Thursday, February 15, 2018

Post # 14

Quote for the Day: "When it's February in Detroit its been winter forever."
                                   Loren Estleman, Lady Yesterday. 1987.


Zingerman's Bakehouse
by Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo

And on the eighth day, God created Zingerman's deli so the faithful and the doubting Thomases alike could make pilgrimages to Ann Arbor where they beheld and consumed marvelous gastronomical wonders reverently layered between slices of artisanal bread. And in good time, Zingerman's Bakehouse took form and shape from a pinch of flour and a bit of yeast so that the Zingerman's afflicted could take home a crusty loaf of bread, a dozen divine cookies, or any number of heavenly confections. It is no exaggeration to say that over the last 25-years the Bakehouse has attracted fans who look upon the bakery with as much reverence as those who fill Ann Arbor's Big House each fall to worship at the feet of Wolverine football. 

In the beginning, there was the deli, then the Roadhouse and the Bakehouse, and now behold the cookbook. Yes, supplicants' prayers have been answered. One doesn't have to journey to Ann Arbor to bring home a Bakehouse Pecan Blondie, a loaf of Roadhouse or Farm Bread, Bakehouse Brownies, a Hot Cocoa Cake, Big O Cookies, Chocolate Coconut Macaroons or dozens of other Zingerman's signature baked goods. The book is chock-a-block full of Zingerman's classic recipes for favorite loaves of bread and I've-died-and-gone-to-heaven cakes, cookies, pies, and brownies. 

The authors are master bakers and co-owners of the bakehouse. They discuss the bakery's mission, the creation and evolution of most of the Bakehouse's recipes, and even credit present and past employees who first came up with the recipe. Each author talks about their cooking background, how they got the Bakehouse started,  and their favorite can't-pass-up bakery item.

The authors also discuss and recommend certain ingredients, give plenty of basic baking tips, and methods, and describe how some of the Bakehouse's iconic products were developed. The recipes are clearly written and much easier to follow than I would have expected, and each of them, even the sweets in which I substituted gluten-free flour, came out of the oven mouth-watering perfect. 

A word of warning: You should only browse through this heavily illustrated book containing photo after photo of scrumptious looking cakes, loaves of bread, pies, cookies, and scones only after placing it under a sneeze guard. If you don't, like me, you're going to get drool all over the book's pages. 

Zingerman's Bakehouse by Emy Emberling & Frank Carollo. Chronicle Books, 2017, $29.95

Winter’s Bloom
By John Wemlinger

Where to start? Frankly, this was a book I was hesitant to pick up. The cover art and blurb described the book as “a poignant tale of loss, love, and redemption” involving a war hero and a wealthy widow. Romance and heaps of sentimentality just aren't in my reading wheelhouse. Then I saw the dedication which, in part, reads, “In admiration of the citizens of Flint, Michigan, who endured the incredible corporate and governmental ineptitude resulting in the Great Recession of 2009. Now you must endure the monumental failure of government that caused Flint’s 2016 water crisis. You are America’s most resilient city!” As a Flint native, this was the first time a book’s dedication was the hook that made me turn to page one.  Ironically, only a small portion of the book takes place in Flint but it does contribute to one of the book’s major character’s development.

Rock Graham is retired after a thirty-year career as a Flint shop rat. A few wise investments and a lot of 60-hour weeks on the line have provided him with a comfortable retirement in Flint where he lives in a pleasant apartment above the garage of his life-long friend and his wife. And although the year is set in 2008, Rock is not greatly affected by the collapsing economy or GM’s flirt with bankruptcy. Rock is also a Vietnam vet and PTSD is still a constant presence in his life. With his landlords heading to Florida for the winter, Rock decides to rent a house for the winter an hour north of Holland on the Lake Michigan shore. Within a week of moving in an injured, malnourished border collie shows up on his doorstep and is quickly adopted.

Claire Van Zandt lives in Holland and has been widowed for three years and still occasionally considers grief counseling. She is also obscenely rich and although she owns three houses, five cars, and the money still flows in from her dead husband’s company like water over Niagara Falls, she gives millions away every year to food banks and other charities. She is especially aware of how the economic situation is hurting the poor. One daughter is planning her marriage and the older daughter is putting her job before her child and trying to make a go of a stressed marriage. On a whim, Claire decides to spend some time at the family cottage an hour north of Holland with her constant companion, a yellow lab. As fate, or the author, would have it, Claire’s cottage is next door to the one Rock has rented for the winter.

