Monthly Archives: February 2010

Don’t Mess With the Recipe

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Back to the drawing board for me.  How could my first loaf of freshly baked bread, using my new breadmaker, be so near perfect and then my second one be a near disaster?

Could it be because I messed with the recipe?  Yup, I truly do believe that.

I thought I could spice up the country French White bread, so I added a tablespoon of Mrs. Dash.  I believe if you add a dry ingredient you must remove a dry ingredient of the same measuring amount.  The same is probably true of liquid measurements, although I cannot be 100% sure of this.

Like I said, a near disaster.  First the loaf was lobsided and the top of the bread stuck to the (inside top) of the lid, so naturally when it was done and I opened the lid, a part of the top portion of the bread was torn away.  Not too pretty!

Next, the bread did not appear to be completely cooked.  It actually had a moist look and felt a little gooey near the center.  I went ahead and cut the loaf in half to see just how much damage occured. 

Well, not to be detered, I pulled out the butter crock and proceeded to slather that thick creamy pale deliciousness on my bread.  Not too pretty!  The bread tore apart but I did manage to get a small piece buttered.  The taste was, hmmmmmmm, okay, but not great, and certainly not at all like the first loaf I baked.

Would you believe the birds wouldn’t eat it?  I believe a stray dog confiscated that loaf I left out by the tree.  Probably thought it was an unusual shaped football or something akin to that, and then again maybe the dog didn’t know the difference. 

Lesson learned: Don’t Mess With the Recipe!

Next loaf was Mrs. Potato Head Potato Bread.  Not as I expected but at least it cooked evenly and was done.  I think I’ll stick to the Country French bread for now.

I never said I was going to be a perfect bread baker, did I?  Or did I say I was going to work toward baking the perfect loaf of bread?  Either way, it appears that I have a long way to go.

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100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall . . .

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I don’t know about you, but I remember singing this with some of my friends a time or two.  Now don’t get the wrong idea, most of the time we were not drinking when we sang this little diddy.  Where did it come from anyhow?

Remember me, or should I say, remember one of my bucket list items?  Yup, beer connoisseur and all that.  Well, I tried another new one.  I had never heard of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale until now.  The bottle, a short one, had a pretty green, old-timey looking label on it.  The term pale ale piqued my interest as well.  So it tried it.

I think I puckered my lips and scrunched my nose after the first sip.  My schnauzer was sitting not to far from me and I said aloud, “Bonnie, I’m not sure if I like this beer or not!”

It had a bold taste, and it tasted green, although I’m not quite sure what green tastes like, but I think it would taste like a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  I am sure there are a lot of beer aficionado’s out there who would disagree with me, so I will seek out the experts and read about my not so favorite brew.

Little did I know that this California Brewing Company is considred the premium craft brewery in the United States, and “critics proclaim it among the best beer brewed anywhere in the world.”

Okay, who am I to disagree with the critics, but we are entitled to our own opinions.  I did notice that the burp factor was minimal, at about a 4 (our of my burb scale from 1-10).

I actually felt like cooking a big batch of pasta, laced with garlic, good Italian Oregano and a few other spices, plus a loaf of freshly baked Italian bread slathered in butter.  This beer needed a hearty meal to accompany its bold taste, to my way of thinking.

The story of how this brew was born though is one worth reading.  It is like a fairy tale for a home brewer, a chemist no less, who made his dream come true.  Sierra Nevada is not just a brewery but a popular travel destination and attraction with its Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant.  To learn more, visit http://www.sierranevada.com/about/history.html.

Perhaps this is what I need to do, visit their brewery and sample their brews, their lagers and their ales and redefine my opinion of the pale ale I have mixed feelings about.

Until my next cerveza . . .

The Continuing Saga of A Beer Connoisseur

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For those of you blogging readers who may have missed some of the reasons I am blogging about beer, back up a blog or two and catch my first blog about the first bottle or was it the first two burbs in my quest to learn to sip or not to sip. 

