All posts tagged detroit

  • date balls & detroit eastern market

    I get cranky when I’m hungry. In an embarrassing “I’m a grown woman and I know I shouldn’t be acting like this” kind of way. I’m not proud of it and I try to prevent it. When friends invited us to Eastern Market in Detroit this weekend, I jumped on board and immediately shouted “YES, OF COURSE!” but I knew to pack a snack in case we had a late lunch (and we did! 3 PM, but it was soo worth it). I wanted to make a snack that was small, easy to transport, and that could be shared with my gluten intolerant friend.

    Date balls! They’re a simple no fuss sort of snack. No freezing, no baking, no complicated instructions. Just blend, roll into balls, and eat. Since they’re made with just nuts and dates, it’s not like you’re spoiling you’re next meal, right?

    With 4 date balls carefully stored away in my purse, off to Detroit we went!

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    Eastern Market is the largest historic public market in the country. Something I didn’t know before visiting, and once I got there I was completely overwhelmed. I anticipated doing all of our weekly produce shopping there, but I was so overwhelmed I ended up forgetting lots of staples. Oops. I also got distracted by all the beautiful dogs.

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    Look at that giant dog!

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    Lots of pretty flowers, too. But they’re not as good as dogs. Adopting a dog just isn’t something that’s going to happen for a very long time, so I tend to go a little overboard when I see any dog.

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    Today’s lunch, made with lots of fresh bounty from Eastern Market. Pasta with pesto, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Toast with mayonnaise and pesto, chopped up radishes, scallions, pickled carrots, and tossed in pesto. Sauteed dandelion greens.

    Oh, right. Date balls! This is a very forgiving and customizable recipe.

    before after medjool date balls

    Have an assortment of different types of nuts in the pantry? Just throw a hodgepodge of them in the food processor. You don’t need 2 cups of a certain type of nut, just use what you have. Don’t have 2 cups of nuts? Use as much as you have and replace the rest with oats. Don’t have ground cardamom? Try cinnamon. Feel free to experiment with coconut flakes, vanilla extract, or unsweetened cocoa. Don’t have dates? Well, go get some! They’re date balls, after all. Let the dates act as a base for any ingredient in your pantry that you think sounds good for date balls.

    medjool date balls

    Date Balls

    2 cups nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, whatever you have on hand. For this batch, I used 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup pistachios)
    2 cups medjool dates, pitted
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

    Add ingredients to food processor and blend for about a minute and test for stickiness. If the mixture sticks together when you pinch it, it’s ready. If not, blend for another 30 seconds. Take about 2 tablespoons of the mixture at a time, forming it into balls. Repeat until mixture is gone. Can be eaten right away or refrigerated.

    Makes about 20 date balls

  • 29th birthday

    I recently had a birthday. A 29th one, at that. It’s a little weird to think I am now the age I thought my mom was until I was 7 or 8, because you know, I believed every thing my mama told me (hi mom, love you). Cory and I celebrated the day of my birth with an overnight trip to Detroit, to spend hours and hours at the Detroit Institute of Arts and in typical Sponseller fashion, to stuff our faces with food. An overnight trip was much needed, since I’ve been feeling a bit burned out in the work department. Balancing my time and knowing when to say “no” to taking on additional projects is still something I’m clumsily fumbling my way through. There are certainly worse problems to have, but a brain break was much needed.

    First stop in Deh-twa was Motor City Brewing Works. Here’s Cory’s sausage pizza and beer because it was way more handsome than my artichoke pizza and cherry soda:

    motorcity brewing works

    Motor City Brewing Works is next to Nest and City Bird. I’m a sucker for cutesy home decor shops.