The dogs bring the two neighbors together for long walks on the beach. Rick and Claire enjoy each other’s company and a budding friendship develops. The friendship results in thoughtful discussions of the day’s issues and glimpses into their backgrounds and lives. Each slowly begins to inhabit the other’s life, and love blossoms. And with it come a number of problems, including medical, family, and social. Wemlinger has written an often moving and sensitive book about two aging loners who find someone to share their life with without drowning the story in sentimentality or melodrama.

The author, a retired U. S. Army Colonel, has written an honest book about to two characters and their lives before and after they met. Rock and Claire seem as real as the reader’s next door neighbors. And whether they are discussing the issues and economics of 2008, dealing with friends, family problems, health, or the displeasure of Claire’s oldest daughter on her mother’s choice of a companion the book very seldom hits a false note. This is not so much a modern romance as it is a novel of two single people, on the cusp of old age, who are lucky enough to find someone to enjoy and share their lives with. John Wemlinger has written an impressive and very promising first novel.

Winter’s Bloom by John Wemlinger. Mission Point Press, 2016, $16.95

Haunted Marquette: Ghost Stories from the Queen City
By Tyler R. Tichelar

The author, a seventh-generation resident of the U.P.’s Queen City and the town’s most prolific biographer, has fashioned a most unusual history of the Queen City and a virtual directory of Marquette’s ghosts, apparitions, and haunted places. In addition to digging through the city’s old newspapers and history books, the author consulted with the Upper Peninsula Paranormal Society, the Northern Michigan University Paranormal Research Team, and a local medium in researching the book. 

Frankly, the town seems overrun with ghosts. Just a partial list of places where ghosts have appeared include the town’s ore docks, cemeteries, churches, harbor, a variety of stores and private homes, a hotel, the post office (not the dead letter office), a lighthouse station, city hall, the public library, and an orphanage. It seems you can’t turn around in Marquette without running into a spectral figure. Tichelar is not afraid to debunk or question the validity of some sightings, but the large majority of the ghost stories recounted here have been experienced by numerous people. Furthermore, the paranormal experts say they have detected something ethereal at many of the locations.

Two of the most perplexing sightings have occurred in a clothing store and the local lighthouse that is now a museum. Oscar worked for many years in Getz’s Clothing store. He died on the job from a heart attack while standing next to a rack of pants. In subsequent years the store’s security cameras have filmed his ghost folding slacks when the store is closed.

The lighthouse, now a part of the Marquette Maritime Museum, has a long history of being haunted by a ghost who appears to be a girl of about four-years-old. An employee of the museum says she has seen the apparition several times, others have seen the little girl looking out a 2nd-floor window, and both a museum guide and a visitor on a tour of the building saw the ghost on the light tower stairway. Many more have heard childhood giggles while in the lighthouse. When a mother and her three-year-old son visited the city, they drove past the museum several times. Each time the little boy would point at the lighthouse and say, “I want to play with Jessie.” When mom and son finally visited the lighthouse the boy began running here and there as if playing with someone only he could see. When asked, the boy said he was playing with Jessie. Some years ago the lighthouse was repainted, and after painting the floor in one room the painters took a break to let the paint dry. When they returned they discovered small footprints of a child dried in the paint. The footprints can still be seen today.

It seems almost every room in the town’s Landmark Inn is haunted, but I’m more impressed by the list of celebrities who’ve stayed there over the years. They include Amelia Earhart, Abbott and Costello, Gloria Steinem, Maya Angelou, Duke Ellington, and the Rolling Stones. The book is also sown with intriguing and head-scratching tidbits like the wife who evidently felt the wedding vows, “until death do you part,” wasn’t definitive enough so she divorced her husband after his death. I’m dying to know if the husband contested the divorce.

Tichelaar has written a comprehensive guide to his hometown’s hauntings and, better yet, produced a unique history of the city by way of the ghosts who apparently inhabit it.

Haunted Marquette: Ghost Stories from the Queen City by Tyler R. Tichelaar. Marquette Fiction, 2017, $19.95.

If you are moved to buy one of the above books, the easiest method is to hover over the book cover and click your mouse. It will take you directly to a listing of the book on Amazon.


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