Farm at the Stadium

Many family vacations with my husband and two sons include visiting a major league baseball stadium. This summer we were lucky enough to be at Fenway Park in Boston. As the oldest stadium in the country with quirky spots like the lone red seat and the green monster, Fenway was a definite must see stadium.

To my surprise and great pleasure in spring of 2015, Fenway Farms—a roof garden planted on the third base side of the ballpark— was planted. Local farms and Green City Growers collaborated to transform an underutilized rubber roof into a fruitful green space. All the fresh vegetables and herbs grown are served in the club restaurant at Fenway.

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Here in Detroit we also have some spectacular urban farming. Keep Growing Detroit, Brother Nature Produce, Earthworks and Michigan Urban Farming Initiative are all organizations who believe in feeding their community with fresh and healthy foods.

Now I wonder if Comerica Park would now be inspired to create some edible green space? Go Tigers!

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—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Detroit Donuts

I’m taking off my dietitian hat for a moment and eating a donut. I often sample all types of foods as an advocate for the local food scene. Though, in this case, this is where I repeat the mantra—everything in moderation. So, I’m sampling donuts at Dilla’s Delights with complete joy and no regrets. Once you taste these delicious creations, you will understand.

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Dilla’s Delights is a specialty donut business in the Ashley Building in downtown Detroit. Founder and operator, Herman Hayes, named this donut shop in honor of his nephew James Dewitt Yancey (J. Dilla) who was a musician and producer with passion for donuts, Detroit and music. Right when you walk in the door, it’s easy to recognize that donuts and music are the central theme.

Like most delicious treats, it’s hard to have just one. Therefore, I recommend sharing a variety of donuts. The chocolate cake glazed and the mixed berry fritter was a nice combination. Produced with 100% organic flour and fried in rice bran oil, Dilla’s Donuts are a step above in quality and taste. Uncle Herman makes donuts all night long in Avalon International Bread’s commercial kitchen to be open at 5 in the morning for his customers.

With my dietitian hat back on, my recommendation is a little exercise post-donut consumption. Comerica Park is only a 5 minute walk from Dilla’s Delights and would make the perfect snack right before an afternoon ballgame.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Made in Michigan Meat & Cheese Board

Last weekend I took a break from dinner duty. Forgoing the challenge of cooking a meal that tries to please everyone is a welcome change. Although we still are required to eat something and take-out food is underwhelming, I took the opportunity to prepare what my family calls “the meat and cheese board.” What this usually involves is a hard salami, smoked meat or sausage along with a variety of hard and soft cheeses. The add-ons depend on what is available and looks tasty. I use fruit spreads, crackers, olives, nuts or hummus.

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I took great pleasure in making this particular platter because I used only products that were grown or produced in Michigan. Our great state is an agricultural goldmine and it is quite easy to find just what I needed. My Michigan smorgasbord contained three cheeses, two bratwursts, a fig spread, fruit and multigrain bread.

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I shopped for all of these products at Argus Farm Stop in Ann Arbor. Argus Farm Stop is a direct-to-consumer market for local producers of vegetables, fruits, meats, baked goods, dairy and artisans. Open since August of 2014, this seemingly small market sells over 100 products from local farms and producers year round. These are all the wonderful products I brought home for dinner:

Raw Gouda cheese—Fluffy Bottoms Farm in Chelsea

Bella Sole cheese—White Lotus Farms in Ann Arbor

Fresh mozzarella—Four Corners Creamery in Tecumseh

Wine sausage bratwurst—Black Oak Farm in Byron

Turkey feta and spinach bratwurst—Duerksen Turkey Farm in Mancelona

Multi grain bread flour—Westwind Farm in Swartz Creek

Notorious F.I.G. jam—Gus & Grey in Detroit

Mutsu apple—Kapnick Orchards in Britton

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As the weather gets warmers and the days get longer, linger on the deck or porch with a glass of wine, good company and your artisan platter. It is a perfect no-cook dinner, yet still a filling, satisfying and local meal.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Chive Blossoms

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While patiently waiting to plant vegetables in my outdoor garden, the returning perennial herbs having kept me busy. Fresh thyme and chives have returned bountifully and can be found in many of the foods I prepare. Recently, the tops of the mild oniony fresh chive have a beautiful blossom. I have found a great use for these purple beauties that highlight the onion flavor along with the lovely color—chive blossom vinegar.

