If you are a Michigan resident who knew me about eight years ago, chances are I was sort of annoying. Hopefully only about one thing – buying local. I once read that if each family in the state started spending $10 per week of their grocery bill on Michigan products, we’d keep more than $37 million circulating in Michigan each week. As a lover of our state who wants to see its businesses thrive, I immediately changed my grocery shopping habits to always buy the local brand whenever possible.
And for awhile there, I probably got pretty annoying – “You know, there’s a brand of peanut butter/pizza sauce/vodka/crackers/whatever product you are currently using that’s made here in Michigan!” It’s not that I wanted to be a nag or make people feel bad about how they shopped; I just really, really wanted to help our economy and help others find a way to do so, as well. So, if I harassed you – sorry/not sorry.
Fast forward to 2014, and it seems like everyone in Michigan is buying local, and I love it. At this point, buying Michigan-made products is second nature for me. I know which brands at the grocery store are made here in the mitten, and I automatically reach for them. I spend much more than $10 a week on local groceries, so I guess I make up for a few families who don’t pull their weight to support our state.
I’m always up for finding new locally-made products, and that’s why I was so excited when Mitten Crate got started. Mitten Crate is a subscription box service for people who would like to discover Michigan-made, artisan foods. Each month, 4 – 6 delicious Michigan-made food items will show up at your door! A Mitten Crate can also be purchased as a one-time gift (would be a special treat for somebody who grew up here but now lives elsewhere!).
As somebody who knows a ton of Michigan products, I was surprised by how many great new-to-me-items were in my Mitten Crate. In the April box, I received:
- Beau Bien Fine Foods Herbed Red Onion Marmalade
- Pop Daddy Popcorn Michigan Red Popcorn
- Barlow’s Gourmet Chipotle Sauce, and Coffee & Cocoa Blend Great Lakes Rub
- Feel Natural Energy Mango Passionfruit Drink
- Chef’s Cut Real Jerky Chipotle Cracked Pepper Real Steak Jerky
Since the spring and summer is prime “crostini season” for me (meaning, instead of eating real dinners, I just put random stuff on pieces of toasted bread and pretend it’s a meal), I immediately put several of the box items to work in crostini form. First, I used the herbed red onion marmalade pretty much straight from the jar – spread it on some pieces of toasted bread, and then just crumbled blue cheese over that. A 2-minute appetizer/let’s-call-it-dinner that couldn’t be simpler or tastier.
Next up, I decided that if I was going to eat crostini for dinner, I should probably at least try to cook something. So, I whipped up a quick arugula pesto and spread that on crostini. I also sautéed some shrimp and finished them with the chipotle sauce, and threw those on top of the crostini, too. It’s the perfect light meal with a kick of heat from the chipotle.
This post was written by me on behalf of Mitten Crate, who provided me with a free box for recipe development purposes. I was not otherwise compensated for writing this post, and all opinions are 100% my own.