Okay, the next cold one I reached for was a George Killian’s Irish Red, a premium lager.  From the moment I opened that amber bottle I thought to myself, now this is a beer!  First sip was smooth and I could taste the beer (which I believe must be the malt).  It was rich and I guess full bodied, and two sips and one burb (at about a 6 on my burb scale) leads me to believe that a lot beer drinkers probably like this beer a lot.

What comes to mind, from a food perspective,  is that  a nice juicy ribeye would sure go well with this brew.

Oh my goodness!  These were my words when I discovered that the Coors Brewing Company in Golden, Colorado brews Killian’s Irish Red.  Who would have thought this; not I?  I had actually imagined this being a real import.  I mean, after all, it says Irish Red, so doesn’t that mean it should come from Ireland?

I like its taste, but it’s definitely a burber and it’s pretty filling.  It appears that folks who rated Killian’s Irish Red put it in a category of about 4 out of 5.  Not bad; however, I can’t quite understand how some of the rater’s came up with: sweet, burnt malt.  Hmmmm, I tasted no sweetness although it is really pretty smooth.  Initially tasted like burnt cinnamon.  Now I burned some cinnamon rolls one time and this Killian’s Irish Red did not taste a thing like that.  Nicely carbonated!  That must be where the burp factor comes in.  I agree with this comment.  Decent drinkability.  Yup, I’ll agree with that statement.

This was the tip of this iceberg though.  For a whole lot more comments on what beer drinkers think of Killian’s Irish Red, visit http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/306/909/.

I regress though, because I actually did look up the history of George Killian’s Red, and while it is currently brewed by Coors, it actually came by way of the Pelforth Brewery in France, who bought it from Lett’s Brewery in Ireland (which closed by the way in 1956).  It was originally an Irish red ale called Enniscorthy Ruby Ale, brewed from 1864 to 1956. 

So, while this may not be an Irish brew now, it started out that way, and I’m glad I tried it.  If I were truly to become a beer drinker I would keep this one in my fridge.

Bucket List: Item Number Two / Master Bread Maker

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My first loaf of bread

As you can see by the photo, I have begun my second goal.  I am cheating a little though, because of having osteoarthritis I am unable to knead the dough to make my own home-made loaves and rolls, etc., so I purchased a bread maker machine.

I bought an Oster 2LB. Expressbake Breadmaker machine to help me in my quest.

I procrastinated for about a week before breaking in the bread maker, but I finally set my course to bake a loaf of Country French white bread.  It was an interesting venture, but I have to admit that I honestly believe kneading the dough is probably a real key element in feeling that you are truly a baker.  I actually did attempt to make bread some years ago, but for the life of me I cannot remember how it turned out.  I am sure I gave it a good go.  My family preferred home-made biscuits though, so I worked at perfecting that type of bread.  I make a pretty good tortilla also.  The thing is, though, there is no aroma like the aroma of fresh bread baking (biscuits, tortilla’s and the like do not have that aroma wafting through the air during their cooking process).

Using a bread maker machine is actually quite interesting, as you observe the various stages it goes through.  I actually pictured a multitude of teeny tiny elves inside that bread maker, kneading and punching, and kneading some more.  A little humor infused in one’s writing never hurts, don’t you think?

The time it takes to bake bread in a bread maker, from the moment you place the ingredients into the machine, until the bread is actually ready to be eaten, will vary; although,  it took a little more than 3 hours for me to be able to cut a slice of the Country French white bread I baked.  I’ll have to remember this because other than holiday dinners I usually prepare foods that take less than an hour to cook.  I can tell you though, it is worth the wait.  The aroma, the taste, the texture and the pureness of freshly baked bread is everything I hoped it would be. 

