All I want for Christmas is an appropriate buzz!….Beer Highlights

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Ho Ho Ho! Tis the season to be jolly and whatever else are you suppose to be during the holidays while you are forced to bear your family’s company. You know what I am talking about too. We all have those relatives that have to be invited to Christmas dinner because they are your mothers 3rd cousin 4 times removed but you can’t remember them in childhood like they claim to remember you while telling horrid family stories at the dinner table. And you can’t remember their name and they keep saying yours wrong. Or those in-laws you just wish would actually disappear because of their own unique set of troubled issues including everything from anger to drugs. So how exactly are we to keep up the jolly during this hard time of year you ask?  Fear not because this months beer of the month is actually four fabulous beers with perfectly high alcohol content that I am going to highlight because nothing helps you keep your sanity better than a little holiday boozing. Or if your one of those angry drunks then at the very least you will be able to deal with whoever is on your shit list this holiday season and tolerate them until vacation time is over. Cheers and Enjoy.

Founders Breakfast Stout

founders breakfast stout

In the month of October toward the end of the month, where the weather here on the North East coast should be getting chillier by the day I noticed a stout beer in a new-found NY Irish/Mexican  pub/grill by one of my favorite brewers, Founders. It’s got lots of coffee, chocolate and oat flavors and is definitely ok to drink for breakfast, lunch or dinner.Not so thankfully it’s served only in the Autumn and at 8.3% ABV it is a hardy dark beer brewed in Grand rapids, Michigan. On a hop scale you’ll probably hop right off of you seat and it’s the slight smokey taste that makes for a good autumn brew to enjoy or you can grab one during the holiday season and you will be buzzed after two and therefore able to tolerate your grandmothers constant loud dentures chewing. 🙂

SingleCut Half Stack IPA

singlecut half stackApparently having been MIA this beer is returned to us in August late in the summer this past year. In my quest for all brews which are fabulous you can imagine my delight to have tasted this one on draught. Lighter than I originally assumed it might be this Queens based brewery Singlecut, barely out of diapers brings us an extremely complex and grown up beer. This rock and roll inspired brewery located in Astoria Queens, NY boast a Full Stack IPA which may or may not be the father of said “Half Stack” in which I speak of. At 6.6 % ABV It’s light and citrus-y aroma was a pleasant beginning. I’d describe it as medium bodied and a great intro to the grapefruit and other citric hops you might not find in other IPA’s.

Dos Equis Amber Ale

dos equis amber aleServed all year round I noticed this beer, described as a Vienna lager, which means its named for it’s originating city. It’s brewed using a 3 step decoction boiling process. At 4.70 % ABV it’s a fairly light beer in flavor and taste despite both color and name. So if this is to be your holiday drink of choice perhaps making sure an entire six-pack is hidden well for yourself in the back of the fridge. Put them behind like a fruit cake or something, no one ever eats those so your beer will be safe. Dos Equis Amber Ale is a fine enough beer to sip at a medium pace and perhaps then move on to whatever liquor or cocktail is your favorite.

3-step Decoction Process

So in case you were wondering as I was what exactly this decoction process is I shall tell you. It is a part of the mashing process that involves boiling the grains and then returning them to the mash thus raising the temperature. This occurs several times, three times in fact. It’s common practice in German and Central European breweries. Originally it was a process used out of necessity due the lack of thermometers, they hadn’t invented yet. However it is still used today because it creates a unique malty flavor within the beer.

Victory Fiestbier

victory fiestbierThis is a deliciously aged brew made up of Vienna and German malts and whole flower German hops. At a reasonable ABV of 5.6 % this fiestbier is found to be medium to full-bodied I think and leaves a really yummy malt flavor on the tongue. I also think the picture on the bottle is super cute and inviting . It’s unfortunately available only during the Autumn season but well worth the wait when you take your first sip and get some surprising that rests on your taste buds. So if your like me and love to be prepared you will have bought your Victory months ago and saved it for those weird family encounters where people don’t respond when you speak to them are unnaturally angry all the time. Victory makes us all victorious during the holidays no matter where you are. 🙂

I hope my this months Beer Highlights were enlightening, exciting and helpful all at the same time. Life is made up of a collection of all the very small things that so many people miss every day so have a happy holiday and enjoy the tiny joys because they will add up to a beautiful life.

