20″ of snow on the ground!

January 23rd, 2013 at 9:27 pm by under Uncategorized

    Viewer pic. of 20″ of snow on the ground in Cheshire Township, Allegan Co.  Second picture is radar storm snowfall from the GRR NWS and Bill Marino.   The winds are going NW to N and the heavier snow will shift to the SW corner of the Lower Peninsula.

Chill is here and the Soup is On!

January 18th, 2013 at 10:54 am by under Food Joy, Uncategorized

Nothing warms your body and your soul like a great bowl of soup!  That’s the power and the story behind the largest fund raising event of the year for God’s Kitchen, Soup’s On for All.  It’s not just about amazing soups made by some of the best chefs in the area. It’s an effort that involves thousands of people from kids in classrooms like Mrs. Tolly’s fifth and sixth graders at Forest Hills Central Woodlands to professional potters who lend their craft and skills to benefit the cause.  Painting bowls in a classroom or at Gallery 303 is a good opportunity for a Grandma on the Go to connect with grand kids and give back at the same time.

Here’s the recipe from the Soups On For All cookbook for you to try from WOTV4 Women’s Maranda.  Enjoy!

Recipe for Cream of Asparagus Soup
by Maranda, WOTV4 Women & WOOD TV
Serves 4 – 6

1 pound fresh asparagus, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 cups chicken broth, divided, plus additional, if needed
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
Fresh ground black or white pepper to taste
Freshly chopped chives for garnish

Place the asparagus and onion in a large covered saucepan; add 1 cup of the chicken broth, or enough to barely cover the asparagus.  Simmer over medium heat until the asparagus is just tender. Place the mixture in a blender and blend until  smooth, adding additional chicken both, if needed, to liquefy.  In a medium saucepan, cook the butter until melted;  whisking for one minute. Stir in the remaining cup of chicken broth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until  the mixture comes to a boil.  Stir in the asparagus puree and milk.  Place the sour cream or yogurt into a medium bowl; ladle in about a 1/2 cup of the hot mixture to temper it and then slowly whisk this mixture back into the saucepan; add  the lemon juice.  Simmer on low heat, about four minutes – do not boil – or until warmed through, stirring frequently.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve each bowl topped with a sprinkle of fresh chives, if desired.

Chef’s Notes:
Not only is this soup a beautiful Spring green color, but it’s equally delicious when served chilled. It’s quite easy to turn this soup into a low-fat meal simply by substituting 2% milk and either low-fat sour cream or low-fat yogurt.  Take the time to ‘temper’ the sour cream by whisking in a little of the hot mixture first, as the recipe indicates, to avoid the  possibility of curdling the soup.


New in theaters/on DVD 10-12-12

October 12th, 2012 at 8:04 am by under Uncategorized

Seven new movies in West Michigan theaters this weekend…
New in theaters (Friday 10/12/12): “Argo”, “Here Comes the Boom”, “Seven Psychopaths”,  “Sinister”, “Perks of Being a Wallflower” (limited*), “Atlas Shrugged” (limited*), “Sleepwalk with Me” (limited*)
(video version from this week’s EightWest segment) (more…)

Beet Broccoli Bleu Cheese Kohlrabi Salad

September 3rd, 2012 at 4:36 pm by under Food Joy, Uncategorized

   It’s garden bonanza time!  On my latest trip to the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market, the stands were packed with just picked produce, some of the area farm’s finest, just waiting to become another great meal.  I went with some kind of salad in mind for a weekend family gathering and came away with a bunch of beets, bulbs of kohlrabi, bright green broccoli, crunchy carrots and a few other staples like onions and peppers of all varieties and some nearly end of the line blueberries and raspberries, too.  When I got home the beets seemed like the obviously place to start since they’re hearty enough to travel and get along so well with all the other veggies.  Besides, any member of the same flowering family of plants as the bougainvillea is beautiful to me.  They’re also low in calories, fat & cholesterol and loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants.  By mixing them up with a variety of more popular garden favorites, they will bring even the biggest beet-basher to the bright side.  In the a recipe I came up, I added kohlrabi for a more atypical crunch. Kohlrabi is kind of a cross between a turnip and a cabbage with a thick outer layer that’s best when it’s peeled away.  The insides can be cooked or eaten raw. There’s no need to discard the greens, either. They can be eaten as kale or collard greens would be.  For the recipe I came up with, I just used the bulb.   This can be served as a crunchy, sweet salad or a pretty side dish for whatever you have on the grill. Enjoy!

