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!

You Should Not Drink & Bake

One year, the Smithee Awards just had some fantabulous quotes in their movies. Oh wait, that’s EVERY year. Whatever, this one year had this movie with Arnold S (I can’t spell the last name; sue me) in it. He told a woman–and I quote–“You should not drink and bake” (but imagine that with that Arnold S Terminator voice). He also told her her “hair looks like shit that way” but that quote does not apply to this post; nevertheless, I offer it up solely for your amusement.

I never really worried about this advice because I tend to bake in the morning or afternoon and drink in the evenings and nighttime. However, this past Friday was a big drinking night. It did not start out that way, but it ended up that way. So after Jeff & I stumbled home, I realized that shit! I had to make a pumpkin cheesecake for a party I was going to on Saturday. I set my mental alarm (which, interestingly, only works on non-school days) for about 9am and drifted off to marmalade skies. They don’t make marmalade like they used to and, for some ungodly reason, I was up at 8:15 am on Saturday and decided I should start to bake the cheesecake.

I had wanted to try a new recipe that called for four (!!) packages of cream cheese, so that is what I bought. Upon looking at the recipe that morning though, I noticed it called for something called a “springform” pan. Having no earthly idea what that was, let alone whether or not I had one, I went back to my tried and true pumpkin cheesecake recipe, which only calls for two (!) packages. I softened them up in the microwave and got to work.

It is perhaps at this point that I should tell you that I was a little hungover. I normally don’t get hungover but since I’ve lost some weight, I can’t drink like I could when I was 40 pounds heavier. I made the gingersnap crust and then I blended the cream cheese, the pumpkin (which I had baked and frozen last year), the vanilla, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the cloves, the sugar and then dumped it all into the crust and put it into the oven. This is the point in which the blog post becomes like that Shel Silverstein poem where the man forgot his pants because, you see, I clearly forgot something.

Can you tell me what it is?
Bonus points if you can tell me for what 70s artist Mr. Silverstein wrote song lyrics?

I’ll wait.

Got it? The eggs, of course! (And it was Dr. Hook)

The dog had to be let out at this point and after I brought him in, I suddenly remembered reading in the recipe about how I needed two eggs. Oh. Fudge. But I didn’t say fudge. I ran into the living room and asked Jeff what I should do. He asked at what point was I in the baking process and I said that the cheesecake was in the oven. He looked at me and I knew that I had to start anew.

Luckily, I had plenty of pumpkin, the extra cream cheese and lots of ginger snaps to work with. THIS TIME, I put the eggs out first thing so I wouldn’t forget. And by the time I was done, my hangover was just about gone.

So how did they turn out? The biggest difference was in texture. The no-eggs version was more like cream cheese dumped in a crust. Not bad, but not as smooth and creamy as its sister pie I did put some cinnamon and sugar atop the no-eggs version and that helped a bit. So it wasn’t awful, but not something I’d do again.

Here is the recipe, in case you were wondering:
2 packages (16 oz) of softened cream cheese
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
dash cloves


Pour into crust and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Gingersnap crust:
1.5 c of gingersnap cookie crumbs
3 T sugar
1/2 t ginger
6 T melted butter.
Press into a greased, 9″ pie pan and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Short’s Beer Dinner at Sidetracks

Last Wednesday, Jeff & I went to a burger and Short’s beer tasting at Sidetracks in Ypsilanti. We love their food and would go any time, but the lure of Short’s was just too much to resist. Sidetracks (actually, the event was at Frenchie’s) was awesome–they did a super job of pairing beer and food that complimented each other. Without further ado, here is what we sampled last night:

The appetizer was acorn squash baked with apple cider paired with Autumn Ale. This beer was an ESB with a delicious malty mouthfeel and bitter aftertaste. It went perfectly with the squash. I normally do not care for squash but when I took a bite and then swished beer in my mouth, I found it quite enjoyable.

Next, we a mac’n’cheese “burger”, which was Sidetracks’ mac’n’cheese (mmmmm) with ground up beef in it (#kosherfail). This was paired with Short’s Bloody Beer that I have heard a ton about but never tried. It was good, but not at all what I expected. I think I expected it to taste more like Mike O’Brien’s chips’n’salsa beer. This beer had a nose that was all tomatoes, but not a huge tomato-y taste. I could pick out a hint of the dill, peppercorn and horseradish that was also used in the recipe.

