March 2022 Cherryland

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March 2022


COUNTRY LINES Cherryland Electric Cooperative

One Path To Common Ground

Who Rescued Who? A Little Game Called Motherhood

Food Network’s Holiday Baking Champion—

Michigan’s Beth Meyer


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March 2022 Vol. 42, No. 3



6 TAKING THE LONG ROAD Long Road Distillers promises “no shortcuts” ... and the great lengths they go to in securing a gin ingredient reflect that promise. Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Italian: Crowd-pleasing recipes you’ll love. 14 FOOD NETWORK’S HOLIDAY BAKING CHAMPION— MICHIGAN’S BETH MEYER The dazzling cakes baked by Beth Meyer have done everything from help her make connections in a new community to landing her a television appearance.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

Cover photo courtesy of Food Network

PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

18 GUEST COLUMN Sweet Surprises: A day of sap collecting yields not only delicious syrup, but precious memories as well.

Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS. Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358


notify your electric cooperative. See page 4 for contact information.

The appearance of advertising does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised.

Be featured! Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.


When it’s so cold that boiling water freezes in mid-air. #mpenbaeffect @christina.b.lee (Christina Lee)

MI CO-OP COMMUNITY To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

RECIPE CONTEST Win a $50 bill credit!

Up Next: Tomatoes, due April 1; Potatoes, due May 1 Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to

GUEST COLUMN Win $150 for stories published!

Submit your fondest memories and stories at

MYSTERY PHOTO Win a $50 bill credit!

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.



CO-OP NEWS Cherryland Cares Grant Applications Due In March /cherrylandelectriccoop @cherrylandec BOARD OF DIRECTORS

David Schweitzer, President 231-883-5860

Melinda Lautner, Senior Vice President 231-947-2509 Gabe Schneider, Secretary 517-449-6453 Tom Van Pelt, Treasurer 231-386-5234 Valarie Handy, Director 231-392-4705

Terry Lautner, Director 231-946-4623 John Olson, Director 231-938-1228

General Manager: Tony Anderson Co-op Editors: Rachel Johnson Courtney Doyle:

OFFICE HOURS Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m.– 4 p.m.

Area nonprofit agencies seeking financial help can apply for a grant through Cherryland Cares. The deadline for first-quarter applications is Friday, March 18. If you are an area nonprofit agency seeking financial help, you can find the application on our website at or contact Courtney Doyle at (231) 486-9224 or

Serve On Cherryland’s Board Any qualified Cherryland member can be elected to serve a three-year term on the cooperative’s board of directors. Three directors will be elected at this year’s Annual Meeting, including two at-large directors and one Benzie/Manistee/Wexford county director. To be nominated in 2022, candidates can file a petition with the cooperative administrative assistant starting the first day of March until 4 p.m. on the last business day of March. Nominating petitions are available on our website and at the co-op office in Grawn. For more information regarding board nominations and the election process, review Article III of the co-op’s bylaws on our website.

Cherryland Offers Five Scholarships Cherryland offers five scholarships—three worth $4,000 ($1,000 for four years) for high school seniors and two for $1,000 each for adult scholarships (post-high school). Applications for both scholarships are available on our website. The deadline for applications is Friday, April 8.

Cherryland Announces Date Of 84th Annual Meeting Cherryland’s 84th Annual Meeting will take place Thursday, June 9. The Annual Meeting’s planned location is Incredible Mo’s in Grawn. Cherryland will provide updates regarding the 84th Annual Meeting in Michigan Country Lines, on our website, and through social media.

TELEPHONE NUMBERS 231-486-9200 or 1-800-442-8616 (Mich.) ADDRESS P.O. Box 298, Grawn, MI 49637 PAY STATION Cherryland Electric Cooperative office 5930 U.S. 31 South, Grawn MI, 49637 Cherryland Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

