Take a Bite Out of Michigan’s Produce Season

To celebrate Food and Agriculture Month in Michigan, we asked blogger Liz Della Croce of The Lemon Bowl to tell us how to take advantage of Michigan’s fresh produce season with fun family outings and a few delicious Michigan made recipes.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Spring is right around the corner which means one thing here in Michigan: the growing season has finally arrived! As one of the nation’s largest exporters of produce, we do not take this time of year for granted. From ripe cherries to crisp apples to juicy blueberries and more, here are few fun ideas to make the most out of produce season and create long lasting memories with your family:

Visit a Farmers Market: Nothing gets kids excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables quite like a visit to a farm stand.  Whether you visit the same farmers market regularly or only pass a farm stand a few times a month, let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable each visit. Getting little ones involved in the buying process is an ideal way to get even the pickiest of eaters excited about trying something new. Check out this Farmers Market locator to find one near you!

Head to a U-Pick Orchard: Take advantage of the warmer weather and head to a nearby orchard. Picking your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to get the freshest produce available while also sneaking in a little exercise.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Be sure to bring the whole family and get the kids involved. Little hands are great for picking ripe blueberries or sitting on Daddy’s shoulders to reach that perfect peach. This Michigan U-Pick Guide will help you find a nearby orchard and also guide you through what is in season and when.

Eat Seasonally: From the first asparagus spears in early spring to late-fall apples, eating with the season is one of the best ways to ensure that your family gets a full range of nutrients throughout the year. Additionally, when you eat fruit that was picked just a few miles down the road, you will get maximum flavor and peak freshness.

Create Something Delicious: As you eat your way through the season, here are a few tasty ideas for Michigan’s most popular fruits and vegetables:

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Apple Recipes:

Asparagus Recipes :

Peach Recipes:

Cherry Recipes:

Blueberry Recipes

What are your favorite ways to take advantage of Michigan’s world-class produce and agriculture? Do you have a favorite farm stand or u-pick orchard? 

Learn more about Michigan Agriculture in the video below.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.15.39 PMLiz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station.  She is a contributor for The Huffington Post and Cooking Light. Liz’s recipes and food photography have been featured on several websites including Shape Magazine, Food Network blog, The Cooking Channel, TODAY Food and more. 

Sweet as Pie: Meet Linda Hundt of Downtown Market Grand Rapids’ Sweetie-Licious Bakery

Guest Blogger Molly Clauhs grew up in Pennsylvania, studied Hotel Administration at Cornell University in Upstate New York, and then moved to Michigan to plant some roots, open a food truck, and get involved in the burgeoning food movement. She currently coordinates the leasing process for the Downtown Market Grand Rapids, where she works with small food businesses affording her an inside look at the foodie Mecca, opening Fall 2013.

The Downtown Market will feature an outdoor farmers market, teaching kitchens, rooftop greenhouses, banquet and meeting space, full-service restaurants, office space, and a market hall featuring 24 permanent, year round food businesses to offer a “main street shopping experience.”  Here, Molly will introduce you to one of the unique businesses that will be making the Downtown Market home.

A Sweetie-Licious Bakery pie. Photo courtesy of David Tilley, Downtown Market GR.

I’m frequently asked, “Where’d you learn to cook?” I’m tempted to say I spent a year in a tiny Parisian kitchen working through a stack of French cookbooks or was the star student at a prestigious culinary school or that I toiled away in a restaurant kitchen getting barked at and chopping onions. Nope. I grew up with a mother who loved to cook and a grandmother who lived next door and was always in the kitchen, enjoying herself. The love of cooking and eating became part of me.

This warm spring weather, hatching into summer, sends my mind back to the farm where I spent my first eighteen years. Around this time of year, I started checking my grandmother’s cherry tree. The tree was conveniently located off a small staircase that led to their front door, so if I climbed up the side railings I could lean over and examine the flowers, buds, unripe fruit, and eventually, the bright red sour cherries.

As soon as they were ripe, we’d begin picking them by the basket full. I’d still be balanced precariously over the railing with one hand holding on and one hand picking cherries. My grandmother and I would run the cherries through an old-fashioned hand-cranked pitter in the sunroom. Now for the best part, we’d bake cherry pies, and of course freeze the extra fruit to use throughout the year.

Let me introduce you to Linda Hundt, proprietor of Sweetie-Licious Bakery, one of the Downtown Market’s newest tenants. She built a business on the foundation of stories like mine: memories that center on food, family, and love.

Linda Hundt, owner of Sweetie-Licious bakery, gathered up family recipes, nostalgia, and a talent for baking gained through coming of age in a family of home cooks preparing meals from scratch daily as an expression of love and art.

Linda Hundt at Sweetie-Licious Bakery. Photo courtesy of David Tilley, Downtown Market GR.

