Plan your plot — The Greening of Detroit's Urban Garden Education Series is hosting a two-hour course in garden planning and design. Learn how to make your garden a year-round rainbow of colors, with a mix of shapes and textures making it an enjoyable place to spend time. Landscape designer Jeff Klein will teach such subjects as planning ahead, constructively using space and much more. It all happens 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, at Hannan House, 4750 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
Toast the troops — The 2011 Michigan Beer Tasting fundraiser is about to kick into gear, giving locals the chance to sample some of Michigan's finest beers for a good cause, a memorial for the 22 Marines who died in Iraq from the First Battalion, 24th Marines Regiment. It happens at Champane's Wine Cellars Pub, starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 10th; at 7007 Chicago Rd., Warren; $25 per person, $20 for active servicemen.
Grill talk — B.D.'s Mongolian Grill is making every effort to cater to those who enjoy healthy eating, especially with its limited-time Fun Fresh Food menu, which includes such choices as charred tomato pasta, Tuscan chicken, mahi-mahi lettuce-wrapped tacos, pesto chicken and more. The offer continues until March 6, and is good at participating restaurants. To find a location near you, see gomongo.com.
Stack 'em high — Is there any better day than National Pancake Day? Wait, is there a National Pancake Day? There is? On March 1? Excellent. Let everybody know that, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., IHOP will mark the day by offering a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes to each guest. Diners so inclined may leave a donation for local charities.
Relax — Here's something new to add to your Bob Marley collection: Marley's Mellow Mood. It's an all-natural beverage designed to relieve stress and enhance relaxation — but don't try to get too relaxed with Bob's beverage, which comes in the form of light carbon sodas and ready-to-drink tea. Inside the drinks you'll only find natural, nonpsychoactive ingredients, such as chamomile, valerian root and rose hips — and 43 grams of sugar. Another reason to purchase this Rastafarian drink? A portion of sales goes to 1love.org, a nonprofit started by the Marley family that helps fund all youth empowerment, earth protection and global peace. To find where to buy the red-yellow-and-green aluminum cans, see marleybeverages.com.
Beard update — The announcement of finalists and semifinalists in the 2011 Restaurant and Chef Awards of the James Beard Foundation are in. Congratulations to Craig Common at the Common Grill in Chelsea, David Gilbert of Forest Grill in Birmingham, and Alex Young at Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, all of whom were nominated as best chef in the Great Lakes region.
Food/Thought — The bold print on the cover of the book suggests breads and pastries, but the rest of the title hints the breadth of recipes in Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook: Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond from New York's Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant (Little Brown, $29.99). Husband-and-wife team DeDe Lahman and Neil Kleinberg run what many consider New York's best breakfast eatery. The Spanish biscuit sandwich, filled with chorizo, eggs, jalapeno jack cheese and tomatillo sauce looks and sounds irresistible. So does their locally famous fried chicken. The desserts may tempt you to skip the meal.
Bottoms up — Magic Hat's Spring Fever variety 12-pack has hit the beer store shelves. The usual, apricot-flavored #9 is in there, along with Circus Boy, an American wheat ale. There's also the poundable spring seasonal, Vinyl, fermented with lager yeast yet sufficiently malty to satisfy your thirst if you're barbecuing while there's still snow on the ground. Demo is a black IPA that combines the coffee flavors of roasted malts with enough hops to relax a hairless Chihuahua puppy on cocaine. Pick up Spring Fever from now until the end of April.
The Works — You know you want to try making curly fries at home now that the state fair is gone. Thanks to the Spiral Vegetable Slicer and Curly Fry Maker, you can. Simply stick a potato on the prongs and push it toward the blade while turning the crank — and watch the uniform strips flow. Three stainless steel blades produce continuous 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch curly strips and straight ribbon cuts. Four suction cups keep the device firmly in place on a kitchen counter. Cut cabbage and apple slices for a Thai salad, or add onions and celery and peppers for cole slaw. Just $29.95 at chefscatalog.com.
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