AOC Challenge Week 3: Let’s Talk About Breweries

Hello! in 2018, I’ve decided to start my own personal writing challenge based on “Acts of Connection,” something I thought about while hiking the Camino de Santiago. You can find the whole story here

Quick note before I start: This week’s challenge was supposed to be about attending the NYC Women’s March. Due to an audition and an unmovable doctor’s appointment, it was not in the cards for me this year. BUT! I would love to put together a blog post mid-next-week about your experience at any of the Marches, this year’s or last. Please feel free to send me (through here or through Facebook) a short paragraph about how marching may have strengthened your feeling of connection and unity with the world and community around you. I will put them together in a post around Thursday!  Thanks in advance!

But without further ado:

Week 3: BONDING OVER BEERS!

Except for that dark year when doctors believed I was allergic to gluten, Ben and I have always been beer people. At least we thought we could be considered beer people at the time. Micro breweries had yet to enter our lives. As we move further and further away from the age where it’s acceptable to blow way too much money sitting at a bar and stumbling home at 2am, we started searching for something to fill that social gap. Sometimes you just can’t sit inside and play with your cats or watch another rerun of The Good Place again.

From 2000 to 2016, craft breweries in America shot up 165%. In New Jersey, this jump reached 203% in just four years due to legislation that increased licenses to microbreweries and loosened serving and distribution laws. Now you can drink at a small brewery after doing a tour of the facilities–which is usually done with a beer in hand.

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Elite Daily Veggie Recipe Publication

Hey there Thursday!  Elite Daily has published a veggie recipe I wrote up several weeks ago in honor of Vegetarian month!

The stock photo, though very pretty, is not exactly close to the recipe, but I completely understand why the editors chose it.  It’s super tasty looking.  I have included a picture of the original below.  Have a lovely day everyone!

Fire Up This Hearty And Spicy Veggie Beer Sauté For Vegetarian Month

elite daily photo

 

Original recipe photo (hope to get a better camera soon so I can make these look snazzy!!)

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Lazy Sunday Recipe: Corn and Summer Veggie Beer Sauté

This week’s recipe is brought to you by lack of sleep, beer, and the letter B.  For beer!

 

Photo credit- frugal-cafe.com

Cooking when you’re tired and punchy can be tricky.  But you still have to eat.  There are plenty of days when getting in the car and safely reaching the store for any special ingredients in just not an option.  So as I said last week, start with what you have.  Or in this case, look at what you have and figure out how the heck it could become meal.

Corn and Summer Veggie Beer Sauté

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Servings: 4

Prep/Cook Time: Less than 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Corn from two fresh ears, kernels cut off before cooking
  • 3-4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • Hefty handful of green beans, chopped
  • Four stalks of celery, halved and chopped
  • 1 zucchini, you guessed it, chopped
  • 1 clove of diced garlic
  • 1/8 can of lager beer- I used Yuengling
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • Sriracha to taste
  • One tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, dash of chili powder
  • 1 cup (uncooked) rice of choice
  • 1 secret ingredient (reveled below!)

Alternate Recipe List

  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Whatever veggies you have in the fridge
  • Beer
  • Spicy things

“I just want to fill my mouth with tastes”

After a three hour brunch in our college cafeteria senior year, a wise friend once announced to the group, “I’m no longer hungry, I just want to fill my mouth with tastes.”  Minus the “no longer hungry” part, this is how I approach cooking when I am tired.  I look at things and think, what is my basic human reaction for how I want all these ingredients to come together?  Often, things are pretty delicious when I take this approach.  Other times, I make hot dog lentil soup that sits in the fridge for three weeks.  Sorry, Ben.

As always, start by sautéing garlic in olive oil, it’s a very good place to start.  While you are doing this, chop the tomatoes, occasionally checking that the garlic bits are not turning too brown.  Golden is great, brown is not.  Garlic goes from delicious aromatic pieces of delight to evils burnt bits of coal in seconds, so keep your eye peeled.

Add the tomatoes and toss around.  Grab a bowl and stand each husked corn cob to slice kernels off the ear.  This way, they don’t completely fly around the kitchen.  Add corn to pan.

Chop ends off green beans and chop into small pieces.  The key to a sauté like this, is keeping everything a similar size.  Otherwise, everything will cook at different speeds.  Slice the celery in half longways and chop to similar size pieces as the beans, throw them in the pan.  Do the same thing with the zucchini.

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At this point, just add about a tablespoon of sriracha (depending how spicy you like it), along with the honey, salt, pepper, and chili powder.

Toss around and allow to cook uncovered for about as long as it takes to clean up spilling half your beer behind the coffee maker and sugar tins. Let’s say, 5 minutes.  Husking corn is dangerous, friends, use caution.  After this, add the beans.

Here’s where the magic happens.  Add about a two-count of beer, and watch it do that delicious foamy pan-beer thing.  Stir gently, and cover.  Simmer on low for about 10 minutes.

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Now is a good time to get your rice going.  Ben and I acquired a rice cooker  three years ago, and therefore never learned how to make rice like regular humans.  It takes almost exactly 15 minutes, a little more time than you need for the deliciousness to simmer.

When you return from NOT almost falling asleep with the cat on the couch, check out your veggies and taste how it’s doing.  Always taste!  It’s fun AND necessary.  If you want it heavier on the chili power, add more!  If it tastes too much like beer, add a tad more honey.  You got this.  If something went terribly wrong and you’re really not sure what it was, there’s always butter.

