7 Reasons to be Thankful for Michigan

Today, guest blogger Joanna Dueweke of the Awesome Mitten brings us 7 reasons to be thankful for the state of Michigan.

With winter just around the corner, November is the perfect time to reflect on just what it is about Michigan that is so grand. Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for what we have, and we have so much to be thankful for in this dynamic state.

Seasons – Depending on who you’re talking to (namely the staunch summer or winter lovers), the changing of the seasons is one of the most magical aspects of living in the Mitten. We have so much opportunity to diversify in hobbies, wardrobes, moods, and scenery with the passing of the each season. No one can deny that when the heat of an Indian Summer gives way to a crisp fall wind that there isn’t some sense of relief. Similarly, we all jump the gun to break out our flip flops and shorts on the first day the weather returns to the high 50s, knowing full well it could still snow the following week.

Seasons_Collage

Michigan’s four seasons, PC: Instagrammers dweidnerphoto, bechased1122, catchupandrelish & jfongtorres

Variety - Just like Goldilocks, Michiganders are privileged to be able to find a town that is just right for them. We have them in all sizes; from the booming large metropolises to those dainty and quaint villages, there’s a city for everyone in the Mitten. That variety lends itself to so many aspects of the state, right down to the diversity of people. We have a conglomeration of beliefs, backgrounds and passions that come together to create a community dedicated to taking care our home.

Water – You can’t drive for more than 20 minutes anywhere in the state without running into a body of fresh water, whether it be a great lake, regular lake, river, creek or pond. We are blessed to be positioned in harmony with so many fresh water resources. Whether you like to fish, kayak, swim, sail, you name it, we musn’t forget that, “Four out of five Great Lakes prefer Michigan.”

Betsie-Bay-Frankfort-Summer

The reflective Betsie Bay in Frankfort, PC: Instagrammer nsorensenphoto

LibationsBeer, wine, liquor – the folks in Michigan are doing it all and most likely just down the street from you with ingredients found in our collective backyards. The innovation and enthusiasm coming out of the state’s alcohol industry is nothing short of a marvel. We may be relatively young in our development in these industries, but we are making a name for ourselves with haste that tastes fantastic.

SportsLions and Tigers and Wings and Pistons, oh my! Our professional sports teams are a point of pride, not to mention the countless high performing college teams showing up every week giving us hope. Michigan is host to some of the most voracious fans which should not be taken lightly. Whether we steal the World Series or take home the Stanley Cup, we are out there (or behind the TV) watching, wishing, and winning.

Comerica-Park-Summer

Comerica Park during the warm summer months, PC: Michelle Forte

People – Michiganders are just plain great. We should be grateful for one another. Without that, we wouldn’t have a state that is coming back strong from a devastating economic downturn, or creative artists making a name for our state on a global scale, or musicians showing up on awards ceremony stages. No, the people pointing out where they’re from and where they’ve lived with an open palm are the reason this state is flourishing and making noise on a national scale.

Adventure – Finally, the Mitten is full of adventure. Whether you’re looking for an urban experience steeped in rich cultural heritage, or looking to escape it all and camp beneath the stars, Michigan is the place to be. Not only is there variety in what can be found in the state, but it is supported by quality folks making sure that adventure is not one to be forgotten.

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There’s much adventure to be found in Michigan, PC: Instagrammers katefaced & tara12891

The list could go on and on. Why are you thankful for the state of Michigan?

Joanna Dueweke writes for the Awesome Mitten and is the Interactive Marketing Coordinator for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Born and raised in Traverse City, she is enjoying new adventures in the Detroit area, but also values her roots in Northern Michigan. Exploring the outdoors, sailing, travel, and enjoying the Mitten’s beer industry consume her time when she is not pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science at Wayne State University.

Four Thanksgiving Recipes Inspired by Local Michigan Produce

On a chilled November day, warmth and conversation will fill the room as family members converse over a delicious Thanksgiving feast that was prepared with love. Thanksgiving is a time to savor everything you have to be thankful for. There is no better way to celebrate life’s abundance than with a comforting home-cooked meal made with fresh ingredients that moved from the local farm to your table. Local Michigan produce is just one of many reasons to be thankful for the mitten state.

Delicious seasonal fruit and vegetables such as pumpkin, squash, apples, carrots, and sweet potatoes from local Michigan farms will make this year’s Thanksgiving dinner one for the books. The following recipes are meant to bring you ideas and creativity while planning your Thanksgiving dinner, and encourage you to take advantage of the wonderful seasonal produce that Michigan has to offer, courtesy of guest blogger Kristen Guilbert from Awesome Mitten.

Pumpkin Twists

Pumpkin Twists

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Novice Chef

These fancy pumpkins twists are sweet, flakey, buttery, and look a lot more difficult to make than they actually are. Made with local Michigan pumpkin, these tasty twists are much more interesting than the common dinner rolls and will make your relatives think you are way more handy in the kitchen. Add these to the dessert table, serve as appetizers, or maybe even as a side dish! These are versatile and will be a sweet addition to your Thanksgiving table.