The third course was Short’s Black Cherry Porter with a black cherry & goat cheese burger. I do not like goat cheese (email me privately to hear my rather off-color description of what it tastes like) so I had to scrape it off. This made it a #notkosherfail! Unfortunately, the black cherries were also in the cheese so I missed out on that. What I didn’t miss out on though was the beer! Do not be scared off of this beer, thinking it’s a “fruit” beer because it doesn’t taste like what you might be thinking of. It is made with pureed black cherries and does have a nice cherry aftertaste. The overwhelming taste, however, is that of a robust and delicious porter.

Next, we had Abnormal Genius and a peanut butter and bacon burger. Naturally, I had to pick the bacon out (#kosherwin!) but the remaining food was still lovely. Peanut butter and meat, who’d have thunk it? Again, the beer was a perfect match. Made with honey and sunflower seeds, brewed in 2006 and named after Joe Short himself, this beer is incredible. It smelled like a mead, tasted like a beer. There was a nice hit of honey up front that quickly mellowed into a nutty flavor.

Lastly, we had a baked pear with ginger creme paired with Ginger in the Rye. This beer was my favorite of the night, much to my surprise. I am not a huge fan of ginger (unless it’s Vernors) and so I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Brewed in 2007, this beer has Hefe yeast and (of course) plenty of rye and ginger. It was on the lighter side, without the heavy ginger flavor that I don’t care for.

By the way, I did bring my camera but I was starving and thirsty and everything got eaten and drank up too quickly for pictures. But you all are smart and can use your imagination. Or heck, take a drive up to Short’s and try some of these beers for yourself!

Birthday Snickerdoodles

Jeff’s favorite kind of cooky is snickerdoodles. Note that I spelled it “cooky”. That is awesome, isn’t it? My 1960 Betty Crocker cookbook is so charming for so many reasons, not the least of which is how it spells “cooky”. (It also does this thing where it will say something like, “This recipe was sent into us by Mrs. Jeffrey Bletch, formerly Patti Smith of our staff. I would not have done well in the 50s/60s, I wouldn’t have. I ain’t nobody’s property, Betty.)

Latent feminism aside, I enjoy the cookbook immensely. It is really fond of meat dishes, casseroles and the occasional Jello mode. My mom used this same cookbook when I was growing up, and I remember going through it and reading it. I ordered one for myself off of eBay, but left it on the floor one day and Buddy got to it. There must have been meat juices or something on the meat section, because he ripped those pages out and chewed them up. He got a spanking and a time out in the yard, but I think he failed to grasp how upset I was. Undaunted, I ordered another one off of eBay and that had remained mercifully Buddy-free.

The best Snickerdoodle recipe that I have found resides in those unchewed upon pages. Is it healthy? Um dude, these are cookies from the 50s, so the answer would be no. But OTOH, it could have called for the use of pure lard and it does merely call for Crisco, so….

1 cup of shortening
1.5 cups of sugar
2 eggs
2 t of cream of tartar
1 t baking soda (just called soda in the cookbook because bitch, if you don’t know we ain’t talkin’ about no Club Soda, you oughta get yo ass out the kitchen)
1/4 t salt
2.75 c of flour
2 T of sugar
2 t of cinnamon

Mix your shortening, eggs and sugar. Then mix the dry ingredients except the 2 T of sugar and 2 t of cinnamon. Combine. My batter tends to be a little dry so I often put a dash of 1/2 & 1/2 in to moisten it up. Roll into balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and put on a cooky sheet that has been greased or, in my case, has parchment paper on it. Bake at 400 degrees (moderately hot oven, Betty cheerfully reminds us) for about 10 minutes (12 in the case of my oven). Don’t panic at the disco when you see them puff up and then flatten out…it’s all part of the charm.

