Jeff’s Dinner

I’m not braggin’ on myself, but I think I’m a sweet ass wife. In addition to having a fairly sweet ass, I also make dinner most nights and almost always (unless I’m napping or Jazzercising) meet my sweet Jeff at the door when he gets home from work. He had a shitty drive tonight, something I foresaw based upon my own shitty drive, and so I planned a nice dinner. So when I pranced up to the door, bearing a glass of beer no less, I could say that dinner was just about ready and would be nicely plated for him. Here is what it was–nothing fancy, but really good:

What you are looking at is ground beef in a flour tortilla. You cook the ground beef and then put it into the tortilla, quite simple. Then you put shredded cheese on top and broil it for a few. BUT THE REALLY COOL SHIT is the HOMEMADE sauce on top! Very simple! You put some olive oil into a pan, put in 2 t of flour and 1/2 t of baking powder (or 2 t of self rising flour but I ain’t got that shit) and let it sit for a minute. Then add about 1/2 c of water, about 3 oz of tomato sauce, dump in cumin, onion powder and garlic powder and stir. Let it simmer until it bubbles and thickens and then stir some more. It will get rather thick and is delicious.

I also made a salad and gave him a bag of Doritos. I could have made Spanish rice but I worked my ass off all day, had my own shitty ride home and besides, hey, DORITOS! The whole meal cost <$5 and did I mention it included DORITOS? Cuz I'm a sweet ass wife, I am.

Rat Pad Fest

One of my favorite homebrewing events is the Rat Pad Fest at the Corner Brewery. In a nutshell, various members of various homebrew groups use the Corner’s brewing system to brew their creations–anything from Hawaiian pizza beer to plum beer to chocolate chipolte beer. Then, on one magical day, we all gather to drink these creations. And it is Good.

So this past Saturday, we gathered at the Corner and drank beer and it was Good. Beers arrived from five different homebrewing groups: Brighton Brew Club, Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, Maize & Brew, Sons of Liberty, and Motor City Mashers. Here are my personal favorites from each:

1) Sons of Liberty: Far and away, my favorite beer was the Arr-PA. First, it was fun to say! And next, it was a yummy dry hopped beer with chamomile. Now I must confess that when I heard “chamomile” I thought, “Ew.” I am not now and have never been a fan of tea. I worried that it would taste like, well, tea. But it didn’t! It was hoppy with a nice, smooth finish. I also liked their Black Hops, which was a black beer with lots of hops, as the name implies. It wasn’t a heavy black beer, and was nice and crisp.

2) Motor City Mashers: I somehow didn’t make it to the mashers table until later, and I was sorry that I waited. I liked all of their offerings, but was really fond of their bourbon beer (I’m sorry that I neglected to get its full name). I was so, so sad to hear of the misplacing of the Jewish Rye beer but shit happens…hopefully, the beer will get made again for the next fest.

3) Maize & Brew: The Stinger, baby! Far and away my favorite was their stinger beer, which was a trippel and really did sting my ass. Especially since I had about four tastes of it.

4) Brighton Brew Club: Again, I enjoyed all of their offerings but man, that chocolate chipolte stout was killer. Spicy and not too chocolatey…it was delicious and filling.

5) Ann Arbor Brewers’ Guild. Okay, I’m biased here, as I am a member of this lovely group! And I helped on the pffeffernusse beer (several dozen pffeffernusse cookies were put into the mash), so I gotta give props to that beer. It tastes like…a cookie! The cookies (which I had never heard of prior to the brewing) featured spices like anise, cloves and nutmeg. You get a nice subtle taste of those spices, but nothing overpowering. I also loved the Hawaiian pizza beer! I was a touch skeptical, but it was terrific…smoky with tastes of oregano.

I heard that they want to do this event up even bigger next time and I say, bring it. In this case, too much is never enough!

I’m Cuckoo for Enthusiast Tours!