 

Chive Blossom Vinegar

2 to 2 ½ cups chive blossoms

1 clean pint jar with screw top lid

1 ½ cups white distilled vinegar, white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

Parchment paper or wax paper

Decorative bottle to store flavored vinegar

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Fresh chives and blossoms

 

Place chive blossoms in a bowl of water and stir gently to remove dirt. Remove blossoms with a slotted spoon and place in a colander to drain; shaking gently to remove excess water. Pack blossoms into a clean pint jar; set aside. Heat vinegar in a small saucepan until hot, but not boiling. Pour warm vinegar into pint jar filled with chive blossoms. Press blossoms down with a spoon to immerse in vinegar; cool slightly. Top jar with parchment paper and screw on metal top. Place in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks then strain vinegar into a decorative bottle. Store in a cool, dark place and use within 6 months.

 

 

 

 

Cooking Note: Use the chive blossom vinegar to make vinaigrette with additional chopped chives from your garden.                                                                                        —Pam Aughe, R.D.

 

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Chive Blossom Vinegar

Fresh & Casual

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Chickpea Kitchen Bowl

Local and seasonal eating has finally hit the mainstream public interest and is taking a hold of the food industry. The expectation for wholesome, fresher fare is being embraced even by national chains like Chipotle and Panera. These fresh casual chains are serving customized, nutritious, high quality ingredients in more of an upscale environment. Being in charge of creating your own meals has spread to our local restaurants as well. Two fresh casual chains in southeast Michigan are Estia Greek Street Food in Troy and Chickpea Kitchen in Sterling Heights.

Estia Greek Street Food is a Greek inspired build-your-own pita, bowl or salad. I chose to build a bowl with a base of Estia’s Greek quinoa then added char-grilled chicken, oregano broth, hummus, spinach, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and a house made purple cabbage salad. Being able to pile on the veggies makes this super healthy as well as delicious. Estia also makes all their pita and rolls in house so they are warm and fresh. As with many locally inspired food joints, the décor is made from repurposed and reclaimed brick and wood from the southeast Michigan region. If you are in downtown Detroit, check out their new midtown location in the food court at the DMC.

Chickpea Kitchen in Sterling Heights is a fast and fresh Middle Eastern spot where you can create your own bowl or shawarma with your favorite toppings. Again, I made a bowl with a base of cracked wheat topped with marinated chicken, spinach, chickpeas, pickles, torshi (pickled turnips and cabbage) and garlic sauce. I love that they offer a whole grain choice along with the white rice pilaf. They also serve a house made unsweetened mint tea next to the fountain sodas.

 

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Estia Greek Bowl

I’m so pleased that there are local businesses serving high quality food with fewer processed ingredients. Share with me your favorite local, healthy eatery.

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

Local Ice Cream

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Game Time

Dreaming of a warm Michigan spring day while wandering down Main Street in Northville, led me to a new ice cream spot called Browndog Creamery and Dessert Bar. Browndog Creamery produces small batch, artisanal ice cream in all sorts of really delicious flavors. Sampling is strongly encouraged so start with their best-selling flavor Salty Dog—a salted caramel ice cream swirled with salted caramel sauce, pecans and brownies. Another inventive flavor is Blood Orange Coconut Ice which is a great dairy free option. Browndog also serves vanilla and chocolate staple flavors daily.

As much as I love a good old scoop of chocolate, I had to try Game Time—a grown-up chocolate ice cream made with local stout, salted caramel sauce and chocolate dipped pretzels. The local beer was brewed at just around the corner at North Center Brewing Company (NCB). NCB’s Imperial Stout imparts a chocolate malt flavor with a barely perceptible 9.5% ABV (I promise). Though if you are looking for a sure chocolate fix, try Who Needs a Therapist for lots of dark chocolate and ribbons of peanut butter throughout.

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Game Time and Who Needs a Therapist

Our ice cream server was proud to share that they use many local ingredients and all their milk is procured from Independent Dairy in Monroe.

All Browndog’s small batch flavors rotate quickly. Visit often and try them all.                                                          —Pam Aughe, R.D.

Flint Farmers’ Market

          Last week I shopped at Flint Farmers’ Market to make dinner for my family. Bulk barley from Flint River Farm, vegetables from M.T. Belly’s Produce and beef stew meat from Hoffman’s Chop Shop rounded out my home pantry to make a warm and hearty Market Beef Barley Soup. Change up your food shopping routine and visit Flint’s year round, downtown market on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Market Beef Barley Soup

Having a well-stocked pantry at home makes shopping for dinner easy. Use this Flint Farmers’ Market grocery list to purchase your fresh items.

