... I used fresh, turkey bratwursts, and it turned out just fine (I just had to cook them a little longer and wait to slice them until they were mostly cooked). Otherwise, I followed the recipe, and man, did those onions and apples smell deeelish while they were cooking. Once everything was done, I assembled the meal, which was also accompanied by some butternut squash spaetzle from WF.

It looked a lot prettier before I added the sausage.

The verdict: Yum, on all accounts. I loved the apples and onions with the sauerkraut, and the turkey brat was tasty and I didn't feel crazy guilty afterward for eating brats. And the pie? Mmm-hmmm-mmm! It was so easy, and it really tastes like pie. Well, actually a little more like an apple cake. But I was worried it'd just taste like a bunch of baked apples. Who knew crazy sugary goo would turn into a real crust? I might just turn into a baker yet!

27 September 2008

The final countdown.

I think it's official. Fall is really really my favorite. I love summer, I love the beach, but it's just not the same. I love orange and red and yellow everywhere, and wearing a fuzzy sweater for the first time of the year... buying pumpkins, squash, and finding new recipes for them... And today, I went apple picking for the first time. I joined Lisa and Kristal at Spicer's Orchard, about a half hour north of Ann Arbor, and although it was actually pretty steamy out there, it was a beautiful day.

Picking apples and raspberries, suckin' on chili dogs (ok, just plain old eating regular hot dogs), and having a rare donut treat...

Now I need to bust out my baking chops and make a pie, or something! I've got half a peck of apples. :)

From apples to grapes... preferably in wine form!!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to join Lisa, Kristal, and Lori for the 2008 Harvest Stompede Festival on the Leelenau Peninsula. Who knew that a wine tour festival would be so popular -- it sold out months and months ago. So thanks, Lisa, for takin' care of business and getting us registered long before fall, spring, or even summer were on the horizon. It was definitely an amazing experience, and, for $40, it was quite a deal, too. You get your official wine glass, mini food serving at each winery, a main tasting wine, and most wineries were generous enough to allow you to taste any and all of their wines. I'm going to copy Lisa (and probably Kristal, too) and rather then list the wineries in order of attendance I'll order them from best to worst (yes, there were worsts!). Check out their pages if you want to compare and contrast, especially if you are planning a trip up north to wine country. Here goes!

List of Yum
And the winner is...

This was a collective favorite, which gives it the additional points to push it into first place. We had high hopes for this one, as Lisa S. had raved about it, and it didn't disappoint. We loved it the second we pulled up to the sprawling vineyard and horse farm. Outside they were serving skyline chili with a delicious red -- sponsored by the vineyard's famous (check out Wine Dogs) dog, Nick. After snacking, we headed inside, where the owner himself was pouring generous servings of wine. He was clearly excited about his product and wanted us to love it as much as him. His enthusiasm was infectious, and I was rewarded with my first buzz of the day. To top off our wonderful experience, we headed out into the vineyard, where we met a giant white horse and stole grapes off the vine (shhhhh!). Trust me, you haven't eaten grapes until you've eaten these grapes. It was like a solid ball of wine melting in your mouth. Mmmmm.

In a bubbly second place is L. Mawby, in second place only because Kristal and Lori didn't like it -- I'm all about group enjoyment! I love champagne, and, I must confess, it goes straight to my head. PLUS... all of their wines had semi-naughty names like Wet, Sex, Consort... the goofy side of me was just in love. Plus, it was in a beautiful vineyard, with an outdoor, covered sitting area overlooking the vines. Before we even entered the building, we were poured a taste of Wet (yum). Out back, they had a second tasting set up, where we had Sandpiper and Fizz. There was no way we weren't trying Sex, so Lisa and I paid $5 to do a third tasting of Sex and Consort, plus goat cheese and crackers. Let's just say, we spent the entire day making crude jokes ("I love Sex!" "I love Sex with you!" "I bought Sex on vacation!"). I think Brad would like it here, as well, and I hope to get the chance to take him back there someday.

