Delicious Fall Desserts in the Upper Peninsula

Fall is a great time to indulge in some delicious desserts! Today, guest blogger Jesse Land of Things to Do in the U.P. tells us about some sensational sweet treats in the Upper Peninsula. 

Autumn is harvest time and as we all know, along with the harvest comes delicious fall desserts. I caught up with a few of the Upper Peninsula’s best bakers this month to highlight some of their fall inspired favorites.

Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie – Joe’s Cakes

Joe’s cakes within the historic Landmark Inn in Marquette is a standout Upper Peninsula bakery, and Joe’s sour cream apple walnut pie is one of his most popular desserts. When Joe Heck’s grandmother immigrated from Cuba, in his words “she couldn’t bake a pie or a cake to save her life.” But she found a book in the library with the recipe for this dessert translated into spanish and the rest is history.

Joe makes this pie with Michigan apples mixed with sour cream, fresh ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. The topping is made from house made molasses, brown sugar, walnut flour and chunks of walnuts. All of that goes into a traditional pie crust and gets baked “really slow, so the acid comes out of the apples and turns the sour cream into custard. In the end it’s really a spiced apple custard pie,” says Joe.

I had a few bites of this one at the Landmark and it was awesome. I then took the rest home for my wife to try and it was gone in seconds!

Pumpkin Pie Fudge – Donckers

Photo courtesy of Donckers

Candy chef Akasha from Donckers in Marquette makes an awesome pumpkin pie fudge. I’d never had pumpkin fudge until I tried it at Donckers, but I can imagine how the candied walnut crust on this dessert improves an already delicious treat.

Donckers also had some crazy good looking caramel apples on display. They’re “candy coated and caramel drenched honey crisp apples,” according to Donckers, and they also happen to be the best looking caramel apples I’ve ever seen.

Apple Pie – Upper Crust Deli

Linda Smith from the Upper Crust Bakery and Deli in Manistique makes a mean apple pie. She says it’s a simple apple pie that’s just thrown together, but she always uses Idared apples. I say that next to my mom’s, apple pie it’s one of the best I’ve had. Linda also makes an amazing chocolate pecan pie, the recipe for which came from her Grandma’s church cookbook. I’m seeing a theme with the Grandmas, here.

Pumpkin Everything! – Midtown Bakery

I didn’t get a chance to stop in the Midtown Bakery in Negaunee for “research” this time around, but Marybeth Kurz’s desserts are locally famous. Here’s what she had to say about her fall desserts:

“We are in full blown Pumpkin mode! We have ten different pumpkin cheesecakes, from plain pumpkin to pumpkin cranberry and almond, or pumpkin and buttered pecan. Our pumpkin spice cookie that has cinnamon chips, poached raisins and spices and rolled in coarse sanding sugar and more cinnamon has been a new big hot seller for us, too. Our Muffins featuring pumpkin are the first to fly off the shelf in the mornings!”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. There are dozens of great restaurants and bakeries in the Upper Peninsula that serve up delicious fall desserts, so consider this just an introduction!

How about you? What’s one of your favorite fall desserts?

A native Yooper, Jesse Land lives in Iron Mountain and enjoys hiking, biking, skiing, and camping with his family. He runs the Upper Peninsula travel site “Things to do in the U.P.” 



Pure Michigan November 2013 Events Roundup

November is another busy month in Pure Michigan! With the beginning of the holiday season just around the corner, November is a great time to enjoy fall festivities and holiday cheer. From harvest festivals to holiday lights, there’s always something happening around the state during the month of November. Below is a roundup of a few of the many events taking place in November. For a complete listing of events in Michigan, visit              

Week of October 28, 2013

Gallery Walk

November 1, 2013 – November 2, 2013, Downtown Holland

Downtown galleries and studios have artists on hand with refreshments, music and other activities. Take a Friday night (or Saturday afternoon) stroll through downtown Holland’s art galleries to enjoy fantastic exhibitions of new art by guest artists. You’ll soon see why this two day event is one of Holland’s classics. Friday, November 1, 6:30pm-9pm and Saturday, November 2, noon-4pm. Free.


November 2, 2013, Grand Rapids

Do you love bacon? We bet you do. Do you love beer? ….we know you love beer. Put the two together and what do you get? The best food festival in West Michigan! BaCon, West Michigan’s first bacon and beer festival, will be at The DeltaPlex Arena Saturday, November 2, 2013! BaCon will feature contests, unique food samples, beer tasting and much more celebrating America’s favorite food. General admission is $20 and includes four beverage and six food sample tickets. Bacon enthusiasts can upgrade to our V.I.P. ticket, BaCon Master, and receive a souvenir apron, eight beverage and twelve food sample tickets for $40. Tickets go on sale Friday, September 20 at 10am. For more information, check out the website.

