A day's find

A day’s find, photo by HLHigham

Morels are popping up all over, and though you might not find 98 like Heather did, even a handful of these delectable  mushrooms will make it all worth it. If you’re in the Boyne City area this weekend, they hold their annual National Morel Mushroom Festival. You might also be interested in Five Things You Need to Know about Michigan Morel Mushrooms on Absolute Michigan.

Heather got this tasty haul near Rapid City and she might write about it on her blog, Rapid City Recess. Check it out background bigtacular and see more in her slideshow!

Lots more morel goodness on Michigan in Pictures!

morel in the wild

morel in the wild, photo by the little red hen

Reports are trickling in from around the state about morels, including some tasty photos from yesterday of morels folks are finding on the Michigan Morel Facebook. Michigan in Pictures has a ton of morel mushroom information to help you find these elusive but delicious delicacies.

Check this out on black and see more in Lynn’s In the kitchen… slideshow.

Speaking of slideshows, don’t miss the morel slideshow in the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr!

Maple syrup 2

Maple syrup 2, photo by Deb Perry Studio

One of the best things about spring for my money is that it’s the one time of year that you can make maple syrup! Michigan ranks 5th in the US in maple syrup production, and the Michigan Maple Syrup Producers Association has a page about the history of maple syrup production that shows we’ve been a maple syrup player for a long time:

Native Americans have many wonderful stories about how they began making maple syrup. The first is the legend of Glooskap. Many, many, many years ago the Creator had made life much easier for man. In fact, in those days the maple tree was filed with syrup and all man had to do was cut a hole in the maple tree and the syrup dripped out. One day the young prince Glooskap (known by other names in other tribes) came upon a village of his people that was strangely silent. There were no dogs barking, no children playing, no women minding the cook fires, and no men getting ready to go hunting! Glooskap looked and looked and finally found everyone in the nearby maple grove. They were all lying at the bases of the trees and letting the sweet syrup drip into their mouths. Even the dogs were enjoying the syrup. “Get up, you people,” Glooskap called. “There is work to be done!” But no-one moved.

Now Glooskap had special powers, and he used these powers to make a large bark container. He flew to the lake, filled the container with water and flew back to the maple grove. When he poured the water over the trees it diluted the syrup so it was no longer sweet. ”Now, get up you people! Because you have been so lazy the trees no longer hold syrup, but only sap. Now you will have to work for your syrup by boiling the sap. What’s more, the sap will soon run dry. You will only be able to make syrup in the early spring of the year!”

…The Chippewas and Ottawas of Michigan tell a similar story of the god NenawBozhoo, who cast a spell on the sugar maple tree many moons ago, turning the near pure syrup into what is now called sap. He did this because he loved his people and feared they would become indolent and destroy themselves if nature’s gifts were given too freely. This legend is unique in that, in various forms, it can be found almost universally throughout the Eastern Woodland Indian tribes. This is unusual for cultures that did not have a written history.

Read on for more about how the process and techniques have evolved through the years. Michigan in Pictures has a ton of photos documenting the process of making maple syrup. that you’ll want to check out as well!

See Deb’s photo on black and see how it fits together in her maple syrup slideshow.

Today is National Pie Day!

January 23, 2013

National Pie Day ~ January 23, 2012

National Pie Day ~ January 23, 2012, photo by Trish P. – K1000 Gal

Today (Wednesday, January 23rd) is National Pie Day. A whole day just for pie? The Pure Michigan Blog explains:

Created by the American Pie Council, ‘Pie Day’ is dedicated to celebrating America’s love of pie. And in Pure Michigan, we know and love pie. In fact, Michigan produces:

  • More than 50 percent of the nation’s apple slices and is the largest supplier of apple slices used in commercially prepared apple pies.
  • Roughly 75 percent of the country’s tart cherry crop every year. Those are the ones that go into pies, juice and preserves.
  • 25 percent of the national highbush blueberry crop (110 – 180 million pounds)

While there are many flavors and variations of this classic American dessert, nothing makes for a better pie than using pure, fresh ingredients and fruits – Michigan’s surrounding Great Lakes and rolling hills create a perfect climate for fruit-growing and is a leading producer of many popular pie fruits that can be found in local bakeries as well as national store-bought brands.