I’ve been a Michigan beer enthusiast for more than a minute but, for some ungodly reason, have never been to an enthusiast tour before. You see, one of the perks of being an enthusiast is that you get to attend free tours at Michigan breweries. Jeff & I went to our first tour this past Saturday, at our second home which you may know as a place called the Corner Brewery.

The turnout was stellar and we got to see many, many members of our “beer family”. The brewery was open for us to peruse and there was a guided tour or two. The brewpub provided taps of their Trippel, Ryeclops, Hoptown Brown and Serpentarius (sp?) and tasting glasses. That’s all I needed to see…might’ve had a sample or 12. Matt brought out the bottled Flamboyant Red and started pouring. It was like reverse pied piper watching everyone rush up to him to get a sample. Truly great fun!

The week after was the tour at Arbor Brewing Company. Brewer Bill brought us downstairs and we saw the cooler room, where I hung out for many cold minutes (totally worth it). I also saw a huge fermenter of CRye Baby chilling upstairs…that made me happy. For our drinking pleasure, we had pitchers of the Trippel, Hoptown Brown and Porter in the Rye, which was a new beer I’d never had before. Sour beer also made an appearance, so that was nice. And somehow our friend KevWeiser was walking around with a pitcher of trippel after “last call”, having successfully argued that we recognized Central time.

At any rate, I can’t wait for the next round of tours. I hear Beer Todd over at Copper Canyon puts on a helluva show. Until then, I will count the days to the Winter Beer Fest!

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 36 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 56 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 41mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 17th with 104 views. The most popular post that day was What’s the matter with the food movement?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, digg.com, twitter.com, markmaynard.com, and igniteannarbor.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for king cake baby, palate of patti, baked goods recipes blondies, patti smith, and the sense of taste.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

What’s the matter with the food movement? July 2010
16 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

2

Do you fondue? March 2010
8 comments

3

King’s Cake February 2010
5 comments

4

Stouts & P-funk March 2010
1 comment

5

Weight Loss April 2010
8 comments

Pfeffernuesse Cookies…and Beer!

So, you may have heard of a man named Mike O’Brien. The man is a beer genius and that is all there is to say. He made the (first batch, circa 2008, I think) of chips’n’salsa beer that appeared on Cinco de Mayo at the Corner Brewery. He helped Jeff and me brew our anniversary beers. And he is about to brew a beer using pfeffernuesse cookies. I am honored that I will be able to help with this process.

Mike asked that we donate some pfeffernuesse cookies for the mash so of course my first question to him was, “What the fuck are pfeffernuesse cookies?” He tried to explain them but I had no clue. I searched high and low for these cookies. Whole Foods? Oh HELL no. Now they have gluten-free free-range organic ass-paste free cookies, but no pfeffernuesse. Hillers? Krogers? None that I could find. So finally I said to hell with it and decided to make them myself.

There are about a zillion recipes out there, but I had to find one that used ingredients that I had on hand. One promising recipe called for something called “cardamom”, which I was all set to buy…until I saw it was like $18 for a small thing of it. Um, no. Try again. Thanks for playing. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Rather, I found one on CD Kitchen. I had to tweak it a bit, but I think they came out pretty good:

1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(it called for allspice, which I didn’t have, so instead I used ginger, pepper and white pepper)

You first put the sugar, honey, dark corn syrup and shortening in a pan and heat until the sugar and shortening melt. Let it cool and add the egg. (Be careful because the egg will actually cook if the stuff is too hot). Mix your dry ingredients and then add them to the gooey mixture. Drop onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for about 10 minutes. Then cover cookies in powdered sugar. Powdered sugar looks a lot like cocaine does (well, at least cocaine that I see on tv…never seen any IRL). I pretended that I had discovered a big cache of coke in my Domino sugar box and was going to cut it with Ajax powder and make a fortune.

I was really nervous about how these were going to look. And then I reminded myself that the cookies are going to be used as BEER MASH, not Martha f’in Stewart’s cookie baking contest. They looked passable and I started to fret but again, I’m not entering to be Mrs. Betty Crocker so who cares? I have no idea what they are supposed to taste like but they tasted okay I guess.

