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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Library Park in Elk Rapids

Having a picnic on Labor Day Weekend is de rigueur and we found a delightful spot in Elk Rapids called Library Park. Under the shade of a big pine tree are picnic tables and a gorgeous view of Grand Traverse Bay. Swimming and frolicking in the sand and water of Elk River is irresistible! High of 80 today and mostly sunny. May you have a blessed holiday weekend.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hamburg Library

Hamburg Township supported building a beautiful new library in 2000. The setting is serene and comfy with charm and up-to-date technology bells and whistles. We love the fact they draw upon local authors, like Bob Tarte,who came to talk about his creations: Enslaved by Ducks and Kitty Cornered. Their theme for the summer reading program this year was Catch a Dragon by the Tale and they brought in the storyteller, Yvonne Healy and puppeteer Rick Morse to enhance everyone's experience.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Halo Burgers in Flint

We have enjoyed Halo Burgers on our treks up north for years.  We recently found out that they originated in Flint and are celebrating their 90th year! Their burger has been voted #1 in Michigan because they use quality ingredients and the best condiments. They also are proud of their burger. There are six Halo Burgers in Flint, two in Grand Blanc, one each in Mt Morris, Fenton and Birch Run. The one in this photo is on S Saginaw Street in downtown Flint which used to be a former Vernor's building.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Terry Searfoss' Two Burner Gourmet

Suzie is downsizing and getting rid of bookcases of cookbooks. The only one she absolutely had to save was Terry Searfoss' Two Burner Gourmet. From Saginaw, Terry had great ideas for gourmet meals in small spaces.  It was not only good for boating, but camping, too, or for going on a vacation where cooking is involved. Terry taught us how to put just the ingredients you need in jars or zip lock baggies.  We are so sorry to hear he passed away at the very young age of 50. His cookbook is still available all over the Internet.

Here's one of his wonderful recipes: Pork in Adobo Sauce, which is flavorful and mellow. Ingredients:
1/4 cup vinegar
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tsp salt
2 TB chili powder
2 TB flour
1 TB vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 pork loin chops 1 inch thick

Pre-package first 10 ingredients in an 18 ounce jar. Shake jar after pre-packaging and before using.  Place pork chops in a large gallon size zip lock storage bag.  Add pre-packaged sauce.  Seal and marinate over night, turning occasionally.  Transfer chops and sauce to a large skillet.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Cover. Simmer 45 minutes.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kandy Myny's Bit o Whimsey

Michigan artist Kandy Myny loves creating stuff using mixed media. Hailing from Shelby Township, we spotted Kandy and her Bit o Whimsey booth at a local art fair, but her presence is known on Facebook, Pinterest, Etsy and Happiness and love radiate from her paintings. She will be at Franklin Art in the Village September 2. Celebrate life with a piece of Kandy's art!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Barney's Lobstermania in New Buffalo

We have vacationed all over Michigan and feel that Barney's grocery store in New Buffalo is one of the best markets in a resort area. Because we love to cook, we were there every day during our week there and marveling at their selection. If you have mobility problems, they even deliver to your door. This Saturday is their Lobstermania where they fly in live Maine lobsters and sell them for $11.99 per pound until they are gone, gone, gone. Get your lobster pots out and get in on the fun.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Casey's in New Buffalo

Nothing beats the sweet and spicy fries at Casey's Bar and Grill in New Buffalo if you are a chili cheese fry lover. They use sweet potato waffle fries and top them with chili, cheese, pico de gallo and chipotle cream. They were droolingly incredible. A nicely shaded outdoor patio is available when the weather cooperates.  Inside, you'll find a cool art deco bar, tin ceilings harking back to the 19th century maybe??, hardwood floors and lots of old timey photos on the wall of what used to be. Menu items include seafood, pasta dishes, salads, steaks and many very appealing things. There is live music on the weekends. Open tonight (Sunday) until 10pm.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Harness Racing at Hazel Park

What an exciting scene last night at the Hazel Park Raceway. Friday nights are dollar nights, meaning hotdogs are a dollar and beers are two bucks. No parking fees and no entry fees make it a pretty inexpensive and fun venue to watch harness racing. Couple that with perfect weather and race lovers hit the trifecta. The race track has been in use here since 1953, making this their 60th anniversary.  There are only a few more nights to enjoy live racing (they end September 2), but simulcasting takes place every day--that's where they broadcast races from everywhere else, 362 days a year. We stood right at the barrier and could almost touch the horses as they trotted by.  With the gigantic moon last night, it was heavenly.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Falling Down Beer Company in Warren

Good vittles. Good beer--what a wonderful marriage at the Falling Down Beer Company in the city of Warren just east of the Hazel Park Race Track on 10 Mile Road. FDBC opened for business in March of this year and will be featured at the Zoo Brew on Friday, September 27th along with other fine Michigan craft beers. Owner Mark is the marketing man and the brewmeister who focuses mainly on handmade ales and lagers. Who is the woman in the kitchen though?  She makes some audacious pub food. The reuben egg rolls were outstanding and we are going back for the portabello mushroom burger made with boursin cheese, grilled onions and served on a Milano pretzel bun. Two thumbs up.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bear Cave in Buchanan

