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…)
Seven new movies in West Michigan theaters this weekend…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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
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
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.
Soup’s not all that’s on in January. This is a great time of year to seek out sensational salad ideas to help you keep your resolutions while warming your heart. I found a recipe in the Soup’s On For All Cookbook that satisfies an appetite for both. It was contributed to this book by Deb Bailey of Steelcase, Inc, a long time community volunteer. She’s just one of many who shared their love of the kitchen and their compassion for their neighbors in need in a book as beautiful as it is delicious. Proceeds from the sale of the book go to support the food programs of Catholic Charities West Michigan. It’s named after the dual Soup’s On For All events happening in Grand Rapids on January 23 and Along the Lakeshore on February 23, both evenings of hot soups, fresh baked breads and delightful desserts accompanied by local music and beautiful bowls created by caring artists. The bowls can be painted and the cookbooks can be purchased at the newly opened Gallery 303 next to God’s Kitchen on Division in Grand Rapids. Soup’s On cookbooks are also available at Art of the Table on Wealthy in Grand Rapids, and here’s a little taste of what’s inside. Enjoy!
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
2/3 cup Pecans, chopped
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Orange zest
2 teaspoons Red wine vinegar
4 Tablespoons Orange juice
1/4 cup Hazelnut oil (can substitute Walnut oil)
1/4 cup Light olive oil
7 cups Mixed lettuce (romaine, red leaf, spring mix), rinsed and spun or drained well (I love my salad spinner!)
6 ounces Goronzola cheese, crumbled
Pecan Crunch Prep:
In a small saute’ pan, heat butter sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and pepper over medium heat. Add pecans and continue to saute’ stirring constantly until sugar begins to carmelize,
about 4-5 minutes, being careful not to burn the pecans. Place the mixture in a paper bag, shaking occasionally as it cools. Nuts can be stored up to one month in a
cool, dry place.
Hazelnut Vinaigrette Prep:
Place all ingredients in a small jar. Cover and shake vigorously to blend. Store usused vinaigrette, covered, in the refrigerator. Makes about 3/4 cup.
Place mixed lettuce into a large bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Toss in the Pecan Crunch and Gorgonzola cheese. Serve immediately. Don’t expect leftovers.
The calendar says January and for most of us who know West Michigan well, it sure doesn’t feel like it. Chances are pretty good that it’s going to get a whole lot colder, so the ultimate comfort food may be in order and that means soup. It’s the perfect food to warm you up on the inside to help you stay warm when you’re outside. Many in our community are seeking that kind of warmth every day and there is something all of us can do to help them out. We can support God’s Kitchen and the food programs of Catholic Charities West Michigan, an organization that feeds thousands of people daily at several locations throughout West Michigan. One way to step up is to attend a 2012 Soup’s On For All benefit in Grand Rapids on January 23 and on the lake shore on February 23. Another is to buy the Soup’s On cookbook and bring home some warmth. Here are a couple of recipes from it to wet your appetite. Enjoy!
Carrot Ginger Soup
by Dan Harris & Charles Forrester
Serves 8 – 10
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 pound carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
2-inch piece fresh gingeroot, peeled and minced
3 quarts chicken stock or broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon roasted fresh garlic or garlic powder
coarse salt and white pepper, to taste
In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat; add onions and saute’ until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, fresh ginger and chicken stock; simmer over medium heat until the carrots are tender, about 12-15 minutes. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return the pureed soup back to the soup pot. Add the ginger, cinnamon, curry powder, sage and roasted garlic or powder; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the heavy cram and continue to simmer until warmed through. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust seasoning.
Lentil Soup with Sausage
by Sarah H. Jackoboice
Serves 6 – 8
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch slices
46 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 pound lentils, rinsed and picked over
one 3-inch strip fresh orange peel
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried savory, crumbled
5 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
28 ounce canned diced tomatoes
In a heavy, medium saucepan or soup pot, heat oil over medium-low heat; add the onion and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the celery and saute’ five minutes; add the sausage and cook another five minutes, stirring occassionally. Add the chicken broth, water, lentils, orange peel and herbs to the pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the carrots and tomatoes to the soup; partially cover the pan and continue to simmer until the carrots and lentils are very tender, about 50 minutes. Discard the orange peel and serve.