Fortunately, we had help offsetting all of this great eating with a bit of exercise. My brother Pat, sister-in-law Jenny, and nieces Lydia and Molly kept us busy with some really pleasant outdoor adventures. We hiked trails in Toledo’s Wildwood Preserve and Monroe’s Sterling State Park. We also spent an afternoon canoeing a long stretch of the River Raisin up in Dundee. Though I grew up around that river, I can’t think of a time when I ever really got so close to it. For most of our journey, the scenery was lush and green, and I felt like we could just as easily be paddling through Cambodia or someplace as exotic.
While our visits to LaSalle are always great in culinary terms, our timing was ideal this time as we hit the tail end of tomato season. Tomatoes from my dad’s garden are unlike any tomatoes I’ve ever had anywhere else in America – or most of the world. In the 25 years I lived on the east coast I never found tomatoes as meaty and sweet and deep red as those. They are one of the most delicious things in the world, and I think maybe only Michigan dirt can make them this way.