Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cedar Sol Taco Stand, Leelanau Peninsula

You know a place is good when you are eating your lunch and wondering how soon you can come back.  

With made to order tacos that are delicious and a view that is completely "up north," Cedar Sol Taco Stand is THE fun new place to grab lunch.  

Cedar Sol Hydro Farm is the outdoor vertical hydroponic farm that grows a slew of vegetables and strawberries and sells the produce as well as the hydro-stackers that they grow in.  Cedar Sol Taco Stand is the booming side business that blossomed when Carlos, a friend and employee at Cedar Sol, suggested they open a taco stand on the property.  The owners converted the garage on the property (at the top of the hill on the side of the road), put out some picnic tables and a sign that read "Tacos" and the rest is history. You can read all about it in an interview with the owners in the Spring 2013 issue of Edible Grand Traverse magazine.  

I ordered a fresh whitefish taco that was loaded with fluffy mounds of Carlson's whitefish that had been marinated and grilled.  It was in a flour tortilla with fresh pico de gallo, a squeeze of lime and some beautiful hydroponic lettuce from the Cedar Sol crop!  Yum yum yum.  The order also comes with a few tortilla chips, to provide that satisfying crunch while eating.

I devoured my taco, sipped a spicy ginger ale and soaked up this view.  Then I went back and ordered another taco.  This time the line had grown and I had time to consider my selection.  I ordered a shredded chicken taco in a corn tortilla with pico, lettuce, lime and a sprinkle of cheese.  It was so good that I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.  

This was my first visit to a taco stand (a rarity in Michigan) and now I'm hooked.  If you find yourself whirling through the roads of Leelanau County (perhaps Martha Stewart sent you?), you must stop for a taco in Cedar.    

Bridal Bouquet

I arrived at the cottage like a bride carrying this bouquet. Can you stand it?  It is all very appropriate too, because this week is our 21st wedding anniversary.  

This year, for the first time ever, my two Eden climbers are blooming like crazy. They are covered with clusters of 5 blooms.  I decided that I couldn't leave them behind, so I cut off bunch after bunch and layered them on top of each other and the result was this perfectly round, solid bouquet of pink-tipped roses.  I wrapped the stems tightly with floral tape, gave the bottom a fresh cut and dropped them in this water-filled jar that I had covered in pastel Anna Griffin paper tape.  Although it may be hard to tell, there are at least 40 roses in this bouquet.  Swoon.  Happy anniversary to me indeed.

#annagriffin #roses

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pear in a Sofia Coppola Wine Bottle

It is time to grow a pear in a bottle!  I grew pears in a bottle another year and then filled it with homemade ginger brandy.  When a perfectly ripe pear is floating in a bottle of amber-colored brandy, it looks beautiful and interesting.  They won't believe you did it yourself.

I arrived at the cottage a few days ago and realized that I got here in the nick of time!  There is a slim window of opportunity when the pear blossoms have faded and the the developing fruit, just beginning to form, is still small enough to fit through the neck of the bottle.  Once it is secured in a clear wine bottle, the pear will continue to grow!   

Can you see the grape-sized pear inside the glass?  There is another pear resting on the outside of the bottle.  First I decided which pear I was going to use.  Then I clipped off all of the leaves on that small branch, so that the pear could grow into the bottle without any leaves, dirt or debris.  The goal is to have a simple clean branch with one pear growing on the end.  

Then I fed the pear through the neck of the bottle and taped a wire clothes hanger to the bottle and hooked it in the tree for support.  It needs to have enough give or flex so that the wind can blow and the bottle can bob in the wind without snapping the twig or dropping out of the tree.  **July 1 The tape gave way and the bottle fell out of the tree! The first photo was my attempt to hang it in the tree - don't do it that way! My dad made this fabulous bottle holder, by bending plastic-coated wire.  Follow his example below to make your own wind-proof bottle holder.  The angle is also good because any rain water or condensation will drip out.

When the pear is about 2-3 inches in size and ripe, you simply tug on the branch and the pear will pick itself and drop into the empty bottle.  Take the bottle inside and run warm water inside to rinse the bottle clean, freshen up the pear and remove all of the debris.  Now pour in your ginger brandy, either to a batch that has already aged and mellowed, or a new mixture that you want to age 6 months.  Make sure that the liquid covers the pear completely. This bottle is from last year - divine!
I am growing this year's pear in a gorgeous Riesling wine bottle by Sofia Coppola.  The bottle is almost pear-shaped and I know that it will look wonderful showcasing a pear in liquor.  

