Tag Archives: food

Local Fish Tacos


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of my favorite places in the world, and I’m lucky to live so close to it.

That’s why it’s become an annual camping destination for my friend Sandy and me. We don’t really “rough it” too much, although three days without a shower may be pushing it. Our focus is on eating–and drinking–well, which is why Day 1 of our camping excursion always includes stops at Good Harbor Vineyards, Stone House Bread, and now Good Harbor Farm.

We used to come up with a cooking theme for each camping trip but the last few years we decided to make it easy on ourselves and just focus on either bringing or procuring locally raised foods. This year, our first dinner was fish tacos with Lake Michigan whitefish from Carlson’s of Fishtown in Leland. (For our previous take on fish tacos, check out the blog post from our 2009 trip when we used shrimp.)

Although I have a one-burner camp stove, which works great for brewing coffee quickly in the morning or making popcorn at night, we generally cook our dinner over a fire.

For the tacos, we cut our one-pound-ish whitefish filet into big chunks so we could marinate them in lime juice, olive oil, onion, and cumin.

Then we sprinkled them with cayenne pepper and put them on foil on the fire grate to cook, flipping them once, for a total cook time of about ten minutes. (You know fish is done when it starts to flake.)

For the vegetables, we used chopped cabbage (which we brought with us from the Holland Farmers Market) and a garnish of fresh cilantro from my garden.

And we made a sauce from my homemade yogurt by mixing it with fresh-squeezed lime juice and a dash of cayenne.

While the fish was cooking we wrapped flour tortillas in foil to heat them on the fire. We made a simple pico de gallo garnish with tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno pepper. And we made a side of organic bok choy (from CJ Veggies at the Holland Farmers Market) steamed with olive oil, salt, and pepper in foil over the fire.

For assembly, you just pull the fish apart with a fork, place it in the middle of the warm tortilla, then top with cabbage, yogurt sauce, pico de gallo, and cilantro.

It’s a quick and easy meal for camping. And it goes great with local wine!

Butter for Bill


What do you do with the cream from a gallon of raw milk every week when you don’t want to drink whole milk? Make butter. Or ice cream. But I can’t make ice cream every week because the problem is Bill and I eat it! As with ice cream, we can store butter in the freezer but it doesn’t seem to call to us the way ice cream does!

When I made butter from raw milk the first time, it was a near catastrophe. I had read about how to do it on the web, consulted with a friend, and gave it a go–using first my KitchenAid mixer, then a food processor, and finally a blender. I was able to salvage a couple tablespoons of butter at least, and the best part was I saved the buttermilk to use in our oatcake recipe. In the end, I thought of two possible things I did wrong: used milk that was too fresh and too cold. I also determined the blender is the best tool for the job.

So the next time I made the butter it was about four days after getting a fresh batch of milk. After separating the cream from the milk, I left it out on the counter for an hour or so. This batch yielded about two cups of cream.

I dumped all of it into my KitchenAid blender and ran it on “Mix” (a medium speed) for–no joke–less than five minutes.

After a couple minutes I looked inside to see if any solids (fat particles) were clinging to the blender cover. Once this happens, you’re pretty close. I ran it another minute or so more to make sure I had some substance in the bottom of the blender.

Then I used a slotted spoon to put the butter into a bowl, and strained the remaining fat using a sieve.

I saved the buttermilk for pancakes and then, using a spoon, pressed the butterfat into the bowl to squeeze the milk out. This is how much buttermilk I had.

I put the bowl of butter in the fridge, covered it with wax paper, and let it set a few hours, then rinsed it with cold water, again pressing the butter against the bowl to get the liquid out.

You could add salt to your butter if you want but I don’t in case I find a recipe that calls for unsalted butter. Some people add herbs or honey—there are lots of options if you want fancy butter for bread or a special recipe.

Then I packaged up my butter by rolling it in wax paper and marking it with the date it was made. I store these packages in a Ziplock bag in the freezer for future use.

Why is this post called “Butter for Bill”? Because, ever since we learned that some people with cow dairy allergies can digest raw milk, we invested in a cow share so we can get raw milk every week. He’s been able to enjoy more dairy products and recipes that have milk in them, as long as it’s raw. Ice cream, buttermilk pancakes, and butter are all treats he can now eat, thanks to this recent discovery. And me? I just love the taste of raw milk in my coffee every morning!

I’m so glad I was able to figure out the butter-making process using one of my appliances because I was about ready to go find me an old-fashioned butter churn!

A Special Dinner


Last night I had the privilege of collaborating with Butch’s Restaurant in Holland, Michigan to promote my cookbook, Nothing to Sneeze At, during a dinner for which Chef Adam prepared wheat-free, corn-free, cow-dairy-free recipes from the book. I think several of the dinner guests were pleasantly surprised when they tasted the dishes he made and realized how delicious they can be–even with substitutions. For me, it was a treat to taste my recipes made by a professional chef!

We had a great turnout of 20 people and dinner was held in one of Butch’s private dining rooms.

The evening started with a book signing and, after a brief introduction about the cookbook, we began our four-course meal.

