Thursday, July 30, 2009

Local Love Fridays: Our Family Farm

Here is a puzzle:

What are these two objects, and what do they have to do with baking?

To find out, Local Love Fridays is over here at my writing gig today. Please come by and say hello.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday: Fish Tacos with Kohlrabi and Summer Squash

Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

Tuesdays are always a bit of an interesting challenge around my house.

It's end of the week for our Tantre Farm share, and I never know what goodies I'll have to use up. Last Tuesday, these were some things I pulled out of the fridge early in the day:

What was I going to do with kohlrabi and summer squash, onions and cilantro? Well, having discovered a wonderful kohlrabi slaw recently, this seemed like a great base for fish tacos.

Fish tacos are one of my summer favorites, because they are so light and the textures can be so varied. I'm sure that actual Mexican cooks would cringe at some of my filling choices, but I love the versatility that tacos provide in terms of tying various ingredients together.

Obviously, I didn't have the fish, so I ran to Monahan's later that morning and got a beautiful piece of pollack.

When dinner time rolled around, I had an easy dish prepared in about 20 minutes.

Jen's Fish Tacos with Kohlrabi and Summer Squash


1 lb. pollack, or other firm, white, fish fillet, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
8 small flour tortillas
3 medium summer squash, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 medium kohlrabi, shredded or grated
kernels scraped off of 2 ears of corn
1 cup of salsa, prepared or homemade
a few stalks of cilantro, chopped, plus a few sprigs for garnish
juice from 1 lime
1 TBS olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream (optional)


1. Saute the onion and summer squash over medium high heat in a 1/2 TBS olive oil until tender, but not overcooked. Stir in the corn kernels and the salsa. Set aside and cover to leave warm.

2. In another pan, heat a little olive oil (1/2 TBS or so) over medium high heat. Saute fish until the pieces start to be opaque. Add the lime juice. Cook until fish is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. Heat tortillas. The easiest way that I find to do this is to wrap them in a stack in paper towels and microwave them for 30 - 45 seconds.

4. Assemble the tortillas: place a tortilla on a plate, spoon the vegetables over the tortilla, spoon some fish over the veggies and sprinkle some of the grated kolhrabi on top. Garnish with a sprig or two of cilantro. Also garnish with sour cream, if desired.

Serves 4 - 2 tacos each.

4 Servings

Nutrition Info:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 413.7
Total Fat 6.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.3 g
Cholesterol 102.7 mg
Sodium 694.3 mg
Potassium 746.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 52.7 g
Dietary Fiber 7.3 g
Sugars 5.6 g
Protein 37.8 g

As always, nutrition info supplied by the recipe calculator function at

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wedding Mania

Two weeks from yesterday, I will be in the Nashville area celebrating the wedding of my niece, Amanda, to her long-time love, Nickalaus. I'm sure it will be lovely, and I know I will be emotional.

But I kind of wish I would be at this wedding instead:

I have to admit, I got teary at the end. What absolute joy and mania, and isn't that what weddings should be about?

What's the most unusual wedding you've ever attended?

P.S. thanks to my lovely Swedish daughter, Mikaela, for sending me this.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Local Love Fridays: A Walk on the Deliciously Wild Side - Taste Our Goods


That's the first thing that strikes you about Taste Our Goods - the breakfast and lunch counter run by Nora Feldhusen and Suzanne Lipton. The food is absolutely delicious and the baked goods are decadent, but what hits you first is the face of the counter:

Get Baked. Taste Our Goods.

These are tees designed by a friend who's started his own, small business: Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company.

A gorgeous red velvet cake sits between tchotkes and specials signs on the counter.

Above, the sign lists sandwiches such as Kat's an Adult (prosciutto, arugula and aged provolone on a buttered baguette), Foley's Steak Sandwich (butt-rubbed steak, caramelized onions, Amish blue cheese and arugula drizzled with cherry vinaigrette on sourdough), and Judy's a Punk (grilled portabello, pesto, tomato and goat cheese). The names are even more fun when you learn that they are homages to friends and to those who work around the market, and that there are inside jokes, such as Foley is actually a vegetarian and the eponymous sandwich is designed to razz her.

