Doughnuts @ Sandy’s Donuts

Finally, the post we’ve all been waiting for. This time, I’ll be reviewing doughnuts I picked up at Sandy’s Donuts.

Sandy’s is an adorable mom-and-pop doughnut shop near the corner of Covell Ave and Leonard Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With options ranging from old fashioned, filled, cinnamon rolls, glazed or sprinkled, Sandy’s probably has something for you. And, if you get there around the right times, their shelves are PACKED. (From what I can tell, this means most weekdays before 3 pm. Don’t get your hopes up on the weekends!)

Aside from the doughnuts, they also carry cookies, muffins, cupcakes, and further into the restaurant is a small coffee bar.

So, get on with it! How are these doughnuts?!

Let me tell you…you won’t find a better classic doughnut for your money. Each doughnut is just one dollar. Sandy’s doughnuts are truly comforting, soft, and delicious. On three separate occasions, here is what I’ve had:

Top left: Cinnamon Sugar Twist. These were my favorite as a kid, and Sandy’s does em’ just right. They’re fluffy and sugary, and super long. Perfect for dunking into a tall mug of coffee.

Bottom left: Cherry Fritter. I tried this one mainly because it was aesthetically neat looking, a glazed mound of dough with pops of bright red cherries. Once again pretty fluffy, if you enjoy apple fritters then give this one a try. Also larger in size.

Center: Old Fashioned…something? Lets call it a Clam. I never caught the correct name of these things but to me, they resemble a glazed clam or shell. This thing was DENSE. Just holding it, you can tell it’s filled with jam. This one had blueberry pie filling and was by far the sweetest doughnut I’ve had from Sandy’s. The “old fashioned” dough was slightly crunchy yet sweet, giving way to a stuffed blueberry center. Although delicious, this one was difficult to finish on my own. I only suggest these to those with the sweetest-of-tooths.

Right: Chocolate Glazed. This was my first Sandy’s purchase, on Valentine’s Day. A standard chocolate coated doughnut, not only did this look great, it tasted great too.

I do, however, have single complaint about this doughnut spot. Sandy’s does not have Wifi, or a public restroom, so study-ers and loiterers be warned. Most customers tend to pop in and grab a dozen and leave anyways, But don’t worry, what it lacks in convenience, it makes up for with taste. Overall, Sandy’s is a great place to stop in and grab breakfast for you or your coworkers, family, etc.

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Drunken Retort @ Stella’s Lounge

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On Monday night, February 15th, a few friends and I took a seat at the bar inside the club room, just inside and to the right at Stella’s Lounge. Bob The Bartender was excited to contribute to this project, apparently so happy to help that he must have slipped word to Foster and Fable, some of the talented individuals that started Drunken Retort. Before the event officially began I felt the hand of Foster on my shoulder.

“And you need an interview from us. Is that right?” I was starstruck.

Drunken Retort (DR) is the acoustic slam, comedy, and otherwise freestyle event that you can find at Stella’s Lounge every Monday night at 8:30-10 or 11 pm. Before 10 pm, minors are allowed in accompanied with someone 21 and up. After 10 it’s 21 and up only. The show will be three years old in April.

Every 3 months there’s a theme, which can range from “Old Shit”, “Awful Shit/High School Shit”, LGBTQ night and more. Foster and Fable, the parents of DR, have been in the open mic business for years. Fable, a.k.a. Fable The Poet, has been doing open mic events in the Grand Rapids area for seven years. Foster’s poetry is four years old, but he started hip-hop in 2008.

At the beginning of every show, one of the creatives that works on DR takes the mic and reminds the crowd of the four rules.

Rule 1. The Yell Rule. If you like what you hear, make some noise.

Rule 2. The Bell Rule. There are red plastic bells on the tables and bar for the crowd to ring if they don’t like the talent. Three strikes and you’re off the stage, buddy.

Rule 3. Shut The F*ck Up. Simply put, don’t talk while someone is performing. If you disturb the talent, Rachel, Foster, and Fable come up with a new punishment you’ll  have to endure.

Rule 4: The Tell Rule. The opposite of Fight Club, these guys want you to spread the word. In fact, if you let one of the DR regulars know that you have three new visitors with you, they’ll buy you a drink.

After a few performances to kick off the show, I got the chance to talk DR with Fable The Poet.

Best Drunken Retort Story?

“A couple of months ago someone read for the first time, and during the set they broke down crying. I followed her out of the room to see what was up, and she just told me how grateful and thankful she was for the opportunity to speak in front of the crowd.