84th Annual Meeting 4 MARCH 2022

Incredible Mo’s Thursday, June 9

One Path to Common Ground By Tony Anderson, General Manager


think we all might agree that our society has become more polarized over the past several years. The farright and the far-left dominate the news. The voice in the middle is drowned out. We all long for compromise, diplomacy, and the proverbial “common ground.” I wish I had the answer. I truly do. I am saddened by the fact that I don’t have an answer to bring the masses together. I can only try to make my very, very small corner of this big, huge world better every day by looking for common ground on the things that I can control. What I have found in my search is what I believe to be the greatest measure of character. It is the apology—the simple ability to genuinely say, “I’m sorry.” These two words do not mean you are wrong. They simply mean you recognize that a line has been crossed, and you regret the lapse in judgment as you acknowledge the situation. Stick to your position while considering whether or not you have gone too far. If we want our arguments to be recognized and respected, we must recognize and respect the opposition. We should not ridicule, cut off, disrespect, or demean the person on the other side. Let’s toss in raising our voices and getting demonstrably upset. Each one pushes us over the line. Each one requires a sincere “I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry” should never be confused with “I’m sorry you feel that way.” The latter is the lamest of false apologies. All it says is that we recognize the feelings of others—sort of. An acceptable version would be “I’m sorry I made you

feel that way.” This version acknowledges our responsibility for our role in impacting another person. The cliches’ are endless—“get what you give,” “be the change,” “respect is earned,” etc. It all starts with these two simple words. When I pick up a paper or watch breaking news on the television, I often judge the people involved on whether or not they have the ability to admit a mistake. It is the first and last thing I want in every leader, co-worker, and friend. Some will say this essay is just another version of “everybody gets a ribbon.” I wholeheartedly disagree. I believe we can all start chipping away at society’s collective polarization by taking the time to consider the impact of our actions. We all need to be adult enough to recognize when we must be the ones to apologize. People with the strength of character take the first step. Be strong. “I’m sorry” is the claw hammer that will tear down the walls between positions and draw them closer to the middle. If I needed an army to take a hill or conquer society’s common ground, I would want to be surrounded by people with the strength to utter these two simple words.

“ I believe we can all start chipping away at society’s collective polarization by taking the time to consider the impact of our actions.” MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES



LONG ROAD By Emily Haines Lloyd

f Emerson’s ethos holds true and life really is about the journey and not the destination, then the folks at Long Road Distillers are taking the scenic route for sure.

in Northport, apples from Peach Ridge Farms in Alpine Township, sunflower seeds from Paulson’s Pumpkin Patch in Belding, and perhaps the most elusive ingredient from a location stand point—juniper.

Long Road Distillers, the first distillery in Grand Rapids, has built its brand around its own moniker—No Shortcuts. It’s a nice sentiment and looks good on t-shirts, but it can be harder to commit to with invoices, payroll, and then for good measure—a pandemic staring you in the eye. But that’s what makes Long Road a special breed of business.

Most juniper for U.S.-based gin is sourced from the Pacific Northwest, where the weather and soil are perfect for the piney/woodsy-flavored berries. So, how do you keep your promise to source locally?


“Michiganders have a long history as makers,” said Jon O’Connor, co-founder of Long Road. “When Kyle and I started, we knew we wanted to make a product we could be proud of. There’s always a faster, cheaper, or easier way to do things, but that’s not why we started Long Road.” O’Connor and co-owner Kyle VanStrien took that simple premise into creating their line of spirits. Take, for instance, their MichiGin. It’s a clever name and, again, could be a nice gimmick, but not to this company. This gin is not only 6

MARCH 2022

distilled and bottled in the Great Lakes State, but each and every ingredient is sourced here. The gin’s base spirit is distilled from red winter wheat from Heffron Farms in Belding, Michigan, that was milled on-site at the distillery on Grand Rapids’ West Side. It has been redistilled with a variety of Michigan botanicals, including sumac, white pine, and goldenrod wild-foraged in Byron Center and Greenville, Galena hops from the Michigan Hop Alliance

“We were camping with family one weekend, and my wife’s cousin told me about the juniper bushes all over Beaver Island,” said VanStrien. “It took no time at all for Jon and me to set up a trip to go see for ourselves.” In 2015, VanStrien and O’Connor took their first trip to Beaver Island, the 56-square-mile island surrounded by the blue waters of Lake Michigan, to scout for the wild juniper. Locals and owners of Island Airways, Paul and Angel Welke, offered the wide field behind their house for the crew to look at. From there, word spread, and other generous folks offered their land or passed off tips on where they’d seen the juniper bushes on the island.

