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Friday, July 18, 2014

Peach Pizza & The Veggetti

So I guess it was Pinterest (Click here to follow me on Pinterest) tryout week for me.  I made these tasty pesto chicken burgers, which were awesome, and then since I've been making pizza lately, decided to try out the Peach Balsamic Pizza.  WOW.  I mean ... WOW!  So its frozen pizza dough rolled out and topped with olive oil, sliced peaches, mozzarella, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and basil.  Seriously, it tastes just as good as it sounds!!  You HAVE to make this!



Just for the record, I have not been paid by any company to promote this product.  (I am happy to take swag!  anyone? ... anyone?)  This little gadget is called The Veggetti and I hate the name.  It sounds too much like Vajayjay.  If you don't know what that is, ask your mother.  

Despite the name, this a cool little toy.  I like it much better than my Noodler, which is more like a flat wide-toothed grater.  It has a thick side, which is perfect for zucchini noodles, and a thin side, which might work for something like carrots - when you want something thin and tender.  I sauté' my "noodles" in a little olive oil or butter, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Then it is ready to be topped with pasta sauce, or more olive oil and herbs.  You could even do RAW spaghetti with fresh garlic, tomato, and basil!  The other day I also tried it on a cucumber.  Apparently I like the shape of noodles, because this made my salad taste SO MUCH better!  I ate an entire english cucumber, topped with a whole tomato, and Italian-imported (thanks, Bri!) balsamic vinaigrette.  Dude, I ate an ENTIRE english cucumber! 





What have you eaten this week?

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Adventures in Nature & Food - Marquette, MI (Part 2)

Adventures in Marquette, MI - 
Nature, food, and BEER!  (PART 2)

Sorry this was delayed - MAN has it been a busy week back in town.  I still haven't unpacked my suitcase (well, I took out the dirty clothes, left the clean ones) - Aspen the cat now thinks this glorious pile of clothes is her bed.


Of course we start off with more beer - some of my new favorites to be exact!  Blackrocks Brewery had different beers on the two times I visited - and they now can and distribute some of their beers!  My new favorites are Honey Lavender and Coconut Brown, and Grand Rabbits.  I didn't try the 51K, which is apparently one of their most popular.  But with a small "hanging with friends in a house" feel to the bar and lounge, a great sunny patio (not enough chairs!), corn hole, and that game where you try to swing the metal ring onto the hook, HOW COULD YOU GO WRONG??







I just had to share this because this is what lunch at Mom's house looks like - why is it so much better at her house?  I hardly ever make sandwiches at home!



A trip to Marquette wouldn't be complete without the hike up Sugarloaf Mountain.  It's a large mountain (ok, really really big hill for those of you who have ACTUAL gigantic mountains), with wooden steps all the way to the top, rewarding you with an incredible panoramic view of Lake Superior, and all of the surrounding areas.  But we don't take the steps, oh no .... we SCALE the mountain, finding footholds and jumping from boulder to boulder.  Im not going to lie - I got winded. I had to ask for a break.  The first pic is where Sea was relaxing at the top waiting for me to get there. When I arrived he said "ok let's go!"  I said, "No, I mean I need a break too!"  : )  If I could do that once or twice a week I would be in great shape!  



What trip would be complete without my handstand shots?  I actually couldn't get up to a full handstand because I couldn't find a flat spot, and I was kind of afraid of falling over the other side.  No, not off the cliff, but it was pretty uneven, as you can see.




Going back down the mountain - we decided this was a bit too difficult.  It was a drop straight down. We headed back and around another way.  There were footholds, but there was nothing to hold onto while lowering yourself down.  And to be honest, my legs are a lot shorter than my brother's, so there is a chance I wouldn't reach anyway.



Well deserved beer sampler at the Wooden Nickel.  Yes, more beer.  No, they weren't all good at this one.  And they were just regular beers, not in-house microbrews.  Actually, there was two of those trays, but one was delivered just a minute before the other, and I forgot to get a picture




Lunch at the Pasta Shop.  Another "can't miss" stop in Marquette.  Here you see the before shot of Spaghetti Bread - Local made garlic bread, covered in noodles and sauce, smothered in cheese, and broiled.  Before I devoured it, that is.



AND back to the beer!  The Vierling has one of the best microbrews around - Blueberry Beer.  It's not sweet, and its not super hoppy and strong either.  It's definitely on the top of my list.  Not to mention, the BEST whitefish chowder you will ever taste, with the fish caught only a block away.




