Just for fun

Fall is almost here!

Posted on


Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love everything about it — the smells, the cooler days, the crisper nights, the colors, the pies, Halloween, Thanksgiving, volleyball and football start up again — what’s not to love?  Alright, I admit there is one thing I don’t like — cleaning up all those damn leaves on my property.  I own about an acre of land with maybe 20 giant oak trees.  So the leaves can pile up and pile up quickly.  And unlike in some neighboring cities, I can’t just push my leaves into the road, so I either have to do it myself or hire someone else to do it.  But that’s a whole other issue. . .

this sums up Fall for me.  you do need to add "volleyball" somewhere on here though.  in big gigantic letters.  like all over the place
this sums up Fall for me. you do need to add “volleyball” somewhere on here though. in big gigantic letters. like all over the place

Anyhoo, I saw this the other day on Facebook and wanted to share.  This appeared on my feed from the magazine Midwest Living.  This sums up everything that is awesome about Fall and I wanted to share it with y’all.  What do y’all like about Autumn?  Just let me know — either here or on Facebook!  I gots a recipe for some Gluten-Free Rocky Road Brownies coming up later this week, and hopefully some other fun stuff.

Stay tuned!

Spotlight on local coffeehouses

Posted on Updated on


Here’s one of those “lost posts” that I had mentioned before.  This was originally scheduled to go out last year so it may be a little bit dated.  But it’s still applicable since students are coming back into town and the coffee shops are going to be even more packed.  Anyhoo, these are a couple of my favorites.

Just a quick post here.  The site Serious Eats just did a spotlight a few weeks ago on where you can get some good coffee here in Michigan.  And two out of the four selected just happen to be in town!  I happen to love both of these places for two completely different reasons.

So let’s start out with one of my favorite hang outs — the Ugly Mug in Ypsilanti, MI.  This place holds a special place in my heart because it was the first coffee house that I found when I first moved to the area that didn’t begin with a “Star” and end with a “Bucks”.  But besides that fact, they brew a damn good cup of coffee.  It’s a down-home, down-to-earth kinda place where they happen to roast beans on site — huzzah!  It’s just a couple of blocks from Eastern Michigan University and is loved by locals and visitors alike.  What’s great is that they also host a series of different events, ranging from workshops, to art shows, to tastings, to poetry readings.  And if you are having some problems with your own home brewing equipment, staff will be more than willing to help you out as best as they can.  Be sure to visit their Flickr account on their Links menu and check them out on Twitter.

It’s the Ugly Mug!
He helped make the coffee.
I usually get the Almond Joy

The other local coffeehouse found in the fabulous Nickels Arcade landmark is Ann Arbor’s Comet Coffee.  This place is relatively new, being around for a couple of years, and it has a completely different feel from the Ugly Mug.  It has a modern, sparse feel which is set up in a small store front in the Arcade.  What makes this place unique are the methods that they use to make their coffee.  Each cup is brewed individually at specific temperatures, and what you get is one of the best cups of coffee around.  The coffee isn’t brewed, but “pulled” through a porcelain cones into individual cups.  Since everything is done on a individual basis, there is no risk of having a cup of coffee that has been sitting in a carafe for a few hours.  Plus, following this method helps preserve some of the more subtle notes and flavors in each cup.  And being literally across the street from the University of Michigan helps foster a strong following among students and faculty.  But non-students, and even Spartans (Go State!) love this place 🙂

Yay! Comet Coffee!
Japanese Iced Coffee — so good!

Now if you include Astro Coffee in Detroit, three out of the four coffeehouses featured are here in SE Michigan.  Kudos to us!  So if you’re ever in town, be sure to visit these local gems and get yourself a cup.  And get yourself a t-shirt.  And tell them I sent ya!  And (as always) don’t forget to visit and like my Facebook pages for Daisy Cakes and Jereme’s Kitchen.  Shameless self-promotion endures!

Notes — Since I first wrote this, I actually have gone to Astro Coffee in Corktown, Detroit.  Amazing cup of coffee!  And the pics of Comet Coffee I picked up from their Facebook page.  I did double-check and get permission, but that was about a year ago so they probably don’t remember.  At least I asked first!

Watermelon Punch

Posted on Updated on


It’s August and Summer is in full swing here in Michigan.  Actually, with the weather we’ve been having here the past few weeks, it feels like Fall.  Not that I mind the cooler temperatures; I’m just hope the mild summer is not going to translate into a brutal winter.  But enough about that — nothing says summer quite like a nice boozy watermelon punch.

DSC_1426
Ready for summer!

