Friday, February 29, 2008


When I was in college, we liked to frequent a bar in in Houghton called the Ambassador, and they served drinks in brandy snifters called "fishbowls". I have recipes for some of these drinks, which are favorites of Michigan Tech students for many years. Here they are:

Purple Rain
1 shot creme de almond
1 shot blue curacao
2 shots white rum
1/3 shot Rose's lime juice

Add enough Squirt to make 1 quart.

2 shots gin
1 shot creme de almond
1 shot white rum

Add 2/3 part orange and 1/3 part pineapple juice to make 1 quart.

Quaalude (my favorite)

1 shot each:

Southern Comfort
triple sec
creme de almond

Add 1 part orange juice and 1 part Sprite to make 1 quart

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tamale Pie

What to cook on a weekday night when you have some hamburger thawed and dinner needs to be made and eaten in 1 hour and you can't face spaghetti or tacos? Here's a recipe I first saw on America's Test Kitchen, but I modified it to suit my pantry staples. It's good to eat when you need to live out of your cupboard/freezer and not make a special trip to the store for something exotic.

Tamale Pie

Tamale Filling
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 pound ground beef
1 (15.5-ounce) can chili hot beans
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
3 ounces cheddar cheese , shredded (1 cup)
1 tablespoons dried cilantro leaves, or 2 T. fresh if you have some on hand
Ground black pepper

Cornbread Topping
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. For the tamale filling: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the ground sirloin, beans, and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Stir the cheddar and cilantro into the filling and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the cornbread topping: Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until uniform. Stir in the butter until just combined. Dollop the cornbread batter evenly over the filling and spread into an even layer. Bake until the cornbread is cooked through in the center, 10 to 15 minutes.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Sister Golden Hair

My eldest wants to dye her hair blond. We agreed to try an herbal infusion. Here's the recipe we tried:

Golden Hair Infusion
2 parts dried lavendar
2 parts dried chamomile
2 parts mallow root
1 part fenugreek seeds
Lemongrass essential oil

Mix herbs together and store in a jar. To make the infusion, steep 1/4 c. herb mix with 16 oz. water for 2-3 hours. Strain, reserving the brew. Add a couple drops essential oil to the tea, and with your head over a stopped up sink pour repeatedly over the hair until well saturated. Wrap hair in a plastic bag, and cover with a towel warmed in the dryer. Let hair steep for 10 minutes.

Raw Apple Muffins

I bought some apples from the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, so I made this recipe. It's based on a recipe from book called "The Breakfast Book" by Marion Cunningham, and was featured on the Farmer's Marketer. From a WW perspective, this recipe makes a muffin that is 5 pts. Next time I make it, I will reduce the vegetable oil to 1/4 c. and the raisins to 1/2 c. to make it 4 pts. per muffin. All in all, it was a delightful recipe!

4 cups diced unpeeled apple (very small dice)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease 12 large muffin tins. Mix apples and sugar in a bowl, set aside. Whisk the eggs, oil, & vanilla and add to the apples & sugar; mix well. In the another bowl put the flour, soda, cinnamon & salt and stir together. Add to apple mixture to make a very stiff batter. Next mix in the raisins. Spoon into the muffin tins. Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from tins and serve warm.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Where to eat in the U.P.

I lived in Houghton for 7 years (undergrad and grad school at MTU) and still go there every other year or so to visit. Here are some good places to eat in Houghton and beyond:

Suomi Bakery....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 the best pasty in the world - 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 Gypsy Rose Lee wore in her act. I like pasties with gravy or mustard, but most locals like them with ketchup on them.

B&B Bar - it's on M26 as you are slightly west of downtown toward the Copper Country mall. This is a local dive bar, but they have the very best Yooper bar snack around - the pickled egg.

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. Definitely the best burgers in the Keeweenaw there.

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!

There's a relatively new microbrewery right on Shelden called KBC or Keweenaw Brewing Company. They don't have food, just beer and peanuts in the shell, but it is really good beer.

As you go further up the Keeweenaw, definitely stop at Jampot, as mentioned in the other post and get some thimbleberry jam and any of the monks baked goods. They are heavenly.

I also love the Keweenaw Mtn. Lodge - it is a great place to have a meal or a cocktail. The food is reminiscient of an old time supper club - planked whitefish, steaks, etc. Also, great viewing atop the Keeweenaw Mountain.

In Calumet, I really like this coffee shop the Conglomerate Cafe on 5th Street. It is housed in an old bank. Great sweets!

No tour of the Copper Country would be complete without a stop at 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 Keeweenaw. 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.

As you get toward Copper Harbor, I like Fitzgerald's in Eagle Harbor. You can dine overlooking Lake Superior. 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.