Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cincinnati Weekend (Part One)

Ah, Cincinnati. Glorious were the days of my youth mucking about downtown, getting up to no good with the rap scallions down on Court Street, giving a piece of gingham to Emmy Lou, late nights at the cranberry bog.

Okay, so I've never actually been to Cincinnati. However, I did see an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain went there so I'm pretty much an expert. When I heard a friend was going to visit family there recently I asked him about Cincinnati chili and, much to my delight, he returned with a gift!

Skyline Chili and Gold Star Chili

Cincinnati chili! Two cans from the top two rival Cincinnati chili makers: Skyline Chili and Gold Star Chili!

Skyline Chili Can Recipe

The Skyline Chili can had a recipe on the back of the can. And any recipe that begins with the words 'Place a cooked hot dog in a bun' has just got to end with happiness.


I added some mustard (though I had trouble splashing it), some of the chili, and shredded some cheddar cheese for the top. I feel like I lose points by using an organic hot dog bun and an organic beef hot dog. Also I probably lose a lot of points for using a cheddar cheese that was not from Skyline and even more points by shredding it myself.

I have to say that it was pretty tasty. The chili itself was a little sweet from the spices used. It reminded me a little bit of a New York System wiener which, curiously, isn't actually available in New York but is very popular in northern Rhode Island. Remove the cheese and take out the spices from the meat sauce and the two 'recipes' are nearly identical.

Little Kings Original Cream Ale (Shoenling)

It is really hard to find beer from Ohio in New York. I looked and looked and the best I could find was this Little Kings Original Cream Ale from Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'd imagine that a few of these beers have been consumed with many a cheese coney in the past. Cheese coney is, by the way, what they inexplicably call these hot dogs in Cincinnati.

I was expecting this beer to be terrible but I was actually very surprised by it. It had a very soft and sweet taste to it with a strong flavor and scent of apple juice, something I've never really picked up in a beer before.

This was, indeed, the perfect accompaniment to the cheese coney.

Drinking this beer has renewed my faith in the entire class of beer known as cream ale. I'm actually eager to try a few more. This could be the beginning of something beautiful!

Or, I could be disappointed to find out that the rest of cream ales are foul, flavorless, abominations.

Ah, Cincinnati. I feel like I've experienced a sterilized version of your majesty this evening.

Now . . . what would Cincinnati be like if I were in charge? I guess you'll have to tune in tomorrow night to find out!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Rockin' The Spring

I hate to ring in the spring without Jen but time has been marching on. While temperatures are in the 30s tonight I feel the season must be celebrated. Not because I care about any season in particular, per se, but mostly because I like to welcome in new produce (and beer) with any season.

Rockfish with White Beans, Vegetables, and Boiled Baby Potatoes

I chopped up some vegetables in the fridge (garlic, onion, carrot, fennel, tomato, green beans) and cooked them down in a little butter and olive oil, seasoning them with salt and pepper. When they'd softened slightly I added in some cannellini beans with salt and pepper. I also boiled some baby potatoes and threw it all together with a little parsley leaving the vegetables with just a little bite left in them.

Over the top I served a beautiful piece of pan-seared rockfish. It was a lovely spring meal. Jen doesn't know what she's missing as she frolics across the United States.

Rockfish is just incredible. It's easily one of my top 25 favorite fish of all time. There are many reasons for this . . .


. . . but mostly because I imagine it's the fish that Rockman eats!

Otter Creek Brewing Spring Bock

For beer I opened this Spring Bock from Otter Creek Brewing in Vermont. This kept with the course of the meal in tasting extremely fresh. As it's just been released I suppose it's not terribly surprising. It was lighter than I'd expected and just perfect for this meal. Like is often the case when I make a wonderful beer pairing this was entirely accidental.

Barleywine Caramel Sauce

For dessert I made a caramel sauce using the remaining Backburner Barleywine from Southern Tier along with a little brown sugar and butter.

Ice Cream with Bananas and Barleywine Caramel Sauce

I poured the sauce over some vanilla ice cream and bananas. I'm not sure why I had this idea, other than not wanting to throw away any barleywine, but this was a smashing success. Barleywine is the perfect alcohol to add to a caramel sauce. Write that down, son! Take note and recognize!

