Saturday, February 11, 2012

Screen Door

After hearing about it for years, Ty and I finally made it to Screen Door this morning.  They were already packed when we got there at 9:45 (because somebody needed his beauty sleep) so we added our name to the list.  With 17 tables ahead of us, we had plenty of time to visit the Green Bean next door and get to-go cups of coffee. 

When our name was finally called, there were just two spaces at the bar.  After waiting for 45 minutes, we were happy to take the barstools!  The bartender was clearly very, very good at his job so it was actually a lot of fun watching him whip up bloody marys, white russians and spanish coffees.  Ty ordered the fennel sausage scramble from the specials menu while I elected to try the praline bacon waffles off the regular menu.  The combination of sweet praline and fresh whipped cream with super salty bacon was mind blowing.  I think it was the best breakfast that either of us had ever had...  and, miraculously, it was at the same restaurant.  The odds of that seem slim to none. 

We'll be back... and hopefully they'll have the Red Velvet pancakes that were on the specials menu again because they sounded devine this morning! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Valentine's Day

After much debate and research, we've decided that we'll be exploring some local restuarants and romping around town.  We feel so lucky that we live in the BEST city in the whole world so it only makes sense to check out some restaurants that we've been wanting to try.  We're planning brunch at Screen Door on Saturday to be followed by visits to the EVOO store, the salt and spice store, Saturday Market and brewing store in Sellwood.  We'll be grabbing dinner ingredients at the market and plan on cooking at home. 

Sunday, we'll be attending brunch at Beast...  and I'm SO excited to finally get to go there.  I love that they do have a brunch so that we can try them out at a more affordable price.  If it's as good as I think it'll be, I'm sure we'll bite the bullet and go back for dinner.  After that, I think we'll head to Powell's. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Masa Harina

For some reason, Ty started looking up tortilla recipes last night - neither one of us can even remember why.  Oh, he just remembered, last night's Iron Chef ingredients were tequila and tortillas!!  Anyway, he said that we needed masa harina...  which I had never heard of before.  Enter the new google, Facebook!  A quick inquiry post yielded local brands and places to procure it as well as a couple of tips for making tortillas. 

I needed to stop at New Seasons on my way home anyway so I grabbed a bag of Bob's Red Mill brand masa harina.  It's basically a corn flour but I think it may have more things in it because you just add water and salt.  Here's how it looks in the bag and out of it:  

Here's Ty adding the water and how it looks when partially mixed:

It is then supposed to rest for half an hour...  but we don't have that kind of time because we are hungry bears!!  So it rested for maybe 10 minutes before Ty divided it into 6 pieces (he only made a half-batch) with the pastry divider.  He flatted and rounded the pieces, rolled them out and heated them in the pan.  They ended up being a bit thick and crumbly - perhaps from not resting sufficiently or perhaps from needing just a smidge more water. 

No matter, we're versatile people... and, did I mention, hungry bears?  So we ended up making tostados with our turkey taco mix and three tortillas a piece.  Final verdict?  Delish!!!  If I know Ty at all, he'll be trying flour tortillas next and a hybrid flour/corn tortilla won't be far behind.  Oh, and the best part?  We started watching a Chopped on DVR while we were eating and masa harina was in the dessert basket!  What are the odds of that?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lentil and Black Bean Soup

This recipe was inspired by one that I read in Runner's World recently.  It is great for a cold day and makes for a hearty meal all by itself. 