“We’ve been lucky to forge some great relationships with families here. They know we want to highlight Beaver Island, not take advantage of it.” Locations in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Cadillac

Kyle VanStrien

“It’s a small, tight-knit community. It was important to us always to be mindful of how we approached our picks,” said VanStrien. “We’ve been lucky to forge some great relationships with families here. They know we want to highlight Beaver Island, not take advantage of it.” In 2019, 27 employees made the trip over on the ferry owned by Bill McDonough, who also owns the local grocery store and often tosses car keys to the Long Road team for them to use on the island. In 2020, just a skeleton crew of six arrived by plane, due to COVID-19. Luckily, in 2021, things rebounded a bit, and the team returned with a group of 24, who

harvested over 150 pounds of wild juniper over three days. The team stoops, squats, and sits around low, spreading juniper bushes, pulling off ripe berries, with others clinging tightly for next year’s harvest. Conversations between team members vary from cocktail recipes, cooking techniques, sports scores, or gentle ribbing of one another from their individual bushes. Nearly 200 pounds of juniper berries are harvested each trip that eventually yield just under 1,000 bottles of MichiGin. The berries have a woodsy, earthy flavor that is distinct to the terroir of Beaver Island. Unique flavors for a truly unique product.

“It just wouldn’t be reasonable for a large distillery to go out and handpick juniper. It’s costprohibitive,” said VanStrien, “But for us, it’s personal. As we grow as a company, it’s this great reminder of our mission and doing things the right way. We’re proud to be able to produce something that features the farmers and families we are able to partner with around the state.” If the most epic journeys include taking the road less traveled, then it’s clear the folks at Long Road are okay taking an uncharted course. But they know, as all good travelers do, that the company you keep and the friends you make along the way end up being the real reward. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


WHO RESCUED WHO? By Courtney Doyle

“Working with the rescue saved my life.” Cherryland member Kathy McCarthy knows a thing or two about saving lives. The U.S. Navy veteran

moved to northern Michigan roughly 30 years ago and has spent the last 12 years heavily involved with H.A.N.D.D.S. To The Rescue (Helping Abused, Neglected, Disabled, Displaced Souls), a nonprofit animal rescue.

H.A.N.D.D.S. is a volunteer-based rescue that places dogs in loving foster homes until they find their forever families. Kathy says, “It’s more of a normal life for the dogs. I think it’s a lot better for them, mentally.” In her 12 years with the organization, she went from volunteer foster to board member. But she was inspired to do more when two litters of puppies who had been adopted all ended up back in foster homes. “Everybody’s excuse was, ‘we couldn’t get any help, and we couldn’t afford training,’ so I went to animal behavior college, got my certificate, and started doing dirtcheap puppy classes,” explained Kathy. But she didn’t want to offer just a six-week course. She wanted to provide families with a way to work and grow with their dogs continually.

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That’s when she opened Peaceful Paws Dog Training. Her program is levels-based and offers owners flexibility instead of set classes, on set dates, with no exceptions. Kathy says, “That way, if they have a dance recital Wednesday night, they’ve got Thursday night they can come. It’s more supportive for owners.”

Peaceful Paws Dog Training uses a levels structure to help dogs and their owners learn at their own pace. This is Maggie; she’s a level four!

“DOING SOMETHING OUTSIDE MYSELF, SAVED ME.” Kathy McCarthy “Once owners attend an orientation, they can come to any or all of the level one classes. Puppies and younger dogs tend to progress to higher levels more quickly, whereas dogs with anxiety might take longer to get out of level one,” explained Kathy. Specific skills define each level, and Kathy guides owners and their dogs through learning those skills. Simply put, Kathy says, “I like to play with dogs. I’ve got the best job in the world!” As a foster mom to dozens of animals over the years, Peaceful Paws has also given her the opportunity to continue

helping the animals she’s already invested in. “We get a lot of our own dogs, fosters in here, which is good to see them and their progress. Bailey was one of my fosters,” Kathy pointed out during an all-level training session. Bailey, a level two, doesn’t get along great with other dogs. She attended a session with Maggie, a level four. Kathy says, “It’s good for Maggie to be here with Bailey. It teaches her that mom will keep her safe no matter what. It’s building a relationship between the owner and the dog. If you’ve got a good relationship and

good trust factor, your dog will do anything for you.” And Kathy would do just about anything for these dogs. After years in the Navy, moving away from her home in Wyoming, and working several different jobs, rediscovering her childhood passion for animals changed Kathy’s life. She says, “I had gone through a big depression, and working and helping, doing something outside myself, saved me. Then trying to save other people saved me even further. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

For more information on Peaceful Paws Dog Training or H.A.N.D.D.S. To The Rescue, we’ve posted links on our blog at

Kathy works one on one with Bailey, a dog she formerly fostered with H.A.N.D.D.S. To The Rescue.



