Monthly Archives: October 2011

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I tend to have incredibly nerdy tendencies. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you already know this. On Friday I decided to make some chocolate covered pretzels to take into Enegren. I originally planned to cover them with orange and black sprinkles and go with a Halloween theme. When I got to the grocery store, there were no orange OR black sprinkles to be found. I stumbled across silver and gold, then had an epiphany.
Enegren’s official colors are grey, red and yellow. Nerd-dom activate!
Silver (gray), gold (yellow) and red sprinkles.
Served in an Enegren glass, of course. I warned you: NERD.

I’d love to say that I created this recipe, but really, dipping pretzels in melted chocolate and sprinkling them with sprinkles isn’t really a recipe. I DID, however, steal the idea from Dashing Dish.

For a super simple recipe – melt a whole bunch of chocolate chips in a coffee mug, take long pretzel rods and dip them in the melted chocolate. Place the dipped pretzels on wax paper and sprinkle with toppings, then freeze for 10 minutes until they harden. Recipe magic!
While I waited for those to harden in the freezer, I enjoyed the always lovely California afternoon.

I worked at the brewery Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The kegs of Christopher Columbus (Enegren’s IPA that was dry-hopped with Columbus hops) were drank dry by happy customers, so my awesome artwork had to come down. Another aspect of my job as a brewtern: artwork. It almost never turns out…

Last night we had the monthly meeting of our local homebrew club: the first time I’ve been in town and able to make it since it began.
We had about twenty people show up, and about twice as many bottles. What you see above is about half of what we had.
It was a beautiful evening.

Without further ado, Happy Halloween!
This monster tried to attack me the other day. I was not appreciative.

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Study Necessities

I have FINISHED a way-too-long research paper! I lost myself at the library for four hours the other day, locked myself in my house yesterday and in my room all day today. I only emerged to eat. Study foods must be quick and easy.
Any form of coffee or tea is more than acceptable: It’s NECESSARY. I could not function without.
This has been a lifesaving dish. Super speedy nachos. I have a few bricks of cheese around the fridge, so when I feel like I have enough energy to do more than just tear chunks of it off with my teeth, I pile some chips, cheese, leftover meatballs and Texas Caviar (that is a recipe, but if you’re super lazy like I am, or never knew that there was such a thing as Texas Caviar until you wandered around Costco making a lunch of all the samples and stumbled across the gigantic tub of this deliciousness) onto a baking pan and bake till melted. Then I eat more cheese.

And caramel squares. And then I take to Twitter to whine about how many caramel squares I’ve consumed and distract myself from studying. Then I eat more cheese.

After studying is done and paper is written, I celebrate in the most fashionable way possible.
Now I retreat to watch more Walking Dead. Well-earned, say I!

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Cheddar Jalapeño Pub Burgers

It has been FREEZING here in Southern California! Seriously, right now it’s 60 degrees Fahrenheit outside and I’m wrapped up in my robe, prepared to curl up under a blanket with a hot cup of Sleepytime tea and a foreign film. Holy crap. It’s happened. I’m officially a Californian…
I mean, really though, look at the cloudy sky! Can you feel the chill coming at you through your computer screen?
Okey, the truth is, I am chilled, but I think it’s a sympathetic chill because it just started snowing blizzarding (now officially a word) out in Fort Collins where my brother and sister-in-law live. Yeah, definitely a sympathetic chill. I’m still a Coloradoan at heart.

I got this hilarious holiday card in the mail today!
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Great times?? Getting up at 3am to work retail was definitely one of the highlights of my life, and standing around staring at an empty store for hours on end was enjoyable as well, I suppose. Hmmm, should I reapply??

In other exciting news, I braved the cold weather, opened the grill and made:

Cheddar Jalapeño Pub Burgers

Serves 4-6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 12 minutes
Total time 27 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Cheesy, spicy pub-style burgers, fresh off the grill.

