Around Town · Bookspiration · Monday Matters · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

Around Town/Bookspiration: My Fishy, Muddy Weekend

After a bit of a rough patch there, I decided I should read something uplifting and funny, so I chose to go with Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. It was funny in parts, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say uplifting. There were, however, quite a few parts in which I found myself nodding, saying to myself, “YES! EXACTLY!” For example, in the story “Loggerheads,” Sedaris describes a time in which he comes across a monkey in a national forest in Japan. I could relate to his feeling of being in awe of animals and nature, of that feeling like time stops in that rare, surprising moment. Sedaris writes, “…part of the thrill was being accepted, which is to say, not feared. It allowed you to think that you and this creature had a special relationship, a juvenile thought but one that brings with it a definite comfort” (59).

I also loved the story “Standing By,” not only because it described airplane travel in ways I could COMPLETELY relate to, but because it made me laugh out loud a lot. The last story that stood out to me was “Day In, Day Out.” In this story, Sedaris talks about his writing habits, and about rereading old journals. He writes:

“…that’s the terrible power of a diary: it not only calls forth the person you used to be, but rubs your nose in him, reminding you that not all change is evolutionary. More often than not, you didn’t learn from your mistakes. You didn’t get wiser, but simply older, growing from the twenty-five-year-old who got stoned and accidentally peed on his friend Katherine’s kitten to the thirty-five-year-old who got drunk and peed in the sandbox at his old elementary school. ‘The sandbox!’ my sister Amy said at the time. ‘Don’t you realize that children have to pee in there?'” (229).

Sometimes rereading old journals definitely makes you feel that way! Though I like to think I’ve been learning something along the way, journals do sometimes “rub your nose” in some of the less-than-good choices you made or in unfortunate situations you experienced.

In Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Sedaris talks a lot about his time living in England, so I convinced Chad we should have Fish and Chips for dinner Friday at Fish X2 in Spring Lake.

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Fish X2 is a fish, seafood and chicken restaurant right off of the expressway from Grand Haven to Spring Lake. They have a special Hurricane Sauce, allow you to bring in your own fish to be cooked up in their kitchen, and have won an award for a salmon dish at the Salmon Festival.

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IMG_20140606_193315_415We chose to go with their Friday Catfish special, each getting a Mate’s Basket. The baskets come with fries or slaw, homemade sauce and a slice of lemon. You can also substitute sweet potato fries for an additional dollar.

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IMG_20140606_192750_854The inside of the restaurant is very open and clean, with no fishy smells at all (always a good sign!). Every time we’ve gone to Fish X2, the staff has always been very friendly and helpful, creating a very inviting atmosphere.ย ย  IMG_20140606_193013_314Fish X2 also has nice, cozy outdoor seating for the summer time. We decided to bring our meals to a nearby park/boat docking area, but it was nice to sit in the sunshine while we waited for our meals to be prepared.IMG_20140606_191303_093We waited about ten minutes for our Captain’s Baskets, but who minds that when you’re about to get a fresh-cooked meal? Once we had our to-go bag, we headed across the street to Mill Point Park and Boat Launch.ย  IMG_20140606_193540_055There couldn’t be a nicer day for a picnic!

IMG_20140606_193600_414We dove into our meals. Sadly, Fish X2 was out of sweet potato fries (which happened the last time we were there in February, too!), so we both opted for their regular fries. Additionally, only one of our baskets came with sauce and a lemon slice! Fortunately, Fish X2’s normal fries are really yummy, and we were able to split the sauce and lemon out of one basket.IMG_20140606_193610_254The catfish was perfectly salty, while also light and fresh tasting. While it’s very easy to have greasy “fish and chips,” our meal at Fish X2 seemed to be a perfect balance of an airy batter, flaky, fresh fish, and not-too-crunchy, not-too-soft fries. Yum!

Separate from our book-inspired outing was an adventure I had the next day in Kalamazoo!mud run

Some of my fellow baristas and I decided to do the Kalamazoo Mud Run. It was definitely an interesting 5K, with lots of obstacles I never saw myself trying out (and with lots of unintentional mud-tasting!). I had a lot of fun with my Green Apron girls, evidence of which can be seen on Alex’s blog, here! While I was definitely more comfortable with the “fishy” part of my weekend, the “muddy” part was quite an experience, too!

