We just returned from a week at my mom’s family’s cottage on Lake Michigan. I have always felt that it is the Greatest Lake, but that may be because I have spent so much time there over the years. Whether or not it is the greatest, there are many reasons to love Lake Michigan—huge sandy beach (I’m still finding sand in my hair and clothes), warm water, waves and currents that change day to day, incredible sunsets—but maybe I just am unaware of how great the other Great Lakes are. I’ll find out about another one of them in a few weeks when we meet up with Madame’s family for a reunion on the shores of Lake Erie, which apparently is Great too!
Our vacation was not focused on food but I made sure to sample local beverages while in Michigan, which is home to more than 100 craft breweries! According to USA Today, Michigan ranks 5th in the US for number of craft breweries. Anyone who is from Michigan (I count myself as one, since I was born there, and spent my college years there) knows that the state has amazing breweries (Founders, Bells, Brewery Vivant, Short’s, New Holland…). In the last year Michigan took 3 out of 5 of the BeerCity USA awards (although this is a somewhat biased award, since it is based on popular vote and the state had the most voters).
One tradition that we upheld on this visit to Michigan was blueberry picking, which (once again) in many people’s opinion Michigan is home to the best blueberries! Sadly, we were maybe a week early and struggled to fill our buckets. Nonetheless, we picked several pounds and enjoyed the wonderful fruits all week long and even made ice cream with them. Interestingly, the best blueberry ice cream recipe I found came from a blogger based in the place we live, the Waterloo Region!
I evened managed to find “local” sugar while in Michigan which I was pretty excited about. I came home with 15 pounds of the stuff! The Michigan Sugar Company is a cooperative based on the east side of the state so I felt like it was much more local than any cane sugar I’m ever going to buy. I’ve been working to minimize my use of sugar, replacing it as much as possible in cooking with honey and maple syrup, but some recipes just work best with sugar. This sugar is made from sugarbeets!
We returned home late Saturday night (well, actually it was very early Sunday morning) to a town that had been ravaged by a huge storm! We were very amazed and thankful to find our backyard looking totally normal. There were even new vegetables to pick, including Sun Gold tomatoes and two huge zucchinis. We made eggplant parmesan but substituted one of the zucchinis for the eggplant, and it was great!
So, vacation is over, we are home again, and I’m back to work on various projects around the house, the newest being Kombucha and Ginger Bug. I will hopefully be successful with these wonderful live culture beverages soon and will share more about them. It’s all part of my attempt to work with local cultures! First things first though, we need to catch up on some laundry….