Ingredients

  • 2lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (diced)
  • 1/2 cup pepperjack cheese (diced)
  • 2 jalapeños (seeded and diced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Step 1
Mash all ingredients together and make patties.
Step 2
Grill over medium heat for about 12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Step 3
Be careful not to catch your sleeve on fire when the fat from the burger and cheese turn into flame accelerant.
Step 4
Seriously, be careful: I speak from experience. Luckily, they were delicious and worth the pain.
Step 5
Serve with a wide array of toppings – my favorites are always guacamole and more cheese. You just can’t lose.

I’ve been locked inside the library attempting (and failing) to write a research paper. My days consist of the Passenger channel on Pandora, mixed with a little Radical Face and me staring at an empty Word document while contemplating whether or not a packet of peanut M&Ms would be a good idea.

A hint from the wise: Peanut M&Ms are always a good idea.

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Ojai and Zombie Prevention

The lovely Allie and I went up to Ojai on Wednesday for a girls’ day. Our first order of business? Azu in Ojai.
I ordered the exact same thing as last time – the portabella sammich. Allie ordered the filet mignon tacos and we split. Those tacos majorly trumped the sammich this time. Filet mignon shall be my obsession of the week…
Afterwards we walked through town and then got into the car to get lost.
I got lost and found a place I’d been before. This meditation mountain is my favorite part of Ojai, besides the food of course…
Allie a la Meditation Mountain.
A beautiful, completely natural day…
This was a totally candid, natural pose… (I loves me some HDR and tone mapping!)

We spent the day wandering the town, exploring the hills and then went to Wades Wines for a beer tasting. Important zombie prevention techniques were discussed, diagrams were designed… It was a successful day.
Zombie Prevention: Don’t get caught without ammo.

In other news: I officially signed up for the Certified Cicerone Exam this afternoon. I’ve got plenty of time (NOT ENOUGH) before I take it, and I’m sure (COMPLETELY TERRIFIED) that I’ll do fine (FAIL MISERABLY)

I’ll be at Enegren Brewing all day tomorrey, for any of you locals who want to come by and say hello!

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Orcutt Beer Adventures

I’ve been going through withdrawal symptoms after not traveling for my job for over two weeks. Yesterday, I got my fix.
Commander Matt from Enegren Brewing and I went up north to Orcutt, California to explore the beer world and pick up some brew equipment.
After working our way up the coast, we stopped for a beer from the local brewery. Interestingly enough, the Orcutt Brew Company doesn’t have any of their own beer on tap. The brewer is “on hiatus”. Exactly what I was hoping for from a brewery that took two hours to get to – guest beers that I can get anywhere else.
Neither Matt nor I were very pleased. Somehow, we survived and finished our beers. Dedication right there.
Either way, the “brewery” is set in a nice area. It’s very serene and has lots of character.
I think all breweries should have seating available on the walls. That and their own beer. I’m not bitter…
We went next door to Rooney’s Irish Pub to meet with Dan, the owner.
Just my size! I’m a vertically-challenged half-pint and owning it.
Dan gave us a tour of the brewery as well as a sampler of all their beers.
I fell head over heels for the porter. He was kind enough to give us a growler to go. Want. Now!
After picking up some brewing equipment, we worked our way back down, stopping at Figeuroa Mountain Brewing Company in Lompoc. This place is HUGE and gorgeous! The tasting room overlooks the brewery and has a great, cozy feel to it. It was pretty busy considering where their location is, and that it was a Tuesday.
We had a sampler of four of their beers: Paradise Rd Pilsner, Danish Red Lager, Hoppy Poppy IPA and an espresso stout (can’t find the name on the website). I think this is the first pilsner I’ve actually enjoyed! It has a sweet aroma of honey and none of the funk I’ve come to expect from pilsners. The lager was also very clean and the IPA was more in the style of a traditional IPA – hoppy with some sweetness to balance it out, instead of the hopbombs we usually get from a lot of American craft brewers.
We traveled further down the coast into Santa Barbara and checked on my Vanilla Porter (which at the moment is just a porter until we add vanilla beans into secondary). Apparently my beer has been incredibly happy in my absence! I sliced a few vanilla bean pods open, scraped out the seeds and soaked the seeds and pods in a splash of bourbon to extract the flavor. Grayson will be throwing those in for me later today since I’m back down south.