What did you try this weekend?

xx

Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Maple Indian Pudding

Oh. my. DELICIOUS. For my next bookspiration, I decided to try out a new recipe related to The Song of Hiawatha, and it turned out amazing! But before I go into the recipe, I’ll explain why I chose it. The stories told throughout The Song of Hiawatha were pulled from Chippewa (or Ojibwe) Indian tales, and much of the Chippewa tribe lived in Northern Michigan. The Chippewa Indians used a lot of birch bark for making teepees, canoes, and baskets (I’m thinking I’d really like to try making a birch bark basket!). And since the Chippewa living in Northern Michigan had a relatively short growing season, a lot of their harvest consisted of wild rice and maple syrup. Ah, sweet, lovely maple syrup.

I have a few American Indian cookbooks and craft books, and so I was searching through them to find the perfect recipe for A Song of Hiawatha. Finally, after much deliberation, I stumbled across recipes for Maple Indian Pudding, not in any of my cookbooks, but online! Without further adieu, here is how this yummy treat is made according to the recipe I chose:

IMG_20140603_200429_551After preheating your oven, you bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Then you add maple syrup and cook for four minutes. I used maple syrup I had leftover from making my Chocolate Maple Roll Cake, and I may or may not have looked at Facebook while stirring the syrup. After the four minutes is up, you add cornmeal, stirring constantly for 6-8 minutes. Since I was busy trying to take a picture while stirring, I ended up with a few lumps of cornmeal, but it didn’t seem to really effect anything. Still, I would recommend not taking a picture and just getting straight to stirring ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_20140603_201253_784Once 6-8 minutes have passed, you’re going to add butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and salt to the mix before letting it cool for 5 minutes.

IMG_20140603_201919_357After the mixture cools, it looks a bit thicker, as shown in the picture above.

IMG_20140603_202117_708Next you add beaten eggs, whisking as you go. I was worried that the mixture would still be too hot to add the eggs, but with immediate whisking I had no problems at all. Once the eggs have been incorporated, it is time to pour the mixture into a baking dish and stick it in the oven.

IMG_20140603_211151_314The recipe said to cook “until the center is set,” but as I had never made a pudding in this sense before, I had to check what that meant. According to several websites and youtube videos, the pudding should be a slight golden brown, and when jiggled, the center should move in relation to the rest of the pudding (just slightly like…well…pudding). Once again, you can see how mine came out of the oven in the picture above.

IMG_20140603_211752_875I was a little nervous about trying my first bite, as I really wanted it to be good. Not sure what I was worried about because Maple Syrup=delicious. And my Maple Indian Pudding? Fantastic!

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Maple Indian Pudding

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3/4 cups maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (I used Quaker Yellow Cornmeal)
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs,ย beaten
  • Whipped cream

Directions

  1. Prepare pudding: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 1-quart casserole dish with cooking spray**. In a large saucepan, bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, stir in maple syrup, and cook 4 minutes. Add cornmeal and cook, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes. Add butter, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg while stirring well. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Whisk eggs into the milk mixture until well combined.
  2. Bake pudding: Pour into prepared casserole dish and bake until the center is set, about 1 hour. Serve warm and top with whipped cream, if desired***.

**I only had a 2-quart baking dish, so I used that instead. The cooking time was still just under an hour.

***Please desire to eat it with whipped cream. It is fabulous.

(recipe adapted from Country Living)

 

Enjoy! xx

 

Bookspiration · Projects

Bookspiration: The Song of Hiawatha

Several years ago I received the bookย The Song of Hiawatha as a Christmas gift, and though I had read bits and pieces of the epic poem , a few weeks ago I finally got the chance to read the entire thing. It was difficult for me to decide what to make after finishing the book, but after much deliberation, I decided to put some of the text from The Song of Hiawatha over a picture from a recent walk at one of my favorite places in Michigan, Rosy Mound.

First, I chose my picture:

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Then, I spent what felt like three years trying to put text over it the way I wanted. I still didn’t quite achieve the look I was looking to create, but I decided the text was going to have to be good enough.

Live Together

It says:

“All your strength is in your union,

All your danger is in discord;

Therefore be at peace henceforward,

And as brothers live together.”

I printed an enlarged copy of the image at Walmart for about $6, and then modge podged it to an art board purchased for around $5 before a 40% off coupon at one of my local craft stores. Below you can sort of see how it turned out, though the lighting isn’t the best:

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I am not necessarily in love with how the project turned out, but I do love where the photo was taken, and I really like the passage from The Song of Hiawatha. I often think about the power of human connection when I go on walks through nature, and about how to I can be kinder and more loving to others. A message about unity totally seems fitting for a picture taken at Rosy Mound.

Here are some other pictures I took on the lovely spring day last week: IMG_0583

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Hope you got to enjoy some beautiful weather like we had in Michigan over the weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

xx