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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Bagpipes, Thistles, and a Wee Dram, Part Three

For the final leg of our adventure, we headed south to the coastal village of Oban and finished with a few days in Edinburgh. Oban (which means “The Little Bay” in Scottish Gaelic) offers miles of gorgeous shoreline to explore and a foodie’s choice of seafood shacks for delicious meals.

After checking into our B&B, we walked up the hill to McCaig’s Tower. The tower, commissioned and designed by John McCaig in 1897, looks like a Colosseum on the hill overlooking Oban Harbor. The tower was never finished. At the time of McCaig’s death in 1902, only the outer walls were complete. However, the tower remains a popular site where visitors can walk within the structure and enjoy the public garden and stunning views of the bay.

From McCaig’s Tower

For dinner that evening, we enjoyed one of the famous seafood shacks on the docks. Here, travelers can enjoy fresh seafood, often taken right from the fishing boats and cooked to order. We enjoyed a giant basket of fresh mussels, sautéed in garlic, onions, and butter. Meals were enjoyed on picnic tables on the docks, where ships constantly come and go in the busy harbor (and travelers can take the public ferry to the outer islands).

We also toured Oban Distillery, still located in the heart of the city where founded in 1794. In addition to a whisky tasting, the tour includes a whisky glass to take home. Of the three distilleries we toured, I think this was Chad’s favorite!

After a few days in Oban, we headed to our final destination, Edinburgh. First, we drove a few miles south of the city to tour Rosslyn Chapel. Built in the 15th century, the unique chapel, covered with ornate stone carvings, took four decades to complete. The many intricate carvings and symbolism served as inspiration for Dan Brown’s “The Davinci Code.” Visitors can attend Mass, hear presentations, and even descend into the oldest part of the chapel, the crypt.

Our final two days were spent exploring Old Town in Edinburgh. Our hotel was a few blocks from Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. This site was made popular by J.K. Rowling, as she spent much time here writing. In fact, some of the names on the gravestones served as inspiration for characters in the Harry Potter Series.

Greyfriar’s Kirk

Creepy Stone “Non Omnis Moriar” (Not all of me will die)-Perhaps this is where J.K. Rowling came up with the idea of horcruxes.

Edinburgh also offers a variety of Ghost Tours, including several in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. Instead, we took the Edinburgh Haunted Underground Tour (Mercat Tours), exploring the Blair Street Underground Vaults. While quite an unsettling experience, we enjoyed all the history in the vaults beneath South Bridge: A tavern, wine cellar, body snatching, smuggling, and housing for Edinburgh’s poorest.

Just down the block is the Greyfriar’s Bobby statue and pub.

Across the street is the National Museum of Scotland. A popular (and free) museum in the UK, visitors would require days to see all the displays and reach the top, where tourists have the opportunity walk out on the roof and see a unique view of Edinburgh!

Dolly, the sheep

The Lewis Chessmen (Did you hear a family in Edinburgh recently discovered one of the missing Lewis chess pieces in a drawer at home?)

As with so many trips, we ran out of time to see everything on our list, the perfect excuse to visit this lovely country at a later date.

Thanks for reading!

Bagpipes, Thistles, and a Wee Dram, Part One

Bagpipes, Thistles and a Wee Dram, Part Two

Farmers’ Market Season has begun for Cairn Hill Farms! Below is my Summer Newsletter, including a coupon. Can’t make it to the market? Use my On-line store. Interested in a custom product? Please message me!

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!

A Grand Weekend

Last month, I tagged along with Chad while he attended a work conference on Mackinac Island. This lovely historic landmark encourages visitors to slow down and relax. Visitors travel the island with bikes, horses, or on foot, no cars allowed. Horse drawn taxis wait near the ferry to slowly take travelers to their destination.

We had the opportunity to stay at the Grand Hotel. While my husband would rather enjoy a bonfire by a hunting shack, he was so moved by the bright florals and broad stripes in this Victorian Hotel that upon entering our room, he said, “It looks like a clown threw up in here!” 🙂

I have fond memories staying at the Grand Hotel on one special occasion as a child. My parents attended a work conference the same weekend as my sister’s birthday. She was surprised with birthday cake in the Grand dining room, and Gordon MacRae sang Happy Birthday to her. From that moment on, I wanted to celebrate a birthday in the same way!! For years, as a child, I believed my parents’ white lie that we couldn’t go to Mackinac in May because the Straits were still frozen over. In reality, my parents always worked the weekend of my birthday as it was Hillsdale College’s Commencement.

My favorite activity on the island is renting a bike and enjoying the 8.2 mile trip round. Other pleasant activities include browsing the many shops on Main Street, sampling the island’s famous fudge, and watching the sunset on the world’s largest porch at the Grand Hotel.

Planked Whitefish at The Village Inn (just off the Main Street through town)

Enjoying the beautiful views from The Yacht Club

An evening at the Pink Pony

No trip to Mackinac is complete without a visit to the local fishery just outside Mackinac City to bring home whitefish.

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!

A Badger and a Cheesehead Walk into a Supper Club…

Chad and I recently enjoyed a vacation in Wisconsin. We boarded the S.S. Badger in Ludington, MI and traveled across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, WI. The four hour voyage includes activities for the whole family: Games, food, movies, children’s activities, cocktails for the adults, etc. Passengers can sit below deck, walk laps around the ship, or enjoy a lounge chair on the front deck. The cost (including a vehicle) is comparable to fuel prices for travelers driving around the lake. The trip provides a memorable adventure, though Chad thinks this counts as a cruise (I disagree).

Our first stop was Milwaukee, specifically the Harley Davidson Museum. Visitors can experience riding a new Harley (even without a license).

The museum offered insight into the humble beginnings of this company, the strategic planning to survive the Great Depression, their role in WWII, motorcycles in the movies, something for everyone!

We enjoyed a wine tasting and purchased some smoked whitefish at the Milwaukee Public Market.

Later, we had time to visit the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Museum in Oshkosh. Founded by Paul Poberezny in the 1950s, the museum is a tribute to the air craft “gear heads,” passionate home builders and restorers. This site also hosts a spectacular air show each July.

The Curtiss “Jenny,” America’s first mass produced aircraft, this one was found in an old barn.

The EAA Museum also has quite the collection of WWII airplane art.

My favorite location was Port Washington! This quiet port city offers local wine, an amazing smoked fish house, lovely shops, and miles of beautiful lakeside trails.

A fun bike shop for fans of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Near the end of our trip, I had the opportunity to sing at the local Supper Club.

For those in the Midwest, Wisconsin has many lovely destinations, worthy of a long, weekend road trip.

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!