Monthly Archives: July 2015

Day Trip to Our Capital Area

We love to travel around Michigan seeing what’s new in the locally-sourced food scene. We take day, weekend, and sometimes week-long trips – especially during the fabulous Michigan summers!

Last weekend we spent a day in the Lansing area. We started out with a trip to Horrock’s. They had the first Michigan sweet corn that I’d seen for sale. And, they are the go-to for Michigan beer, wine, and hard cider. They have an extensive selection, and a bar area where they fill growlers. They were also sampling wine that day. Personally, I went for the fresh-pressed juices that were packaged and on ice as I walked in the door. It was just what I needed for a road trip.

For our next stop, we went to Bad Brewing Co. in Mason. They have a large variety of beers on tap. Also in downtown Mason, is The Vault Deli which has a vault full of wines. No, really. The building used to be a bank. Mason is a quick trip south of Lansing, and a place I’d like to explore more.

The last stop of the day was west of Lansing in Williamston. We had dinner at Gracie’s Place; I had a salad and the stuffed chard in tomato puree. Both were quite good and healthy. This is a place to watch! I chatted with their new Executive Chef, William Davis. He’s doing a lot of research for local food sourcing. I was able to send him some resources to help get his new gig going. Be sure to stop there when in the area and ask for Michigan food and beverages. I hope to do a full blog post about them soon.

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Extensive MI Beverage Selection at Horrock’s in Lansing

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Sampling at Bad Brewing Co. in Mason, MI

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The Vault Deli wine shop area.

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First course at Gracie’s Place in Williamston.

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Stuffed Chard at Gracie’s Place.

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Hudsonville Ice Cream

2015-06-25 13.59.22Hudsonville Ice Cream has been making ice cream since 1926. I recently toured their facility with a group of other bloggers coordinated by Promote Michigan. The feature was Hudsonville’s new Naturals line. They have four flavors: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and salted caramel. Really, what else to you need?

To be called ice cream, the product must be at least 10% butterfat. Take a close look in the freezer section and watch for small print of items called ‘frozen dairy dessert’. It’s not actual ice cream. And, to use the Pure Michigan label, the ice cream must consist of at least 70% Michigan products.

Most of the milk and cream in Hudsonville products comes from 50 – 60 miles from their newly built factory. Some of the milk is from Pyle Dairy Farm in Zeeland, the subject of a previous blog post. The Ellens family purchased Hudsonville Ice Cream Company ten years ago and built the factory; the building used to be a former automobile plant.

The Naturals line simply consists of these general ingredients: milk, cream, cane sugar, carob bean gum, and vanilla / chocolate / strawberry / salted caramel.

So, the strawberry ice cream, for instance, will not be the plastic-pink color that you find in many other products. The color may vary, naturally – as stated on the package.

We took a tour of the plant from the bulky bags of cane sugar to the freezer with a negative 40 degree F wind chill. I can attest that this is one clean factory!

And, the ice cream is fresh! The milk is about 12 hours from cow to Hudsonville loading area. It’s processed into the ice cream base within 48 hours.

The product schedule is planned with allergens in mind; equipment cleaning takes about one hour. They run three to four flavors on a day. As the runs change, there’s a mix of both flavors in the system. They call it a fusion. These get packaged into 3-gallon tubs and donated through the Holland Rescue Mission.

Hudsonville Ice Cream is a small batch operation meaning that they make 500 gallon batches. It’s distributed in Michigan, Illinois, northern Ohio, and Indiana. Use their scoop locator to find a store near you.

Although Hudsonville Ice Cream Co. was a sponsor for this blogging day, my opinions are my own.

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Summer Fruit Pops

After I purchased a set of stainless steel popsicle molds I played around with recipes featuring Michigan fruit and herbs. I‘ve created three types: cherry-mint, blueberry-lavender, and strawberry-basil. The pops are made with either frozen or fresh fruit and with either Michigan honey or agave nectar as the sweetener. These recipes are more healthy than the artificially colored and flavored commercial brands! Try them on your kids and grandkids – or just make them all for yourself.

Basic fruit recipe:
2 cup chopped fresh or frozen strawberries or blueberries; use 2.5 cups for tart cherries
1 cup filtered water
1/3 cup either honey or agave nectar
Mix the above in a blender.

Herb flavor specifics:
For strawberry-basil, I used 1 cup of strawberry mixture (above) with 2 Tablespoons of fresh basil.