Farmers’ Market Pantry
Onion Beef Stock
Celery Canned Tomato Sauce
Garlic Tomato Paste
Sweet Potato Salt, Pepper, Dried Thyme, Dried Bay Leaf
Kale Oil
Beef Stew Meat Flour
Barley Red Wine

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Flint Farmers’ Market Beef Barley Soup

1 ½    tablespoons canola oil, divided

1          pound beef stew meat

2          tablespoons all-purpose flour

¾        teaspoon kosher salt, divided

¼ + 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1          medium onion, chopped

2          stalks celery, chopped

3          cloves garlic, minced

1          whole dried bay leaf

¾        teaspoon dried thyme leaves

2          tablespoon tomato paste

½        cup red wine

5          cups beef stock, organic

1          (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

1          cup uncooked pearl barley

1          medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped

3          cups chopped kale

  1. Place beef in a medium bowl and sprinkle with flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat the beef; set aside. Place 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add beef in a single layer to hot Dutch oven and brown on all sides. Remove beef to a clean plate.
  2. Add remaining ½ tablespoon oil to Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic; cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until just tender. Add thyme, tomato paste, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; cook one minute. Add wine, stock, tomato sauce, barley, potato and browned beef; bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or until barley is tender.
  3. Add kale last 5 minutes of cooking. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Serve with fresh bread from Crust (a baking company at Flint Farmers’ Market). Serves 4.

Historic Lunch

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Bologna Sandwich

Locally inspired, made from scratch cooking with a little bit of Detroit history sums up the menu at Parks & Rec Diner. An oasis on Grand River Avenue, Parks & Rec Diner is one of two restaurants in the restored G.A.R. building. Originally built for Civil War veterans in 1899, the G.A.R. building was also used as the city’s park and recreation center for over 40 years.

Parks & Rec Diner is a small but mighty breakfast and lunch spot. You can build your own hash with Detroit grown spinach and onions all topped with house cured bacon and Leelanau Cheese. Or, eat a childhood bologna sandwich staple all grown up with pub cheese and house brined pickle. Our shared appetizer of figgy goat cheese served with an arugula salad and toasts could have easily been lunch all on its own.

Detroit is at the heart of Park & Rec’s décor and food. During the buildings restoration, preservation of structure and repurposed period items was core. The owner, David, was proud to share how the original glass park and recreation door panel was saved and is now framed and hung on the wall. Supporting Detroit’s emerging food scene, the best local growers and vendors are procured for menu items. Rising Pheasant Farms, Keep Growing Detroit and Recovery Park Farms are just a few growers providing fresh food.

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Cinnamon Roll

Save room for dessert and be prepared to share. A giant cinnamon roll baked to order in a cast iron skillet smothered with chevre honey icing—decadent and delicious.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the great staff at Parks & Rec Diner. Super knowledgeable about the menu and the history of the building, our new friend Paul spent a great deal of time sharing his passion for the food.

Locally inspired food celebrating the city’s history is more than just a trend. Parks & Rec Diner is the new Detroit eating experience.   —Pam Aughe, R.D.

Sunday Brunch

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Croque Madame

Brunch is the best leisurely event that happens on a Sunday. Yes, football fans, it’s even better than the all American tradition of Sunday football. What could be better than being able to enjoy a decadent, midday meal that also comes with an adult beverage? Ok, that sort of describes watching football, but being immersed in brunch doesn’t involve cooking for anyone.

I enjoyed brunch this week at The Laundry in Fenton. Opened in August of 1997 as a small deli and bakery, The Laundry focused on great breads, desserts and specialty sandwiches. The Laundry of today looks quite different with an expanded dining space, a liquor license and a microbrewery facility. Though, the atmosphere and quality of excellence has always stayed the same.

The Laundry is now considered one of the best breakfast spots in America according to Thrillist.  I totally agree with them, the food is so delicious. We started with a beverage and went super traditional with a mimosa—conventional but a fun beverage to have with a good friend. I’ve heard all about their infamous Bacon ‘n Brie Hotcakes but, again, I went a little old school with the Croque Madame. Salty applewood smoked ham, sweet house-made raspberry preserves in between thick slices of French toast all topped with an over-easy egg—just dreamy.

Room in our bellies for nothing else but stellar company and delightful conversation, our brunch came to an end. The good news is my good friend and I will meet again in four weeks, as we always do, to eat, drink and catch up on our lives. Should we try another brunch venue or meet up for dinner or a glass of wine? So many options for good food here in Michigan, any suggestions? —Pam Aughe, R.D.