Monthly Archives: February 2012

I’ve had a few “off” weeks recently…more than off, really. You know those days where the coffee you make in the morning somehow is terrible, and you’re late for class, and you forget your lunch, or money for lunch. I always know I’m having an off day if I can’t seem to get in sync with driving my Honda (it’s a stick shift).  If I stall? Now that’s a really bad sign. (I’m always so embarrassed if anyone witnesses me stalling the car…I swear I’ve been doing it for years! I really know how to do this!) So I’ve just been having off day after off day. Even my beer selections have been bad! I try to have new beers as much as possible, and I typically have the good fortune of choosing pretty good ones. But recently, luck has not been looking my way. So I’ve been preferring a healthy glass of scotch or white wine in the evenings.

Anyways, the buildup of three exhausting weeks resulted in needing to spend a full Sunday in pajamas last weekend, with a lot of Parks & Recreation. So I’m taking a wee break. I’d like some time attempting to get better at my pictures, or just trying new things out, without the pressure of absolutely needing to use some of them in posts. (I’m still totally nervous around cameras so I do really need the practice) And I definitely need another lazy weekend. More Parks & Rec never hurts, either. However, I’ll be back March 4th to resume my regular posts. But for now I’ll leave you with a few things I’ve been obsessing over lately for your reading and viewing pleasure.

Beer Lens
Beer Lens Beer Lens Beer Lens. That means you need to check this out.
Beer Lens.

This gent hasn’t posted anything for a while, but I’ve spent many hours scrolling through some of his older and beautiful pictures of beer. (His most recent post is a wrap up of some iPhone pictures, so for the good stuff, keep scrolling.)

Lovely, charming, and down to earth. I never fail to have a good chuckle and want one of the delicious cocktails she prepares after reading her posts.

Not Without Salt
Please oh please check out her incredibly colorful, lively photographs from a trip to Morocco.

You may think me silly for just discovering this blog as she’s stellar and pretty blog famous, but alas, I’m a newbie. I love how soft her pictures are and how laid back her writing is. Her pictures make me long for the light in the Pacific Northwest.


There’s this magic trick with baked goods. Start with any real life sized goodie: cakes, cupcakes, pies, croissants, etc etc. Take those and shrink them down to mini size….awwww. So irresistable. Oh and take it up a notch by naming them “Cutie Pies” or “Babycakes” or “Honey Buns.” Way more cuteness than I can handle.

Like baby foxes playing together.

Or a baby wolf playing with a bear cub.

Or Zoo Borns.


Red Velvet Babycakes
(adapted from Gimme Some Oven)

1 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour (150 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (11 grams)
food coloring as needed (I used two 0.25 ounce liquid bottles)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar (152 grams)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Italicized ingredients/measurements are those differing from the original recipe.

1. Mix flour and salt together in a small bowl.

2. Mix food coloring and cocoa powder together in a small bowl with a spoon to make the cocoa paste.

3. Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl. Add eggs, vanilla, and cocoa paste.

4. Add 1/3 flour, beat, 1/2 milk, beat, 1/3 flour, beat, 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour. I

5. In a cup, mix baking soda and vinegar together (it should fizz), then mix into cake batter. Fold one tablespoon flour in to batter.

6. Fill butter & floured cake pans (mine were four inch springform pans) 1/2-3/4 full. Bake 26-28 minutes at 250 degrees F.

7. Frost with 1/2 recipe vanilla cream cheese frosting.

1. All you need: marbled red velvet cheesecake brownies.

2. Heineken bottle concept design

3. I have way too many books already, and this summary of the best cookbooks of 2011 isn’t going to help…

4. Interesting tidbit about supposed “light” advantages of cans over bottles.

5. WTF of the week: The Green Lake park in Austria is a normal park in the winter, and a lake in the summer. Whaaa?

6. How could yeast donuts get even better? Stuff them with vanilla cream.

7. Theoretical redesign of Boxer Beer

8. Making your own brown sugar is easier than you thought. Tada!

9. I fell in love with these stunning pictures for a post on Kitchen 101 (with conversions!)

10. Chocolate Pecan Cookies with Sea Salt & being a weirdo.

Dear other twenty-three + year olds…

Do any of you have your life figured out? Are you content with your job, your relationship, your family life, with yourself? If you are, tell me your secret. But still read this, because most of us don’t have it all together.