I am trying to locate my ginger pear brandy recipe.  I know that it is a combination of vodka, bottled pear juice, sugar and a few slices of fresh ginger steeped together for 6 months or more.  The first time I made it, the result was silky smooth and delicious.  But what are the proportions I used?  Picture me flinging pieces of paper over my head searching for my notes.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Plan to visit a Lavender Festival

It is almost Lavender Festival time!  Although this year's weather may have the lavender blooming a week later (just a guess), mid-July is when many lavender festivals or harvesting is scheduled.  

I really enjoyed my time at the Lavender Festival in Romeo, Michigan (shown above) and I've been to 2 different Lavender Farms in northern Michigan to paint in and photograph before the harvest (click this link to see my post on Michigan Lavender in Northport Michigan).

I took the photo below at Lavender Hill Farms near Boyne City, Michigan.

I found a terrific resource in a website that I wanted to share with you.  The website has all of the major Lavender farms and events by state.  Isn't that wonderful?  I hope you find an event near you and go with a friend!

I really have great affection for the scent and look of lavender.  I've proven it by drinking lavender lemonade (although it's a bit too strong for me).  I've also enjoyed lavender ice cream and enhanced shortbread with a bit of edible lavender. 

In terms of scent and suds, I also love a bit of lavender in the kitchen: Farmhouse Lavender is my favorite dish soap.  

So naturally you ask, Anne, have you been to Provence?  *sigh* No.  Not yet. But I'm working on it.   

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Sentimental Garden

I am a sentimental fool...and luckily, I married a man who is too!  When I went to Paris with my parents to celebrate my mom's 70th birthday, we were gone for just over two weeks.  

Around Day 10, Dan was out of sorts and ended up wandering the garden center. He bought and planted a peony for our garden.  He said that when he saw one that was called "Gay Paree," he simply couldn't resist.  Isn't that wonderful?

I'd loved it for years and then we had some kind of natural flooding in the peony bed.  Our area has a lot of clay in the soil and the heavy rains made parts of the yard more like a clay bathtub holding water.  I lost most of my peonies to rot.  Needless to say, it was not a delight, so I haven't talked about it much.  Fast forward to last Fall.  Dan saw "some signs of life" in two peony plants (that haven't bloomed in two years) and moved them to our side bed.

Tah-dah! It is June and both plants lived, and bloomed, and one of them was "Gay Paree!"  It wasn't until this bud opened that I knew which peony had survived.  Thank you, Mother Nature, for helping this sentimental plant "hang on" until we could move it to a better spot.

Do you have any sentimental plants?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Inspired by Victoria Magazine

Couldn't this be a cover of Victoria magazine?  It was so dreamy and tone-on-tone, I had to show you.  Tricia Foley (a well known designer, famous for her love of white) would be proud, don't you think?  

All the credit goes to rose cultivator, David Austin.  This rose "Heritageis his masterpiece.  I am only responsible for the tender loving care in the garden.   

My composition is an antique sugar bowl ($1 at a church rummage sale) and a pure white matelasse tablecloth.  My kitchen has never looked so ethereal.   

Thursday, June 20, 2013

State Silhouette Sweatshirt

This is my Michigan State sweatshirt! Ha ha ha...  Isn't it fabulous?  I really wanted a casual Summer sweatshirt that I could throw on and wear: to beach fires, on the boat etc.  Something that said I was happy to be away from it all and at the cottage.  There are many northern Michigan sweatshirts but most of them have giant typeface splashed across your chest.  Not exactly what I was looking for.  I had seen someone last Summer with a blue on blue "State of Michigan" silhouette and I loved it, except for the blue on blue part.  And it was a hoodie.  So I was inspired to create something just for me.  It's so cute, I am showing you how to make it just for you.

I had this pretty periwinkle sweatshirt from the GAP (circa 1994?) and chose to make my state silhouette in peach.  Pretty, right?  Here's how you do it:

