Happy Thanksgiving, take 2!
I hope you’re feeling just like this today, otherwise you didn’t do it right. My parental unit and I went over to my bro and sis-in-law’s house, also known as The Vegans, for Thanksgiving dinner last night. Today we’ll be making a second dinner so we have leftovers for the rest of the weekend, as is tradition.
For those of you who were asking about or confused by my Untappd check-in, I did not have Bud Light as a beverage. I just didn’t want to enter all the stats for my brother’s pumpkin homebrew – which was absolutely epic. Sweet and caramelized with actual flavors of roasted pumpkin, spicy cinnamon and a bite of clove. Also epic – that kale salad in the background. Recipe coming soon!
I loaded up a very attractive plate with turkey from the organic farm (story to follow below), vegan green bean salad, vegan meatloaf, vegan stuffing, kale salad (you guessed it – vegan) and vegan mashed potatoes with vegan gravy. VEEEGAN! Luckily, The Vegans have had years of experience in the vegan kitchen and have learned how to make absolutely delicious vegan food, sparing me from making many mistakes. Vegan.
For a special dessert, James decided to add a little rice whip to the top of the pumpkin ale. I stuck with Andrew’s homemade bourbon-scented coconut whip.
Whisked a little for an even more attractive picture… Horrible picture, delicious flavor.
Now for a little story about my trip to the organic farm. Please don’t read until you have finished all leftover turkey:
My Trip to the Farm
My mumsie and I drove up to a house at the head of a dead end road in farm country. The gate was closed and I would’ve been more than happy to continue on to the confines of a warm and bright grocery store to find a turkey vacuum sealed and easy to handle. My mumsie had other plans. We both stepped out of the car and walked to the gate.
“Hello…?” My mom called out across the muddy yard.
“Come on in.” A man wearing knee-high galoshes came walking out from the open garage, scanning the bushes around the perimeter, rifle in hand. I didn’t budge. There was no way I was making the first move.
“Come in!” He repeated, “Just close the gate behind you so the dogs don’t get out.”
We slowly entered, latched the gate behind us and stood there, waiting for the next instructions. The man continued his jaunt through the bushes, randomly poking into a few of them with the nose of the rifle before continuing on.
“Hi! I’m Shannon! What are your names?” A bouncy little girl with a pink bow wrapped around the crown of her ponytail came running up to us. My mom introduced herself and asked, “Shannon, where do we get our chickens and turkeys?”
Shannon smiled widely, took a deep breath and said, “I have chickens and ducks and ALL MY DUCKS ARE DEAD…”
I stood there, a terrified smile plastered across my face. We turned to the open garage where Shannon’s mother was efficiently sawing off the head of a plucked chicken before spraying out the inside with a high pressure hose. We walked over as the husband came back from his stroll around the yard.
“You didn’t find them?” His wife asked. “You know, I couldn’t find where they nested last night. We can’t just let them run free.”
He looked at his wife, shrugged and said, “These are hollow point bullets. It’d be a chicken explosion! I’ll just kill them tonight.” And walked off.
CHICKEN EXPLOSION. The end.
On Friday the parental unit and myself went up to Fraser, Colorado for a nice long weekend getaway.
Stunning views from our cozy little cabin. The temperature ended up hanging around between 20-32 degrees Fahrenheit the entire time.
I don’t think the fireplace turned off for longer than five minutes the entire weekend. It was chilly! On Friday night we went out to find a place to warm up and stuff ourselves.
The Library Sports Grille and Brewery is a brewery (durr) in Winter Park, right down the street from Fraser.
The pub has seating that overlooks the little 5bbl system. I obviously chose that seating.
They have seven beers on tap, so we ordered a flight.
My personal favorite was the Big Nose ESB – malty, clean and simple. Sometimes you just need a straight forward beer.
Sometimes you also need fried pickles. I tried fried pickles for the first time a few years ago at my brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner at Coopersmith’s in Fort Collins and fell in love! Since then I’ve always preferred fried pickle spears, but these worked out just fine as well – especially with the spicy dill aioli they came with. Drooool.
We also got potato skins stuffed with smoky bacon and overloaded with cheddar cheese. Droooool again.
Those pickle chips and potato skins were accompanied by the hottest wings in the universe. Or at least the hottest wings in Winter Park. I had two of these and had to raise a white flag in surrender.
We returned to the cabin, restarted the fire and relaxed with a growler of Loveland Aleworks Robust Porter and a movie.
The rest of the weekend was taken up by exploring the local lakes and small towns, and we finally made it into Cheeky Monk – a Belgian beer bar located in the middle of Winter Park Ski Resort.