I can’t wait for this beer to be made and done…it’s gonna be some good beer! Watch for it at the Rat Pad Fest at the Corner on January 22!

Holiday Beer Tastings!

Last week, Jeff & I went to back-to-back beer tastings at Arbor Brewing and Whole Foods respectively. I love Arbor tastings because some of my friends pour (this time we saw Angela, Dede, Cindy, Team Jeff, Dave as Kwanzaa Klaus and Mike H. and of course a bunch of people I didn’t know) and that is always fun. Also, they have perogies and meatballs. MMMMMMM!! Oh, and the beer is pretty good, too!

This year, my favorites were Heavy Seas Winter Storm, Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve and, surprisingly, Iqhilika Fig Meade. The Heavy Seas was mildly bitter, according to my tasting notes with a nice aftertaste. It was hoppy with a caramel-vanilla taste. I was surprised to find out it was 7.7% ABV because it went down way easily.

I always love me some Rogue and this year’s Santa’s Private Reserve did not disappoint. Malty up front, hoppy to finish (I scribbled down “pine” so that makes me think that I meant I tasted piney hops at some point).

The biggest surprise for me was the fig meade that I had. The only honey that I like is this particular brand of whipped honey that I buy at Great Harvest Bread Company and put on my morning English muffins. It is from mid-Michigan and I truly believe that the local pollen in the honey has helped my allergies. I do not like regular honey though and therefore do not usually like mead. But man, batten down the hatches cuz this stuff is GOOD!!!! It’s called Iqhilika Fig Meade from ZA, which I’m not sure what that ZA stands for. It was like drinking a warm, spicey fig. But with alcohol! They had is warmed up in the basement and I honestly could have spent all night there!

This figginess was great because I got to sing (softly) “Give us figgy pudding, figgy pudding, give us figgy pudding” but the tune I was singing morphed into the old sorority drinking song which goes, “Here’s to Sister Patti, Sister Patti, Sister Patti, here’s to Sister Patti who’s with us tonight. Drink motherfucker drink motherfucker drink motherfucker”. So my song went “Give us figgy pudding, figgy pudding, figgy pudding, give us figgy pudding who’s with us tonight. Drink motherfucker, etc.”

But I couldn’t stay in the basement and sing all night cuz there were other rooms of beer. Other notable beers featured were Calabaza Noel from Jolly Pumpkin, Dark Horse Coffee Dopplebock, Bell’s Christmas Ale and Huyghe Delirium Noel (the one with the pink elephants on it that I call the Christmas Pink Elephant beer).

Because one beer tasting is never enough, Jeff and I went to our friend Jimmy’s holiday beer tasting at Whole Foods. Jimmy puts on a great tasting and we got to sit in that kitchen at the front of Whole Foods. When you walk in, turn left and keep walking and you will eventually see it behind two glass doors. It was always like a Secret Mystery Room for me and I was quite pleased to get to actually go inside. I am easily pleased, as you may have guessed.

We started with the “Cable Car”, which is a beer that is exclusive to Whole Foods. Not sure who actually brews it. (Trader Joe’s has something similar in its stores). It is a good starter beer, good gateway beer or, as I like to say, a good “palate cleanser”. It was very light tasting, light brown in color but did have some Christmas-y spices to it.

Next, we had Bell’s Winter Ale, which is most definitely Belgian-style. I do not care for Belgian style beers, so Jeff finished mine. He says it was “to style”, with a nice floral palate. We then moved onto Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale which is a personal favorite of mine. It is hoppy, malty and kinda strong. Next was the Anchor Christmas Ale which I somehow hadn’t tried at Arbor the night before. It was very dark and kinda figgy looking. So I got to sing my song again.

Anyway, it didn’t taste figgy. It tasted spicey and strong…we think we detected anise and nutmeg spices. Next was Jolly Pumpkin’s Noel de Calabaza. This is a great beer! Full of figs (!!!), malt, raisins and even a nut taste. Lastly was Bell’s Christmas Ale which had a “spicy but clean” taste, according to my tasting notes. I am reading about the beer right now though and Bell’s says that it doesn’t actually contain any spices. Huh. It tasted mildly spicey so I’m not sure what to tell you.

