Tuesday, September 30

ArtPrize 2014

It’s ArtPrize season in Grand Rapids. This is the sixth year of the art competition that’s such a hit it draws in crowds by the masses for the three weeks the competition runs. My family (who came in last weekend) and Ben’s (on their way into town this weekend) always make a fall visit for the event.

This year the best art was really off the beaten path. On Saturday we visited new-to-my-family venues on the north side of town—the Women’s City Club, Lifestyle Kitchen Studio, St. Cecilia Music Center and First Park Congregational Church. We made our way down to City Hall and the Calder Plaza too, but the closer to downtown we got the more the art seemed to peter out. This year’s downtown showing is just… lacking.

Besides ArtPrize, we made homemade pasta together, took a driving tour of Heritage Hill’s huge houses, played a round of disc golf and even had time to tackle a few wedding crafts I needed extra hands for. And despite a little lackluster art seen Friday, by Sunday morning everyone left town happy.

Monday, September 29

Mulligatawny--With a Grain of Salt

Does anyone that owns napkin rings really use them? How about an ice bucket and tongs? Every holiday dinner I can remember included someone yelling from the kitchen “who wants ice?” followed by frozen red hands dolling out ice cubes straight into glasses. It’s part of that “family” feel, I think.

This was the never ending conversation Ben and I had in Bed Bath and Beyond while reviewing their list of suggested registry items.

Twelves goblets, 12 red wine glasses and 12 white wine glasses? Three sets of everyday dinnerware so we can “wash dishes less often”? Why? Nowhere to be found was the fine print I was looking for—Alter this list of suggestions to your lifestyle and you’ll be a-okay.

After taking that unwritten advice anyway, registering became much more fun. I could picture using our serving platters to pass around my stuffed peppers and the humidifier Ben gun-scanned will help with dry Michigan winters tremendously. (I, rightfully so, was not trusted with the retail weaponry). And because we allowed ourselves to pass on stuff like a matching his/her ring dish, we could instead get giddy over a no-frills waffle maker that has Saturday-morning-tradition written all over it.

I’m so glad to not be incredibly impressionable. So very glad.

I was glad of that again while watching The Pioneer Woman a few Saturdays ago. Ree was cooking an awesomely delicious looking Mulligatawny soup. She browned diced chicken in butter, sweated onions, drowned everything in chicken broth, sprinkled in some curry powder—I was moments away from altering my grocery list to include this meal when… wait, what? TWO cups of heavy cream?! If I’m gonna make something that decadent, it better be generously studded with chocolate chips and or tucked in a comforter made of bacon.

But Ree’s take on Mulligatawny is a suggestion, I reminded myself. Like the Bed Bath and Beyond list, I used her recipe as a starting point and altered as I went. I added more vegetables, poached the chicken instead of browning it in butter and settled for a cup of light coconut milk in lieu of heavy cream. I’m sure Ree’s soup is delicious, but mine was so good I poured myself a mini bowl as I portioned it out and put it away.

The curry powder and coconut milk are very mild and the slightly strange addition of green apples is a real flavor booster. If (like Ben) Indian food isn’t your cup of tea from a 12-piece fine china set, this recipe might be—at least that’s my take-it-or-leave-it suggestion.

Dana’s Mulligatawny Soup
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s version

1 chicken breast
½ yellow onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced
½ can light coconut milk
46 oz chicken broth
1 green apple, peeled cored and diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3 tablespoons flour
½ tablespoon curry powder
¼ tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Poach chicken in an inch or two of water for 15 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Cool, then dice into small pieces.
2. In a large pot, sauté onion, bell pepper and jalapeno until onion is translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add flour, curry powder and cumin and cook for another additional minute.
3. Add the chicken broth to the stock pot, bring to a simmer and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add coconut milk and brown sugar, bring liquid to a simmer and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
4. Add chicken and apple and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, just until apple softens slightly.
5. Let soup sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, September 23

A Vehicular Eulogy

My former car, the Silver Bullet, was a great ride. It was dearly loved by its owner and moderately loved by its passengers—assuming they didn't sit on the passenger side with the wind whooshing due to lack of weather stripping. Although the Bullet was a modest car from the start, it worked its way across multiple states, winters and adventures with (mostly) grace, ease and charm.

It was adopted at the Troy Motor Mall on May 24, 2007 at the tender age of four with 62,877 miles to its name. For years we bonded over trips to and from college, popping CD after CD into play rotation. The Bullet schlepped me to and from all of my internships, friend’s houses, up north and back again. Its belly was wide and wondrous, seemingly deepening as I continually filled it with all of my life’s possessions—including a bikes—for each of my 9 million apartment moves.

As a seven year old, the Bullet and I embarked on our grandest adventure—to Pennsylvania. And even though it fought endlessly, tirelessly and expensively against both PA emission tests and the rolling PA landscape in general, the Bullet held strong. Together we trekked up and down the Northeast coast, and on several semi-cross country trips back to Michigan.

By the time the Bullet came back to Grand Rapids in its later years, it fought hard against retirement. The harsh Michigan winters demolished its vital organs but with several replacement surgeries, the Bullet would kick back to life for another season. Toward its last months, the power locks, trunk release and CD player had all crapped out, and a deep rattle within the dash would persist any time a speed above 60 mph was sustained. Still, its spirit could not be extinguished.

On a cold Friday night in Munising, the Bullet succumbed to its last illness, a faulty battery connection that spoke of too many troubles ahead. So at the age of 11 with 158,313 blissfully wonderful miles—the last 8 years and 95K between us—I allowed the Bullet to cruise into the sunset of retirement.

The Silver Bullet will be remembered by its noise, spirit, spunk and not-so-smooth drive. May it be well loved and admired by its next courageous owner and may it rest peacefully in car heaven whenever its last ride may come.

Read some of my favorite blog posts mentioning The Bullet its adventures:
Semi-Cross Region Adventures - August 31, 2009
Capitalizing On Time With the Family - July 13, 2010
Goodbye Saturn - October 10, 2010
Multiplying Sweets - March 9, 2012
13.1 - April 29, 2012
What The Used Car Doc Would Say - January 29, 2013
The Dresser - February 11, 2013
Townies and Car Batteries and Bears--Oh My! - September 15, 2014

Monday, September 22

Tour De Troit

Two weekends ago I froze on a boat in Lake Superior; this past weekend I nearly got a t-shirt tan while biking through Detroit. You know what they say about Michigan weather—we truly do experience multiple seasons in a day or week.

Instead of doing this year’s traditionally chilly northern Michigan fall bike ride, we did a ride through Detroit. The 30-mileTour De Troit was great. We had perfect weather, Ben’s family and mine in tow, and plenty to see along the race course.

Detroit is a big city with big shambles. 90% of the ride was through falling down neighborhoods, abandoned factories and hotels, and miles and miles of graffiti. It might not sound that scenic, but it’s fascinatingly sad to see this city that if I were my 20-something-year-old self several decades ago I’d be proud to call home.

The other 10% of the ride? It was Indian Village and the surrounding area. Old, OLD mansions that somehow are still surviving beautifully in Detroit’s shadow. There was a great energy being amongst 7,000 other bikers (raising $200K for the city/bike paths in the process). This race was a good one, we’ll definitely be back next year.

Tuesday, September 16

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta

Yes, three times the pasta. Well, four if you count every dish we cooked and ate our way through at our pasta cooking class tonight. Our cooking class at the Downtown Market was such a blast. A great and, hello homemade sweet potato ravioli, tasty way to spend a Tuesday night.