Barleywine and bananas, baby. Barleywine and bananas.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Going Bananas!

It is fortuitous that Jen happened to take this trip in the 21st week of her pregnancy. According to the Baby Size Chart, our two babies are now the size of bananas!

Jen hates bananas so it worked out rather well that she was not around to have to endure this week's themed meal.

Bananas (Week 21)

It seemed a little strange that they are the size of bananas this week. Last week they were the size of cantaloupes. I have always considered the average cantaloupe to be larger than your garden variety banana, however, the Baby Size Chart is not to be questioned.

Do not question to the chart!

Banana Spinach Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing and Roasted Almonds

I started off by making this salad with baby spinach, banana, red onion, lemon zest, roasted almonds, and a dressing made of yogurt, buttermilk, salt, pepper, lemon, and honey. This was surprisingly tasty. My worries of going banana crazy tonight cooled a bit at the taste of this, though I'm sure the phrase "banana salad" is still not going to achieve the status of "goat cheese and cranberry" any time soon.

Orange Banana Glazed Pork Chop with Braised Kale

For an entree I seared a pork chop and finished it in the oven. I cooked down some kale and red onion in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, then made a sauce of orange juice, brown sugar, and banana to put over the top. This was also shockingly tasty. As a big fan of well-cooked pork chops (and by that I mean cooked perfectly, not overcooked) this was a pretty easy win for me.

Well's Banana Bread Beer

For the first time in weeks I've found an appropriately produce-themed beer to accompany my baby theme meal! The beer was this Banana Bread Bear from Wells and Young's Brewing Company in the UK. This is the first beer I've had that looks designed to revolt both Jen and my father-in-law.

While interestingly unsweet in the first few sips, by the end I found it to be a little tiresome. It had a distinct-but-subtle fresh banana flavor but by the end of the beer I felt as though I had just eaten some banana-flavored Now & Laters.

Classic Banana Split

It seemed a bit odd to have dessert after such a beer but if I made a salad, entree, and beverage that were all banana-themed then it seemed like I would have been letting a golden opportunity slip away by not having dessert.

I don't think I've ever actually had a banana split before in my life. At least I don't recall ever having one, despite frequent trips to the ice cream parlor every summer of my youth with my father.

While I was tempted to jazz this up in some unusual way I figured my first taste of this treat should be the classic. I just used vanilla ice cream, made some chocolate sauce, whipped up some fresh cream, and topped it with a cherry. After the first bit I could see why this dessert became popular. It was delicious!

I guess it's not surprising that adding a banana to an ice cream sundae would be delicious. Unfortunately I come to some things later in life.

Next thing to cross off my Embarrassingly Admissions of Gen-X Undoneness: watch The Goonies.

I know, I know. Save your emails. I am ashamed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Winter in Spring in a Hot Apartment

This afternoon Jen boarded a plane to Portland, Oregon, leaving me all alone. Those familiar with the blog know the wild exploits I get up to when Jen is away. There was that time I made an egg sandwich, that time I made some pasta and had some shiraz, that time I had a kale salad, that time I had some pickled herring, that time I mimicked the Dominoe's Bread Bowl Pasta, that time I cut my finger and had some leftover chicken, that time I made catfish with zucchini crust, and who could forget that time I made a weird chicken salad.

Yeah, I've had some wild times when Jen's been out of town. Now you can see why she's such a jealous woman. We have major trust issues and I take full responsibility for my part in that. We're working on it though. Our counselor says that every relationship is like a garden. We're just watering ours, brother. We're just watering ours.

Kale Salad with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette, Kalamata Olives, and Feta

Given my new passion for budgeting I opted to do no grocery shopping at all to make tonight's meal. I made this salad with leftover kale, kalamata olives, feta cheeses, and a vinaigrette made with whole grain mustard, lemon, Lyle's Golden Syrup, and olive oil.

