For Michigan's Christian population (including around 2 million Catholics), today marks the beginning of Lent.
During Lent, many adherents give up meat and dairy products.
Over at the Detroit News, columnist Kate Lawson is serving up a scrumptious-looking lemony shrimp with asparagus, a seafood recipe for people looking for something tasty and healthy.
Lawson also notes there are very good non-religious reasons for wanting to increase the amount of fish in your diet.
"At my house, we follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent release of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and eat seafood at least twice each week for heart and brain benefits."
The reasons for eating seafood, and the advantages, are significant. Again, from Health.gov:
"Seafood contributes a range of nutrients, notably the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Moderate evidence shows that consumption of about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA, is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease."
But there are some concerns over which types of fish to eat, especially for women of child-bearing age and children. The concern is over mercury exposure and some fish can contain higher levels of mercury than others.
Meanwhile, the New York Times is whipping up vegan recipes for the meat- and dairy-avoiding portion of their readership, including one for baked beans with mint and tomatoes, the kind of dish that goes perfectly with a stack of unleavened bread.
And, at 384 calories per serving, it's pretty healthy.
And, finally, here's chef Bobby Flay with one last seafood recipe for Lent:
Sylvia Rector, a Detroit Free Press Restaurant Critic, has a nice little piece in the Freep about a shortage of pizza pans around the state.
The pizza pan of choice for local restaurants is a blue steel pan that was once made in West Virginia.
The pans were never intended for baking. They were designed to hold small parts in factories.
Overtime the pans "became the pan of choice for nearly every big name in Detroit-style pizza" (Rector describes Detroit -style pizza like this "dough for the thick but airy crust, absurd amounts of cheese and ladles of rich, long-simmered sauce").
But the company moved its operation to Mexico, and they haven't been able to get production up and running.
Pizza makers were distraught. They needed the pans. From the article:
Restaurant supply companies here -- and apparently everywhere else -- have been out of them for many months.
Pizza makers' orders for pans are stacking up by the thousands and causing problems for big chains and small independents alike.
"You wouldn't even believe how many pans we have on back order" -- at least 4,000 small and medium sizes and 700 extra larges -- says Patti Domasicwicz at People's Restaurant Equipment in Detroit. She hasn't received a shipment since April.
One pizza maker couldn't wait. So he took it upon himself to start making the pans in Michigan.
Eugene Jett, co-founder of Jet's Pizza, says he found a manufacturer that would do it:
"They're cutting them as we speak...The first thing is for me to get my pans...It took me a long time to figure out how to get them done...But I decided then, I will build my own pans."
Rector writes that if the manufacturer thinks the pans will be profitable, they might put the pans into full production.
Perhaps another sign that Michigan is diversifying it's economy.
La Shish Restaurants were once famous in Michigan for good middle eastern cuisine. But the restaurants closed when La Shish's owner got into legal trouble and fled the country.
Now, Jeff Karoub reports for the Associated Press that the La Shish name will come back to Dearborn:
Restaurateur Carmel Halloun said Friday that he's acquired the rights to use the La Shish name and plans to open a restaurant in March in the former chain's first location in Dearborn.
The name doesn't come without baggage. The La Shish chain of restaurants closed when the former owner, Talal Chahine, fled the U.S. Karoub writes that in 2005 Chahine "was charged with multiple counts of tax evasion and citizenship fraud."
The new owner of the La Shish name says he thinks enough time has passed. From Karoub's article:
Halloun said he knows people loved the food and is willing to take a chance. He said he wouldn't reopen at La Shish's first location without the restaurant's original name. "I want people to come back," he said.
President Obama is expected today to sign legislation to improve the nation’s food safety. The new law will put more regulations on Michigan farmers.
2010 ended with national recalls of parsley, alfalfa sprouts and cilantro because of possible salmonella contamination. The recalls were just the latest problems that prompted Congress to revamp the nation’s food safety system. The changes include better tracking of all kinds of food, from the farmer’s field to the consumer’s plate.
I always thought twice before adding those little pink packets to my iced tea because a little voice in my head was telling me they were bad. No proof, just something I had heard somewhere.
As it turns out, saccharin WAS on EPA's hazardous constituent list. It's been on the list since 1980. The substance was put on the list because the EPA's Carcinogen Assessment Group listed it as a "potential human carcinogen."
Changing Gears reporter Kate Davidson put together this look at the Detroit Produce Terminal. The Terminal was built in 1929 by a railroad company. Produce was shipped in by rail and wholesalers bid on it at an auction. The Terminal has changed but there is still a lot of action in the building, including fights over cauliflower.
A number of Grand Rapids restaurants are booked this weekend thanks to the new event celebrating great dining at a reasonable price.
San Chez sous chef Daryl Rector prepares for the night shift. "We've got verduras y tortas for the vegan crowd. It's a spicy black beans & quinoa cakes with roasted vegetables and this avo-cumber sauce," Rector explains. "That's a fake yogurt that we make with avocado - basically puree that, add acidity and sweetness and you can't really tell the difference between that and yogurt."
Several Detroit artists have started what they call “an experiment in micro-funding.” Once a month they host a public dinner that costs five dollars. During the dinner, several local groups pitch ideas for a creative project they’d like to do. Diners vote on the proposals and at the end of the night the winning project takes home the money raised from dinner.
So what would you think about opening up your home to 120 people every week? Letting them come in with their shoes on, sit anywhere they wanted. Oh, and by the way, they’ll be expecting a full breakfast.
That’s what happens at Jeff McCabe and Lisa Gottlieb’s house in Ann Arbor. From 6:30 to 10am every Friday, their house is transformed. It’s kind of weird. You walk in and you know you’re in someone’s home, but it feels like you’re suddenly in a little diner.