Lentil and Black Bean Soup
1 tablespoon EVOO
1/2 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 pound brussel sprouts, cleaned and halved
8 mushrooms, sliced
5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 cups cheese whey (or broth)
1/2 bottle beer
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup lentils
1 can black beans, drained, rinsed and lightly mashed
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat EVOO.  Add onions, carrot and brussel sprouts to pan; saute until onions are translucent.  Add garlic, mushrooms and spices; saute for another minute or two.  Add cheese whey (this is the leftover product from making cheese that I have frozen specifically for soup making - broth can be used instead), beer and tomato paste; bring to a boil.  Add lentils and cook until tender or about 25 minutes.  Add black beans, salt and pepper; cook for 5 more minutes. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

I should have mentioned this here earlier... but, if you're missing our homebrew posts, we've actually started a new blog for those!!  It's  be sure to visit us there often.  We'll be keeping you updated on all our homebrew foibles and successes as well as reviewing local pubs and beers. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Big Waste

Eliminating waste is one of the many issues about which I am passionate.  There are nearly endless ways that every person can work towards eliminating waste (drive less, recycle more, buy products with less packaging, on and on) so I was super excited to see a show on the Food Network highlighting the issue of food waste.  The show, The Big Waste, was on last night and the premise was a cooking competition that pit two teams of world class chefs against each other to prepare a meal for 100 entirely out of food waste. 

It was quite shocking and I believe a stat was quoted that nearly half of the food supply in the US goes in the trash.  Wow.  It is hard to imagine but they did a great job of showcasing a variety of waste from chickens with skin torn during processing to produce with a blemish as small as the freckles on Bobby Flay's check to the corn at a you-pick that was knocked down during a storm.  There was a lot of focus on how picky customers can be and that they will only buy things that look perfect or are the best cut.  As CSA members, we have gotten very used to produce that doesn't look grocery-store-perfect.  It still tastes great...  actually, BETTER because it is so so so much fresher! 

One thing that has always bothered me about the Food Network is that they don't compost their food.  Or, if they do, they don't tell their audience.  Which is really missing an opportunity to educate Americans on how easy it is to compost, how great it is for the environment to put that much less in the landfill and how useful compost can be in the garden - not to mention how much money you can save by making your own compost instead of buying it. 

That said, I'll be posting this blog post on Bobby Flay's facebook page with the hopes that the Food Network will continue to investigate the waste in our food system and incorporate composting into their next program (please let their be a next program - this is such an important issue and they have an amazing platform for educating).  And wouldn't it be neat if they explored some other aspects of our food system...  like antibiotic use, chemical fertilizers and ways to get all the waste food to the significant population of Americans who go hungry on a daily basis. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Batch #3

We brewed Batch #3 last night.  It ended up being a bit of a cluster because Ty started it, then had to leave for an hour and a half so I did all the middle stuff before he ended up finishing it.  As always, there were a few potential errors AND I didn't manage to take any pictures! 

The major mistake was that I didn't sanitize the hydrometer before I used it.  A minor mistake was not having enough ice on hand to get the batch cooled as quickly as it should have been.  We have a freezer in the garage for bulk meat and Costco purchases so I think I'll be putting a trash bag of ice in there to prevent that particular issue from happening again. 

One thing that I really liked last night was that Ty and I are already both comfortable enough with the process that we can use teamwork and take over for each other as needed.  I also really like that it is a totally doable project on a week night.  I predict a lot more week night brewing in our future! 

In semi-related news, we made it to the Gasthaus over the weekend to try the Prickly Pear Mead.  I'd only had mead once before and my memory of it was drastically different that the Prickly Pear.  I'd also had it at Widmer...  but I remember it being somewhat thicker and with more of a honey flavor. 

Tomorrow night, we're headed to Maher's Pub in Lake Oswego.  We've never been before but we have wanted to check the place out because one of our biggest cons about living in Lake O is the lack of pubs and taverns.  GoodLife Brewing will be hosting a Meet The Brewer event that sounds tasty and fun. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Eve Dinner