I did just have my summer shindig recently and made this again.  I usually have 4 big get-togethers each year when I invite my close friends (actually I consider these guys to be family) and treat them to some free food and booze.  Sure this explanation is a little simplistic, but y’all don’t need to get into my big bag of crazy when it comes to planning and prep.  I actually don’t remember what else I made, other than stuff on the grill.  But I did remember this!  Making this concoction this time seemed a lot easier, but last time I was face down in my backyard all afternoon so who knows what my recollection can actually count for.  And, of course, I could not find my old recipe no matter how much I looked around for it.  So this is a whole new deal.

Here's a better shot to get a feel of the size of the watermelon.  Just a "regular" size I guess
Here’s a better shot to get a feel of the size of the watermelon. Just a “regular” size I guess

Now I really like this recipe.  I didn’t think it was overly sweet and you could still pick up on all the ingredients.  And if you are like me, you may just have a couple of portions of mint syrup just hanging out in the freezer for emergencies.

Yummy!  It's difficult to see, but this glass has my name etched into it!  Thanks to the in-laws for the gift!
Yummy! It’s difficult to see, but this glass has my name etched into it! Thanks to the in-laws for the gift!

I did hollow out the watermelon and use it as a serving utensil, which is completely optional.  I like the presentation.  If you were interested in serving it this way but don’t know where to get a spigot like this, you could check out your local brewer’s supply shop.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 watermelon (medium-sized, I guess.  Use the pictures as a reference)
  • 1/2 – 1 c. vodka
  • 1 c. cachaça
  • 1 1/2 c. rum (I used a dark 8-year-old rum)
  • 4 oz. Midori
  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 2 c. mint syrup

1.  Take your watermelon and see if it’s able to stand on its end.  If not, just cut off a small slice to level it off, making sure not to expose any of the inner flesh.

2.  Cut off the top couple of inches of the watermelon to expose some of the red flesh inside (wow that sounds a little macabre).  Using an ice cream scoop, start scooping out the fruit (berry?) and place it in a food processor.  Pulse it in batches until smooth and run the purée through a fine sieve set over a large bowl.

3.  In a large pitcher or jug, combine the vodka, cachaça, rum, Midori, lime juice, and mint syrup.  Stir to blend.

4.  Add the strained watermelon juice and stir to combine.  You can refrigerate this overnight, just be sure to mix it before hand.

5.  Pour yourself a little happy.  Add some ice if you like!

Here's the impaled watermelon!
Here’s the impaled watermelon!

Notes — you may want to run the watermelon through a very fine sieve.  you could just line a sieve with some paper towel, but that sounds like a long process. . .  if you cut off too much on the bottom to level the watermelon, it’s not the end of the world.  just be sure not to hollow out the watermelon too much or you will have a boozy, leaky mess on your hands. . . also, be careful not to take out too much of the pulp (is that the right term?).  if you are overzealous with your scraping, the hollowed out shell might crack and there’s another boozy, leaky mess. . .

Where the hell have I been?

Posted on


Alright, so it’s been some time since I’ve been writing.  I know, I know — I am ashamed 😦  But things happen in this thing called life.  Not to make excuses, but I was trying to adapt to the new schedule caused by my new job.  Then I got a weird volleyball injury that took up my time trying to rehab that.  Then I got really sick really fast around Christmas and found myself admitted to the hospital several times.  Lucky for me this happened in December and January so I got to fulfill two massive deductibles back to back.  Hurrah!  And hospitals are not fun — especially when you get the bill months later and can’t decipher what charges came from where and from whom and for how much.  I will say to my insurance company that your estimate on what a CT scan costs is sooooo completely off from what the hospital says ($800 estimate vs. $1700 charge).  All that fun and the multiple docs couldn’t even tell me what was wrong; just treated the symptoms and see what could be managed.

Then after getting to know the hospital, I got a weird infection that sidelined me for over three weeks.  Meds didn’t work, I was weak all the time, I couldn’t walk without getting dizzy (which is a challenge if you have to navigate stairs to get to your truck — not that I could drive anywhere even if I managed to make it to the garage).  Things eventually cleared up, but since I missed so much work, I ended up losing my job.  Which I guess is alright aside from the fact that I am penniless.  I don’t blame them for firing me; it just sucks for me.  So much for my first stint in Corporate America!

But losing my job meant that I could focus on the physical therapy for the injury that happened months ago.  And lucky for me (or unlucky for me), I met my out-of-pocket maximum for the year back in January so no charge!  Well fast-forward a couple of months and my knees are still shit.  I can’t afford COBRA anymore so I guess I will have to tape them up and just go on with life.

And that is what I am trying to do — go on with life.  I think I’ve done enough wallowing in self-pity and it is time to git goin’!  I’m finally able to work out again (with some obvious limitations) and I’m getting back to what I love — FOOD!  And booze, of course.  Actually, right now I am in the Corner Brewery here in Ypsilanti trying to raise my spirits.  Some pulled pork tacos and a Buzzsaw IPA can sure help with my mood, but more on that later!  Although it is a bummer that no one wants to join me here — stupid friends and their stupid jobs and families and prior commitments!

