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Foods Of the Midwest - Michigan Good Eats: Pasties, Sweet Potatoes, Devo, and Clangers

Updated on January 30, 2013
A wonderful Michigan pasty (note the crimped edge).
A wonderful Michigan pasty (note the crimped edge). | Source

Innovation With Vegetables

The Hubber B.T. Evilpants mentioned traditional Michigan pasties to me in another Sweet Potato recipe thread and I have come up with a recipe for Sweet Potato Pasties.

I like the traditional Michigan and Welsh pasties that I have tried on my visits all over Michigan. They include Michigan potatoes, beef, and rutabaga - and sometimes turnips (called "nips") in some lesser-known parts of the state. I am always ready for innovative uses of root vegetables, so sweet potatoes are a certainty for good eats.

For a good time, visit the Michigan Pasty Fest pages of Calumet, Michigan here at PHOTOS and FUN.

The pasty is indigenous to the Keweenaw Peninsula (see map below) and the "thumb" part of Michigan and well known throughout the state. It has been a character of its own in the Lilian Jackson Braun The Cat Who mystery series that is set in the Wolverine State.

"Where is my pasty?"


Pasty Fest!


Millfield Mine Last Survivor - Sigmund Kozma

Devo - "Working In a Coal Mine"


Coal Miners in Wales and later in Michigan carried a large pasty or two down into the coal mines with them every day for a meal in their lunch pails. Big and hearty and substantial as the men - and later the women joining them in the mines as engineers - that ate them, these meat and root vegetable pies kept them going all day long.

A friend of Welsh descent tells me that in Wales of old, the miners would meet on the roads of the countryside on foot together with their lunch pails in the early mornings and walk to the mines, singing as they went. When they walked back home at night, they sang again. Sometimes, they walked to the mines in the dark and home again in the dark, singing, depending on what time of year it was. Their lights or candles on their helmets showed the way back and forth.

The singing is what is missed most by people that have known such miners and the decline of mining in the UK and USA. If you read former NASA engineer Homer Hickam's series of novels based on his youth and early adulthood in West Virginia, you'll see something about the sining and cameraderie that miners exchanged as well. These stories begin with Rocket Boys, also called October Sky, and continue with books about Coalwood.

In Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia, the miners had to climb down 1000s of feet of ladder through tall shaft houses or take rickety elevators down deep below the earth's surface in order to work.These were perilous journeys at best.

One of my uncles with Native American blood and looking much like the Pontiac logo for the automobile of the same name was 7 feet tall and worked bent over in the mines for 40 years in W. VA and Ohio. He escaped the Millfield Coal Mining Disaster of 1930. He took sandwiches down into the mine, but it's probable he and his fellows also took some sort of meat pie on some days, most likely a pasty. They were easy to carry and easy to eat.

After retiring from the mines, such folks still enjoyed pasties, meat pies, shepherd's pies, sweet potato pies, pot pies, and all their variations

Keweenaw Pensinsula:
Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan, USA

get directions

The jagged black boundary is Canada to the far north.

Keweenaw Pensinsula

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior at the Upper Peninsula. There is also a Shipwreck Preserve on the peninsula. In Michigan, they like to sink old ships and look at them later.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior at the Upper Peninsula. There is also a Shipwreck Preserve on the peninsula. In Michigan, they like to sink old ships and look at them later. | Source

The Recipe - Pasty ala Sweet Potato - Vegan or with Meat

Makes 4 Pasties for Lunch


8 oz short-crust:

  • 4 oz margarine, white vegetable shortening, butter or vegan margarine
  • 8 oz all purpose or unbleached flour
  • Rub the fat into the flour in a bowl or on a wooden board. Add in a pinch of salt and just enough ice water (couple spoons) to hold it into a ball of dough.
  • Let rest 20 minutes and roll it out into a circle or wide oval.


  • 1 Large onion
  • 2 Large sweet potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 oz French style green beans (cut diagonally) or frozen peas (or if you would like a meat pasty, add 6 to 8 oz cooked crumbled chopped ground chuck or cooked stew meat instead - with sweet potatoes, pork is good, too - just roll the dough a bit bigger if you add the meat)
  • ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground mustard
  • Kosher salt (it's tastier) and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Please Rate Our Recipe!

5 stars from 1 rating of Sweet Potato Pasty

Clangers Reportedly Like Pasties

Clangers - Series 1/ Bagpuss - Complete / Ivor The Engine - Complete [DVD]
Clangers - Series 1/ Bagpuss - Complete / Ivor The Engine - Complete [DVD]

Clangers are a food like a pasty that becames a children's cartoon character. They come together in a family and were popular before the Teen Hunger cartoons of today.



Pre Heat oven 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.

  • Wash the potatoes and pare slightly.
  • Cut up potatoes into medium-size chunks.
  • Boil in salted water for 15 minutes until soft. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and dice. Set aside.
  • Chop and saute onions in a little olive oil.
  • Add ginger; chilli; turmeric; cumin; coriander; ground mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Cook on simmer for 4-5 minutes and then remove from heat to cool.
  • Roll the short-crust into 4 circles.
  • Place cooled filling just off-center in each pasty circle and fold in half. Crimp edges.
  • Brush with either soy milk, 2% milk, or an egg wash made of one whole beaten egg, and cut a few small vents in each pasty to allow steam to escape (be decorative).
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until done.

For a traditional pasty, use meat, Michigan potatoes, and rutabagas. Adjust your seasonings to your liking and prepare the same way.


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Parsimoniously! :)

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 

      11 years ago from Hell, MI

      Purveyors of Pellucidarian pasties prefer privacy! Positively pedantic, Patty!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Ah, you must have used the blueprints hinted in Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan at the Earth's Core" in the city of Pellucidar.

      Pellucidarian Pasties. You could set up a shop.

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 

      11 years ago from Hell, MI

      I do, in fact, keep my kitchen-like laboratory in an undisclosed location. Rather than a shack, i have opted to build my lair (hutch?) far below ground. This way, I am far beyond the reach of the long arm of the pasty police.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      11 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      This was a fun Hub to write, becuase the pasty is so interesting. Just-Rodney - thanks for the comments; I'll do some more of these in the same vein!

      Ruthie17 - those Mexican pastiea sound delicious and I never thought of Crescent rolls - thanks for the tip.

      sandhyap - Thanks! I hope you continue to enjoy them.

      B.T. Evilpants - well, you give us SO much to work with...And I never thought about gravy in a pasty but it sounds like it could be tasty, although deadly in Michigan. We are sure ythat ou have a secret kitchen in which you prepare these delicacies, much like a shack that hides a moonshine still... I now think that fruit and nut pasties might be good as well.

    • B.T. Evilpants profile image

      B.T. Evilpants 

      11 years ago from Hell, MI

      Outstanding! I am humbled to be mentioned in another of your outstanding hubs! I have adapted several pasty recipes to be made in a 9" pie pan. Although, I do the unthinkable. Several of my recipes incorporate gravy into the pie. That may be the only offense, in Michigan, that is punishable by death!

    • sandhyap profile image


      11 years ago

      Great hub as always dear patty.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Another hit, Patty! I've expanded the pastie to come up with Mexican and Italian flavors and have "short-cutted" it by using Crescent Roll squares when I'm in a hurry. Not the same type of dough but OK in a pinch.

      I love the added "local" flavor. Always enjoy your Hubs!

    • Just_Rodney profile image

      Rodney Fagan 

      11 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Great hub as always, Patty, I enjoy the way you add other side bits of information on your hub, that way we get a view of the area as well as some background information.


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