I went to breakfast at Taste Our Goods and enjoyed a perfectly made "Caprese" omelette bursting with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, accompanied by freshly toasted slices of Mill Pond Bakery's excellent multigrain bread and a fresh strawberry/watermelon/mint fruit salad. The serving was large enough that a friend and I split everything and still felt full.

And all of this for seven bucks.

Nora and Suzanne both graduated from U. of M. in May; Nora in Organizational Studies and Suzanne in the History of Art, and they started the baked goods business here a week later at Bob Sparrow's request. Soon after they were happily coerced into starting the lunch counter, and that expanded to breakfast, and now that has expanded to hiring more of their just-graduated friends, and...

They are having a really good time.

Everything other than breads (Mill Pond and Zingerman's breads are used) is made from scratch, and this means that you may have to wait a few minutes for your order. This isn't fast food in any way, shape or form, but it is completely worth the wait. The recipes are all their own or are from family and friends: the lemon caesar dressing is the recipe of K-ron (Karen, Suzanne's mother) and the special on Thursday, "Georgian Cheesy Bread," (otherwise known as Khachapuri) was given to Suzanne by the Georgian mother of a friend. They have outdoor seating, which is simply lovely in the summer, but you can also order a beverage at next-door Sweetwater's and relax and enjoy your food there when it's ready.

This is the newest member of what is, in my opinion, quickly becoming the hottest lunch spot in Ann Arbor - Kerrytown. Taste Our Goods serves up wonderful sandwiches and salads, Monahan's Seafood has a large and delicious variety of seafood options for lunch (which will be the subject of another post), A Knife's Work, out of Everyday Wines, provides artisan take-away created from local produce, meats and goods, and there is, as there always has been, the venerable Kosmo Deli.

The next time you visit the Hands-On Museum, peruse the shops on North Fourth, or even go to Town Hall to pay a parking ticket (well, maybe not that), stop by Kerrytown and meet one of the newest entrepreneurial teams in town and Taste Their Goods.

Taste Our Goods, located in Sparrow Market, Kerrytown, 407 N. Fifth, Ann Arbor, 769-2725. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, lunch from 10 a.m. til 3 p.m. and breakfast from 8 a.m. til 11 a.m., as well as all day on Saturday.

In other news, my new gig started officially today. You can find this post, among a variety of others, at which went live this morning. I can be found under the Food and Drink section. Please come by and say hello!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday - Blueberry/Lemon/Cornmeal Muffins

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a woman (or man) lounging about on a lazy summer afternoon must be in want of a good book, lovely sunshine and some fine refreshment.*

And so I found myself, back from vacation, ready to embrace the pleasures of Ann Arbor summer. I was also in "want" of returning to healthy eating, after a week of cruise ship cuisine (the less said about that, the better).

After about 10 minutes of prep and 25 minutes of cooking time, I was ready to move out to the porch with Shannon Hale's Austenland, my muffin and a cold glass of lemonade.

*apologies to Jane Austen

A2eatwrite's Blueberry/Lemon/Cornmeal Muffins


2 cups blueberries, preferably fresh
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup ww pastry flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
zest from one small lemon
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon extract
lemon juice from half a small lemon
1 tsp granulated sugar for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Spray a 12-muffin pan with cooking spray or an oil atomizer.

3. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients, through the lemon zest.

4. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, then whisk in the buttermilk, the lemon juice and the lemon extract.

5. Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over stir.

6. Stir in the washed blueberries.

7. Using a melon baller or other scoop, fill the muffin pan openings as completely as possible.

8. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden brown on top.

9. Cool in pan on wire rack for 3 or so minutes, then remove, loosening muffins with butter knife, and continue to cool on rack out of the pan.

Nutritional Info

* Servings Per Recipe: 12
* Amount Per Serving
* Calories: 102.2
* Total Fat: 1.5 g
* Cholesterol: 38.0 mg
* Sodium: 141.7 mg
* Total Carbs: 20.6 g
* Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
* Protein: 3.9 g

As always, nutrition info supplied by the recipe calculator function at

Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.