We didn’t end up visiting as many breweries as we’d planned (partly because Orcutt Brew Co. isn’t officially a “brewery” anymore), but a good time was had by all, necessary brew equipment was acquired and quite delicious brews were consumed.

I’m on another road trip today up to Ojai! I am a slacker extraordinaire…

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Ladies at Ladyface: 6

It was a belated Oktoberfest at Ladies at Ladyface last night.
We started off with a pint of Hutash, the new 3.9% ABV session beer hopped with Citra hops. It’s a nice, clean beer with hints of tropical fruits and a refreshing gulp. There were no bittering hops used in this, but I still got a great hoppy ending (teehee) after every sip.
We got a preview of Ladyface’s new autumn/winter menu: Soft pretzels dipped in a smoky cheddar sauce…
Pickled cauliflower, green beans, carrots and tomatoes… Portabella and spinach salad topped with pesto and goat cheese.
One of the first beers I ever tried at Ladyface was their Weizenbock. SO glad to have it back on the menu! I’ve missed the cloudy, clovey-with-a-hint-of-coffee-and-banana goodness!
Fellow Lady Michelle brought in some her amazing kraut! This is not like any other sauerkraut – this is smokey and sweet and stuffed full of bacon, ribs, and any other delicious part of a pig you can thing of, and stuffed with peppercorns, bay leaves, and tons of spices. I hate sauerkraut. This has made me a convert, especially with the generous doses of kielbasa served alongside. This is another one of those meals that I will dream about.
The perfectly temperate evening was spent tasting the new menu, sampling other Oktoberfest/Marzen style beers and enjoying the company of other beer-geekesses and soon-to-be geekesses. These meetings will always be my favorite Monday of the month!

Now I’m off for a day trip up the 101 to visit a few breweries, sample their beers, and take mass amounts of pictures! Eventually I’ll get around to studying for my classes. Maybe…

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Catching Up

My life has been consumed by writing papers for class and working at the brewery. I’m okay with the latter, not so much with the former when they take away from my blogging time… Yesterday I wrote an entire paper while at the brewery. It made it a lot more bearable, being able to distract myself by helping mash in and working the tap room. My paper might suck, but at least it’s done!
Plus, now I have these awesome bruises from mashing in! Apparently I incorrectly rest my forearm on the edge of the mash tun while stirring. This is the second time that I’ve ended up bruised and battered from mashing in. I plan on resting my forearm on the edge of the mash tun from now on so I can whine about it and annoy the brewers at Enegren. I’m sure they’ll appreciate that.
The rest of this blog will be random pictures that I’ve taken over the past week and been far too busy to post.
Sparks flying at Enegren Brewing Company.
The lovely Ms. Sofia Pernas, rocking a “Lara Croft” French braid, a la me. I’m a French braiding rock star.
A beautiful sunrise to transition to the next, terrifying picture.
Black and white jumping spider of death and terror with millions of minions of spider-zombies.
A close up of the black and white jumping spider of death with millions of minions of spider-zombies and his evil eyes and pincers.
A delicious mise en place of my Autumn Pumpkin Ale Chili in preparation for something super sneaky.
Super sneaky sneak preview.
Post super sneaky stuff adult beverage. Bison Brewing Gingerbread Ale. They tweeted about this going out two weeks ago and I’ve been seeking it ever since. It took oh, so very long to find it. In my world, two weeks is an eternity.
Me enjoying said adult beverage. This porter has a nice aroma of ginger on the nose and a spicy, beautifully carbonated sip that explodes across the tongue with sweet ginger and a whisper of nutmeg. HIGH drinkability factor. Be warned, it goes down easier than you’d expect. On a completely unrelated note, I’m extremely chillaxed and happy and full of ginger as we speak.

