Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brew it Yourself!

{His t-shirt says it all!}

I'm late in getting around to this post, but I promise I had it in the queue for the past month!

Micah and I (I'm here just for the free beer) are part of the Bexar Brewers, the main and might I say the BESTEST (yes, that is correct) homebrew club in San Antonio.

{waiting for the grain to be milled}

While some of the brewers in the BB club have been brewing for decades, there are also some people who have only started brewing in the past few years. To cultivate the homebrewing community, the BB take part in Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day.

Since this was Micah's first time particpating in this event, he teamed up with fellow BB Ben to brew a wheat IPA.

{Micah has a tough job}

{wort bubbling away}

I wrangled up some folks from work who were interested in brewing their own beer and told them to come on down to the Blue Star Brewpub to watch all the action go down!

It could not have been a more perfect day to brew!

According to the BB current President, this was the largest showing for TFHD that they've ever had! YAY!

{people eager to learn and teach!}

It was actually really interesting to see all the different rigs that each brewer used. Everyone brews differently so it was nice to see how everyone else makes their witches brew.

{Larry in the camo shirt and this is his rig}

{L: Ron is making a pumpkin beer, R: Dick is checking his brew}

{Sherry hard at work}

Oscar's wife, Sherry, was a sweetheart and decided to make beer food for everyone that day. Everything she made from the cheese dip to the beef skewers had some type of beer component.

Everyone had a great time and the event was a great success!!

If you're interested in getting into brewing your own beer, check out the Bexar Brewers site and even attend a meeting! We won't bite...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Post-Wedding Party

A few months ago, our good friends Suz and Nate said their "I do's" in a beautiful ceremony in San Antonio. Since Micah was the "best man"he had to step up to the plate and make a couple of beers for the wedding (to supplement their wine/liquor/commercial beer bar).

{The silly posters that I made for the wedding}

For the groom, since he really enjoys Stone Brewing Co.'s Arrogant Bastard beer, Micah made a clone of the beer and we dubbed it "Lucky Bastard" since Nate was lucky to find such an amazing girl in Suz. *winkwink* This beer was dry-hopped as well - so it was not lacking in the hop department.

For the bride - we wanted a more universal beer that most of the wedding guests would be able to drink - so we went with a pilsner and called it "Blonde N' Chain." Get it?! I know, we are some clever folks, I tell ya! This 5 gallon keg was tapped at the end of the night.

At the end of the night, there were a few gallons of the Lucky Bastard left as well as our personal kegs of the same beers at our house. The couple also had leftover commercial beer bottles... what to do with all those drinky drinks?! Party, of course!

I told Suz that I would cater a post-wedding party to help get rid of all the alcoholic beverages, this is the menu I came up with:

Spring rolls, egg rolls, potstickers, shrimp on sugar cane sticks (chao tom), fried rice, and salad with ginger dressing. Recipes for the Spring rolls, egg rolls, and potstickers are below. Fried rice will have to wait.

1. Spring Rolls: My sister and I rolled shrimp and pork ones the morning of the party since the rolls can stay at room temperature for 12 hours. The rice wrappers were filled with rice vermicelli, cilantro, and green leaf lettuce. Really easy and fresh!

To make the hoisin peanut sauce: Saute a couple cloves of garlic in a small amount of vegetable oil in a small saucepan, add the jar of hoisin, dilute with about 1/2 C. of water. You can add a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter if you so choose. Let it come to a simmer until everything is blended. You can add crushed peanut and chili sauce to kick it up a notch.

2. Egg Rolls: These are not your Chinese restaurant egg rolls (not that those aren't amazing), but these are my Mom's egg rolls!
-1 lb. ground pork or turkey
-1/2 lb. ground shrimp
-1/4 C. woodear mushrooms (soaked in hot water, then diced)
-1 bundle bean thread noodles (soaked in hot water, then cut into short strips)
-2 carrots shredded
-1/2 onion diced or grated
-2 Tbsp oyster sauce
-2 Tbsp fish sauce
-1 Tbsp ground pepper
-sprinkle of sugar and salt

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and allow to sit for 1 hour before making the egg rolls. I actually microwave an itty bitty piece before wrapping to make sure the filling is seasoned they way I like.

When filling the egg rolls, put about a heaping dinner spoon on the lower third of the wrapper. Follow the instructions on the wrapper packaging. I use some egg wash to seal the roll. Fry @ 375 for 6 minutes, or until golden brown.

3. Potstickers: The link I provided is pretty similar to how I make mine. The ones I made for the dinner only had napa cabbage as the veggie though. I actually made the potstickers ahead of time and froze them. A few hours before the party, I partially thawed the dumplings, cooked them completely and threw them into my electric skillet to keep warm at the party. It actually worked out better than I thought it would.

I served these with a simple tangy soy dipping sauce: 1/4 C. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. grated ginger, and 1 clove garlic grated.

Before we dug into the food, Suz and I had to take a pic of ourselves in our cute aprons!

{Adrienne got me the cutest apron for my bday a few years ago! I *heart* it.}

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Z'Tejas: Sizzlin' up La Cantera

For the past month, my friend Jenny kept telling me we had to check out Z'Tejas once the restaurant opens at its new location at The Shops of La Cantera. She was familiar with Z'Tejas from living in Austin and tried to convince me that this place is the shiznits.

Four of us were able to get in on some pre-opening VIP party action at Z'Tejas on Halloween weekend (as if we our schedule wasn't jam-packed already). The dinner we were invited to included complimentary: 1 drinky-drink, 1 appetizer/couple, 1 entree, and 1 dessert/couple.

We were seated on the patio, which has a great fireplace and it's also a great place to gawk at the shoppers walking by.