THE MISSING INK contest winner was Momisodes, as selected by the Momisodes, please drop me an e-mail at jenshaines at gmail dot com and send me your information so I can get this wonderful book to you!

Monday, July 20, 2009

On Turning Fifty, part 1: Some special food experiences

Last Monday I was blissfully floating across the North Atlantic on the way to Bermuda. I also turned 50 that day.

For many people, this might seem like a huge landmark. For me, last year was the landmark (surpassing the age of my sister). This year is simply a triumph, kind of like "See, I made it this far. Now, what comes next?"

I could be ambitious and make a list of fifty things I still want to do, or talk about the fifty greatest books I've ever read, or the fifty best experiences of my life, but I've chosen to talk about fifty food experiences, which I'll share from time to time throughout the year.

Today, in the spirit of just having returned from Bermuda, I'm going to talk about a few, memorable, international, food experiences:

1. I was three or so. We'd been to Ireland to visit my relatives there and were now having a beach vacation in Forte dei Marmi, Italy (which was very different in the early 60s than the chic resort it's become today). We were in a very small hotel, and I ate separately in our little cottage each night, before my parents would go eat in the dining room. I was a fussy eater at that age, and I longed for more American-tasting food. There was a lovely waiter who would bring supper down from the main building each night, and one night, with a great flourish, he presented me with a true prize: a hot dog! It was plain, no bun, but I was thrilled, and thanked him profusely. It was clearly a gift from one of those Italians who will do anything for bambini. I remember throwing my arms around his neck and saying "Grazie!" over and over again. Once he'd left, I dug into that lovely, pink specimen, only to find out that it was nothing like anything I'd had in the States. It was sweet in flavor, and the texture was all wrong. But it was perfect. It was a present from a friend, and this may have been my first true lesson in cultural exchange. I ate everything that was offered to me for the rest of my visit.

2. I was six or seven. I was back to my fussy eating ways and we were somewhere in France (probably Paris). I was at a restaurant with my parents, and I had something plain and simple in front of me. My mother had a full meal, and her appetizer was quiche. She implored me to try some, stating it was "the French version of pizza". I tried a bite and almost swooned. It was delicious. I tried bites of other things that meal and discovered, especially at the cheese course, that food could be a delightful adventure.

3. I was nine. We were in Guadalupe. There was a huge buffet set out for lunch on the beach. The Caribbean sun had been relentless, and we all enjoyed loading our plates and finding a shaded place to sit and enjoy. The food at this place was wonderful. My mother and I especially loved this one dish - was it fried fish? Fried chicken? Somewhat spongy and delicate that tasted astonishing - soft inside and crisp outside and beautifully spiced. After several helpings each, we found out that we were eating fish brain fritters.

4. I leap forward to 22. My father and I were in Paris for one of his research trips on Camille Pissarro. From what I remember, it was Victory in Europe Day - May 8th, and everything was closed. Since we were staying in a hotel, we'd had a minimal breakfast and nothing since. We'd spent the day traipsing the empty streets of Paris and by evening we were ravenous. We were invited to a French friend's home for dinner that evening, and when we arrived there, our hostess explained that she was terribly sorry, but she'd really had no time to put anything together. We sat down in her living room, making polite conversation and trying to quiet our rumbling stomachs. Finally, our friend served us some saucisson (which I abhorred) and a bit of baguette. My father and I tucked in, and I tried to swallow while barely chewing, as I was starving, but unhappy with the thin slices of soft sausage glimmering with chunks of fat. We both noticed that our hostess ate next to nothing, and we tried, somewhat, to follow suit. After twenty minutes or so, the saucisson and baguette were cleared, and our hostess invited us into the dining room, where she proceeded to serve us classic dish after French classic dish. I don't remember every course, but I do remember that we had Duck a l'Orange and Mousse au Chocolat and that the entire meal and company remains with me as one of the best dining experiences of my life.