Third place goes to Bel Lago Vineyard -- and I must say, first, second, and third place are VERY close. It really could have gone either way for all of them. I loved them all dearly and highly recommend them. Bel Lago also got me with the sparkly, and yes, yes, I was toasted mid-way through our visit (I blame our adorable server, John, who let me sneak seconds!).

The winery itself is nothing too special, just an open, simple building with a bar on either side. But the people were just lovely, the aforementioned John was hilarious and so sweet, and the wine was just awesome. Situated just across the road from the lake, it also had a wonderful view, so extra bonus points there.

Oh yeah, did I mention this was our first stop on Sunday, so I was toasted by 12:15 on a Sunday. Sweet. I must also make special mention of Bel Lago's award winning champagne, Briliante -- I wish I could have bought an entire case.

Cherry Republic, well, it's cherries. Of course I'm going to adore it. A trio of cottage-y type buildings, surrounding a beautiful garden, CR was just plain cute. Our tasting wine was hard cherry cider, which was amazing... alas, it was all cold and wouldn't have survived another two days in the trunk. Also selling a variety of cherry sodas, ciders, wines (and sangria), I was in love.

What keeps Longview Winery in the running is the super yummy and fun dessert wine tasting we paid an extra $5 to do (the free wine was good, too, and we got a brownie. Yum). Hosted by the owner's son, Seth, who was hilarious, I might add, we tasted two ice wines and a port + chocolate cherry truffle. YUM-O.

45 North is a newer winery, and the tasting was held in its production house as they haven't built a tasting room yet. But this gave it a cool, hip vibe, and everyone really enjoyed it here (extra points for the cute helper boy who was at our beck and call). They gave us mac and cheese, how can you go wrong with that, and we discovered peach cremant, which was soooooo tasty. We all bought a bottle.

Leelanau Cellars had a beautiful setting, right on the water, and introduced me to gewurtztraminer, which we all had a blast trying to spell (thanks, Lisa!). The server for our additional tastings was super nice, made recommendations, gave us chocolate, and even washed our very dirty glasses out for us. They also had Witches Brew mulled wine -- now, do you think I can resist a special Halloween wine? I bought 3 bottles.

Blackstar Farms is only this far down on my list because we had so little time here, at the one place we really could have spent a lot of time. It's a farm, an inn, a cheese house... Unfortunately, it was our last stop of the last day, and we basically got kicked out at closing time. But the wine was good, we snagged some fresh made cheese to nibble on, we finally got pizza for our tasting pairing, and our server put up with our drunk asses! Plus, I really was toasted by this point and I honestly don't remember how good the wine was -- although I know I liked it at the time and bought a bottle as well. Fingers crossed. :)

Good Neighbor Organic was our first stop of the first day, and it's also a very new winery. So new that all they currently have is hard cider. Fine with me. Unfortunately, it wasn't very good hard cider (especially compared to the others we had throughout the weekend). But it's new, it's organic, everyone was nice, so I'd definitely like to visit once they are more settled in.

I hate to say it... but there were some sucky places. If you're planning a wine trip up north, SKIP these, in order of less suckage to most suckage.

List of Suck

Shady Lane (FYI, I totally got carded here!) -- Beautiful setting, beautiful buildings, and they gave us super yummy mushroom stroganoff... but it was totally pretentious, the servers were assy, and the wine was expensive.

Willow -- Might have had the most beautiful view, but was totally WT inside. The wine sucked, the food sucked (salad slathered in mayo with pickles!!!)... We stayed about five minutes.

Ciccone -- Madonna's dad's winery (and you betcha they had Madonna wine), seemed super old lady. We ate (yummy, I'll give it that) ravioli in a back room that felt like a church basement. The wine they let us taste sucked, and the wines that sounded good weren't on the tasting menu.