Later that girl’s friend approached me and thanked us, too. She said ‘She’s not allowed to do that.’ I guess her relationship did not allow for her to talk about her pieces.

Thats why I love this. It’s a safe space. People listen to you. You hear genuine words every time.”

What drink goes best with DR?

“The Poet. New Holland actually helps the show out so we can sell them for $3 on Mondays.”

Rachel, another collaborator on the Drunken Retort team and the third component to Diatribe, also sat down with me to chat.

What kind of work is Diatribe doing now?

“Diatribe goes into different schools. We hold workshops and assemblies to show kids that their voices are important. We share their work and help develop their craft.”

When did you start performing your work?

“I wrote a poem in school and performed at a writing center show at Grand Valley. I enjoyed that so I went on to perform other pieces at slam competitions and won first and second place at Greenmill in Chicago.

I’m a full time artist. It’s tough. I’ve been all over Grand Rapids.”

What drinks go best with DR?

“Jameson. I actually have this performance that we close out some of the shows with where I sing a whiskey song while people feed me whiskey shots. I love doing that. I always walk away drunk.”

Foster also got in on some questions.

What do you do for Drunken Retort?

“I am whatever needs to be done. I am the business side, Fable is the creative. Together with Rachel and Aziz, it’s been a great formula.”

Whats your favorite part of the show?

“How different everyone is. I have this belief that no two people are the same on the inside. As long as you can find one thing in common, you can build on that. I can bring people together wherever I am.”

What drinks go best with DR?

“For me, Jameson. Shots, tequila. For a Stella’s drink, the Basil Lemonade is delicious.”

 

This team, these incredible people that put on this show every Monday at Stella’s Lounge, are clearly devoted to DR. Each member of Diatribe cares about what they do, and have a passion for creativity and freedom (and whiskey). If you’re looking for a new experience or just something to do on Monday nights, I urge you to visit Stella’s Lounge for Drunken Retort. Stella’s is located at 53 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI.

 

JAKE’S VANILLA BEAN PORTER

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Disclaimer: You’re about to read a review of a beer by someone that does not typically reach for or enjoy them. Proceed at your own risk.

Listen, I know what you’re thinking.

I’m not a beer person. In fact, I didn’t start drinking beverages with carbonation until I was 19, and I still don’t enjoy it. However two of my four room mates mostly only drink beer, preferably dark and strong. So from time to time, I’m persuaded to try something new and, to my surprise, delicious.

And if I’m going to have a beer it has to be flavored. My friend Sam, a lover of all things Michigan craft beer, says that what I need is “a good dessert beer.” I’ve tried to get around it, but I almost never finish a plain dark beer. Once it took me four hours to finish off a New Holland Poet.

Then why review a beer? It’s nearly “Beer Week” in Grand Rapids, Michigan- otherwise known as beer city USA. So I present to you my newest favorite, Jake’s Vanilla Bean Porter from Paw Paw. Brewed in the wild of Paw Paw MI, this probably isn’t your grandpa’s favorite beer.

I found this puppy (Ha-ha, get it? dog puns) as a single in a Family Fare in Allendale, MI. I don’t believe they’re available at every Family Fare store, though, as I’ve tried to find it in another one a few miles away from the original location I found it at and alas. It was less than two dollars.

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Whats not to love about this beer? It’s adorned with America’s favorite dog, the yellow lab. I have a yellow lab myself at home in the north so I was attracted to the label immediately. The beer is chocolaty and malty (stay with me here, I’m trying to use beer drinker lingo) with a strong vanilla flavor after finish. YES, I said CHOCOLATE AND VANILLA BEER. This is as “girly” and delicious as it gets.

If you’re into lighter beers, you probably wont be into Jake’s. Also, at 6.3%, its a little bit higher than the average craft beer, which is pretty awesome too. This is a rich beer, and I don’t suggest having many at once. Unless that’s your thing. In that case, do your thing.

Another beer not featured here but I think deserves a mention is the Vanilla Java Porter by Atwater. This one is dark and yummy too, but instead of chocolate, it has a strong black coffee flavor paired with a toasty vanilla, almost like a golden-marshmallow-coffee-beer. This porter has the qualifications for a perfect breakfast beer. Don’t act like you’ve never been there.

I would consider these two porters similar to each other, so if you’ve tried one and enjoy it, be sure to try the other. The Vanilla Java Porter is available in more locations around Michigan as well.

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The Cookies @ My House

Note: This post was intended to cover the coveted Sandy’s Doughnuts. After three attempts to make it to the bakery (turns out they close at 1 pm on Saturdays and Sundays…) I decided to take matters into my own kitchen.