Grilled Gruyere Sandwich with SchoolHouse Kitchen Sweet Smooth Hot Mustard

I used up some old bread to make this grilled Gruyere sandwich with Sweet Smooth Hot mustard from SchoolHouse Kitchen. This is my all time favorite mustard and it turned what would have been a boring sandwich into a boring sandwich with delicious mustard!

Southern Tier Back Burner Barley Wine Style Ale

As temperatures have plummeted down into the 30s this evening, I figured I'd warm up with this Backburner from Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, New York. I purchased this about a year ago and it's been just hanging around in my beer cellar waiting for a good excuse to be enjoyed.

It turns out our building, as is often the case, had issues with the heat turning temperatures extremely high throughout our living space even with windows opened on this wintery night. If I sat close enough to the open window I could pretend it was cold enough to really get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of this wonderful winter beer.

Spent Grain Granola with Coconut, Flax, Almond, Date, and Candied Ginger

I made some granola the other day using the leftover grains I'd had from my last two batches of beer. I dried them out in the oven then added Lyle's golden syrup, Canola oil, crushed almond, and crystallized ginger. I also put in some dried dates which ended up hardening considerably in the oven in a turn reminiscent of last year's chestnut granola debacle. Luckily I don't think the dates have achieved quite the same tooth-cracking density as the chestnut pieces in that ill-fated batch of granola.

Next time I make granola with any sort of dried fruit I will just toss them in at the end.

Atualfo Mango with Yogurt, Honey, Raw Pumpkin Seeds, Flax, and Spent Grain Granola

I used a little of this granola on top of some yogurt with a little honey, flax seed, and sliced Ataulfo Mango, my mango of choice. I would have used this Atualfo Mango for our Week 19 pregnancy theme meal but they were sadly unavailable.

At times the granola is a bit too aggressively crunchy but at the end of the day it's tasty enough to give it a pass. Sure, I have to pick out bits of toasted barley malt out of my teeth at the end of eating but that's just the cost of saving money.

That amount of savings is going directly toward putting our boys through their first half-second of college.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Italian Cheese, Dutch Beer, and Budget Cooking

Tomorrow, despite my objections, Jen is taking our babies and going to the west coast on a work-related trip. This will leave me alone for the rest of the week where I will undoubtedly entertain myself by preparing foods that require minimal cost and maximum probability of being things Jen will not be sorry she missed at all.

Red Chard and Fennel Fontina Cream Sauce

But tonight, for her farewell, I continued along with my budget theme by making this pasta dish. I cooked down some red chard stems and fennel in a little olive oil and butter, then tossed in the chopped leaves with some salt and pepper. I cooked this down for a bit, added a dusting of flour, and then poured in some milk to make a thick cream sauce.

Fettuccine with Red Chard and Fennel Fontina Cream Sauce

After a little bit I tossed in some cooked fresh fettuccine and some shredded fontina along with some of the pasta water. This was a very nice creamy pasta dish that was still a bit on the light side considering I used skim milk and pasta water in the sauce.

Emelisse Black IPA

I didn't really have anything that I thought would go with this so I opened this Black IPA from Emelisse, Restaurant en Brouwerij in The Netherlands. This was another Valentine's Day gift from Jen and it ended up working surprisingly well with the fontina cream sauce. The roasted malt gave it a very toasted chocolate and coffee sort of flavor which meshed well with the cream sauce.

I think this is the only beer I've had from Holland other than Heineken. I have to say that despite my experimentation with fresh Heineken last summer, this is probably the best Dutch beer I've ever had.

Isn't that weird?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pork Sabbatical

This afternoon Jen announced that she did not want "any more bacon or smoked pork items for a while." Naive readers may think that this has to do with her being pregnant. Experienced readers will recognize that this declaration could just as easily have come several years before Jen began to carry our twins.

Cantaloupe and Feta Salad with Kale and Pumpkin Seeds

For starters I threw together leftovers to make this kale salad with cantaloupe, pumpkin seeds, and feta cheese. I just added a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Was it boring? Yes. Was it essentially free? Yes.

Overall: win.

Quattro Formaggi Pizza

For the main course I made this pizza with four cheeses. A quattro formaggi pizza if you will. Will you? Fantastic!