They had a pretty nice selection of draught beers. I’m assuming that the Denver location probably has more because distribution is easier, but I was happy!
My pops got St. Bernardus Abt. 12 – notes of raisin and molasses with a nice warming sensation from the alcohol. Just what he needed for the freezing day.
I perused the bottle list for a while, wiping the drool from the list before it could smudge the ink and finally settled on a nice, crisp Bud Light.
I’m beyond joking! I went for Delirium Tremens Golden Strong – spicy with hints of white pepper and an extremely dry ending. Truly a beautiful beer.
When we got back to the cabin it started to snow, so we turned on the fire (again) and enjoyed the misty view.
Sometimes you just need a quick getaway/vacation. I feel so blessed that we’re only two hours away from such a nice, quiet town like Fraser (which everyone calls Freezer thanks to the low temperatures, apparently).
I also feel blessed that such a quiet, secluded town is still just a short distance from some awesome beer bars and cute little restaurants. And pickle chips.
Ever tried fried pickles? What do you like better – spears or chips?
Something is wrong with my dog.
If you don’t hear from me after today, it’s because Barley went completely off his rocker and murdered us all.
For now, I’m off to pick up a growler just in case we get trapped in another freak snowstorm and need to survive off of liquid bread.
My weekend extended into Monday after a few late nights at the brewery followed by even later nights transferring brown ale. My spice extract is soaking in bourbon right now and should be ready to pitch into the keg in about two days!
I’m very fickle when it comes to diets. Once I tell myself I can’t have something, I crave it more. Surprise, surprise.
Healthy success at one of my favorite fast food joints – Mad Greens: a build your own salad place. Salads that are made by other people just taste so much better for some reason… This one was stuffed with cannellini beans, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, tuna and a sprinkling of goat cheese. I could eat this every day!
A gorgeous, chilly, cloudy hike.
Driving by Lake Loveland on a different, yet still beautiful, day.
Dozy lap dog.
My new niece, Hallertau – Hallie for short. We’re a very beer-centric family.
A gorgeous sunset. I love this view.
Save the Berries at Verboten Brewing.
A six-pack of KCCO Black Lager found in Fort Collins. So glad I didn’t have to drive down to Denver to find this!
Nutty, roasty with a crisp ending and a hint more caramel and body than I was expecting in a black lager. I ended an incredibly busy weekend at the brewery with a couple of these. Have I mentioned yet how much I love my job?
Frost on my windshield as I prepared to go get my new license plates! I’m officially an official Coloradoan!
Are you able to stick to eating plans or do food restrictions get the best of you?
This is kind of like a What I Ate Wednesday, except that I have no idea what the rules are for WIAW and didn’t read about it on the link I just provided you with and I didn’t eat these things on a Wednesday (did I mention I don’t know the rules?) and I forgot to take pictures of some of the things I ate. I’ve already failed.
The first time I did the Sonoma diet was when I was working on Grey’s Anatomy. Since the first wave excludes sugars of any kind, including fruit, the craft service table was absolute torture for me. I had a choice between raw broccoli and six different kinds of cookies, cakes and chips. TORTURE!
Breakfast was the same thing as yesterday – a hot boiled egg, coffee in my ugly rooster mug, whole grain toast with peanut butter and more coffee. This kept me satisfied up until lunch.
Crazy delicious balsamic chicken with roasted broccoli tossed in a light marinade of sesame oil, low-sodium soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic and ginger. Happy happy! For a snack I had an un-pictured bell pepper with hummus.
I’m absolutely in love with this tea! From now on, we must keep this in the house. Warm and spicy and perfect for clearing the nasal passages. Halfway through my cup, the doorbell rang.
PRESENTS!!! Bison Brewing sent me some of their new recipe of organic Gingerbread Ale to try/create a recipe with.
I actually tried this beer (at least the old recipe) waaaaaay back in October of 2011 and haven’t had a chance to try it again since.
I was planning on going alcohol-free last night, but I had to taste this so I could figure out which spices would go with the recipe I’m making, and to test the bitterness factor in case I wanted to make a reduction.
I paired the beer with the Colorado Avalanche game and my previously planned vegetable and tofu stir fry – white wine, low-sodium soy sauce, ginger, crushed red pepper tossed into a wok (or frying pan if you’re like me and don’t own a wok) with sliced carrots, minced garlic, chopped bell peppers, extra firm tofu and soba noodles. I hate tofu with a passion, but I choked it down. Something about that texture just gets to me…
After a depressing loss, I threw together about a half cup of popcorn tossed in a light dusting of this stuff from the Old Town Spice Shop in Fort Collins. I love that place.
