Monthly Archives: January 2015

How Do You Like Those Apples?

apples 4.2Last weekend, I visited with John Platte of Platte Farm north of Grand Rapids. We talked about what to do with all of those apples he sells. There are eight varieties available from him at Fulton St. Farmers Market in Grand Rapids.

John started his farmers market career at the age of five, by going with family to the market in Muskegon Heights, MI. He’s been vending at Fulton St. Market for fifty years!

Here’s what’s available:
Braeburn: Very hard, slightly tart, great taste; cook or eat fresh.

Northern Spy: They are like a Granny Smith, tart, “Spys for pies” they say; bake or cook them.

Jonagold: Good for anything – cook or eat fresh. They’re sweet, so cut the sugar by least in half when baking or cooking. Also mix with Courtland and Ida Red to make no-sugar applesauce. It’s his favorite pie apple; nice texture and nice taste.

Gala: A great eating apple; can cook and bake with them

Fuji: Very sweet, very crunchy, hard; good to eat or cook it. They are not for pie though; too juicy.

Honey Crisp: juicy, crisp, crunchy. Make sauce or eat fresh. They are most people’s favorite, and he will have them into April this year.

Ida Red: A great all-purpose apple for eating raw or for pie or sauce.

Cortland: Eat, bake, or make sauce. This is the one they sell the most for applesauce.

Platte Farm is all run by family. It’s located on the ridge north of Grand Rapids, between 6 – 7 Mile Roads. The farm is 36 acres; 6 of it is apple orchard with 9 to 10 acres of vegetables where they use crop rotation strategies. In addition to apples, they grow and sell corn, tomatoes, melons, summer squash, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, and pickles.

Find them every week at Fulton St. Farmers Market.

Apples from Platte Farm


SE Michigan Wanderings

SIP WheatgrassWe took some time last weekend to hang out in SE Michigan. Bob wanted to get to some breweries, and I’m always up for exploring the food around Michigan.

We started at the Royal Oak Farmers Market where the highlight was meeting the folks from Hampshire Farms. They grow grains and beans – and they have a bakery at their farm. I hope to get over to visit them this summer. I picked up some corn meal and barley. My pantry is expanding with Michigan grains!

Hampshire Farms Grains

One thing that I noticed while asking about local food at SE MI restaurants is that it appears to be more difficult than in some other areas. There’s less availability of winter vegetables as there are in the Grand Rapids or Traverse City areas. Perhaps it’s because the restaurants are so spread out in the suburbs. It’s definitely (and understandably) a car-oriented area. Also, there are farms in areas of Canada, across the bridge, that are considered local in the SE Michigan area.

After the farmers market, we toured downtown Royal Oak and had lunch at Cacao Tree Cafe. Their food is unique and tasty, but they are limited to local vegetables in the summer time also. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served – as well as some awesome smoothies and desserts. I had their vegan ‘chicken’ salad. It was really tasty. I want to figure out how to make something similar at home.

Cacao Tree Chicken Salad

As we were heading to Birmingham, I spotted the newest Michigan by the Bottle storefront in Royal Oak. Their original location is in Shelby, MI. It’s a convenient location to try a number of Michigan wines. They have partnered with eight Michigan wineries and serve tastings of over 40 wines. Their store represents four of the Michigan Wine Trails. They also have Michigan snacks to enjoy while you are wine tasting or to bring home. The walls feature a rotating art show. They also have pairing events where they partner with local restaurants.

MI by the Bottle

In the afternoon, we also toured downtown Birmingham and went to Griffin Claw Brewery. We always start with a taster, and this one included: Grand Trunk Pilsner, Gateway (session) IPA, Norm’s Raggedy-Ass IPA (their flagship), and El Roja Red Ale. The menu is not vegetarian friendly, so it was good that we didn’t plan a meal here. The beers were well-made, we found. The interior is sort of industrial but with taxidermed animals on the wall. A bit incongruent, but hey – it take all kinds.

Griffin Claw

For dinner we went to The Clean Plate. Again, we found that local vegetables in this vegetarian restaurant were also difficult for them to get in the winter. There was locally grown kale, however. They serve a variety of Michigan foods year round: tofu from Ann Arbor, McClure’s pickles, The Brinery sauerkraut, bread/buns from a bakery in Detroit, and desserts from Cacao Tree Cafe. They feature a lot of organically grown food, which is pretty unique for a MI restaurant.

The Clean Plate BBQ Sandwich

And to cap off the day, we stopped by Rochester Mills Brewery. It was a large restaurant – and packed. There was a one-hour wait for tables, but we were able to get seats at the spacious bar. It’s more than a brewery; it has a large menu and a full bar. For this flight we tried: Pleszures Pale Ale, Rochester Red Ale, Paint Creek Porter, Cornerstone IPA, and Brickshot ESB. The only local food item that I noticed was local free-range buffalo.

Rochester Mills Flight

On Sunday, we had lunch at Try it Raw in downtown Birmingham. They were currently getting vegetables from Indiana; in the summer they purchase from the farmers market. They feature organic food also. Breakfast, salads, entrees, juices, smoothies, and desserts are on their menu. I had the ‘raw food’ taco, and it was fantastic with the cayenne-lemonade I drank there.

Try it Raw Tacos

Then, for the more cultural part of the trip, we went to the art museum at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills. I’m hoping to make another visit here soon, because the campus looked like a wonderful place to walk and explore. And, there’s a science institute too.

On the way home, we stopped at the newest SIP Organic Juice Bar for some healthy refreshment to keep us going on I96. It’s a recent addition to the locations in the Grand Rapids area and features the same menu. Their local produce was limited; however they do have a Michigan source for wheat grass and herbs. I hope that they will be able to learn from SIP Grand Rapids which is doing a great job sourcing local, organic produce.

SIP Novi Menu

What I Learned in Five Days

Day Four

Day Four with a side of coconut water

I didn’t intend to write this blog post. Like many, it just started popping into my mind. Earlier this month I did a five-day detox through SIP Organic Juice Bar. I went daily to pick up my food: a green smoothie for breakfast, a protein rich smoothie for lunch, and a raw soup and flax seed crackers for dinner. (There are other options too.)

So, what did I learn?

I learned to appreciate every drop of food! Because it’s limited. What if I appreciated every drop, every day? What if you did? So, we never wasted any food. According to USDA figures, the aggregate food supply in 2000 provided 3,800 calories per person per day. And of that, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) estimated that the dietary intake of calories in year 2000 to be at just under 2,700 calories per person per day. That’s a lot of waste, and it’s a lot of extra calories eaten and leading to the obesity epidemic.

What if we ALL cared about every resource? Oh, how the world would change!

I did it to re-set my taste buds. Processed foods mess with your taste buds so you crave more junk. As I’ve cleaned up my diet, I taste what food really tastes like. And, real food tastes great! I can’t eat the junky food anymore.

I learned that when I limit my food choices to all natural, raw, organic foods, I feel more energetic and my skin, hair, and nails have a healthy glow. Since I’m a fast metabolizer, my body gives me quick feedback – whether I eat or drink something healthy or unhealthy.

I noticed that the hypoglycemia I’ve dealt with my whole life is gone when I eat whole foods. I used to struggle with it during a detox – but this time I didn’t. It’s because I so rarely eat processed sugar that the natural sugar from fruits in the detox had no effect this time.

I had been eating to feed my blood sugar and food addictions. Now I eat to feed my body. This has made all the difference in the world.

Heal your body; heal the world.