Gills Pier -- I wanted to like this one, as their tasting wine was called Ankle Biter and had a pink dog on the label. But the lady was totally nasty (just stared at me and wouldn't even speak when I asked her a question) and the wine SUCKED. We all dumped it on the patio when no one was looking. The mac and cheese WAS delish, though.

Good Harbor -- Totally blah. Uninteresting, unwelcoming, and the hard cider sucked it. We didn't do any additional tastings here, and while the soup was good, they used canned sweet potato, which totally turned me off.

Chateau de Leelenau -- The server... SHOOK HER TIP JAR AT US!! 'Nuff said.

Interesting final thoughts:

1. I like to buy wine. I came home with 17 bottles of wine and a six-pack of cherry sodas.

2. I can drink white wine. Now, I still made a yuck face over all the chardonnays, but many of the Rieslings and more desserty wines I actually enjoyed. I even bought 3 bottles of white.

3. After drinking wine nonstop for 2 days, it takes more than half a bottle of hard cider to getcha boozy. After coming down from our boozy high, a ginormous dinner, and a few hours of chilling in the hotel room, Lisa and I decided it was time to hit the bottle again. We grabbed a blanket and a bottle of hard cider and killed that baby while hanging out on the beach. Great friends, great wine, the beach... what more can a girl ask for?

21 September 2008

So perez.

Another quick note before we head out for day two of wine tour, but I wanted to drop in some photos because, well, we have wi-fi and I can! Darn it. Enjoy!

Time to get started on the Harvest Stompede! Our first stop, Good Neighbor Organic for some not-very-tasty hard cider.

Please, someone get this joke (Sara and Matt I'm talking to you): This isn't heaven. This sucks!

Tee hee!

Little pinch. (At our favorite vineyard so far, Chateau Fontaine. Yeah, we stole grapes.)

Time for more grapes!

20 September 2008

For Birgy birg.

A fun note whilst we just fiddle around in our hotel room after a long and glorious day of wine tasting. Just in case I don't have time to post for real for a few days, the fall wine tour is amazing and wonderful and I love it. Weeeee! It's beautiful up here, and I recommend this to everyone!

1. how are you?
full of grapes

2. who was the last person you hugged?
all the wine girls. photos galore!

3. whats your fave film?
sliding doors and spaceballs

4. what did you last laugh about?
what did I NOT last laugh about? tee hee! Favorite evil laugh of the day: stealing delicious grapes off vine

5. what do you work as/want to work as?
I want to take photos of dogs that live on vineyards.

6. do you play video games? if so, which is your fave game?
not in years. I need to beat that Buffy game one of these days.

7. what are you listening to right now?
the ladies chit chatting. lori grading middle school students' papers -- ha!

8. are you happy with your life right now?
sure thing. always room for improvement, though. or else what fun would it be?

9. why did you last get upset?
me? get upset? ; )

10. who was the last person you texted?
Rachey rachey pants

11. who do you live with?
Brad, the babies

12. what was the last movie you went to see and with who?
Tropic Thunder, Bradford

13. are you in love?
I heart everybody!

14. if you could be with someone right now, who would it be?
a pizza

15. are your lips chapped?

16. where did you get the underwear you are currently wearing?
it's too late at night for that biznass

17. Who is your favorite “That ’70s Show” character?
OMG I love them all! hahaha Hyde? Jackie? Def not Kelso.

18. there is a mummy standing behind you. what do you do?
Hyperventilate. I don't like to be surprised by mummies.

19. what do you think of Miley Cyrus?
That I'm embarrassed that I know who she is. I'm 30!!!

20. do you tend to think that you are always right?
hello? have you met me? I AM always right.

21. top five favorite songs:
Wave of Mutilation, Say Goodbye, Tear in Your Hand, Woman, Country Feedback

22. what was your favorite toy as a child?

23. have you thought more about your funeral, or your wedding?
well, considering I haven't died....