These two beer tastings were a great way to kick off what is sure to be a great winter of drinking beer! Cheers!

That IS a banana in my freezer and I AM glad to see you!

For various reasons (namely that I don’t eat them fast enough and they start to go bad), I usually have frozen bananas in my freezer. Using them up isn’t usually a problem, as I make a mean banana-blueberry bread (or muffins). But for some reason, I got a hankering to make banana pancakes. Why? I don’t know except I do know this: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who? Knock knock. Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn’t say banana again?

Oh, and here’s the recipe:
1/2 c flour
1.5 t sugar
1 t baking powder
1/8 t salt

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 mashed up banana

1 T vegetable oil

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix them together. Using the oil, fry up the pancakes. The recipe made about 6 pancakes, more than enough for Jeff and me.

Oh and by the way–How do you spell banana? B-a-n-a-n-a-n-a-n-a-n-a-n-a…I know how to spell it, but I don’t know when to stop!

Happy Thanxgiving!

I wouldn’t be a lame-o blogger if I didn’t list the things I’m thankful for! So here we go!

1. Long suffering husband, Jeff. Ten years ago this week, we were preparing to be married on December 1st. I’m still thankful that Jeff didn’t take my dad’s offer of his gassed up minivan filled with maps to Florida 😉

2. Parents. I still spend nights lying awake, wondering what on earth I will do when my parents are not on this planet with me.

3. Friends. Since my biological family is small and rather far away, I have strived to create my own family made up of friends. I have never subscribed to the “blood is thicker than water” idea, given that I have seen some “blood” relatives do some horrible things to other “blood” relatives (not in my family, but in the course of practicing law and teaching). It is nice to know that I have people and places that, when I have to go to them, they have to take me 🙂

4. Community. Some days, Ann Arbor bugs the shit out of me. I don’t abide poseurs, entitled attitudes and/or smug people and A2 has them aplenty. But for the most part, I love it here and wouldn’t live anywhere else.

5. My ‘hood. It is no secret that I don’t like my house. BUT I love my neighborhood! I would rather this be my situation as opposed to loving my house and hating my ‘hood.

6. My job. Most days, I love my job. Despite the shit you read in the paper, there are some damned fine kids at DPS. They show up every day in their uniforms, most neatly pressed and clean (some of the kids wear white shirts every day and I marvel at the cleanliness). Some of the kids have moved around a zillion times, have shitty homes, no dads, no moms, they all have to look at the burned out houses and gang tags, they may read about how much everyone hates Detroit and how they are all bound to fail…but they keep showing up. If you had seen how cute my cheerleaders looked in their light blue and white (fight, fight, fight, big blue and white!!) uniforms and matching bows, you never would have known you weren’t in some wealthy suburb (well, except that the team has all colors, creeds, nationalities!!!). Most of these kids are just…kids. And if some politician fucks with them, I’ll rip off his/her head and shit down their neck.

7. My brain. I am blessed with a quick thinking mind, both verbally and in writing. Sometimes this gets me in trouble as that little filter that we all have runs about 3.5 seconds behind some days. Nevertheless, if I ever lose my gift of glib, I will cry.

8. The craft beer/homebrewer family. As my friend ET said on her blog, it is a 95% asshole free industry. I would say the say the same of the homebrewers and craft beer drinkers I know. They are a friendly bunch who will welcome anyone who isn’t a total douchebag. I love these people.

9. Buddy. My dog turned 12 in September. He is definitely in his golden years but he still greets me at the door with all the energy and excitement of a puppy. He sleeps next to me every night (and in fact is curled up next to me taking a nap right now) and when he looks at me, I know that he knows I’m his mom.

10. Social networking. I have met so many amazing people online (including my husband). I never would have met most of these folks if not for that magical thing called the Internet. I am grateful.

Happy dead bird day!