To celebrate, Pure Michigan has teamed up with the Grand Traverse Pie Company to offer fans on Twitter the chance to win an entire pie every hour between 10 AM – 5 PM on the 23rd. Just tweet your favorite type of pie to both @PureMichigan and @GTPie. Tweets must include the hashtag #puremichiganpie and entrants must follow both Pure Michigan and Grand Traverse Pie Company on Twitter. Click through for more.

Trish made a peach/blueberry pie with Michigan fruit: Peaches from Steimel & Sons Farm in Suttons Bay, Leelanau County and blueberries from Hazen’s Farm in Howell, Livingston County.  Click to see it on black  and get lots more tasty goodness in Trish’s Michigan Harvest slideshow.

Michigan Bean Elevator - Saginaw, Mi

Michigan Bean Elevator – Saginaw, Mi, photo by jhoweaa

I know that many of you have been losing sleep because you don’t know the location of the world’s biggest bean elevator. You can rest easy now, because Waymarking.com explains that the largest bean elevator in the world is in Saginaw MI:

As a young man, (Albert L.) Riedel was one of the organizers of the Producers Elevator Company of Port Huron which later grew into the Michigan Bean Company. He was elected secretary of Michigan Bean when it moved its headquarters to Saginaw’s Bearinger Building and he was only 27 when he was named general manager of the company.

…In 1937, Riedel became president of the company as well as general manager and served in that capacity until the firm was sold to the Wickes Corporation in 1955. As president of Michigan Bean, Al Riedel pushed the idea of selling packaged, trademarked beans to the retail market instead of relying on bulk sales.

He was instrumental in making the Jack Rabbit brand of beans known all over the world. And it was while Riedel was president that the famous Bean Bunny neon sign was erected at the top of “the world’s largest bean elevator”.

The Bean Bunny, now proudly relit, has become one of Saginaw’s most beloved symbols. During World War II, too old for active service, Riedel volunteered as a dollar-a-year-man and served as a consultant attached to the Quartermaster Corp. He revamped purchasing and shipping programs and designed and developed waterproof bags for shipping food overseas.

You can learn a lot more about the Bean Bunny sign and see photos at mLive. The Michigan Bean Commission has tons of information about Michigan beans.

James also has some information about the bean bunny on his blog as well. You can also buy a print or a card there. View his photo on black and see more in his Interesting slideshow.

More from Saginaw on Michigan in Pictures.

FARMERS MARKET Nov 2012-963

FARMERS MARKET Nov 2012-963, photo by RichardDemingPhotography

The story of Thanksgiving is one of our country’s oldest and best stories. At the heart of it is the sharing of the rich and diverse bounty of the land.

Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state, and here’s hoping that some of Michigan’s varied fruits, vegetables, meat and other local and tasty foods will make it to your table today and throughout the holiday season.

See this bigger and in Richard’s massive Farmer’s Markets 2012 slideshow.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

More Thanksgiving on Michigan in Pictures.

Chestnut season

November 20, 2012

Scoring the Chestnuts

Scoring the Chestnuts, photo by DarrylW4

Michigan in Pictures had a great feature on chestnuts last year that has a lot of information on this traditional Thanksgiving food.

With 54 farms encompassing 813 acres, Michigan ranks first in the nation in chestnut plantings. As you plan your Thanksgiving dinner, consider Michigan chestnuts and other local products. Over on Absolute Michigan we have a feature that can help you do just that - make it a Michigan Thanksgiving.

If you want to put chestnuts on your holiday menu, MyNorth has a recipe for a Michigan Chestnut Pie. Or, if you prefer your chestnuts in liquid form, how about a Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otono (Autumn Fire)? Every year Jolly Pumpkin makes a limited amount of this seasonal Belgian ale brewed with chestnuts and spices and it’s delicious!

Check this out on black and see more in Darryl’s slideshow.

More food on Michigan in Pictures.