For cherry-mint, I used 1 cup tart cherry mixture (above) with ½ Tablespoon fresh mint.

For blueberry-lavender, I used one half of the recipe above with a scant ½ Tablespoon of lavender flowers.

I just poured the mixture into the molds and froze them. I ran some water on the exterior of the molds to loosen up the fruit pops.

cherry mint, blueberry lavendar, strawberry basil pops

Pyle Dairy Farm

Ever wonder what a dairy cow on a small Michigan dairy farm does all day? I actually did wonder. I pay a lot of attention to how food animals are raised. Do you? I visited Pyle Dairy Farm as part of a day-long blogging tour organized by Promote Michigan. I suspect, as far as the dairy cow lifestyle goes, that this is as good as it gets. (Don’t assume that any other farm raised animals are treated like these cows. Do your research if you care about animal treatment!!)

When our travel bus arrived, the whole Pyle family was there to greet us. This Michigan Centennial Farm is run by the sixth generation. By the time of our mid-morning arrival, 130 cows had been milked. They are 100% registered Holsteins(R).

So, what’s the life of a Holstein dairy cow (and farmer) like? Well, in this case they hang out in a barn with a sand floor and giant fans on the ceiling. Cows get stressed at about 72 degrees, and the fans keep the temperature tolerable for them. There are shades on the sides of the structure to block heat or cold and for sun control.

Bred to produce way more milk than a calf could ever need, they are milked twice daily – at 4:00 am and 3:00 pm. The whole process, including clean-up, takes the farmers three hours. Twice daily, the cows also get fed, and the manure is removed from the barn.

The manure is stored with waste water from washing the milking parlor, and this is used twice per year to fertilize the fields. What’s in the fields? It’s hay and corn to feed the cows and a little wheat to use for straw bedding.

By two years of age, they are old enough to calve. The cows are artificially inseminated, which I was told they don’t seem to mind. When the calves are born, they are removed to another barn filled with other calves. Each newbie is in her own stall at first. They are fed their mother’s milk (by a farmer) for four days. (I was told by another farmer that they don’t feed directly, because they will feed from any cow and many cows, so they could spread diseases between the herd members.) The female calves are kept as future milking cows and the males are sold – often as beef.

After the initial four days, they are fed a milk replacer – much like human babies are often fed formula. After a few weeks some grain is added to their menu. At seven weeks old, they are ready to be with the other calves eating all grains.

The milker is electronic and each cow has a tag, so the amount of milk can be tracked to tell if they are running out of milk or potentially sick. There are NO bovine growth hormones used on these cows.

The milk gets filtered, pre-cooled, and bulk tanked. Off it goes to either Hudsonville Ice Cream or Leprino Cheese.

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July Staycation is Pure Michigan

The weather in the Grand Rapids area has been absolutely blissful lately as you can see if you are following my Instagram account. This weekend we were outside as much as possible. Here’s what we saw.

1 Reeds Lake

On Thursday afternoon we walked around Reeds Lake in E. Grand Rapids.

4 New Holland

Friday lunch was in Downtown Holland at New Holland Brewing Co. where I tried a drink with one of their spirits.

2 Blueberries at Blueberry Haven

Then, off to explore Grand Haven where we purchased the first MI blueberries of the season.

5 Victorian Kitchen in Museum

Did you know that there is a museum in downtown Grand Haven? It has this cute victorian kitchen.

4 Patricias Choc

Patricia’s Chocolate is opening a storefront in downtown Grand Haven soon!

4 Oddside Ales

A quick, shared taster at Oddside Ales.

3 12 Corners in Grd Haven

12 Corners has a new tasting room in the piano factory bld. in Grand Haven.

8 Ferrysburg beach

Always a beach stop – this is in Ferrysburg.

7 R C Tacos

Tacos for dinner at Righteous Cuisine in Grand Haven.

9 WP Trail

Saturday we took a bike ride on the White Pine Trail

10 maple almonds

Earlier, at the farmers market, I had picked up this maple almond snack for the ride.

11 Sweetlands in Rockford

There’s a Sweetland’s in downtown Rockford now! Dang, not open on the holiday.

12 Mangiamo

After Sunday brunch with family, we walked around the heritage areas of Grand Rapids looking at gardens. Mangiamo restaurant garden

13 Winchester

Winchester Restaurant Garden

14 Henry

Henry Ave. garden

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