If you are a spelunker and love exploring caves, then you must head for Buchanan where the only naturally formed cavern in Michigan is found. Located at Bear Cave Resort along the St Joseph River, it is formed from tufa rock and is very small, but worth a visit, as tufa caves are pretty rare. It has some history as being used as a stop in the Underground Railroad and some infamous bank robbers stored loot here in 1875 and thus the cave was featured in the famous 1903 silent movie The Great Train Robbery. Entering through the gift shop, the resort gives out flashlights when exploring the cave, so that you might see better the stalactites, petrified leaves, fossils, etc. It is located within a pretty campground that is shaded and has sites for tents and rvs.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bronx Bar in Detroit

As dive bars go, the 75 year old Bronx Bar on Second and Prentis in Detroit is pretty unique in décor and personnel.  They have an open air concept with tables and chairs lining the outer perimeter where patrons enjoy fresh breezes along with their brewskis. The bronx burger is pretty massive and quite tasty. Capacity is listed at 90--but that would be elbow-to-elbow and no room to play pool. Besides Shar behind the bar, entertainment includes the two classic jukeboxes.  No TVs to watch the Tigers or Lions games here--it is not a sports bar.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bit o Swiss in Stevensville

We saw the billboard on I-94 advertising Bit o Swiss in Stevensville and decided to explore. Wow. It's the Brigadoon of bakeries in the middle of a subdivision. It's an oasis in the middle of a desert. Four Bit o Swiss delivery trucks were lined up in the parking lot. There were 16 people ahead of us in line on a weekday where we could watch the little elves at work in the kitchen pulling fresh creations from the 20,000 pound old world oven imported from France. Can you say artisan breads? After tasting the baguettes and boules and some of the pastries, we understand why this is a thriving shop now for 45 years. We think it's a Bit o Heaven!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tapistry Brewery in Bridgman

The newest brewery in our state is Tapistry in Bridgman which opened last month in what was formerly a resale clothing shop. Co-owned by two Michigan guys Joe and Greg, they seem to have brought the right expertise to the table and currently have an unbelievable selection of beers on tap.  The 4,000 square foot facility has a viewing window where you can watch brewmaster, Nathan, do his stuff. They do take advantage of the popular local butcher shop down the street to offer some yummy snacks to go with their pints. We loved what we tasted and ended up bringing home a growler of their Summer Haze. The beer garden has potential!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Buffalo Sailing Excursions

Sunset boating on Lake Michigan with Stephen Adney's New Buffalo Sailing Excursions is a wonderful experience. Stephen offers introductory sailing lessons and will let you take the helm. It is also an ideal occasion for that marriage proposal, an anniversary or birthday celebration. Catching a sunset or sailing under a beautiful moon on his 31 footer is priceless.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Little Tokyo Sushi in New Buffalo

There is no shortage of great sushi in New Buffalo thanks to Little Tokyo. They are open until 10:30pm which suited our late Friday arrival just perfectly for take-out. Besides our normal California rolls and spicy tuna, we had to get some of their specials like Volcano and Mexican rolls.  They were all worthy. The service was excellent and the staff more than happy to explain their various creations.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Chikaming Township Park and Preserve

There are more than 250 beauiful acres to roam in the Chikaming Park and Preserve and a lovely pavilion with picnic tables tucked way back in the woods. The hiking trails are mowed paths with wildflowers and wildlife to enjoy every where you look. We had the park all to ourselves at 10am and let the dog off his leash to run to his delight. Click on the photo and see if you can spot him.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mike's Blueberry Farm in New Buffalo

Southwest Michigan is the blueberry capital of the world and we celebrated the month of August by picking them ourselves at Mike's Blueberry Farm in New Buffalo this week on one of the unseasonably cool mornings. The 6 of us hauled out five pounds in no time, so now we are making blueberry waffles, blueberry scones and blueberry cobblers. We hope you, too, are enjoying Michigan's bounty!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rolling Acres Pet Treat Bakery

We found Trisha Gussman at Skip's Farmer's Market in New Buffalo. She handmakes all kinds of food and treats for pets with no preservatives, no soy, corn, salt, yeast or dyes either. What caught our eye at her Rolling Acres Pet Treat Bakery stand were the chicken claws. Trisha said they are all cartilage and full of protein.  All we can say is our dogs loved them! She's at the farmers market in New Buffalo on Sundays. Just look for the claws.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

El Rancho Grande in New Buffalo

The best TexMex food spot in Southwest Michigan is El Rancho Grande in New Buffalo. The décor is sweet with a 200 year old bar from Colorado and all manner of interesting memorabilia and history tidbits about the Alamo, Jim Bowie, Pancho Villa and assorted artifacts to see. Furthermore, it's easy to develop a craving for their delicious homemade food like their burrito grande or their steak fajitas. Occasional mariachi bands stroll throughout.  ¡Viva México!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Paddle boarding on the Galien River