24. dinosaurs or unicorns?
haha unicorn is so 1982

25. what is your favorite musical?
Hello!??! Rent! Duh.

26. you need new jeans. where do you go?
Old Navy

27. what do you think of Maroon 5?
Oh la la Adam Levine.

28. Fall Out Boy?

29. Katy Perry?

30. have you ever snuck into an R-rated movie when you weren’t old enough to see it without parents?
I don't think I've ever watched anything but R-rated movies.

31. do you know many Emily’s?
Rachel's sissy. That bitch that sent Brad love letters when we were in college.

32. what do you think of the Jonas Brothers?
stupid ass kids

33. what is your favorite kind of Girlscout cookie?
mmm caramel delight

34. what is the worst job you have ever had?
editing concrete journals for the nazis

35. have you ever been to Minnesota?
Just the airport.

36. what is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on TV?
those dogs? with like two heads? that commercial freaks me out. OH. And Buck Angel.

37. do you watch infomercials when there is nothing on?
Hell no. Ugh!

38. what is your favorite Disney show?
Flippin disney. See rated R question.

39. what do you miss most about elementary school?
not a goddamn thing

40. any last words?
time to for a midnight walk on Lake Michigan! Ahhh I love vacation.

17 September 2008

Happy 10th birthday, beer tasting.

Just a quick note to say how much I love my PPYLs, and my peeps, too! Beer tasting was a grand success tonight, and we had a blast working it. I would hazard to say we almost sold out... if we didn't actually. That room was packed, everyone was having a great time, minglin, tryin beers... And heck, I even managed to stake my claim pouring the hefe... um, heffevi... um, the wheat beer, the one beer I can mostly stomach. I had super fans, and super haters -- it was fun chatting people up, seeing what they liked, and who came back, again and again. Anyway, love to ya all (extra hugs to my PPYL ladies, and a mini pinch to Rachey Pants)... I'm so glad I found this group, and I'm looking forward to doing more as we get closer and closer to the election (although they are NOT getting me on the phone!). Now, if I could just will myself to sleep... Does beer have caffeine in it?

16 September 2008

Get in my bellay.

Just a quick note to say it really really IS fall, as I'm making my favorite fall recipe right now. It's been a whole year, so I'm eagerly awaiting that first bite... I highly recommend it, and it's pretty easy, too: Rachael Ray's pumpkin and sausage pasta.

It's definitely rich -- deliciously rich -- so I decided to lighten it up a tad. I used half a pound of sausage instead of a pound, and Italian chicken sausage at that. I also used 2/3 of the cream called for. I'm confident it will be delicious as ever. Yum yum yum! Oh... I see bubbles. Duty calls!

15 September 2008

None of my greens have ever had collars.

According to my finds at Plum Market today, it's officially fall! And I think I've come to terms with that. I love summer, but I always feel more relaxed come fall. And comfy in my hoodie. Anyway, I bought my first official pumpkins of the year -- local from Michigan, too, so it's really official. I've been craving Rachael Ray's sausage and pumpkin pasta, and I plan on making it tomorrow, but I'm not yet ready to dig into real pumpkin yet. I'll save these guys for something special in a week or too. Time to start stockpiling pumpkins because once they're gone, they're really gone. For a whole year. Sigh.

Other fall finds? Apple cider, also made locally. Funny thing, I will NOT drink apple juice (yuck! ew!), but I love cider (and hard cider is my favorite boozy boozy drink). I had a little glass with dinner, and it was lovely. I also bought a second pint of Guernsey lemonade (I try to buy Guernsey as often as possible, since it's right down the street -- always their milk, cream, etc), which was originally a risk (lemonade KILLS me), but it was delicious and not nearly as tart and sweet as most other lemonades. Obviously, my guts behaved, as I went back for seconds!

