Calling all Foodies: The Latin House

If your palate is nudging you to try something new, check out The Latin House in Grand Rapids, Michigan! Here diners can enjoy a quiet, intimate setting and sample traditional meals from Colombia, Peru, and Argentina!

My little brother, Jake, and family were visiting from Florida a few weeks ago. His wife, Ren, is a Spanish teacher who grew up enjoying many of these dishes and often visited Argentina through cultural exchange and graduate programs. She was our guide as we browsed the many delicious options on the menu.

MK ordered red beans and yuca. We all sampled fried yuca, which tasted similar to a thick French fry. I added some red beans to my rice. I was amazed at the amount of savory flavor packed into the small dish.

We also shared an order of tostones (fried plantain).

Ren ordered Pechuga Gaucho, an Argentinian dish, chicken coated with Panko and served with ham, provolone and fries

My nephew ordered Arroz Con Pollo, a Colombian dish, chicken, vegetables, and fried rice, served with fries (Luckily, he is not a big eater. The next day, my son, George, and I fought over the left overs! This is probably my favorite way to eat fried rice.)

Several of us enjoyed Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian dish, steak topped with a special sauce, served with rice and fries. The surprise hit for this dish was the tomatoes, marinated in a delicious sauce, a perfect compliment to the skirt steak. (I enjoyed a couple bites before remembering to take a picture.)

I look forward to trying the Churrasco next time!

The Latin House

3363 Remembrance Rd. NW

Grand Rapids, MI

Open Wednesday-Sunday

NOTE: At the time of our visit, they did not have a sign (look for street numbers). The Latin House offers seating for approximately 25.

Thanks for reading!

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It’s Fast, Easy, and What’s for Dinner!

In the midst of all the snow days, I hoped for more time to write. Alas, “Life got in the way!” However, after listening to friends and family discuss home food delivery services and the time constraints to prepare weekly dinners, I decided to share this older post from 2013. Hopefully, this quick and easy recipe will become a tradition and time saver in your weeknight repertoire:

While I enjoy cooking, the weeknight rush is a challenge for me. Here is a quick meal that is among my kids’ favorites. Special thanks to “The Godfather” for sharing!

Baked Chicken in Cranberry Sauce

1-2 lbs. chicken (legs, breasts, thighs, boneless or bone-in, pretty much whatever is in the freezer)
1 bottle Catalina salad dressing (8 oz)
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix together cranberry sauce, dressing and onion soup mix
Cover 9×13 pan with some of the mix
Lay chicken pieces in pan and cover with remaining mixture
Bake at 350 degrees for 60 min (less if boneless, cooking times based on thawed chicken)

I usually serve this with a salad and either baked sweet potatoes or rice.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

What’s a Galette?

Paul, my Farmers’ Market neighbor, is quite the adventurous curmudgeon. A retired house painter, turned baker, he often shares stories about fly-fishing in the western US or sailing our Great Lakes. Paul also has a side-gig in retirement, baking delicious breads and cookies prepared in his homemade, outdoor, wood-fired oven. Last year, he started offering peach galettes, a rustic French pastry. After trying one, Chad and I added this tasty treat to our baking regimen. Here’s our version:

This Peach Galette can quickly be prepared with minimal effort:

  • Place a prepared pie crust on a baking sheet
  • Mix 1/2 tablespoon of flour, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon in a bowl
  • Gently toss peach slices (approx 2-3 large, fresh peaches, peeled and sliced) in mixture and spread in middle of pie crust (allow a 2-3 inch circle of pie crust around the outside)
  • Begin folding the pie crust around the edge, until completing the circle
  • Brush crust with olive oil and sprinkle with brown sugar
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown
  • Let sit for 5 minutes before eating, pairs well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream

Looking for other recipe ideas? Try apples or a savory spinach and feta galette…we’re going to try a tourtiere galette this winter.

Note: Unused portions should be covered, refrigerated, and enjoyed within 3 days.

Thanks for reading!

Farm Markets, Nettles, and the Start of Summer

This past weekend was the annual nettle harvest, and Chad made a batch of nettle and asparagus soup (a favorite of Chad’s homemade soups, perfect with crusty bread, and a dish the vegan will eat). I’m excited to begin the Farm Market Season. This weekend, Cairn Hill Farms will have a stand at these markets:

  • 5/25 Middleville (8-1)
  • 5/26 Hastings (9-1)

We offer the following products:

    • Beeswax Lip Balms: A blend of coconut oil, avocado oil, beeswax, and vitamin E
    • Sprays: Enjoy as a room spray or facial toner
    • Essential Oil Blends: Add to a favorite lotion, make a spray, or use for aromatherapy
    • Salt Scrub: Treat your feet with this lovely new product!
    • Farm Fresh Eggs, Veggies, and Nettle Iced Tea

Can’t make it to the market or want a custom blend? Please message me cairnhillfarms.net

Orders can be shipped.