What you need:

Makes 4 large twists

Twists:

1 large egg

2 teaspoons water

4 sheets puff pastry

1 cup fresh pureed sugar pumpkin, or canned pumpkin

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

coarse sugar, optional

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Lay puff pastry flat and divide pumpkin mixture evenly across the top. Spread pumpkin into an even layer.
  5. Starting at one end, roll the pastry over the pumpkin mixture.
  6. Using a sharp knife, slice down center, but leave about an inch on one end of the pastry connected.
  7. Crisscross  the two pieces together, making sure to keep the pumpkin filling sides facing up.
  8. Form the pastry into a circle by pulling the two ends together and pressing together.
  9. Place pastry on prepared baking sheet leaving room for spreading.
  10. Brush the pastries lightly with the egg wash you made earlier (the egg and water). Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Drizzle on top of warm baked pumpkin twists and serve!

Butternut Squash Apple Bruschetta

Butternut Squash Apple Bruschetta

Photo and recipe courtesy of Whitney Bond

I bet you didn’t think that butternut squash could get any better…  until you added apples and made this awesome autumn-inspired bruschetta! This recipe creates the perfect combination of tart, savory, and sweet, and will be the perfect appetizer before the big feast. What better way to start off the Thanksgiving festivities than with a bang? This bruschetta will do all that and more.

What you need:

Makes 8

2 cups diced butternut squash

1 cup diced apples

6 tbsp olive oil (divided)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp allspice

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 tsp kosher salt (divided)

1 tsp black pepper (divided)

8 slices french bread

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 cloves garlic (minced)

6-8 fresh sage leaves (chopped)

2 tbsp balsamic glaze

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Toss the butternut squash and apples with 2 tbsp olive oil, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ½ tsp kosher salt and ½ tsp black pepper.
  3. Place in an even layer on a baking sheet and into the oven for 15 minutes.
  4. While the squash and apples are roasting, brush the sliced bread with 2 tbsp olive oil and set aside.
  5. Combine the ricotta cheese with the remaining ½ tsp black pepper and ½ tsp kosher salt, set aside.
  6. In a small skillet, add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat.
  7. Add the garlic and sage leaves, saute for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and toss with the squash and apples when they come out of the oven.
  9. Place the slices of bread into the oven for 4-5 minutes, or until toasted to your liking.
  10. Remove the bread from the oven and top with the ricotta cheese, then the roasted squash and apple mix.
  11. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze.

Brown Butter Garlic Honey Roasted Carrots

Brown Butter Garlic Honey Roasted Carrots

Photo and recipe courtesy of RasaMalaysia

This may just be the perfect side dish for your Thanksgiving feast. The combination of locally grown carrots, browned butter, garlic, and honey is simply delicious. These jazzed up carrots are satisfying and will be a comforting addition to your amazing home-cooked meal. It pairs wonderfully with turkey, stuffing and other Thanksgiving sides. You won’t regret giving this recipe a try!

What you need:

Serves 3

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb baby carrots

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 dashes ground black pepper

1/2 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon chopped thyme or parsley.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Heat up an oven-safe skillet and cook the butter on medium heat until it starts to form and turn into golden brown.
  3. Add the garlic and quickly sauté before adding the carrots and stir a few times.
  4. Add the salt, black pepper, honey and thyme or parsley.
  5. Transfer the skillet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the carrots become tender. Serve immediately.

Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Pie

Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Pie

Photo and recipe courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction

This pie will be an excellent addition to the dessert table. This is the dessert that your relatives will rave over! Different and unexpected, this pie is a great alternative to pumpkin pie, and will have everyone asking for more! Made with Michigan sweet potatoes, and sweetened with brown sugar, you cannot go wrong making this delightful dessert for your Thanksgiving festivities!

What you need:

Serves 8-10

Homemade or store bought pie crust

1 lb sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)

1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar

1/2 (120ml) cup heavy cream

2 large eggs

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk

optional: whipped cream

Directions:

  1. Prepare crust if using homemade.
  2. Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Boil for 45-50 minutes, or until super soft.
  3. On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough. Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until the crust is about 12 inches in diameter. 4. Carefully place the dough into a 9×2 inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. Use a small paring knife to trim excess dough off the edges. Flute the edges then set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  5. Drain the boiling water and run the potatoes under very cold water. The skin should peel off easily at this point. Allow them to cool until they are easy to handle. Slice the potatoes into large chunks, then place into a mixing bowl.
  6. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the potatoes on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients except the egg wash and whipped cream. Beat on high speed until smooth and combined.
  7. Spread filling into prepared pie crust.
  8. Brush the edges of the crust with egg wash.
  9. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the center of the pie is only slightly jiggly. A toothpick inserted into the center of the pie should come out mostly clean. After 30 minutes and if desired, place a pie crust shield on top of the pie to prevent the edges from over-browning.
  10. Place the pie on a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 1 hour at room temperature before serving. The pie will slightly deflate as it cools; this is normal. Decorate with whipped cream. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Kristen Guilbert (2)

Kristen graduated from Grand Valley State University and now resides in Eastern Michigan. She is artsy and loves expressing her creativity through her writing and art. She enjoys coffee, cooking and baking, and can frequently be found practicing yoga, or spending time in nature. She especially loves the nature to be found in her home state of Michigan, and thinks there is nothing quite like a cozy camping trip to one of the Great Lakes.

 

 What do you love to eat on Thanksgiving? Share with us in the comments!