I was blessed to grow up in Southwest Michigan and spent a week each summer or fall in beautiful Petoskey and Harbor Springs, Michigan, which my family fondly referred to as “Up North.”
The stark contrast of silvery white birch trees, old growth forests, charming cottages, lighthouses and azure lakes was a magical counterpoint to everyday life in my downstate town. I loved spending time in the small-town shops, tasting endless varieties of jewel-like jams at American Spoon, and gorging on smoked and planked whitefish and maple syrup everything.
Earlier this year, I became acquainted with Mandy McGovern (www.kitchenjoyblog.com) on Instagram and was thrilled to see she was releasing a cookbook about Michigan.
As a cookbook collector, recipe tester, and cookbook reviewer for more than a decade, I make it a point to pick up regional cookbooks on my travels, but was always surprised by the lack of Michigan-themed cookbooks – after all, Michigan offers a rich bounty of river and lake fish, venison, maple syrup, wine and craft beer, and fruits.
“My Little Michigan Kitchen” has thankfully corrected that oversight by providing readers with a treasure trove of tried and true favorites like Detroit Coney Dogs, Detroit Deep Dish Pizza, UP Pasties, Dutch Apple Pie, Apple Cider Sangria, Tart Cherry Pie, Mackinac Island Fudge, Hot Fudge Cream Puffs and more, along with other classic dishes, all illustrated with Mandy’s gorgeous food photography and shots of nature, lighthouses, Mackinac Island, and Michigan cities large and small.
Mandy graciously sent a copy all the way to Japan, but I had to wait several months before I had the opportunity to cook my way through “My Little Michigan Kitchen” in my own Michigan kitchen – I have only been back to Michigan to see my family twice in the last three years, and was thrilled to be able to make classic comfort food for my parents.
I made the apple cider sangria, Riviera salad, chicken pot pie, roasted broccoli, “secret ingredient” tart cherry pie, salted maple bourbon caramels, salted maple pie, and Detroit deep dish pizza (LloydPans kindly provided one of their made-in-the-USA Detroit Pizza pans, and it baked and cleaned up like a dream!!).
As a home baker, I appreciated the chapter on homemade yeast breads, including yeasted beer bread, potato rolls, cinnamon swirl quick bread, and oatmeal bread. And those with a sweet tooth will find a wonderland of cookies, cakes, pies and homemade candy to choose from.
Each of the recipes works EXACTLY as tested (and owning over 500 cookbooks and having recipe tested for over a dozen, I can attest that is the exception!). Seasoning and baking times are on point. This is classic comfort food the whole family can enjoy.
There’s a handy list of weights and conversions and ingredient sources in the back (equally useful if you live out of state or overseas; I was amazed to find Wisconsin brick cheese at our commissary here in Japan for the Detroit pizza, and it turned out to be amazing!).
I love this book so much I’ve bought several copies for family and friends and wholeheartedly recommend “My Little Michigan Kitchen” – after 10 years of living in Texas and four years overseas in Japan, it was exactly what this homesick Michigander needed.