Whoops, I let almost three years pass without going to see Jessica and Matt in Midland, MI! Well, I finally booked tickets and made plans to enjoy a long weekend with my two favorite chemists in their fancy house.
Oh, and Java. I can’t forget that I also went to see Java!
BUT FIRST! The charming town of Frankenmuth is not too far from Midland, and it is home to Bronner’s CHRISTmas World.
When Jessica told me we were going to the The World’s Largest Christmas store, I had an appropriately reserved reaction:
OMG OMG AFJDKLS;AFJDL;SAF DOSAMG OMGO MGOSMAGDS AOGMSAFS!!!
Bronner’s was basically a giant emporium, stuffed to the gills with every kind of ornament and décor item imaginable. (Actually, we don’t think they carry sexual ornaments or anything with profanity.) There are thousands of ornaments and holiday kitsch, enough to make your head spin. I had to select an ornament that was fully representative of my trip back to the Midwest, which is how I came to own this shiny broasted chicken leg. We don’t have room for a tree in our SF apartment, but I think the broasted chicken will be on display all year long.
Broasted chicken is apparently a thing in Frankenmuth. It wasn’t the right time of day for a full chicken dinner, but I did get a Koegel‘s sausage (“Serve the curve!”).
Frankenmuth was having an old car show while we were there, and everyone was out and about. It was a cute town, and I had fun eating a lot of cheese, pastry, and mustard samples.
Good fun reconnecting with our German heritage, right, Jess?
Whenever people come visit me, I always worry that they’ll be bored if I don’t show them every cool thing in SF. Except when I go visit friends, I just want to spend time with them, even if it’s just chilling at home. This trip was not exception–I enjoyed going for long walks, hanging out around the house, piling on the giant sectional, and even running errands with Matt and Jessica. I mean, I got to re-visit my most favorite commercial establishments in the whole wide world.
On Saturday, the three of us walked down the rail trail to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Midland. The most notable (and only) purchase was a “whole” salmon fresh caught from the Mackinac straights. (The sign said “whole” salmon, so we assumed it wasn’t whole. It was, in fact, a whole fish. We got a big-ass fish for $29–$3.50/pound, madness!) We took our turns on the three-mile walk home carrying “Timmy.” He was pretty heavy!
While Jessica and I ran errands, Matt did an admirable job lovingly dismembering Timmy. I was impressed.
Jessica and Matt have a “real” house with a very fancy kitchen, in which we cooked a very Fall-appropriate meal: winter squash soup, baked Timmy/salmon, roasted brussels sprouts. (Plus a nod to summer with some very fresh tomatoes.)
(Timmy’s flesh was pretty white, not like salmon I’d had before. We decided this was because he was mostly from fresh water.)
In addition to a crisp four-mile run on Sunday, we also did a lot of walking (and one perhaps ill-advised lower-body workout in the basement). Midland is pretty small, but it has a lot of houses designed by Alden Dow including Jessica and Matt’s own house). We walked over to his house and took a gander from the front lawn. It was really perfect weather: not too hot with just a hint of crisp fall weather. When we went for our run on Sunday, it was in the 40’s, and we saw one maple tree just starting to turn. (Seasons? What are those? I’ve forgotten!) Given the freakishly warm weather we had when I left SF, it was a joy to wake up all cozy under a comforter in a slightly chilly room.
I really enjoyed the fall weather as a novelty, but unfortunately, for Jessica and Matt, it signals the transition towards their very long winter. I don’t envy them that!
I do envy their nearby novelty orchard with delicious apple cider donuts!
And you may be wondering what baking Jessica and I did while we were together. I mean, last year, our Detroit bumpy cake was such a success, right? Well, we’re 0/2 on baked desserts while visiting each other. We tried to make a chocolate butterscotch pie using a recipe from one of Jessica’s grandmother’s cookbooks. Unlike modern cookbooks, the directions were pretty sparse, and we were not sure how to “proceed as directed” with an apparent lack of directions. This is how we ended up with a chocolate butterscotch pie that contained no butterscotch and never solidified. Oops.
We ended up freezing the pie so that it could be eaten, you know, on a plate and with a fork. It was not our best production, but it was a good vehicle for whipped cream out of a spray can, which Jessica and I both love.
(Add this one to our collection of bizarre, mostly unflattering photos.)
I can’t say that I really miss living in the Midwest, but visiting Midland reminded me of some things that I did like, namely Fall weather, fresh, clean air, wide, tree-lined streets, and a notable lack of human excrement on the sidewalk.
It was a perfectly relaxing and enjoyable weekend (minus a flight delay because due to wildfire smoke obscuring visibility at SFO.), and I’m so glad I finally went to visit Jessica and Matt. They were really gracious and accommodating hosts and tolerated me chattering non-stop for 72 hours–no small feat!
So, Jess, what’s our next visit gonna’ be?