The Galien River is a gentle flowing stream emptying into Lake Michigan at New Buffalo.  Third Coast Surf Shop offers kayak and paddle board rentals here to adventurers. Stand-up paddle boarding, aka SUPing, is a fast growing sport in Michigan. We had a lovely experience on the river today, enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Skip's Farmers Market in New Buffalo

A popular place on both Saturdays and Sundays May-October is Skip's Open-Air Farmers Market in New Buffalo. It's easy to spot on the lakeside of Red Arrow Highway with the familiar white tent awnings.  In its fifth season, it was humming with activity today. The fresh veggies and luscious offerings of fruit are a huge draw as well as stands that sell olive oils, soaps, jewelry, unique clothing, knives, and artists selling their lovely objets d'art. We observed lots of people with dogs. One pooch was laden with a purchase-filled saddle pack!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

New Buffalo Ship and Shore Festival

Seems like every other license plate in the small resort community of New Buffalo is from Illinois (translate: Chicago). We are here enjoying their Ship and Shore Festival this weekend.  The bands start performing at noon and go non-stop until midnight.  The streets are jam-packed with revelers. The lighted boat parade included a yellow submarine and a blue flashing figure with cool fingernails.  Fireworks on the beach cap it all.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fat Cam's in Edwardsburg

Our wanderings today took us to Garver Lake in Edwardsburg where we found Fat Cam's lovely outdoor terrace with a view of the water. Over a plate of delicious shrimp and grits with hush puppies, we enjoyed conversation with the owners, Cam (who is not fat) and his wife, Kate. It has the down home feel of a boot-scootin boogie place.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Recipes in Troy

An unusual name for a restaurant is Recipes, located in Troy on Crooks south of Big Beaver. It's a little blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it-place, that has been growing due to word of mouth about their tantalizing menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The tequila quesadillas were great.  The stuffed eggplant was spicy, almost like a chili. Kudos to the chef.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Monkey Bread at Sans Souci Market

Directly across from the historic Sans Souci Bar on Harsens Island is the Sans Souci Market. You might call it the downtown area of the 9 mile long piece of land at the upper end of Lake St Clair.  The market is excited because they recently received the designation of the Village Post Office. We love it for their home made baked goods--especially their monkey bread.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Filming Transformers 4 in Detroit

If you see a burnt out pagoda on Washington Boulevard and Chinese advertisements all around, then you've stumbled on to the set for the Transformers 4 movie. If you're lucky you might catch sight of Mark Wahlberg. He was filmed as an explosion was rigged in this area.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Middle Channel Golf Club on Harsens Island

The only golf club on Harsens Island is Middle Channel which was established in 1926 and features 18 holes.  Open to the public, we've had fun playing a round here at this unique island course. Occasional Rum Runners parties have been held at the club where they encourage period dress and award prizes to best costumes. The car ferry from Algonac makes the trip every 20 minutes to the island or you can dock your boat and bring your clubs in that way. The 9 mile island even has an airstrip if you fancy arriving with wings.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Big Muscamoot Bay Boaters Hangout

Everyone knows that Michigan is a boaters' paradise. A favorite spot to drop anchor and swim is Big Muscamoot Bay off the southern tip of Harsens Island. The noise level is off the scale with stereos blasting and music blaring. It is one huge party haven on the weekends and sometimes R-rated. Literally hundreds of boats are scattered throughout this bay on a beautiful day like today.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Stewart Farm on Harsens Island

Today our excursion desires led us to Harsens Island to explore Stewart Farm, a Michigan Historical Site. Dating back to 1815, it is the oldest operating farm on the island owing its name to the original owner, New Yorker Harvey Stewart. He married the granddaughter of Jacob Harsen, who had settled on the island in the 1700's. Owner Bob Williams invited the public today to walk the mowed paths in his 53 acre woodlands and meadow paradise to view the birds, wildlife and the gorgeous array of wildflowers.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wayne State Art Walk in Detroit

It is a pleasant stroll through the Art Walk of Wayne State's campus. Easily walkable from the Lodge Freeway to Woodward on the east, then from Hancock on the south to Palmer on the north there are 27 sculptures scattered throughout the compact campus. The art walk represents a wide range of interesting artists and their works. The Dancing Maidens on top are by Oskar Stonorov who immigrated from Germany in 1929. Morris Brose immigrated from Poland in 1931 and created Sentinel II, bottom left. The limestone relief is Student by G Alden Smith who taught at Wayne from 1940-1983.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Detroit Opera House Skydeck

What a wonderful new venue, open air cocktail, rooftop space the SkyDeck is atop the Detroit Opera House.  They broadcast the baseball games via radio and you can see Comerica Park from your perch on the bleachers or standing at the railing. The Tigers are hosting the White Sox this weekend which would be a great time to check out this unique party spot.