Month: July 2016

Traverse City’s Harvest

I’ve been craving the Korean beef tacos from Harvest Restaurant in Traverse City, Michigan. If you’re not from Michigan, you might not have heard of a great place called Traverse City. It’s a bay town that offers the best of what is trending across the country, i.e. food trucks, organic cafĂ©s with Vegan offerings, etc. and still manages to preserve the best of that “up north” feel that Michigan treasures so much. It was a few years ago now that my sister (the chef) and her family made their way up to Traverse City and visited one of those food trucks, the Roaming Harvest Food Truck to be exact. In the area known locally as “The Little Fleet” a variety of food trucks can be sampled. Other members of her family ventured out towards other good things, but in the end everyone wanted her Korean beef tacos. With those kind of reviews, I had to plan a trip myself. (Where wouldn’t you travel within reason to try good food?) The Roaming Harvest Food Truck is seasonal, like many of its menu items. They support local farms and businesses that supply their ingredients in an effort to provide the best and most sustainable food for their customers. Thankfully, the Harvest Restaurant is open year round, and the Korean beef tacos are always on the menu… along with the sweet potato fries that you can dip in a green cilantro style chimichurri. Yessss!

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If you get the opportunity, I encourage you to check out the whole town. Traverse City has so much to do, from the beach to great shopping downtown, sailing to wine tasting… and the food scene is booming. Of course if possible, make sure you try to hit up the Harvest Roaming Food Truck or Harvest Restaurant. Their seasonal items only last so long, and you’re sure to want to taste them. (And just know that if I am not there eating along side you, I am envious and wish I was.) For more information and the seasonal menu visit roamingharvest.com.

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Loving Lately 🎬

Loving Lately: VidAngel

Occasionally there are iconic scenes from various movies that I tend to quote or relate to, especially in my interpretation. I like to reference these movies like everyone knows what I’m talking about. What I don’t say is that I don’t watch them, or haven’t in a long time… not in there entirety anyway… and sometimes wouldn’t at this point in my life. I’ll be honest, I’m kind of a prude. There was a time in my life (namely before children) that I was much more relaxed about my screening process. I don’t know why we were able to watch the movies we did when I was a kid. Seriously. After coercing my unexcited children into viewing a film ‘mommy liked when I was little’ I have been shocked (more than once) by some of the language, scenes and innuendoes that I didn’t remember (or which obviously went over my head). Maybe you’re all like “Oh Sadie, get over it”… I just won’t. But maybe you’re like “Oh my gosh, I know exactly what you’re talking about”… so this is for you! Have you checked out VidAngel? You basically can opt out of whatever bothers you and set restrictions based on your offenses. I’ve set it so far that it even took out insults like “idiot” and “moron,” which is extreme even for me… but who am I to judge? I LOVE it. I can pretty much watch any movie with my kids with comfort. Granted you have to pay attention to the content. I can’t expect to watch a war movie and not see or hear them talk about war. You catch the drift.

VidAngel streams through ROKU, chromecast, Apple TV and more. Oh, and it only costs $1 per movie!! For more information check out www.VidAngel.com. Friday night movie night full of fun and food has turned into common practice around here!

Image courtesy of VidAngel and the internet

The Happiness Tag

Thank you so much to Anna of Life Bellissima and Claire of Paintbox Mum! Recently they each tagged me as a blog that makes them happy, in turn that made me so happy! Don’t you just love how that works? So naturally, I had to participate… who doesn’t want to spread some happy?!

The Rules:

-Five things that make you happy

-Five songs that make you happy

-Five bloggers that make you happy

Five things that make me happy:

1. My family. I have a great husband and four beautiful children. Recently I had some painful testing done. I tried to go to my “happy place,” which I found was not a beach; it was the birth of each of my children. They make me so happy!

2. Good food. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, it just has to taste good. Good food  = happy.

3. Holidays. I’m unapologetically into holidays. The decorations, anticipation, gathering, eating and scents. Happiness!

4. Cooking. I think it is important to limit the consumption of processed food and to eat your vitamins through a variety of foods. I think it is fun to connect with people, cultures and history by trying new recipes. I thoroughly enjoy sharing that with my family (especially when they like it). Yay, oh so happy!

5. There are people/things that make me happy, and then there the reason I am deeply content- and truly happy. It’s like the song “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin goes, “There’s a peace I’ve come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail. There’s an anchor for my soul, I can say “It is well.”” It is an uncertain time we live in. I am raising children amidst the chaos, but I do have an anchor. Priceless.

Five Songs that make me happy: I am not a dancer, but I will bop around to anything with a good beat. I enjoy French cafĂ© music and like to play it while entertaining. Island music can instantly take me on a mental vacation. I’m a fan of jazz, big band and bluegrass in general. However, these songs and more like them make me happy.