Maybe we’re narcissistic, maybe we’re selfish. But we’re driven, ambitious, and self-aware. We’re always looking forward, because well, that’s what we’ve been taught to do. We learn a new skill, take on a new hobby, and say “okay what can I do next?”

We multi-task. We have too many extracurriculars. We push and push to become better. We expect more from ourselves.

I’d love to be writing this five years from now with a lot more wisdom and experience. I know that we never have all the answers. And I don’t ever want us to. But this is where I am today, and it’s okay. It’s okay to want everything and it’s okay to fall short of our own expectations and goals.

It’s okay to say “I have no idea,” when someone asks what you want to do in life. It’s taking me longer (a lot longer) than I like to figure it out, to get on my feet, but it’s okay. I’d rather spend time being lost and embracing the questions, than churning away my working hours in order to spend one or two hours every weekend doing what I love. We’re audacious enough to hope, if we’re sharp, hard-working, and strategic, that our passions can be our 9-5.

I’ve done my best the last few months to throw myself at the things I love. That’s the only way I know how to approach this. It’s going slowly, but I’m getting there. Sometimes we have to be stagnant or scale back for a bit so we can push ahead in the future.

We should want everything.

And we should want a cupcake to blow our socks clean off and out the back door.

Cross my heart these are the best cupcakes I’ve had or made. Credit for the recipe is completely and totally due to Jamie at My Baking Addiction.

These are exactly what cupcakes should be – soft and springy. Not crumbly. Not overcooked. The cake should be delicious all in it’s own right, and you should be tempted to have yet another one even if you’re stuffed. The lemon zest, lemon extract, and lemon sugar in the cake make you want to do nothing in life but eat. Then with the tangy lemon cream cheese frosting. Really, I could just move my sleeping bag into the kitchen and stay there forever.

P.S. I’m obviously taking a break from the regular schedule of Bread & Belgians. Not because I don’t like making bread or drinking Belgians, but my heart has been elsewhere the last few days. And as I noted in my last post, I couldn’t stop thinking about lemon cupcakes.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

(recipe from My Baking Addiction)

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest from one lemon
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (it’s worth the money)
yellow food coloring as needed

Italicized ingredients/measurements are those differing from the original recipe.

1. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in small mixing bowl. Beat eggs and milk in a separate bowl.

2. In medium-large bowl, rub lemon zest and sugar together until the sugar is a uniform pale yellow and feels damp. Add butter, vanilla extract, and lemon extract, and beat until smooth.

3. Add 1/3 flour mixture, beat well. Add 1/2 wet mixture, beat well. + 1/3 flour. Beat. +1/2 wet. Beat. +1/3 flour. Mix until just combined. Gently stir in food coloring until you reach your desired yellow. (I used about seven drops of liquid yellow)

4. Fill regular and mini cupcake liners 1/2-3/4 full. Bake regular cupcakes for 20-22 minutes, and mini cupcakes for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees F. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Let cool for five minutes in pan then remove to cool completely.

 Cream cheese frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons lemon juice
zest from one lemon
a ton of powdered sugar
Use a 1 lb bag and add one cup at a time.

1. Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and mix well.

2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until frosting is thick enough that when you make a swirl with your knife or spoon, the curl holds up for a few minutes. If you find that the frosting isn’t thick enough when you pipe or spread it, simply chill for about fifteen minutes and try again.

Cake and frosting made about 2 dozen full sized cupcakes, and about 4 dozen mini cupcakes.