Christmas Boutique Arts & Crafts Show

November 2, 2013, Kalamazoo County Expo Center & Fairground

Unique, talented artists and crafters from around the Midwest. Free admission and free parking. Hours: 9am-3pm in Room A. For more information, call (269) 327-5373 or click here.

Superior Children’s Book Festival

November 2, 21013, Sault Sainte Marie

The second annual Superior Children’s Book Festival will take place on Saturday, November 2, from 11am to 3pm in the Superior Ballrooms of the Walker Cisler Center, located on the campus of Lake Superior State University. Two popular Michigan children’s book authors, Johnathan Rand and Nancy Shaw, will be this year’s special guests. The festival is free and open to the public and offers plenty of children’s crafts, games, and prizes throughout the day. For more information, visit the website.

Turkey Trail Run at Hoffmaster State Park

November 2, 2013, Muskegon

Enjoy a challenging and scenic run through the back dunes of Lake Michigan at Hoffmaster State Park. The Little Turkey one mile trot registration will be at 10am at the Visitors Center and is free! An adult must accompany the child on the trail. Transportation will be provided from the beach parking lot to the Visitor Center for runners and visitors via trolley. So, get training so you can brag to your family on Thanksgiving that you won the bird with your amazing running skills. For more race information, visit the website link.

Week of November 4, 2013

West Michigan Potters Guild Fall Show

November 8, 2013- November 9, 2013, Grand Rapids

Beautiful pottery, locally made by Michigan artists is available in Grand Rapids at the annual Fall Show. Work by over 40 artists is presented in a beautiful setting at the St Nicholas Cultural Center; 2250 East Paris SE; in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Blissfield Yuletide Cheer

November 8, 2013 – November 10, 2013, Blissfield

Join us once again this year for Blissfield Yuletide Cheer. Blissfield Yuletide Cheer will be from November 8 – 10.  Three fun-filled days of activities for the whole family! Activities include a visit from Santa and Mrs Claus, tree lighting, craft show, opportunity to feed reindeer, and horse-drawn carriage rides. Begin celebrating the holiday season with the whole family. For more information, visit the website. 

Women’s Only Weekend!

November 8, 2013 – November 10, 2013, South Haven

Sorry guys, the gals are taking over South Haven! It’s Women’s Only Weekend November 8-10th, 2013. Steer clear as droves of women hit the shops, restaurants, and local attractions in downtown South Haven to enjoy each others company and be entertained!

Holiday Gift Show

November 9, 2013, Grand Rapids – Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Holiday Gift Show features unique items for the home, beautiful jewelry and accessories, thoughtful gifts for gardeners and much more. Featuring more than 30 artists and vendors offering a wide array of gift items, Holiday Gift Show has something for everyone on your gift list. From toys and games for kids, to wearable art for her, to gracious gifts for gardeners, we offer uncommon holiday gifts for the discerning gift giver.

Dinosaur Days

November 9, 2013 – November 10, 2013, Battle Creek

Join Kingman Museum for our three part “Dinosaur Days” series. Dinosaur Day gives a hands-on look into the world of dinosaurs. September through November, every second weekend of the month will be dedicated to a specific period of dinosaurs. Dinosaur Days will be Saturday and Sunday from noon-4p.m. Activities will include games, puzzles, books and a special look at some of Kingman’s lesser seen artifacts! This event is open to the public and free with museum admission. Museum admission includes a planetarium show at the scheduled time. Dinosaur Days also held September 14 & 15 and October 12 & 13. For more information, call (269)965-5117 or visit the website.

Week of November 11, 2013

Grand Haven Light Night

November 15, 2013, Grand Haven

Enjoy downtown Grand Haven as the lights begin to turn on in the trees for the first time in the holiday season. Participating stores will be holding their holiday open houses with excellent ideas for everyone on your Christmas list. Luminaries will be lining the street as we kick off the holidays! 5pm to 9pm. For more information, contact the Grand Haven Main Street Downtown Development Association at (616) 844-1188.

Christmas Through Lowell

November 15, 2013 – November 17, 2013, Lowell

Friday, November 15, 9am to 9pm. Saturday, November 16, 9am to 7pm, and Sunday, November 17, 11am to 5pm. Kick off your holiday shopping season in Historic Lowell. The Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce presents over 50 homes, businesses that are unique and magical. Over 200 artists and crafters will showcase their gifts and creations for three days! On your Christmas Through Lowell shopping extravaganza, you will find hand-made treasures for that perfect Christmas gift. Call the Chamber at (616) 897-9161 for details. In October 2013, you may pick up your Christmas Through Lowell “Official Tour Guide & Map” at any crafter or participating business along Historic Main St. For more information, visit the website.

