Keeping It Local

Empanada.  From the Spanish verb ‘empanar’; meaning to wrap in dough

The seed for Laurita’s was planted back in 2005, when I lived in the south of Chile during college, but I didn’t know it yet. I lived in the lakes region of Chile, a gorgeous area of forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and ocean…

I spent time exploring the abundant fresh food through markets and gatherings with friends and family and local pubs. I was especially fond of the tasty little hand pies known as empanadas.  I couldn’t get enough.  Some of my favorites were: fried cheese ( a tangy, melty locally made farmers cheese of which I have yet to find an equivalent), fried empanadas filled with mariscos (fresh caught seafood, usually razor clams and a local specialty known to me only as ‘locos’) and of course the Pino (the traditional beef, onion, olive, hard-boiled egg).

Fast-forward 10 years and I find myself back in Michigan (after several years in Colorado) and yet again living in an area of abundant forests, rivers and lakes.  There are days when I walk outside after a chilly rain, smell the neighbor’s woodfire stove burning and am momentarily transported back to Chile; and find myself with an intense craving for an empanada.   So after a couple years of dreaming, doubting and recipe testing I decided to take the leap and start Laurita’s.

Recalling a hands on empanada forming lesson from my friend Lucia’s mom back in Chile and a Pino filling recipe taught to me by my Chilean host family, I set out to create my own take on empanadas that would highlight all the bounty Northern Michigan has to offer.

From the veggies to mushrooms to eggs, meat, and now even butter, cheese and black beans; I use Michigan grown and raised ingredients whenever possible because I truly believe in investing in our local farming communities in the Mitten.  Not only does it help create a vibrant and thriving community, but it also tastes best!!

You can find Laurita’s empanadas and tortillas at the Harbor Springs Saturday Farmers Market Spring to Fall and in a little freezer in the back of the coolest local gear shop in town during the winter.  ( Hint:  It’s the Outfitter 😉 )

-Laurita