I found this State of Michigan silhouette at a free download website.  I downloaded the image and saved it to my computer.  Then I opened the software called Microsoft Publisher and chose "New Document."  Then I chose "insert picture" and chose the State of MIchigan image from where I saved it on my computer.  You can choose "Forma", "Size" and increase the image until it fills an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, which is the largest you can print.  (I actually increased it so that the lower peninsula filled the sheet (and saved it), then I went back and increased the upper peninsula by the same percentage (and saved it with a different name) so that they would match and stay in scale.)  Put your mouse on the image and "right click". Chose "format picture", "Recolor" and then click the drop down arrow to see the variety of colors to choose from (you can see even more if you then select - "more colors").  Click on the shade you want, click "ok" and "ok and you will see the State of Michigan in your new color!  Now you will print it on a Printable Fabric Sheet.  When the ink has dried, iron the area to set the ink according to the package instructions.  Then peel away the protective sheet.  Now follow the instructions on a package of double sided fusible interfacing and iron an 8.5 x 11 piece of it onto the wrong side (no color) of the sheet of fabric that you printed Michigan on.  Now painstakingly, cut out the entire state.  Position it onto your sweatshirt where you want it and (follow the double sided fusible interfacing packaging) to iron it onto your sweatshirt.  The double sided interfacing makes it adhere to the sweatshirt and kind of acts like double-sided tape.  Wear and enjoy!   

If you don't want to make your own, you might find a combination you like with a silhouette of the State of Michigan on this website.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Recommendations Bring Delight: Trillium

Look at this woodland with waves of trillium in full bloom.   A spectacular sight and one that I would never have known about if it hadn't been for a tip from a friend.
Trillium is a wild flower that blooms in the Spring in northern Michigan. I believe this variety is the Great White Trillium.  The woods by our cottage have a few lone trillium plants (at one point they were an endangered species), so I am used to seeing a handful of white blooms at the base of the trees, but I had never ever seen an area covered in trillium. In fact, the photo might trick your eye into thinking that you are seeing dappled light.  Most of white you see in the woods above are blooms!

I am writing this post to showcase some beautiful wild trillium, but I also want this post to remind you to share what you know with others.  I rarely see the  topic of "making recommendations" discussed.  We often leave it to the magazines to show us what's new or point us to a destination.  I think that the wealth of knowledge you have should be put to good use.  

When you are having a conversation, listen to what is really being said.  Is the person living a "rush rush" life? Maybe they'd like the piece and quiet of reading the book you just read.  Is someone having guests come into town?  Why don't you pass along what you know about that new restaurant you tried.  Or loan them a bouquet from your garden.  Think of your life as a directory of experiences that you can share.  

I say this because I was at an art opening a few weeks ago and spoke of how I'd spent part of the afternoon photographing marsh marigolds.  A woman I know heard me gushing about the flower-filled river and said since I had enjoyed that so much, maybe I'd like to drive up toward Northport and see a particular area of woods that was covered with trillium in bloom.  Would I!  It was very kind of her to put on her thinking cap and suggest other things I'd like to see - something that was also a limited engagement! If I didn't get up there within a day or two, I'd miss the bloom.

So off I went the next day, with her directions in mind.  I took a disc full of photographs and I mailed her a note of thanks on a photo card featuring these trillium-filled woods.

Have you been making recommendations lately?  You never know how it will bring delight.            

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fairy Godsister

Imagine my surprise (and delight!) when I opened a box that came in the mail and found all of these goodies from Paris, each chosen just for me.  

I am being spoiled by my customer-turned-friend, Sue.  She bought my book, "Paris: Delight in the City of Light" and as we emailed back and forth, we realized that we had more and more in common.  We both went to Michigan State University.  We both spend a lot of time in the small town resort areas of  Michigan.  We both love a lot of the same things (Paris, Caspari papers, travel).  She "got to know" me by reading my book, which is a very personal account of what and how I make the most of my trips to Paris.  

In one of our emails, she posed the question, "Were you in a sorority?"  When I responded, that I was a Theta, she responded triumphantly, "I knew it!"  We found that we were sorority sisters too.  What a small world.  We are kindred spirits, for sure, and have a "Theta is for a lifetime" connection as well. 

Sue has since been to Paris twice and brought back little goodies that she know I would like.  She knows because I wrote about so much of it!  Above you can see packets of vanilla sugar, buttons and cord to make a necklace, artistic postcards to frame, a pop-up card with a scene from Paris and a package of pastry post its from my beloved Laduree.  How can I be so lucky?   

I decided that Sue is my Fairy Godsister.  Isn't that a wonderful way to describe her?  We have yet to meet, but are sure that our paths will cross some day...perhaps in Paris?  Friendship is a delight. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Mini Cakes

Lemon Blueberry Cakes - I baked mine in blue checkerboard cupcake liners to enhance the cute.  It worked! These little beauties are dense, moist and packed with flavor.  I'd say they are picnic ready.  It is blueberry season - enjoy!

Individual Lemon Blueberry Cakes

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of white sugar
Zest of one large lemon (2 1/2 Tablespoons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3 eggs
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Blend in zest, juice, yogurt and eggs.  Mixture may look separated or curdled, but don't worry.