Pour it up!!!!

❤ Cassandra

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American Chinese takeout Vs. Traditional Chinese food.

So I discovered, surprisingly via businessfinder.com that Cantonese food is generally sweet and Shangdong food is usually salty and crispy like kinds of dishes. Sichuan is always very spicy. I absolutely love Chinese food takeout but have you ever had a week or even a month when you ate just a bit more Chinese takeout than you should have and seriously began to feel the physical effects of it? Well, I have and you know you know what I mean. Feeling so full and bloated and heavy that many of your planned productive tasks that day post takeout never happen? Well this made me wonder, in all the regions of China they are obviously not throwing down general tsoa’s chicken every night or a fried half chicken, extra crispy with a side of french fries with hot sauce and ketchup on top during lunchtime. You New York City folks reading this know exactly what I’m talking about. Because otherwise there would be an entire country of over weight and grumbly tummy people with the mean poops. And since this is obviously not the case, I wanted to explore the actual differences between traditional Chinese dishes in comparison to their American Chinese takeout dishes. What I discovered was a few wonderful things. Firstly, we do indeed have traditional and authentic Chinese restaurants in this country, you simply have to find them and secondly the list that follows not only compares these dishes on both sides but it gives an option of other Chinese food dishes to order instead one day, in the event you do dine out at a traditional restaurant. Many of the traditional dishes are significantly more healthy and seemingly more delicious. Enjoy! Here we go!


Traditional Chinese food Dishes                            American Chinese Food dishes

Xiao_Long_Bao_at_Nanxiang_Mantou_Dian_1

Xiao Long Bao(soup dumplings)- Filled with crab or pork and a rich savory and flavorful broth.

 

Crab_Rangoons

Crab Rangoon(wonton)- Deep fried wonton filled with fake crab and cream cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cong you bing

Cong You Bing-(scallion pancakes) Fried flat bread seasoned with chopped scallions.

 

egg rolls

Egg rolls- deep fried dough filled with meat, veggies and cabbage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peking Duck- Roasted duck with a crispy skin and tender meat.

Peking Duck- Roasted duck with a crispy skin and tender meat.

General tsao chicken- Deep fried chicken coated in a sweet and spicy brown sauce.

General tsao chicken- Deep fried chicken coated in a sweet and spicy brown sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yu Xiang Rou Si- shredded pork sauteed  in hot sauce and garlic, vegetables and mushrooms.

Yu Xiang Rou Si- shredded pork sauteed in hot sauce and garlic, vegetables and mushrooms.

 

Beef and broccoli- Slices of beef cooked in a brown sauce made with broccoli.

Beef and broccoli- Slices of beef cooked in a brown sauce made with broccoli.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange slices- Chinese people end their meals usually with orange slices. Yummy.

Orange slices- Chinese people end their meals usually with orange slices. Yummy.

Fortune Cookies- Which are not even Chinese. Crispy cookie made with flour, sugar, vanilla, sesame seed oil and cornstarch.

Fortune Cookies- Which are not even Chinese. Crispy cookie made with flour, sugar, vanilla, sesame seed oil and cornstarch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zha Jiang Mian- Authentic Chinese noodles topped with stir fried pork and zha jiang (fermented soybean paste).

Zha Jiang Mian- Authentic Chinese noodles topped with stir fried pork and zha jiang (fermented soybean paste).

Lo mein- Thick wheat flour noodles stir fried with veggies or meat.

Lo mein- Thick wheat flour noodles stir fried with veggies or meat.       

What I look forward to when I’m old!

 

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Let’s just get right into it then shall we?

1. Wearing those weird clogs that everyone says are comfortable but look like they take a full year to actually break in. I love those clogs. Nurses wear them and a fair amount of Upper East Side grandmothers who wear their Sunday pearls in the middle of the week just to run to the bagel shop for their lox and cream cheese supply. I actually bought a  pair a few years back while in my 20’s because, as per usual, I was refusing to follow the fashion guidelines of my generation. What a mistake. I soon realized that why I only see 60-year-old women, nurses and dysfunctional 20-somethings in them. They are horribly uncomfortable if your foot is any bigger than a size 5 ( but I suppose there must be a special type since nurses where them with no problem whatsoever, I can’t really say). You can not pair them with a single pair of pants and look decent. You’ve got to wait until you’ve bought some estate sale pearls, Capri length khakis and a very fluffy dog with only two syllables in its name. Like Fifi or Coco or something like equally as awesome. And once I have all of those things I have every intention on perusing the streets of Manhattan way too slow and absurdly giddy because I have spiked my morning tea with whiskey or some other inappropriate additive for morning consumption.

