Tag Archives: Grand Rapids

A Little Love for the Eggplant


Last night, I made baba ganoush, because last week we went to Gita Pita, and now I am, once again, obsessed with Mediterranean food (or at least the idea of it).

I found a simple recipe for the baba ganoush (I added minced onion and raw tomato), and plan to return to the downtown restaurant when my budget adjusts for the cost of preschool. It is a day for which I wait with bated breath.

The thing is, it was just really nice to have success with an eggplant. As vegetarians, we’ve not spent the time with eggplant that we should, and our history of botched attempts goes back to the beginning of our marriage – long before we stopped regularly eating meat and boxed meals. Eggplant Parmesan, simple roasting and oddities like vegan “bacon” were all disappointing failures.

But this… it’s a lovely, seemingly lighter alternative to hummus (which I love). Now I’m wondering how a half-and-half blend of the two would work…

For something completely different: If you’re in the Grand Rapids area, join me and a bunch of cool kids tonight at EmbodyGR, a local non profit focused on yoga, community and service. They have childcare, it’s free and there will be tea. A great way to find calm on the first day of ArtPrize, and set the tone for the close of your week.

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Filed under Health, Local, Recipes

Traditional Tacos and Basic Rice Noodles

I can’t get enough. I have a problem. Please send help (by which I mean gift cards to Tacos El Cuñado and Pho Anh Trang).

Somewhere in my late-Winter/early-Spring attempt to get back on the healthy wagon, I overcame my craving for boxed mac-n-cheese and rediscovered east Asian and authentic Mexican food. Now, I’m finding any excuse to stop at the market’s taco counter, and steadily increasing my home supply of rice noodles (only because the preferred Vietnamese restaurant is on the other side of town).

First, the tacos. Forget greasy cheese, limp lettuce and meat sauce. These traditional-street-food babies bring together warm corn tortillas, vegan options like tempeh, rice and beans and nopales (cactus), pescetarian favorites like shrimp, and fresh pico de gallo and avocado. Most of that food is local, I might add. If I get a taco trio (for less than $10), that leaves me enough to do a tasting at the distillery a few steps away. Ok, just kidding (so far. Talk to me after this weekend).

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Season Opener: Yoga and The Market

relaxed woman post yoga closeup A beam of light crossed my face. It is not a crooked, fresh wax (which the husband said it resembles).

On Saturday I woke up three hours earlier than usual to hang out in funny positions with strangers.

You’ve heard me talk about yoga, and I’ve already bent your ear on my love of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. It was almost too much when I heard of a free event involving both.

The Market hosts yoga classes throughout the week in its greenhouse, banquet rooms and demonstration facilities. To make the most of the seasonal outdoor farmers’ market opening, they held an open and free session, offering attendees a great discount for future classes. I registered immediately.

It was my first time doing yoga with anyone other than my husband, mother or Iris, and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, there was energy and it was amazing. We faced a giant second floor window, and a hard rain as the class began. After an hour and 15 minutes of gently voiced instructions and soothing music, not to mention a well guided final relaxation, I was more chill than I’ve been in ages. And the sun was out.

After grabbing that discount for next time, I floated down to the first floor and stopped at a table to take it all in. Nothing but food and enthusiastic people in every direction. I bought a freshly made juice and some pitted dates. I gawked lustfully at the seafood counter and oyster bar. I experienced an affection for my city, which is trying to do something good for the food and small business culture here. Making my way to the front doors and terrace meant a great view of the outdoor market, and green park beyond. I bought a small loaf of bread. Such a beautiful way to start a Spring Saturday.

Sometimes, I really enjoy growing older, because it’s like gaining a new sense. Bliss is found in the simplest things – things that were always there, but require a certain… perception to be appreciated. Sometimes, innocence is reawakened when you thought it was long gone.

Have a wonderful week.

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Filed under Local, Seasonal

Midwinter Dinner Date

Charley's crab on Grand RiverIt had been too long since my husband and I experienced date night. I made some Iris arrangements (with the help of an endlessly generous friend), asked him out, and on Saturday night we treated ourselves.

Way back at Christmas 2012, our parents gave us a gift card to Charley’s Crab – a local, somewhat upscale seafood restaurant. I think the only other location is in Palm Beach. Anyway, I’d been there a number of times as a child, but other, “hipper” restaurants sort of outshone it as I grew up. These days, it’s nice to sometimes go places that specialize in seafood… it’s like the pescetarian version of a steak house. Although, actually being able to choose from the whole menu is a bit overwhelming. We overcame that challenge with glee.

The Riesling, mussels, salmon pâté, poppy seed rolls, Mediterranean fish chowder, bouillabaisse (for me) and a Caribbean Combo (for him) were all delicious, and helped us reach our butter quota for the month.

No room or time for dessert – we planned to see the 9:30 showing of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in 3D. Ultimately, I enjoyed it a great deal. Somewhat bummed the Mirkwood/Beorn bit was altered, but was an immediate fan of the dragon portrayal (and I don’t even watch Sherlock!). Devastating in all the best ways. I might have been a little put off by the Tauriel/Legolas thing if I hadn’t known about it beforehand, but really, it’s just a movie. I simply wanted to enjoy it. Still, I can’t help but be amused that Legolas looks older than he did in LOTR…

Tremendous indeed.

dragon Smaug Hobbit Bilbo movie

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For Something Completely Different…

Leslie Hall three women pose

Some pictures contain true joy.

For my lifelong friends the Hoekzema girls (aka FransGirls – official makers of the 2014 Michigan State Christmas ornaments!), cuddling in front of a camera with Leslie Hall was the fodder for just such an image.

If you don’t know about Leslie Hall, she’s a musician, a comedian and the Mistress of Gem Sweaters. She’s sass and love. She is a genuine rockstar. She helps restore my faith in humanity.

We gathered at the Pyramid Scheme on Saturday night to welcome Leslie for her second concert appearance in Grand Rapids. I was five days post-partum, and so absent, for the first.

The experience of Leslie Hall is like nothing else. Although I didn’t manage to get my own picture with her, I had the honor of helping her stay aloft during a crowd surf. I can honestly say it was one of the most awesomely hilarious and thrilling moments of my life.

High Kicks, Body Rolls and Gold Lamé? Yes please.


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The Coldest Nights of the Year

winter hats scarves on chairOne of my dearest friends is organizing the GR Below Zero Project, which works to collect and distribute scarves, hats, mittens and more to those that need them most.

If you are in the Grand Rapids area, this is a great cause that makes an immediate, tangible difference for the people in our community. Please consider getting involved. I can promise you that this is a credible group with nothing but the best of motivation and intentions.

For too many, what is supposed to be the happiest and most festive time of the year is actually the coldest – physically and emotionally. We can’t change that for everyone, but we can try.

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Benefit Event at The Pyramid Scheme

Grand Rapids rock venue

I want to give a quick shout out to a relatively new bar and venue in Downtown Grand Rapids – The Pyramid Scheme. I got to check it out for the first time last night.

My husband’s band, The Pilot Lights (woot!), was one of several bands participating in a benefit show for a local gentleman recently involved in an accident and medical mishap. The Pyramid Scheme hosted the event, which included live music, free food and a silent auction.

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What is… Artprize?

I am certainly not an art critic. Nor am I at all qualified to determine what makes an international event a success.

However, I think it is fair to say that a massive, neon-orange, shoddily painted bean bag is not really something with outstanding artistic merit. It’s eye catching, and interesting, and a fun idea… but… art?

I hate that question.

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