Michigan Beer Militia
A couple of weekends ago, we took a (long) road trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Once we got past Frankenmuth, the views started to get really great, but as nice as the Mitten is, it is nothing compared to the beauty of the UP.
I wasn’t really prepared for seeing Great Lakes in their glory. I had seen Lake Michigan when I was in Chicago, but the city is so big that it makes the water seem somewhat incidental. When we saw lakes Michigan and Huron, one on our left and one on our right, while crossing the Mackinac Bridge, we were stunned. The lakes are huge: they seem ocean-huge, but without the surf and deep sandy beaches. It was really amazing to watch the sun set over Lake Michigan on the night we stayed in St. Ignace and then rise again over Lake Huron the next morning.
Even the beauty of those two lakes was overshadowed by Lake Superior. The color of Superior defines “blue”. The first time we caught a glimpse between some evergreen trees, we couldn’t believe the color of it. It is crystal-clear and has layers upon layers of blue reflecting the sun and clouds and landscape, and it goes on forever into the horizon.
The drive through the forests were almost as amazing, with a wide variety of habitats and trees and wildlife. I can see why people love to go “up north” so much, and hope that we can spend some more time up there next year.
The reason we went was for the UP Beer Festival in Marquette. Thirty-two microbreweries and brew pubs from the state were there, with around 150 different beers on tap. There was also good food and live music. We liked every been we tasted, and loved our taco lunch. The baby crawled around on the grass in the shade and made some friends, including another Leo! It was a great day. The city of Marquette is a nice little college town (Northern Michigan University) with a great waterfront area.
On the way home, we decided to stop for pasties, the unofficial food of the UP, on the encouragement of a friend of ours. Apparently we did not choose our pastie shop well, because they were kind of gross. I imagine that it is hard to go wrong with what is essentially a combination of meat loaf and empanadas, so I’m going to try again, and may even make some at home one night.
So, a good time was had by all. Autumn is now here in full force in Flint, and our drive home was teased with hints of red and yellow leaves.
Now for the food!!!
Blueberry Lemon Tea Bread
This stuff is awesome. If you love blueberries, please make this in a hurry before they are all gone for the year. It is sweet and tart and lovely. It also happens to be nearly fool-proof to make! These are things I like in a dessert.
1/2 c. butter (or Smart Balance)
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs (from the Farmers’ Market!!!)
1/2 c. milk (almond milk works well)
1 1/2 c. blueberries (also from the Farmers’ Market!!!)
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (none of that squeeze bottle junk!)
For the glaze:
1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat the butter and sugar until it is blended. Increase speed to medium, and beat until it is light and fluffy, or for about 5 minutes.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs one at a time to the sugar and butter, beating after each. Add milk and flour, alternating a little of each until they are gone and are blended in.
Gently fold in the blueberries. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool loaf in pan on wire rack, then remove it from the pan (gently!). Pierce the top and sides of the bread several times with a skewer. Brush the top and sides with the glaze using a pastry brush.
This makes one loaf.
Don’t let the name deceive you: this is not your normal carrot cake. This is carrot cake for people who don’t like carrots. I’m not kidding. When I was a kid, this is what Mom-mom would make for us because we wouldn’t eat carrot cake in which we could see flecks of carrots. Am I right, Dougherty clan?
This is some seriously good cake. I served it with a simple white icing, but the recipe calls for cream cheese icing, which I might try to do using non-dairy cream cheese. I’ll let you know how that works out.
3/4 c. oil
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large jar of baby food carrots (or two small jars) (no, I’m not kidding)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1 t. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 35o degrees.
Mix all the ingredients except the eggs. Add the eggs. Bake for 1 hour.
For the icing:
sm. cream cheese
1 t. vanilla
a little milk
I guess you mix those together until you have the right consistency?