Lexington Ladies Weekend Event

November 15, 2013 – November 17, 2013

Gather your pals together while the hunters are away and have a BLAST in Lexington! Grab your girlfriends and come to this fun weekend! Each business will have you do an event (try a drink, put on a lotion, play a game, etc), more! Relax with friends and just have a great time! For more information, visit the website.

Novi Pet Expo

November 15, 2013 – November 17, 2013, Novi – Suburban Collection Showplace

The Novi Pet Expo offers pet lovers and families from across the region a wonderful opportunity to interact with adoptable animals and learn more about the responsibilities of pet ownership, training and heath care. There will also be hilarious pet contests and dazzling feats of dog- daring, as well as a large shopping area for fans of pets who run, jump, fly and swim! Admission and parking fee.

Kalamazoo Russian Festival

November 16, 2013, Kalamazoo

This year’s 18th annual Russian Festival includes a full day of programming for adults, and a special children’s activity area. There are musical performances by well-known musicians and dancers, an art gallery, lectures by Russian scholars, and a Russian marketplace with unique crafts and packaged foods for sale. Attendees will experience a complete Russian atmosphere – hearing the Russian language and music; seeing Russian art, dance and crafts; and mingling with people wearing authentic Russian costumes. Event held at Western Michigan University, Fetzer Center. Admission fee. For more information, click here.

 Week of November 18, 2013

Albion Aglow

November 18, 2013, Albion

Join Santa in Albion for the Albion Aglow parade. After the parade, Santa will visit with children at Kids N Stuff Museum and hear their wish lists. 6:30pm. For more information, visit the website. 

Crossroads Village’s Ladies Night Out

November 18, 2013, Flint

Have a night on the town with your girlfriends at Ladies Night Out on Monday, November 18, 2013, at Crossroads Village, from 4pm- 9pm. Shop a lot. Eat chocolate. Cut, color and paste at one of the free make-it-and-take-it craft tables. Indulge in free holiday tasty treats in the Village’s historic homes, all decked out for the holidays. Enjoy an old-fashioned wagon ride with your girlfriends to see gorgeous, glittering lights. Laugh out loud as you take a free spin on a one hundred year old carousel. You and your girlfriends can even get your picture taken for free with Handsome Harry or real reindeer. All for you. Only at Crossroads Village. Order tickets online now or call (810) 736-7100. Tickets are only $5. And – as an added bonus, you may use your $5 ticket as a coupon when you purchase $25 or more of merchandise in the Village’s retail stores only. If you are a current Village annual pass holder, your tickets are free if you reserve your tickets in advance.

Holiday Art Show

November 21, 2013 – November 23, 2013, Kalamazoo County Expo Center & Fairground

Holiday art show featuring fine quality art made by members of The Paper Guild, Kalamazoo Valley Potters and Art, Etc. Admission is free. Hours are Thursday 5-8pm, Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday 9am-4pm. Held in Expo South.

Luminary Festival

November 22, 2013, St. Joseph

Celebrate the beginning of the holiday season strolling through the beautiful candle-lit streets as over 800 luminaries light your way in downtown St. Joseph. Shops will be open late to entice you with wonderful gift ideas and festive holiday decor – many merchants will provide refreshments. Shopping, dining and friends! FREE horse-drawn trolley rides (weather permitting) from 5-8pm. For more information on this event, visit the website or call (800) 906-9968 or (269) 985-1111.

Silver Bells in the City

November 22, 2013, Lansing

The entire city will glow with millions of lights for the 29th Annual Silver Bells in the City, bringing together family and friends from all over Michigan to celebrate the holiday season. Immediately following the parade, the steps of the State Capitol will sparkle as the State Christmas tree is lighted, followed by a spectacular fireworks display cascading over the capitol dome (weather permitting). Be sure to check out the schedule of events for all of this year’s exciting Silver Bells festivities. 5pm to 9pm. For more information, click here. 

Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo

November 23, 2013 – January 5, 2014, Detroit

Wild Lights is a spectacular holiday light display at the Detroit Zoo. For 24 nights, more than a million LED lights will illuminate trees, buildings and animal sculptures throughout the front of the Zoo. The event will feature live entertainment – including bell choirs, bands and carolers – seasonal refreshments, arts and crafts, ice carving and a holiday train display. Event dates are November 23-24, 29-30; December 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-23, 26-30, 2013; and January 2-5, 2014. For information call (248) 398-0900.

Week of November 25, 2013

America’s Thanksgiving Parade

November 28 , 2013, Detroit

America’s Thanksgiving Parade is celebrating 87 years of marching, smiles, clowns and bringing families together in Detroit! America’s Thanksgiving Parade, one of the country’s oldest and most celebrated parades, will step off at 9:05am on Woodward Avenue and Mack and end at Woodward Avenue and Congress in downtown Detroit. Hundreds of thousands of parade-goers will be watching as the parade makes its way down Woodward Avenue. The parade will be broadcast LIVE on WDIV Local 4 and on WJR 760 AM. For more information, visit the website.

