I’ll miss….

ALL OF THIS.

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GM Plant

It’s impossible to ignore the huge barren field of concrete right in the heart of Lansing.

IMG_20130801_210117There was a large GM plant here once, closed about a decade ago.  It’s right in the middle of what was once a middle class neighborhood, and is so large that a major road and a set of railroad tracks go right through the plant.

gmplantTo give you an idea of the size, here is the plant compared to the campus of MSU, which is one of the larger land-grant ag campuses, including farms, etc.

MsuvsgmSomeone made a film about Lansing’s struggle with keeping GM in town, and this is an informative article about the film and some of the history surrounding this story.  We got a new plant, in the suburbs, right at the time this plant was closed.  They razed the old plant but it’s fenced off and not being used for anything.  You’d think they could make it into a park, or even some apartments.  Dave’s theory is that it’s so polluted they can’t sell it for fear of alerting inspectors, so they’ll just sit on it forever.

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tracks through the plant

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former entry

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Artie’s Filling Station

We heard about this place last fall, and it really is shameful that we didn’t visit until this spring.
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Artie’s is in an old filling station, as you might guess. The design is perfect for a drive-through type coffee place. In the summer they have outdoor seating. Cute and all, but my one hope for this place would be to some day have the option to sit indoors too! This coffee is too good for a cupholder.
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I can’t remember what origin the espresso of the day was, but the barista told us to expect “notes of blueberry.” She was not kidding–my drink smelled like a blueberry muffin! Dave was a little put off by this, but I thought it was magical. Anyway, the taste was mostly coffee.  On other days the espresso is not fruit scented.
They use organic milk in their drinks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the milk makes the drink, whether it’s Metcalfe’s or Populace.  These are 10oz. doubles, so yeah, the milk is important.
P1100133SOLD.  It is out of our way, but when we’re in the neighborhood, this is our coffee place.  Best coffee in Lansing, hands down.

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Original Biggby building on the chopping block

The Lansing City Pulse has an article this week about the building housing the first Biggby Coffee, which is the locally owned coffee chain in town and which I discovered early on after moving to MI.

The premise of this weekly column bothers me a little; even weeks it’s Eyecandy of the Week, then on odd weeks it’s Eyesore of the Week, wherein they name a run-down property and its owner and print a picture, presumably to shame them into doing something about the appearance.  We have a big problem with urban blight here (in WI I thought that word was only applied to tomato plants), so I guess the Pulse is trying to come up with a creative way to address it.

The article this week uses words to describe the former mid-century Arby’s that I think also fit the coffee chain itself: “Biggby’s first café building is iconic, with an unapologetically exuberant, unrestrained design.”  I agree that I’ll be a little sad to see this old building go.  It features a nice outdoor patio, and is a cheery design for a building that houses a 24-hour coffee shop, indeed one of only two places I know of in town to go late at night.  I am also a little irked that we feel the need to be ripping down perfectly functional, occupied buildings in East Lansing to make student apartments, while Lansing itself is in need of a little attention.  I sense the rift between these two communities growing wider.

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Late night hangouts

We finally discovered where all the cool kids go at night.  Wifi for study sessions, and for us, just a place to go when the dog is driving us up the walls.

The Ambassador told us about Thieo’s a few months ago, but we only just went there a couple weeks back.  They are 24 hour like The Curve used to be, and they have added lots more outlets so students can camp out with their laptops.  We’ve been told on some nights you can find people playing board games there; I’m sure the lighting there will be much better than the Dane!  And just like The Curve, they have nice watery coffee which you can drink endlessly!

That's right folks, it's as good as it looks.

That’s right folks, it’s as good as it looks.

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And we’ve finally found a place that has coffee for me and beer for Dave, something which was abundant in Madison but harder to come by here.  The Avenue Cafe, formerly called Gone Wired, is open late, and serves food, local beer on tap, and coffee drinks.  The Avenue is only the third independently owned coffee shop I’ve found in the capital area.  They have music on the weekends, but they also have a quiet study room in the back, so patrons can have the best of both worlds.  It looks like when the management recently changed they hired whoever did the decorating at Soma in Bloomington (sadly, minus the creepy mannequin in the bathroom):
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More exciting ways to get our veggies

Michiganders are fans of the covered market. Our little neighborhood farmers’ market has a structure, though I think it will go indoors in the winter.

Dave and I were in Flint several weeks ago and were very surprised to see a monster of a farmers’ market which is open every day! Beats the pants off our market.

The cheese stand was proudly advertising Wisconsin cheeses.

My people!

Lansing has a covered market as well, which is open 5 days a week and even has a little pub.  It only has a couple vegetable stands, and seems to specialize more in  prepared foods.

I went this week and felt compelled to buy some Wisconsin made pub cheese, something I probably haven’t tasted in 15 years.

And THEN someone made me aware of Horrock’s.  The only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s a 20 minute drive on the highway from our house, all the way on the west end of Lansing.  It’s a medium sized pavilion-type building stuffed with winding aisles and secret rooms full of very fresh and cheap produce, artisanal breads, the best beer and wine selection in town, home made preserved fruits and vegetables, chocolate covered anything-you-can-think-of, and room after room of dairy.

Rivals the cheese aisle at Woodman’s, no?

cue the heavenly boychoir music

From Horrock’s I got the supplies to make this year’s batch of canned stuff: tomatoes, tomato sauce, pumpkin puree, pumpkin butter, canned pears, sauerkraut (still in progress).

canned pears

pumpkin butter

canned tomatoes, tomato sauce

tomato sauce in progress….oh god