“Dog Days of Summer”

How do you like your dog?
Boiled, grilled, pan fried….frozen like a popsicle!
Continue reading ““Dog Days of Summer””



While doing some window shopping, I was drawn to the most fabulous bracelets, enticing me with their vibrant colors. But there was something else that caught my eye, a familiar ribbon signifying luck, the Brazilian wish ribbon or “fita.” Having a fascination with the Brazilian ribbon, I immediately had to know more about these bracelets. Inquiring with the shopkeeper from Lee and Birch, she explained that they found them in L.A. and the company creating them is called, Hipanema. Furthermore the bracelets are each unique and can take up to 36 hours to make.

Hipanema Bracelets

I Googled “Hipanema” and my eyes were delighted!  Not only are the bracelets to die for but the typography, brand, and story enlightened my face! I was hooked on Hipanema!

    (I mean, really, REALLY!!!)

Hipanema Creators

It all began with two Parisian women influenced by the colors depicted throughout their travels in Brazil. Inspired, they began designing these trinket bracelets.

Meeting someone from Salvador, Brazil or venturing there yourself ensures that you will either receive or see a fita/wish ribbon. They are an amulet of the Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (the Church of Saint Bonfim.) Visiting the church you will find thousands of colored ribbons tied to the fencing surrounding it.  Each one of these ribbons represents a wish or an intense plea for dreams, love, success, health, peace, energy….

The ribbons, in a myriad of vibrant colors have the words, “Lembrança do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia”, or in remembrance of the savior of Bahia written on them, and are a 200 year old tradition.  The original fitas were made of silk and written on by hand in silver.  These fitas were draped around the neck and adorned with medallions and holy depictions. Nowadays the ribbons are worn as a good luck charm petitioning for miracles big or small.

In order for the ribbons to fulfill a wish, a protocol must be adhered to:

∆ Ribbons are to be given as a gift.
∆ They are worn on the left wrist.
∆ The knots are to be tied by a third-party.
∆ They are tied with three knots, with each knot a wish is made.
∆ When the ribbon naturally breaks down and falls off it is believed that your wishes will come true.Hipanema Bracelets

The ribbons may last for months or years latching on by a thread. But rest assured it’s worth your wishes!

The Parisian gals from Hipanema devised a way for us to wear our fitas as a fashion accessory.  They created a chic magnetized clasp (in gold or silver) that wrap vibrant trinkets of pearls, shells and multi-colored threads around your wrist.

Another appeal is that each Hipanema bracelet is named after a region or city, giving it character, representation and significance to the wearer.

For lovers of charms, travel and vibrant colors this bracelet is a summer must!

For those unfamiliar with the Brazilian Wish Ribbon/Fita or interested in a historical depiction I’ve written about them before http://michelleswift.com/2012/08/21/brazilian-wish-ribbons/

If you live in GR and want to shop locally you can pick up a Hipanema bracelet at Lee and Birch http://www.leeandbirch.com/

Bring Back the Butcher

Featured in Flavor616, June 2013

The white-apron clad experts behind the meat counter, amid sausage casings and bone dusters, are a dying breed.

Tim Sobie owner and meat cutter of Sobie Meats in Walker, MI remarks, “Is there a resurgence of small little meat markets to get away from that big processed stuff?  Absolutely.  The art of cutting meat is certainly a dying trade.”

Great Grandpa Piotter
My Great Grandpa, Duke Piotter was a butcher

The meat counter has changed throughout the years. We’ve shifted from beef being shipped as “rail beef” a whole carcass, expertly broken down by butchers into different cuts, towards dependence on “boxed beef,” larger sections of a carcass, pre-packaged and shipped—we’re losing the art of cutting meat, and we’re losing options.

Sobie Meats is a trailblazer in preserving the art of butchering, sourcing local, farm-raised cattle, (sans the antibiotics and hormones) and skillfully, breaking down the whole animal into an array of flavorful cuts at their shop.  Meat cutting will not be found behind the counters of big box supermarkets, which focus more on profit rather than quality and flavor.  These operations source pre-packaged, already cut meat, remove it from the box and stack it in refrigerated bins.

The other difference in shopping at the local butcher shop—well,-it’s an experience.  You see, the moment you walk into Sobie Meats you immediately smell and see what’s going on in there. There is sausage making, kapusta cooking, pulled pork simmering and meat cutters skillfully cutting. A sense of charm and warmness emanate from the employees as they welcome those walking through the door and if you have questions, Sobie’s meat cutters have answers.

Sure, you can head to the supermarket, be greeted at the door, take your number for the deli and select your stew beef or chicken thighs from the sea of Styrofoam wrapped containers. The chap behind the meat counter probably didn’t cut the meat himself, it’s lacking flavor and as far as where that meat came from, your guess could be as good as his.

Piotter's Market
Great Grandma and Great Grandpa at their market, Piotter’s Market in Adrian, MI

To bring back the butcher—that person, like Tim Sobie, who not only skillfully breaks down an animal but can also suggest new things for you try, cuts meat to your needs and give you advice on how to cook it—we need to care about our meat.

We need to change the way we shop—we need to support options. We don’t need to settle for no-named, pre-packaged meat on a Styrofoam tray.  Head to your local butcher and save yourself some money by requesting the amount of meat you need, cut the way you want.  Ask for suggestions on cheaper cuts of meat not offered in mainstream markets.  Bring in your recipe and ask questions. For those palettes craving something beyond steak just ask—beef cheek, rabbit, crown roasts of lamb, the butcher can provide.

That is the beauty behind the butcher. They have options, you can ask for what you need.

Go, seek out your local butcher and have a conversation, build a relationship, and know your meat.