Union Pier, Michigan weekend

The second annual weekend on the shores of Lake Michigan has come and gone, but my new Olympus Pen and I documented the trip and we'll share a little travelogue with you this morning.  It's Friday and since I'm in the middle of staining my decks, sorting closets and raking up the robust acorn harvest from our lawn I'll take a little break here and catch up on my writing.
It's a scenic short three-hour drive to Union Pier and when I joined the party late Thursday evening, the other seven members of our group were a couple bottles of wine into the weekend and hungry for dinner at The Roadhouse.  The weather was blustery and the warm comfort foods with a twist were as delicious as remembered.   Pumpkin bread pudding, by the way is as yummy as it sounds.

Greg's fish sandwich, my jambalaya not as photogenic
Friday the girls meandered around the area a bit and stumbled upon Froehlich's (yep, that's a link for you to check out their website) in tiny little Three Oaks.  Colleen Froehlich is living the dream with a beautiful store full of artisan breads, jams, preserves and housewares.  Had we not just enjoyed lunch down the street, the sandwiches, soups and salads would have been delightful (you can tell just by looking).  I admire anyone who cans (I prepare, jar and freeze) and the jars of tomato sauces and salsas beckoned.  I have no trouble spending money on beautiful food and I brought home strawberry rhubarb jam, habanero apricot jam and sandwich chutney (peaches, pear juice and spices) in gorgeous Italian canning jars.  I baked bread Sunday night and five days and many pieces of toast later, the strawberry rhubarb jam is almost half gone.  The Ball Mason quart jar of freshly made raspberry lemonade was good for a chug or two straight from the jar before Saturday night's meeting with some vodka for drinks for the chef.

We gathered up groceries at farm stands along the way and at the Barney's market in New Buffalo for that night's dinner.  This is my favorite way to cook.  I love a good plan with hours spent pouring over recipes, making lists and cooking but really I love thinking on my feet and throwing something together even more.  Maureen's idea to bring my ipod speakers into the kitchen was sheer genius.  We prepped, chopped, sauteed, baked and let Greg help us on the grill all the while humming, singing and moving to the music (I hesitate to call anything I do dancing, you can't be good at everything).  Good times.  Anyway, I butterflied a chicken, baked some squash, roasted tomatoes for a pasta sauce and Maureen sauteed some zucchini and tossed a beautiful salad.  Dawn and Tracy set out a bountiful appetizer spread on the deck while things in the kitchen hummed along.  The sunset was spectacular and off across the lake out on the horizon amazingly you could see the Chicago skyline with the gorgeous autumn gold glow of the sun reflecting off the Sear's tower (I know it has a new name, but it's the Sear's tower).  My pictures don't do it justice, it was spectacular.  Dinner in, music, drinks, friends, mild weather and a stunning sunset made for an indelible memory.  

please note the assorted tableware from the rental home

Baked Acorn Squash

acorn squash
brown sugar
rosemary sprigs

Halve your acorn squash at the equator.  Scoop out seeds and any stringy flesh.  Turn cut side down and place in a baking dish.  Add about 1-inch of water to the dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or so until flesh is fork tender.  Remove from dish, turn cut side up and add a little pat of butter, a tablespoon of brown sugar and a sprinkling of rosemary to the well.  Serve hot.  

Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce

ripe tomatoes (any type, any quantity)
olive oil
garlic, minced
thyme sprigs
rosemary sprigs

Wash and halve tomatoes, arrange in a baking pan, drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle minced garlic, thyme leaves, and rosemary leaves atop tomatoes.  Grind some sea salt and some black pepper over the mixture.  Toss a bit and roast in a very hot oven, 425-450 degrees for about 20 minutes until tomatoes burst and juices start to caramelize a bit.  Keep roasting and tossing every now and then for 10 to 20 minutes more if you like it browner (up to you, fine after 20 minutes).  Just keep an eye on that hot oven because burnt garlic will ruin your dish.  

Toss with hot pasta.  Serve with Parmesan-Reggiano if desired.

Saturday morning after a brisk walk with my Greg; Tracy, her Greg and I set off for the farmer's market. This is another place I have no trouble spending money.  I bought some Arkansas Black apples because of their unusual color (darker than pictured) and well, who has ever heard of them?  Supposedly they will be good for baking and for sauce (already made my apple sauce for the year from transparents and it is safely "put up" in the freezer because I have a huge chest freezer and lack the patience for canning).  Also bought the mother of all cauliflowers, plums, beautiful green beans, butternut squash and apple honey (haven't tried it yet, but the little apple orchard pollinating bees make it so it's probably fabulous).  Also visited the Season's Harvest (yep, another link) for Southwest Barbecue Sauce (loved the Midwest version last year), Lemon Herb Salad Enlightener (loved the Blush flavor last year) and Butterscotch Schnapps dessert topping for my dad.  Yum.  

Saturday afternoon brought grey skies, strong winds and eventually rain but luckily we snuck in our side trip to Round Barn brewery and winery before the wet weather arrived.  After lunch at The Stray Dog (a place where apparently everyone goes for Saturday lunch and not just because the "Sit Stay" t-shirts are so cute), the boys took a turn at grocery shopping.  Lots of football later (and thank God, Purdue had a bye so we didn't stress over that debacle), we served up some appetizers and the famous steak dinner was on.  Lance whipped up an amazing dish of twice baked potato casserole to go with the steaks, sauteed mushrooms and aspargus.  Manly and delicious food.

just kind of love this sign from Round Barn Brewery

cutest beer logo ever, so cute I actually had a beer last year to get the glass
One last little food note.  I took along some food finds from Whole Foods and served them to rave reviews.  Their Caramel Dip is, as I say, "fully leaded" (aka full fat, full sugar, full on delicious) and so rich and caramel-y brown that I had to buy it.  Served with some honeycrisp apples it is heaven.  Just the other day they mixed it half and half with marscapone (Italian cheese similar to cream cheese if you haven't tried it) and served it with Pumpkin Pecan bread.  So good I bought the bread to serve with soup this week.  Maybe I'll walk an extra mile or two and try the caramel/marscapone for a football appetizer this weekend.  Also tried the Mt. Tam triple creme cheese from Cowgirl Creamery in California.  Splurge.  Worth it.  Served it with their Adriatic Fig Preserves.  Also good with fig/hazelnut cracker thins (I would tell you who makes them, but the wrapper and the crackers are long gone).

Mt. Tam triple creme, fig preserves, honeycrisps, black grapes


  1. Hi Kristin,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Union Pier to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!


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