1. Hosanna by Hillsong: It contains my heart cry.

2. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong: I like to sing it to my babies.

3. Touch the Sky by Hillsong UNITED: Pretty much everything by Hillsong.

4. 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman: Beautiful.

5. Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole: Everyone has to sing along!

Five Bloggers that make me happy: It’s hard to limit it to 5! So I will share my longest blogging friends, they still make me happy! (Except the first 1 which has 2…)

1. Life Bellissima; Anna and I are so much alike, except she actually has a farm.

And Paintbox Mum; I am always impressed by Claire’s creativity, and love how engaging she is with her children.

2. Lynz Real Cooking; My “big sis” Lynn shares her amazing life stories and has such diverse and extensive knowledge in the kitchen.

3. Chorizo & Thyme; I appreciate Roberta’s kitchen approach, I think we have similar tastes; but even more I appreciate her kindness.

4. The Richmond Avenue; Jasmine is like my big city friend, she inspires me to keep up-to-date.

5. Natascha’s Palace; I think Natascha is fearless, she’ll tackle any recipe.

Have a happy day!

Easy Mostaccioli

“Don’t take a picture” she said, “the cheese is stuck to the top of the foil.” My much loved friend AnnMarie knew I’ve hardly been able to walk, let alone cook for my family. She texted me a couple days ago to ask me what I’d like to eat and what night she could bring dinner over. Of course I told her I would share no such information, but thanked her for the offer. Naturally Annie, being her beautiful self, said she’d be over in 2 days. She walked through the door with enough meals for a week, plus a blueberry pie. I was ravenous that day, and cheesy pasta is like the epitome of comfort food. She loaded up the refrigerator and freezer dividing the organic meals, explaining this is the cheese for the broccoli rice casserole; these are the shells for the tacos; placing buns for hot dogs in the bread basket… The mostaccioli was warm and ready to serve, the whole house smelled amazing. I thought to myself, “Are you kidding? It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

As organic as possible:

2 lbs ground Beef

Salt & pepper to taste

3 jars (approx 24 oz each) of your favorite store bought or homemade pasta Sauce

1 lb Mostaccioli (or penne) noodles

1 lb (16 oz) shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Brown the meat with a little salt and pepper in a large skillet. Add the pasta sauce and get it hot; let it simmer for about 20 minutes. In the mean time, cook the pasta according to package directions- less a couple minutes. (They will be a little firm, but soften in the oven while baking). When the noodles are done, mix them in with the sauce. Pour everything into a 9X13 pan and sprinkle on all of the mozzarella cheese. Bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Serve with a good crusty bread immediately to your hungry family, or cover with foil and deliver to someone in need. Either way, it’s delicious and they will be forever grateful.

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Loving Lately 🍽

Loving Lately: Outdoor Entertaining

Obsessed is such a strong word. So please note I use it lightly, but not very lightly, when I say I am obsessed with over-the-top outdoor entertaining ideas.

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You really can’t get overly dramatic for me. Candlelit chandeliers? Antlers? Gardens worth of fresh flowers? Bring it.

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Naturally, since I am still recovering from a nasty fall, I am pining over what could be.

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Just think of the possibilities… if I was at full strength… and money were no object…

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Or if I had 100 candles and lanterns.

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Don’t you just love the thought of being surrounded by your loved ones, breaking bread, on a perfect night of weather, on your own farm? (Because obviously that is how it always happens.)

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But I’ll be honest, I’d be elated just to be outside with my family if it turned out like this…

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Because outdoor entertaining is the best. (And so is Pinterest for sharing all of these pictures with me).

Simple Summer Entertaining

It occurs to me that I haven’t contributed to my entertaining section of my blog in a while. And although I haven’t hosted any major gatherings lately, there have been several little ones. So here are some tips for those awesome summer days that turn into impromptu gatherings. I just love this time of year. 

1. Invite (or cordially accept) your friends over. Maybe the people you hung out with on the 4th of July? You probably like them.

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2. Whether you are sending out informal invites (phone calls or texts) or the neighborhood has migrated to your back yard, serve snacks. Everyone wants to eat- usually right away, and in my experience often all day. Keep corn chips and salsa on hand at all times. (If you happen to have avocados, tomatoes, onions and seasonings, a little guacamole is a fun seasonal treat.) Of course most kids (and adults) I know are happy with Doritos too.

3. The same goes with drinks. Sure it’s nice to have a cooler full of chilled pop (or whatever you like). If you have the time to stock up on beverages great! Maybe you have a limited budget? Hey, no worries, it’s just nice to be together… but at least serve water… iced is even better… and if you have time for lemon or limeade, they’re just classic.

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4. Just add water. In the northern midwest we have a short season where it is desirable to be wet while we are outside. I like to take full advantage of it. You don’t have to have a pool or pond or lake… The kids I know are happy with a sprinkler or slip ‘n slide or good old fashioned balloon fight!

