Michigan Book Tour, The First Part

 

Thursday Night:  I was full of anticipation as my evening flight from San Diego landed in Detroit.  A week of touring and catching up with old friends and family lay ahead.   As the plane taxied, I was thinking of the many ways one can benefit from my cookbook, Vegetarian Traditions, and the best way to communicate that at the numerous events.

The first thing I did after picking up my rental vehicle was load 1200 pounds of books from the shipping terminal into the car.  Good thing the Chevrolet Traverse had substantial shock-absorbers! It was hot and humid and after that workout, I was eager to get to the hotel.

Friday:  A meeting with Dr. Michael Dangovian of the Wellness Training Institute kicked off the day.  We discussed my participation at Saturday’s celebration of the first anniversary of his institute. We see this event as the first step in a Food as Medicine program.

Later that day, I made my way to Stephan Brink’s Health Oasis in Royal Oak to teach the art of spicing, namely, how to make masala.

The class was a benefit for the local chapter of Women For Women, a group which helps women deal with health and social crisis situations.  It was held outdoors in a courtyard; the balmy Michigan evening added to the intimacy and culinary magic.

Masalas are provocative spice mixtures which are the basis for Indian cuisine.  I demonstrated, to the twenty or so attendees, how to toast, grind and mix three masalas and provided spicing techniques for making a large variety of Indian dishes with the authentic flavors achieved only through the freshly ground spices.  The intoxicating scents of toasting urad dal, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and a multitude of other whole spices wafted through the quiet neighborhood.

Inn Season Cafe provided a delicious Bengali Rice Salad which satiated the wetted appetites. Most of the guests took my cookbook home with them.


Saturday:  At 7:30am I arrived at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, the bustling 81 year-old indoor market.  Don, Donna and Anthony Cinzori welcomed me as if I were long lost family.  They have one of the largest certified organic farms in Michigan and tirelessly provide some of the best produce I have seen anywhere.  The Cinzori family is warm, generous and knowledgeable.  I always look forward to discussing the latest in produce and organic trends with Don.

There wasn’t much time for that this day.  The market started to buzz and customers hummed around the colorful Cinzori stall like bees looking for sweet nectar.  The market is like a second home and I was able to speak with one person after another about the cookbook and the Don’s produce, which had inspired many of the recipes.

At about one o’clock, my son Spyros and I headed over to the Wellness Training Institute in Sterling Heights.  Dr. Michael Dangovian was celebrating the first anniversary of his new clinic and I was honored to be the featured speaker. Over two-hundred people attended the event which included food from Inn Season Cafe, talks by Dr. Dangovian and various teachers who participate in his program of integrative medicine and preventative cardiology.

My lecture was organized around the importance of connecting the dots with your food–knowing where it comes from and supporting your local farmers. I also spoke about food and community, food being not only the primary nourishing element in life, but the primary nurturing element.  All the great food cultures of the world weave food into the daily fabric of life and see it as a measure of life’s quality.  Without it, there is no benefit to longevity.

Most of the questions fielded were about specific ingredients I recommended and the health benefits they provide.  The afternoon was a success and as a result, Dr. Dangovian and I are planning future events with targeted information for attendees to gain specific tools they can apply toward a healthier life. This was just the beginning and we are excited by the possibilities.  If there is one thing I have missed about running the restaurant, it was seeing the fulfillment in the faces of our guests.  This Saturday afternoon, I saw the same looks.

Sunday: I arrived early at the Birmingham Farmers Market,  an empty parking lot with a few tents going up. As I set up my booth, the market began to take shape;  trucks pulled up with bushels of fresh corn, potatoes, zucchinis, pumpkins and fresh flowers.  A number of organic farmers came together on the south side of the lot with their splendid hand-picked vegetables.

Cousin Donny Hobson, the market master, is not just a farmer, he is a showman.  This day he planned to attract shoppers with Hay-Day.   Antique tractors, farm implements and bales of hay decorated the market with a festive county fair-like atmosphere.