Back to Blackrocks Brewery for one more sampling (did I mention the super cool sampler trays?) - this time getting a taste of a watermelon beer, another I hadn't tasted, and the honey lab & coconut brown.   No, I still didn't try the 51k beer.





Last day in town, so we had to hit the Portside Inn for breadsticks.  These are like sticks of wonderfulness.  The cheese is to die for - it's like a cream cheese, white cheddar, and I don't know what else.  They are amazing.  Whaddya know, they had Blackrocks brewery's Grand Rabbits - I highly recommend you all find a 6-pack of this in your town!  Is anyone else hungry after looking at all of these pictures?





And my last stop on my way out of the UP was the Garlyn Zoo.  I have driven to Marquette 1-3 times a year since I left, and never stopped at this roadside attraction.  Granted, many of the times it was too late (last tour at 5:30), both coming in and out of town, but this time I stopped to see what it was all about.  It is SO COOL!  It's like a zoo, but set in a forest, so the sun isn't beating down on you or the animals, and it just feels a lot more natural.  There were animals I have never heard of before, alligators, wild animals, and hand-feeding of some of the animals.  


The deer were so gentle, and the babies so cute and energetic, bouncing around every time someone moved.  



The billy goats gruff had a platform they could run up on, of you could feed them through the fence.  Talk about pigs!  These guys were so greedy!  I kept trying to feed the babies, and they would get head-butted out of the way!  There were tigers!  And the tigers and wolves were all "I could so take you!"  through the fences, of course.  The emu came over to say hi.  And there were animals that I had never seen before!  Like this weird dog / rabbit combination that kind of freaked me out (see pic next to the Emu below).






Mr. Camel was over in his barn, and he saw me coming, and he ran over to me, and was all dropping "heeyyyy" on me.  I wish I had something to feed him, but I think he was just saying hi anyway.  He was a cool dude.  Am I the only one that talks to animals like they're people?



The fox came to say hi too.  And the Llamas (is your momma a llama?) were NOT impressed with the food I had to offer.  No takers!  And just for the record, I TRY to be really non-judgemental, but is the white llama not the FUNNIEST LOOKING Llama you've ever seen?




Just for the record, not everything on this page was one day - It was 2 days!  
The zoo was on the 3rd day.

My last thought is this - I wear a Jawbone wristband fitness tracker.  I rarely hit my 10,000/day goal.  I mean RARELY.  Here are my steps while in Marquette.  Nature is good for your health!

Saturday:  10,694 (ok, this was due to shopping)
Monday: 6140
Tuesday: 9816
Wednesday: 13,039
Thursday:  12,971
Friday:  11,043
Saturday:  14,801


Peace!  Love!  Serene!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Adventures in Nature & Food - Marquette, MI (Part 1)

First off, HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!  I hope everyone had a safe and fun weekend.

I'm very sad to read some of the fireworks-related accidents over the weekend, and I can't stress enough that these are not toys.  They deserve caution and respect.  I don't even know why the average consumer is allowed to operate the huge fireworks that are on shelves today.  I remember hearing about injuries even when we could only buy sparklers & snaps!  (those little white twisted things that you throw on the ground, and they make a loud POP).

I spent last week in my hometown, Marquette, MI.  Most of the week was spent in nature and relaxing.  Towards the end of the week friends and family started arriving, which is when I had more beer and less sleep.  It was an amazing week!!

I've made the pictures large in this blog because they are so good, I want to show the great details!


I'll start out with this pic because I love it - 
WELCOME TO MARQUETTE, MI!



I'm not going to lie, the drive isn't an easy one - it's 7 hours with no traffic, and minimal bathroom breaks.  I had the thought that I didn't really have to arrive at any particular time, so I put my feet up and kind of took my time.  I stopped at Old Navy (ok, 2 of them), and bummed around the Outlet Stores and West Branch and Birch Run a bit.  I bought a cool new water cup, and my favorite tea that I've been looking for FOREVER!





 I had this plan to stop at ALL of the scenic turnouts.  Guess what?  They're all pretty much the same. Especially in the UP.  A whole lot of views of the bridge!  But I did stop at a few, and this one had a pretty cool trail up to a viewing deck.