I used mozzarella, Emmenthaler, Gruyere, and Bella Lodi, a nice mix of Italian and Swiss cheeses. This pizza was intended to be a money-saving budget meal using only ingredients we had around the house. It turned out to be be quite delicious! The crust was paper thin and crispy, just like they like here in New York.

Thick crust pizza? Fuggedaboutit!

Brooklyn Brewery Oishi

Yesterday we went to the Brooklyn Brewery where I had their new Oishi ale, a low alcohol (3.8% ABV) beer that was mild and extremely refreshing. It almost made up for having to spend time in the company of the world's most insufferable hipsters.

One sad fact about loving beer is that sometimes you have to be around other people that love beer. As a rule this is not a group I am terribly fond of.

Brasserie à Vapeur Cochonette

Since Jen is not drinking I chose to make up for Jen's anti-swine stance by having a pork-themed beer, this Vapeur Cochonne (Cochonnette) from Brasserie à Vapeur.

This was part of my Valentine's Day gift from Jen, a beer that she was expressly warned against purchasing by the clerk at Beer Table Pantry. She purchased it anyway against his wishes because she knew, if there was one thing I enjoyed immensely, it was a beer that someone else has deemed too strange or unusual for consumption.

It turns out this was just a really, really nice Quadrupel style Belgian Strong Ale. Incidentally it also had the most lively carbonation of any beer I've ever had. After pouring it you could hear it from across the table. It sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies.

While it was not a suitable accompaniment to pizza it was fantastic as a sort of beery dessert after the meal. This beer was far better than I'd expected given the poor review by the guy at the beer store. I would conclude every meal with a beer like this if I were a rich man.

Since we're on a budget you're going to have to settle for my upcoming reviews of beers like Coors Light and Milwaukee's Best.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Budgeting For Twins

The harsh reality of having twins on the way is knowing that we are going to have to curb our grocery spending by a bit. This is probably not too bad as we live much more extravagantly than necessary in this department. Without getting into the numbers for 2011, we spent roughly double what your average family of 2.5 would spend on groceries. Then again, we spent a considerable amount less on eating at restaurants than the average American family of 2.5.

But since we're about to become the average American family of 4.0 we will need to be a bit more judicious in our spending.

Expect big things from us in legumes going forward!


I started this mission of savings by only purchasing one cantaloupe for tonight's dinner. The babies are the size of cantaloupes right now. Well, the length of cantaloupes. It's a little misleading. Normally I buy two of each fruit, one for each baby, but times are going to be a little more lean.

This had nothing to do with the fact that one cantaloupe is plenty large enough. This was simply a measure of savings.

Cantaloupe and Mozzarella Salad with Kale, Tropicana Green Leaf, and Avocado

I started off by using the theme ingredient in a salad of kale, mozzarella, cantaloupe, and avocado. All I topped it with was a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Asiago Fresco

To tide us over until the main course was ready (a grueling five minutes) I put out this Asiago Fresco with some fresh bread.

Pan Cooked Flounder with Bacon Shrimp Colcannon

I got some super nice looking flounder on special today at the fishmonger hut and I pan-fried it with a little olive oil, butter, garlic, lemon, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Boiled Dinner Leftover Vegetables

To go along with the flounder I made a strange and controversial dish: shrimp and bacon colcannon. Again, in the spirit of our budget, I looked at all the leftover corned beef and cabbage ingredients in the fridge from St. Patrick's Day and decided that I had to somehow turn this into a bizarre accompaniment to the flounder.

I rendered a few strips of bacon in butter and olive oil, tossed in all the chopped vegetables from our boiled dinner, mashed them up, and tossed in some chopped shrimp at the very end.

The flounder was fine but I ended up really liking how the shrimp and bacon colcannon turned out. Had I even consdiered this dish while I was at the fishmonger I would have kindly told him to piss off, saved my money, and just had the colcannon dish.

Hey, the customer's always right! Right?

Founders Double Trouble

I found out about a few cantaloupe beers but they are very obscure and hard to get ahold of. Unfortunately I didn't have them in my beer cellar for tonight's meal. However, in keeping with the theme of our twins, I decided to have this Double Trouble from Founders Brewing Co. My hopes are that the twins, when born, do not resemble the horrific man on the label of this beer.