2. Life Alert

I think one of the beats arguably one of the most convenient accessories a 60 + year old person can own is one of those life alert necklaces. Imagine how many potential muggers you’d ward off if they realized and ambulance and/or the authorities could be called at the touch of a button. also if you fall and can’t get up then it’s really good for that too. If you are unaware of what exactly a Life Alert necklace is, immediately stop reading this article, google an infomercial and watch it then come back and finish this article. You’re welcome.

3. Pajamas/Sweatpantshomer in a moo moo

It almost always seems perfectly acceptable for older people to stroll through public overly comfortable and casual, wearing like casual sweatshirts and shit in four star restaurants or jersey cotton moo-moo’s to the grocery store. To be clear, I’m in no way whatsoever hatin’ on the oldie’s and their ways. On the contrary, I look forward to a life when I’ll be able to wear an ill-fitting cotton burgundy blazer with velour sweatpants to like a New Years Eve party or weird clogs and my Life Alert to a baby shower or something. By that age you’ve probably earned the right to look hideous and horrendous, if you so choose, without persecution. 🙂

4. Giving  young folks advice 

One of the greatest things about being older than 60, I’d gather, is the abundance of knowledge you’ve hopefully acquired and then possibly passing it on to younger folks like myself. And the older the person is the more we generally tend to try to listen. Usually afraid to interrupt because hell hath no fury like your 80-something year old grandpa in the middle of one of his life stories that may or may not begin with ” When I was your age I walked 1,000 miles a day to school.” And no matter the story or life lesson that is intended they always begin with how far they had to walk to school in some storm that ravaged their village and so forth and so on. My oldie stories are going to begin how I used to get carpel tunnel in my left hand from typing on the computer so much and how this new generation has it so good, because of course by the time I am 80 years old there will be some new way of typing with your mind or something.

5. Walkers with brakes old man cartoon

So, I’m not fully sure why those walkers with four legs and wheels have brakes. But they appear to be pretty awesome to me if your elderly and you actually need one of those. Although I don’t imagine your cruising around, up and down sidewalks in town are hill-like and steep. Nevertheless, in the event I require one at that age, I’m sure I will be the person those brakes were actually intended for. Some of them are even equipped with a little storage container for all of your necessities. Anything at all you may need for an elderly outdoor afternoon adventure. Your large array of 20+ pills you take daily, your adult brand diapers and pads in the event you suffer from incontinence, your plastic hair bonnet because you always think it’s going to rain and your grocery list which undoubtedly includes cherry tomatoes on it.

6. Shiny material jackets

On several occasions I’ve tried on several peach and olive colored jackets with that weird shine to them. Apparently I have to wait a few decades for that to be cool to wear out. I seriously look forward to it thought because those jackets rock!

7. Knitting/crocheting

I am knitter now, have been for a very long time and I absolutely love it, however I can’t wait until I am of the “appropriate” age so that when people see me knitting they will say ” Awwww, how cute!” instead of the responses and look I get now that say “Seriously, what are you 60?” So, yeah that will be fun.

❤ Cassandra

 

Haddock: 3 wonderful ways!

Welcome to Fantastic Foods this month, It has been awhile since last I’ve seen you guys. Due to the uneasy nature of shaky wi-fi hotspots, lousy internet connections and the mountainous terrain that is upstate NY I have been unable to be in touch. Don’t worry though this new year will bring so many wonderous things for “A cup of noodle soup”

As a way to help get back into my mostly pescatarian diet after a lovely 2 months this past summer spent eating a fair amount of chicken and red meat, I thought, a while back, I’d start my early holiday season with one of my favorite fish. Haddock.  Incredibly under-rated in my opinion, this is a wonderfully light and super flaky fish that pairs well with more than is immediately obvious. Now, it’s been awhile since I’ve even cooked some haddock and I was quickly reminded of that fact, as sometimes our kitchen experiments go awry. But never fear as I used my intense collection and log of recipes plus the resources of the world-wide web to bring to you guys, after a long while away: Haddock, 3 wonderful ways. It’s “Fantastic Foods” at it’s best, honestly. For the flavor of this fish is pretty mild and it is pretty easy to underestimate the amount and types of seasonings that are appropriate as to have a pleasant result. I hope you enjoy them!