Cakes can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container (they get sticky in plastic bags at room temp), or frozen for use later. Simply thaw at room temperature for one-two hours before needed. Since I only frosted a few at a time, I stored the remainder of my frosting in a large ziploc bag in the refrigerator and used as needed over the next few days. If you want to store your piping bag, wrap the tip in a damp paper towel, and put in an unsealed ziploc bag. That way you can simply spoon extra frosting in the bag when you get ready to have more. 

I would love to tell you in delicious detail about how adorable and tasty these pretzel rolls are. That the combination of sweet dough, with salty ham, and feisty mustard is in the running for the perfect game day snack. But that’s where it ends, because my goodness, all I can think about are lemon cupcakes.

And waffles. Lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting, and Belgian waffles. Waffles for breakfast and cupcakes for lunch…extremely balanced meals right?

This is an aspect of my life where I have a one-track mind. I have a lot of self-control when going out, I can just have one beer when I’m out with friends (I usually have to drive home. Be safe my friends!). I can keep my cool with extremely hot-headed customers. I can patiently wait for about everyone else to stop talking before I start. But if I start thinking about a food…look out. It’s a little bit like being unable to just leave a crooked painting or picture on the wall. So bear with this oddity of mine, and maybe you’ll see a cupcake or waffle recipe coming up here pretty soon.

(I hope you’re okay with the Instagram pictures today – I have to borrow someone else’s camera for all my pictures usually (since I don’t have one myself), so I’m a little beholden to their schedule. This weekend I had to get buddy buddy with my iPhone.)

New Belgium Trippel Pretzel Rolls with Ham
(pretzel recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup water
1 cup New Belgium Trippel (or other tripel)
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5-6 cups All-Purpose flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 cup chopped, cooked ham (I found mine in the meat aisle at Marsh)
cooking spray, canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup baking soda
egg yolk from one large egg
poppy seeds
your choice of mustard

Italicized ingredients/measurements are those differing from the original recipe. 

1. Mix water and beer together. Warm mixture to 100-110 degrees F. I used a candy thermometer to measure temp, which is very important in proofing yeast. Mix water/beer with 1 Tablespoon sugar in a medium mixing bowl, and sprinkle with one packet yeast. Let rest around 10 minutes – the yeast should gradually foam up.

2. Mix one cup flour into yeast and mix slowly with large whisk until combined-ish…there will still be chunks of flour that won’t combine thoroughly. Gradually add salt and 4 cups flour. Switch to a wooden spoon to mix, then knead when the spoon isn’t cutting it. If the dough is still sticky enough to pull onto your hands, keep adding flour until warm and tacky but smooth.

3. Grease a larger bowl (or just clean your first one out), transfer dough, lightly spray top of yeast with oil (really really lightly!), cover with towel, and let rise in a warm place for about one hour. Dough should have almost doubled in size.

4. Punch down several times and let rest for ten minutes. Grease three cookie sheets (or put wax paper on your counter if you only have one or two).

5. Tear off a golf ball sized piece of dough, then flatten with your hands on counter or cutting board into a square shape (about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick). Put bits of ham on one side of the square, and simply roll up (you’ll need to use your judgement here about the amount of ham). Pinch all ends to seal, and roll to get your…roll shape back. (Eloquent eh?)

6. Place on cookie sheets and keep covered with kitchen towel as you work. Place cookie sheets by your stove, and boil 2 inches of water in a large saucepan. When at the boiling point, dump baking soda and remaining sugar in water (do this quickly as it will foam up a lot), and turn down to a simmer. Using a slotted spoon, boil rolls for about 1-2 minutes and place back on cookie sheet.

7. Brush rolls with an egg yolk mixed with about 1 Tablespoon milk and sprinkle with poppyseeds. Bake at 450 degrees for 13 minutes. Keep your eye on the rolls toward the end, as my oven tends to be a lot hotter than yours may be.

8. Enjoy with mustard or topping of your choice! (I personally prefer the mustard, it holds up the sweetness of the pretzel & salty ham) These can be left uncovered for about a day.