Two of my favorite farms at the Birmingham market are Natures Pace Organics and Blue Water Organics.  Natures Pace is family-operated with a core dedication to sustainable foods.

Lee Chaput of Blue Water Organics is not a farmer by trade, but has the passion of one. She discovered Elmer and Edna Slabaugh’s certified organic Amish farm in Brown City, Michigan.  Living a dedicated Amish lifestyle, the Slabaughs use neither electricity or automobiles, so Lee brings the vegetables and the feel of the Amish farm to the Birmingham Market.  Look for a post down the road for a story about the farm.

 

Each week there is something new at the market.  I loved being in Michigan at the beginning of the harvest with the trees displaying the vivid colors of autumn.

 

A visit to the Birmingham Farmers Market

 

My book signing and homecoming tour in Michigan was a great success.  After the dry desert air of California, it was nice to be back in verdant land with the soft, humid Midwestern breezes.  It was also inspiring to reunite with old friends and see many of them working to make Michigan a better place.

I’ve known Cousin Don Hobson since he began selling at the Royal Oak Farmers Market.  For the last 10 years Cousin Don, the founder of the Birmingham Farmers Market, has been the market master.  He invited me into his booth to sign, sell and discuss the book with shoppers.  The last Sunday of our tour, I rejoined him to pass out samples of Blue Water Farm organic strawberries with my organic vegan hot fudge sauce on top.  Needless to say, the chocolate added a bit of evxcited frenzy to the event.

As farmers markets go, Birmingham is a great mix of fresh vegetables (with a good organic presence), prepared foods, craft items and music.  My friend Bill Loizon grills franks on his vintage Volkswagen surfer bus, known as Franks-Anatra.  What many don’t know is that he also serves a tasty vegan or vegetarian sandwich called The Veg-Anatra, prepared separately of course.
During the market hours, Cousin Don makes the rounds socializing, answering questions and making sure all is well.  Click on the picture of Don and me for a video tour.

 

The Secrets Are Out

After an organic process encompassing eight years, my cookbook Vegetarian Traditions: Favorite Recipes From My Years at the Legendary Inn Season Cafe is at last available.  While writing the book, I realized the story is much larger than just the favorite recipes from the restaurant.  In addition to my own culinary journey, it is a tale of an entire community which ultimately honed their definition of good food by what we served.   The secret behind our success turned out to be the local organic farmers and artisan vendors who made the delicious, energizing food possible.  They are the life-blood of the ongoing food revolution in this country, of which we have been eager participants.
Every year as spring progresses toward summer, the Royal Oak Farmers Market starts to fill the stalls with the bounty of Michigan’s fertile land; has been a ritual shared by the residents of South Oakland County since 1929.  I started going to the market in 1981 when we first opened the doors of Inn Season Cafe.  Over the years, the farmers and I came to know each other; we shared family stories, cooking tips and arduous tales of the fickle Michigan weather. this
Frequently, if there was something special grown or found, they would save it for me knowing how much I appreciated the rare gems of the Michigan soil.  When George Uhlianuk discovered a giant puff ball mushroom in the woods behind his farm, he would bring it to the market for me.  Those mushrooms were not a commercial variety and could grow eight or nine inches in a day.  They had to be consumed right away while still white or they would begin to age and develop a yellow hue around the edges, no longer fit to eat.  When prepared at the peak of freshness, these mushrooms are a delicacy.  Sliced and sauteed in olive oil with a touch of tamari, balsamic vinegar and fresh ground white pepper, puff balls satisfy a vegetarian’s rogue cravings for rich and meaty flavors.
In addition to fresh produce, the market was my primary source for planting and gardening materials.  I would fill my earthen plots with perennials from farmers and growers who found new and unusual varieties every year.  One spring, a farmer dove into his pond to gather Michigan irises for me.  They still show their bright yellow blooms in the secret garden pond at my old house across the street from Inn Season Cafe.
Saturday mornings at the market were a weekly festival of shopping, talking, sharing and laughing.  I developed many friendships over the years with like-minded folks who shared my passion for fresh food and market-inspired cooking.
After selling the restaurant, I began shopping at various markets throughout North America and found many of the experiences I had in Royal Oak to be part of a common thread.  Aside from the tremendous difference in quality between produce purchased from local farmers and that purchased in a grocery or warehouse, we benefit on a societal and economic level by renewing the connection between farmers and communities. This is the magic of farmers markets.
I now live in San Diego enjoying the year-round harvest in the farmers markets. Yet, I still miss the excitement and anticipation of spring at the Royal Oak Farmers Market.  Memories of full sensual immersion–the spring garlic shoots at Cinzori Farms, Randy Hampshire’s freshly-ground corn meal, Jim Burda’s succulent raspberries, Jim VanDenBerg’s sweet carrots, Don Van Houtte’s candy-like sugar snap peas, Maple Creek Farm’s nutrient-rich kale and Kate & Al Weilnau’s organic, hand-snipped asparagus.  I think of those crisp and cool mornings at the market and I can feel the cooking inspiration swell inside of me.
My desire to share my feelings about the connection between the earth, farm and table was one of my motivations in writing Vegetarian Traditions: Favorite Recipes From My Years At The Legendary Inn Season Cafe.  The book identifies the real heroes behind every great chef’s cuisine–the farmers.
The book has over 150 vegan recipes.  Elegant entrees, soups, salads and melt-in-your-mouth desserts are in an easy-to-follow format accompanied by beautiful color photos.
Each dish is packed with “super-foods”–energizing, healthy and delicious.  Signed copies are now available for a limited time through my store.   Just click on the “order now” button on this site.