Ever since I was old enough to help my mom bake Christmas cookies, I remember making these bad boys.

On the recipe card, my grandma called them “Oatmeal Peek-a-boo” cookies. Around my apartment, they are often referred to as “The cookies” or “breakfast cookies.”

These things are incredible. I don’t just mean that because they taste like warm, comforting happiness. They are perfect for breakfast. They can be eaten on the go.  They’re not chalked full of sugar, frosting, and other things. Just Oatmeal and Jam. I mean, there’s a few other things. But oatmeal is the main ingredient and jam is the most important. Plus, they can easily be made Vegan by switching out the regular butter for a Vegan friendly variety.

I hate myself for even typing this because its cliche, but it’s true- these things go fast. One batch makes about 2-3 dozen, and between 4 roommates, they usually only last a few days.

My brother has tried his own version of these by adding peanut butter to the jammy middle, and those are good too. My only tip for that is the cookies dry out quickly with the peanut butter insides.

You don’t really need any baking skills to make these either. I have made them in the past where I just dumped all the ingredients in the bowl and mixed it with my hands. It still turns out fine!

Nothing is better with that first cup of coffee than these cookies. The oatmeal is slightly sweet, but mostly mild, and BAM! You’re punched in the taste buds with some sticky sweet jelly. My family prefers grape, raspberry, and peach jam. In my apartment, we go for blackberry, cherry, or strawberry.

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Another great thing about this recipe is that its cheap as hell. These cookies are truly a college student’s dream- cheap to make, takes less than an hour for one batch, great for on the go, and its totally fine to eat the dough raw (I’m serious, there’s no egg!) The most expensive component is the jelly, or the butter if you reach for the vegan kind (one of my room mates is vegan so that’s what we use).

Here’s the recipe:

(Set oven to 350 degrees)

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 1/2 cups oatmeal, any kind

Sift together flour, salt, and soda. Add sugar, butter, and water. Add oatmeal. Roll dough quite thin. Place spoonful of jam on one half of cookie. Cover with remaining cookie. Bake for 10-13 minutes.

 

 

Bluegrass Punch @ Stella’s Lounge

Looking for something to do on Monday nights? Live near or in Grand Rapids?

Stella’s Lounge in Grand Rapids, Michigan, offers “Drunken Retort” every Monday after 9 pm. Slam Poetry and whiskey? Sign me up.

This post is not about the poetry though, (don’t get me wrong, it was LGBT night and the talent was intense, but this isn’t a blog dedicated to lesbian poets) its about the whiskey.

Stella’s Lounge has over 250 kinds of whiskey. How fitting, then, for a girl who was raised by a whiskey loving family to start her journey here? Not to mention, an old school arcade and the best burgers in America, according to GQ magazine.

But, I come from a small town where the bartenders only know beer and vodka cranberry’s, so 250 was a bit intimidating. Instead of diving headfirst into their mile long whiskey menu, I was told to try their signature whiskey punch drink- the Bluegrass Punch.

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My date chose the Whiskey Sour, another recommended drink. The punch contained Old Forester, Triple Sec, Lemon Juice and Cranberry juice. The sour had Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Lemon juice, Simple Syrup, and some Sprite. The Punch was $7.00 and the Sour $6.00. Topped with a lemon and a cherry (I ate the cherry before the glass touched our table), the punch looked like something out of “Better Homes and Gardens”. I’m a real sucker for maraschino cherries- put one on just about anything and I’m listening.

To compliment our girly drinks we also had to order a couple of burgers. I don’t recall the name of them, so enjoy a low quality photo instead.

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The food and the drinks actually went well together. The Bluegrass Punch certainly contains a punch. The first flavor that hits you is the whiskey- as it should. Upon further inspection, I think the bartender used Wild Turkey for both of our drinks. To be honest I really don’t like Wild Turkey but I don’t consider myself in any way a whiskey connoisseur.

The second after you’re reminded of the whiskey in your drink, you catch the lemon juice and a hint of cranberry. Tart, cold, and spicy all at the same time. I think my taste buds were also a little confused, because the fries that came with the burger had a unique set of spices on them. Paprika meets whiskey meets cranberry?

Half way through the punch and a few sips of the Sour and I was sold. Buzzed and full of America’s best burger and I was already planning my next trip to Stella’s. The Bluegrass Punch is certainly worth $7.00. There is enough to the drink that you can’t get bored, and its sweetness competes with its sourness in the best way. Just make sure you stir it from time to time.

Edit: All photos taken by me.

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