But in all seriousness, I plan on getting back to blogging and sharing my foodie adventures.  I did just take another trip up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and found some amazing pasties, and breweries , and wineries, and distilleries. . . . I’m also trying to make a theme cake (note the emphasis on trying).  What’s wrong with a round cake?  I can do those, no problem.  Dinosaur shaped?  Ugh, I need to practice this.  A lot.  Plus I have some posts that should have gone out last year (oops!), but they’re still relevant.

So Stay tuned!  More food and booze and hijinx heading your way!  And for no good reason — here’s my sweet idiot dog Cooper enjoying the summer sun!

 

Cooper luvs summer!
Cooper luvs summer!

 

For those that think all Pit Bulls are mean -- you are wrong!
For those that think all Pit Bulls are mean — you are wrong!

An experiment with Honey, Raspberries, and Cream Cheese

Posted on Updated on


Alright so this isn’t all that much of an experiment, but I’m doing this in a different way.  But what I wanted to do is try to make some mini cheesecakes and clean out the pantry at the same time.  I had a bunch of cream cheese in the fridge, but not enough to make a whole cheesecake; I had some raspberry coulis left over from the Marquis Roulade I made a few weeks ago; and there was some honey that I was just tired of looking at.  Throw in some graham crackers and some frozen raspberries and it all made sense.

Definitely looked better with the pink liners

Actually there is a little bit of an experiment going on here.  Instead of making the filling using a stand mixer, I tried to make everything in the blender.  I was thinking to myself that this should work, in theory.  It actually didn’t work out too bad.  There was a little bit of work trying to get the blender going at first, but the batter was very smooth.  Doubt that I could do this for a full cheesecake recipe though — my blender is too small.

There were really stuck in there. So use liners!

It’s hard to figure out a recipe here.  Like I’ve said before, I do have a specific formula for cheesecakes that I like to follow, so I just used that as a guide.  I cut down a graham cracker crust recipe in half which I just sprinkled on the bottom of the tins or cupcake papers.  My serious recommendation that I have for a recipe like this is to definitely use paper liners.  One of the pans that I used is non-stick which I also generously sprayed with cooking spray — I still had to dig the cheesecakes out with a fork and spoon.  Here’s what you need:

For the crust:

  • 6 graham crackers
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted

Pulse the crackers and sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs.  Mix in butter and set aside.

For the filling:

  • 3 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c. honey
  • about 4 oz. frozen raspberries
  • raspberry coulis

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line standard cupcake pans with liners.

2.  Throw the cream cheese, eggs, and honey in a blender.  Or you could beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth.  Add the honey and combine.  Then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition.  (See!  Using the blender is easier).

3.  Place a couple of tablespoons of the crust mixture on the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Lightly press down and place 1-2 of the frozen raspberries on the bottom.  Fill about halfway with the cheesecake batter.  Add about 1 t. of the coulis and carefully fill the liner about 2/3 full.

4.  Bake in the over for about 30 – 45 minutes, until the middle is set.  Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan and cool completely.

Random Foodie Funnies

Posted on Updated on


It could just be me, but I need a break from the Olympics.  So instead I’m up watching the NASA channel on updates about the Mars Rover, well that and reruns of Futurama.  I guess I need to feed my inner nerd.  Sure I could be studying up on Policies and Procedures, but science is important.

And as another break from the Olympics I thought I’d just post some random things that I find funny that are food related.  I was thinking about trying to make this a regular feature, but that requires extra work that is difficult right now with all the training and studying I have to do.  Hell, I can’t even keep up with my regular blogging duties.

Anyhoo, I thought this was funny.  It was making the rounds a little bit ago along all the Interwebs, so I’m a little late with this one.  I have no idea on the source, but if anyone knows, drop me a line.

You cannot argue with the accuracy and validity of this interpretation of data

Random concerns when I have no electricity

Posted on Updated on


Not having power makes it difficult to blog. So this is a first for me — using my iPhone to do a quick blurb. But I figured “why not?”. What else have I got to do in this 97 degree F heat?

Being without power for several days is surprisingly not new to me since I bought my house. I’ve been here less than 3 years and this is probably the fifth time it’s happened. Once it occurred when my family was visiting from Florida last summer i think. Another time it happened the day of my annual Winter Feast. Almost cancelled it but folks came anyway — we lit oodles of candles, had a big fire going in the fireplace, and drank lots of Martha’s egg nog. When the power came back it was like Rockefeller Center in my living room during the tree lighting ceremony. We all cheered, drank egg nog, and ate some crackers whilst the hosts tried to salvage the pork loin that should have been roasting for the past few hours.

