Thursday, July 16, 2009

On Vacation!


 Although we are still away on our romp through Southern California, I could not but help post the fact we had dinner at Stone Brewing Company last night.  I will have a lot more to post about it upon our return, but needless to say I found it a religious experience.  It was simply amazing.  The beer, the food, the ambiance...I wish I didn't live so far away from it and I hope to return.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Getting our brew on!

Teamwork

Saturday was once again Brew Day, and what a day it was.  So much went down in our 8 hours together that I am having trouble organizing my thoughts to talk about it!  First off, we had a brew day record with 4 people brewing.  Our efforts garnered us 25 gallons of homebrew. 10 gallons is courtesy of The Drew & Dave.  Dave bought all of his supplies and then “used” The Drew to make a double batch for them both to enjoy.  I have a feeling by the next brew day Dave will have his own kettle and burner.

Dave filling the kettleDrew takes a seat Hops!Eric & Mike

Drew, Eric, and I all made IPAs.  Mike made a porter.  24 hours later, Eric and I have both suffered blown fermenter lids.  Eric’s sounds like a real missile launch.  Mine wasn’t too bad.  Figures the one time I don’t use a blow off tube and instead use an airlock bubbler, I get Sputnik.

Fruits of last time

Everything moved along rather well.  As is Brew day tradition, we enjoyed some of the fruit’s of our last brew get together.  The hefeweizen I brewed last time was kegged and we “floated” the corny keg in no time flat.  Homebrew come, and homebrew go…

Garage Brewing

Towards the end of brewing, it became readily apparent that my immersion wort chiller sucks.  It took forever to cool my wort.  It looks like I may try to go back to my counterflow.

Although we were stuck in the garage because of the rainy weather, it didn’t dampen our mood.  We decided to start marking brew days by writing on the brew cart.  We are pretty good about writing pithy comments that we still find funny years later and the wife’s don’t find funny now or later.

Breaded & Fried Wings

It would not be brew day without fried food.  Besides the obligatory pork shoulder, Mike worked his magic on chicken wings and an onion loaf.  You cannot have all of these gas burners around and not fry something.  The wings were down and dirty.  Mike breaded them in some Hooter’s breading and then fried them in oil.  He only deviated from the recipe by not donning the orange shorts that came in the package.

Onion Loaf

The wings were tossed in wing sauce and were great.  The onion loaf…ahhh the onion loaf.  Always a crowd pleaser and there is never enough.

The Crew

Well the basement smells like a brewery right now with all of the airlocks bubbling away.  Hell, Drew’s was already showing activity before he left last night!  I seriously can’t wait to see how they all turned out.  Now, time to plan our next brew day…

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What’s on the Grill #142

Ribeye Friday!  Alright, I had a number of things I wanted to post this week, but it’s gone too fast and I haven’t been able to keep up.  So, before I start with the most important tradition I have around here, let me share my new toy: My Canon EF 70-300mm lens.  I love it…and when this thing is extended, it look as though it could launch rockets!

My new 70-300mm lens resembles a rocket launcher when extended! Wow...

The lens will take some getting use to, and was bought less for food and more for “other stuff”.  I have been bouncing between a 50mm lens and the 300mm and with our trip to California next week, I opted on the latter.  Plus, I know Zoe will get a lot more use out of this lens too.

Now even though I didn’t get the lens for food and beer, I used it tonight for food and beer!  I just love the bokeh it produces.  However, with the long focal length, I have a learning curve ahead.

A Wacko Beer

BTW, the Magic Hat Wacko Seasonal can be best described as forgettable.  At first the red beet color scared the hell out of me.  I found the ale crisp, with a slight tart finish. In the end though, it just didn’t do anything for me.

Touchdown

Anyway, back to dinner.  I had two nice well marbled 18 ounce boneless ribeyes.  I made a garlic paste with some kosher salt and then added some fresh rosemary from the garden.  I added salt and pepper to both sides of the ribeye and then just smeared the paste on the top.  I grilled the ribeyes over high heat, about 6-7 minute a side.  I finished off one steak over indirect to satisfy the “non medium rare” crowd in the house. 

