Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Winter Hours at Rock River Cafe'

Winter was late, but it's here now!  Time for fun in the snow.  This past weekend during Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday weekend, we filled the neighborhood with plenty of snow and plenty of cold temperatures to freeze Eben Ice Caves.

Stop in for Chicken Cranberry Rice Soup, our heavenly Cheesecake or Bread Pudding, a Maple Steamer, or a Beef and Cheddar Panini made with Chuck Roast and Sauteed Onions.

Saturday and Sunday 11AM till 7PM + Presidents' Weekend Monday 

Phone 906.439.5509

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Grammy's Apple Mess

Sitting in the Cafe dining room looking out at the dove gray skies, breathing the apple cinnamon through my nose, my mind imagines it's been a wonderful year for apple orchards.  I mean, it smells that way to me!  People in the neighborhood have been making cider, apple sauce, apple butter, and who knows what lately.  Me?  I'm baking Grammy's Apple Mess.  It's a recipe that my mother wrote down while listening to a radio show in our cape cod house on Tunxis Ave in Bloomfield Connecticut.  I was a little girl who loved this Apple Mess, and at the time, couldn't understand why we couldn't whip the crab apples that hung over Mom's 1954 pink Crown Victoria into such sweetness.

This recipe is absolutely fantastic to make with a young person in your life.  Measurements are easy and forgiving.

Grammy's Apple Mess


A Wooden Spoon
A Fork
1 Cup Dry Measure
1 Teaspoon Measure
A Medium Bowl
An 8x8" or 9x9" Square Pan
An Oven


3 Tart Apples cut into any kind of chunks (½" or so?) (I leave the skins on)
2 Eggs
1 Stick Butter
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Chop your apples.  Shape and size don't particularly matter.  Put the butter into the bowl.  Microwave on high for about 1 minute to just melt it.  Beat the eggs into the bowl with the fork until they're well mixed.  Add the sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and continue to mix with the fork.  Add the flour and stir just until incorporated with the wooden spoon.  Throw in the tart apple chunks and stir gently with the wooden spoon.

Scoop it all into the un-greased square pan and bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Put a scoop of ice cream on top when serving squares, or dollop with pure whipped cream.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fresh Berries

Fresh Berries and Lake Superior Whitefish are the perfect marriage on a steamy summer day. We often pair the two for dinner, and add forbidden rice and corn on the cob to bring it all together.  Our True North salad is comprised of a pile of mixed greens, fresh berries, roasted pecans and whitefish or not, all drizzled with our homemade Maple Vinaigrette made with local maple syrup.  This year, the trees that gave up the syrup are practically a stone's throw away, within a mile from the cafe'.  Come on in, relax, and top it all off with one of our smoothies, shakes, or sundaes.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Summer Hours at the Cafe'

Welcome to summer where forest meets farm.  Rock River Cafe has shifting hours and menus reflecting local foods and activities.  We are currently open Wednesday through Sunday, Noon till Eight PM through October 31st.

Come and enjoy homemade sauces and dressings, local fish, locally baked bread, dilectable desserts, and more in our cozy dining room filled with local art or Al Fresco on our porch.  We are a short drive from Munising, the Gateway to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  Waterfalls are on the way, and Laughing Whitefish Falls is a few miles west of the cafe.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Here are a Few of my Favorite Things This Week

We've just opened the Rock River Cafe' for the summer season. Every season we play around with the menu and think about new ways we can feature local ingredients. My favorite this year is our Sencha Green Iced Tea sweetened with our Backyard Mint Syrup made from Rock River Perennial Garden and Greenhouse Backyard Mint.  The balance of subtle sweetness, green tea flavor, and mint suspends perfectly over ice in our mason jar mugs.  My granddaughter enjoys chewing on the mint sprig in her glass.

Ahhhh summer!

We've been loving the fresh Lemon Thyme gracing the grilled Lake Superior Whitefish as well.  We are still sautéing up Local Wild Leeks from Reh-Morr Farm with fresh veggies for dinner.  I've been loving them so much that I almost forgot to make some Leek Relish to hold onto the flavor for a while.

