Wandering Waffles

Burrito WaffleAllow me to be a little nostalgic for a minute. I could smell hazelnut and chocolate in the air as I was walking down the streets of Florence, Italy. It was like one of those old Tom and Jerry cartoons, when Jerry’s nose would follow the smell of cheese. Similarly, I would follow my nose to street vendors as they would poured molten Nutella on a thick waffles. I feel like that is all I ate in Florence.

SamOK, back to real life; I walk into the City Market and as soon as I enter, nostalgia rolls over me because there is a new waffle place in Lansing! Yes, believe it! Meet Sam, the owner of Wandering Waffles.

Sam in an incredibly passionate foodie. When I first met her we had a long conversation about the sequence of events that brought her to Lansing. She told me that she always comes up with these crazy ideas and Wandering Waffles is an example of a crazy idea that became a reality. She makes as many of her ingredients in-house and the rest of the waffle ingredients s are locally sourced. When I showed up to take these photos, she had cheese curds draining on the counter as she was making fresh waffles on the other side of her kitchen. Continue reading


Whisk Kid

Kaitlin the Whisk Kid

I want to introduce you to a Lansing blogger, but this introduction comes with a warning; her blog will make you spend a lot more time in the kitchen and even more time salivating over her blog posts. Meet Kaitlin Flannery, she is a writer, a most amazing baker and a really really good food photographer at Whisk Kid.

She has been blogging since 2009 and has devoted fans following each post. One of her cakes was even picked up by Martha Stewart and she got to cook alongside the craftiest lady in the land. She has joined the ranks of Snoop D O  double G.

I follow a bunch of food blogs but Whisk Kid is unlike any of them. Kaitlin is passionate about what she does and this passion comes through in her writing. Just scroll through her blog and you will find everything from the Lemon Meringue Pie to a rant by Kaitlin that comes with a Funfetti Cake recipe.

Whisk Kid is just as much a food blog as it is Kaitlin’s diary:

“It’s a collection of the thoughts I have while I’m baking, which is what I do to relax, and it’s where I try to find meaning in breakups, reason behind monotony, good in my faults and cracks in my shell. It’s a therapeutic outlet that helps me decompress and figure out what’s really going on and where I stand in this world.”

She is constantly looking for the underlying emotions and connections in all aspects of her life and her blog brings all these ideas together: “I have no idea what’s coming next, but the blog has helped me really realize that we’re all kinda lost – and it’s totally ok. Sharing my experiences and being shared with in return has been more rewarding than I ever imagined it would be.” The scientist in me wants to do an analysis of the kind of cake/pastry/cookie Kaitlin makes and other life events. Kaitlin’s readers have sent her emails that have brought her to tears and they are proof that she has this bond with her readers. Whisk Kid is more like having a friend who cooks with you, than it is a food blog.

Whisk Kid

“I feel that, even though we don’t know each other, my readers and I have a very supportive relationship”.

Lastly, Kaitlin agreed to give us a Lansing Collective exclusive recipe of the cake she made for our shoot. enjoy!


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Fork vs. Spoon: BBQ Throwdown 2012

My eyes grew wide and my jaw dropped to the floor when I first saw the news on Facebook. My two favorite restaurants in Lansing were going to go toe-to-toe in a no-holds-barred old-fashioned another-hyphenated-adjective throwdown.

The sign designating the Soup Spoon Cafe.

If you’ve ever seen the Food Network show “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” you’re probably already familiar with the concept. In short, two people or establishments craft their finest dishes of the same genre and let the people decide whose is better. Naturally, an event this big couldn’t be fit into a single day, so the two restaurants would be serving up their “competition plates” all week long.

But before moving on, allow me to introduce you to the competitors; as if they need any introduction. On one side, we have Soup Spoon Café, a restaurant that began its existence by expertly crafting breakfast and lunch for a couple of years before expanding into the dinner and craft beer market. Located downtown near Sparrow Hospital on Michigan Avenue, the Spoon was by far my favorite dinner spot until their challenger came to town.

Fork in the Road

In the other corner we have the young upstart Fork in the Road. This culinary mecca started just last Spring as a food truck carrying their “slow fast food” throughout Old Town and the rest of Lansing. Featuring slow-cooked barbecue mostly prepared ahead of time for fast service, it wasn’t long at all before demand allowed them to open their own permanent location at the crossroads of Oakland and Saginaw just north of Lansing’s West Side Neighborhood.

The best part about both restaurants is that they focus on local ingredients as much as possible while trying to be good neighbors and building their surrounding communities. If you asked me today which was my favorite, I wouldn’t have an answer. And yet, this throwdown would test me to do just that.

The cuisine? Barbecue.

The rules? Simple.

The clever t-shirt that I just had to buy.

