The Raw and the Cooked: Book Review

 


The Raw and the Cooked author and prolific writer Jim Harrison hails from Northern Michigan, and in this collection of essays, describes his philosophies about food and life, which he believes are one and the same. He describes the culinary adventures of his life, from his cabin in the woods to the tables of exclusive restaurants across the country and in Europe. He portrays how his boyhood in the Upper Peninsula shaped his taste for the wild foods of his youth, and laments the modern loss of reverence for food (which he considers one of life’s greatest, if not sacred, pleasures) along with the industrialization of the food industry which is replacing the tradition of hunting with inhumane factory farming of animals that taste like styrofoam on the plate.

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“…as Northern Michigan as Cherry Pie.”

“…as Northern Michigan as Cherry Pie.”

One of the sweetest features of northern Michigan’s cuisine is its cherries, and by extension, pies and crumbles. As local journalist Nancy Krcek Allen writes, “Apple pie has been hailed as the all-American dessert, but cherries prevail in these parts.”

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Porter Mac and Cheese

Porter Mac and Cheese

I found this recipe on the Michigan Beer Blog, and it looked irresistible. I happen to adore Founder’s Porter and mac and cheese, and had never thought to use both in a recipe.

Unfortunately, when I went to the liquor store, they were out of Founder’s.

Fortunately, they had a great porter from Maine called King Titus. I know that kind of kills the whole point, since Founder’s is from Michigan, but I had my heart set on this dish and decided to go with it.

It was good. Real good. But as you can probably tell from the prep photo, it was also really heavy. How many kinds of cheese did it call for?

Five. Five different cheeses. And lots of butter.

I would recommend this recipe, but perhaps as a side dish for something a little lighter—say chicken, or a salad.

 

Yooper Pasties

Recipe for a Cornish/Yooper Pasty

Yooper pasties seemed like a mandatory recipe for the U.P.

Pasties, pronounced like pass-tee, originally made their way to Michigan from Cornwall, England. Yooper, for clarification, is what people from the Upper Peninsula called themselves.

A friend of mine from Lower Michigan said that what she missed most about Michigan cuisine were the hot dogs—they’re “just not the same” as the ones here in New England—almost more like sausages, with thicker casings. Her second mention of distinctive foods, though, were the pasties.

Pasties, from these parts in particular, were long prepared by housewives so miners could take a full meal with them to work. The meat and potato ones are the staple variety, but some also included a cherry pie filling at one end so that when the miner was finished having his lunch, he could seamlessly transition to dessert.

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Blue Moon Ice Cream

blue moon ice cream

 

Blue Moon, a flavor of ice cream found in the U.P. and surrounding areas, tastes like Fruitloops, according to some. This sounded like fun. I’d never heard of this flavor before, and I like trying new things. It isn’t in grocery stores in New England. I don’t have an ice cream maker, either, but I decided to ad-lib something together that would allow me to approximate its flavor.

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

chocolate cherry cookies from MichiganOur first recipe from Upper Michigan is for dark chocolate cherry cookies. The prospect of desserts inspire me to cook more than anything, so I began my vicarious journey through the U.P. with this recipe.

It was simple enough to follow, except the author left out the measurements for how much brown sugar to add and when to add the eggs. I improvised with a cup of brown sugar, added chopped pecans, and added the eggs to the melted butter and sugar mixture before adding in the dry ingredients. Dried dark sweet cherries at our local Trader Joe’s replaced tart ones, as they were the only variety on the shelf.

While whisking together the ingredients, the dough became unusually creamy, much like how Cold Stone ice cream looks when it’s being mixed on the counter. After you add in the chocolate, it’s even better.

Note: the cookies were very crumbly when freshly baked—let them sit a few minutes and the flavor will become even better, and the cookie will still retain its soft texture (but hold together).

Beautiful.

 

 

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Join me as I generate random coordinates on the planet and attempt to learn to cook those regions' cuisines.

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Live at home like a traveler.
—Henry David Thoreau

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