Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Morning Pancakes

Caroline and I make pancakes every Sunday morning. It's a ritual we've had since she began eating solid foods, more than two years ago. I assembly the ingredients and (with a little bit of help from me) Caroline does everything else: cracking the egg, measuring flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, butter, and buttermilk. We take turns stirring the batter and then let it rest for about 30 minutes before we pour it into circles on the hot griddle. Sometimes we add blueberries or thinly sliced apples to the pancakes. My friend Woody told me that when small bubbles begin to form and pop on the surface of the pancakes and the edges begin to dry out, they are ready to flip. The pancakes are resting now. In another 20 minutes, we'll eat them with real maple syrup.

Ingredients: 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons white sugar, 2 large eggs (slightly beaten), 2 cups buttermilk, 2 tablespoons melted butter. Optional: blueberries or other fruit.

Directions: Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened (the batter will be a bit lumpy). Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Have a hot griddle ready. Pour batter onto griddle using a 1/4 cup measure or small ladle. Add blueberries or other fruit. Flip each pancake over when edges begin to dry out and small bubbles forme on the surface begin popping. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with real maple syrup.

Community Farm Kitchen

I met Mary (pictured on the left) and Becky (pictured on the right) from Community Farm Kitchen this morning at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market. Their stand is located at the end of the first row of vendors (or beginning of the last, depending on where you're coming from). They were tucked away and we probably would have missed them except that we were looking for Shannon Brines (who has become one of our favorite farmers) and he was located near the Community Farm Kitchen stand. It was the muffins, displayed on a glass cake stand, and the map of Michigan marked with pins pointing to where the ingredients came from, that caught my eye. The Community Farm Kitchen is a program that operates alongside the Community Farm of Ann Arbor, a local CSA that has been in operation for more than 20 years. Members of the Farm can also become members of the Kitchen. From June through November, members receive vegetables grown on the Farm and have the option of signing up to get their vegetables prepared by the Kitchen into soups, salads, stir-fries, and other healthful dishes. Mary Wessel Walker is the food entrepreneur who started the Community Farm Kitchen back in 2007. This year, she added a bakery to her Kitchen. When I met Mary, the first thought that crossed my mind was, "I wish I knew you when Caroline was born!" Fresh, home cooked meals made with local and sustainably produced ingredients is exactly what all new moms need. Caroline chose a bran muffin for her morning snack and we also bought a loaf of bread. The muffin was eaten within 15 minutes and we ate a few slices of bread for lunch. Delicious! To learn more about Community Farm Kitchen, contact Mary by email at or by telephone at (734) 395-7782.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Food Inc.

Coming to theaters this summer, Food Inc., by filmmaker Robert Kenner (filmmaker of Inconvenient Truth), exposes the underbelly of America's centralized, corporatized, industrial food system. I had a chance to watch Food Inc. at this year's Kellogg Food and Society conference held in San Jose this week. With the recent outbreak of a new strain of swine flu that has sickened hundreads and killed at least 20 in Mexico, the film's focus on food production is especially timely. The film made me cry and almost vomit. It's a must see.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ted's Mahi Mahi Sandwich

We spent most of today with Uncle Butch who took us on a windshield tour of Oahu's coastlines. Around noon, we drove past Sunset Beach, a beautiful beach up on the north shore. Across the street from beach is Ted's Bakery. The outside of the Ted's is painted with colorful murals and there are a handful of tables with umbrellas out front. It looked more like a place to buy surfboards and bikinis than a bakery. Ted's wasn't a planned stop but we happened to be driving past around lunchtime so we pulled into the small parking lot. Inside there are two surfboards that hang on the wall plus a refrigerator filled with pies and cakes, a glass counter with shelves of croissants, apple turnovers, and sweet buns, and a large menu board with everything from hot dogs to special plates with fried rice, spam, and eggs. I ordered a mahi mahi sandwich and a side of papaya to share with Caroline. After about 20 minutes (or was it longer?) our sandwich was ready. We took our lunch to Sunset Beach and found a shady spot under a palm tree. The mahi mahi sandwich - a piece of battered and fried mahi mahi, mesculun greens, sweet onions, tarter sauce, and tomatoes on a Waimea seseme bun - was delicious. Caroline loved it too. Mental note for future trips to Ted's Bakery: buy two mahi mahi sandwiches....they're too good to share.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spam Musubi