MI CO-OP Recipes

Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey


Crowd-pleasing recipes you’ll love.



• 1 2 2 4 1 2 1 3 4 1 • 1 • •



energy bill credit!

10 MARCH 2022

Tomatoes due April 1 • Potatoes due May 1 Submit your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $50 bill credit and have your recipe featured in Country Lines with a photo and a video. Submit your recipe at, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to

butter or olive oil, for sautéing large onion, chopped cups chopped celery pounds fresh or frozen sweet potatoes, cubed (around 1 inch) large carrots, sliced package Polish turkey sausage, sliced (I use Eckridge Farm Smoked) (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained (15-ounce) can Great Northern beans or butter beans, rinsed tablespoons Italian spices cups chicken or vegetable broth cup water salt and pepper, to taste bunch fresh kale (stripped from stem), chopped, or 1 package frozen or fresh spinach Parmesan/Asiago shredded cheese for serving hot sauce, for serving, optional

Sauté onion, celery, sweet potatoes, and carrots in a large saucepan with butter or olive oil. When veggies start to brown, add sausage and stir every few minutes. Transfer into a slow cooker (adding a liner makes cleanup a breeze). Add all remaining ingredients (note: depending on how large your slow cooker is, you may want to add the kale first, so the other ingredients weigh it down). Turn slow cooker on “Low” and cook for 6 hours. Serve with Parmesan/Asiago (or your favorite shredded cheese) or hot sauce, if desired, on top. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

GRANDMA’S MEATBALLS Sharon Libich, Presque Isle • 1 ½ ½ 4 4 4 6

olive oil cooking spray pound ground chuck pound ground pork pound ground veal ounces dried breadcrumbs large eggs ounces whole milk ounces grated Romano cheese

3 ounces grated Spanish onion 2 ounces finely diced fresh garlic 2 ounces finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves 2 ounces finely chopped fresh basil leaves • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a baking sheet with the cooking spray. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Add more breadcrumbs if the mixture feels a little loose. Using a small scoop, roll each meatball to the size of a golf ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cook for approximately 35–40 minutes. These meatballs can be used in sauce for a spaghetti dinner or part of a meatball sandwich. Enjoy!

TOMATOES AND LINGUINE Lois Korpalski, Great Lakes 8 2 1 1 ½

ounces linguine noodles cups chopped tomatoes tablespoon dried basil teaspoon salt teaspoon black pepper

3 2 ½ 4

green onions, sliced garlic cloves, minced cup grated Parmesan cheese tablespoons butter

Cook linguine according to package directions, to al dente. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper, green onions, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Drain linguine and add butter to it while hot. When melted, add tomato mixture and enjoy.


ITALIAN TORTELLINI SOUP Theresa Mandeville, Cherryland

1 pound Italian sausage, browned and drained 1 bag frozen cheese-filled tortellini 2–4 cloves garlic, chopped 1 sweet onion, chopped 4 cups beef broth 1 cup red wine 2 cups chopped carrots

1 teaspoon basil 1 teaspoon oregano 2 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste 2 cups quartered zucchini

Brown the sausage and set aside. Prepare the tortellini according to package directions; cool and set aside. Sauté the garlic and onion until onion begins to tenderize. Combine the broth and wine; bring to a boil. Add the carrots and simmer until desired tenderness. Add the basil, oregano, diced tomatoes, sauce, and paste; continue to simmer. Add the zucchini and simmer until just tender. Add the browned sausage, onions/garlic, and tortellini. Serve.

1 tablespoon butter, melted 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic 1 (1-pound) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed ¼ pound thinly sliced deli Genoa salami

6 (1-ounce) slices mozzarella cheese, cut into strips ½ cup ricotta cheese 2 green onion stalks, diced 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Stir together butter and garlic in a bowl. Roll out bread dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch square. Place on lightly greased baking sheet; brush with butter mixture. Layer salami and cheese, spread ricotta, and add onions down a 3-inch strip of center of dough to within ½ inch of top and bottom, leaving 4½ inches of dough on each side of filling. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the top of the salami and cheeses mixture. Cut twelve 3-inch-long strips, 1 inch apart, along both sides of filling. Fold strips across filling at an angle, alternating sides to give a braided effect. Pinch dough at bottom and top to seal. Cover; let rise in warm place 30–45 minutes or until almost double in size. Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine egg and water in a bowl; brush over braid. Sprinkle top of bread lightly with Italian seasoning. Bake for 25–35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, cool slightly, and cut into slices. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES


Winter weather can have a significant impact on your energy bills, hitting your pockets a little harder than you would have liked. Now that spring is just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to tackle a few DIY efficiency projects for your home. The good news: You don’t have to be an energy expert to do this!


