Monthly Archives: March 2010

HB 5837: My interview with Rep Pam Byrnes

UpdateThe House Agriculture Committee will be taking up this legislation at noon on May 5, 2010. If you want to show up to testify in support, please bring 30 copies of your testimony. The hearing will be held in room 307 of the House Office Building, 124 North Capitol, Lansing, MI. Hope to see you there!


When I heard about HB 5837, the cottage food operations bill (or amendment?), I was excited. If this passed 100-1000s of Michiganers would be able to produce certain food items in their homes without having to find/rent a commercially certified kitchen. That would mean if wanted to bake a few cookies in my home to sell at the Farmers Market next to my microgreens, I could.

So what is happening with this bill? When will I and the 100/1000 of would be home bakers, jam makers, and a other food producers be able to get baking?

I talked with Rep. Pam Byrnes, my representative for Washtenaw County who just o happened to proposed HB 5837. She said that the bill needs to first go to the Agriculture Committee, which is Chaired by Rep. Mike Huckleberry. When I ask what the buzz was around the bill, she said that there were some concerns about food safety.

I personally hope these concerns can be addressed so the bill can pass.

If the Agriculture Committee passes the bill then it will go to the House followed by the Senate, and then it will be signed into law by the Governor. Rep. Byrnes said that she is hoping that there will be a Agriculture Committee hearing on the bill in late April. Hopefully is will pass the committee. If not, that will be that for now.

If all goes well and this bill is fast tracked (insert extreme optimism, and naive look at politics here), I can be making cookies for sale when the Westside Farmer’s Market starts up in June.

Where can I sell my food products if this bill gets passed?

Rep. Byrnes said that the bill will allow items to be sold out of the home, at a roadside stand, at farmers markets and at non-profit events. Cottage Food Operation foods will not be able to be sold online, out of state, at craft fairs, flea markets, or at for profit events/venues.

So, what if anything can advocates of HB 5837 do to help make this happen?

I, for one, plan to contact Rep. Huckleberry and express my interest and enthusiasm for the bill, and that I have an economic interest for having it passed.

Mike Huckleberry’s Email

I see a big potential for grass roots economic growth, food product innovation, increased community building through local food, and a boon for food tourism in Michigan. I see a food tourist boom of driving vacation just to visit Michigan’s newly created Roadside Stands that feature homemade food items.

Chicken Broth Recipe

Would you buy a Turkey from this man? I would.

It is hard to not buy something from a guy at the Farmers market who is wearing a Roast Turkey Hat. This was the case with my visit to the Ann Arbor Market this Saturday. There were full sized frozen Turkeys displayed on the table. Not in the market for a 15-20 LB bird, I was about to move on, but this cheerful vender started talking turkey (literally). He also had some old stewing hens which he said made the world best chicken stock. These were not birds to buy for the meat. It was all about the stock/broth.

FYI: Stock is a flavored liquid made from the use of the bones and veggies. A broth, usually heartier is made from both the bones, meat, and veggies. I alway get them confused. When thinking about broth, think about the whole chicken in the pot.

Whole chicken in a slow cooker. Note the golden rich color

With visions of a tasty chicken broth in my future with matzoh balls floating on top, I purchased an old hen. It was six dollars, and Mr. Turkey Hat said I should get 2-3 quarts from it. That is a pretty good deal considering a good quart of stock can run $7, or $4 in the grocery store.

This is a supper basic broth. It is just chicken with no veggies, aromatics, or salt. They come later.

Chicken Broth: Makes 2-3 Quarts


1 3-4 LB old hen

2-3 quarts of water


Place hen in a slow cooker. Turn on slow setting. Simmer 6-12 hours. Skim occasionally. Separate the chicken fat floating on top to use in Matzoh ball soup, potato dishes, and pastries.

Related Post

Restaurant Hosted Local Food Charity Events: It’s a small wins for Local Food

I have listed two local food charity events this month on my Events page. One is on March 29th host by Seva in Ann Arbor, a vegetarian restaurant landmark. The other is at The Grange Kitchen and Bar on March 30th. Both will donate a portion of the nights proceeds to benefit a Local Food organization. The Grange is donating to  Growing Hope. These are starting to become ongoing events, and an opportunity to support local food institutions, while having a great meal.

Lake Perch at the Grange Kitchen and Bar

I wrote a post a few months ago about how charity/fundraiser dinners say in the form of secret supper clubs like Bona Sera, privately hosted tasting menu events like Tammy’s Tastings, and “Breakfast Clubs,” like fridays@selma provide an opportunity to enjoy locally sourced prepared meals. My hope was that other local food cooks would take up the call and start more of these local food venues to create a grassroots locally sourced and prepared meals. The idea was to transform our kitchen tables into micro, one time or ongoing, local food restaurants.