I also totally bought kale on accident. I mean, I bought it on purpose, but I bought it thinking, "Hey! That's in season and local, and I just saw that recipe in the new Clean Eating [my newest find!] for kale and squash." I get home... it's watercress and squash. D'oh! Luckily, I had my beautiful, shiny, new copy of Vegetable Love (eternal thanks, Lisa S.!), and I opened it up to kale and figured it all out. I've had regular collard greens, but I've never had kale, and I've definitely never made it. I followed the recipe for braising, and it was easy peasy.

You tear the leaves off the stem, which I never would have thought to do (so good thing I looked), then give 'em a rinse.

Heat up some olive oil in a deep pot, then throw half in to wilt. Then add the other half to wilt. I added about half a cup of veggie broth, some salt and pepper, and a few red pepper flakes. Once it boils, put on low, and simmer with lid for about 10 minutes. Once it's cooking, it turns a beautiful bright green.

This was a super easy recipe, and I was pleasantly surprised with how kale tastes. It is far less bitter (I think bitter is the adjective I'm remembering) than collard greens, although similar in texture. I'll definitely be making this again.

PS. Just a fun piece of evidence from the tornado that is Heidi... running around the house, eating everything in sight. I actually have to send this into HR for a reimbursement. How embarrassing.

13 September 2008

Hot tamale baby.

So, to celebrate my return to the treadmill (go me! and thanks, Tales From the Crypt, for keeping me company), I decided to bust out my to-go tamale. Now, I know she don't look like much -- I had to smoosh her a bit so she didn't explode in the microwave -- but OMG. Seriously. Heaven. At Pilar's suggestion, I topped it with a little (local, Eastern Market) honey (they'd used heavy cream and cheese at the booth). Mmm. It was delicious. Again, here's hoping Brad hates his! :)

PS. Heidi enjoyed the tin foil and wax paper it was wrapped in. Good job gettin' in the trash, dummy!

PSS. For pics of the event, go check out Lisa's blog! :)

Rain rain go away.

Just a quick post before I forget all my yummies because I was too afraid to take out my new new camera to the first annual Ann Arbor homegrown festival. Of course, it's the rainiest day we've had in months... and not just drip drip, it's actual downpour. And it's been a downpour since early hours of the morning. Anyway, despite the rain, Lisa Z. and I headed out -- pass up food? Heck no!

Held outside in the Community High parking lot, it was a rainy muddy mess, but the vendors all seemed in good spirits, traffic was steady, and the band was playing Cure and Beatles covers. Two dollars a ticket, and most items were 1 to 2 tickets -- and even though advertised as tasting menus, the servings were full servings. So overall a pretty good deal. And the actual chefs came out... Admittedly I was a little starstruck. "Hey, is that EVE of Eve?" Pretty sure we chatted with Pilar's chef, and I actually said this to the Vinology chef: "I hope this isn't too crazy, but I love you."

Eve's Bulgar, Zingerman's potato leek soup, Carson's peach smoothie, Silvio's organic pizza... probably 10 booths, each boasting one to three different items to choose from. My most favorite of favoritest... Pilar's. Mmm. I used to get takeout from Pilar's when there was an actual cafe, but it's been a few years. And I'd really only tried one item, the jalapeno and cheese tamale. I went to the booth and ordered the chicken tamale, but the lovely woman helping the chef out said... can I convince you to try our sweet corn tamale? Well, sure thing! Pilar's only makes it once a year, and they makes it homemade from fresh corn kernels off the cob (that's dedication, my friends). It was pure. Heaven. OMG. I bought two more to bring home. I secretly hope Brad doesn't like its so I can eat his.

Now... time to go change out of these wet clothes! Stupid rain.

PS. We also totally got free reusable grocery bags from Plum, as well as 10% off coupons. Sweet. I like free stuff.

10 September 2008

That's MY pie!