Unfortunately, that is all. I have some awesome stuff coming up this week that I’ll be sure to photograph!

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Vanilla Porter Brew Day

It’s been far too long, but I finally got to brew my own beer again! With the help of my genius brewer friends, of course. I went to the homebrew store, picked up 26lbs of grain, yeast and hops and lugged it all up to Santa Barbara for a day of brewing in the gorgeous weather.
Beckster’s Vanilla Porter! The spelling mistake was intentional, right Frank? Witty and all that? Let’s just go with witty…

This is how brew day began:
That’s a pretty accurate description for the entire day.
Laughing until I cry. Brewing is really, really difficult.
We mashed in around 4pm, only two hours later than planned!
Since I was busy taking pictures, Frank decided to portray me for a couple of shots.
The resemblance is uncanny.
We ended up sparging around 9pm.
Frank made burgers and Grayson manned the grill. It was a terrifying hour.
We made ten gallons, divided it into two boils, added separate additions to have a base and an experimental and then split it into two carboys.
My carboy, sitting next to about ten others in Frank’s closet. I SO ‘CITED!
Once the carboys were airlocked and resting comfortably, we had a tasting of ESBs (Extra Special Bitters) – a part of studying for the Cicerone test.
We tasted between Anderson Valley Boont ESB, Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale, Fuller’s ESB, and Shipyard Brewing’s Old Thumper ESA. I’m fairly certain we got a faulty Old Thumper – we were all disgusted by it, but it’s gotten relatively good ratings on Beer Advocate. I have so much homework to do to be able to pull out the different aromas and flavors and faults. Sigh, time to taste even MORE beer.
You better BELIZE it! Frank and Gray whipped out the beer pong table for a game (or many, many games) of death pong. I was challenged. I lost a few times. I retreated to the couch to cower as the games continued.
Brewing is really, really difficult.

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Solvang, California

Today I took a road trip with my lovely parental unit up to Solvang – a ridiculously touristy Danish village that you must visit exactly once every seven years. Seven years ago, we visited. Today, we went back. It’s now a tradition.
The entire day was spent playing with the manual settings on my camera and laughing like crazy with my mumsie and pops.
Only about half of the pictures I took were even usable.
We went into a book store that had an entire level devoted to first edition and limited release books. I’m a total nerd, so I loved looking through the dusty cabinets at the peeling covers.
They also had an old printing press. Inner nerd happy-dance.
It was painfully warm out, so we ventured around, searching for a place for a nice icy glass of water.
Oops. Found a brewery. Beer it is! Solvang Brewing Company.
We split the sampler of seven of their beers.
Before.
After. We weren’t the biggest fans of this. The amber was solid and the kristall weiss was good, but generic. The dark lager was the most unique – major molasses aroma and flavor, but with a funky finish thanks to the lager yeast. Unique, but not quite my glass of beer… We left almost all of the IPA (apparently I’m not a fan of the musky Warrior hops, or something else that was extremely musky/earthy in this beer) and dark lager and headed back out to walk around town a little more.
Not just flowers… MANUAL flowers!
Not just a window… a MANUAL window! Okay, I’ll stop now. Afterwards, we drove around the winding roads through Los Olivos and made our way down to Carpinteria. Island Brewing Company just started serving their seasonal Avocado Honey Ale. Once they start serving, it’s gone almost immediately thanks to the Avocado Festival that overtakes the entirety of the town. For the past three years, I’ve never been able to even get a taste.
I have never seen Island Brewing so packed! I got a wristband at the door, slowly navigated my way through the crowd, bumping at least twenty people on the way, and asked if they had any Avocado Honey Ale left. The bartender poured me a taster and pointed me in the direction of the fridge. A man stood in front of the fridge, the door held open with his hip as he collected the last four bottles of the ale for the year. He turned, saw the imminent tears of desperation forming in my eyes, and held out a bottle of the liquid gold.
Yaaaaay! Three years of waiting and I finally got to taste! They add honey from beehives in the middle of avocado orchards to the boil to get this hyper-speed-selling beer.
I love any beer that has honey in the boil! Overall, I think this beer was a little over-hyped, but it’s truly a delicious light brew! There’s a floral honey aroma that billows off the soft head, followed by a smooth, clear sip with a hint of honey that lasts on the tongue for a few moments after you swallow. Bouncy carbonation and a light finish – the perfect end-of-summer beer. Summer, I’ll miss you. Now bring on the spicy, malty and robust autumn beers!