Stout Cookies…er, Brownies

A friend of mine has been having some drama in her life. I didn’t know about it, and I feel bad about it. So I did the only thing I could do which is to bake something for her. Since my girl really likes stout beers, I wanted to incorporate this as an ingredient. Thanks to The Google, I found a recipe for stout cookies, which goes a little somethin’ like this:

Stout syrup: 24 oz of stout (I used Great Lakes’ Blackout Stout) & 5 T of sugar

Cookies: 1/2 c butter (softened), 2/3 c white sugar, 1/3 c brown sugar, 1 egg, 1 t vanilla, 3/4 c flour, 1/3 c cocoa powder, 1/8 t salt, 1/4 baking soda (unless you are using pre-alkalized cocoa and then you’d want to use baking powder), 1/3 c of the stout syrup

Bring the stout and 5 T of sugar to a boil and then reduce it to a “strong simmer”. Let it boil away until it is the consistency of thin honey…it will, per the recipe, be about 1/3 cup. Here is where I made my first error. I was brewing beer with Jeff and we were brewing outside. So I was running back and forth between the kitchen and the back patio. I didn’t take that much care with it and got impatient with it and eventually just said “fuck it” and dumped it in the mix.

But before that…

…I mixed the dry ingredients in a bowl. In my mixer bowl, I put the butter, sugar and eggs and mixed it up for about 2 minutes. At some point, I realized that the stout mixture wasn’t boiling down and that is when I said “fuck it” and dumped it in. Then I added the dry stuff. Shit. I immediately realized my mistake. The mixture was way too runny and there was no way it could be shaped into cookies, unless you like your cookies to look like stained glass. So I said “fuck it” again and doubled the recipe. I put in additional butter, white sugar, brown sugar, an egg, vanilla, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Then I mixed it up some more but it was still kinda runny. So yet again I said “fuck it” and greased my brownie pan. I dumped in the mixture and put it in the oven for 25 minutes (at 350 degrees). It was still gooey after the time passed so I put it in for 20 more minutes and HOLY SHIT WAS IT GOOD!!!! I ain’t playin’ with ya–it was some stouty chocolately goodness. I don’t even like chocolate that much and I was eating it out of the pan. To be pretty, I sprinkled some confectioners sugar on top. Yum.

I haven’t taken it to my friend’s house yet so I don’t know if she’ll like it or not. But I did and dammit, sometimes you gotta say “what the fuck”, or in my case, “fuck it”.

Fall Faves

Even when I wasn’t teaching, I always considered September the beginning of a new year.  I love football, cider mills, cooler weather, Oktoberfest, pretty leaves, fall colors, Halloween, and of course–seasonal fall beers!  Here are some recommendations (by no means is this list exclusive!)

Arcadia’s Jaw-Jacker Ale.  I’ve seen this beer at Buschs and Hillers for a few weeks now but since I was hanging onto summer for dear life, I resisted picking up a six pack.  :tail between legs:

Bell’s Octoberfest beer.  This is a refreshing beer and one of my Oktoberfest faves.

Great Lakes Brewing Oktoberfest.  As I was cleaning out the bottles in my garage, I found a few empties from last fall (oopsie-daisy). They are now happily recycled, delighted to have given their lives for the great ecological good.

Samuel Adams Octoberfest.  I know that some folks are not huge fans of Sam Adams, but I really like this beer.  Speaking of Mr. Adams, a friend of mine pointed out that you can tell a waiter/waitress is not educated in craft beer when he or she says, “We have Sam Adams on tap.”  No, no you don’t.  You have beer from Sam Adams on tap, but not the brewery itself.

Arbor Brewing Company’s Jackhammer.  I look forward to this release every year.  This year, the release happens to fall on my first day of school (well, with the kids in attendance) and I am tickled.  I know it was a coincidence, but I can pretend that they took their favorite TeacherPatti into account when planning this event!

What about you? What fall beers are your favorite? What else should I be drinking this fall??

PS: My friend and fellow blogger David Bardallis will surely write more and better about this than I ever could, but I thought I’d mention that Oktoberfest events are in the near future.  To wit:  ABC’s Oktoberfest block party on September 10 and the Corner’s Oktoberfest celebration on September 17.