Each of the courses was chosen by Chef Adam from one of four sections in the cookbook: soup, meat, pasta, and vegetarian.

Dessert was a yummy vegan chocolate cupcake provided by the baker at Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck, Michigan, who also bakes for Butch’s.

The event was a fun way to share my experience with food allergies, which were first introduced to me by Bill.

Thanks to Butch for hosting the event–the first of its kind at his restaurant with a focus on food allergies–and showing how the restaurant values its customers by accommodating special dietary needs.

Dijon-Rosemary Lamb Steak


Bill and I picked up our lamb meat that we ordered from Lubbers Farm and there was a new cut in the collection: a lamb steak. I remember the first time I got a pork steak and wasn’t sure what to do with it. Turns out, it’s basically like a chop. So I decided to use a lamb chop recipe with the lamb steak we got for dinner this week.

I’ve had this recipe called “Dijon-Rosemary Lamb Chops” in my cookbook for a long time. It’s from a chef at the Bentwood Country Club in San Angelo, Texas. I had to adapt it since Bill can’t have wheat flour or cream. So here’s what I did:

I weighed the steak, which turned out to be two pieces. It was about two-thirds of a pound, which also meant doing a math adjustment for the recipe that called for four pounds of meat.

Then I spread Dijon mustard all over the meat.

And added chopped fresh rosemary from the pot on my breezeway.

Then I dredged the meat in brown rice flour and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.

In a skillet with hot olive oil, I seared the steaks on each side for four minutes.

Then I added some dry white wine and deglazed the pan, and put it (covered) in the oven at 300 degrees F for just two minutes. I let the meat rest for two more minutes.

The original recipe called for cream in the gravy, but I thought it was perfectly fine without!

Served with a side of canellini beans and braised lacinato kale, it was a simple, delicious meal. And, only a third of a pound of meat (or less, because that weight includes the bones) per person. We just don’t need to eat a lot of meat. A little good quality, local pastured meat is adequate–and healthy.

From My Mother’s Recipe Box: Two Recipes for Apples


When I was a kid, I loved candy apples. I think it was mostly the color I liked, but it may have also been that final break-through from the candy to the apple, similar to reaching the chocolate in a Tootsie Pop. Caramel apples, however, were not my favorite. Probably because I had braces. Even today, I don’t have much fondness for the sweetness of caramel. But I know a lot of people do. So, just in time for Halloween, check out this vintage recipe by Mary Morgan from My Mother’s Recipe Box.

I cropped the photos and made two of them so it’s easier to read the recipe.

And, because so many people are making apple dishes, I thought I’d share a recipe for Apple Crisp by Carolyn, who I believe is my mother’s cousin since she didn’t add her last name to the recipe card.

Enjoy apple picking, and Happy Halloween!

It’s Time to Eat Real: Food Day 2011


Today is Food Day, an event that seeks to bring Americans together to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. Ultimately, the organization aims to transform the American diet.

Today, thousands of people are gathering in schools, college campuses, farmers markets, City Halls, and state capitals to talk about what’s right and wrong with our diets and the whole food system–and how to fix them.

Why eat real?

Real food tastes better. And meals built around vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are delicious and satisfying. According to FoodDay.org, “far too many Americans are eating diets composed of salty, overly processed packaged foods clad in cardboard and plastic; high-calorie sugary drinks that pack on pounds and rot teeth, but have no nutritional benefit; and fast-food meals made of white bread, fatty grain-fed factory-farmed meat, French fries, and more soda still. What we eat should be bolstering our health, but it’s actually contributing to several hundred thousand premature deaths from heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer each year. What’s more, the way our food is produced all too often harmful to farm workers, the environment, and farm animals.”

Food Day is based on these six principles:

What’s happening on Food Day in your community?

Lavash Pizza with Bratwurst and Kale



I’m always looking for ways to whip up something quick and easy for dinner. My lavash pizza obsession is one way to solve the dilemma because the frozen Millet & Flax Lavash that Bill and I buy from Sami’s Bakery thaws quickly. So it’s just a matter of figuring out what to put on it.

We had a package of bratwursts from Creswick Farms that we recently got at the West Michigan Co-op. And I still had some curly kale in the garden. So here’s what I did….

First I braised the brats in a skillet to cook them through.

I let the water burn off in the skillet and added a little olive oil to brown them.

Meanwhile, I chopped the kale from my garden and steamed it, covered, in the microwave for one minute.

Then I sliced the brats and browned them again in the same olive oil and skillet.

Once they were done, I put them aside and sautéed half a large yellow onion, sliced, in the same pan.

When all the ingredients were ready, I browned the bottom side of two lavash pieces on a griddle.

Then it’s just a matter of assembly: First the onions, then the kale, then the brats, followed by some grated manchego sheep’s cheese.

The pizzas were browned under the broiler (set on low) on a cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes. The idea is to brown the cheese and heat the pizza through.

Once it’s ready, just place the pizza on a cutting board and immediately cut into quarters.

One pizza makes a nice meal for one person.