While I may not be getting up at 4:00 o’clock in the morning, as most bakers do, I will be testing recipes and perfecting my very own bread; albeit I will be using modern technology.  I will, however, step back in time  and adapt as many ‘old’ recipes, like those found in Uncle John’s Original Bread Book, and hope to make an attempt at using one or two of Nancy Silverton’s recipes from her book Breads from the La Brea Bakery

You’ll know if I succeed or not because this is all part of my becoming a master baker (I didn’t say professional, but certainly a person who knows how to bake bread).

Bread on the Table

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Why a Bread Maker?  There are number of reasons: the aroma of freshly baked bread is at the top of my list, followed by knowing I was responsible for creating one of the basic necessities in life.  Controlling ingredients and eating something without additives such as MSG is a major plus.  There is also a euphoric feeling at knowing you created something that is so important to one’s livelihood.

I recently read an interesting article about bread being the “staff of life” published on November 6, 2005.  (November 6th is also the date of my birth)   The article is worth reading, and if you are interested you can visit http://humannaturenuggets.blogspot.com/2005/11/breadthe-staff-of-life.html).  Darlene (the author) said, “Whatever its shape, size or name, not only has it been a principal form of food from earliest times, but it has been a staple in the lives of mankind throughout history.”

According to Webster, bread is a basic food made of flour or meal!  The history of bread making is however much more interesting than the basic ingredients making up a loaf of bread, a pan of biscuits or a tortilla.  “Wheat and bread created villages, communities, and nations; they helped to civilize the world.”  It is written that Egyptians baked the first known leavened bread and built a thriving industry.  The tale goes that an absent-minded baker left a piece of unleavened flat dough out in the warm sun, where it fermented.   (I believe I also read where fermentation is a cornerstone of beer making)

At one time strict laws were imposed on bakers regarding the “social classes of bread.” Bakers were also subject to being be-headed if they did not bake enough bread (during the Middle Ages); thus the phrase The baker’s dozen where baker’s added an extra loaf of bread to each dozen to ensure they achieved their daily quota.

Good reading to learn more about a brief history of bread making, and featuring more than 250 recipes for baking breads, biscuits, rolls, etc. can be acquired in Uncle John’s Original Bread Book, written by John Rahn Braue (2nd edition, 1965).  This book (used) is still available through Amazon.com and a few other booksellers. Simply surf the web for more information.  If you are interested in bread making it is a must have.

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My Samuel Adams Boston Ale Experience

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I slowly removed the top to the bottle of Samuel Adams Boston Ale, then before taking my first sip, I inhaled deeply of its aroma.  I don’t know why I did that except I thought it would give me some hint of the taste to come. 

Perhaps it was in recalling the scene in the movie French Kiss, when Kevin Kline (Luc) asks Meg Ryan (Kate) to close her eyes and tell him what comes to mind as she smells various samples of wine that Luc has created.  Kate seemed to be able to taste the wine just by taking in the aroma through the sense of smell.  My experience was not quite that romantic however.

I did; however, think of richness and boldness.  Then I took my first sip and thought about it for a moment or two before the next two or three sips.  It tasted similar to what I thought it would.  It was rich in flavor, and to quote Samuel Adams own characteristics of their Boston Ale,” it offers a full, rich flavor that is both balanced and complex.”  After reading their description (which I did after I drank the Boston Ale) I realized I was close to being on the money as to my personal opinion of this specific brew.  To my way of thinking; it is a darn good ale.

Samuel Adams Boston Ale was introduced in 1985, when the rage at that time was light beers, although the original recipe was conceived in 1870.  Accordingly, the introduction of Samuel Adams, served as ”the catalyst to other small brewers, and the microbrew revolution took hold.”  To learn more about the history of Samuel Adams, visit http://www.samueladams.com/world_of_beer.aspx.

I just love the fact that you can go right to the web and get everything you want, including recipes for great food and beverage parings.  When visiting the Samuel Adams website be sure to click on the tab, “Great Food Has Met its Match.”  It is a pretty thorough and descriptive piece of information about food and beverage pairings (more specifically Samuel Adams beer and ales).  They cover it all, but to get my two cents worth in, I will share with you the dish I prepared to go with my Samuel Adams Boston Ale tasting. 