Turkey Trot 5K

November 28 ,2103, Ann Arbor

Join many on Thanksgiving morning in beautiful Ann Arbor, Michigan, for what has been rated one of the “Best Thanksgiving Races in America” by Start off your Thanksgiving with a 5K run starting at E Liberty Street; Ann Arbor! For more information, visit the website. 

Frankenmuth Holiday Celebration & Candlewalk

November 29, 2013, Frankenmuth

The perfect way to start the Christmas season. Hot chocolate and cookies at 6pm. Ceremony starts at 6:30pm. Candlewalk from the River Place to the Chamber Platz for the lighting of the Tannenbaum. Santa will be in the Pavilion from 6:30-8:30pm on Friday, November 29. Phone (800) FUN -TOWN or (989) 652-6106 for more information.

Made in Michigan & Holiday Market

November 29, 2013 – December 1, 2013, Hart

Kick-off the holidays with a Made in Michigan & Holiday Market, and lighted Christmas parade in Hart. The last entry of the parade is Santa Claus and he stops at Hart Commons and visits with children. So bring your camera for a picture prefect setting! There will be Michigan artists, crafters, creators, carolers, hay rides, area activities, and Christmas specials at the merchants and restaurants. Santa Claus visits kids at Hart Commons on Friday, November 29 at 7pm (after parade), Saturday, November 30, at noon, on Sunday, December 1 at 1pm, and Saturday, December 7 at noon. Santa Claus will have an indoor location in downtown Hart, if it is too cold. Saturday in Silver Lake is a Silver Lake Tree Lighting. Come and enjoy hay rides, carolers, cookie contest, Santa and more!  For more information, click here. 

Great Macaroni & Cheese Bake-Off

November 30, 2013, Traverse City

The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula will host some of the area’s top restaurant chefs who have turned the classic comfort food dish of Macaroni & Cheese into culinary marvels! This rich and creamy fare is paired with wines from Old Mission – Rieslings, Pinot Grigios, Chardonnays and more. Discover and enjoy what our local chefs have cooked up this year! Tickets go on sale 60 days prior to the event. Call (231) 933-9787 for more information.

These are just a few of the many events happening next month in Pure Michigan. Please visit for a complete listing.

Fall in Love with Michigan Lighthouses

Lighthouses in Michigan are the stars of the shore. Today, guest blogger Sharma Krauskopf tells us the story of how she fell in love with Michigan lighthouses

I am fascinated with lighthouses and here’s why – Lighthouse Digest. For the last 20 years, I have been writing books and magazine articles and speaking about lighthouses. I also lead tours, have lived in a lighthouse in Scotland, and now am making a movie about lighthouse keepers. I have been living in Michigan for over 30 years but hadn’t been involved Michigan lighthouse to any great extent. People have a tendency to not be a tourist in their own neck of the woods, and I guess I’m a good example.

A few years ago that began to change. Due to health issues and family responsibilities my ability to travel long distances to lighthouses came to a screeching halt. What happened next I call the “tugboat effect,” named after an antique wind-up tugboat toy we had that took off across the floor until it ran into an obstacle which caused it immediately to turned in another direction. Like the tugboat, I instantly changed directions by looking closer to home where I found Point aux Barques Lighthouse for my movie.

Recently, my husband and I took a trip to see the Saginaw River Range lighthouse only to find a sign saying “Closed to the Public”. Remembering the tugboat, we changed direction promptly traveling further north to Tawas Point Lighthouse located near East Tawas, Michigan. This magnificent lighthouse and its well maintained park have belonged to Michigan DNR since 2001. Having seen and written about hundreds of lighthouses, I can guarantee this is an extraordinary one. Being that it was the off-season, there were few people around and it was like we were living at the lighthouse. We found a motel in Tawas City so we could be at the lighthouse for sunrise the next morning which turned out to be a good decision as we got some beautiful pictures.

Upon returning home, I discovered the Lightkeeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse program. Having lived at a lighthouse for many years, I know how much fun, adventure, and beauty the job involves, and I have already submitted our application for next year. If you live in Michigan hopefully you’ll remember this blog. If circumstances dictate you can’t travel far, remember the tugboat. I don’t regret my international travel, but I do feel badly that I had not seen more of my home state when I was younger. I should have jumped in the car and experienced all the beauty, history and entertainment that was just down the road.

Sharma Krauskopf lives on a farm near Parma, Michigan. For many years, she and her husband owned Eshaness Lighthouse on the Shetland Islands in Scotland. Currently she is executive producer of a feature length motion picture about lighthouse keepers which will be filmed in the fall of 2014 at Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse in the Thumb area of Michigan. For more information on her movie, check out the website. 

Do you have a favorite Michigan lighthouse? Tell us in the comments below.