Beet Broccoli Bleu Cheese Kohlrabi Salad

5-6 beets, washed with the ends trimmed off
1 large or 2 medium kohlrabi bulbs, thick ‘woody’ outer coating peeled away
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 broccoli stalks with bulbs and stems, both chopped bite size or smaller
1-2 medium carrots, sliced julienne or chopped in small pieces
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts or pecan, toasted if preferred
1 cup bleu cheese
2- 4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp. sea salt

Prepare the beets to your liking. They can be boiled, which is what I did.  I  just put them in a pan of water as my grandma used to and boiled them for about 20 minutes, until they were just tender, not mushy. The peels slip right off with a sharp knife when they are cool.  Beets can also be roasted, microwaved, sauteed, steamed or charcoal roasted.  To prepare the kohlrabi, cut away the thick, woody outer layer.  Slice then julienne the bulb, discarding tough stem area pieces if necessary.  Thinly slice the red onion, adjusting amount to your taste, depending on how strong the onion is – some have quite a bite!  Wash the broccoli and trim the woody end of the stem away along with leaves on the stem.  Chop the flowers and stem alike into bite slice or smaller pieces.  Peel and julienne a nice sized carrot or two, or dice them into small pieces.  Toss all the veggies in a large bowl gently with the raisins.  Add 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans, raw or toasted. For the pecans I added, I first put them in a Ziplock baggie with dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and shook them to coat.  Next I tossed them in a hot frying pan with a bit of sizzling butter and toasted them, turning often. I have also done this in the oven or on the grill.  When they cool off, toss them into your salad mixture. For the dressing, I’m really guessing at the measurements here.  You can combine the vinegar (use your favorite flavor for this – different vinegars can change the intensity big time), extra virgin olive oil (a lemon infused one works perfectly here) and the honey.  Taste the dressing first and adjust to suit your palette. Add the salt in the same manner.  When you have the right combo, gently toss your salad with your dressing. I add the bleu cheese very last, and some would prefer waiting until just before serving.  This salad ‘sits’ very well with the flavors meshing nicely over time in your fridge.  It’s light and inviting enough as a first course and satisfying enough to fill your plate next to a nice steak, salmon or chicken leg, fresh from the grill.

Lake Michigan Water Levels

July 11th, 2012 at 1:00 am by under Uncategorized

  Picture of a Lake Michigan sunset at Sleeping Bear Dunes (look how calm the water is).  Here it is full screen (from Mark at ReportIt).  The water level of Lake Michigan stayed the same over the past month, but is now 8″ below the level of one year ago.  It’s 20″ below the long term average for July and 11″ above the low-water mark of 1964.  Lake Superior has gained water after heavy rain fell in the Duluth area (9″ in 2 days).  Superior is up 6″ in the last month (over 3 TRILLION gallons of water added to the lake in just a month!) and is now 3″ above the level of one year ago. Both Lake Ontario and Lake Erie have dropped with the dry conditions this early summer.   Erie has lost 3″ in the last month and is now 5″ below the century average.  Ontario is down 2″ in the last month and is 6″ below the century average.   The water level of the Eastern 2 lakes can vary significantly over a relatively short period of time of several months, while the other 3 Great Lakes are slower to change.  Since 70% of the equation for the water level of Michigan/Huron is the water coming down the St. Mary’s River from Lake Superior, the gain in water to the north should keep Lake Michigan from getting too low if these drought conditions persist through the summer.