On Sunday I was lucky enough to visit with my second family, Samantha, Alex, and my God-son Izaak.  It was Izaak's birthday so after breakfast we got to watch him win his hockey tournament (GO IKE!), then a visit to Sam's mom's house for ice cream and this AMAZING birthday rhubarb cake.  It was so good that Im going to include this not-healthy, not-organic, super yummy rhubarb cake recipe:

Grease a 9x13 baking dish.  Set the oven at 350 degrees.
Spread out 3-4 cups of chopped rhubarb
Pour over it 1 cup sugar
Then 1 3 oz package of strawberry jello
Then 1 package of yellow cake mix
Mix 1 cup water & ¼ butter, melted
DON'T STIR!
Bake for 45 minutes.  Seriously.  That easy.  And it was amazing!


After they headed back to Calumet, the first part of the week was spent letting my brain decompress - I went out to Presque Isle quite a bit, and just walked around town.  I breathed in the air, let my muscles relax, and just did whatever felt natural.  






While out there, I decided to stop on this trail that isn't really marked, but I thought I would try it out. It goes into the middle of the peninsula.  I kept calling it the fairy trail because it had this great canopy of trees that tinted everything green.  The path was covered in moss and baby grass, making it feel like a fantasy land.  I almost expected tinker bell to come out and start chatting.  When I mentioned this to my friend Michelle, she said there is a fairy trail in Ann Arbor where there are fairy houses along the way.  I kind of dig this idea!  There was also a lot of really cool, really old, fallen and decaying trees.




If you have read my blog before, you know of Serene Point.  No, it is not actually called that (maybe I should start a petition!), but it is where I go to reconnect with the earth's energy, the water, and the way things should be in my life.  This spot literally changed my life, and was the birthplace of this blog.  I would go every day and sit and read "Eating Well" or "Organic Gardening" and time stood still.  Or I would close my eyes and feel the warm rock underneath me and hear the splashing of the waves over the rocks on 3 sides of me.  The best part is the solidarity of that spot.  And when I am through, I stand up and look around and realize there are 20-30 people on the rocks above and behind me, and I couldn't hear any of them while sitting at Serene Point!



One of the beautiful sites from Presque Isle



One day after my time on the island I also stopped at the entrance of the park at the bog walk.  Cool little "almost one mile" jaunt around the bog.  Apparently there is sometimes an abundance of birds and wildlife.  That day I saw a momma duck and her ducklings, and a couple of crabby old geese!  I had to take a picture of the iris - how can it just grow out there??  SO COOL!  I love the boardwalk - it is what I really wanted at the cottage on our path out to the sauna.  And the last picture just felt really magical to me (I guess theme of the week?), like I was going under this canopy to a different dimension.










After all that exercise, I set off to find the best food truck in town!  Meet Dia De Los Tacos.  No, they aren't mexican.  I read an article about owner Mike Walker (who I went to school with), and he said "I just really freakin like tacos"!  Would you turn this down?




I also visited with family that I don't get to see very often, and had some great laughs with them.  I also took over the microphone and sang songs until I saw them yawning.   Im so glad I got to hang out with Uncle Bud, Aunt Dodie, my cousin Dave, and Gidget the Midget (a tiny attention-loving dog).  My mom and Uncle Doug were there too!  Unfortunately, I have no pictures of that night, but I think that may have spoiled it anyway.


My very good friend Michelle arrived late Wed night, making it very necessary to go to the Sweetwater Cafe for lunch on Thursday.  Of course we started the day with a Belgian Peach Beer, which was actually very sweet.  And this very tasty tomato & pesto grilled cheese.  Why don't I make these at home??




We then went and walked the break wall - we even went off the "smooth" part and onto the boulders that are technically off limits.  There was a couple of times the Coast Guard put on their sirens (they are located near there), and we were SURE they were coming for us!  We made it about ¾ of the way out, but turned back.  We had gone a really long way, and the rocks seemed to have more slippery spots than the earlier ones.  The second pic is playing with filters. I love this one.  I didn't know it looked so cool until I downloaded onto my computer!




On our way back we stopped to look for a couple of geocaches - this one was our favorite tucked away in the trunk of a tree!  There was also a deer right next to the road.  They are very used to people, and very tame, so this is not all that unusual, but still really neat! 





And this is the end of Part 1!  Check back for party 2!


Peace.  Love.  Serene.