 

 

Making Every Day Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, I chose a collection of previous blog posts as a tribute to the connection we all have with the planet.  A small reminder that everything we do can be a celebration of the earth.

 

How to Shop at the Farmers Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Locavores Do It Fresher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topsoil Tales …or Nourishing From the Ground Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Victory Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sugar Snaps in the Spring

Spring is here in San Diego; the Winter rains have spawned a lush green on canyon hillsides and the mockingbirds are starting their mellifluous Spring rants.  Oranges, tangerines and kumquats are in abundance at the farmer’s markets, while the first sweet organic strawberries are beginning to show themselves in the fields like voluptuous damsels in red dresses.  At the Hillcrest Farmers Market, the Rodriguez Brothers organic booth offers the first sugar snap peas, reminding me of early Spring in Michigan where they were one of the first crops to show up after the thaw.

At my former restaurant, Inn Season Cafe, we would prep crate upon crate of the sweet pods and serve them steamed as a side vegetable, seared for use as an appetizer or added at the last second to a stir fry, so they stayed crisp on the plate.  Today, I am steaming them in a skillet with just enough water to completely steam out within a minute.  As I prepare the peas for steaming, I enjoy the melody of the crisp “snap” as I remove each end of the pods before pulling off the string.  After steaming, I quickly toss them with a few drops of ume plum vinegar just before serving.  Fresh, crisp and full of life, they are one of the Spring’s delights.

Artichokes!

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My first encounter with fresh artichokes off the bush was a springtime journey 25 years ago to Crete. Walking through the village, we would snap the giant thistle buds right off the bush, eating them raw. Most often, my great aunt Yeorgia would cook them in dishes like Aginara Stefado (artichoke stew) with fennel, carrots, celery, lemon and onions. She accompanied the fragrant stew with rice pilafi and hard crusted bread to sop with, it was a perfect meal for the season.

flowering-artichoke

Over the years, I served artichokes regularly at Inn Season Café. We found a surprising number of people to be unaware of how to eat this most ancient vegetable, therefore causing us to use them inside dishes instead of serving them baked, braised, steamed or stuffed as a full globe. Maybe people were fearful of the aptly named choke, but I still tried, pointing out the sensual nature and satisfying experience of eating them one leaf at a time. By the time the artichoke is finished, one usually feels quite full.