By completing these simple hands-on efficiency projects, you can save energy and money while increasing the comfort level of your home. And you can impress your family and friends with your savvy energy-saving skills.



DIY Efficiency Projects

WATER HEATER INSULATION AND TEMPERATURE Insulating a water heater that’s warm to the touch can save 7 to 16% annually on your water heating bills. (Note: Newer water heaters may already be insulated.) A pre-cut jacket or blanket can be purchased for about $20. 1. Turn off the water heater. 2. Wrap the jacket or blanket around the water heater and tape it to keep it in place temporarily. 3. Use a marker to note any areas where the controls are so you can cut them out. 4. Once positioned, tape the jacket or blanket permanently in place. 5. Turn the water heater back on. For an electric water heater, do not set the thermostat above 130 degrees, which can cause overheating. 12 MARCH 2022

SEAL AIR LEAKS WITH CAULK The average American family spends $2,000 annually on energy bills, with much of that money wasted through air leaks in the home. Applying caulk around windows, doors, electrical wiring, and plumbing can save energy and money. 1. Choose a silicone caulk that is waterproof, flexible, and won’t shrink or crack. 2. Clean and remove any old caulk or paint with tools or solvent. The area should be dry before you apply the new caulk. 3. Apply the caulk in one continuous stream, and make sure it sticks to both sides of the crack or seam. Use a putty knife to smooth out the caulk. 4. Wipe the surface with a dry cloth.

WEATHER-STRIP EXTERIOR DOORS One of the best ways to seal air leaks is to weather-strip exterior doors, which helps keep out drafts and control energy costs. 1. Choose weather-stripping materials that can withstand temperature changes, friction, and the general “wear and tear” for the location of the door. You will need separate materials for the door sweep (at the bottom of the door) and the top and sides. 2. Clean the molding with water and soap, then let the area dry completely. 3. Measure each side of the door, then cut the weather stripping to fit each section. 4. Make sure the weather stripping fits snugly against both surfaces so it compresses when the door is closed.

A Little Game Called Motherhood By Courtney Doyle


aseball season is a very important time in the Doyle household. It’s my husband, Matthew’s, favorite sport, therefore something I inherited as part of our marriage. I recently entered a new season of life myself. I’m a new mom. I don’t feel SUPER new anymore, though. I’ve got a couple of key mom milestones under my belt. Sleepless nights—check. The untimely blowout—check. More calls to the pediatrician’s after-hours hotline than I’d like to admit—doublecheck. But if we look at the statistics, I’m still quite the rookie in the little game I call motherhood. My son is 6 months old, and I constantly look at him and think to myself, “Wow, I made that.” He’s adorable and hilarious, so smart, and fills our world with a joy I never knew existed. I’ve, without a doubt, never been prouder of any accomplishment in my entire life. He’s truly a home run of a human being.

And I live in constant fear of messing it up. As many first-time moms do, I spent much of my pregnancy reading any book, blog, and motherhood bible I could get my hands on. I spent nine months training for this moment. I knew there would be inevitable foul balls and strikeouts, but I felt good. I was ready. Number one draft pick material. Then suddenly, you’re pulled up to the big leagues. This warm, chubby ball of a miracle was a game changer. For whatever reason, he suddenly felt more real in my arms. My love for him overtook every corner of my being, and the motherhood playbook I’d outlined for myself suddenly read like gibberish. Yet, every decision felt like game seven of the World Series. So how does one handle the weight of not screwing up the most incredible opportunity you’ve ever been afforded the chance to take a swing at? You take it one day at a time. You cry. You laugh. You worry. You fail. You

learn. And slowly, you rewrite that playbook you thought you’d had all figured out … you find ways to cover the bases with help from your team. My playbook is far from complete. We’re seeing new curveballs every day, and there have been many phone calls at all hours of the day to Coach (aka my mother) for advice. I’m learning to trust that every misstep isn’t earthshattering, and our little MVP is doing just fine. This little game called motherhood is exciting, fulfilling, and ever-changing. But at the end of every day, win or lose, if you leave it all on the field, you’re doing it right.