5. Age 23: sitting at the famous Sacher Cafe at the Sacher Hotel, Wien. In front of me sat a rich cup of coffee and one of these:

Original Sacher Torte. For a history of this confection, click here.

I was in the middle of a "Cultural European History" tour, which had been a marvelously economic way to see much of Western (and a bit of Eastern) Europe in eight weeks, and while the cultural treats had been many, traveling with a group of college kids, whose general idea of a good time was a kegger, had made the trip somewhat enervating. This escape, on a rainy afternoon, was a lovely respite. I can still taste the undercurrent of the apricot jam, the bitterness of the chocolate, and the somewhat surprising dry texture of the cake. I can hear the rain and feel the warmth of the hot coffee.

Now, please share - what are some of your favorite, international, food experiences?

Friday, July 10, 2009

THE MISSING INK Blog Tour with Karen E. Olson

Karen E. Olson, author of the Annie Seymour mysteries, has just released the first of her new, Tattoo Shop Mysteries series - THE MISSING INK. I was lucky enough to be able to read an advance copy, and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was very different for me, because I'd really grown to love Annie, who is a very different character from Brett Cavanaugh, Karen's new protagonist, but Brett grew on me quickly. She's very creative and whimsical, but she's also tenacious and, in some ways, much more sure of herself than Annie, from my point of view.

But who cares about my point of view when we've got Karen?

1. What did you enjoy the most about starting the new series?

I had so much fun coming up with new characters, new voices, a new setting. While I was sorry to be leaving Annie and New Haven behind, it was a real challenge and a pleasure to discover that I had more characters in my head than just the ones in the Annie series. It made me realize that I can write outside my comfort zone and be comfortable with it.

2. I know you had to take a trip to Vegas for “research” (just joking about putting it in quotation marks). Tell us about some interesting experiences from your research. Also, did you choose the inspiration for Versailles, etc., based on your trip, or were some of your locations, like the Venetian, set in place ahead of time?

I was in Vegas about 12 years ago for a couple of days, so I had a little bit of experience with it! But in the middle of writing THE MISSING INK I realized I needed to go there again, to see what had changed, to get a little more of the ambiance. We stayed at the MGM and spent a lot of time at the Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes. I’d already decided that Brett’s shop should be there, so I took a lot of pictures and notes. I added some foodie stuff, especially after having the fabulous crepes in Paris. Versailles sprouted from visiting all the crazy, themed resorts. I needed to create a resort, though, because I couldn’t have crimes occurring in real places! One place I hadn’t been to before was Red Rock Canyon, which is stunningly beautiful. Unfortunately it was 110 degrees in June and we couldn’t hike.

3. How was it to write more of an ensemble piece? While there was certainly a wonderful cast of characters in the Annie Seymour series, this series seems to put almost as much emphasis on secondary characters as on Brett. I thought the secondaries were a total hoot, by the way!

Annie is a loner, basically. She doesn’t have a huge circle of friends and that’s okay with her. But Brett is different in that she’s befriended her employees and has good relationships with them. I had great fun with Bitsy and Joel, and you’ll see more of Ace in PRETTY IN INK. I wanted to create more of a world with more characters this time around.

4. Did you go through withdrawal switching from a hard-swearing, hard-boiled reporter character to a Catholic schoolgirl tattooist who calls on her memories of Sister Mary Eucharista for behavior guidelines?

I love Annie, because I know her. I know people like her, and I’ve been like her at times. And I grew to love Brett, who is sort of the anti-Annie, except that she has the same tenacity. I wanted to create a character who was not a stereotype but still had an edge to her. And she’s happy with her life. She’s not grumpy. It’s been so great writing a character who has no angst!

5. They say that all artists paint self-portraits within each portrait they paint of others, and the same can be said for writers and their protagonists. Who is more “you” – Annie or Brett?

Annie started out more me, but grew away from me with each book as I found out more about her. I suppose she is more “me,” in that she’s got the career I had. But Brett is the good girl with a twist, and I’ve always wanted to be more of a rebel. Is that vague enough for you?

6. What are you enjoying most about setting the new series in a place you haven’t lived as opposed to writing about a place where you’re currently living?