But I never thought about the obvious, which is why not also ask an already established restaurant to host a charity meal night? The Grange Kitchen and Bar for example donates 10% of their Tuesday sales to a local food organization.

"Pig's Head appetizer at the Grange Kitchen and Bar

I love this idea for a few reasons. For one it does not take that much extra work in order to set these events up. A simple posting on the restaurants web site and say an announcement by the organization receiving the charity is about all the promotion that is needed. 

The other factor is the price. Many charity/fundraiser meals tend to be on the pricy side, and for good reason. The idea is to raise money, and in order to do that expenses and more have to be met in order to collect funds for donation. Some of these local meals can range from $50-$150 or up to $500, which can price me out of these dinners especially if I want to bring Emily along.

I try to attend a few of these events a year to have a special food experience, but more often I do not because of price. I still regret being priced out of the Portland Oregon Farmers Market dinner every year when I lived there.

 I do not want to be negative about these fundraising dinners. There are plenty of people who can afford to attend these dinners, and provide their yearly charitable donation dollars with their attendance. And the meals at Tammy’s, Bona Sera and fridays@selma are better than what can be found at even the best restaurant, and the money collected goes to worthy causes.

What stands out with the Restaurant charity/fundraiser dinner model for me is the minimal/average cost. A meal at Seva can run $10-20 per person, and at the Grange $20-35 for say an entree. I feel these price ranges may open up more people to attend a charity/fundraiser dining event. There may be less money raised per diner, but there may be more diners participating to perhaps equal things out.

Spicy Fried Chick Pea appetizer at Grange Kitchen and Bar

I see the restaurant charity/fundraiser dinners movement as a great small start win for the local food movement. I tend to think of the BIG WIN like an entirely locally sourced restaurant, bigger farmers markets, or better yet a locally sourced region restaurant chain. But in thinking of the big win, I over look the small win like a restaurant hosting a once a month locally sourced menu, or even just featuring a locally sourced weekend dinner special.

Asking a restaurant or a chef to go all/mostly local can be an overwhelming proposition. But asking a chef to take on a locally sourced menu for a night can be a fun challenge, and one which an adventurous chef may take on. And if a local food night is successful and supported, the chef might do it again, even if they are not known as a local food place.

In other words, just about any independent restaurant from large or small, high end or burger/sandwich joint, can be a potential venue for the local food movement charity/fundraiser meal, or at least feature a local menu item like a local sandwich special, or salad.

The big local push in Ann Arbor is for a %10 locally sourced food goal (see 10 percent Washtenaw) A large portion of food is eaten out, so in order to reach this goal, I feel that we will need to get more restaurants to offer some locally sourced food. The charity/fundraiser dinner event can be a way to convince other independent food service establishments to get a taste for going local, while supporting local food/garden organizations. These venues could create a larger demand for locally sourced foods, which in turn will motivate the creation of more locally sourced food suppliers.

Related posts




HB 5837 is a newly proposed bill by Rep. Pam Byrnes in Michigan which amends 2000 PA 92, entitled “Food law of 2000,”

If passed the amendments listed below will exempt a “cottage food operation,” defined as a person who annually produces or packages less than $15,000 worth of “non-potentially hazardous food” in a kitchen of that person’s primary domestic residence, from the licensure and regulation mandates that apply to regular commercial food producers.





In plan English that means that if I (or you) say wanted to bake some cookies(or other food products listed above) and sell them on the corner, I would not need a licensed, inspected, and usually expensive commercial kitchen facility to do so. For example, the chocolate Matzoh recipe I provided in my last post could be used to create a home “cottage food operation” business.

On a personal level, I am excited about this potential amendment. As you might know from this blog, I am starting a microgreens business with the plan to grow and sell them at the farmers market. I thought that as long as I am sitting at the market, maybe I can make/grow something else to sell. Baked goods seemed to be a logical choice. The problem with my baked goods idea of say making a few dozen biscuits, cookies, pizza bread, and/or dinner rolls was that I would have to find a commercial kitchen to prepare them. For one, these are not easy to find, and for two the expense of renting a kitchen for the potential sale of say $10-$50 a week worth of biscuits would make the venture not viable.

But if this new amendment passes, my home baking business and 1000’s of other “cottage food operation” wannabes in Michigan can be off in running.

Why is this important? Because it will open the flood gates for a variety of locally prepared, and value added food producers to enter the market. This can be a huge boost to the local food movement and local economy. Most would be cottage food businesses already have use of a home kitchen with the equipment needed to bake, and with a little expense, can even produce canned (jarred) items.