Nettle and Asparagus Soup

Below is Cairn Hill Farms Summer 2018 Newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Move over Fondue: Introducing the Raclette Grill

We finally had the opportunity to try out a new foodie toy: The Raclette Grill. Historically, the Raclette referred to a block of hard cheese shepherds packed for long treks with their flocks. At the nightly camp fire, they would heat one side of the block and scrape softened cheese on their bread.

While this is one tasty aspect of the modern Raclette, many more food choices are available. This is similar to fondue, but rather than using pots of heated oil, people gather round a grill. Adding a light coating of oil and a dash of salt on the grill surface, diners enjoy a healthier option, avoiding the vast quantities of oil required for fondue. The Raclette also offers a broiler section with individual pans, so diners can utilize two cooking areas at the same time.

The broiler section is best for melting cheese, poured over potatoes or baguette slices. We also broiled pear slices with some dark chocolate and later topped with whipped cream.

Other items we enjoyed included steak, shrimp, oysters, mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash. Items can be grilled individually or on skewers. There were even enough choices to keep our resident vegan busy!

Finally, Raclette Grills are affordable, ranging in price from $50-250 (Based on size and extra features, such as a marble cooking top). I highly recommend gathering around the table with friends or family and trying this wonderful tradition!

Thanks for reading!

Ovens Need Not Apply

slow pot turkey

 

One of my favorite holidays is quickly approaching. I love spending time planning the large meal, shopping for ingredients, and getting an early start making dishes the night before. In the past few years, I learned a trick to prepare the main event, the turkey. Do you feel overwhelmed with preparing a 20+ pound bird? Do you find the breast meat dry? Is the gravy perhaps a bit bland? Is the oven prime real estate? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to bring out your Thanksgiving helper, the slow pot.

Several years ago, we started cooking smaller turkeys (8-10 lbs) in a slow pot. Need more bird for the crowd of guests, purchase two smaller birds and borrow another slow pot. These birds have more flavor and are more tender. Best of all, the oven is free for all the other goodies being prepared!

If you want to take your cooking another step, consider purchasing a Heritage turkey. These birds are descended from the wild turkey. Where your local grocer’s turkey is raised in 4-5 months, a Heritage turkey requires 6-8 months to mature. The added time is worth the wait and price. Domestic turkeys tend to be penned up in a cramped space and only eat grain, but most Heritage turkeys forage for food during the day and are supplemented with grain at night. Free ranging and extra time gives these birds a deeper flavor. It makes the gravy richer and provides an added flavor boost to those after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.

 

baby turkeys

 

Three Heritage Turkey poults hatched on our farm this spring. Pliney the younger, Pliney the older, and Pompeii were easy to raise and were foraging within three weeks (My mom was visiting the weekend they hatched and named them after the people and town associated with Mt. Vesuvius). Unfortunately, our dog ate the Plineys, but Pompeii has grown quickly and will be our Thanksgiving star.

 

Pompeii

 

The preparation is similar to an oven turkey. Be sure to follow all safety guidelines: Use a completely thawed turkey, wash hands and any surfaces that touch the turkey, make sure the internal cooking temp reaches at least 165 degrees, and due to build up of juice in slow pot, stuffing is not recommended. However, cooking the turkey breast side down will immerse the meat in the natural juices, an added treat. Cooking time will vary based on the slow pot settings.

**Note: Slow pot turkeys do not have crispy skin, but there are several slow pot recipes on-line that include directions for an oven finish to create this effect.

**Note: Heritage turkeys can be quite expensive. However, I found many local farmers through Craigslist who offer these birds at reasonable prices.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Empty Chairs at the Table

MK and dog pic

 

This weekend has given a glimpse of things to come. One child ventures on his first college visit and another travels on a school trip. While our youngest remains home, I can’t help but think of the limited time remaining before these kids head out and spread their wings…kind of bittersweet for me.

I look forward to watching my children’s adventures into adulthood, but I will miss them so. My happiest moments have been those little times, especially around the dinner table. We would discuss history, religion, or politics yet quickly escalate to uncontrolled laughter so intense that milk or mashed potatoes would occasionally fly. Our dinner table served multiple purposes: homework, canning, wine making, family meetings, fondue night, Sunday breakfast, Thanksgiving dinner, the list goes on…

My grandparents used the same table as far back as Grandad’s years as a Prohibition agent, even cleaning his government issue 12 gauge on that same table. Growing up at Broadlawn, that table had a place of pride in our breakfast nook where we ate most family meals. I remember Granaw peeling vegetables and Dad and Granaw playing their whirlwind rounds of cribbage. I remember games of Connect Four, hiding unwanted food (usually turnips) under the heat register, and late night pizza with my sister and our friends or planning the occasional mischief.

Chad and I consider ourselves fortunate to carry on this piece of family history. When the table joined our home, I remember Chad’s prayer of thanks for continued adventures with this special piece of furniture. This weekend in particular as I miss my boys, I can’t help but feel both joy and sadness as I walk past the table that has witnessed so many generations, and held so many memories and so much love.