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5. Now you are not obligated by any means to feed everyone a meal unless you have said you would, but I can’t imagine another way. If you’re not prepared, it’s always fun to order pizza. I think it’s a good idea to keep hot dogs and buns on hand all summer long. We’ve had parties where everyone brings their own meat (and/or veggie patties) to grill which can be fun too. Of course it’s always a winner when you put burgers and brats over the flame. Can you smell the summer in the air?

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6. The fun is not over until you serve something sweet. It can be cheap and store bought. It can be thoughtfully homemade. My suggestion? Make it something that’s going to melt. Popsicles or ice cream cones… Sticky chins and drips down shirts are what memories are made of this time of year.

 

Chowhound’s Grilled Corn with Cayenne, Lime, and Cotija

I’m a huge fan of appreciating ingredients for what they are. For example, when I’m having corn I like tasting the corn. I’m a believer in simple is best. That said, I also love experimenting with flavors. I love trying things I’ve never tasted before. So when my sister brought this to a recent gathering I was ecstatic. I love corn on the cob grilled in the husk, seasoned with a little pat of butter that melts into the cracks of the kernels and topped with a sprinkling of salt. As it turns out I also like it smeared with a spicy mayo, rolled in Cotija cheese, and brightened with a squeeze of lime.

As found on Chowhound.com

As organic as possible:

6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 medium garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (about 4 ounces)
6 ears corn, husks on
1 medium lime, cut into 6 wedges

Stir together the mayonnaise, garlic, salt, and cayenne in a small bowl until well combined. Place the cheese in a shallow dish that is at least as long as the corn.

Heat the grill to medium high (about 350°F to 450°F). Before grilling the corn, carefully peel back the husks of each ear a little more than halfway and remove as much silk as you can without pulling the husks off. Then pull the husks back up.

Place the corn on the grill and close the lid. Every 10 minutes, roll the corn a quarter turn so it cooks evenly. (If your grill tends to have hot spots, move the cobs around so they grill evenly.) Cook until the husks are charred and starting to peel back from the corn, about 35 minutes total. Remove from the grill and set aside until the corn is cool enough to handle.

Without detaching the husks, peel them back completely, turning them inside out so they form a handle. Brush the corn with a thin layer of the mayonnaise mixture, roll the cobs in the crumbled cheese, and serve. Pass the lime wedges on the side for squeezing over the corn.

Loving Lately

Loving Lately: Miracles

We had been having a great time on our family vacations. Back-to-back, we had been making good use of our new camper and our family’s cabin in the great up north. I love making these kind of memories with my children, the kind of reassuring building blocks for life. We’d been breathing fresh air and splashing in fresh water. It’s been picturesque. I wanted to share more, but I’ve been too remote to blog. I was able to get out a few recent pictures to show a glimpse of our activities from a nearby town. 

It was Thursday night, early Friday morning and I heard the baby cough. Normally he sleeps next to me. Our family of 6 takes over the loft in the family cabin. We aren’t very regimented about who gets which one of the three twin beds, or which kid(s) crash by me on the queen. What I do know is that I was extremely disoriented and when I heard the coughing I knew the baby wasn’t by me; for the past few nights my husband was keeping the baby with him in a twin so I could sleep in. If I would have been thinking clearly I would have rolled over and turned on the antler lamp, instead I got out of bed and walked toward what I believed to be the end of the room with the window and the light. My hands were out in front of me, low enough that I would be able to feel for the lamp on top of the table and shed some light in this pitch black loft, so I could finally check in my baby. Normally we leave a night light on. At times the moon and stars are bright enough to break the darkness, but not tonight I guess it was too cloudy. How and why I took a sharp left turn I have no idea. I guess I figured I had taken enough steps and should have felt it by then so I should change my strategy. How I didn’t step on any of the kids clothes they leave in the floor at every wardrobe change or a single toy they regularly leave out down the aisle between beds still puzzles me. As I was going down I grazed the finger tips in my right hand. When I hit the floor I felt my hips sandwiched between two hard boards, probably two of the twin beds. I yelled out “Owen, turn on the light.” I actually felt a little guilty being so loud. I thought to myself that I probably just woke everyone in the whole cabin. When the lights came on I was surprised to see I was at the bottom of the stairs. 