Everyone loves Vegas. It’s so over the top, and I feel like my plots and characters can be over the top, too. I don’t have to stick with real locations if I don’t want to, which is fun, and when I was there last year I met a Vegas native who said that the landscape there changes every six months so don’t worry about being true to streets or hotels or restaurants or anything else. It was very freeing. In New Haven, I was locked in and felt an obligation to be as true to the city as I could. Vegas doesn’t care.

7. What is the one, key thing that people should know about Brett?

She is just a nice person with a job she loves that pays the bills and she just happens to get mixed up in solving crimes. As long as people suspend their disbelief about a tattooist turned crime solver, then I’m happy.

8. Are we going to see more of Simon? And do we really have to wait to April 2010 for PRETTY IN INK? Can we get a sneak preview of what Brett will be facing in PRETTY IN INK (other than hilarious names for cross-dressing strippers)?

Simon is not back in the next book. He was going to break her heart, and she knows that. But there is a new guy in PRETTY IN INK, which actually is now scheduled to come out in March. In PRETTY IN INK, Brett gets all caught up in the deaths of two drag queens.

Thanks so much for having me here today!

You can buy a signed copy of Karen's book, THE MISSING INK, by clicking here (Mystery Lovers Bookshop is an independent bookstore in Oakmont, PA), or for regular copies, go to your local, independent bookstore, or get it from any of the usual online or commercial outlets. In our area, it's carried at Nicola's Books, Aunt Agatha's and the big box stores.


You can WIN a copy of THE MISSING INK just by leaving a comment at the end of this post. You have until Sunday, July 19th at 10 p.m., E.D.T. to leave your comments. Cheers!

Local Love Fridays: Integration for a Deeper Life - Gateway Chiropractic

Last fall, I managed to do "something" to my back. I'm sure many of you have experienced that "something" - you're just not sure what you did, but all of a sudden there's quite a lot of pain, and you can feel a ridge of muscles that wasn't there before, but you can't seem to get the muscles to behave, and the pain is just... well, taking over your life.

When I went to the doctor, she gave me the requisite icing/Advil instructions, and also said that she really, really wanted me to see a massage therapist.

I went to the wonderful massage therapist, Lisa McVety of Massageworks, and felt much, much better. I worked with Lisa several times, and from the first time I visited her, Lisa said, "I really think you would benefit from my chiropractor. She's really different. You'll either like her approach or not - but it's worth trying."

Well, at first, I chose the "not". Fifteen years earlier I'd had a very bad, single experience with a chiropractor, and it had actually left my neck damaged for quite some time. No one was going to "crack" me.

Over time, however, there were certain areas that even Lisa couldn't seem to help, and then I had secondary problems come up that were related to my ongoing struggles with both fibromyalgia and some sort of hard-to-diagnose rheumatological arthritis.

By January, I was ready to try anything that might mitigate my fairly constant level of pain.

And that's when I met Dr. Diane Babalas of Gateway Chiropractic.

Dr. Diane's BGI (Bio-Geometric Integration) method is, indeed, different.

As Dr. Diane describes it: "The philosophy is what makes it different, because the philosophy of chiropractic is that the body has an innate wisdom. The chiropractor’s job is to remove any interference to the expression of that wisdom. Bio-Geometric Integration – BGI – is a method that allows us to read what the body is saying so that we can very effectively release the tensions and stresses that are stored not only in the bones but in the soft tissues and muscles and organs. So that’s different in that traditional chiropractic medicine would basically be limited to the bony structures of the body and tends to look at the body more mechanistically."

How this translates for us, is that since this model looks at the entire body, it helps Diane analyze where tension is stored and it also gives her tactile tools to help the body learn to release that stored tension. The experience, as a patient, is a series of touches and pressures - no snapping, nothing sudden.

And then you get up off the table and feel much, much better.

A great part of what Diane does is to teach her patients how to listen and react physically to the needs of their bodies over time. To help us to tap into our own body's intelligence.