They say “There is more than one way to skin a chicken.” and it is exactly the same premise for haddock I suppose.

*Sidenote: I attempted to make haddock without using any butter once and on a few occasions even tried to marinate it before cooking it, which just didn’t come out right at all and like most things in life, it just seems better, no matter how you make it, if butter is involved at some stage or the process. 🙂

The 1st recipe is an altered broiled version of my own, the 2nd is an amalgamation of lots of fried fish sandwich recipes I have come across and decided to simply throw my interpretation down on paper and the 3rd is a baked recipe I found online randomly on some site that I can’t actually remember for it was a while ago. Here we go!


broiled-haddock-fillet-with-lemon-sauce

1. Broiled Haddock

Ingredients

4 Haddock fillets

2 tbsp butter ( cubed or chopped)

1 tsp pepper + salt

1/2 tsp chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder & onion powder

1 lime or lemon ( I love using lime when using cilantro)

1/2 tsp cilantro

Process

Pre-heat your broiler (or you can even use a toaster oven, set to broil)

Mix all your seasonings together in a bowl

Place fillets on a baking sheet (lined with foil if you wish)

Sprinkle both side generously with your seasoning

Place your cubed butter all atop your fish fillets

Cook 10-15 mins or until easily flaked with a fork


fried haddock

2. Fried Po’ Boy Sandwich

Ingredients

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 (12 oz) medium bodied beer

1 egg

1 baguette ( cut into 6- 8 inch pieces then cut lengthwise) (toasted in butter)

1 large dill pickle ( for the side)

tartar sauce ( I actually used flavored store-bought kind)

Salt and Pepper

1 tbsp cayenne pepper, curry and coriander

lettuce (Julienne) or cole-slaw if you prefer

canola oil and grated parmesan cheese

Process

Mix your beer, seasonings, egg, flour and salt and pepper in a bowl to create your batter. ( make sure not to stir it too much as to prevent bubbles)

Heat your canola oil in your fry pan until it’s about 375 degrees F ( you’ll know when it’s hot by simply dropping a  dollop of batter into it and when it sizzles its ready)

Roll each fillet in your batter until well coated, making sure to let the excess run off

Fry each of your fillets for 4-5 mins on each side or until golden and crispy, set aside on paper towel to drain excess oil

While the fish are resting toast your baguette with a bit of butter on them. I like to put them in the oven for 3 minutes then they are perfectly toasted and just soft enough.

Place your tartar sauce on each side, then a fish fillet and then some lettuce and sprinkle it with parmesan. Plate and don’t forget to add your dill pickle on the side. Enjoy with a beer of any kind!


baked haddock

3. Baked ( Amazingly fantastic!)

Ingredients

3/4 c. milk and bread crumbs

2 tsp salt

1/4 c. butter ( melted)

1/4 c. parmesan

1/4 c. thyme (ground and dry)

1 lemon

4 haddock fillets

Process

Pre-heat your oven to 450 Degrees F

In a bowl mix milk and salt and stir.

In a separate bowl mix bread crumbs, parmesan and thyme.

Dip fillets into the milk coating both sides then into your bread crumb mixture.

Place fillets into your baking dish and then drizzle your butter slowly on top of them

Bake 15 mins or until fish flakes easily

Serve warm and sprinkle lemon and parmesan on top. 🙂

Side note: As per usual I sometimes use photos online to help give an idea of what the food should like, as I haven’t gotten that special camera I have been dying for to take fabulous photos of the food I make. Usually though my better half, the fabulous Red himself has generally eaten whatever food we do make before a picture can ever be taken. I am working to remedy this problem soon however. In the meantime I sometimes use photos of food that is as close to my own dish as possible. Either way the food will be fantastic 🙂