…with silver bells and cockle shells

Garden update!  I love the month of August for many reasons, not the least of which is because the garden is a boomin’.  It’s also a huge canning month for me.  This year, I am going to focus on tomato based goods:  ketchup, chili sauce, barbecue sauce, chutney, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes.  I am also going to do dilly beans again because those came out so good and it’s the only way I’ll eat green beans.

Speaking of beans, those are bean plants on the left.  I am letting them dry on the vine, with the hopes of getting a nice harvest of dried beans for the winter.  Here is the first batch:

The other plants in that bed (the beds were made by my pooh bear, Jeff) are sugar beets in the foreground, golden beets behind them.  That patch of dirt will be a lettuce bed in a few weeks.

Next up is the tomato/pepper bed:

I tried to grow tomatoes and peppers from seed and it just didn’t work.  I ended up buying plants and then wondered why the hell I just didn’t do that in the first place.  It’s like $1.25 for four plants and we aren’t suffering from a plant shortage (thank goodness).  On the far left are my watermelon plants.  I forget what the vines are on the right.

Bed three:

My pumpkins are there on the left, constantly trying to crawl into bed two to see ‘sup.  I then have a nice bed of cabbages, some from seed and some from plant.  In the back right you will see broccoli plants, all grown from seed.  Leeks are there in the front right.  What you can barely see are my BIG EXPERIMENTS for this year:  peanuts.  If it works, I am going to become a peanut farmer and then president, like Jimmy Carter.

Bed four:

To the left (outside the bed) are my potatoes.  Kale dominates the row in the front; there is a little patch of lettuce to their right.  Rhubarb is growing like gangbusters on the right.  Behind the kale are celery plants, broccoli plants and a cucumber vine.

Our backyard sports our hops, who will get their own post one of these days.  If I had my wish, I would rip up all of our stupid lawn and plant food and barley! Cuz how cool would that be! Barley!! And we are homebrewers!

Happy August!

Goin’ Down to Summer Beer Fest, Gonna Have Myself a Time

Michigan’s state motto is “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”  I would like to suggest that, for the Summer Beer Fest, we tell others “If you seek a laid back, hang loose, how I envision America was pre-Ronald Reagan kinda place, look about you.”

That was some fun.  My friends and I literally had sweat dripping off of our faces and (almost!) into our beers.  We had sweat in our eyes.  The ground was so squishy that my Birkenstocks almost came off a couple of times.  Around 6:30, it rained so hard that even as we huddled under the CBiM tent, we still got wet.  I stood under that tent and watched the Bells flag bend over and hit the top of the tent it was attached to.  The tornado sirens went off.  At some point I said, “If I’m-a gonna die, I’m dying with Beer Todd’s beer in my glass.” Then I turned to my friends, told them that I’d had a great life and loved them very much, kicked off my shoes and dashed into the craziness.  The sirens stopped and we started playing in the rain.  People were slip’n’sliding, splashing, running around. We got kicked out of the Shorts tent and then went back and played some more.  The rain stopped, the temperatures dropped, drinking continued.  We went for a “swim” in the deep puddles that had formed and some of my friends decided to mud wrestle.  We were still covered in sweat from earlier in the day, soaking wet from the rain and more than a little tipsy, but it was a time.  It was, as I said earlier, some fun.

Your eyes aren’t going on you; the camera was sweating.

Jeff & I (and many of our pals) got into the festival an hour early.  We are Enthusiast members and therefore entitled to get into the festivals an hour before they open to the public.  Several brewers were not ready yet, but we quickly sniffed out the ones that were.  I started with Walldorff’s Cobain’s Ale Dark IPA.  Nice way to start.  (I hear the beer is named after the brewer’s dog, not Kurt.  But I don’t know if the dog was named after Kurt or not.  Either way–I don’t mean to be disrespectful to a great artist–but I don’t think Kurt was drinkin’ much homebrew in his day.  Then again, my man grew up in Washington state, so who knows?)  Because I was already having a “dark” beer, my next stop was Short’s Black Licorice Lager.  Absolutely fabulous–not a lot of anise, but enough to get that “licorice” taste.  I am not normally a huge fan of lagers, but I wouldn’t kick this one out of bed for eating crackers.

