The Michigan Brewers Guild wanted something very specific when it turned 15: it asked the state’s breweries to concoct a 15th-anniversary ale for its summer beer fest. Chef and home brewer Amy Sherman, host of Great American Brew Trail, went behind the scenes at the celebration, where she interviewed local breweries’ staff members about their celebratory brews. Reports like these are typical of her show, Great American Brew Trail, for which she travels to microbreweries across the country and unveils the creative and culinary processes behind beer.
Couched in newly expanded quarters, People’s Food Co-op's cooks draw on a community-minded business model and sate customers’ hunger with a toothsome array of nutritionally sound fare. Locally grown and organic foods shine in a cornucopia of house-made deli concoctions, including a fresh bulk-food bar heavily laden with hot stews, cold salads, and just-right porridges ($7.99/lb). Slabs of corn-polenta torta ($2.16 each) swaddle herb-kissed bundles of kale, red pepper, and feta cheese. A gallery of pre-wrapped options showcases stratified edibles such as breakfast burritos, vegan tempeh Reubens, and reams of roasted veggies sandwiched in Zingerman’s bread ($4.68–$12.99). Tubs of roasted-red-pepper and garlicky raw hummus lend creamy aplomb to al fresco outings on the shop's patio (up to $9.99 each), and nut-studded muffins ($3–$5) and diminutive rounds of raw cashew cheesecake ($3.99) fuel mobile-eating competitions.
Proprietor Giti Henrie entices gourmands with delectable locally sourced café fare and cupcakes, sans added hydrogenated oils and preservatives. Fork into breakfast with the crab-cake eggs bennie, a dungeness crab cake layered with canadian bacon, poached eggs, avocado, and a lemon-hollandaise sweepstakes prize ($12), or savor the oven-baked french toast with brandied caramel sauce and fresh blueberries ($8). The mushroom bacon burger ($10) or the Surf's Up burger, with spicy shrimp, pancetta, avocado, and chili sauce ($12), melt the mouth and inspire the plastering of bovine pin-up posters around one's kitchen. If sharing is on the agenda, opt for the tuscan pizza ($10), a bubbly-baked dough disk slathered with marinara sauce, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, and a feta-mozzarella cheese blend.
Every Friday and Saturday night at 7 p.m., the twists and turns of Gull Meadow Farms' night maze enables challenging family fun. Wanderers wind throughout the dark labyrinth, illuminating their journey with the use of moonlight and flashlights. Families, friends, or brave individuals search for an exit among the rows formed by stalks up to 8 feet tall. The dimly lit voyage aims to provide a fun challenge for all ages, as proven by the marked presence of such friendly ghosts as the ghost of economic past.
Heilman's Nuts & Confections uses 90-year-old recipes to create a varied assortment of house-roasted nuts, tempting confections, and delicious treats. From gift baskets to individual assortments of candies and nuts, customers are sure to find a thoughtful birthday present, celebrate special events, or start grassroots movements to turn March 4th into Rain Check Valentine’s Day. Pay sweet-tooth ransoms with a half-pound box of cherry cordials ($12.25), a one-pound box of home-made caramel corn cooled on marble slabs ($7.75), or a box of hand-stretched peanut brittle ($8.75). For a sippable supplement to classic Heilman's bites, pair a one-pound box of presidential mixed nuts ($17.25) with a pound of fresh, flavored or blend coffee ($13.50 and $12.50 respectively).
In 1939, Everett Cook purchased what would become the Cook family farm and was told it was the worst investment he had ever made. But in the spirit of tenacious American homesteaders, three generations of Cooks turned that bad investment into a thriving bison ranch. After years of research, Peter Cook—Everett’s grandson—became a member of the National Bison Association, and ordered the ranch's first 30 bison in 1998. The hulking, majestic curiosities began drawing in groups from area schools, cross-country motor-coach tours, and time-traveling harmonica players to the 83-acre farm in northern Indiana's Amish country.
During the ranch’s signature one-hour tour, guests board a wagon and venture out to interact with and feed the animals as guides regale them with facts about North American bison. After the tour, groups can also sit down for a meal of bison burgers or bison brats. The animals receive no growth hormones or stimulants and graze on the ranch's own hay and grain, which produces tender and healthy meat, unlike animals fed with growth hormones, which produces meat that won’t stop quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Bison burgers, brats, and steaks are available for purchase online or inside the ranch's gift shop. In addition to the tours, the ranch also allows guests to hunt their own game during guided hunts, taking home bison, deer, and wild turkey.