Monthly Archives: March 2010

You Have to Start Somewhere . . .

Standard

I previously stated what a pathetic back yard I have, and I am not exaggerating, as proven by this photo.  Yes, that is a satellite dish; an unused satellite dish, which I use for a bird feeder, but it looked so blah in its greyish color so I sprayed it a beautiful pastel blue.  The tree in the foreground is an acorn tree and other than its gnarly branches it is non-descript in the winter.

View from my home office

The ground (mainly Georgia red clay) below the acorn tree is littered with acorn shells, so I have decided to bring the piles and piles of pine straw raked from the front yard to the back yard as a base upon which to apply my strategy of above ground container gardening.  I want you to know this in advance so that you will be able to see the vast difference when I am finished.

This scenario, by the way, is what I view from 8 to 5 Monday-Friday while I work in my home office.  I am also here sporadically on Saturday and Sunday while I catch up on my blogging and gaming, so you can see how important it is to have a pleasant view.

“A garden is a friend you can visit any time.” – Author Unknown

Another Bucket List Challenge – Growing Things!

Standard

It’s the beginning of spring, no doubt about that!  Birds are chirping, squirrels skittering about hunting for their hidden treasures, women pushing babies in strollers, children riding bikes or doing wheelies on skateboards, and people just milling about here and there in the out-of-doors.

And for me, it means raking up the fall and winter pine straw, cleaning out last years flower beds, and the start of my planting and replanting flowers galore.  This past weekend was beautiful here, so I did just that, as noted in some of my photos below.  Sure, I had a head start by visiting my local garden centers where I was able to purchase some rarely large plants, but I also did some planting with seeds and purchased some seedlings as well.  No sense in starting from scratch for everything.

A little color goes a long way in saying "welcome"

I’ve a big project ahead of me in my back yard.  It is pretty pathetic looking, so I will provide a before an after scenario so you can see exactly what I’m talking about.  In the meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the bits of color that I’ve already added.

Come visit me to see how my garden grows.

Till next time,

This is just the beginning of a kaleidescope of color greeting folks passing by.

The Potato Bun Caper

Standard

I bet you thought I had given up on baking any more bread.  Not!  I just haven’t been motivated, but a little 10 year-old changed that.  Grandchildren have a way of doing that you know.

Anyhow, my little Tif Tif, as her Mother and Sister call her, spent the night, and along with pizza, watching The Princess and the Frog, we decided to bake some potato bread; which happens to be her favorite kind of bread. 

I followed the same procedure as the last time I baked and well, it still needs some tweaking.  My oven simply is not calibrated correct it seems – again, I could have lowered the temperature or either shorted the time by 10 minutes, but I pulled those potato bread buns out of the oven just in time, as noted in the photo below.  A little longer and they would not be the golden brown you see here.

I’m still trying, and as long as there is soft creamery butter around, a little marmalade or fresh berry jam then I’ll keep trying to bake that perfect loaf of bread.

This Magic Hat Doesn’t Come with a Rabbit!

Standard

Number Nine! #9!

Not quite pale ale — #9, ale with a natural flavor.  So says the Magic Hat Brewing Company in Burlington, Vermont.

Smooth #9

My first sip ended on a sweet note.  Not a very strong taste at all, but a small burp in every sip or drink so far and I’ve gone through 3 ounces so far.

Hmmmmmm, the bowl of chili with just the right amount of shredded cheese and several dashes of hot sauce was a fine match for this mellow brew.

I love their website: www.magichat.net — kind of spooky and whimsical all at the same time when it first displays.  Tabs include elixirs, now playing and peep show.  Try the Sipcode Locator, although my favorite is the elixir tab where I learned about Howl, Roxy Rolles, Vinyl and Wacko.  Yup, you guessed it, these are all brews.  Howl is a black lager – mmm I’m not too fond of black ale or lager, at least not yet.  And, Wacko is a summer beer (English ale) which I may try next.  By the way, these are their seasonal beers.

#9 is one of their regular brews, with no particular description.  But you might want to try Circus Boy, Lucky Kat with the sexy pink label or Single Chair Ale which has a photo of a single chair.  By the way, their beer is safe for Vegans — it contains nothing in it related to meat, but if you drink one you might enjoy eating a steak or burger.

The Magic Hat Brewing Company opened in 1994, a relatively young microbrewery but quite hip.  They use all the social network aids and again, if you visit their website you’ll see what I mean.  I read where they have a  little diddy under the beer cap, and sometimes a phone number or website, which when called or logged onto can reveal cool prizes.  Mine had a little diddy.  Guess I’ll have to buy another one of their brews to see if I’m a lucky winner.

Here’s another interesting website to visit if you want to become a beer connoisseur: www.beer-faq.com

“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer.  Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.” – writer/humorist Dave Barry

If I were celebrating St. Patty’s Day, then I could be from Ireland to be sure . . .  Feicfidh mé a bheith anseo nuair tú ar ais.