She took all that goodness and created a bakery that is so cute you want to pinch its cheeks, if only that was possible. The bakery is located in DeWitt, Michigan, about fifteen miles outside of Lansing. Good news, Grand Rapids: Linda and her team are opening their second location at the Downtown Market.

I’m temped to write on and on about Linda’s positive energy and sunny disposition, but you’ve seen her photo and hopefully it conveys her spirit. From my experience, Linda is usually wearing an adorable dress, carrying a pie, and smiling.

However, it wasn’t always that way. Linda graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in elementary education. She considered culinary school but as was the norm a few decades ago, her mother steered her towards a career that would be conducive to raising a family.

Several years later, her husband’s business went under, teaching jobs weren’t available, and Linda began a career in politics that she maintained for fifteen years. Linda was depressed and uninspired and felt she was not living a purposeful life. “It got to the point with my depression that I had to sink or swim and I wasn’t going to sink.”

In 2002 Linda began baking pies fulltime and soon thereafter opened her bakery that she always refers to as “the cutest little pie shop in the world.” She realized as a child that food and love are linked and she and her staff, clad in pink aprons and big smiles, “love everyone who walks through the door.”

Sweetie-Licious opening at the Downtown Market means we’ll finally have a destination for pie in Grand Rapids. I don’t still live next door to my grandmother and her cherry tree, but a good old fashioned slice of cherry pie will remind me of my roots in a form of edible nostalgia.

We’re lucky to have Sweetie-Licious opening in Grand Rapids, led by an entrepreneur seeking a purposeful life and to spread love “one pie at a time.”  In the meantime, while the cherries are ripening and we’re anticipating the Downtown Market opening later this summer, give Linda’s “Cherry Cherry Crisp” recipe a try.

Sweetie-Licious Cherry Cherry Crisp recipe. Click to enlarge.

Sweetie-Licious Cherry Cherry Crisp recipe. Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Guest Blogger Molly Clauhs coordinates the leasing process for the
Downtown Market Grand Rapids
, where she works with small food businesses affording her an inside look at the foodie Mecca, opening Fall 2013.

Michigan Apples a Family Tradition

Photo Credit - Katie Kimball

An apple will keep a 15-month-old busy nearly the entire trip to the orchard!

Today’s guest blogger celebrates the changing of the seasons, and the Michigan apples that symbolize the advent of autumn for many of us.

Every time the weather blows in a new season, I count myself fortunate to live in Michigan, where we have four of them. The seasons give structure to my year, breathe new life into day-to-day routines, determine what I eat, and keep things fresh.

When the crisp air of fall is on the horizon, our family starts thinking about apples. We start talking about apple picking. We seek out the first apples at the Farmers’ Markets (in late summer) and relish every bite.

Photo Credit - Katie Kimball

While waiting for the tractor to take you back to your vehicle, challenge family members to a throwing contest with the apples already on the ground.

But we really can’t wait for September when we finally head out to the farm, take a tractor to the orchards, and pick bushel after bushel.

We love the family tradition of a trip to the apple orchard each fall.

We love the cheap, easy, healthy snacks that fill our garage.

We love the cinnamon smells of applesauce that fill the house.

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, how many doctors are bored, because we generally average 2-3 per person around here?

Photo Credit - Katie Kimball

These apple squares freeze marvelously.

Last fall my 2-year-old daughter would ask for “an apple for the road” daily as we loaded up to drive big brother to kindergarten, approximately ten minutes after she finished breakfast. She usually asked for another mid-morning, and another “for the road” when we picked him up at noon. It’s not uncommon to have an afternoon snack of an apple, and if we go for a walk after dinner, guess what she asked for? (Don’t worry, I don’t actually give her one all those times, but it proves a point. We love our apples.)

If you want to go picking but aren’t sure you can get through your apples quickly enough to really buy in bulk, don’t worry. Preserving apples is simple and extends the bounty of the season throughout the year. Here are 5 ways to keep the apple love going:

Photo Credit - Katie Kimball

Apple flax muffins - grain-free, gluten-free, and delicious for breakfast or lunch!

  1. Dehydrate apple slices with cinnamon. Use a dehydrator or accomplish it in an oven at low temp.
  2. Frozen applesauce
  3. Canned applesauce
  4. Frozen sliced apples (for pie, crisp or cobbler later)
  5. Fruit rolls

Click through for more details on preserving apples all 5 ways or dehydrating apples in a dehydrator.

Visit Michigan’s apple growers to find an orchard near you!

What is your favorite way to eat Michigan apples? Straight from the tree, or in a delicious dish?

Katie KimballKatie Kimball is a mother of three from West Michigan who spends a ton of time in the kitchen making real food with whole ingredients and then blogs about her successes and failures at Kitchen Stewardship. 

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