One of my favorite dishes used baby artichokes. Pre-cooking them allowed us to remove some of the outer leaves to reach a completely edible and exquisitely tender heart and choke. Sautéing them with garlic and pine nuts, they would be dressed with a light creamy sauce and served over pasta; either homemade fettuccini or a high quality udon noodle (similar to linguini). We served it in two versions, one vegan and one not. These days, I make it without animal products.

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This week at the Hillcrest Market, Sage Mountain Farms had the beginning of the local crop of organic artichokes.  I also harvested our first artichoke from the large bushes in the back yard. Excited to do a taste test, I cut them in half, removed the chokes and roasted them in the oven Sicilian style with garlic, extra virgin olive oil and oregano. It wasn’t a fair comparison because the Sage Mountain artichokes had already been harvested for over 24 hours, while our home garden grown globes had only been picked 30 minutes before cooking.  They both had an intense artichoke flavor that practically shouted Mediterranean at me, but the home grown was perfect…tender, creamy and sensual. The season has just begun and with a number of chokes developing on the bushes; it promises to be an auspicious beginning to a great summer of freshly harvested food.

Koral’s Tropical Fruit Farm

 

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Strolling through the Hillcrest Farmers Market, one vendor stands out among the vibrant colors of bountiful booths.  Barry Koral is six foot plus, wears a large straw sun hat and frequently dons a colorful Hawaiian shirt.  Beyond the visual, his pronounced voice penetrates the hubbub of the market with timely offers of avocados, Meyer lemons, guava and persimmons interspersed with sage advice.  Drawn to the booth for his addictively good fruit as well as powerfully energetic personality, I make the pilgrimage almost every Sunday.  When he first spoke about how his food is alive and full of nutrients, I recognized the glint in his eye as that of a raw food aficionado.  

My first exposure to live foods was in 1981 when my wife Barbara visited the Hippocrates Institute in Coldwater Michigan to pursue a cure for the cancer she faced.  Ultimately, the illness was not overcome, but the experience kick-started her healing journey holistically in body, mind and spirit.  The experience was both enlightening and invigorating and, since then, I have incorporated elements of live foods into my own diet and food preparation.  A prominent symptom of a seasoned live food devotee is an incredible energy level and the same glint in the eye that I see when Barry speaks. 

Short of doing a proper interview, Barry was kind enough to share the article below which paints a beautiful picture of his contribution to the community.  Meeting him has been a privilege and those fleeting moments of exposure to his good present energy adds momentum to my week.  He helps people connect to the life energies inherent in the earth, often without them having any idea of what is going on.  Souls such as he, help the rest of us understand how to live and breath with the earth, as well as utilize the readily available bounty to increase the quality of our existence.   An example worth following and fruit worth eating!

 

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This is the article Barry shared with me:

Barry likes to express himself through drawing and poetry. I mention to him that I’m fond of his musings and wish to include some samples on my community service website. He happily responds by saying, “You rock my world.” It’s a nice compliment, and it sets me wondering about his way of moving through the world.

For instance, I discover that Barry has a wealth of timely information to share about life, especially concerning his passion for what he terms the “art of living”. In a few days, I’m invited back to his digs, with a close woman friend. This interview is the result of my wishing to know more about the life of this multi-talented artist and health enthusiast.

Amidst a plethora of one hundred seventy five fruit trees, a small art studio, sauna, hot tub, and an assortment of foraged American folk art, I learn more details about the property as Barry bares his soul about how all this came to pass. Mr. Natural, as I call him, confides that his sanctuary is a dream come true. Barry’s purring cat wholeheartedly agrees, and indeed, this attractively designed spacious environ fits the bill. This pearl in an oyster of a location is perfect for personal growth.

Surveying the property reveals that the trees are filled with tremendous life force. Barry surrounds everyone with a ring of rocks gathered from his worldwide travels. Each is a souvenir of his experiences in far away places. The rocks add minerals to the soil, help to retain moisture around the trees, and create a continual flow of energy, reflecting the endless cycles of nature.