500 Years of Enlightment . . .

Standard

According to the label, 1554 Enlightened Black Ale comes from a recipe found in an ancient crumbling Belgian library book. Although they refer to this black ale having a surprisingly bright taste and a dry, chocolaty finish, I am just not sure that my taste buds are in sync with their interpretation. The first taste was, mmmmm strange. It wasn’t bitter though, but I did note a somewhat dry finish. I am still attempting to determine if it is chocolate that I taste. I am a chocoholic so I would normally be able to taste chocolate right away, but they are saying this is reminiscent of dark ales served in Belgian taverns some 500 years ago. Now, I am a silver haired lady, but I am no where near my 499th birthday, so there is no way for to compare this black ale with any other brew I have tried.

Do I like it? Hmmmmm. I think it must be an acquired taste, like Scotch. Perhaps black ale is a great celebratory beverage and it was famous at wedding feasts, or maybe it was the favorite go to beverage for hunting groups. And, it may have even had a different taste being served in those pewter mugs, plus I have to believe it was served warm. My first 1554 was chilled. That could make a huge difference in what it is meant to taste like, although I cannot see myself drinking this black ale at room temperature. As I write this, I continue to test taste my first 1554. It actually taste better than when I first began the bottle. It is interesting how the end of each sip does have a dry nuance. I still can’t taste the chocolate though.

Okay, no one said becoming a beer connoisseur was going to be easy. It’s actually a little tricky, especially when you are attempting to critique something with one example only. I may end up having to purchase another 1554 because frankly folks I don’t know how to rate this black ale. By the way, it is not brewed in Belgium. Nope, it is brewed and bottled by the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. Now that I’ve visited their website, http://www.newbelgium.com/rangerland I may change my mind altogether. Something to do with grown up boy scouts! They call them Rangers! Anyhow, these outdoorsy types wear badges stating, “To Protect! To Pour! To Partake!” And, if that doesn’t impress you, then their “rousing” Lips of Faith program should. I couldn’t do it justice, so please visit their website for all the details.

If nothing else, my journey toward my quest of beer connoisseur is filled with lots of interesting things, places, people and last but not least, brews!

“A fine beer may be judged with just one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.” – Old Czech Proverb

And the Czech tavern keeper might say upon my departure,  Může se znovu setkáme zítra”

My New Bread Discovery!

Standard

I took the advice of Christine B,  allowing my bread maker to do all the work (kneading, allowing to rise, kneading again, et al), then I removed the dough, punched it a time or two, kneaded it a couple of times, then cut it in half before shaping into two torpedo type rolls in preparation of baking it in the oven.  Good suggestion!

I then followed the instructions of  John Rahn Braue who authored Uncle John’s Original Bread Book.  He suggested painting a solution of water, salt and cornstarch on three sides of each loaf, then allow it to rise an additional hour before baking.  In addition he said to put a large pan of water on the bottom rack (I used a 13″ x 9″ cake pan), and to put the bread on the upper  rack.  The bread cooked for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then for an additional 50 minutes at 350 degrees.  Although it turned out beeeeautiful (photo shows all),  I plan to adjust the heat a little next time though and cook it 5 or 10 minutes less.

Wow!  Great crusty white french bread.  It reminded me of the little Parisan restaurant I ate at in Trier, France.  We had a simple country meal of some type of soup and a small loaf of French Bread, with a wonderful golden brown crust.  There was a crockery of butter on the table, a small bowl filled with a flavorful dipping oil and a plate of cheeses and fruit.  Naturally there was a carafe of red wine to enhance the overall meal. 

It doesn’t get any better than this.  Preparing the dough in the bread maker makes sense, and letting it bake in the oven brings out that wonderful aroma of bread baking.  The best of both worlds.

Thanks Christine!  Thanks John!

“How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?” – Julia Child

Amanhã! Sim, I’ o ll pensa sobre ele amanhã – perhaps this is what the Portugese fisherman said.

Just ‘A Rolling . . . And the #33

Standard

 Rolling Rock that is; wow what a nice crisp and light tasting beer.  I suppose it has something to do with the fact it is an ‘extra pale’ lager.  I like that green bottle, simple understated label etched right on the glass.

Now here is a beer that I think is an easy sipper; doesn’t necessarily need a meal to go with it.  A kick back and relax kind of beer.  I can however see a plate of crusty bread and chunks of cheese as a great accompaniment for Rolling Rock, and if you need a meal to go with this brew then you can pretty much serve anything.  Rolling Rock will not compete with the flavors.

The Latrobe Brewing Company, in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, had been home to Rolling Rock from 1936 until 2006, when Anheuser-Busch purchased the Rolling Rock brands and began brewing it in Newark, New Jersey, although they pledged to carry on the tradition born in this green bottle.  This saying is still seen on the back of the bottle preceded by Anheuser-Busch’ own statement of:  “To honor the tradition of this great brand, we quoted from the original pledge of quality.”

“From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste.  It comes from the mountain springs to you.”  “33”

So there you have it: they pledge to bring a beer of quality to you, and I do believe they have fulfilled their promise.

So, what’s the deal about the #33 – well it has all sorts of mystique behind it?  Why not let them tell you all about it in their Town Gazette on line newsletter.  Visit them here: http://www.rollingrock.com/#/small/story3/.  Here is another pretty neat website to visit for a variety of facts: http://www.beer-faq.com/the-faq/beer-quotes/

In the meanwhile I may just have to start a collection of those pretty green bottles as I continue on my quest to become a beer connoisseur.

“This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption – Beer!” – Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Friar Tuck

As they say in CB land, catch you on the flip flop . . .