5 Things I Love – March 7

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

After all of the confusion that ensued on twitter these past few weeks with the lack of pastie (the food) knowledge and with tomorrow being Packzi Day, my friend Lisa suggested that a Michigan/regional food theme may be appropriate. I happen to concur. The only problem being that having grown up with these things I tend not to think about them being regional.

So, after much contemplation of what I missed when I lived out of state, here are five of my favorite foods from my home state (plus 1 bonus).

1. Pasties

This savory pastry entree came over to Michigan with the Cornish miners and grew to become embedded in the culture of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Signs for pastie shops are one of the first things you see once you’ve crossed the bridge. As a Yooper’s daughter I was surprised to discover that the dish was not better known when I wandered beyond the state boundary. If you’d like to try it out for yourself, I posted a recipe for them just last week.

2. Packzis

In Southeastern Michigan Fat Tuesday equals Paczi Day. It warmed my heart to see all of the signage about it while downstate this past weekend.

So, what’s a packzi? It’s a Polish treat traditionally made on Fat Tuesday to use up all of the ingredients that could not be eaten once Lent began (like sugar, lard, etc.). These deep-friend, filling stuffed, powered sugar covered dough balls are by no means light in the calorie department, but worth the once a year indulgence.

3. Mackinac Island Fudge

This handmade confection is known statewide as being a special variety of fudge different from other run of the mill fudges you might encounter due to it’s stick to the roots recipes that work all the way up from scratch just as when it was invented. Read here for a bit of the history around the fudge’s rise to prominence.

4. Faygo

This is another one of those brands that I didn’t realize was a regional food until I moved out of state. The news spread like wildfire amongst the Michigan students at my college when a few of their flavors like Red Pop and Moon Mist were spotted in a small Tennessee town not far from our campus. It was a limited variety of flavors, but we all knew there was no place like home to get the full assortment.

5. Sander’s

Candy, chocolates, dessert toppings and even coffee; Sander’s has it all. My fondest memories, though, are of their hot fudge ice cream topping. Sure you could get Hershey’s or some other topping at the store, but growing up we all knew that Sander’s was a special treat.

Bonus

Koegel Meats – Most famous for their Viennas (natural casing hot dogs), this Flint based company has been in business since 1916 and is a trusted name in our area. In fact, I know people who literally will not eat any other hot dogs unless under severe duress.

5 Things I Love – Dec 20

image for weekly list of five things I'm currently loving in life, music, art, etc.

1. Mexican Hot Chocolate

I was first introduced to this tasty beverage while running an after school Cub Scout program in college. I no longer remember why we had a Mexican food theme going on that night, but I do remember how good the hot chocolate tasted and was reminded of it’s wonderfulness when my coworker brought some in for our decorating contest last Friday. Abuelita mixed into hot milk then followed with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Mmmmm.

2. North Pole Express

The last train has run for the 2010 season, but I had the opportunity to go along on the 18th as a car host and I must say that we in car 5 had a great trip. Hot cocoa, singing with our wandering troubadour, a visit to Santa’s Village and more. It was a great dose of holiday magic.

3. Fun Snowflake Designs

Star Wars snowflakes recently made a veritable storm of chatter on the web for several days recently. While Ive not yet had the chance to give that awesomeness a try, I did lend my hands to some special snowflakes of a food theme for our decorating contest. We had turkeys and gingerbread people, forks and spoons and hot chocolate – all cut out in lovely white copy paper.

4. Singing with our Quartet

Even when it seems like the harmonies are a million years from coming together, singing with the ladies is a lot of fun. It’s also a stretching experience since I’m actually sing *gasp* harmony ;) Here are a few performances from this weekend ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’. They are neither our best nor our worst, but they’re the ones I’ve actually got on video.

5. Calvin & Hobbes Snowmen

Yep, tis the season to pull out those comics and enjoy the snowmen anew. We haven’t gotten enough of the white fluffy stuff ourselves yet this winter to build any real life versions of Calvin’s creations, but I’m sure mother nature will take care of that soon enough. In the interim I’ll just have to enjoy this collection of other fan’s work gathered by Web Urbanist.

Chocolate Pomegranate Muffins

plated chocolate pomegranate muffins

As I mentioned in this week’s ‘5 Things I Love’, pomegranates are awesome. They’re a pain to peel, but if you love them then it’s kind of like the unboxing experience some hardcore Apple fans have taped and will watch. These muffins are based on Carol Yarde’s Breakfast Muffin recipe from AllRecipes.com.

Chocolate Pomegranate Muffins

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tbs flaxseed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 oz grated semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 tsp clove
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups fresh pomegranate seeds

Set oven to 400 and prep your muffin pans.

In a large bowl mix together your flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, clove and most of your grated semi-sweet chocolate. Save just enough of the chocolate to sprinkle on top of the muffins before cooking. You could also substitute chocolate chips. Mine were earmarked for another recipe.

ingredients for chocolate pomegranate muffins

Once the dry ingredients are mixed add in the milk, egg, butter and vanilla until combined.

partially mixed muffin batter

Fold in your pomegranate seeds and sprinkle each muffin with grated chocolate before placing in the oven. Bake approx. 10 minutes for mini-muffins (like mine) or 20 minutes for full sized muffins.

Makes 36 mini-muffins or 12 full sized muffins.

baked mini-muffins on cooling rack