“And slowly, you rewrite that playbook you thought you’d had all figured out … you find ways to cover the bases with help from your team.”


Photo courtesy of Food Network

Food Network’s Holiday Baking Champion—

Michigan’s Beth Meyer By Emily Haines Lloyd


here is a scientific precision that goes into baking, with a combination of chemistry, biology, and physics at play. For those who decorate cakes, there’s another equally important part, which is the creativity, whimsy, and joy. Baker Beth Meyer shows there is a vital third ingredient to a successful creation, and that is the love and care she puts into each cake she bakes that truly turns each one into a work of heart. Meyer, who recently found herself on the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown, began her love of baking on a much smaller stage—her mother’s kitchen. While she would dutifully crack eggs or fry doughnuts, she marveled at how her mother would take sheet cakes and cut them into shapes to create delightful showstoppers for birthdays and special occasions. “They weren’t exactly masterpieces,” said Meyer. “But the care my mother

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took to make these cakes the centerpiece of an event made them feel extra special.” Following her mother’s lead, Meyer would lovingly make cakes for her own children’s parties. As she grew in her skill and creativity, her cakes quickly became the talk of the party. While living in Texas, Meyer threw her son’s birthday party with a Southwest theme, including both Texas Longhorn and cactus cakes covered in fondant, as well as specialty cookies decorated as snakes and other animals as party favors. Soon, Meyer was flooded with requests from other parents asking if she could make a cake for their upcoming celebrations. Even in the Texas heat, things snowballed. “Then one day, my husband told me his company was sending us on an overseas assignment,” said Meyer. “In some ways, it made it difficult to even dream about baking for a living, but the cakes actually helped us connect with our new communities.”

“Cakes have always been about helping people celebrate their big moments in their lives, to make memories. That day reminded me life is worth celebrating. Every moment of it.” While on an assignment in Africa, Meyer was definitely feeling disconnected. She brought one of her cakes to a party where the United States ambassador and his wife were in attendance. The ambassador’s wife reached out later and asked Meyer if she would create one for their upcoming anniversary. She ended up making several more in her time there.

The whirlwind of meeting television producers over Zoom, being selected, and flying out to Tennessee to shoot the show on a soundstage would be enough to spin a person’s head. However, there was still baking left to do. Meyer and Dowling created a gorgeous holiday window vignette that impressed judges and eventually won them the $10,000 grand prize.

“There’s nothing quite like the Secret Service coming to your door to pick up a cake,” said Meyer. “It also drove me to keep wanting to get better.”

Meyer knew exactly what she wanted to do with her winnings—make her dream of a brick and mortar bakery come true. Meyer located a perfect spot in her hometown of Mattawan to open The Cake Boutique by Beth Meyer and got back to the work she loves—creating cakes that dazzle and elevate any celebration. One look at her gallery of cakes on her website and you see how special her gift is and how much care she puts into each one. So, when asked if she could possibly pick a favorite, it was surprising that she knew right away which one held the most meaning.

Once the family returned stateside— first Texas and then Michigan, Meyer went back to her profession of teaching while remaining a student, as she would take cake decorating, sugar flower, or isomalt classes on weekends. It was at a cake show in Arkansas that she met MaryJo Dowling from Pittsburgh. MaryJo, or MJ, was equally enthusiastic about baking and decorating, and while the two lived nearly 400 miles apart, they maintained their friendship. Just a couple years later, Dowling reached out to Meyer with an interesting proposition. Dowling had been selected to interview for a Food Network competition show. While COVID-19 had initially put it on hold, they were now moving forward— quickly. And Dowling needed a partner. “When MJ called, I didn’t even need to think about it,” said Meyer. “I simply told her ‘I’m in.’”

“Without a doubt, the heart cake,” said Meyer. The cake, an anatomically accurate heart, was commissioned in October, and without asking many questions about the event, Meyer assumed it was for Halloween and asked how gory of a cake the client was looking for. The client said that just a plain heart would be fine. So, when Meyer went to deliver the cake the day of the event, she was

If you’re looking to commission Meyer for one of her masterpieces, make sure to give yourself at least two weeks to order, and more if you’re smart. Meyer’s cakes are in high demand and just the thing to bring special occasions to the next level.

both surprised and touched to find out her cake was the centerpiece of a party to celebrate a young man’s one-year anniversary of his heart transplant. The young man hugged Meyer and left an impression that seems unlikely to fade. “Cakes have always been about helping people celebrate their big moments in their lives, to make memories,” said Meyer. “That day reminded me life is worth celebrating. Every moment of it.”