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Autumn Pumpkin Ale Chili

With the cold days we had this week, I’ve been craving fall foods. When I was a tiny six year old living in Illinois, my family would go apple picking in the orchards. It was always a brisk day, sometimes with wisps of rain falling from the sky, surprising us with an icy splash across the face. After we’d gathered our bushels, we’d traipse to the barn where they sold fresh fruits and vegetables and grab a jug of freshly squeezed apple cider and a box of steaming hot cider donuts. Once home, we’d light the fireplace and curl up with steaming mugs of cider garnished with cinnamon sticks and lick the crumbs and flecks of sugar from our fingers.
I used this recipe from the Blue Eyed Bakers to make Pumpkin Spice Donuts, subbing 3/4 cup of oat flour for the regular white and using 2tsp of pumpkin pie spice instead of seeking out all the individual spices. These soft, moist and slightly dense donuts melt in your mouth with an essence of cinnamon and an extra hint of sweetness from the cinnamon-sugar topping. Memories of childhood danced across my tongue. Something tells me they’ll disappear quickly at the brewery tomorrey.

My brain got to turning after making these. I tried to think of the perfect autumn meal to match with the cooling temperatures outside. Chili and cornbread have been a little bit of an obsession ever since Brie and I had our pumpkin beer/food pairing/tasting a few weeks ago. I decided to put my brand-new donut pans into overdrive.

Pumpkin Ale Cornbread Donuts – Printable recipe can be found HERE. Ingredients:
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup corn meal
1+1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter
1/3 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup pumpkin beer (Any sweet, malty beer (like Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin) works great in this recipe)
1 egg
1. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, beer and egg and whisk well.
2. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.
3. In a third bowl, combine the flour, corn meal, salt and baking powder.
4. Mix all three bowls together and mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
5. Using a piping bag, or a simple plastic bag, pipe the batter into a greased donut pan.
Homemade piping bag!
6. Put the pans in an oven preheated to 350 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the donut comes out clean.
7. Remove the donuts and place on a wire rack to cool.

The perfect way to consume these donuts? With warm chili, full of vegetables and beer. Everything is better with beer!

Autumn Pumpkin Ale Chili– Printable version of the recipe available HERE. Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp chili powder
3 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
3 tsp salt
1+1/2 cups vegetable broth
1+1/2 cups pumpkin ale
1 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup corn
2 tbsp olive oil
1. In a large pot over medium heat, saute the sweet potato and onion in olive oil for 15-20 minutes, until the onion is softened.
2. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, salt, beans and tomatoes and mix well.
3. Add the vegetable broth and pumpkin ale, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20-3o minutes, until sweet potato is tender.
4. Add the pumpkin puree and corn and simmer until heated through.
5. Serve with pumpkin ale cornbread and a pumpkin ale.
HDR Drool.
Realistic picture drool.

The next time the temperature drops below 70 degrees, I encourage you to make this combination. Donut pan purchase? Best/worst decision I’ve ever made (If I gain a couple of extra layers to keep me warm this winter, I guess I’m okay with that). On a totally unrelated note, I’ll be taking about two dozen pumpkin spice donuts and cornbread donuts to the brewery tomorrey morning…

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