Blend flour, baking powder and salt together.  Slowly add mixture to wet ingredients until just blended.  Stir in blueberries.  I use a 4 T cookie scoop to put batter into individual cupcake liners.  Makes about 18 individual cupcake size cakes.  Sprinkle with large grain sanding sugar, if possible.  The additional sugar gives the cakes a gourmet bakery look and crunch. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.   

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rose Garden Tour by Anne Reeves

I can finally take you on a garden walk!  It is June 16, 2013, my roses are in full bloom and I made a short video to show you each variety, what it is named and what it looks like.  May this private tour bring you a moment of delight. Enjoy!

The roses currently blooming in my garden are: (in order shown)

Honey Dijon by Weeks Roses
Graham Thomas by David Austin
Lillian Austin by David Austin
Paul McCartney 
Veterans Honor
Royal Amethyst
(antique magenta pink)
Abraham Darby by David Austin
Eden (climber)
Bill Warriner 
Koko Loco
Heritage by David Austin
Abraham Darby by David Austin

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Meditation Garden

If you need me, I'll be in the garden.  This is my favorite time of year.  June usually has cooler mornings and temperatures in the 70's during the day.  I can do my gardening in the morning and freshen things up for enjoying the patio the rest of the day.
This "floral portrait" is the Abraham Darby English rose by David Austin. 

Each morning that I am home, I deadhead the roses, violas and geraniums.  I water the pots (mixed flowers, herbs, pepper plants, tomatoes) with a hose.  I cut all of the flowers that I want to make into bouquets.  Then I put on gloves and spray any buds/plants that show signs of disease or bugs with Orthonex.  Please note that I cut the flowers first, because I don't want to interact with any plants with bug spray on them.  I fertilize when necessary (I'm about to put down my "June" application of Rose Tone).  And then I sweep the patio to clean things up.  
A lot of tasks, I know, but it is oh so worth it.  I like Martha Stewart's explanation. She says that she doesn't think of it as "working in the garden" or having a list of "garden work" that must be done. To her (and me) it is simply the act of gardening and we love it. I don't play music.  I'm not on the phone.  I am in the garden - thinking and relaxing in my own space.  For me, that is meditation. 

I think any garden you can take care of is a "Meditation Garden," don't you?  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Patricia Wells Cooking in Paris

I want to go back to Paris!  I have been thinking of doing lectures on finding delight in Paris to inspire travelers to get the most out of their trip.  I could do a Power Point presentation (my photos are glorious!) and use my book on Paris ("Paris: Delight in the City of Light") as a guide.  Wouldn't that be neat?

As I have been brainstorming, I've been going through my photos from my trips and came across this fabulous photo from my time with Patricia Wells in her cooking school in Paris.  The week exceeded my expectations.  I remember shelling peas at a table with Patricia Wells - I was so happy my heart was pounding.  She loves what I love and it was so very fun to be able to look her in the eye and talk about food, cooking techniques and our mutual respect for the 45th parallel (FYI - the 45th Parallel is known around the world as having a climate perfect for growing stone fruit. It also happens to be where I spend my summers).  Patricia was a wonderful teacher and exceptional host - I cherish the time I spent in her kitchen creating meal after meal.  I loved it!

I need to get back to Paris! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dreamy Sunset on Lake Michigan

A moment of delight: sunset on Lake Michigan.  I was drawn to these clouds, particularly the fact that the sky was periwinkle and apricot.  Some of the clouds appear to be raining, with wafts of texture pulling down.  I was on the phone when the sky looked just like this.  Apparently I was failing to make good conversation and the person on the line said, "What's going on?"  

I confessed. "I'm taking a picture of the sunset and it's hard to hold the phone and set the camera at the same time."  I explained that the sky was too beautiful to miss photographing it.  I promised that she would see this picture in the blog and could decided if my distraction was justified.  What do you think?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fancy Orange Toasts

I've perfected another new recipe for tea time!  Fancy orange toasts.  I was introduced to a similar item at a bakery, but found their version is more like biscotti, crisp and dry.  I wanted to experiment with a buttery orange toast that was chewy, like a cookie just out of the oven.