Now sure it’s annoying to look down the bottom of my hill and see my neighbors across the street flaunting their electricity like there’s no tomorrow with their fancy lamp post and string lights. But often, weird times like this are when we get our best life stories. I even started a new tradition because of it; now every year I start out my Winter Feast with every light in the house turned off. Everything gets turned on right before dinner, or before we start with the nog. And then there is much rejoicing!

But every time this happens some of the same weird questions and concerns pop up. Of course these all involve food safety and I should know the answers since I am ServSafe certified, but I still wonder…
How terrible is it if I’m starting to smell kimchi in my refrigerator, especially if I am 100% sure there should be none in there?

People drink warm milk all the time. One glass couldn’t hurt all that much.

Can you cook burgers just using “solar power”?

Hot dogs have lots of preservatives so those can last for a while on the counter, right?

If I time it right, I think I can pickle everything…. or make adobo for days…

Let me say this — PLEASE FOLLOW ALL SAFETY GUIDELINES SET FORTH BY THE FDA OR OTHER APPROPRIATE GOVERNMENT INSTITUTION!

That being said, here’s a Vanilla cheesecake with strawberries I made following all safety guidelines. Recipe to follow once I get electricity back. Stay cool everyone! And follow me on Facebook! And follow Daisy Cakes on Facebook!

20120706-151802.jpg

Taste of Ann Arbor and Ya’ssoo!

Posted on Updated on


Happy June and Happy Hazelnut Cake Day!  Alright this may be more appropriate for locals, but some of y’all might be visiting.  Plus it might give some of y’all some incentive to visit us here in SE Michigan (if you need more incentive, Frommer’s just named us as one of the top 20 Best Vacation Destinations!).  But we have a couple of our annual summer events coming up this weekend.  First of all there’s Ya’ssoo — the Greek Festival of Ann Arbor.  It starts today and runs through Sunday so there are lots of chances to head on over.  Here’s a link to the event flyer and here’s the website.  Of course, there’ll be specialty foods (here’s the menu!), concerts, raffles, and tours.  Lot’s of fun and I’ve been craving Saganaki and some Paximathakia (if you don’t know, look it up!).  Ooo, I should post my baklava recipe sometime.

This painting is from the Greek Festival’s website. It depicts an actual scene from the festival with the church in the background.

There is also the 17th Annual Ann Arbor African-American Festival, Saturday, June 2, 9am – 9 pm.  This festival pays tribute to the historic black business district of Ann Arbor.  Now I couldn’t find a website, but I did find an email where you can get more information — clpfestival@gmail.com.  There’ll be music, food, dances, and theatrical performances.  The cost is free and this will take place downtown.

Also this Sunday (June 3) is the Taste of Ann Arbor.  I’m excited and hope to attend this year!  Tasting tickets are $0.50 and it runs from 11am – 5pm.  Games and music will be a part of the festivities, but the food is the main draw!  A lot of my favorites will be there and some places that I’ve been dying to try.  And it’s great that a sample will just cost me 50 cents!  And if you’re interested there’s the Dexter Ann Arbor Run on Sunday; registration ends tonight.  They schedule concurrently with Taste of Ann Arbor; all that food at the finish line is motivation enough for me.  I wonder if runners get some free tasting tickets 🙂  There’s a half marathon, 10k, 5k, and kids’ run.  If the races are still open, you can register online here.

I got this image from “Living in Ann Arbor” on Facebook who, in turn, got this from wherelightstandsstill.blogspot.com

Sure this is short notice, but these are just some of the fun things going on around town this weekend.  They involve eating food, which is something I do everyday!  And they also give you a chance to learn, and play, and maybe run a half marathon.

Dean Martin Burgers

Posted on Updated on


I thought this is so fabulous i had to reblog this. Got this from Samo Tako

Samo Tako

View original post

And the winner is. . .

Posted on Updated on


Alright, so I have been really busy lately, not that I have anything to show for it.  So that explains why I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging responsibilities.  The truth is that (like an idiot) I have started working out again.  Well, since I am apparently unemployable, might as well be constructive with my time.  But I am remembering how much working out takes out of me — time-wise (takes me about 2 1/2 hrs. each time), recovery-wise (I’m not in undergrad anymore and all that extra work hurts!), plus all the extra shower and laundry time!

Here is "The Bowl of Choosing". Very scientific methodology!

But I digress. . . I’m here to announce my first blogiversary giveaway winner.  And the winner is. . . Sarah at The Cook’s Life!!!  Congrats to Sarah!!!  And check out her blog where she shares her thoughts on cooking, family, and all adventures in between!

Here's what she wins -- Look! It's Michigan!

 

And here's the cookbook

So I will try to catch up with some posts.  I have several in the pipeline, including a couple focusing on Chef Eve Aronoff, who was the big subject of my giveaway!