It is really nice to have friends who get a discount at New Seasons, love amazing food and really know how to cook meat!  How does the first slice of a rib roast look to you?  Amazing?  Well, if you'd actually gotten to enjoy it, you would know that amazing doesn't even start to describe it.  I'm not exactly sure what all went into the rub...  I know there was EVOO, salt, pepper and paprika but also a couple of other things as well.  The crust was the best I've ever tasted - super crispy and flavorful! 
Of course, we didn't just eat the most amazing beef ever...  we also enjoyed perfectly sauted brussel sprouts and smashed red potatoes with lots of garlic.  Served with some good beer, it was the perfect New Years Eve dinner with great friends.  After dinner, we turned on Episode 7 of Game of Thrones and half of us promptly fell asleep... 
After a long ten hour sleep, we all awoke famished...  so Ty whipped up a little leftovers breakfast of steak bites, smashed potato patties and garlic Romano bread.  Yeah, it was all just as good the next morning with a fresh cup of piping hot coffee.  Could 2012 have gotten off to a better start? 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Batch #1

Syphoning Batch #1
Bottling Batch #1
Batch #2 pre-secondary
We did a little homebrewing work today...  although we didn't get to brew a batch like I had hoped we would.  Social commitments got in the way - I'm sure you understand.  Thank goodness for three day weekends because we WILL be brewing Batch #3 tomorrow.  But more on that tomorrow...

Today, we syphoned Batch #1 from the secondary into a bottling bucket.  We boiled 1 cup of water, added 3/4 cup of corn sugar and, once the corn sugar dissolved, we added that to the bottling bucket as well.  We then syphoned the mixture into bottles (picture #1).  The bottle filler is actually a pretty ingenious little thing that put the perfect amount in each bottle and quits filling the bottle the second you lift it up.  In picture #2, you'll see the capping step - basically, you buy caps at the homebrew store, boil them to sterilize them and then use the capper from your kit to cap each bottle.  Now we just have to wait 4 more weeks to taste...

Except, yeah.  We had about half a bottle leftover so we did taste that.  AND?  The flavor is right on...  if the bottle conditioning works as it should, we are going to have a fantastic stout on our hands here.  The catch?  We will only be sharing it with people who comment on this and subsequent blog posts... 

Lastly, as you can see in picture #3, we syphoned Batch #2 into the secondary.  We added some hops to the secondary as well.  Next weekend, we'll be bottling this batch and also moving tomorrow's Batch #3 into the secondary.  We'll try to take more pictures... 

Friday, December 30, 2011


There is a LOT of terminology that is very specific to brewing.  As I'm learning some of the terms and concepts, I'll be posting them here.  There are two purposes for this; 1. writing about or explain a new concept helps it become more concrete in my mind and 2. to make this blog a good resource for a novice homebrewer. 

We have a friend who is transitioning from a homebrewer to an actual brewer by opening his own brewery with a group of friends.  He is who we ask the stupid questions.  So far, he's been super patient and helpful...  and I plan to milk that for all it's worth:).  The other day, I asked him for a good Hefeweizen recipe and he gave me one with a couple of terms that were unfamiliar to me.  The one that I'll be defining today is SPARGE. 

Let me backtrack just a moment.  When Ty decided that we were going to become homebrewers, he went to the homebrew store solo and came home with the kit, ingredients for the intial batch and two sets of instructions.  One set was the basic, generic instructions for brewing any beer and the other set was for a specific recipe (in this case, stout).  There were minor differences between them so we followed the generic recipe for the most part and the stout recipe only where it varied from the generic recipe. 

Because the generic instructions are written for novices, like us, when Jim's recipe called for SPARGING, I panicked.  We've really been doing this by the seat of our pants and I haven't read much yet (mostly because there's so much terminology that I don't understand that I just get lost and confused).  While we'd actually SPARGED both of our batches to date, I didn't realize it! 

When I asked him what it meant, he gave a very clear and concise explanation so I'll be using it verbatim: 
The small amount of grains used in the first step are crushed (not pulverized into flour, but still have the husk attached), placed into the grain bag, and steeped like tea in the hot (155) water. This is called the mash when using all-grain. The sparge is rinsing these grains and saving the rinse water (wort) for use in the boil. This is a very small step toward all-grain brewing, and opens up all kinds of creative possibilities.