This week has incidentally taken on an Italian theme…wine…pasta…squid ink…you heard me right. squid ink.

1. My pick of the week from Spenser Magazine: “Behold the House of Sour” on page 66 of the current issue on Cascade Brewing’s sour beer program.

2. Ever wonder how much spaghetti to boil? I could eat a horse has your solution.

3. Le Parisen à la Mer. Simple, fun short about Parisian boys at the ocean.

4. I’m not up to making Trofie pasta yet, but this process video made it look fun.

5. Alright. This has nothing to do with baking or beer, but it’s the. sweetest. thing.

6. The digestif that will make you feel as if you are “hitting yourself on the head with a hammer.”

7. For anyone slightly interested, here are the new 2012 Beer Style Guidelines.

8. THEY USED WHAT?? Squid ink pasta. Squid ink pasta. In case you didn’t see it the first two times…squid. ink.

9. Why anyone might use squid ink…

10. Trailer for SOMM, a new documentary following the adventures of several men attempting to pass their Sommelier exams.

First impressions.

According to professional development training I’ve done for my job, it only takes seven seconds to make a good impression and direct a conversation with a customer in a positive direction.

According to Katherine Heigl movies, making a terrible first impression ensures you will live happily ever after with the gentleman you embarrassed yourself in front of.

In real life, we know that first impressions are important, but not the lifeblood of getting to know someone. Most people worth knowing give others a few chances, mainly because most of my friends can be about as awkward as I am. We’re pretty forgiving folks. Thank goodness, otherwise I’d be up a creek.

I came this close to letting this beer make a bad first impression, but it would have been my fault for making snap judgements, and I would have missed out on another good beer.

If you could tell from this and from my bread recipe Sunday, it’s been a Unibroue type of week. First, because I love their beers. Second, because I’ve missed French like woah and it’s been really satisfying to say their names and see the way letters fit together in the language again. Like Don de Dieu. And Blanche de Chambly. Ahh they just sound…right. Now I know some French (and even French-Americans) snub their nose at or brush off Canadian French, but I’ve always been fascinated by how different français and français québécois can be. Back to the beer…

Back to the basics
Belgian Strong Dark Ale (Beer Advocate), Belgian Strong Ale (Rate Beer), Strong Amber Red Ale (Unibroue)
8% ABV
Bought at Friendly Package Liquors

All in all…
I was silly with this one and started drinking it right after I removed it from the refrigerator, so the carbonation/fizziness was just too much for me, totally took me aback, and distracted me from any underlying flavor. It was borderline soapy, and I was nervous it was not going to get any better. But, I gave it a few minutes, another try, another chance, and as it warmed it really started to shine.

After the Maudite had relaxed for a few minutes, it smelled like walking into a brewery (yeasty) and crushed cloves (the ingredient. not the cigarette. ew). The carbonation didn’t steal the show anymore, and it became a wholesome dark ale – instead of tasting and smelling like rising bread dough, it was more like baked dark raisin cinnamon bread. I didn’t find it bitter or dry, and I didn’t sense much of the “crisp hop finish,” their description listed. But I did love the orange rind flavor in the background – not bright like orange zest, but more biting. I also enjoyed that even at a warmer temperature it was still fairly carbonated, but was smoother (not creamy, though). At that more appropriate temperature it simply felt softer. Like the sh sounds in Blanche de Chambly. Prettiness.

Be advised of yeast settling in the bottom of this glass when you go for to pour.

Recommend to a friend?
Hmmmm. I’ll get back with you after I’ve had a few others in this style.

Safe for lightweights?
Hah, no. We’re at 8% ABV on this one.

Six pack worthy?
I’ve only had a few Belgian Strong/Dark Ales so I would like to try a few others before I come back to the Maudite.

But don’t take my word for it…

The Feisty Foodie

Two poems from Hoosier Beer Geek

On aging Maudite