Fancy Orange Toasts

1 loaf of Pepperidge Farm Very Thin white bread
2 sticks of salted butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
Zest of one fresh orange
Juice of one fresh orange (I used a navel orange)
a splash of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Mix butter, sugar, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla together into a paste.  Trim the crusts from a slice of bread.  Cut the crustless piece of bread into 3 bars.  Spread a not-so-thin layer of orange butter on each bar of bread, covering the top of the bread completely.  Repeat slice after slice until the orange butter runs out.  (I believe that preparing each slice individually, instead of cutting the crusts off the entire loaf at once, helps maintain the bread freshness and results in a chewy but firm toast.)  I filled two cookie sheets with orange toasts.  Bake at 250 degrees for 35 minutes.  Cool and store in air tight container.  Serve with tea or coffee.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Marsh Marigolds in the Leelanau Peninsula

If anything makes me live in the moment, it's Mother Nature.  When something starts to bloom, I have to act quickly or I'll miss my chance to delight you.  On this particular day, I was up north for Memorial Weekend with my husband.  We were on an afternoon drive, heading towards Northport, when it suddenly occurred to me that the marsh marigolds might be blooming.  I am only up north a handful of days in May and early June and I often miss this bright yellow beauties.  Looking for marsh marigolds is normally an expedition I take with my mom but since she wasn't up north that weekend, I had forgotten about them.  I said to Dan, "Good grief! What if they're blooming!"

My mom normally drives us to "the spot" that we've been photographing for years.  Dan had our Garmin (navigation system) turned on, so I told him to look for a river running close to the road.  Voila!  He saw water denoted on the map, pulled over and there they were.  Marsh marigold mania.  I told Dan that all I needed was a moose to walk out of the woods and I've have my shot.  Ha! No moose, but I think it is lovely just the same.
Thankfully it was a bright sunny day. It is gorgeous this time of year, get your camera and go outside.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rhubarb Crisp with Orange Juice and Zest

It isn't Spring without rhubarb crisp.  I love the tart and tangy flavor tamed by a scoop of vanilla Edy's Slow Churned Yogurt Blend.  For years I have tweaked this Martha Stewart rhubarb crisp recipe.

These are the things I do differently:

  • Bake in a buttered 13 x 9, not ramekins
  • Use 1/4 cup of Splenda Brown Sugar, instead of 1/2 cup of regular brown sugar.  The Splenda version has a sweetness that compliments the rhubarb perfectly.  This is the only recipe I make with a Splenda product. 
  • I use a touch of vanilla extract and skip the vanilla bean
Serve a generous portion in a bowl with a scoop of Edy's vanilla yogurt blend.  
Yum yum yum yum yum.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Queen Elizabeth 60th Anniversary of Coronation

Long live the Queen! My collection of china pieces that commemorate life events of the royal family just got bigger.  You probably remember from earlier blog posts that I started this Princess Diana collection when Diana and Charles were engaged.  I was eleven years old.  

Then my cousin in Germany bought me this mug when William and Kate got married - yea!  My friend, Renate, in England has promised to get me a plate or mug when William and Kate have their baby next month.  I can't believe that I have a plate commemorating William's birth and now he's having a child of his own.  And I haven't aged a bit!

This year, the Queen has had a huge milestone of her own.  The Diamond Jubilee mug (shown above) honors Queen Elizabeth's sixty year reign.  My niece was studying abroad in London 2012 during the Diamond Jubilee Celebration (I was so jealous!) and she was able to bring this mug back safely to me.  The perfect gift for me, don't you think?

Now this is where the story gets interesting.  This week is the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation.  A special service to honor this milestone was held at Westminster Abbey - click this link to watch a clip of the service.  

When I was at my church's rummage sale last month, I found this cup and saucer (above) for original souvenir from Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953!  A sixty year old treasure that happened to be donated to the church sale a month before the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation.   
The inscription on the saucer reads: 
"Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II  June 2, 1953." 

Can you believe that I found it?  I can't. I love that both pieces have a portrait of the Queen - one showing the beginning of her reign and one now, after 60 years of dedicated service.  Fascinating.  If you want to get a souvenir for your china cabinet, you can order  a little something from the Royal Collection shop.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Northern Michigan Girl

If you are a northern Michigan girl in the summer, this is the scene you long to see after a long winter in the suburbs.  A sandy cut in the landscape that leads to a public beach.  Ahead lies swimming, sunbathing, picnics, beach walks, Petoskey stone searches and ever-changing sunsets.  This is where we northern Michigan girls live in the summertime...on the shores of Lake Michigan.

My favorite sandwich to take on a picnic?
Crusty French bread spread with softened cream cheese.  Press chopped green olives into the cream cheese.  Layer thin sliced turkey, slices of tomato and fresh spinach onto bread.  Wrap in Saran Wrap/cling wrap and take to the beach (or outdoor concert!)