And then there's Rhubarb Syrup to drizzle over ice cream in a homemade gingerbread waffle bowl.
Follow the link to Martha Stewart's website. We make ours a little differently but end up in the same place of wonderful!

Green Tea with Fresh Local Mint Syrup

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cluster Flies

There lies a heavy reminder of snow on the ground, but spring will win, it always does. I peer out across the landscape under heavy cloudy resistance at the sandy snow, dirt, puddles. It all feels so slow. It's hard to believe that powers are changing the landscape, unseen. The cluster flies know. They're bouncing on the windows incessantly attempting penetration as ages old instincts sing of tilled soil by machinery or hoof, and the exposure of moist, forgotten earthworms.

We wait.  And those who cannot wait create varying landscapes for their amusement, dialing the channel from this to something else. Spring break? There's that. That's what we've done. We've escaped the molasses flow of spring and hurried to a place alive with it already, filling our hearts with birdsong and flowers, the music of it still playing in our minds upon our return.

Our closest friend derives the sap from the maples this time of year. It's the first harvest from the land. And how sweet it is! I'll share some ideas a little further down the page.

The hoop houses in the area are filling with seedlings in total disregard of the grey sky-grey snow. I'm sure the caretakers can't even notice the creeping weather. How could you when your eyes are filled with the miracle of seed? Earth, water, seed interacting to create life, which sustains life, which creates life again. Science and Miracle dance this time of year so obviously, so carelessly, so abundantly, and so confidently. Nature awakens in everything, from first sap, to creation of next year's seed.

I encourage you to taste, slowly, the first evidence of fresh, local spring that passes your lips and hesitates on your tongue.

Maple Steamer

  • One Cup of Milk (Soy, Almond, Cow, etc.)
  • Two Tablespoons of Maple Syrup 
Using an espresso machine, steam and froth the two ingredients together. The more froth the better, as Maple Syrup is heavy and the froth with fight to suspend it in every sip.

Maple Shake

  • Four Scoops Ice Cream
  • ¼ Cup Maple Syrup
  • Milk
Add as much milk as necessary to the other ingredients so your blender spins everything up well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Time Flies!

It was an all day rain today, persistently reminding us the time is nigh for autumn colors, sweaters, rosy cheeks. Winter reached long again this year, making summer negligible and the notice of the "early trees" in August even less welcome than ever.

We also closed our summer location in Munising early this year. We frankly picked a convenient time, as Andrew (the manager) headed out the door for his last semester on his math degree.

Sitting in the cafe' this dark evening with the furnace warming the scent of freshly roasted Sumatran coffee, listening to "Summertime" wilting out of our old radio, I can't believe the first day of autumn is not even upon us.

Produce still opens our front door and makes its way to the cooler and the plates.  I've decided to stock pile mint syrup made with Backyard Mint from down the road.  It's the heaven that has carried me through the season. I can go years without ice cream, but this summer the pool of fresh mint syrup surrounding my vanilla ice cream while sitting in my bed looking out at miraculous sunsets over the new hoop house just up the road will never leave my memory.

Here's a recipe:

Backyard Mint Syrup

You'll need a large pot of simmering water, a large pot of ice water, a small saucepan, a blender, and a fine mesh sieve.

1 Dozen Mint Stalks (1 foot long)
2 Cups Organic Sugar
2 Cups Water

Put the washed mint stalks into the pot of simmering water. Turn the burner on HIGH. Allow them to boil briefly... 30 seconds or so, until they become bright green. Remove them from the water and place them immediately into the ice water.

Bring the sugar and water to boil in a small saucepan and cook until all of the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.  This is "Simple Syrup".

Remove the mint from the ice water and pat the excess water from them with paper towel. Cut the mint into 2-4" lengths.  Empty both of your water pots.  Wash them both and have them handy.

Place a handful of the mint into the blender and add about 1/2 Cup of the simple syrup. Pulse until well blended. Add more mint and add more syrup. Repeat. Continue this way until all of the mint and all of the syrup are now well blended (pureed) in the blender.  

Pour through a fine mesh sieve into one of your now empty pots. Empty and rinse and sanitize the sieve.  Pour the Mint Syrup one more time through the sieve into another pot. You're done!