For example, an apple tree in the backyard can be harvested and turned into a hundred jars of apple butter. An herb garden can be used to produce a line of flavorful vinegars. A big squash or pumpkin crop can be turned into a holiday pie business. And in my case, a few pounds of Michigan grown wheat/flour can be transformed into potential extra income for my business. The small cottage businesses can eventually grow beyond a one person home kitchen enterprise into larger businesses.

This amendment (if it passes) does not solve for all value added food product that can be produced from locally sourced ingredients, but it is a start. What I do feel is needed along with these new potential amendments is a state government programs of say regional commercial kitchen facilities run through an agricultural extension service. These facilities will provide a certified commercial kitchen with equipment, training, packaging, refrigeration, and freezing resources.  If established, these facilities can provide an economic catalyst of turning inexpensive Michigan food commodities into a value added products. As a result, more value added regional food specialty will be produced.

And what could happen if Michigan supports an economy of value added, local food, regional specialties?

(Note: Here comes one foodies Hyped Out Passionate Rant:)

Michigan can become the “Nappa Valley of the Midwest.

Here me out. This sounds a little crazy right? But I feel there is a huge food tourist potential here for our economically depressed state. Michigan is nicknamed, The Wolverine State, yet there are no wolverines here (beside the U of M Mascot). We are The Automotive and/or The Auto State, but that future seems uncertain at best. We are also nicknamed The Lady of Lake. I am not sure how Michigan was nicknamed after a medieval Arthurian Legion, but I do not see how even the magical sword Excalibur will save us from our financial woes. Our last nickname, Water-Winter Wonderland, does have a little ring to it, and some truth. We are a great state for tourism and water recreation, and part of that tourism is food tourism.

Put simply, Michigan needs a draw to get people to make the either left or right turn when driving on route 80 to come to our state. My Mom came to visit me this weekend from NJ, and I never realized until now that Michigan is not on the way to anything. When driving across the country, from east or west, you could pass our state without as much as buying a soda and a bag of chips. This means that we need a reason for people to come here, and I feel that reason can be the food.

How does this little new amendment help turn Michigan into my unofficial Michigan tourism representative sloganeer with, “The Nappa Valley of the Midwest?” I feel that these new cottage businesses will help provide the creativity, inventiveness and imagination to help make it happen. Put another way, we need a reason for Martha Stewart, Oprah, Ellen, Michelle Obama, the Food Network, The Splendid Table, the Travel Channel, and the dozens of Food magazine journalist, and foodie bloggers to come to Michigan. That reason can be to say meet me and the 100-1000’s of other cottage home foodies to taste our cookies, jams, jellies, spice rubs, candies, regional wine, cheeses, etc…which can/will transform Michigan to an international foodie destination. After all, we already have some of the best scenery in the world.

OK. The hype portion of this post is over, but on a personal level, I would love to offer some baked goods this summer for sale along with my microgreens. These new amendments could help to make this possible.

Please contact Rep. Pam Brynes to give your support.

Chocolate Matzoh Recipe (Matzo)

I have been making chocolate matzoh for the last couple of years after seeing it for sale. The process is pretty simple. Just spread some chocolate shavings and melt in the oven for a few minutes. I also like to jazz it up with toasted nuts and even melted caramel. Matzoh is baked in a wood fired oven which gives it a pretzel like quality. When coated in chocolate and a little salt, it is like a chocolate covered pretzel. Now I am not strict kosher, and I cannot say this will be considered strict Kosher for Passover food. The matzoh is kosher, but I not sure about the chocolate, which is kosher, but I am not sure if its kosher for Passover kosher.


4-6 sheets of matzoh (I prefer Yehuda Brand)
2-3 Bars 4oz Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate 60%
1/4-1/2 Cup toasted almonds, walnuts, and/or hazelnuts
few pinches of kosher salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheet pans with tin foil.

Chop the chocolate. Toast almonds in oven or toaster oven for about 10-15 minutes. Make sure not to burn the nuts. Chopped the nuts, and set aside. Sprinkle the chocolate over the matzoh and bake in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Just until you the chocolate melts.

Spread the chocolate with a rubber spatula over the matzoh to create a smooth layer.

Smooth chocolate

Sprinkle on almonds and a small pinch of salt (optional) while the chocolate is still melted, so it sticks. Let sit in a cool place or even the refrigerator to cool. Break into smaller pieces and serve, or for fun pass around a full sheet and have guest break off their own piece.

Chocolate matzoh makes for a great holiday snack gift. Present in decorative wrap or a cookie tin.

Here is a Link to a link of Kosher and Kosher for Passover Candy

Sliders: Mini Cheese burgers for dinner

Slider (Mini burgers) are becoming a restaurant trend. On my trip down south, I noticed that Ruby Tuesday’s featured a slider menu of various mini burgers/sandwiches. They offered salmon burgers, a shrimp burger, chicken breast, along with the traditional hamburger slider. When I was growing up in New Jersey, my idea of sliders were the mini burgers sold at white castle.