Things start to blur into a sweat-beer-rain haze after that, so I can’t tell you what order I drank what.  But here are the standouts:

Arcadia‘s B.Craft Double Black IPA.  I do love me some IPA.

Dragonmead‘s Sin Eater Dark Strong Belgian. This was a true find for me. I had wanted to get something else, but it wasn’t on tap yet.  One of my friends had described this as Final Absolution’s big brother and he was right.

Olde Peninsula‘s Stout Chocula.  Mmmmm!  The Count would be pleased.

Frog Island‘s Ypsi Citizen’s Chocolate Porter.  I was glad to see them there!  Nice beer.

Sherwood‘s Daily Grind Kona Porter.  I loved this beer for its yummy coffee taste and its perfect coffee smell.  It honestly smelled like my morning cuppa joe.

Wolverine‘s Baltic Porter.  My friend E.T. (aka The Beer Wench) reminded me to go get some of this and I’m glad she did.  Very nice porter.

ABC‘s Buzzsaw IPA.  This was served to me by the brewer himself which is beyond cool.  Excellent nose, excellent hoppy flavor.  All around perfect IPA.

Copper Canyon‘s Ginger Kids Revenge Imperial Red.  I’ve liked everything I’ve ever had from Beer Todd.  Really, I have.  But I loved this beer. Everything a red should be.

Jolly Pumpkin‘s La Roja de Kriek.  Another find.  Jeff had it first and let me try it. I promptly went back for my own taste.  It’s their La Roja–pretty awesome on its own–with a touch of cherries.  Mmmm!

Keweenaw‘s Widowmaker Black.  A commenter on another post suggested this beer, so I made sure I tried it.  Nice black ale.

Old Boys‘ Dogtail IPA.  How can you not love a brewery with a doggie theme??  They were even selling doggie biscuits, which I brought home to my furry, four legged son.  Oh yeah, and the IPA was great too 🙂

As I said more than once–that was some fun, friends!  It was like Christmas and New Years and my birthday all rolled into one.  The only let down is knowing that it is over until next year.  On the semi-bright side though, only 215 more days til the Winter Beer Fest!

A few of my favorite things….

I don’t have a huge family Thanksgiving every year.  I don’t celebrate Christmas.  My birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day, which makes having a big party difficult.  So for me, the annual summer Michigan Brewers’ Guild Fest is about as close as a big family party that I go to all year.  I get to see my beer family and lots of friends and enjoy beers from all over our lovely state. 

In honor of this awesome event, and for my own amusement, I tweeked a familiar Christmas song. (When looking at the lyrics of the original though, I don’t know why it is a Christmas song.  On that note, why is that song about the guy meeting his ex-girlfriend in the grocery store played on the Christmas radio channels?)  I offer my sincere and humble apologies to Rodgers, Hammerstein, Julie Andrews and everyone else involved in the Sound of Music. I hope they don’t haunt me for this.

Anyway! Wanna hear it? Here it go:

Founders Red’s Rye and New Holland’s Full Circle

Grizzly’s Sheerwater and  Frankenmuth Dunkel

Arbor’s Crye Baby won’t bring me to tears

These are a few of my favorite beers


Frog Island Cream Ale, Beer Todd’s apple strudel

Bell’s Oberon, Woodward Avenue Brewers

Wild beers that get all their yeast from the air

I love these beers with a love that’s quite rare


OG’s Pepper Smoker and Wolverine Lager

Love all these beers oh so hoppy and malted

Liberty Street’s yummy Liberty One

Drinking these beers is so so very fun 


Jolly Pumpkin

And the Dark Horse

All these beers are rad

I always remember favorite beers

So I never feel so bad


Arcadia Sky High and Black Lotus pale

Blue Tractor brewery’s smoked silly red ale

Raise up your glass, to our state give big cheers

These are a few of my favorite beers


When the keg blows

When the beer’s gone

When the wort is sad

I simply remember my favorite beers

And then I don’t feel so bad!

As an aside, I once wrote a sorority rush song in five minutes and to the tune of the Flintstones. If you give me a token at the beer fest, I might even sing it for you!