recipes

Kathleen Flinn

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good is the beguiling title of the latest book from writer Kathleen Flinn.

It's billed as "A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family".

The Midwest Flinn writes about is largely the family farm near Flint, in Davison.

The Flinns and good food seemed to go together: where you find one, you'd find the other.

The book is a wonderful, loving story of a Michigan family, and you get recipes, lots of great recipes. Just what one would expect from the author of The Sharper Your KnifeThe Less You Cry and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.

Flinn says the book title "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good" refers to her grandmother who would accidentally burn her toasts in the oven. 

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Most kids in the state are on summer break. And, while the year wrapped up with final tests, and end of year activities, one group of students celebrated the end of their school by becoming published authors.

826 Michigan is a nonprofit organization that supports students in developing their writing skills and helps teachers inspire students to write. This year the students worked with English Language Learner students and teachers at Ypsilanti Community High School.

This book is called Enjoy! – Recipes for Building Community. It includes essays, letters and recipes from the students and from chefs and other members of the local food community.

Joining us today were Liz Sirman, an ELL teacher at Ypsilanti Community High School, Lucy Centeno, one of the student writers from Ypsilanti Community High School, Ari Weinzweig, co-owner and founding partner of Zingerman’s.

courtesy of Dianne Johns

As part of our Your Family Story series, we collected recipes that have been passed down within families.This is our contest winner, Dianne Johns of Lansing is our winner. We'd still like your stories about family culture and traditions. Add it here. 

The very best traditional Lebanese Easter food is the Easter cookies. They are called kaik. This is a two syllable word with a very subtle distinction between the syllables (kah-ick). The pronunciation is so similar to a slang word for a part of the male anatomy, that we rarely use it around the non-Lebanese.

I had never made kaik before. My sister, Holly made it once with the Lebanese-born cousins. They wouldn’t let her do anything but cook because they were afraid she would mess it up. Their cookies are perfection.

My sister Holly, her sister in law Linda, my friend Susie and I all got together at Holly’s house with my mother’s recipe, Linda’s experience, 10 pounds of flour, huge packages of mashed dates and walnuts, and a “What the hell” spirit. We were joined by another sister,Carol, and another Lebanese friend, Dolores, who is also an expert.

Living in Michigan is a real advantage when you are making Lebanese food. There are more Arabs in Michigan than any other state, so the ingredients for Lebanese food are usually available. These cookies call for finely ground mahleb (cherry pits) and anise. No problem. Just go to the bulk food store on Pennsylvania Avenue.

This recipe makes around 50 fairly large cookies.

As part of our Your Family Story series, we’re collecting recipes that have been passed down within families. Send in your mother’s, grandfather’s, or cousin’s famous recipe for goulash, pozole, dumplings or any dish that your family has enjoyed.

We’re collecting recipes until midnight tomorrow. We’ll publish all the recipes. The winner will be chosen by the Changing Gears team. They’ll collect a grab bag of public radio goodies. Share your traditional family recipes here, and tell us a little bit about the story behind the dish. 

Today, Changing Gears Senior Editor Micki Maynard shares this recipe for Mazurek:

My father’s family, which is of French descent, has been in the United States for many generations, settling primarily in Massachusetts. But my mother is a first generation American. Her family came to the United States around 1905. Her father hailed from what was known then as Byelorussia --- present day Belorus, sometimes also called White Russia.

My mom learned European dishes from her mother and New England recipes through my dad, so we enjoyed a varied menu at home. I’ve always heard my mother say what a good cook my grandmother was. But, I didn’t know until this year that my grandmother was co-owner of a bakery in Grand Rapids. The Northwestern Bakery stood on Leonard Street, although the building is no longer there.

Each Easter, my family gathers for brunch, and Mazurek (pronouncd mah-ZUR-eck) is always the last dish that is served. We sit over coffee and tea and enjoy this dense, rich pastry, very much like a soft shortbread. My mom was always the Mazurek baker, until she offered to teach me. She also shared the recipe with my brother, who baked the Mazurek that you see above.

Want to add Mazurek to your repertoire? Follow this recipe.

As part of our Your Family Story series we’re collecting recipes that have been passed down within families. Send in your mothers, grandfathers, or cousins’ famous recipe for goulash, pozole, dumplings-what have you.

We’re collecting recipes from this very second until midnight February 29th. We’ll publish all the recipes. The winner will be announced here and on our partner websites. They’ll collect a grab bag of public radio goodies so get cookin'!

Michigan Radio's Rina Miller shares her recipe for kale, along with this story  about her family's Dutch roots.

My mother, father, three brothers and I emigrated from the Netherlands by ship in 1956. We settled in Albion, Mich.

We assimilated into American culture, but our roots were still there in the way we ate, celebrated holidays (very simply and frugally) and in our ongoing connection with the Netherlands.

A part of my heart will always live there.

Kale was a staple in our home long before it became popular in the U.S. It's a nutritious, hearty, inexpensive green vegetable.

In this recipe, it’s mashed with potatoes, onions and bacon and served with smoked sausage. It helped stretch the meal budget for Dutch families.

We kept that tradition, and it was always a treat when my mother made a great huge pot of it. I still love it today.

Below is a recipe (original here) that's very close to how Mom made it: 

User scrappy annie / Flickr

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.

The Environmental Protection Agency has some guidelines to help you avoid mercury in fish in its "One Fish, Two Fish, Don't Fish, Do Fish" brochure.

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:

Brian Short - Michigan Radio Newsroom