One important thing to consider is natural symbiosis, which incorporates efficient homestead design. At its best, this is an evolving adventure into appropriate sustainable lifestyles. The key theme here, as it relates to Barry’s semi-rural lifestyle, is optimization. For example, a pilgrimage to a sacred earthen lair on one corner of the property, dubbed Mount Compost, is the home of a plethora of wriggling earthworms, as well as a lively assortment of microbes – beneficial for both humans and the biosphere. Here is a tidbit of information that most urbanites and suburbanites aren’t even aware of: one centimeter of soil contains as many as one billion microbes!

Much of the planet’s soil is lacking in essential nutrients, such as trace minerals. In an attempt to remedy this, Barry takes care to add specific life-enriching elements to his trees. Mineralized rock dust and compost applied around the base of the trees can greatly enhance crop yields, while maintaining Gaia equipoise. The pleasure is in reaping delectable results. Barry comments: “Watering, composting, pruning, brush removal, leaf raking, and adding more mulch to the soil are really vital to balanced growth and renewal.”

Barry has taken great care to plant very special varieties of exotic subtropical fruit trees. He and his co-workers carefully select the finest, most delectable ripe fruit from his orchard to sell, and the rest is shared among friends or returned to Mother Earth as compost. As a result, his fruits are distributed in various parts of the U.S. and abroad. His French customers, for instance, have access to the finest produce in the world. Barry is honored to be selected as one of their providers.

Barry supports and stimulates the organic food economy. This helps to promote local self-sufficiency and the health of bioregions across the planet. As part of this initiative, every week, he loads large crates of fruit into his van, and drives the produce to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market, where it is displayed in attractive hand woven baskets. He covers the tables with brightly colored tapestries, and puts calligraphic signs in the baskets, each adorned with his creative designs.

Yet this is only the beginning! What would the show be without Barry? Wishing to see for ourselves, a friend and I accompany him on a Sunday excursion to the market. It’s really quite a lively affair. We discover that Barry is among the most vocal of entrepreneurs, entreating potential customers to procure his exotic produce, while educating them about the preparation and nutritional value of the succulent varieties he offers.

There is a constant flow of visitors to his booth. Many wish to know more about the attributes of the exotic fruits displayed. They ask him such key questions as: What is a cherimoya? When is it ripe? How can you tell which one is the sweetest? Do you refrigerate it? What are the best ways to prepare it? Can you eat the seeds? Besides this basic knowledge, there is still much more to fathom about each and every fruit. 

For those truly wishing to be in harmony with both themselves and Mother Earth, the ideal of tailoring one’s lifestyle to seasonal changes is a key aspect to creating and maintaining good health. As an example: ancient Chinese Taoists as well as contemporary ones have recommended eating foods that ripen according to nature’s own rhythmic cycles. Barry adheres to this as it relates to planting and reaping, as well as marketing his produce.

After returning from the market, we get to experience this firsthand as Barry shares more delectable fruits. As always, natural food experience is the best educator. To appease our appetites, we delve into large servings of one of Barry’s favorite fruit compotes, which he refers to as “Holiday Fruit Salad”. Such delicacies as tangerines, papaya, blood oranges, sapotes, and persimmons, garnished with liberal portions of shredded coconut, contribute to the delicious sweet flavor.

Somehow Koral’s Tropical Fruit Farm reminds me a bit of Findhorn; how those with agricultural acumen work closely with Mother Nature, and she responds with a lavish cornucopia of abundant blessings. Concerning the ease by which crops thrive, Barry smiles. His face gradually lights up like a candelabra. It seems that Jack in the Beanstalk might even be a bit jealous at the farm’s natural splendor.

 

In a bit of a whisper, Barry shares this tidbit of wisdom about his success: “I plant a seed or a tree, and everything pretty much grows wild. I’m a fruit farmer rather than a crop farmer. I choose this lifestyle because I love fruit, the beneficial effects it has on my body, and what I can offer the world through distributing very high quality organic foods. The demand for high quality organic food is tremendous. My initial vision was to be able to take control over my food source and to supply high quality nutrients so necessary for optimum health. I have succeeded.” 