This was a very nice beer to cut through the bacon fat and butter in the colcannon. It had a wonderful grapefruit rind taste at first which turned to fresh grapefruit juice as it warmed up.

And so passes week 20 of the babies' development with another meal based extremely loosely on their development fruit.

Ah, development fruit. It's the most delicious fruit of them all!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Great Hakespectations

Our pre-Spring run has been going pretty well. Today we had beautiful temperatures for outdoor cooking and eating. Unfortunately our grill was destroyed in a flood, we don't have anywhere to sit an eat outside, and by the time we both get home from work it's still pitch black.

Tropicana Green Leaf With Red Onion, Avocado, Green Onion, and Mustard Vinaigrette

For a starter I made this salad using Tropicana Green Leaf from Gotham Greens with red onion, green onion, avocado, and a vinaigrette made with lemon juice, whole grain mustard, Lyle's Golden Syrup, and olive oil.

Roast Hake and Chicken Sausage with Resin and Vegetables

For dinner I took some leftover vegetables from our lamb stew the other night and roasted them in the oven. I threw in some lightly seasoned fresh hake which looked beautiful at our local purveyor of fine seafood. I also tossed in some chicken apple sausages Jen had purchased at the butcher just in case I decided I wanted to use them in place of our missing Irish bangers.

I did not.

Roast Hake with Turnips, Carrots, Potatoes, and Chicken Sausage

I also added a little beer that I'd been drinking to the pan just to add a little flavor.

Sixpoint Resin

The beer I'd been drinking was this Resin from Sixpoint Brewery. This was a phenomenal beer. I may have disliked this a couple of years ago but I found it to be an amazing dry hopped ale. At 9.1% alcohol by volume I was glad I'd shared a little with the fish I was cooking.

Normally Sixpoint packages their beers in 16 oz. cans but for this brew they opted for a slimmer 12 oz. can which reminds one of Red Bull. Thankfully the taste is much nicer than Red Bull. It had a wonderful floral hoppiness and, not surprisingly, a resin flavor as well.

It did not, unlike Red Bull, taste like someone had dissolved SweeTarts in diet soda.

Red Bull is disgusting.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Ruben's Day

After a long weekend of St. Patrick's Day celebration tonight was time to bring the yearly celebration to a close. And what better way to do so than with Rubens?

St. Patrick's Day Leftover Ruben

I took a few liberties this year. I used seeded rye bread; Gruyere (because, after all, that is a Swiss cheese); sauce of ketchup, mayonnaise, and relish; corned beef, Bubbie's sauerkraut; and, for good measure, some of the pork shank. Overall this may have been my favorite Ruben variation. It could be because of the pork but I also have a soft spot for Gruyere. Maybe it's because I went to Gruyere once and a waitress there compared me to a little boy who ate too much chocolate.

Guinness Black Lager

To complete the Irish beer weekend I ended with a lighter option, this Black Lager from Guinness. My cold is just starting to get good enough that I can start to taste things again. It's just kind of a shame that I chose to celebrate this event with a lager. It was a fine beer, just what you'd expect to have if Guinness Stout had a baby with Harp or some other boring European lager.

Tomorrow we depart from the the fake Ireland dreamed up by Americans and return to the real America lived in by Americans. There will be less boiled meat but, I've got to say, the beer will be a touch more creative. I don't mean to judge Ireland too harshly based on the lame beers they tend to import. I'm sure there are some amazing beers being brewed there but what we get in America is pretty unremarkable.

What wonders will await us back in America? You'll have to tune in and find out.

Prepare to be disappointed!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Aye and Begorrah! Let's Have Some More-ah!

Aye and begorrah! It's time for another St. Patrick's Day where we perform the humiliating American ritual of making a number of dishes that most Irish people have never heard of!

Ooooh, it's the luck o' the Irish!

Soda Bread, Two Ways

Jen was kind enough to make her delicious Irish soda bread which we paired with some Kerrygold butter. Our friends had also brought over some Irish soda bread so we were able to enjoy both for dinner! One loaf of soda bread per person is completely average.