Scoop’s Simple but Mighty Tasty Grilled Salmon

I marinated a 4 ounce salmon filet with a combination of Mediterranean dipping oil (extra virgin olive oil infused with garlic) and a Zesty Italian dipping oil (extra virgin olive oil and canola oil with Italian spices and red peppers) for an hour or so.  (Both dipping oils are Private Selection brand purchased at Kroger). 

After removing the salmon from the marinade, I pressed the filet into a seasoning blend (Tone’s Salmon and Seafood seasoning and additional red pepper flakes) before putting it on my stove-top ‘grill’ griddle.  The only thing I did to the griddle was to spray it with non-stick Canola spray and pre-heated it on medium heat for about 2 minutes.  I sprinkled the salmon with a minimal amount of sea salt after placing it on the griddle.  In less than six minutes I had a perfectly grilled piece of salmon. 

The Samuel Adams Boston Ale stood up to the spicy flavor of the grilled salmon filet, and was a nice beverage accompaniment.  I added a piece of artisan pumpernickel bread slathered with soft creamy butter and I enjoyed a simple, but restaurant quality, Super bowl XLIV meal.

Burp Factor(using a scale of 1–10, with 10 being the loudest and/or most obnoxious burp)

My burp factor for the Samuel Adams Boston Ale came in at about a 4, with two burps, maybe three before finishing the bottle.   I imagine the burp factor could be higher if I guzzled the beer (like a lot of folks I know who drink beer).  For this 67-year old gal, 4 is okay with me!

Next up – Second half of the Super Bowl Beer Parade . . . until then, Prost!

Disclaimer:  Please note that everything stated here is my personal opinion and not that of anyone else; therefore, my interpretation could be challenged by others because they too have their own opinions.  My blog is not to be considered an advertisement or commercial endorsement of any product or company I might mention.  I simply cite the name(s) and provide reference material to enable the readers of my blog to learn more about what I am blogging about. 

No Skydiving for Me

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The introduction to my bucket and its list will be the first blog on my blog site. 

No, it won’t be filled with daring feats.  Skydiving?  I’m not (so far as I know) expiring in the next six months, and if I were, skydiving would not be on my bucket list.  I’ll bet you’ll find it interesting none-the-less.  Oh, by the way; I’m inviting you to help me fill my bucket with ideas.  I’ll post my first six goals, and you can help me with the rest.

Now, to get started: I gave up drinking some years back, but decided I’d have a go at it again.  This however is not for simply imbibing.  I want to become a connoisseur of beer!  And, to prove I am serious about this, I launched the beginning of my first bucket goal with a six pack to go with Super Bowl XLIV. 

It wasn’t just any old six pack.  Uh Uh!  I got a gourmet pack that included Cerveza Dos Equis, Rolling Rock Extra Pale, George Killian’s Irish Red, Samuel Adams Boston Ale, Bud Light Lime and Heineken Lager Beer.  I plan to purchase one six pack per week and drink one beer per day, and blog about all the nuances of each beer.  I cheated this past Sunday because it was the Super Bowl, so I got a head start; but, from here on out, it is Monday through Saturday’s only.

Oh did I tell you, I plan to match each beer with a food that I think will be a perfect marriage (at least to my way of thinking).  And, one last note: I will give you an honest burp factor.

  • Bucket List item number one: Sample every beer made in the world.  The only problem is, it is “impossible to quote a figure for the number of beer brands in the world!  There are small and large breweries in different parts of the world that cater to the local and international markets.”  The best I can determine so far is that they fall into two categories: ales and lagers.

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” 

by Benjamin Franklin

The next post will be my intrepretation of Samuel Adams Boston Ale. 

Until then, PROST!