Beers of the Moment

photo 4. St. Feuillien Tripel- These short stubby bottles started showing up in my liquor store alongside Duvel. Going at about $4 it’s a great way to enjoy a nice Belgian Tripel, preferably with some aged gouda or strong cheese. The pour  has the expected thick creamy head but fades fairly quickly to leave thick lace on the glass as you drink. Beer is a light gold color, smells of apples and cloves. The taste has a great complexity of flavors—Starts with fruit and sweet flavors of carmel, to give way to spice and a slight boozy flavor. This is one quality Tripel that I don’t hesitate to pick up with the modest asking price.

photo43. Belgo- Let me just get this out of the way. This is the best New Belgian brew I have had. Seeing that this is a IPA, it strikes me odd that it has the label “Belgian Style”. What it give you is nice fruitiness and deep smoothness you don’t find in this type of beer. The Hop is there, but it finishes clean. Does not ruin it with a overly bitter aftertaste most American style IPAs have. This one was fairly easy to find a year ago, but is becoming rare. Grab a sixer when you can.

sumpin2. Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale – I had gone off hoppy beers for a few years, but this has brought me back in a big way. Taste is bold citrusy hop and finishes clean too. Very drinkable for the style, and always tastes fresh like it was just bottled. I became very addicted to this over the summer drinking from the wide mouth mason jar and always hunting it down on tap. Be careful the ABV will catch up with you fast. The world may sing the praise of Pliny just north up 101, but I will take this one over it anytime.

allagash-white1. Allagash White –  Brewed Portland, Maine this is my favorite beer I had this year. This is a dirty blonde that asks you to tip the bottle back and forth to mix the sediment before pouring.  Cloudy pale yellow in colour with a creamy big bubbled lace that shows no problem of retaining. A classic White Ale look. lightly sweet lemon, cloves and coriander mixed with refreshing wheat. The beer is spritzy and gives it character. Despite the complexity being a wit makes it very drinkable. To even novice beer tasters, I can give them a pour and hit a home run. They will get all the fuss.

Slow-cooker Hungarian Beef Goulash

Serve this hearty stew with buttered egg noodles, passing extra sour cream at the table.

Been pretty much steering clear of buying beef last couple years due to high prices, but I found this a great recipe to have tender, melt in your mouth beef at reasonable cost. I prepare and cook on the weekend, and provides plenty of great leftovers to heat up for the week ahead. This recipe follows closely the one found in America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, but have made some modifications over the years to give it more flavor.

1 (5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
7 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 onions, chopped medium (Food processor a must for me. The tears!)
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
6 garlic cloves chopped
2-1/2 cups of chicken(or beef) broth
1 can cream of chicken (or mushroom) soup
4 tablespoon of tomato paste 
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

  1. Dry the beef with paper towels (important to get as dry as possible), then season with 2 tablespoon of the paprika and salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in large (preferably iron) skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of the beef, about 10 minutes,  than add to slow cooker. Return skillet to medium-high heat and repeat with 2 more teaspoons oil and the remaining beef.
  2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, bell peppers, remaining 5 tablespoons paprika,  and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups chicken broth and tomato paste, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to simmer, then pour into slow cooker (note: you may have to do in 2 batches too)
  3. Add one can soup in cooker and stir. Cover and cook, on ether low or high heat. 7 to 10 hours on low or 4 to 6 hours on high.
  4.  Set the slow cooker to high (if necessary). Whisk the flour with the sour cream and the remaining 1/2 cup of broth until smooth, the stir into slow cooker. Cover and continue to cook until the sauce is thickened and no longer tastes of flour, 15 to 30 minutes at most. Before serving, stir the vinegar and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To Make Ahead
Complete through step 2 and store separately in refrigerator. Add to slow cooker and proceed to step 3. May be a little longer cooking time due to chilled ingredients.

Into Portlandia and Beyond

Sight, sounds, and tastes from the roadtrip. A travelogue of sorts

Portland

Crystal Ballroom – The driving force to hit the road, err.. after spending time with my two sisters, of course. Picked up 4 tickets to see a double-bill show of my favorite new bands, Manchester Orchestra and Cage the Elephant. Manchester Orchestra’s Simple Math is my favorite album of the moment, give it a listen.  The famed  Pearl district, McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom, with it’s “floating” dance floor was also a big draw. Although we missed a part of Orchestra’s set, Cage sounded outstanding and a good time was had by all.

Powell’s – The largest independent bookstore in the world, Powell’s City of Books occupies a full city block in the Pearl district. The store is easy to get lost in. I am impressed with a help desk in every color coded room with many clerks ready to assist, and even a gps iPhone app that will help navigate it’s labyrinth of corridors. This time I visited it twice and made it through only two sections, Photography and Graphic Design.  I could honestly spend a couple of days here, but alas people are always waiting on me.

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Turkey leftovers? Turkey eggs!

Delicious and simple way to use those leftovers. Mix turkey pieces and stuffing in your scrambled egg mixture. Try this after Thankgiving or Christmas. I look forward to it just as much as the meal!

(Although, it is under contention who actually started the turkey egg Mann family tradition. Mom or Dad?)

Savory, sweet and heat!

Adobo Pork Steaks with Peach Salsa

Great flavor combinations for one of the cheapest cuts you can find in the grocery store.

Not my best results for this recipe. Try to use firm yellow peaches instead of white and grill pork steaks on the bbq! Also, make sure to allow proper marinating time.

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Grain fed vs. grass fed beef

Their is no question that the right thing to do is eat grass fed beef. Grain fed cattle are given a diet of mostly just corn (because corn is inexpensive). Cattle were never meant to live on corn and unable to digest it properly. They are given a stream of antibiotics to combat it and slaughtered before it becomes life threatening. Grain fed is about profit and not about the welfare of you or the animal. This cattle is fatty and reducing saturated fat in my diet is a good thing. When I explained my intent to switch to locally grown, grass fed beef, my friend Jay simply replied. “Corn fed tastes better.” I decided to put politics aside, and do a strait taste test myself.

For the test, I purchased ground chuck and top sirloin. A trip to Oliver’s netted me Petaluma’s Hick’s Valley Grass fed and Oliver’s own grain fed variety.

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5 Beers of the Moment – Tasting Notes

Samuel Smith’s Organically Produced Lager Beer- The organic moniker has made it’s way in the beer scene and this is one of many you can find at your local Whole Foods. Pretty big fan of Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and Tadcaster Ale, so this seemed a good opportunity to see how they handled a strait forward lager. On the pour, it has a pleasing light straw color and a head that was a bit too aggressive as it dissipated before my first sip. Smell was nonexistent and seemed no different then a domestic beer. Drinking it down, I came to the same conclusion. Sure, it’s a good, easy-to-drink, lager, but not worth the asking price. Save the dough, if you’re after a lager like this.

Cháu Tiên Pale Ale
This caught my eye because of the Chinese looking bottle that came from Boonville, CA. I had the expectation that is would mimic the flavors of dry beers like Tsing Tao or Asahi, when in fact it is actually a California Pale Ale. The bottle says it was originally brewed by Sierra Nevada in the eighties, then sold to the Anderson Brewing company. The brewer is actually a Vietnamese man who moved to CA, and is looking to have his own brewery one day. This had a nice amber pour with a lingering head. Mouthfeel was carbonated and quite fruity. The best part, no lingering bitterness of your typical hoppy pale ale micro. This actually stands with Lost Coast’s Great White, as being the most one of the most drinkable CA. micros I have tried. It’s a clean, smooth ale that has virtually nothing “Asian” about it, save for the label. I’ll be picking this up again, if I see it.

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