As our interview progresses, I am able to gain a better understanding of his present lifestyle. The results are surprising. After all, not everyone has created their own ecological niche as he has. Barry recommends that each person’s home become a mini-holistic health center. He considers his home on the range to be much more than just a place to hang his cowboy hat and commune with the neighborhood coyotes. His cat ChaCha wholeheartedly agrees! 

There are more miracles to be experienced by consuming more fresh produce on a daily basis. Barry points out that every seven years, all the cells of the human body transform. The process of cellular regeneration, i.e., the re-genesis program of rejuvenation is accelerated by adherence to live food dietary regimens. He endorses models of true sustainability, which include natural boons such as composting, recycling, and everything  organic. He says, “Healthy soil is the foundation for sustainable agriculture. I spent three years preparing the soil before I even planted a tree. My goal is to create a model of sustainability for the benefit of present and future generations. We’re all one, and we’re all connected, no matter what part of the earth we’re on.”

Barry travels widely and lectures about the importance of living and eating as close to Mother Nature as possible. His poetry also reflects his passion for the art of living, which he considers a pure fruit of the imagination, realized during moments of stillness. Barry says that “Writing poetry is one of the many ways I express my appreciation for artful living. Over the years, my life has become much more of an interpretive, creatively satisfying experience.” An example of his original style is witnessed in his poem:


Sacred Moments

 

A mere glimpse into the higher realms of living

At one with all creation

Envelopes us during sacred moments

A quieting of all inner and outer sensations

Stills the mind to receive from a higher Source

Awakening while living in the physical

Opens receptive hearts 

To the unfolding of flowering beauty all around

This simple landscape reveals an attunement

That allows the soul to reawaken at any moment

To the splendid privilege of being alive

In this wondrous universe

 

It’s important to note that the physical aspects of healthy living are vital to being well-grounded in our core connection to nature. Barry robustly intones, “Health ultimately comes through being more in harmony with our bodies. This is the natural result of cultivating lifestyles based on positive thinking, and eating a wide variety of vibrant living foods fresh from nature.”

As I reflect on his sentiments, Barry offers more sagely wisdom by stating:

“Communing with Mother Earth is a great rejuvenating tonic. In-depth peace

is my goal. I really enjoy being at my sanctuary. My most favorite thing about the orchard is that I can walk up to the trees and harvest lunch.”

And for those who really love high quality produce, the following fruits can be shipped by FedEx or UPS Ground. Here is the general timetable:

Cherimoyas: November through May

White Sapotes: July through April

Pomegranates: November through January

Persimmons: September through January

Figs: July through September

Passion Fruit: Year round

Avocados:

Fuerte: February through April

Haas: March through December

Mexicola: August through October

Nabal: October through May

Pinkerton: April through August

Reed: April through June

 

Please call Barry at 760-631-0200 (Office) or 760-455-1261 (Cell) to initiate purchase orders. Email: barrykoral@cox.net.

For those interested in reading more of Barry’s poetic musings, consider logging onto www.sacredimagery.com.

Loren Lewisohn is an eco-adventurer who specializes in international travel, which incorporates bio-regional analysis and the promotion of themes relating to paradigm shift. His websites may be accessed at www.sacredimagery.com and www.ecoarts.orz.

Local Edits

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This week, our editing team has been immersed in Inn Season Cafe recipes, cutting this, adding that.  An exacting task, this is the final stretch of getting the recipes almost perfect.  Needless to say, appetites are worked up looking at, talking about and documenting the foods that made Inn Season Cafe so popular for decades.  There are no complaints when we break for meals and I am able to cook dishes with local market ingredients.  We have convinced ourselves (without great effort) the satisfaction arising from partaking in beautiful fresh food, adds an edge to the often tedious editing process.  Here is a sampling of the market finds and dishes created.