Pumpkin Army

October 25, 2012

pumpkins 3

pumpkins 3, photo by northernlightphotograph

Over on Absolute Michigan our PumpkinPalooza can tell you everything you want to know about pumpkins including some facts from our friends at Taste the Local Difference:

Pumpkins are a member of the cucurbita family, which includes squash, watermelons, and cucumbers. Their origins are believed to have come from Central America. Seeds from related plants have been found in Mexico that date back over 7000 years ago.

Pumpkins were an important food source for Native Americans. They regularly made pumpkin porridge, stew and pumpkin jerky and they made a broth that contained squash blossoms. They also dried pumpkin shells, and then weaved them into mats, which they used for trading. Early pilgrims quickly added pumpkins to their menus and also sent seeds back to Europe. The earliest version of pumpkin pie was made by baking a hollowed out pumpkin that was filled with milk, honey and spices.

Pumpkins are high in potassium, Vitamin A and fiber. They are also a good source of beta-carotene. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, copper and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.

Read on for more including recipes and a comprehensive listing of Michigan pumpkin patches.

Check this out bigger and in Tim’s big old Petoskey images slideshow.

Lots more pumpkins on Michigan in Pictures.

Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods, photo by .Larry Page

The Cornell Mushroom Bog is a great resource for mushroom hunters. Their entry on Eating the Chicken of the Woods begins:

David Arora remarks in Mushrooms Demystified that this is one of the “foolproof four” — an unmistakable mushroom. (see below)

This large, brightly colored fungus is often found in clusters but is occasionally solitary. You may discover this mushroom during the summer and fall but rarely in winter or spring. The top surface of Chicken of the Woods is bright orange which can be either more reddish or yellowish than you see here. It tends to lighten in color near the edges. This mushroom has no gills, instead its bright yellow undersurface is covered with tiny pores. The young Chicken of the Woods is “succulent” and has a mild flavor. Older specimens tend to change color as they develop, as well as become brittle. The young mushrooms have bright yellows and oranges; in age they dull to yellow and then pure white.

A good tree can yield up to 50 pounds, but be wary of older fungi as they toughen and develop a sour flavor! If you have found a specimen worthy of collection, you can harvest the mushrooms and return the next year for another crop. Or cut just the outer edge (about 5 cm of the fungus) and return later in the season for a second helping. Be wary of Chickens growing on conifers (in the Northeast) as they are a different species and can cause poisoning. Chicken of the Woods can make a fine chicken substitute as long as you make sure to fully cook the mushroom.

Chicken of the Woods grows in trees that are either living or decaying. These mushrooms cause a reddish brown heart-rot of wood. If the mushrooms are seen fruiting, you can be sure that the fungus has already attacked the tree. They can destabilize a tree by hollowing out its center–this can be problematic for forest owners. Historically, this fungus was known to damage the wooden ships of the British Naval Fleet.

Read on for more and also see Chicken of the Woods or Sulphur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) from MichiganMorels.com and Laetiporus on Wikipedia.

Check this out bigger, view a zoomed out shot and see more in Larry’s Fungi slideshow.

I realize I should list the foolproof four. In addition to chicken of the woods, there’s also puffballs, chanterelle & morels. (although there are toxic false morels)

More Michigan mushrooms on Michigan in Pictures!

41.52 - Evoke: Ooooooh's

41.52 – Evoke: Ooooooh’s, photo by Kc Jacoby Photography LLC

I ran into Ken last weekend in Traverse City, and – like many visitors to the region – he spent some time touring Traverse City’s wine country. The vineyards look great at this time of year and (even better) the grapes in these vineyards and all over the state are defying the general agricultural awfulness. Long, dry summer made this vintage year for wine grapes from Crain’s Detroit Business begins:

Call it global warming or climate change, it doesn’t matter to winemaker Lee Lutes. He calls the past few years of long, warm, dry summers an “exceptional growing season” for his grapes.

Today the head winemaker at Black Star Farms is helping harvest the crop on the winery’s 150 acres on the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas.

And while the region’s crop of tart cherries was ruined by the weather’s mood swings in the spring — 80 degrees in March, then frost in May — wine grapes mature later and, for the most part, survived if not thrived. The variety of grapes grown in Michigan are really meant for warmer regions.

Check this out bigger and see more in Ken’s Traverse City slideshow.

More Michigan farms on Michigan in Pictures.

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