No sooner do I hash out a redesign at this (and my other) blogs, that blogging seems to take a backseat. What have I been doing? Well culinarily, not much.
I mean, I am virtually swimming in beer. And excess breeds indifference,… (so naturally, I’m on a coffee kick. Coffee coffee coffee – but his time, not in beer) But – I did find some great 3-4 ounce glasses, I bought 24 of them for a song (don’t you just love a bargain?) and am planning to have a couple beer flights (mini tastings) at the coming family gatherings. After weighing the collective opinion of my beer-drinking friends and family, I’ll know better what to make (and gift) in the coming year. For now, I’ve put the kegs on vacation. I have cases and cases of ales, stouts, dopplebocks, IPA and pilsners OH MY! taking up precious kitchen space.
Right before Turkey, work (the day job) found me doing some overnights in Quechee, VT. I love that town, and we frequented a local brew pub – just across the river. The first night there we were serenaded by a Birthday Party of theatre types (I”ll let you paint your own picture of colorful 20 somethings – each trying to outsing, and out talk the next)… but, unlike the family chain restaurants, this bunch could belt out a great rendition of Happy Birthday. I enjoyed a Russian Imperial Stout with my fish and chips – huge portions for the price – and really, really good.
On a return visit I had a beer flight of six or seven? samples – basically everything on tap. Liked the lighter beers then. The Cream Ale, and Canadian especially.
Back across the river, we went to Firestone’s – Brick oven flatbread pizzas (inspired two return visits!) Their clam chowder was about the best I’ve ever had – odd, being so far from the ocean (for a New Englander). My beer of choice there, wasn’t the local microbrew… but rather Bass Ale – perfect with a Margarita pizza, 3 mushroom and chicken, or whatever the special was the first day. mmmm
I was going to take some of my homemade stout and make the same Guiness Gingerbread I did last year, and try my hand at the Guinness bread in my “recipes to try” page. Long days, and road trips have kept me out of the kitchen for the most part. I’m only going to do two Christmas cookies this year. (Two great big ones!) Both new favorites of mine as of last Christmas (and both thanks to Food Network) – Chocolate Peanut-Butter Biscotti – salty, a little sweet, and surprisingly good with coffee, and a variation of AB’s Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheels – heretofore called Chocolate Bailey’s Pinwheels. Skip the peppermint, go green, go Irish! -A splash in regular chocolate chip cookies wouldn’t be a bad idea either. For years we’d dine on Mom’s Chocolate Brownie Bailey’s Pie for Christmas Breakfast, but I digress.
My latest food find, also thanks to being on the road, and the fantastic Co-op in Lebanon, NH – was really a food re-find. One thing that’s great about my local Trader Joe’s is they can get all sorts of neat things – and packaged under their own brand, come pretty cheap.
I happened to find out that their private-label brand of yogurt is locally made Stonyfield, which is all-natural, organic and totally what we’d be buying if we shopped at a different store. I can also guess with considerable certainly that some of their pizzas are made by Amy’s, which we used to get for a dollar or two more elsewhere. But they also carried bags of Coffee Candy, two bucks for dozens and dozens of little coffee hard candies. I was nearly addicted to those puppies. Kept a full candy dish on my desk at work. It never stayed full for long (I had help), but they were cheap, and easy to come by… until they didn’t sell them anymore after a year or so. Poor seller? They have another line of coffee candy, a name brand, a little chewy and, IMHO gross. An internet search found a bag of my mystery ones on Amazon for, big bucks. I wasn’t 100% sure they were the right product, and at that price, they had better arrive on velvet cushions and recite Shakespeare and Douglass Adams! Gevalia also offered them up in one of their gift baskets, in one, and only one catalog. Oh well, it was a good thing while it lasted… BUT THEN, I found tins of them at the Coop, with all sorts of other Stocking stuffers. Bali’s Best – from Fusiongourmet.com – oh how I love thee. Santa could bring me nothing but a stocking full of your rich coffee deliciousness,… (and I promise not to get addicted!)
This year, I’m all about simplifing the kitchen. Two cookies, lots of coffee (in candy and regular form) and one birthday cake – two flavors in the form of Blue’s paw print (yes, That Blue) Blue frosting on a chocolate paw, and 4 yellow toes – with a #5 candle in case you were wondering.