More traction The busy crowd at Ann Arbor's Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery will now have more elbow room. The restaurant has expanded its seating capacity, acquiring the adjoining space of Café Habana, which has a new downtown location all its own, even as the Habana Cellar Lounge remains open on Washington Street. Blue Tractor is to remain open during the renovations, which should be completed by early February. In addition to more seating, the restaurant will get an additional smoker, a restyled interior and a walk-up hot deli case for takeout. Have a look, at 207 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-222-4095; bluetractor.net.
Good food We often joke about special designations — such as National Peach Melba Day (Jan. 13) or National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day (Jan. 14) — but January seems an excellent time for National Soup Month. Made from scratch, a soup can be a warming, satisfying treat that fills the house with an appetite-awakening aroma. Or drop in at Maceri's Soup & Scoop from 1 to 5 p.m. on Jan. 18. They're offering guests a free cup of soup, with donations to help feed the needy optional. It's at 47109 Hayes Rd., Shelby Twp.; 586-566-7484.
A-square deal A pocketbook-friendly culinary tour awaits area diners. It's called Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, and it happens Jan. 15-20. Some of the town's most talked-about eateries will offer prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus, including such fixtures as the upscale Chop House and vegetarian haven Seva, but also such newcomers as Mani Osteria, the independent Italian pizzeria-and-then-some that opened in April. Nearly 50 restaurants in total, serving cuisine from Mexican to Ethiopian, will offer $12 lunches and $25 dinners, some offering two meals for the price of one. To learn more, see annarborrestaurantweek.com.
Women and beer When we say women and beer, we mean women who love beer. That is to say, the second meeting of the Downriver Women's Beer Auxiliary, which meets on the second Thursday of every month at Wyandotte's Rockery. The group will coordinate brewery tours, listen to guest speakers and enjoy happy hour prices all night long. Dues are $25 a year and include three samples per month of what's on tap, a button, sticker and membership card. Meeting is 7-11 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12, at the Rockery, 1175 Eureka Rd., Wyandotte; 734-281-4629rockerywyandotte.com.
Warmer dishes The winter dinner menu at Detroit's Woodbridge Pub is ready, and it looks rich and comforting. It includes chicken pot pie with cream sauce served on a bed of wilted kale with chicken gravy; pasta casserole with spinach, mozzarella, Parmesan and house-made ricotta; meatloaf with potatoes, carrots, celery and mustard, topped with house-made apple-tomato ketchup; and rainbow trout filled with Avalon bread stuffing with an optional wrap of bacon. Sides include root vegetable mash, creamed spinach, wilted kale and roasted red skin potatoes. It's at 5169 Trumbull, Detroit; 313-833-2701.
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Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook — Crazy Delicious Recipes that Are Good to the Earth and Great for Your Bod
Running Press, $29.95
Experts have long stressed the importance of adopting a more healthful diet for our bodies — but that diet can be good for our planet as well. Read Kim Barnouin's Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook — Crazy Delicious Recipes that Are Good to the Earth and Great for Your Bod to discover the motivation for eating better and sustaining the earth. Kim begins explaining how to identify the harmful ingredients found in processed foods and how to select those that are good for you, offering shopping lists and pantry staples. The recipes and photographs are bonuses that will guide you to embrace a new, greener culinary lifestyle — without sacrificing pleasure.
the works We always like a little kitsch that livens up an abode, in this case practical, inexpensive and whimsical. This glass bowl mimics a disposable plastic bag, holding most of the same objects, but best used for anything that begs for easy access and doesn't require an airtight seal. It's perfect for all kinds of snacks — candies, jelly beans, nuts and pretzels — as well as a bunch of flowers, even Legos or small toys for the kids (although it might be too delicate for them to handle). The pictured candy is not included, but throw a in a few handfuls to make it a cool gift.