Severe Weather Outlook Areas

June 17th, 2012 at 2:32 am by under Uncategorized

0600 UTC Day 1 Outlook0600 UTC Day 2 Outlook0600 UTC Day 3 Outlook  These are the Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 severe weather outlooks from SPC.  The overnight rain will clear and we’ll be dry for most all of Sunday.  Monday we have a chance of a shower or t-storm as the warm front shifts back north of us, but you can see the best chance of severe weather is north of Cadillac.  Tuesday and Wednesday we should be dry and hot with the storms across the U.P. and northern Wisconsin.  The overnight European model gives G.R. a temperature of 91.4 at 2 PM on Tuesday.  I often tack about 4 degrees onto that for a guess on the high temperature…and add a couple of degrees where it doesn’t rain much and we could be looking at a few spots reaching the upper 90s Tues. or Weds.  Click here for the current SPC outlooks and discussion. Here’s current SPC severe t-storm and tornado watches, meso-discussions, and storm reports. You can check national lightning, Michigan lightning and the latest visible satellite loop (daytime), infrared satellite (nighttime) and regional radar. Here’s storm reports from Tuesday, May 1 (10 states), including 15 tornadoes – they all look relatively small. The jet translates east into Michigan, so we should start to pick up some showers and t-storms around daybreak. ADD: Japanese motorcycle from the tsunami in March 2011 washes up on beach in Canada and a football washed away by the tsunami in Japan has been found on a beach in Alaska.

Happy Easter

April 7th, 2012 at 4:14 am by under Uncategorized

   It’s Easter Weekend, also Passover.  Best of luck to Ferris St. tonight.  The game is on ESPN2.  This will be a mostly sunny weekend.  After a cold start, we’ll bounce up 30 degrees today into the low-mid 60s (cooler at the lake both days this weekend).  There is a chance of a period of light rain as a front comes through Saturday night.  Then partly sunny and breezy on Sunday with highs in the upper 50s.  Cool air moves in for much of the work week with temperatures a mile above ground reaching 20F on Tuesday.  At the ground, we’ll dip to the low-mid 30s at night and stay around 45-50 in the daytime.  We’ll have a couple chances for frost/freeze…probably not until Weds./Thurs. as we should hold a decent wind Monday and Tuesday nights.  Drier than average weather should prevail for the next 6 days.  More later in the day.  Have a great weekend.

Sometimes a cake’s more than a cake

April 3rd, 2012 at 11:27 am by under Food Joy, Uncategorized

When it’s shaped like a bunny (sort of), a cake can be a memory in the making.  I’m not sure when the tradition started, but as long as I remember being a parent, no Easter has gone by without an attempt to make a cake shaped somewhat like a bunny.  Many years,  it’s far less than a masterpiece…matted frosting fur, lopsided too-long ears, a missing marshmallow tail…not the most delicious dessert at the dinner table.   But the bunny cake always brings family together. The tiniest hands place each M&M eye and jelly bean nose.   A glob of frosting usually sits where the always eaten tail is supposed to be. Over the years, we kept that rabbit from harm – or at least tried to – placing it on top of the fridge when the dog was far too curious, out of reach from those little hands that helped create it until the Easter Sunday dinner was served.    Some Bunny Cakes like this one pull double duty wishing a Happy Birthday to eightWest photojournalist and editor Amanda Harper from her mom Sheri Harper, and a Happy Easter, too.  Now it’s time for the next generation to get in on the act.  It all starts with a white cake which can be a mix or ‘the real thing’.  The from scratch recipe below comes from a cookbook given to me by my best friend and her mom, Cathy and Vernie Ann Kelly, more than thirty years ago.  Best friends are really family, too.

Sandy’s What A White Cake

1/2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. plus 2 Tbls. milk

Stir shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating after each egg.  Add flour, salt and baking powder alternately with milk a little at a time.  Bake at 375-degrees for 24 minutes.  It’s a very moist and hearty cake!

Making a Bunny Cake
You will need:
9″ round baking pan
White cake mix or prepared from scratch white cake
Frosting – prepared or from scratch (I use the Fluffy White stuff for a fluffier bunny)
Jelly beans, M&M or other preferred candy decorations
Large marshmallow for the tail
Poster board and non-toxic crayons to make ears
Green food coloring

