Tag Archives: food





Last week my husband and I managed to be some of the first customers in the door for breakfast at Ellen’s. Eating at Ellen’s is a tremendous treat, and soon, some of the greatest food I’ve ever eaten anywhere was set in front of us, and we began to savor it. Ellen’s is a place we go to fairly often, but not often enough. If there is a better restaurant experience, I don’t know about it.

I took time to enjoy shrimp and cheese grits with bacon and poached eggs on top. My husband ate cinnamon raisin walnut French toast, his usual favorite. He couldn’t not eat that sweet crunchy goodness. I shared the grits, and he rated the dish a fourteen on a scale of one to ten. The grits were creamy and cheesy, topped with lots of sautéed shrimp and bacon and a perfect poached egg. The bacon they used yielded top quality flavor. The egg blends into the grits as you eat and….. well, it is just a heavenly combination.

He also says the house blend coffee is great. Oh, and he loved his French Toast, as always. I had a bite and there is no doubt why it is his favorite, or one of them anyway.


There’s a rack of unbeatable baked goods and a counter of pastries, muffins and desserts. The cookies are huge. The muffins are the best I’ve ever tasted. The glorious desserts are so inviting they hurt your eyes. These are all artisan house made, and I never go home without a treat of one kind or another.


The menu includes more breakfast good-to-eat food than you can imagine. And they serve lunch too. We headed out with a turkey avocado pita to get us through the day-long swim meet that was our next stop. It was stuffed with fresh avocado, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and sprouts along with tasty turkey. (I opted out of the onion)

Credit where credit is due. Sylvia Rector of the Detroit Free Press wrote a great piece in the Nov. 14 “Play” section on Shrimp and Grits. Grits are a favorite of mine. I decided to do a series on grits for this blog. This is the first item. Look for future grits posts on the food page.

Everyone at Ellen’s was so very gracious to us, taking time from their busy duties to chat and allow pictures. I was extra giddy with how much I love the place and how good the food tasted and my concentration on what I might write, the information I needed, and taking pictures was somewhat compromised.

You must find a way to get to this place and enjoy the magnificent food they serve. The staff is as warm and welcoming as the food. If you can’t be there soon because you live in another state or another county, believe me, this is a place to put in your dreams.

For the locals. Where is this wonderful place?

This wonderful place is located at 2495 Orchard Lake Road in a small strip mall in Sylvan Lake, Michigan. They have a very good website www.EllensBakeryandCafe.com. They also do catering and wedding cakes. When I say everyone at this place works hard, it is not a cliché but a fact. And they do it with smiles and kindness.

By the time we left that morning, the restaurant had filled with customers. Ellen, George, and the staff thanked us for coming in, but my goodness, they deserve the thanks. Satisfying, delicious food like they prepare and serve is something to be truly thankful for, and never to be taken for granted!

Chef-Owners George and Ellen

Chef-Owners George and Ellen


Wide River 1

Thank you so much to every reader of this blog. I send you good wishes as wide as this view of the Mississippi. Your interest and encouragement are vital to our conversations and my posts. This blog doesn’t exist without you.

A blog is a website in which an individual records opinions. Often a blog or journal entry links to other sites. New material is added on a regular basis.

The focus of www.readeatlive.com is to promote reading and writing. It is a bookish blog with food on the side. Recently food themes have elbowed their way to a larger place at the table. My readers don’t like to go too long without a food fix, and neither do I. A recent road trip also meant food got more space.

My focus will remain the joys of reading and writing. We eat to live so food places, recipes and themes will continue to have a spot on my bookish blog. I will continue to weave various threads into the reading and writing themes. Check out the home page and the reading page if you are interested in books and other kinds of reading or reading issues. Some of my own writing, and occasionally, my ideas about writing, appear on the writing page.

I keep in mind how I can improve this blog. You need to tell me how I am doing. For example, I want to make posts more interesting and less preachy. Sometimes I pile on the info and get really boring. Please help me not to do this. I also want to be more creative with my titles, so that you are pulled into the content when you read the title.

Please consider connecting with others by leaving a comment and starting a conversation. For home page posts, this is easy. Click on the “leave a reply” at the top of the page. When you read a post on the reading page or food page, etc. you must scroll to the bottom of the page to leave a reply. Your reply will appear at the top of the comments section. If you like a particular post and don’t have time to reply, you can use the Like Button. You are most welcome to subscribe to www.readeatlive.com at no charge. If you do you will receive e-mail when there is a new post. The words “subscribe to blog via e-mail” are at the top right of the home page. Click there and give your e-mail address.

The important thing is this: THANK YOU FOR READING THIS BLOG!




Most towns have a well-known pizza place. Most folks have a favorite pizza. Most of us salivate for a good piece of pizza. But Clinton, Iowa has a pizza place that is more than a favorite. Oh, they serve distinctive pizza, and good all-round American and Italian classics. But what they really serve is the best kind of nostalgia.

Ida and her husband Pete, who began this restaurant years ago, nurtured generations of high school kids and young families. Some of these young people, now grown and well-established, mail order the famous Rastrelli’s pizza several times a year. Some say the Italian sauce, the pizza, and the cabbage salad are unchanged from an earlier time. Many never visit Clinton without a stop at Rastrelli’s.

Guess where I had lunch this week? Of the fifteen people at the table, all but one ordered pizza for their lunch. Our table was nearly giddy with excitement.

When the pizza arrived with its well-seasoned sausage aroma, and members of the group bit into the crunch of the thin crust, heaped generously with crisp topping, most were transported with energy and enthusiasm to a time and place out of the past. Most had eaten pizza there many times, and the food brought to mind some of the best times of their lives. I’ve never watched a group enjoy a lunch, the company and the food more.


No doubt some remembered a time when they had entered the long narrow room of an earlier version of the restaurant with it’s soda fountain, and Ida had raised her arms in welcome, calling their names from the back of the place as she hurried forward, ready to deliver hugs. It seemed she remembered every regular customer the place had ever had.

The restaurant continues to be as welcoming as Ida Rastrelli’s wide, warm smile, though she and her husband are no longer there. Today, their son Mike and others carry on the traditions. The menu is large and varied. The salad bar is more than inviting, almost as famous as the pizza. This time, the salad was the best ever. For so many, especially Clinton natives, this pizza is a constant that remains their all time favorite pizza.


But this place doesn’t just offer good food. For so many who have lived in Clinton or visited there regularly, it offers a perfect plateful of happy memories.

I urge you to visit when life takes you in that direction. I think you will experience the joy of the place. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you feel the spirit of your own past and present good times when you are there.

Learn more about this unique place at www.rastrellis.com.

“Let’s go to Rastrelli’s.” It’s a refrain heard in any Clinton, Iowa song.