So there I was at Plum Market at the meat case thinking about dinner. I was going to get a steak, but saw they had grass fed burger paddies. I bought one padded which a reformed to make three mini burgers. For the buns I use the zingerman’s mini challah bread rolls, and top it off with some good cheddar cheese. Onion rings and steak fries from the hot bar topped off the meal. Slider can make for a fun and easy quick meal. Don’t feel that you only have to have burgers. Most meat cases feature all sort of “burger paddies” from salmon, turkey, and sausage. And for the vegetarian, most grocers carry a variety of veggie burgers in the freezer section.

Serve your sliders with cole slaw, and a potato dish like potato salad, or oven roasted potatoes.



Related Post

Chicken Matzoh Ball Soup: The quick version

Ok. Here is the deal. I use the Manischewitz brand Matzo Ball Mix which you can find in the Jewish section of your grocer. Why a mix? I have made them from scratch with mixed results. My all time favorite was from my Aunt who told me she uses the boxed mix, so…This “quick” recipe calls for store bought broth to save time. If you can find a gourmet market that makes their own like Morgan and York in Ann Arbor use that. I like Swanson’s Organic stock found in most grocers. Of course if you have the time, make your own stock, a process and that can take several hours using a whole chicken. Also try to use actual chicken fat and the best quality fresh eggs from the farmers market if possible. All of this searching for the good ingredients may be a pain, but remember this is a one time a year Holiday dish, so the extra effort will pay off.

Quick Chicken Matzoh Ball Soup: Serve 4-6


1 Package of Matzo Ball Mix
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons of melted, warm chicken fat (or olive oil)
2-3 Quarts of chicken broth
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped into small pieces
2-3 ribs if celery, halved lengthwise, and chopped small
2 carrots, small dice
half medium size onion, small diced
1 bay leaf
Chopped parsley for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Follow the direction on the box for making the matzoh balls.

To finished the soup: In a large pot, add the broth, celery, carrot, onion, chicken and bay leaf. Bring to boil then simmer for about 10-15 minutes till veggies and chicken is done. Add the matzoh balls and cook for a few more minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. I find a lot of pepper works with this soup. Serve 1-2 matzoh ball per serving. Garnish with parsley and enjoy.


Related Posts

Sliced Above: The cost of Deli sliced vs Pre Packaged sliced

I was shopping at Whole Foods today in Ann Arbor, and I was getting some sliced meat at the deli counter. Along with getting some turkey, I looked over at the cheeses and figured I’d get some too. Unlike the meats, the prices of the cheeses were not listed. There was a plastic sign holder on top of the counter with a blank white page showing. I asked, “How much are the cheeses?” The deli assistant flip this sign around and showed me the prices listed now visible to me the customer. Unless I asked, these prices were for her eyes only. She said that they did not carry all of the varieties of cheeses behind the counter, and that I could get some in the pre-sliced packages in the refrigerator selection. Havarti was one of the varieties not behind the case, so I had Emily run and get some in the package. I quickly factored the price and noticed a significant difference favoring the deli counter sliced cheeses.

Now these cheese were exactly the same in variety and the company. Only one was in the package and one was slice behind the counter. What was the price difference? In most cases I would be charge around 26 percent more for the same cheese in the package. Some items could be 50-60 percent more in price between grabbing a package compared to asking the deli assistant for help. The interesting thing about going to the deli is that in most cases, the deli assistant gives me the first test-for-thickness slice for free as a bonus. Why the higher price? I can’t say, but the act of walking 30 feet from the refrigerator section to the deli can save you money.

The other question here is what other items are like this?

Here are the price breakdowns

Andrew & Everett Pepper Jack:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26.8% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Swiss:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 14.2% more
Deli sliced: $10

Andrew & Everett Mild Cheddar:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26.8% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Munster
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26.8% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Havarti:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26.8% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Mozzarella:
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 63% more
Deli sliced: 7.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Colby Jack
Package 7oz $5.00 (11.42 per/LB), 26% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett Provolone:
Package 7oz $5.50 (12.57 per/LB), 39.6% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Andrew & Everett American:
Package 7oz $5.50 (12.57 per/LB), 39.6% more
Deli sliced: $9.00 per/LB

Applegate Genoa Salami:(non-organic)
Packaged: 4oz, $5.00 ($20 per/LB), 53% more
Deli sliced: $13.00 per/LB

Plush Food and Food Toys 3

OK. This is my third plush food post. I can’t seem to get enough of them.

Plush Food: Fun with Felt Two