I must have sounded like I had a concussion or amnesia. I truly was in shock. I kept asking “Where am I?” and “How did I get here?” It still doesn’t make sense. I never felt one step. I didn’t know I was going down 9 vertical feet. I remember brushing the fingertips of my right hand. I know I crashed on my left side. I believe with all my heart that there was divine intervention. I tumbled, no- rolled, no- flew? down over 11 feet diagonally of hard wood stairs and smashed through the railing of the second set of stairs on the most padded part of my body. I didn’t hit my head, or neck, or wrist, or ankle. The CT scan (available after a hour long ride to the hospital) showed no breaks or internal damage. I have some bruising, the worst with an area around my bottom about 10 inches wide and 14 inches long. I’m sore, but I’m ok. I’m alive! I finally took a few steps, with the assistance of my sister and crutches. Tonight will mark 1 week since the accident. Thanks for all of the prayers. Thank you to my family who has taken such good care of me. And thanks to God for sending your angels to look over me. They did an awesome job.

Loving Lately 🚣

Loving Lately: The Great Outdoors

Does it seem like I’ve been on vacation forever? It feels like that to me. Maybe it’s just a state of mind. Anyway school’s out and we are outdoors. We are on hikes, canoe rides and kayak trips. I can write a little from our cabin and post it when we get to town. It’s been awesome really. We don’t even have phone service let alone Internet. I am connecting with nature and recharging my batteries. We’ll be back when we’re done exploring…

A 4th of July Tale

It was the year of 2012 and I was 8 months pregnant with my third child. It had been a record breaking summer for heat and high temperatures. I usually love the 4th of July, but this year I was having a hard time getting excited about the festivities (or much of anything for that matter). We had started a new family tradition of watching the local fireworks near my parents’ recently purchased cabin in the woods. But honestly, the thought of loading up my kids with bug spray so I could chase waddle after my 18 month old daughter through the crowds of people so my 6 year old could stay out late to watch the fireworks sounded like the opposite of a good time. So when my mom suggested taking the pontoon boat down the river and catching the fireworks from the bay I didn’t hesitate. Thankfully my family and a couple of our close friends who joined in with us for our holiday getaway were graciously accommodating. Our group loaded up the pontoon and the little fishing boat to head 7 miles down the river to see what we could see. We knew the display was a little way down the shore of the great lake Superior, and that our little boats weren’t meant for rough waters -so we wouldn’t be close; but the thought of watching them with my favorite people from the lake was enticing. Once we were in the bay we dropped anchor and tied the boats side by side. We were a little early so we made small talk and indulged in our refreshments. It didn’t take long before I had to go to the bathroom. Great, right? Where was I going to go to the bathroom? The pontoon was equipped with a porta-potty accompanied by a pop-up curtain. Under normal (not-pregnant) circumstances I would have refused, but I had no choice. So everybody made room for my dad to set up the station so I could use the facilities. Except I was too embarrassed about the predicament of only being separated by a boat full of people by a curtain, that I couldn’t go. So naturally I spoke through the fabric barrier and asked everyone if they would politely make some noise, But you know how it is when you ask someone to talk, right? It’s like all of the sudden there is nothing to say. What are we going to talk about? The awkwardness? No, of course not. But what??? So I say, maybe you could sing a song? Perfect. So the first song that popped into one of their heads was Jingle Bells, to which the whole lot quickly jumped in on. The entire ordeal just struck me and I lost it; I couldn’t stop laughing. Here are my loved ones singing Christmas carols on the 4th of July, so I could relieve myself in a make shift bathroom on the back of a pontoon in the middle of a bay. Awesome. To this day I am moved by embarrassment the love and friendship. It was just about dusk so we knew the show was about to start. In the distance we could see a few little fireworks that people were beginning to set off, probably from their back yard. If you held your thumb up you could literally cover the whole firework from your view, seriously no more than an inch of a spark. But that person went all out, because they had a continuous display. Every couple of minutes we could barely make out another firework that would go off in the distance. In the meantime, something had upset my 4 year old niece and she began an inconsolable screaming cry, just a little ambiance to go with the show; of which shortly thereafter we had the realization we were watching! Those little sparks were from the local community display! Now it was time to pack it up and make our way back home. Naturally it was pitch black. The great thing about being out in the woods is that there is a vast amount of nature, however that doesn’t lend us a lot of light. My husband and brother-in-law tried to lead the way to make a path to follow in the fishing boat. The river is protected by the state and kept very natural- which means logs could be floating or better yet lodged and sticking out of the water. This could dangerous for the pontoon, so my friend Molly did her best to keep a spotlight scanning back and forth across the river to shed as much light and information as possible. The fearless leaders did their best to navigate through the dark unknown. We were probably traveling at a pace of about 2-3 miles per hour, and almost half way home when my dad (who is excellent with boats, but had never driven this pontoon at night) flipped a switch and found to all of our surprise that the pontoon had headlights! Wow, that river shone like the sun! And the look on my husband and brother-in-law’s faces was priceless, like watching the transformation of two cave dwellers becoming two stunned deer in head lights. After a couple minutes of adjustment for all, the whole river echoed our combined laughter. To this day it remains the best-worst 4th of July ever.

Featured image courtesy of Ryan French