Michigan Food Finds

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GET SPICY

January is here, the holidays are over. We made it. The schedule of family feasts and festivities has ended. Cue the advertising for weight loss programs and fitness equipment. This is the time of year where, apparently, most Americans are looking to get healthier and make some changes.

I’m not much on resolutions but do crave getting back on a regular schedule post-holidays. At my house, we use family dinners to get back on track. Cooking is almost always healthier than eating out and brings me great joy. Time is still tight, so I like to prepare quick and easy recipes that feed a crowd. Recipes using seasoning mixes are a great help and there are some local companies that make tasty ones—Michigan Salted, Love MI Seasons and Mickey & T’s.

Michigan Salted is a Grand Haven based company who has been selling a product called M Salt since 2008. M Salt is a perfect proportion of salt, herbs and spices reminiscent of a steak seasoning. Delicious and adaptable, it can flavor just about everything from grilled chicken to sautéed vegetables. Some creative uses for M Salt are to rim a Bloody Mary glass, mix with butter as a spread or sprinkle over popcorn.

Love MI Seasons is made in Dryden by Executive Chef Tom Chappell. Created long before selling the spice blends, Chef Tom has been cooking with these blends at a private hunt club where he perfected the flavors. Three blends are available: BBQ Rub, Fresh Herb and Acapulco Gold. All the products use local ingredients when available.img_3717

Mickey & T’s has been manufacturing gourmet rubs and international spices since 1997 in Davisburg. With a large variety of spices, rubs and garlic blends, Mickey & T’s has something for everyone. I particularly like the Taste of Mexico and Taste of Italy blends. These blends are colorful and flavorful with larger pieces of dehydrated herbs and vegetables.

All of these local seasonings have no MSG, are gluten free and are without fillers or preservatives. Local spices and herbs are sustainable and are also proven to boost health benefits. Buying local seasonings is a tasty and healthy New Year’s resolution you can bet on.

 

Roasted Chicken

1 whole cut up chicken (about 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup Love MI Seasons BBQ Blend Rub

Preheat oven to 350o. Place pieces of chicken evenly apart on rimmed baking sheet. Brush chicken with olive oil. Season chicken under and over skin with BBQ Rub. Roast for 1 hour or until skin is crisp and golden brown.
Cook’s Note: Chicken can be prepared on the grill during the warmer months. Preheat grill to medium and cook, turning once or twice, until the skin is crisp and the chicken is cooked through.

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

2  whole small acorn squash, cut into 1-inch slices
2  tablespoons melted butter
1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon M Salt

Preheat oven to 425o. Place cut squash slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle squash with butter and syrup. Sprinkle with M Salt seasoning. Roast in oven 20 to 30 minutes or until golden. Serve hot.
Cook’s Note: To make squash slices; cut acorn squash in half carefully. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place squash cut side down and cut in half again. Repeat until slices of squash are to desired thickness.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Michigan Food Finds

CLARKSTON’S NEWEST RESTAURANT: HONCHO

A new job relocated my family to the suburbs of Detroit. Even though this was a great opportunity, moving 700 miles away from friends and family required some convincing on my husband’s part. So, when we landed in Detroit for my first trip to Michigan, he took me right out to eat. Smart man.

We drove right from the airport to a place called the Clarkston Union Bar and Kitchen. Not kidding—right off the plane to lunch in Clarkston. I enjoyed eating and drinking there from the very first visit.  They have a creative menu of well-made food and a slew of beers on tap. And now, almost 15 years later, I have had the pleasure of seeing the opening of four additional Union Joints.

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Rice Bowl with Battered Fish

The latest delicious eatery is called Honcho. And, lucky for me, it is also right here in the Village of Clarkston. Honcho is a mashup of coffee house and Latin Street food. They are open in the wee morning hours for house roasted coffee and freshly baked pastries. Then a full spread begins at 11 a.m. with yet another clever menu highlighting the flavors of many cultures. I enjoyed their take on a rice bowl that had Asian inspirations with jasmine rice, nori and kimchi which I topped with Honcho’s battered smoky tilapia and a fried egg. My lunch mate had an arepa—a cornmeal patty—stuffed with shaved caramelized Brussel sprouts.

We have since made Clarkston our home enjoying the balance of country living and urban access. I believe Honcho’s eclectic menu will fit right in to this Detroit suburb.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Michigan Food Finds

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LOCAL ORCHARDS & HOME-MADE APPLESAUCE

There are 825 family-run apple farms in Michigan. 825! Within 30 minutes of your house, you can probably even name one or two. I know there are at least three orchards in my local area that I visit regularly—Porter’s, Spicer’s and Ashton’s. Michigan farms harvest nearly one billion pounds of apples in a short three month window. So, along with having an orchard on every corner, there are an enormous amount of apples to eat as well.

I’ve participated in all the happenings at all my local orchards, including picking apples, eating donuts, visiting the playgrounds and shopping at the farm stands. Though, this visit to the orchard was strictly business—buying apples. My plan was to can applesauce at home and I unfortunately could not dilly dally on all the wonderful extracurricular activities at the farm.

Though, because our beautiful fall weather just won’t quit, please be sure to linger. Take the time to enjoy all that Michigan apple orchards and farms have to offer—and have a glass of cider for me.

Applesauce

Ingredients
1 bushel of apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced (about 40 pounds)
1 ½ cups brown sugar, divided
¾ cup lemon juice, divided
15 quart jars or 30 pint jars

Applesauce and Canning Instructions
Place about 1-inch of water on the bottom of a 5 to 6 quart stockpot. Add enough prepared apples to fill to the top (one bushel apples should make about 6 small batches). Cook apples until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, adding additional water as needed to prevent scorching. Add ¼ cup brown sugar and about 2 tablespoons lemon juice per batch of cooked apples. Cook an additional few minutes. Mash or puree apples to desired consistency. Simmer the mashed apples gently while filling prepared canning jars. Process according to water bath instructions for 20 minutes.

Cook’s Note: You can make a smaller batch of this applesauce and skip the canning process. It will last in the refrigerator 7 to 10 days.

Find an apple orchard or farm near you at www.michiganapples.com

—Pam Aughe, R.D.