Monday, October 26

Fall Fun: Cider Mill and Orchard

Yummy donuts, fresh apple cider, and apple cider slush were my highlight of the trip.
The donuts were still warm, and the cider was freshly pressed.
The combination is heavenly!

These donuts are absolutely delicious! Nice and warm..
Soft inside and slightly crispy on the outside!

There are three varieties of fresh donuts:
pumpkin, apple, and buttermilk.

Fresh Apple Cider
They hand pick all of their apples that they press into cider.
Then, we can jug our own cider from the stainless tank
where it is stored at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Country Mill's U-pick Apple Orchard features 22 varieties of Michigan Apples!
A portion of their orchard is certified organic.

Pumpkins For Sale

Beautiful White Pumpkins and Indian Corns
Haunted Orchard Hayride!
Family friendly hayride through the orchard full of fun and spooky characters.

Everyone took home a few pumpkins.

Country Mill Farm:
4648 Otto Road
Charlotte, MI 48813
(517) 543-1019

Thursday, October 22

Fall Goddess Retreat

Fall has always been my favorite season. It brings fairs and festivals, Friday high school football, college football atmosphere, and the changing colors of the leaves. This year, there is more to that for me; I had a wonderful time attending Fall Goddess Retreat in West Lansing, last Saturday. The retreat was hosted by Shannon Branstner, a massage therapist, and Chef Jen Riebow of Presto! Personal Chef and Event Planning Service.

The objective of the retreat was to help women ease into the seasons of harvest and hibernation. The session included learning about ourselves, introduction to Ayurvedic Medicine, aromatherapy, bath salt & salt scrub making, reading meditation, cooking a healthy tasty meal, wine tasting, and fire circle.

It was a very beautiful day, the weather was Fall perfect. I went with my friend, L. In the beginning of the session, we learned about one another. I even got to know more about L..

Some of us took advantage of the great weather and accommodating venue by riding the zip line.

Then, we got to learned about essential oils from Bonnie Schnautz, a nutrition and wellness coach from B-Renewed. I loved smelling and learning about all those oils!

We then chose oil of our choices to make salt scrub or bath salt. I made salt scrub with orange essential oil. It smells so refreshing and delicious at the same time :)

We had quite relaxing time, but also had so much fun moving on from one activity to another. Later in the evening, we all got in the kitchen and did some cooking together for our dinner. Chef Jen provided such fantastic menu, recipes, and cooking guide. We made salad with green goddess dressing, lentil & winter vegetable soup with parmesan crostini, and spiced raisin apple crisp.

Lentil & Winter Vegetable Soup

Soup and dessert were being cooked up.

Making Our Dessert

Spiced Raisin Apple Crisp - YUM!

After dinner, we had Riesling tasting. We started from dry one, then semi-dry, and sweet one to finish. We shared stories, laughter, and friendship around that dining table. What a great time!
Read more about the retreat on Chef Jen's blog.

When I signed up for this retreat I didn't really know what to expect! But taking the time to retreat from my everyday world, to create space to engage with the sense of self, I discovered some rejuvenation and renewal. It was a real nice experience.

Sunday, October 18

Lovely Party in Garden Greenhouse

A lovely get together to celebrate L's birthday was at Conservatory at MSU Botanical Garden, on a beautiful Fall day. Music by "Not Afraid" was in the air the entire evening. Variety of delicious food, drinks, and desserts kept everyone happy and entertained. And, of course, there was dancing. So glad to be part of such a special day!

Tuesday, October 13

Peanut Sesame Noodles

This is a simple and delicious cold noodle dish that I really enjoy. It's good for making ahead and serving later. Great for a potluck or a picnic. The dressing has lots of flavors; the sweetness from brown sugar and rice vinegar, a tanginess from lime juice, a little heat from chili paste, and a kick from garlic and ginger! I follow Tyler Florence's recipe for the dressing. (He is one of my all-time favorite Food Network chefs!) However, I use buckwheat soba noodle and add extra vegetables, that are not in the original recipe. There is still room to play with by adding different vegetables, and/or protein, like shredded cooked chicken or tofu.

Peanut Sesame Noodles
Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence's Cold Sesame Noodles

You will need:
  • 1 lb. Buckwheat soba noodles
  • 3 Tbsp. Sesame oil (also called roasted sesame oil, or dark sesame oil)
  • 2 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Minced fresh ginger
  • 3 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Red chili paste (I prefer Sambal Oelek)
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Creamy peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp. Rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. Hot water
  • 1 Tbsp. White sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded carrots
  • 1/2 Cup Julienned cucumber
  • 1/2 Cup Julienned red bell pepper
  • 2 Green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Cooking Buckwheat Soba Noodles:

I've learned from my Japanese friend that Soba noodles, made from buckwheat flour, are to be cooked differently from pasta and other Western-style noodles. Most Japanese noodles need to be rinsed vigorously under cold running water after done boiling- to cool them down, as well as to get rid of excess starch which affects the flavor of the dish.

