Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Thimbleberry Jam 2022


It was a banner year for berries.   I started picking them the last week of July and continued all the way through mid August, freezing them as I picked.   this year I got 6 lb 6 oz of berries, and it resulted in 20 half pints of jam.

Thimbleberry jam is the easiest jam ever to put up.   Here is how I do it!

I have an outdoor canning rig, which makes it super easy and fast cleanup.  I stay nice and cool and I just hose down the driveway when I'm done.   Happy canning!

Monday, August 01, 2022

What to do in the Keweenaw

I often get asked about what to do in the Keweenaw.   Here's some of my favorite things to do:

Eat a pasty

  • In Houghton, my favorite is Suomi Restaurant...It's on Huron St. They do have lots of Finnish specialties like Pannukakku, which is like a baked custard and comes with a thimbleberry sauce. Thimbleberries are like raspberries, and they are a Keweenaw specialty. They also make a great pasty - better than any of the tourist traps on US 2 just over the bridge. By the way, pasty rhymes with "nasty", it is not pronounced "PAH-sty" as is sometimes suggested. If you pronounce it that way, I can guarantee the locals will think you are troll (Yooper slang for a downstater - i.e. someone that lives "under the bridge") trying to fake a Yooper accent. By the way, don't call it a "paste" y, because that's something strippers wear. I like pasties with gravy or mustard, but most locals like them with ketchup on them.
  • In Hancock, the Kaleva Cafe has excellent pasties and a better breakfast and bakery than the Suomi. 
  • Also, great pasties can be had (and cookies) at Amy J's Pasties in Hancock.  Amy is Olivia's aunt!

Eat a pickled egg

Pickled eggs are a Yooper bar snack!  Spicy - I like mine with tabasco and plenty of jalapenos.  Here's the 2 best places:

  • B&B Bar - it's on M26 as you are slightly west of downtown toward Walmart. It used to be a total dive bar but it has gentrified in recent times.   Take in the hockey history!
  • Douglass House Saloon, aka the Dog House or just "The Dog".   It's right on the main drag.  When I was a college student, it was the place where MTU students hang out.  They now hang at the Downtowner, which has its own charms.   I like the Dog's pickled eggs, and they also have popcorn, which is awesome.  

Watch the lift bridge go up and down

  • Great hamburgers can be found at the Downtowner Bar on US41, which is called Shelden Ave in downtown Houghton, near the lift bridge. If you are there in the summer, sit on the deck and watch the bridge go up and down. 
  • I also love the submarine sandwiches and the fishbowl cocktails at the Ambassador, which is slightly up the street from the Downtowner. The fishbowl drinks are served in brandy snifters - my favorite is the Quaalude. Be careful - they sneak up on you!
  • Have a beer at KBC or Keweenaw Brewing Company. They don't have food, just beer and peanuts in the shell, but it is good beer.  My favorite is the Red Ridge.

Go Copper Country Cruising

CC Cruising is what MTU students call hopping in your car and driving north to Copper Harbor, and stopping on the way.

  • Definitely stop at Jampot, get  some thimbleberry jam and any of the monks baked goods. They are heavenly.
  • Brockway Mountain Drive - drive up it and take in the scenery
  • As you get toward Copper Harbor, I like Fitzgerald's in Eagle Harbor. You can dine overlooking Lake Superior. (reservations a must)
  • Also good is the Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor for German food, or whitefish. It's right on Lake Superior as well, and the waitstaff will run out on the deck and welcome the boat returning from Isle Royale.  (reservations a must)
  • In Copper Harbor, there's lots of tourist traps.  Visit them all!  My favorite stops are Laughing Loon and the Brickside Brewery, the northernmost microbrewery in Michigan
  • If you want to do some really outdoorsy stuff, rent kayaks or mountain bikes from Keweenaw Adventure.    Most challenging mountain biking in the midwest! 

Some good hikes

  • Black Creek Preserve - not too hard, about 4 miles round trip.   Hunt for agates on the shore of Lake Superior while you are at it.  Near Calumet
  • Bare Bluff - it's pretty challenging, but worth it.  


  • Hungarian Falls - there's a bit of a hike, but fun!  Pick some thimbleberries.
  • Jacob's Falls - by Jampot
  • Eagle River Falls - by the Fitz

If it's raining

  • Tour the Quincy Mine
  • Visit the A.E. Seaman Mineralogical Museum
  • Go to the Gay Bar. No, it's not what you are thinking - the Gay Bar is in Gay, Michigan, which is on the east side of the Keweenaw. When I was a college student in the 80s, you could regularly see the guy that played Jethro Bodine on the Beverly Hillbillies or Ted Nugent there, as they both used to hunt nearby. Now that Tedly's moved to Texas, I'm not sure he visits anymore.  There's not much else to do in Gay, but you can say you've done it!
  • Visit historic Calumet: check out Copper World, the antiques at Vertin Gallery, have coffee at Keweenaw Coffee Works, tour the Calumet Theater, check out the Tiffany glass at the bar at Shute's. 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Finnish Strawberry Tart


I really have become a huge fan of all things Finnish since I moved to the Keweenaw.    I love the whole sisu concept, sauna culture, all things Marimekko,  and their own version of hygge called Kalsarikanni  (roughly translates into "pantsdrunk" in English).  Also, I am soon to get a 100% Finnish daughter-in-law this summer!  

I found this recipe on another blog, but it's originally from Beatrice Ojakangas's Great Scandinavian Baking Book.  It is peak strawberry season here in the Copper Country.   We just celebrated the Strawberry Festival in Chassell.   I've already put up my strawberry jam for the season, and we have been enjoying strawberry margaritas too.   The strawberry season is fleeting; soon, it will be thimbleberries, then raspberries.  

I tweaked the recipe to use what I had on hand, like slivered almonds, instead of sliced and vanilla extract, instead of vanilla beans.   Also, I rarely have milk, but I always drink my coffee with half and half, so that is what I used.   I bought this great tart pan for it!  I am looking forward to making quiches in it.  Also, I think this tart recipe would work with thimbleberries or raspberries too.    I can't wait to try it with other fruits.   It is fantastic!  

Finnish Strawberry Tart    


1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup almond flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick  cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 tablespoon half and half

Strawberry Filling:

1 pound fresh strawberries hulled and quartered
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 t vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons slivered almonds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, almond flour, sugar and salt in the work bowl of a food processor.  Process briefly to combine. Sprinkle cubes of butter over the top and pulse until mixture has a sandy texture.  With the machine running, add the cream through the feeder tube. Process until dough just begins to clump together in pieces.  When you squeeze the dough in your hand it should stick together.

Press approximately two-thirds of the dough into a 14 x 4 inch tart pan with a removable bottom, starting at the bottom of the pan and working the dough up the sides as you go.  The crust should be about ¼ inch thick. Wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and reserve for the topping.  Refrigerate the tart shell and the reserved dough for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the Strawberry Filling.  Combine all ingredients except almonds in a medium bowl.  Set aside to macerate at room temperature while the dough continues to chill.

Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator.  Fill with the strawberry filling. Crumble the remaining dough over the top in small pieces and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Place tart pan on a sheet pan and transfer to the oven.  Bake until the tart is golden brown and bubbly, 45-50 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.