Hawaiians, including President Obama, love Spam. More than 4 millions cans of Spam are consumed in Hawaii each year. At the Saturday farmers' market, vendors were selling Spam in breakfast dishes (fried Spam, rice, and eggs) and as Spam Musubi - sliced, fried, and tied to a ball of rice with a strip of nori (seasoned seaweed). In Hawaii, Spam is sold everywhere: convenience stores, grocery stores, food carts, gas stations. How did Spam (developed by Jay C. Hormel in 1926) achieve iconic status in Hawaii? According to an article published in The Huffington Post, Spam made its way into the Hawaiian diet when military personnel introduced it during World War II. Because it's shelf stable, it became a standard K-ration for soldiers who ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For curious mainlanders, an instructional video on how to make Spam musubi is posted alongside the article. When I asked Geoff (pictured here) how his Spam musubi tasted, he described it as "salty" and "fatty" tasting. I think I'll stick with the papayas.


We arrived in Hawaii last night. It was warm and misty when we got off the plane. It felt good. We are here with Geoff's family: parents, brother, sister-in-law, niece, and uncle. Unlike most of our vacations, I don't have much in the way of plans for our week on Oahu. That is, except for our trip to the farmers' market this morning where I had hoped to purchase most of the produce and breads for the week. Since we are still on eastern standard time, it was easy for us to wake up at 6:00 am to head out to the market with Uncle Butch ("Alan" is his real name but we lovingly call him "Butch"). The early morning start might sound like overkill but we wanted to get there before the vendors were cleaned out and according to a Hawaiian steward that Uncle Butch met on his flight to Hawaii from California, the pickings are slim after 9:00 am. We arrived at the market just before it opened at 7:15 am and it was already swarming with people. Although the market doesn't open until 7:30 am, shoppers can pick out and pay for their produce before 7:30 am and pick it up after it opens. The Saturday farmers' market is located at Kapiolani Community College, near Diamond Head . There are three farmers' markets on Oahu and they are listed on a website along with their locations and participating vendors. Our first stop was Ba-Le Bakery where we bought (purple) taro bread, granola, a couple of loaves of sandwich bread, baguettes, and apple turnovers. Our stomachs were growling but after we paid, we had to wait until the 7:30 am bell rang to eat them. It was worth the wait...the turnovers were delicious. By 9:00 am, we were stuffed from snacking on samples and eating the local foods like dango (Japanese dumplings coated with thick sweet sauce, grilled, and served on a skewer),homemade ice cream, and musubi (seasoned rice balls). Geoff even tried the Spam musubi, which is a slice of Spam tied to a rice ball with a piece of nori (seasoned seaweed). I'm an adventurous eater but...I draw the line at Spam. We left the market at around 10:00 am with an empty wallet and loads of food for the week: papaya, mango, avocado, pineapple, strawberries, tomatoes, bok choy, mesculun greens, lettuce, eggplant, zucchini, sweet peas, lavender infused salad dressing, chocolate sauce (for ice cream), seaweed asparagus, Auntie Nani's chocolate chip/macadamia nut cookies and macadamia nut shortbread, Hakurei turnips, longan, apple bananas, loquat (pictured here), carrots, mangoes. I love Hawaii.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

And it Snowed

It did end up snowing but not on Sunday as predicted. It snowed Monday and we got enough of the white stuff for Ann Arbor schools to be closed for the day. Here's a snow day picture of our yard (and part of our row house) on the University of Michigan north campus.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Early Spring Greens and Beets

It's supposed to snow tomorrow but today feels like a beautiful spring day. It is 54F and sunny with blue skies. We started our morning at the YMCA where Caroline takes swim lessons that start at 8:30 am. By the time we made it to the farmers' market at 10:00 am, it was packed. The warmer weather means that spring greens like arugula, pac choi, spinach, mesculun greens and claytonia are plentiful. Stopping for greens at the Brines Farm table has become part of our Saturday routine. We bought seven bags of greens today including one bag of mesculun greens for our friend Christine who lives in East Lansing. We also stopped at the Goetz farm table (whose greens are pictured here) where we picked up two bunches of beautiful red beets. I'll roast the beets and serve them as is or in a salad with arugula and goat cheese. The (beet) greens will be chopped, sauted with chopped onion and mixed with brown rice and feta cheese. This rice dish is one of Caroline's favorites. I love early spring.
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