St. Patrick's Day Boiled Dinner

Each year I try to put a twist on our traditionally nontraditional St. Patrick's Day meal. Well, I guess it's traditional in that it's traditional to the sort of made up American version we celebrate. At any rate, my pot is usually jammed with new additions. This year in addition to the normal corned beef, potatoes, carrots, onion, and cabbage I also threw in a pork shank, and leeks. Irish bangers, which have made it into the last few St. Patrick's Day pots, were sadly unavailable this year. They had a prior engagement which they just could not get out of.

O'Hara's Irish Red

For beer I opened this O'hara's Irish Red from Carlow Brewing Company in Ireland. I figured if I was going to mock Irish tradition so heavily with this meal I may as well be authentic with the beer. I think it was pretty good but with this cold most beers are tasting the same to me these days.

Irish Potato Candy

For dessert, since I was bastardizing Irish cuisine as is St. Patrick's Day tradition, I made Irish Potato Candy. The concept of this dessert had only been brought to my attention a few days ago. It intrigued me greatly at first because I thought the idea of making candy out of potatoes was extremely exciting. It sounded kind of disgusting but that only made me more interested.

I was saddened to find out it was actually just a sweet little dessert made to look like potatoes. There are a million recipes online. The version I made was butter, cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and coconut which I combined, rolled into balls, and rolled in cinnamon attempting to approximate the look of little potatoes.

It's kind of like marzipan except much less professional looking.

O'Hara's Irish Stout

As a nightcap I had this Irish Stout, also form O'Hara's. Can a drink be a nightcap before 10:00 PM? Maybe I should call it an 8:30 cap instead.

I had read on BeerAdvocate that it was quite good and, even given my current cold, I'm pretty sure it was. I figured it just wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without a true Irish stout and, since I'm a pretentious prick, I just couldn't go all mainstream with Guinness.

I can't wait until the babies are born so I can start teaching them to be snobby little jerks just like their dad!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Allagash Stew and Napoleans Too!

Rest easy, folks! Our salt grinder has finally been replaced.

I know, I know. You were worried since I haven't mentioned anything since I chronicled the ordeal in this blog entry. I also announced Jen's pregnancy and the future arrival of two babies coming this summer. However, most people focused on the broken salt grinder and I've received an outpouring of support and guidance on how to deal with the matter of the broken salt grinder.

However, I have an announcement to make tonight. All our worries are over.

Mario Batali Vic Firth Salt Mill

I got this salt grinder in the mail. While only one quarter the size of our old, ridiculously large grinder, it does the job of representing the shameless visage of Mario Batali. It's good because Mario Batali could use the money. All he needs to do is sell 208,083 of these salt mills to cover his legal bills. That is, of course, assuming there is absolutely no production cost involved in their manufacture. If there is then my estimate will need to be revised upward significantly.

The other surprising bit is that it's made by Vic Firth who I had no idea were in any sort of business other than the manufacture of drum sticks.

Who knew?

Kerrygold Vintage Cheddar

Tonight we had dinner guests, something that hasn't happened in a while. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that most people find it odd that I spend ten minutes taking pictures before anyone is allowed to eat.

I started off by putting out this nice Kerrygold Vintage Cheddar with grapes and crackers.

I wanted to make lamb and Guinness stew but I thought it would be pretty irresponsible to go and purchase some Guinness considering how many other miscellaneous stouts I had in the fridge and in my beer cellar (also known as my cupboard).

Lamb Stew with Allagash Black Belgian Style Stout

Instead I chose to use this Black Belgian Stout from Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. I'd purchased it on my trip up to the brewery back last October and I hadn't had it since then.

It was every bit as delicious as I remembered it.

Lamb and Allagash Black Stew

I cooked some garlic, onion, celery, carrot, potatoes, and turnip down with some salt and pepper and also browned up the lamb stew meat before combining it all together with the Allagash Black and some chicken stock and throwing it in the oven for a couple of hours. At the end I sauteed some English peas and tossed them together with the stew.