I know that for me, this has translated into different ways of sitting and breathing, and that pain, which had been my fairly constant companion for six years, has pretty much faded into the distance. It's translated in other directions, as well.

Helping you to get "unstuck" helps in other ways. In terms of Diane's patients, and what she wants people to experience when they come under her care is expressed in the following way: "I’ve adjusted babies just born – a few hours old - and our oldest person is 99, so this is really something that can help anybody, as well as animals – Even though it (BGI) is gentle, it’s actually extremely powerful and the gentleness of it allows for greater depth. The depth of the adjustments is what allows for the effects to be life-changing. So more than people just being out of pain, which in and of itself is a wonderful thing, people feel that they can get a new job, or leave a bad relationship or move and people don’t even really think of it having anything to do with this, and it does and it doesn’t actually. I’m helping the body to move its own energy that’s been stuck and stored."

There's no doubt that, for me, my work with Diane has helped me in all areas of my life - I tend to "live in my head" and the work with Diane has helped me to deal more honestly with my emotions - to allow me to have responses, and keep those responses more positive and useful. All I can say is that I'm "learning" more from my emotions, and learning is always a good thing in my book.

The patient experience itself is friendly and warm. Diane adjusts people in groups - doing this allows for people's bodies to rest and learn during the process, and it also allows for a greater amount of flexibility in creating your own treatment schedule. There is a separate room for private adjustments if you are uncomfortable with the group setting.

The outer lobby is child-friendly and filled with soft colors. Kelly, the office manager, is a delight to work with, and she quickly gets to know each patient. The treatment area is filled with sensual pleasures - soft colors, lovely music (a mix of many different types of gentle pieces, including a great number of Celtic and worldbeat tunes) and pretty lights decorate a corner of the room, natural sunlight filling in the other areas.

There is nothing I haven't loved about this journey.

I'm hoping it may be helpful for some of you, too.

Gateway Chiropractic, 210 Collingwood Road, Suite 100 (Collingwood is across from Westgate, perpendicular to N. Maple/Stadium - parking is just behind Fawzi's Westgate Auto Repair. Here is a maplink). (734) 239 - 6060. Hours are Mon., Wed., and Fri.: 3:30 - 6:00, Tuesdays from 8:15 - 10:30 and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. (Tuesdays switch back to 9 - 11 in the fall).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bookmark July 15th: The Missing Ink Blog Tour

On Saturday, the Eatwrite family is taking a long awaited, much anticipated, vacation.

This means I will not be around much next week.

Tomorrow there will be a Local Love Friday - my wonderful, miracle-working chiropractor will be highlighted.

Then... silence.

Until - and this is very important news - JULY 15th.

Karen E. Olson, of Shot Girl fame, will be visiting us again to talk about her new book, The Missing Ink. It's wonderful, and very possibly the perfect beach read.

And then, again, Karen is wonderful, and chatting with her is always a hoot. (Plus, there will be a giveaway - natch).

Then... more silence - no What's Cooking Wednesday next week (except for cooking up discussion about The Missing Ink), no Local Love Friday for next week.

Maybe some beautiful pictures at some point... but we'll see.

See you tomorrow, and after that, happy week!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What's Cooking Wednesday: Another Radical Radish Adventure

Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

I still had radishes.

I was also about to make a lunch for some very special friends of mine: Amy, who was just days from giving birth, and her mom, Jane, who is a dear friend and who now lives in Kansas City. I don't get to see either of them often enough. Jane was in town for the big event, and Amy was just... well, passing time until little Aden was ready to grace us with his presence, which he did at 2:03 a.m. on Sunday, July 5th.

I wanted something healthy and easy on the stomach, and I also know a bit about Amy's tastes, since she's been one of my "adopted" daughters over the years (she's the best friend of my German daughter, Sarah), and she and I share a variety of recipes that we both love.