Prepare baking pan with cooking spray and a light dusting of flour or reserved cake mix.  Mix cake and fill baking pan half way.  Use the rest of the batter for a second bunny cake or cupcakes.  Let cake cool completely.  Cut the top off the cake to even up the surface.  Frost the top half (cut surface) of the cake lightly
Cut the cake in the center creating two half circles.  Fold the two halves together with frosting in the middle to adhere the halves and place on a serving platter cut side down.  The cake now resembles a half moon shape on the plate.  Frost the entire cake with white, fluffy frosting or chocolate if you want a brown bunny.  Pick out candies for the eyes and nose and place them on one end of the bunny cake.  Place a large marshmallow for the tail on the other end of the bunny cake.  Cut out two ears and color as you like.  Fold the bottom corners of the ears today and place in the cake where the bunny’s ear belong.  Decorate the platter around the bunny with ‘grass’.  Create this by sprinkling coconut with a couple of drops of green food coloring – stir to mix.  Add a few jelly beans on top of the coconut just for fun.

Peachy-keen Grill Idea for Lent

March 27th, 2012 at 5:24 pm by under Food Joy, Uncategorized

Sweet and spicy shrimp kabobs & peaches – what says, ‘Hello, Spring’ better than that?  With the weather cooperating and Easter still a short time away, it’s a good time to try a new twist on the Friday night Lenten Fish Fry.  Here’s a summer grill favorite with a little sugar and spice via peaches and barbecue.  Serve it up with some rice and a leafy green salad and you’re ready for a fresh, healthy meal in less than half an hour. Enjoy!

Barbecued Shrimp & Peach Kabobs

What you’ll need:
12 metal or bamboo skewers
(If using bamboo skewers, soak in cold water at least 30 minutes to prevent burning.)
1 Tbls. packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground red (cayenne) pepper
1/4 Salt
1/4 freshly ground pepper
1 lb. shrimp (16 – 20), peeled and deveined
3 medium peaches, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 bunch green onions, dark green parts trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
Lime wedges for serving

Get cooking:
Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.  Combine brown sugar and all of the spices in a large bowl. Add shrimp peaches and onion and toss until well coated. Thread shrimp, peaches and onion alternately onto skewers. Grill 3 to 4 minutes or until browed and shrimp becomes opaque throughout, turning once.  Serve with lime wedges.

The good news:
Each serving (4 total) is about 135 calories, with 4 g. protein, 18 g. carbohydrates, 2 g. total fat and 0 g. saturated fat, 3 g. fiber, 112 mg. cholesterol, 665 mg. sodium

Not Your Usual Casserole

February 19th, 2012 at 8:14 pm by under Food Joy, Uncategorized

  In the chill of even a mild winter, the kitchen is often the place to be for warmth, family and friendship – and a little fun with experimentation.  In an effort to find an out of the ordinary dish to share for a special gathering,  my husband encouraged me to thumb through his decades-old issue of the Moosewood Cookbook, a publication that came out of a popular grass roots restaurant by the same name in Ithica, New York.  Several friends and food lovers started it to share their passion for flavorful, nutritionally balanced and aesthetically pleasing dishes.  Now, it’s my turn to share one of my favorites from it with you.  It’s easy to make ahead, re-heats well and can be jazzed up with a little hot sauce on the side.  I paired it with a whole-grain mustard and honey asparagus stir fry, a green, crunchy salad and a whole beet borscht.  Try this colorful cuisine to satisfy your next dinner crowd.

Arabian Squash Feta Casserole

2 Medium-large butternut or acorn squash
1 heaping cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves crushed garlic (I always round up when it comes to garlic)
1 heaping cup mixed green and red peppers, chopped
3 Tbs. butter for saute’
1 tsp. salt
black & red pepper (cayenne) to taste
2 beaten eggs
1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds or chopped nuts for the top

Cut the squash down the middle, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard.  Place squash face-down on an oiled baking tray.  Bake at 375-degrees for 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the size of the squash, until it’s soft.  Cool until handle-able. Scoop out squash and mash.  Saute’ onion and garlic in lightly salted butter.  When the onion is translucent, add the chopped peppers. Saute’ until the peppers are just under done.  Beat eggs with buttermilk or yogurt. Crumble in the feta cheese.  Combine everything and mix well, adding salt, black and red pepper to taste.  Spread into a buttered casserole or baking pan. Top with seeds or nuts.  Bake at 375-degrees covered for 30 minutes or uncovered for 15 minutes.