Overall, the Sonoma diet is relatively on track except for the unexpected surprise beer that arrived in the mail. But hey, I live in Colorado, belong to plenty of beer clubs and work in the beer industry; I wouldn’t want to stop supporting my community and lose my job!
What are your ways of getting back on track – in your diet or life in general?
I survived my first few shifts at Loveland Aleworks!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked in breweries before, but Friday was absolutely insane! There were two different events going on in Loveland so the place was beyond packed from the time I got there until after we closed. Considering that was my first real shift, I felt like I was drowning just a bit, but now that I’ve got the glassware down I think it’ll go smoothly from now on. Saturday was more my pace (still really busy, but much, much lower decibel) and it was nice to be able to get to know people behind and in front of the bar.
I started feeling slightly under the weather Sunday morning, so after church I got a little binge-y. I needed comfort food.
I wish I’d gone for this. It would’ve been much healthier. Think even more orange and out of a box. Sometimes Kraft mac ‘n cheese is what’s called for.
It got worse from there.
Ohhhh, it was so bad! I’ve decided it’s time to get back on track.
I actually did this “diet” a few years back after getting interested in the Mediterranean diet. The only thing it was lacking was thick, rare steaks. The Sonoma diet incorporates that in. In general it’s just a reminder to focus on veggies, proteins and whole grains instead of Ben and Jerry’s and processed Yellow 9 from a box. Plus, it allows for a glass of wine here and there, which I’m fairly certain I will substitute out for a beer. Modifications to suit my life.
I started the day off right with a hot boiled egg and coffee…
…plus a slice of my homemade spent grain/whole wheat bread slathered in peanut butter. And more coffee.
In other news:
My pairing suggestions were featured on Ask a Cicerone again, which was very pleasant! It’s always nice to see the influx of new readers after these come out.
And now I’m off to curl up in a ball, feel sorry for my under-the-weather self and study my photography and web design books. Happy Monday!
What are your go-to foods when you’re feeling under the weather?
It’s official! I’m officially un-unemployed! Which means I’m employed! Which means I have a job!
My job in California was absolutely wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but I was working extremely long days followed by nights and weekends volunteering at a brewery (which I also absolutely loved), and stopped having time to live. Adventure mountain bike rides, reflective Sunday mornings at church, cooking, hiking, road trips and weekend vacations were slowly removed from the picture, plus I was far from my family whom I’m ridiculously close with. All of that has changed and I think I’ve finally got my priorities in order.
I first visited Loveland Aleworks back in December of 2012 during my Christmas vacation.
I immediately fell in love with the blend of exposed brick, concrete bar and tall windows that let in all the light and gave wonderful views of the brewery.
After a long two weeks of interviews and meetings with other breweries and beer companies, I realized that this was the place I wanted to be.
I’ll be starting off as a Beertender/Aleworker and morphing into a variety of other things – which will have to be kept under wraps until more concrete plans are in order.
For now, I’m more than thrilled that I stuck it out and didn’t settle for a job that wasn’t in the beer business. Bonus points – I still have enough time left that I can hike, bike, go to the archery range, cook and blog among other things! Life is good. Living is great!
Bonus point #2: The assistant brewer is a huge Colorado Avalanche fan as well, so we spent last night hollering at each and every goal with the customers.
Have you ever gotten so caught up in making a living that you forgot to live?
What are your biggest priorities in life?
Did anyone celebrate “Learn to Homebrew” day on Saturday?
The Verboten Sisterhood celebrated with a Saison brew at Verboten Brewing in Loveland. Mash in time: 8:30am.
I broke the boots out of their retirement.
And the pumpkin chocolate chip donuts! The best thing about brewing with ladies, or culinary-inclined men – the spread. We had my baked donuts, sausage and cheese croissant rolls, fresh cinnamon rolls, pumpkin walnut bread, chocolate chip stout bread, porter gingerbread, apple cider and coffee that had been freshly roasted at one of the sister’s houses. Edible bliss.
All set up to mash in!
Shiny 6bbl fermentor, ready to be filled.
We mashed in with a heavy grain bill.
I’ve had plenty of experience shoveling out wet mash, so I decided to let the other ladies handle this one. Let’s pretend it was me being selfless and not lazy…
In between transfers, boils, hop additions and spice additions we sat around chatting, walked around outside to enjoy the beautiful weather, consumed massive amounts of previously mentioned baked goods and paired pizza with one of the new brews on tap.
Mountain Man – Imperial Dark Cream Ale coming in at 10.5%ABV. I didn’t actually plan any pairings. This was the beer that had been tapped the night before that I had to try.
Thanks to Josh, Angie and Verboten Brewing for hosting and letting us spend the day! Now to make some spent grain bread with the remains of our brew!