Allagash Black Belgian Style Stout

For beer, naturally, I poured the remainder of the Allgash Black. I wish that my cold was gone so that I could fully appreciate the flavor of this one. Much like last night I was left with the impression that it was beery and delicious but I couldn't really pick up a lot of the subtleties. Luckily I'd had this one before so it wasn't a total waste.


For dessert Jen made her famous family recipe of Napoleans, a classic treat which emulates the desserts of the 1950s.

Now I know why people romanticize the 1950s so much despite the fact that the world was clearly a worse place. With desserts like this around it would tend to skew your memory. It's hard to remember all the pollution and government sponsored racism when you remember your mother's delicious dessert bars.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mangoes The Size of Babies

Happy Mango Day! What? You didn't know it was Mango Day? Jen's currently in week 19 of her pregnancy which means that she is the vessel to two (2) mangoes. Depending on which fruit and vegetable pregnancy tracking tool you use ('s Baby Size Chart is my particular weapon of choice) your results may vary.

Week 19 (Mangoes)

As I understand it, the fetus develops in the womb and each week morphs into a different fruit or vegetable until it has cycled through all known produce and it becomes a human. There are only 21 more types of produce left before our babies finally achieve full human baby status!

Now I understand the swelling pride of a new parent.

Chopped Salad with Mango, Black Beans, and Avocado

For a starter I made a chopped salad. Generally I like my salads as unchopped as possible, enjoying the shape and texture of full leaves of lettuce. This drives Jen crazy and makes her kind of cranky when I do this. So, for her, I chopped this salad with mango, avocado, red pepper, red onion, butter lettuce, black beans, lime, cilantro, olive oil, salt, and a dash of cayenne pepper.

Malaysian Curried Chicken with Mango

For the main course I made this recipe from Malaysia. Well, sort of. I don't know anything about Malaysia. I've never been there. I probably never will go there. Everythign I know about it I know from No Reservations. But I'm not 100% sure they even did a show there.

However, I imagine they put mango in things there so here's what I did:

I browned some fresh ginger and garlic in a little canola and sesame oil. Then I added chopped onion, red pepper, and green pepper. To that I added some chicken, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce. I let that cook down a bit and then added a little chicken stock, curry powder, and thickened the sauce up with a little cornstarch and water before finishing with fresh cilantro.

While mangoes are not exactly at the peak of their season you can usually find a few lackluster ones at your local grocery store imported from South America. These were not great but not terrible.

As I've been suffering from an annoying cold I wasn't planning on having anything to drink tonight. Then I remembered the wise words of my sister-in-law who once counseled me on the medicinal properties of beer for fighting a cold.

I'm not one to argue with a doctor.

Tröegs Nugget Nectar

With no mango-themed beers readily available to me I had to go with something else. I ended up choosing this Nugget Nectar from Tröegs Brewing Co. This is a seasonal brew from Tröegs which only comes out once a year in February and is generally pretty difficult to find. This particular bottle was bottled on February 28, 2012, so it was particularly fresh, a trait sought after by many an insufferable beer lover.

I used to downright dislike any beer calling itself an IPA or playing on the word 'hops' with name like Hopgoblin; Hoppy Birthday; or Hops, Skip, and a Jump. Even though I just made up those three names as I was writing I'm sure all three are beers brewed somewhere.

Over the course of the last couple of years I've found my tastes change to the point where I went from disliking these beers, being able to appreciate them, to mildly liking them. Now I actually look forward to a well made IPA. My obsessive nature of trying every beer available to me has beaten out my dislike for bitterness, turning me into someone who actually enjoys IPAs and seeks them out.

This beer was probably not the best match for a dish with mango. It had the word 'nectar' in the name and mango nectar is a thing so I figured that this was as close to on theme as I could get.

I could tell this beer was good but with my nose as stuffed up as it was I couldn't really make out too much from this beer other than its bitterness.

Sometimes if you stretch far enough you can reach the stars. Well, imaginary stars anyway.

Ciao Bella Mango Sorbet

To cap off the meal I picked up a little mango sorbet

Yeah, I'm pretty sure we've had enough mango for a long, long time. I'm kind of glad I couldn't find a mango-themed beer now.