    You know, staying the night at someone else’s place always gets me excited about decorating my own apartment. Our move is only less than 2 months away now! Eep. We don’t have a new apartment lined up yet, but I’m totally gonna steal some ideas from this cute little studio. First up, definitely going to order a set of these Kikkerland maze coasters. And that floral chair too, if I can ever find it!

    detroit apartment

    Breakfast was at Midtown Zef’s, a new-ish coney island next to the historic Majestic Theater. I have a soft spot for coney islands because for most of my life, going to a restaurant meant going to a coney island. It wasn’t until adulthood that I learned that they’re primarily a Michigan thing. Coney islands serve up typical American fare like burgers and fries, but are usually owned by Greeks and Arabs so you’ll often find things like gyros (or pita sandwiches), spanakopita, baklava, and rice pudding on menus. Of course, they also serve coney dogs. Hot dogs topped with beanless chili, mustard, chopped onions, served in a bun. Anyway! As far as Midtown Zef’s goes, super cheap and tasty breakfast fare that serves up ridiculously huge portions.

    midtown zef's detroit

    We also stopped at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, which involved me making a fool of myself by spilling my coffee several times. I am not a graceful human. I also made a quick stop at The Peacock Room and picked up a new dress and jewelry. San Francisco’s Haight street used to be my go-to for shopping destination for clothing (I miss you, Ambiance!!) and Peacock Room hit the spot.

    Did a bit more walking around. Oh hello, Danish consulate. You’re somethin’ else. And for sale, too. Anyone wanna buy a mansion??

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    Then, finally! To the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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    Camel leg bones! Well, replicas of them. And a Portuguese man feeding a puppy, painted by Reza Abbasi in 1634, the last great master of the Persian miniature.

    bones and reza abbasi

    Officer of the Hussars by Kehinde Wiley. I want this on my wall.

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    In fleeting moments, I want to live in Detroit. No, not to buy a $1,000 dilapidated house and spend all my savings rehabbing it while fending off squatters. A downtown loft and a rooftop garden is more my style. There is a lot of beauty in Detroit and reminders of its former glory are everywhere. Then I walk down block after block, without ever passing another soul or cross the 6 lane Woodward Avenue and I realize that the Motor City is not an ideal place to live if you’re not interested in owning a car… and it doesn’t have the kind of population density I look for in a city. Oh well. Detroit is unlikely to ever be a place I call home, but I’ll always be excited to visit.

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    Our visit was short, about 24 hours. By the end of of the trip, I was really missing my little booger. I think I’m strong enough to go a blog post without posting a photo of my cat. You’re spared this time.

  • a day in detroit: marche du nain rouge

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    Did you know that Detroit is haunted by a red dwarf? Sightings of the Nain Rouge in Detroit go back as far as 1701, first as a protector of the city and then as the harbinger of doom. The urban legend of the Nain has survived the centuries, but has seen a revival in the last few years with an annual parade to banish him from the city for another year.

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    The Marche Du Nain Rouge was yesterday, the Nain riled us all up with taunts (taking credit for the Polar Vortex and telling us that oh sure, we can fight poverty in Detroit with artisinal cheeses and launching Kickstarter campaigns for gluten free energy bars), then we paraded through the city while the Nain rode a fire breathing dragon.

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    Friends told me that in previous years, an effigy of the Nain was burned to banish him from the city for another year, but this year he got a parking ticket for illegally parking his dragon and had to leave. I think we succeeded in banishing him. Good and creepy fun either way.

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    Attendees are encouraged to dress up, preferably in masks so the Nain won’t recognize you next year. My friend Cristina is the giraffe on the right.

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    My favorite part of the parade? Dogs, of course. So many dogs in silly costumes.

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    The basement entrance of the Masonic Temple made for some really creepy/cool photo ops. There was an after party held in the basement, though before you think we’re party animals, we were just there to use the bathroom. Incredible building and I’d love go back there an explore some more. As our time in Michigan draws to a close, we’ll need to make a couple more trips to Detroit.

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    We ended the day at Neehee’s Indian Vegetarian Street Food in nearby Canton. That’s fig, pistachio saffron, and fennel ice cream. Without a doubt some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. They serve more than just ice cream and I would love to try their puri and dosas.

    A+++ fun day would do again