Cool Like Detroit

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The Detroit River Walk was once lost but now is found.

It was recently brought to my attention that Detroit is now “cool.” The poster child for come back cities, Detroit is going through a renaissance. Money is literally being pumped into the city at mind blowing rates and it is nearly impossible to keep up with all the new projects, restaurants and retail locations popping up on a daily basis.

But it wasn’t always  “cool” to be from Detroit. For most of my life I watched people cringe whenever they talked about Detroit. Many suburban residents were terrified to go anywhere near the city and most of them, when asked where they were from when visiting other places, would give their suburban town name rather than just saying they were from Detroit- even though they lived within 10 miles of the city. They were too embarrassed to say they were from Detroit even though it would have clarified things geographically to people they would most likely never see again.

I’ve always known that Detroit was cool. My first blog, Little Miss Detroit, was dedicated to promoting the parts of Detroit that lived on despite what the rest of the world thought of our city. Detroit is and always has been a place of grit, vision and hope. It is not being reborn, regardless of what some might say, because it was never dead. I know this because I have been a part of Detroit my entire life. I was born in 1967, the year of the 12th Street riots and the beginning of white flight from the city; My parents packed up our house on Joy Rd and Southfield and moved to the suburbs when I was four-years-old; I watched as buildings were boarded up and vandalized and trash blew down the streets like tumbleweeds. And I volunteered in soup kitchens and shopping programs for elderly Detroit residents and blogged about people starting businesses and gardens and art projects while other suburbanites would repeatedly check the locks on their car doors anytime they were forced to cross the border into Detroit.

One of the things that I have always loved about Detroit is that it seems to breed creativity. At first the creativity was born from necessity- people started gardens and bakeries because all of the major grocery chains pulled their stores out of the city. They started schools and food banks and art installations because the government failed to provided adequate services for the people. Now that things are changing, creative people are coming to Detroit for different reasons. Detroit is one of the only large cities that is still affordable and creative types are coming in droves to set up shop. They are starting community letterpress studios and distilleries and non-profits. They are opening restaurants and retail stores and chocolate shops. I meet these creative entrepreneurs all the time and it nearly makes me cry to see what they are doing and the impact they are having on others and their communities. These are the people that make and have always made Detroit cool. Everyone should be able to live in a place that lets them have a chance to live their purpose and succeed-not just people with money. If you have and idea and a dream you should be able to make that happen. We all need to support these people and places-whether they are in Detroit or Honolulu or anywhere else- and in doing so make the world a better place.

Here are some places worth supporting in Detroit…

detroit pop shop
Samira Ray is a student at Detroit Food Academy.

Detroit Food Academy

A non-profit that works to give young entrepreneurs (ages 13-24) self-directed experiences and skills in the food industry. From learning how to cook to taking their artisanal products to market, they are growing and educating our next generation of community leaders. Samira Ray is a student at DFA. She was excited and proud to talk about all that’s going on at her school. She told me that The Detroit Pop Shop is a brand that was given over to DFA when the owners left the state. Now it’s run by students such as Samira. Learn more at http://detroitfoodacademy.com

 

 

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Local growers sell their produce at the Grown in Detroit stand at Eastern Market

Keep Growing Detroit

A non-profit concerned with food sovereignty, KGD has programs ranging from gardening classes to free seeds to their Grown in Detroit market program. This is one of the most comprehensive, versatile and down right amazing social justice agencies that I have ever come across. I have some serious love in my heart for this place. Learn more at http://detroitagriculture.net

 

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Just pick one…they are all delicious.

Avalon International Breads

This bakery opened its doors in Detroit when others were fleeing. When many saw only ruins and despair, they saw an opportunity to fill a need and be a proponent for change. Not to mention their breads are amazingly delicious! You can find them at Eastern Market on Saturday mornings or at their brick and mortar location on Willis St. in the Cass Corridor. Website: avalonbreads.net

 

Support places like these in Detroit, your home town, or wherever you may roam. Or better yet, live your purpose and change your own community by starting a business, non-profit or restaurant of your own. Be cool… Like Detroit.

 

 

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Sunshine

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Short periods of time (10-15 mins.) in the sun without protection are actually good for you.

Like plants, we need the sun. Our bodies produce vitamin D through being exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is important to your body in many ways: it helps with the absorption of calcium, helps fight disease and depression, and surprisingly may even help with weight loss. Most people are deficient in vitamin D, due to lack of exposure to the sun. This is due mainly to two things: spending too much time indoors, and using copious amounts of chemical sunscreen. Despite being toxic to your body and the environment, chemical sunscreens block out most of the sun’s rays which our bodies need to produce vitamin D. Take a look at who is making these products (large corporations who care more about money than they do about people or the environment). And then stop using them.

Mike and I live in Hawaii. We are outside all the time. We never use chemical sunscreen. We use a mineral based sunscreen and we take astaxanthin and almost never burn (unless we are in the water for long periods of time and forget to reapply). Astaxanthin is a supplement made from marine algae-It is derived from microalgae which produce astaxanthin as a protective mechanism to shield the fragile algae from harsh ultraviolet (UV) light and other environmental stressors. It is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. We have found it to be helpful as an internal sunscreen in addition to all its other benefits. We like Nutrex Hawaii Bioastin Hawaiin Astaxanthin – 12mg, 50 Gel Caps (pack of 4) because it is locally sourced (from Hawaii) and pure.

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As far as mineral sunscreen goes, we have tried several brands. Our favorite by far is the new sunscreen from Young Living. It is SPF 10 which is strong enough to prevent sunburn while still allowing your skin to produce vitamin D. It smells good, doesn’t leave any white residue, is reasonably priced-and costs even less when you have a wholesale membership. Mike and I are Young Living members and business owners and we are happy to help you get started with this amazing company-whether with a retail or wholesale membership (for more information or to sign up send us an email or check out our page here).  Whatever brand you decide to go with, make sure your sunscreen is mineral-based and natural… Your body and the environment will thank you.