Back to Basics:

It was nice to have the ribeye back in rotation.  It was even better knowing that brewday was coming Saturday and all of this was a precursor to a great weekend of bbq, beer, and friends.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Things I will never drink again #1

Bud Light Lime.  In fact, Bud Light Lime shouldn’t even qualify for this list, or my blog.  Reason be, it is right up there with other things you shouldn’t drink as dictated by common sense: liquid glue, battery acid, and formaldehyde.  The only reason this evil elixir was in the house was because of a friend’s wife (Don’t worry Kelly, I won’t tell anyone).

Bud Light Lime

According to the fine folks who stock beer at Kroger, this stuff flies off the shelves faster than the free food they leave littered across the store disguised as “samples”.    Certainly people have better taste than this.  Of course I avoid those free samples like the plague, so maybe there is some kind of correlation there.

The taste?  Artificial and watery.  It reminded me of drinking a sugar free drink.  The makers want it to taste sweet without the sugar, but use 4000 chemicals in order to achieve their goal.  The end game here is that after one sip I still want something sweet and part of my brain just closed shop forever. 

My first clue to this train wreck should have been “Natural Lime Flavor”.  Actually, my first clue should have been the big "Bud Light” label, but I digress.  You would better off placing a…hold yourself here…a real lime in a bottle of Bud Light.  At least a real lime floating around would make the drink interesting.

As a friend on Flickr pointed out, the pool water in the background would make for a more interesting drink, and it’s chlorinated.

In full disclosure, in college I did drink Bud Light.  I was young, it was cheap, and I hated Miller Lite.  I know someone (Keith) will mention this.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

What’s on the Grill #141

Friedapoloza!  Yes, while for most the 4th of July conjures up images of BBQ and grilled food, our internationality divided household treads lightly on tradition and tends to go the opposite direction.  This year was no different.  Besides not mentioning the whole “we kicked you out of the country thing” to Zoe while I only pretended to root for the red coats in The Patriot, it was a business.
Frying out of the rain
Thanks to rain, we enjoyed the serenity of our garage while we fried up our quasi traditional 4th feast of fish & chips.  We were forced to huddle next to the lawn mower and ladders while we embarked on what I dubbed: “Fry for the 4th!”.  Dinner was standard (for us): beer battered tilapia with fresh cut potato and sweet potato fries.
You're frying those?
Now any time we have hot oil bubbling away, we I have the strange desire to fry “non-typical fry fare”.  Thankfully, Anne shared my interest and brought along some of my favorites: Twinkies, Oreos, and Pickles.  Or, as I described it, our fried dessert appetizer.  I have fried Twinkies and pickles before, but not Oreos.  Everything was dipped in an egg wash, rolled in flour, and then dumped in the 350 degree peanut oil until it looked unhealthy to eat…which told me it was done. 
A Fried Sampler
Everyone loved the Twinkies and the Oreos were nice and soft.  Anne thought it was all anti-climatic.  Zoe thought it didn’t look appetizing at all.  Boo on both of them.
Banana Boat Army
I mentioned this was a dessert appetizer.  The real dessert of the evening was an army of inside out banana splits.  Tonight’s were livened up with the addition of peanut butter, almonds, and crushed Oreo to accompany the usual chocolate and ice cream.  They are a incredibly simple, yet delicious backyard dessert. 

UPDATE: Click here to watch the banana boat prep in action as part of My Weber Experience.

Inside Out Banana Splits
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July! 

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Beer Garden


Shiner Ad, originally uploaded by abbearden.

I had the coolest Flickr comment today from Flickr user Abbearden. He took my "Beer Garden" photo from last summer and created this most amazing Shiner ad mock up with it. I am thrilled he found inspiration from my shot.

I took the picture in my pre-Lightroom days. It was posted right out of the camera. No post work at all. You can tell how Abbearden was able to really punch it up. I think he did a hell of a job.

I understand the limits of my artistic ability, which is why all of my photos are copyrighted creative commons "share alike". If someone can take something I have done, and make it even better, I think it is the making of a fabulous unexpected collaboration. Very neat.  Now if only Shiner will notice…