Each patron would go to each location at some point during the week. There, they would order the “competition plate,” costing $18, as well as a vote card that cost an additional $2. It may seem like a steep price, but much of the proceeds are headed for the Greater Lansing Food Bank. So I had no problem splurging a little for excellent food and a good cause.

My original plan was to head to Fork in the Road for dinner on Tuesday – the first day of competition – split a plate with a friend, and head to Soup Spoon Café to sample their wares directly after. However, I underestimated the popularity of the contest; Fork in the Road sold out of their daily competition plate before lunch had even passed.

Plan B.

I met up with a local culinary expert for lunch at Fork in the Road on Wednesday instead. The plate served that day was, “Porchetta.” It looked to me to be a pork tenderloin filleted flat, filled with a delicious spread concoction of herbs eggs, and tied back up before being grilled to perfection. This was served alongside a couple of small medallions of homemade sausage, some giant leaves of ramp, and a rhubarb gastrique (carmelized sugar, deglazed with vinegar, used as a flavoring for sauces).

Fork in the Road's porchetta plate on Wednesday.

Yes, that last bit is from Wikipedia. Apparently I’m not quite that much of a Foodie.

The result was spectacular. The rhubarb gastrique was slightly sweet with a tinge of sour and paired perfectly with the smoky, savory deliciousness of the pork. But quite honestly, my favorite part might have been the homemade sausage. They should seriously consider serving up some bangers and mash or a sausage sandwich with that stuff.

I completed my throwdown challenge at Soup Spoon Café later that night (after a run on the trails at Lake Lansing North). I seemed to arrive at the perfect time. I walked straight to the bar, grabbed an open stool and immediately ordered the throwdown plate. If I had waited much longer, I may have been out of luck.

I got the last plate of the day.

This plate featured three different types of barbecue: ancho braised pork tenderloin with a cherry coriander rhubarb sauce sitting atop miso braised red cabbage; Cuban style smoked ribs topped with orange mojo salsa and a Goslings dark rum sugarcane reduction; and pork belly with housemade sweet barbecue sauce atop sage and mushroom grits.

Soup Spoon Cafe's barbecue trio competition plate.

It was even more impressive than it sounds.

The different flavors were evident from each section and the smoke flavor added by the Northern Michigan Red Hickory that they traveled up north to get just for the competition kicked everything up a notch. All the meat was tender, flavorful and well-cooked. And the accompanying sauces and sides suited everything perfectly. In fact, my favorite part of the plate might have been the miso braised red cabbage.

I washed it down with an IPA from one of my favorite new Michigan breweries, Greenbush, as I contemplated which box to check. Do I go with the porchetta or the red hickory trio?

I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of an answer. Mostly, I don’t want to influence anybody to vote a particular way. That’s because if you hurry, you can still participate! The throwdown continues until Saturday, May 26. And I recommend going to Fork in the Road for lunch that day, as I guarantee their pork belly confit will fly out of the kitchen!


Everybody Eats!

I am a foodie.

If you know me in person, you probably recognize that. And if you are a blog reader who has read any of my past posts, you most likely have picked up on that as well.

I was not always a foodie, however. I grew up on a diet of meat and potatoes, refusing to try anything green, spicy or ethnic. Seriously, as a kid, eating a taco was a very big deal. It really was not until six or seven years ago that I began experimenting with my taste palate and discovered my love for Indian food, sushi, spinach, mushrooms and various produce.

Then, four years ago, after much research and thought, I decided to go vegetarian, which forced me to look into new protein sources; thus opening my eyes to the world of beans, tofu, tempeh and nuts! I had to find a new way to make a “go-to” meal upon arriving home from a ten to twelve hour day of organizing (this time period was during my Union organizing days!) that replaced my frozen chicken breast on the George Foreman grill with something else just as protein-rich and filling. I would peruse various cookbooks, complete online recipe searches, and wander the aisles of Horrock’s looking for new items to try and new ways to combine some of my favorite foods to create a meal with extraordinary flavors- meals that would not only fuel my body but bring enjoyment while eating. I started to host dinner parties to test out some of my new culinary creations and began to appreciate the dishes I ordered at restaurants more than I had when I was ordering the standard cheeseburger at the nearby chain. Continue reading


‘Tis the season… to buy local! My top 3 reasons to shop Lansing and great holiday gift ideas!

As we all prepare for the holidays and “Black Friday” just around the corner, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the greatest power we all possess as individuals, and society as a whole- consumer purchasing power!

Purchasing power is huge.

Buying items, for oneself, or for others as we spread the joy of the holidays and search out that perfect gift to bring a smile to a loved one’s face, is more than just dropping a few bucks here or there. It is an investment and a show of support for the type of economy we want to thrive. Where we decide to spend our money is one of the most significant ways we can build up an economy and create the type of society we want to live in. Continue reading