So here was the menu:

Springtime Strawberry-Radish-Mint Salad (which will be a post in and of itself).
Pepper Bacon Bread, which was a special bake from Zingerman's that day.
Cherry Walnut Whole Wheat Sourdough, from Mill Pond Bakery.
Strawberry Shortcakes (which are Amy's favorite).
And this rather unusual main, which used up my radishes and which we all found delicious - sweet, but covered with cheesy/eggy goodness:

Radish-Apple-Onion Frittata


5 - 6 large radishes, cut in half and then sliced thin
1 small onion, again cut in half and sliced thin
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced (with the slices cut in half - an apple peeler/corer is perfect for this, and then just cut the rounds in half)
1 TBS salted butter
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp kosher salt (or sea salt)
6 eggs
3 egg whites
lowfat buttermilk - a splash or two
kosher salt (or sea salt)
1 1/2 cups shredded or grated gruyere


1. Preheat the oven to 450. Prep the veggies and apples and grated the gruyere.
2. Heat an oven-proof large saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter in it.
3. When butter is just starting to bubble, add the onions and cook for a minute or two until they start to soften.
4. Add the radishes and apples and cook until they are really soft and somewhat caramelized. Turn the heat up a bit towards the end if they're not caramelizing at all.
5. When they are done, remove the saucepan from the heat and add the 1/2 tsp. salt and the maple syrup and coat the veggies thoroughly.
6. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and a pinch of the kosher salt (this softens the eggs. Beat a bit, but not too much. Set your burner to medium/medium high.
7. Place veggies back on the burner and pour the eggs over them. Stir the eggs just a bit to help the frittata set.
8. When eggs have just started to set, add the grated gruyere on top and place the saucepan in the oven.
9. Bake for 10 minutes. Cut into six wedges and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional Info:

Calories 233.6
Total Fat 15.8 g
Saturated Fat 7.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 5.1 g
Cholesterol 247.3 mg
Sodium 392.0 mg
Potassium 174.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 6.3 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Sugars 0.9 g
Protein 17.0 g

As always, nutrition info supplied by the recipe calculator function at

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Question for You

Some changes are coming to a2eatwrite.

I am happy and proud to announce that I'm going to be the lead food blogger for, the new electronic entity that will replace the Ann Arbor News when its print edition folds on July 26th (although it will still appear in print form on Thursdays and Sundays - I know... that doesn't quite make sense, but it's all in the name of moving onward and upward).

I'm excited because I've wanted to do more exploration in the field of online media and because any gig that is professional in terms of food writing is, well, very exciting to me.

This blog, however, has always been a mix of things - food blog, yes, in some ways, but certainly also a blog that has covered writing/books topics, politics, and sometimes just plain silliness.

The best part of blogging for me? Meeting all of you.

So, I'd like to ask a couple of questions as I ponder what all this is going to mean. (BTW... isn't really live yet, which is why I haven't posted the link).

1. I only link the blog to the paper - I will be producing 3 - 5 pieces on food and food-related topics each week, but I only link the posts that are food related, so I could leave a2eatwrite intact. BUT...

I could also split it off - food and non-food. I've always had a mix of readers. I have folks who show up predominantly on Wednesdays, and folks who show up predominantly on other days, and folks who show up almost every post.

Is it clearer to split off the other topics, or to keep the blog whole in terms of ease of using RSS feeds, etc.?

2. 3 - 5 posts on food. I'm thinking less is more. I finally updated my blogrolls, and as you can see, I read a lot of blogs. I know that in general, I'm more tempted by fewer posts than every day posts - it gives me something to look forward to. I also, though, don't think there should be any "rules" about posting - it should be up to the individual blogger. What do YOU think about this? What are your preferences?

I guess that's it for now. I hate to impose on you, but I figured you're the experts on what you like/don't like about this blog. Please feel free to write me privately about this, if you prefer - jenshaines at gmail dot com.

I want to thank Jenn, of The Leftover Queen, who already gave me some invaluable input on these topics.

And so begins the adventure...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

When you put your mind to it...

Tonight is, sadly, the end of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. For the free portion, Top of the Park, in addition to local favorites Madcat and Kane and George Bedard and the Kingpins, there will be a sing along screening of The Sound of Music. In honor of the last night of the festival, I give you this clip from Belgium:

This was apparently prepared during a whopping two rehearsals, and the passersby were totally unprepared for 200 dancers to show up in the middle of their daily commute.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Local Love Fridays: Finding Good Books at Motte and Bailey Booksellers

"Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered." - W. H. Auden.