I don't know what bug got up my butt, but Sunday I decided, dammit, I'm making a pie. And I'm making it from scratch. I owe Sara big time, too, because without having watched her make a pie and crust a few weeks ago, I would have been totally unsure of everything I was doing. Anyway, I looked online for a suitable recipe, and I settled on this website: easy pie. The website is a disaster, but the recipe seemed the most basic (and I had all the ingredients [mostly]). I used the site's crust recipe, too. I just made a few adjustments: instead of shortening, I used 3/4 cup applesauce + 1/4 cup margarine; I hardly used any water with the dough and used a TON of flour (I couldn't get it to stop being so darn sticky!); seemed weird not to have any sugar in the dough, so I threw in a tablespoon; and I didn't have quite enough blueberries for a big pie, so I made four mini pies -- I just used a little less sugar and cornstarch for the berry goo.

I was super unsure about the dough... Had no idea how it was going to turn out. Fingers crossed!

Berries and sugar. Figured I couldn't mess that up.

...aww! At least they look cute! Dough on bottom and top.

Baking is messy.

So... they exploded a little. But they still look pretty good....

With the pies done, it was time to throw dinner together. Thanks Encyclopedia of American Cooking for putting the idea of English muffin pizza in my head! (Much tastier sounding than meat nut ball roll or whatever that was!) I loosely followed the recipe, but there was no way I was using American cheese, and it seemed like they'd be too dry with no sauce. I lightly toasted three English muffins, laid them in a 9 x 12 baking dish, spread a dab of pizza sauce on each, and then topped each with chopped tomatoes. On two halves I used mozzarella cheese, two goat cheese, and two goat + mozz; then I topped each with a little grated parm and a few sprinkles of red peppercorns. I baked them at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, then I turned the broiler on to crisp 'em up a tad. Served with some lightly cooked green beans with lemon juice and pine nuts, it was a perfect pre-pie dinner.

Everything turned out super tasty -- even my mini pies! The crust tasted fine, the goo was nice, and it was the perfect mini size. I always worry about baking because, as Rachael Ray always says, I hate to measure (random aside, I love measuring cups and spoons. Go figure.). And even when I try, I figure I've somehow messed it up. Seems easy, but I'm also someone who managed to mess up my checking account records so badly, using a calculator, that I had to cancel my account and start over. So I don't trust myself when it comes to numbers. With baking, if you go a little over or under, you might really mess something up. At least in this case, all was well. Hooray! Maybe this is the start of a baking streak... It is fall -- apple time!!!

03 September 2008

My bologna has a first name.

I love cookbooks. I don't tend to make enough use of them, but I sure love a shiny new cookbook, especially with pictures, and I could flip for hours. Imagine my delight when Birgit's old roommate left behind a whole stack of them, and B was kind enough to pass many of them along. This was months ago and I'm still flipping and savoring. My current favorite is The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking. It's from the mid-'90s but it seriously seems like it's from the 1950s -- it has the most random crap in it and just has that old-school feel to it. As an "encyclopedia," it's in alpha order by main ingredient, which is totally helpful. More often than not I have an item and don't know what to do with it then I've bought all the ingredients for a full recipe.

My inner 12-year-old boyalso comes out while I'm scanning recipe titles, and I tend to mark those for future reference and laughter. So imagine my delight when I flipped to the "Luncheon Meats" section. Liver sausage-nut ball? Pennsylvania knockbockle? Hurry up casserole? O. M. G. Anyway, I LOVE me some lunch meat... and boy oh boy do I love bologna (although it's been ages since I've had it). That being said, do I ever want to try bologna casserole? Glazed luncheon bake? Crispy luncheon slices? EW! No! And wtf is a yule-morn yummy? Well friends, it's 2 12-oz cans of luncheon meat (spam?!), 6 bread rolls, 12 eggs, 1 can cling peaches, brown sugar, and crab apples. EWWWW! What is wrong with people? Strangely enough, luncheon meat barbecue also includes peaches. Weird weird weird. There is even an easy chow mein with luncheon meat. Hot economy lunch anyone? 1 lb bologna, 4 medium potatoes, chopped onion, allspice... browned in a skillet. Sweet and sour lunch meat? Throw in some oats and pineapple! Mmmm.