Quick chopped gazpacho

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Fresh caprese style tomatoes

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Tomato season is here!

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Spinach salad with tofu and walnuts

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Corn and leek cakes with chopped guacamole

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Michigan blueberries are extra sweet right now.

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Swiss chard tart

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Almond and orange torta 

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This Week in Food

Every week something new pops up at the market.  The first few heirloom tomatoes, sweet white Siberian kale from Cinzori Farms and local peaches are notable this week. Also, as each week progresses, the corn is sweeter and is more tender by the day.  We do not get corn like this in San Diego, where the best is comparable to end of season Michigan corn—-Something to be said for winter dormancy, manifested in the intensely flavorful splendors of summer. 

The season progresses and culinary excitement builds as we explore various local fresh flavors.  Farmers market produce is bolstered by herbs and tender greens plucked from the garden, while bread made from Hampshire Farms fresh ground flours makes the house smell irresistible.

Below is a photo tour as we work on editing The Inn Season Cafe cookbook, documenting my years as chef and chef/owner—1981 to 2002.

The book is entirely vegan as well as all the food presented here.

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Maple Creek Farms–beautiful organic foods

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Michigan Peaches are in!

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Burda’s cherries and berries

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Sauteed endive with pine nuts

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Cinzori kale salad with plum vinaigrette

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Donny Hobson zucchinis

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Zucchini Parmagiana

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Roasted coriander bread with Corscan thyme honey

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Chocolate almond cream cake

Ceres, The Roman Goddess of Grain

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Story of the poster and how it became an unofficial symbol for Inn Season Cafe.  Where it is now.The NRA (National Restaurant Association) show in Chicago was an annual event for many years.  In the 1980’s and 1990’s there was very little awareness in the shows of anything beyond the latest equipment, POS system, or new fangled packaged food.  The focus was on efficiency, both systematic and economic.  For us, there would be an opportunity to see a specific piece of equipment or a new bottled water.  On a few occasions surprises were to be found and this is what kept us coming back.  In 1986, a gallery from New York had a booth French poster art. They were selling original poster from the late 19th and early 20th century.  This is where Ceres came into our lives.  Barbara spotted her and we decided to invest a considerable sum (for us at the time) to bring her home.  Ceres beckoned us and charmed us with here satisfied smile.  She held golden shafts of wheat in her arms that seemed to sway in the breezes of the French countryside around her.  The subheading of the poster was “Pates Alimentaires.” She was representing a pasta brand which was the perfect compliment to a small Italian pasta machine that we found at a local distributor in Chicago.  Patti Smith, the local clothing merchant who Barbara was designing clothes for, recommended we use her brother, Mike Paradise, to frame the oversized four and a half foot by six foot poster. Mike, a framer for the Detroit Institute of Arts, did an excellent job and was at that point we decided Ceres should be in the restaurant to begin her extended stay. Ceres took her place of prominence in the dining room surround by the antique tables, barn wood and stained glass Tiffany-styled lights of the time.  To create a new look, we pickled the barn wood with white stain, bought new chairs and added new oak tables (my father had them made by an Amish carpenter near Kidron, Ohio).  Ceres was well received and she dominated the dining room as the angel of grains, overseeing the dining pleasures of satisfied customers. She kept her place for over a decade, becoming a second logo and icon of Inn Season until she was moved to make way for the animal-friends china cabinet.  In her role as the goddess of grain, Ceres oversaw the restaurant until the final major renovation of our tenure in January 1999 when she journeyed to our 1924 Tudor home on Hendrie Boulevard where she oversaw our new kitchen and dining area. In 2004, she moved with us to San Diego.  Presently, Ceres resides in the family room of our 1925 historic restoration on Fort Stockton Drive in Mission Hills.

While the story of a poster seems mundane, the effect Ceres had on those who saw her was real. One does not have to study spacial design Feng Shui or Vastu to remember the welcoming feel that Ceres provided in the restaurant and in the homes where she has been. 

Ceres Picture by David Baillot