This is one of several, pithy phrases that are posted across large planks in the feast of visuals that is Motte and Bailey Booksellers.

I think this phrase sums up why this is a very special bookstore. It also speaks to the sensibilities of managing partner/owner, Gene Alloway.

Gene and I had a wonderful time talking books on Wednesday, and his boundless enthusiasm for his trade and his shop was evident in each new topic we covered.

I had to ask my usual question of "what is the one thing that my readers should know about" Motte and Bailey, and he had two things to say:

"There’s the business thing and the true thing – the business thing is that we want people to come in to see books they haven’t seen before. The true thing – we’re not done yet – we’re never going to be done – that’s the true thing about the shop. The community changes, the book environment changes, new books come out."

This seems to encompass two themes I heard from Gene consistently - one - he's in the business of wanting his customers to see books they haven't seen before. Books they won't see in new book stores and especially in new, "big box" bookstores. Two, he sees the bookselling (versus bookslogging, but more about that later) business as fluid and ever-changing, and that's one of the things he so dearly loves about being a bookseller.

What does this mean for the customers who wander into his shop? It means this:

Gene knows his community, and his neck of the woods is an area of foodie heaven - the PFC, the Farmers Market and Zingerman's are all within a couple of blocks. He wants to make his shop friendly to browsing - make yourself at home. Respect the books, but enjoy your browse time. Support the Co-op, and support us. Stop by the Co-op, and with the discount, maybe you can afford that extra book you've had your eye on.

When I walk into Gene's shop, the first place I go is here:

This is the place, right next to the entrance, where the collection of cookbooks are housed. A typical experience would be last February, when I went in to ask Gene to display a poster for my son's high school theater group, and I found Italian Festival Foods* by Anne Bianchi, a book I hadn't heard of before, and one that's been absolutely invaluable for my fiction research. The books on this shelf are even harder for me to resist than my favorite espresso con panna.

What does Gene mean when he says the bookstore is "never going to be done"? It's a place that not only changes in terms of stock and possible genre or theme emphasis, but it's a physically changing environment as well, and one that always has wonderful delights for the eye. Here are just a couple of details from Gene's and partner Paul Hare's wonderful collections:

Motte and Bailey grew out of an abandoned board-game business founded by Gene and his friends Paul Hare and John Murphy (who left to go on to law school), and it's now grown into a true book community. Gene's Culinary History book club will be starting this July 15th, there's an ongoing History of Books and Printing club and a history reading group, led by Professor Mike Homel of EMU.

What Gene and Paul sell are not just books, but knowledge - they know most of the books in their stock, and each has his own specialty areas. He or Paul has personally selected the books sitting on the shelves, and they've selected them because they know them to be good. In Gene's case, he's taken the time after years of working as a librarian in places as diverse as the U. of M. Undergraduate Engineering Library and the School of Information, and by learning dumpster diving for rare print editions from Don Kramb, an amateur book scout, and the more refined particulars of the used and rare book business from Jay Platt, of the Westside Book Shop. When you go on Amazon or walk into a Barnes and Noble, you're going to find booksloggers - folks who are good at pushing the NYT bestsellers list, but their knowledge of books may be non-existent.

This is truly what you're buying at Motte and Bailey - a guarantee that this is a good book, a book that will (hopefully) not be undeservedly forgotten.

If you love books, I dare you to wander through Gene's world and not find something totally new, out of your ken, and something that you just know you need to own.

Happy reading!

Motte and Bailey Booksellers, 212 N. 4th Avenue (right next to the People's Food Co-op), 734-669-0451. Hours are Mon -Sat 10-8 p.m., Sunday 11-4 p.m. To learn more about books and the business of bookselling, as well as reading a delightful work-in-progress, Myles of Books, go to Gene's blog: Bookman's Folly.

*( Sales Rank: #799,054 in Books - like I would have found it by browsing Amazon!)