Northern Michigan Foodie: Mary Rapin, of Bliss Gardens Farm and Comminity Kitchen in Cross Village, shares her philosophy for good nutrition and health with a recipe for sunchoke and leek soup, made with Northern Michigan's local ingredients.
When Craig and Mary Rapin sold their pharmacy, Prescription Services (still located in Petoskey’s Burns Professional Building), it was to purchase a sprawling farm in Cross Village where they could better practice a philosophy they’d honed for years: that good nutrition is the basis of good health. Three years later Bliss Gardens Farm & Community Kitchen is a hive of nutritious activity where the Rapins forage for native plants, grow organic veggies and native fruit trees, and teach cooking/nutrition classes. There are so many healthy projects going on in and around Bliss Gardens, in fact, that Mary has to stop and remember to cook. “I know that when I don’t have time to cook for my family things are out of balance,” she says.
On an early spring day you might find Mary in her kitchen stirring up a pot of Sunchoke and Leek soup. Mary loves the sunchoke, also known as Jerulasem artichoke, for its nutty flavor and because it is available nearly year round (it can overwinter beneath the soil). On the nutrition side, this tubular relative of the sunflower is packed with iron, potassium, phosphorous and vitamin C. Simple to grow, sunchokes are also available in most well-stocked produce sections and at spring farmers markets. As for the leeks in this recipe, find those on a walk in the woods when the snow melts.