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When in doubt, add an egg

At this point, I was irrationally sad that we didn’t have cheese.  I was tired, and no, we didn’t need cheese in the dish, but it sure would make it perfect.  So I needed to substitute.

Once the mixture is the consistency and spiciness that you like, pour the mixture into a nearby bowl.  Not any bowl, preferably one you’ve set aside for this purpose.

Photo credit: properpet.com

Inappropriate bowl.

Keep the heat on low so that your pan will continue to heat.  Since it is covered in leftover amazingness, FRY AN EGG ON IT.  Grab the number of eggs for the amount of servings you are preparing and pop them in the hot pan.  I made mine sunny side up, since successful flipping seemed improbable.  If you take this path, put a lid on it.  Wait until it doesn’t look like a raw egg.

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Build a pretty plate

Here’s the fun part!  Even if you’re tired, some simple tricks can make you look oh-so-fancy.  Because it’s always more fun to eat fancy looking food.  Grab a small dish of any interesting shape, even if it’s shot glass.  This is kind of like making a small sandcastle, but with rice.  I used a small ramequin, which may I point out, is one of my favorite words.  Scoop the rice into the container and flip over onto the plate (like a sandcastle!)

Scoop veggie/corn/beer mixture onto rice castle and don’t worry if it collapses a bit.  It’s still pretty.

Pick up the egg, and lay it across the whole darn thing, like the picture of the pancake in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

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Last but not least, grab your sriracha and drizzle it over the top of the egg, making it look beautiful and delicious.  Serve, enjoy, and then go get some sleep.

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When Life Hands You Rum, Make Cookies

After many days inside with this cold, I finally made it out for brunch today with my wonderful friend Jonathan.  He’s one of those people that can instantly make you to believe in your career, where you’re going in life, and the power of a $6 mimosa.  As it naturally does, our conversation eventually took the turn towards our cycling frustration and confusion of whether we were pursuing our acting careers/living out lives “correctly”.  We happily came to the conclusion that these years are meant to be about figuring out that exact balance, and are right where we needed to be.  Jonathan is off of another great tour and I’m planning a wedding!  Cheers to that! Hooray brunch!

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This is Jonathan, he is my favorite.

On my way home, I realized I never stopped for the ingredients I intended to use for cookies that I was going to blog about.  I was bummed that I wouldn’t have a post tonight or…delicious cookies.  BUT WAIT!  I just an existential conversation about doing things our own way, enjoying the journey, and other things crocheted on pillows!  I didn’t need a recipe!  You keep talkin, mimosa!

So I figured with a little guessing and a beer to help me through, I could adjust Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe (here) and make it up for what I DID have in the house.  Maraschino cherries, ricotta cheese, and Mount Gay Rum.

And now for a baking experiment:

Cherry Ricotta Cookies with Rum Glaze

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Baking beverage choice: Hoegarden (your hands are messy, so you wine glass would be a hot mess)

Dry Ingredients

2 cups dark brown sugar (brown sugar helps cookies maintain their shape instead of spreading out into hockey pucks.  Science!)

3/4 cup whole wheat flour (any more than 30% and apparently cookies get grainy)

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1tsp baking powder

Wet Ingredients

1 stick cold butter (Cold is supposed to make it more fluffy and sandy.  This did not work.  Feel free to play around)

2 eggs

1/3 cup juice from maraschino cherries and several mashed up cherries

16 ounces of ricotta cheese (Weird, right?  Cheese in cookies.)

Glaze

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup warmed up rum

Get Cookin’

Note: I am not a pastry chef.  I don’t bake often and I stubborn about following recipes.  If you know a decent amount about baking, I apologize.

1. Make sure brown sugar isn’t hard as a rock.  If it is, whack with hammer and then place in microwave, covered with a moist paper towel for 30 seconds.  Make sure nothing lights on fire.

1a. Combine brown sugar with warmed-up rum.  Mix.  Taste, don’t burn your tongue.  Put in fridge.

1b. Preheat oven to 375. Butter up that cookie sheet.  Because, butter!  Why not?

2. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.  Don’t feel obligated to use the whole wheat flour.  I just needed to get rid of it.

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3. Cut in cold butter.  This is essentially when you take a fork and knife and pretend you’re spastically slicing your steak into lots of little bits.  Do this until it breaks up into little round bits, or until you get frustrated, then just smash it with your hands.

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3a.Save draft of blog post so that your computer doesn’t freeze and erase your entire post.  If not, get second beer.

4. Add cheese, eggs, cherry juice, and cherries.  Remove rings (I did not do this, and now I have an heirloom engagement ring made of cheese), and mash with love.  The reason I suggest just using your hands is that you don’t want to over mix dough.  The more you pull it apart, the more you piss off the glutens.  Don’t piss off your glutens.

Mix until it looks like cookie dough.

Mix until it looks like cookie dough.

5.  My batter was pretty sticky and I had to rinse of my hands before putting them on the cookie sheet.

6. Cookies will not spread out that much so they can be relatively close together.  If they merge, you have a monster cookie, and that’s not a real problem.

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7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until they look toasty on top.  I have a convection setting so this was about 14 minutes exactly.  But it will be a bitter longer with a standard oven.

8. Remove and let cool for at least ten minutes and then drizzle a bit of rum glaze on top of each cookie.  You do not need as much as you think.  The rum glaze is basically straight  uncooked rum, so it’s strong.

9. EAT YOUR COOKIES!  You made your art, now eat it with beer.  And remember that even if you don’t have the right things in your fridge right now, you can still make something delicious.