Sunshine is good. Embrace it-go outside, do fun stuff. Live your life with aloha.

Secrets of Salad Success

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Great salads start with quality ingredients.

I am a salad expert. And by expert I mean that whenever I offer to bring something to an event people always ask me to bring a salad. I tell them, “I know how to make other things besides salad you know.”

“But you make the best salad! ” Is always their reply. I was skeptical for the longest time but it kept happening over and over… salad, salad, salad.

It always boggles my mind when people tell me, “Oh my gosh, I’m so excited to eat the salad you made!” Mmmmkay… I mean it’s salad. When you ask people to write down their favorite foods of all time, I’m pretty sure that salad almost never makes the list… ever. But somehow my salads have achieved legendary status among my family and friends. My daughter Merryn actually asked me to make a bottle of salad dressing for her friend Brigitte’s birthday. I told her, ” Why don’t you just bring her over and I’ll show her how to make it? Then she can eat it anytime she wants.”

“It’s not the same,” she replied.

So I started thinking about it. What actually is it about the salads that I create that make people want to eat them so darn bad. I have been analyzing this for the past several days and have come to a few conclusions:

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    Blueberries, mac nuts and Gorgonzola crumbles give flavor and textural contrast in this salad.

    Dressing: Obvi, I mean if your dressing is crap than your salad will be crap too. I seriously don’t get why people waste their money on bottled dressing when it is SO easy (and inexpensive) to make your own. And there is really no comparison in taste… it’s like comparing your mom’s homemade pot roast with a can of dog food. My recipe (see the end of the blog) is so simple that a preschooler can make it. And it is legit delicious.

  2. Fresh ingredients: Ok, I don’t know why I need to spell this out but I know I do… if you are buying bagged salad then you need to NOT do that anymore. Not only is salad in a bag inferior in taste, but it is inferior in nutritional value. STOP IT RIGHT NOW! In order to make the salad of legends, you want to look for fresh, organic vegetables, preferably locally grown. The best place for this is at your local farmers market. You are getting the highest quality for the best prices AND you are literally helping to pay for someone’s mortgage. Bagged salad=bad, farm market produce=good… got it?
  3. Balance your flavors: I like to throw in something sweet (dried fruit, fresh berries, grapes or other fruits, etc), something salty (Gorgonzola or other salty cheeses, salted nuts, homemade croutons, etc), sometimes something tart (diced Granny Smith apple, a spoonful of fermented veggies-sourkraut, kimchee) or spicy (dried spicy mango, pepper jack cheese) just to have some flavor contrasts.
  4. Balance your textures: When you throw in some of the above items, they also add in a different texture: crunchy macadamia nuts with chewy dried mango or crumbly Gorgonzola with crunchy toasted pine nuts and soft ripe strawberries… Think about this as you’re deciding on your ingredients; a bunch of soft wet things is not going to make an appetizing salad.
  5. If you’re concerned about time, just wash all your salad in one batch, put it in the salad spinner and keep it in a bag in the refrigerator until needed. Keep the leaves whole until ready to use as the nutrients begin to degrade quickly once the leaf is cut into pieces. Wash other fruits and vegetable so they’re ready to use. Make a big batch of dressing and keep it in a glass bottle or jar in the refrigerator. If you prep everything in bulk than you can use it throughout the week and it will be super fast and easy to throw together a salad for lunch or dinner.

I know that seems like a lot, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself just naturally knowing what things are going to taste good together. Greens typically have a natural bitterness to them so adding sweet, salty, spicy and/or sour ingredients gives you a foil for the bitterness and makes your salad like a symphony of tasty goodness. Just think contrasts and you’re good.

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Just repurpose a juice bottle for your dressing and you’re good to go!

 

Ok for my dressing recipe, I am NOT going to give you exact measurements. You are going to get ratios and you are going to have to TASTE your dressing as you go along. This way you can make as much or as little as you like and you will feel like an artist in your own kitchen creating your masterpiece. Some batches may come out better than others and that’s ok! You will learn something each time. You CAN do this!

Salad Dressing of Legends

2-3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar- this will depend on the type of vinegar (rice, champagne, some red wine vinegars are less tart than balsamic or apple cider vinegars for example) and whether or not you like it more or less tart. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use distilled white vinegar!!! Yuck, no, yuck! Again, use quality ingredients for a quality result.

Sea Salt- to taste. Do not use iodized table salt-that stuff will kill you (seriously-look it up). Sea Salt, pink Himalayan salt, Hawaiian salt… high quality salt. Again… quality.

Black pepper- to taste. Again, quality. Buy yourself a Telicherry pepper grinder from Costco. Avoid pre-ground black pepper.

Small spoonful of Dijon mustard- to taste but a general rule is about 1 tsp. per cup of oil.

Minced shallots or red onion- approximately 1 Tbs per cup of dressing.

You may also want to add a small handful of fresh or dried herbs: tarragon, basil or oregano. Remember, dried herbs are stronger in flavor than fresh so add a small amount and taste as you go.

For those of you who are freaking out right now because I didn’t give you an exact recipe, you can try this…

1/3 c. red wine vinegar

2/3 c. olive oil

1 Tbs. minced shallots

1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsps. sea salt

Several grinds of the pepper shaker

You are still going to have to taste it and adjust the salt, pepper, oil and/or Dijon mustard. You’ll get the hang of it and soon everyone is going to be asking you to bring a salad every time you go somewhere.

Have fun with that.