56300 City Center Circle, Mattawan 281-387-0640




Pet Showcase 1. “Pug brothers”—Melissa Braun 2. “Dune dog”—Tyler Van Schepen 3. “All dressed up & nowhere to go”—Caitlin Falenski 4. “Bear says, ‘Ready?’”—Mary Miller 5. “Warm and cozy”— Anne Grant 6. “Just a boy and his pup”—Kristin Hentschel 7. “Play with me!”—Justin Meeder


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Submit Your “Antique Rides” Photos By March 20!

Submit your best photo and encourage your friends to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. Our March theme is Antique Rides! Photos can be submitted through March 20 to be featured in our May issue.

Enter Your Photos And Win A Bill Credit!

To enter the contest, visit or visit cherrylandelectriccoop and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2022, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2022 bill. 16 MARCH 2022


Your Board In Action January 2022 • Cherryland’s chief financial officer gave a report on 2021 year-end financial highlights. He noted that despite two major storm events that cost roughly $700,000, the cooperative’s operating expenses came in under budget. • Cherryland ended the year with a 99.988% reliability rating. That means 99.988% of the time, Cherryland kept the lights on for members in 2021. Our goal is to get that number to 99.999%. Cherryland continues to have one of the top reliability ratings in the state. • In an analysis of the 2021 capital credit retirement, the board reported that a total of 40,593 members, past and present, received a total of $2.7 million in capital credits in December.

Statement Of Nondiscrimination In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at http://www.ascr. and any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: 1. mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; 2. fax: (202) 690-7442; or 3. email: This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Guest Column

Sweet Surprises

By Paige Hutter, Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member


t’s 7 a.m. and I sit up in bed, dreading the bitter cold waiting outside. I rub my eyes, get out of bed, and fumble my way downstairs. In the kitchen, my Grandma is busy cooking waffles. I perk up at the smell wafting from the waffle iron. After I eat, I get my snow clothes on. It is officially sap season, and we are busy collecting sap to make maple syrup. Since my sister, Lexi, is the only one ready, she is the only one that comes along for morning sap collection. When we get out into the woods, I start hauling sap that dripped from the trees overnight. I look into several buckets, hanging from the maple trees, but they are empty. The sap is barely running this morning. We pour the sap we did collect into the giant bin that’s on the trailer, which is hooked to the quad. Then, we all climb on the trailer and drive to the next cluster of maple trees. I hop off the trailer and race to the best tree. JACKPOT! A sap icicle hangs down from the tree. I snap it off and start sucking on the slightly sweet ice. Just then, Lexi runs over to me, waving an even bigger sapscicle! I laugh and return to my work. I pour the slushy sap into the big bin and return the bucket to the tree, hoping the tree will give us even more sap at the next collection. Finally, we get to the last cluster of trees. There’s just a little sap in the bucket beneath each of these trees. I sigh and once again pour the sweet sap into the big bin on the trailer. Just then, Grandma comes up behind me. She points to the top of the trees, and I gasp. A huge barred owl is sitting in the branches of an oak tree. Usually, the syrup is my sweet treat for helping with sap, but this was even sweeter! Paige is a homeschool student in the sixth grade. She loves reading, drawing, and horseback riding. Paige enjoys being outdoors in nature. Sap collecting is one of her favorite times of the year because she gets to make memories with her family.

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WIN $150!

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published. Visit to submit.

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo to the left by March 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at January 2022 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Dallas Bond, an Ontonagon County REA Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as the 45th parallel marker on U.S. 31 in Kewadin, Michigan, just north of Elk Rapids. It is constructed in honor of Hugh Gray, the former Michigan Dean of Tourism. The crypt contains information from each of Michigan’s 83 counties and engraved stone from each county. Photo courtesy of Judy Gasco. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.

18 MARCH 2022

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Want to run for a seat on the Cherryland Board of Directors? The nominating period for board candidates begins March 1 and ends at 4 p.m. on March 30.

Visit to learn more!

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