Back From Our Vacation

Rich and I just came back from a great vacation in Michigan. We started in Traverse City where Rich did a superb job officiating the wedding of our nephew Andy and his beautiful bride Nicole. The wedding was fabulous and we really enjoyed visiting with family members that we don't get to see too often. It was great!

At the same time, Rich and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary so we took some time for ourselves to explore new places. We took a road trip in the northern part of Michigan visiting small towns and places where I have never been. I am amazed at how much water this state has! Everywhere I looked, there was a lake, a river, a creek or a stream of water running freely for my enjoyment. Of course the great Lakes Michigan and Huron are so huge that it was easy to forget these were lakes and not the ocean.

We visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes. What an incredible sight this was. I loved feeling the fine, cool sand between my toes and the breeze from the lake (I wanted to say ocean) on my face and looking down the hill of sand at the HUGE lake. Oh, I loved it!

We sat at the edge of the Platte River to get our feet wet and enjoy the peaceful scenery. And we stopped at a little town called Empire. On our way out of town we stopped at a chocolate shop that Bob, Kim's husband, told us about. The small building was painted a bright green color and it had a big sign with the name - "Grocer's Daughter Chocolate ...a better world chocolate". The sign seemed to be too big for the building but thank God it was that big, otherwise we would have missed the place. Needless to say we tasted samples of everything they had and we bought a little chocolate...okay, lots of chocolate! The lady gave me the idea to put cocoa nibs in granola. She had just finished baking granola and she let me taste it; it was yummy! When she saw me looking at the jars of cocoa nibs she had on the shelves, she approached me to tell me theirs was too expensive ($11 for a 1.2 oz jar!). She told me I can get it cheaper in a Whole Foods store if I buy it in bulk. I liked that- she not only gave me her recipe but she also advised me on how to save money. Nice.

We continued our road trip to the north, driving and stopping at many interesting places to eat, walk, enjoy the scenery and to take pictures. Charlevoix is one of the towns we stopped at and spent some time. While we were driving through, we were enjoying the streets that were lined with lots of white, pink and purple pansies. Block after block had these flowers planted at the edge of the sidewalks, it was beautiful. We stopped when we heard some music coming from the pier. People were gathering for a free concert at an open air stage by the water. We listened to the music for a little while and then took a walk on the boardwalk where we watched the drawbridge raise every half hour, allowing the tall sailboats to enter the harbor. What a perfect place to take a walk with my hubby. I enjoyed it very much!

Later, we crossed the five mile long Mackinaw bridge to the Upper Peninsula. We were very lucky to find a place to spend the night in a nice cabin at a small town called Trout Lake. Although it was late, we looked around admiring the beautiful set up of this small resort. We were hungry and there were no restaurants open in this tiny, four corner town. We had a couple of peaches that I bought when Kim and I went to the farmers' market in Traverse City (I had a great time at the market!) and we also had some blueberries that Rich got at a little stand somewhere along the road next to a farm. Oh and one lonely donut. But, ahhh, we had our delicious chocolate! This was our dinner and it could not have been any sweeter than that!

The next day we visited Tahquamenon Falls. What a beautiful place that is! The walk on the wood-plank walkway along and across the river was wonderful! We went to the lower and upper falls. We walked down fast but we took our time climbing back to the parking lot. It was hot and humid and it was not easy to walk under those conditions. Plus we were starving! But it was great to get some exercise. The park has small shops and a brew-pub so we ate lunch there. Rich suggested that I try the pasties, which are a specialty in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I tried 'em and I liked 'em. It reminded me of a Mexican empanada filled with meet and vegetables, it was dee-lish!

After that we headed to Canada Creek, stopping at every interesting place and little town along the way, to eat, admire the scenery and take more pictures. We spent time in Mount Pleasant where Rich went floating down the river with Pat, our brother-in-law and I enjoyed the quiet, peacefulness of the country for a couple of days.

Then we took off to Highland where we finished our trip spending a few days with Richard's sister, Martha and her husband Fred. I shopped at a big farmers' market and Kara, their daughter, and I had a wonderful cooking day. What better way to end a great vacation than with great food. Yumm!

We are back home in San Diego and while reviewing the pictures and a couple of "Edible Grande Traverse" magazines that I picked up along the way I was pleasantly reminded of all the fresh, sweet fruit that we ate in Michigan. I found a recipe in one of these magazines for a Leelanau Summer Berry Cake which I baked last night. This cake called for blackberries but I had strawberries and raspberries as well as blackberries so I used all three and, since my berries weren't from Leelanau, I called it Three Berry Cake. It smelled so good that Rich and I had two big pieces before I remembered to take pictures of it.

This cake is so good I think this will be a recipe I'll cook every year on our wedding anniversary as a reminder of our great vacation in Michigan - Summer, 2009. Umm, perhaps as a new family tradition. Here is the recipe:

Three Berry Cake
(adapted from Leelanau Summer Berry Cake from Edible Grande Traverse Magazine - Summer, 2009. My changes are in italic)

3 T unsalted butter
3/4 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon (I used Mexican canela)
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract (I used Mexican vanilla)
3/4 C whole milk
2-3 C mixed strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
1 T raw cane sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Put butter into an 8 or 9-inch round baking pan or cast iron skillet and place in the oven to melt. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, Mexican canela, or cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, combine vanilla and milk, then beat into the flour mixture to make a smooth batter. Pour batter into the pan over the melted butter; scatter berries over batter and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until batter is brown and fruit is bubbly, about 50-60 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Carmen said...

Que bonito relato de su paseo! Me parecio caminar junto a ustedes mientras leia. Lo unico malo fue que no pude saborear el rico pastel que horneaste..oh, y los MUCHOS chocolates que compraste, debio haber sido la mejor cena de sus vidas.
Felicidades por su aniversario, los quiero mucho!

Prieta said...

Gracias Carmen. Y, si no la mejor cena, fue una de las mas ricas! Si quieres probar el pastel tu puedes hacerlo. Es súper fácil.