Cook soba noodles in big pot of boiling water. No need to add salt! Follow direction on package, usually about 5-7 minutes, depends on the thinness of strand. Noodles should be cooked through, neither mushy, nor al dente like pasta.

Then, drain the noodles and rinse under cold running water. Once they cool down, gently swish them in the water - to get rid of the starch and the gumminess. Then, drain very well.

  1. Cook soba noodles following direction. Once well drained, toss with sesame oil, so they don't stick together. Chill.
  2. In a blender, combine oil, ginger, garlic, chili paste, lime juice, brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water. Blend until smooth.
  3. Then, toss soba noodles with the peanut sauce, carrots, cucumber, red bell pepper, green onions, and sesame seeds - until well coated.
  4. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve at room temperature or chilled. If I am to serve the dish later, I will save some of the dressing and toss the prepared noodles with it right before serving. That will freshen up the salad and give a flavor boost to the dish.

Saturday, October 10

Birthday Eat at Bravo!

To celebrate my friend's, L, birthday last week - we went out to Bravo! Cucina Italiana, at Eastwood Towne Center in Lansing. I always have a nice dining experience every time I dine there. Always great food, ambiance, and services.

I always have a hard time stopping myself from eating too much of their foccacia bread & sun-dried tomato olive oil, before my entree' arrives. Very delicious starter!

Flatbread Salad, for our appetizer. Ingredients were all nice and fresh - very flavorful.

My friends, B and L both ordered Penne Mediterranean. Penne pasta lightly glazed in olive oil with sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and spinach, topped with feta cheese. All kind of flavors and layers of texture.

Pasta Bravo. Their signature, and also my favorite pasta dish. Rigatoni tossed with wood-grilled chicken, mushrooms, and roasted red pepper sauce.

Had to pick between my most favorites; tiramisu and creme brulee. But I was way to full for tiramisu. Our server was so nice she accommodated us to celebrate L's special day, with a lovely set up of candle-lid indulging treat. Happy birthday, L!

We also shared a bread pudding, served with vanilla ice cream and custard sauce.

Bravo! Cucuna Italiana:
Eastwood Towne Center
3003 Preyde Blvd,
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 485-3779

The boys joined us after finishing their movie!

Sunday, October 4

Weekend Eat: Enso

Located north on Abbott road, half mile past Lake Lansing road, in East Lansing; Enso - the new face in town - is presented to the campus town of MSU as an upscale restaurant/ lounge/ nightclub that features an Asian fusion cuisine. I went there, with L, on their 3rd day of operation. From the outside, the place brought the scene of big city's nightlife to my first impression. The fire-lit patio was pretty exceptional. I couldn't wait to see what was awaiting inside.

What Enso has to offer is all new to the community. Its decor is everything from water features, very nice lighting, and an impressive bar. There are big booths that can accommodate a group and provide privacy without being in a closed room, but still get to enjoy the overall ambiance of the entire place with the crowd.

My Yummy mojito

We were greeted with chips w/ salsa & guacamole.

Vegetable Tempura Appetizer: Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini served with sweet chili dipping sauce. It's an appetizer portion big enough to share with 2-3 people, I think it'd be fun if there's more variety of vegetables in the dish.

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup Sweet, smooth, and creamy - delectable!

Grilled Shrimp & Cantaloupe Salad: Mixed greens, gulf shrimp, fresh cantaloupe, goat cheese, smoked bacon, tomatoes, with tangerine balsamic vinaigrette. L didn't want any meat in her salad, but thought that the shrimp would have given a better balance for the salad's sweetness.

Enso Salad w/ Steak: Baby greens, sliced apples, strawberries, walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese prosciutto, croutons, with pineapple balsamic & port wine vinaigrette. I enjoyed my salad a lot. There's lots of flavors going on with all those bold and flavorful ingredients. The steak was juicy and perfectly cooked.

Enso offers a diverse and inviting menu. There's American Sushi, where you find in Asian rice paper roll from pulled pork, braised short rib, General Tso's chicken, or Cajun chicken. How fun is that! Also, on the menu there are pizza, burger, sandwich, steak, seafood, and pasta. Something for everyone, even vegetarians. The portion of food was pretty generous, for us, we had quite a few leftover to take home, and didn't make it to dessert.. Maybe next time!

Update (10/10/09) I had another visit to Enso a few days later, with my friends K and B - for a drink at their gorgeous granite-top bar. Love the stunning water fall!! And it was nice to see Harry Saites, co-owner, was walking around talking with guests. So far, .. I've heard all kind of comments about Enso. Personally, I think the place exhibits the big city's high-end atmosphere, with such a reasonable price. And it's great that it is right here in town!

16800 Chandler Rd
East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 333-1656

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