01 September 2008

Rest in pieces.

Breaking news alert: My camera is dead. Funny, I thought it was dead this same time last year, and lo and behold it was resurrected. Alas, I think it's lived its nine lives. You've been good to me, little Cybershot, and you've survived more than your fair share of falls, drops, and ocean splashes. To admit how glad I am that my camera broke would be irresponsible... can't just go throwing money around like that. BUT... now I get to buy a new camera!! Did a little research this morning, and I think I'll order this one:

Now on to more delicious tales!

Friday, Brad and I started our weekend with an afternoon at the zoo (note: zoo food = not delicious). First we visited with some old friends:

Just chillin.

Anteaters are weird.

I see you are ugly. I am ugly, too.

Creepy sloth claws.

Finally, Brad's beloved polar bear.

Then, we ate some delicious non-zoo food. I love an excuse to grab a meal in Royal Oak. Mmm Memphis Smoke. Not only is AA sorely lacking in the southern food category, where is OUR rooftop bar? I can only imagine a place like this would be the biggest hit downtown. Someone should get on that.

Love me some pulled meat. he he he

Next up, a return to the Saturday farmer's market. I haven't been more than once, if that, since mine and Lisa Z's inaugural visit much much earlier this spring. I'll pretend it wasn't crazy busy and I didn't want to kick everyone in the shins and just go with... it was awesome. I'd forgotten how amazing the options are this time of year and I seriously ran out of room, arms, and strength before I could get everything I really wanted.

Note: I am officially over farmer's market corn. I don't care how silly it is, I will NOT just cut off the wormy parts and eat the rest. No. Effing. Way. Six ears of corn, six wormy ears of corn. Wormy corn makes Stephanie a very antsy and screeching cook. Especially when worms fall on her counter. Eeeeeeeeee!

Between an awesome morning at the farmer's market (and a delish brunch with Birgy Birg mmmm) and a trip to the almost-as-bountiful Plum Market, I have a full fridge. And there is nothing I love more than a full fridge. I am a nerd.

Mini alert for Lisa Z. (had to take these with my cell phone... I better hurry up and order that new camera before there are too many more photos that need to be taken!!!):

Mini mini cherry tomatoes.

Mini grapes. Cuuuute!

All this shopping led up to my first full family bbq, well, probably ever. Mom, Larry, Jordan... and my dad! It was such a nice time, my dad loved it, and we always love the chance to chase Jordan around (even if I do get conned into changing diapers. Lame.). I really wish we could do this more often. And, the big news -- the dogs and Jordan did GREAT. No jumping, no chasing, and when either of them would bark, Jordan would just laugh his head off. "Heidi's talking!" It was such a relief, and now I'll feel much more comfortable inviting everyone over more often, and maybe my mom will even let us babysit Jordan one of these days.


It's funny how much my mom and I think alike. Now, I love a good dinner party, so I'm not going to skimp. So odds are, I've got everything we could possibly ever need, and more. Mom and Larry left on the early side, so they decided to pop in and try my Plum (they like!). Mom showed up with a pie (I'd already bought a key lime pie) and a Michigan salad (I'd bought the exact same one), and was apologizing for not remembering to bring watermelon (I had two). Cute. :) Needless to say, we had quite a feast (and I eyed my dad taking seconds, then thirds of potato salad! We WILL fatten him up!). Italian chicken, salad and bread, grilled zucchini, peppers, onions, and mushrooms.... Dare I say... yum-o?!

Tonight, time for more chicken with leftover veggies and tomatillo salsa with my first market tomatillos of the year. Definitely time to get back on the cookin' wagon (and mad props to Birgy B for finding her inner Julia C and even braving mussels!).