{yummy Margarita}

To kick off the "free" dinner, Jenny and I got the Perfect Patron Margarita - it was strong and came in it's own shaker. Micah had a beer and J's date had a Z'Mexican 'Tini - how clever of them!

Z'Tejas is known for their fresh skillet corn bread. Each table gets a skillet and the corn bread is cut into 4 pieces. I thought the corn bread was moist and perfectly cooked; I do prefer my corn bread to be on the sweeter side.

{Micah isn't a fan of corn bread, how do I date him?}

We shared two appetizers:

Grilled Shrimp & Guacamole Tostada Bites: tostada rounds topped with fresh guac, a dash of chipotle and cilantro pesto marinated grilled shrimp

These were little bites of spicy goodness. The crunchiness of the tostada, the rich coolness of the guac, and the spicy kick from the chipotle made for a great bite! Everyone really liked this dish.

Green Chile Pulled Pork Nachos: pork simmered in green chiles and ancho peppers, topped with cheese, black beans, guac, and jalapenos.

The description above make it sounds like it's ah-mazing, right? Actual tasting proved that the dish lacked overall flavor. I think the dish would have benefited from some salt and more spice.

**full dish description here**

My Dish: Santa Fe Smoked Chicken Enchiladas -- This was a pretty simple dish. I liked the smokiness but the overall dish was unimpressive. The beans and rice were fine but nothing I couldn't make at home. Note: their enchiladas are of the layered variety, not the rolled kind.

{santa fe enchiladas}

Micah's Dish: Grilled Miso Salmon -- The fish was smothered in a sweet and tangy glaze. I'm not sure what's Southwestern about this dish, but it tasted good.

{pretty plating on the tuna}

Jenny's Dish: Baked Seafood Enchilada -- J said she's eaten this all by herself before, I can't even imagine doing that due to the richness of the dish. I had a bite and boy was it creamy! The seafood tucked inside the enchilada was good though.

{she is ready to dig in!}

Alex's Dish: Chorizo Stuffed Pork Tenderloin -- I really liked the bite that I had. I liked it better than the dish I got. Chorizo will help any dish though.

{chorizo stuffed pork - oinkoink goodness}

DESSERT TIME! Disclaimer: I was too lazy to take pics of the dessert.

We shared the Tres Leches and the Ancho Fudge Pie. The Tres Leches gray color was a little off-putting, but the flavors were spot-on. The pie was chocolaty but it was lacking any special kick. I didn't pick up on the ancho flavor that much.

Since the dinner was a "test-run" for the restaurant, we really enjoyed the food and the company. Margaritas + patio + mild San Antonio evening = dining bliss.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

GABF Virgins

GABF cherries: popped. We have done the deed... now we can go back to drinking beer at a slower pace.

The Great American Beer Festival is where beer fanboys can geek out at the sight of Sam Calagione, founder of DogFish Head Brewery (side note: he is actually kind of cute in person), without being ridiculed!

We had tickets to Thursday and Saturday afternoon sessions. Some people we talked to went to every.single.session. I was exhausted with just two sessions, I can't imagine attending ALL four!

Saturday's afternoon session is only open to AHA members so there was actually less people to run into inside the convention center. The line was ridiculously long though.

Here are my highlights of the GABF:

1. Breweries that we liked: TAPS, The Lost Abbey, Oskar Blues, O'Dell, Sierra Nevada, and Russian River. I'm sure there were more but we didn't take notes, so there.

2. Women's restroom never had a line, but the Men's did!

3. Wearing this awesome matching t-shirt that Micah got me! HAHA. Church of Zymurology all the way!

4. Not having to drive while intoxicated since our great condo was 1.5 blocks away! SWEET!

{view from our condo}

5. Running into several Bexar Brewers and a few familiar faces from Houston's homebrewing scene.

{Bexar Brewers unite!}

6. Denver. Neither one of us have spent any time in this city so it was fun to explore a new city and it was easy to get around.

7. New Belgium Brewery: The beer was good, the facility was pretty, and the tour was informative.

{Micah would've stolen this if he could}

8. Great Divide Brewing Co.: 4 free tasters always makes for a good tasting room. They even gave impromptu tours the day we were there.

{yummy Hefeweizen}

9. Micah breaking my "GABF Commemorative Glass" 10 minutes into Saturday's session. I got an earful of this:

10. Blanco's Real Ale Brewery taking home a GOLD medal for their Rio Blanco Pale Ale! Representin' the TX Hill Country!

{Real Ale founder and brewer}

I think the GABF is a great place to try beers that you can't get your hands on in your respective state, but all-in-all, it's a bit overwhelming. SO.MANY.BEERS. Not all the beers are great either. Why would you knowingly serve bad beer at this thing?!?! Maybe they didn't know their beer was bad? Who can say.

I would go to GABF again but I would allot some extra time to do more stuff in and around Denver. Next time!

If you're interested in the list of the winners at GABF, click here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Good Friends, Good Food

Eating good food with good friends makes the dining experience infinitely better. This past weekend, a group of beautiful women got to do just that!

After several e-mails back and forth, a house was booked in Austin for a Girls Weekend!! With everyone living in different cities across Texas, we figured Austin would be a fun and neutral city to escape to!

Some of us haven't seen each other in a year so it was nice to hang out with old friends (one since 7th grade) and make some new friends (my sister invited some of her friends from Dallas).

After we checked into our temporary abode, the folks who got to the house early, made a short trek to check out a couple of food trailers on S. Lamar. The house was about a 15 minute walk from where we needed to go, but I figured we could use the exercise since we were about to stuff our faces with calorie-laden donuts.

The place we settled on was Gourdough's . Gourdough's describes itself as "Big.Fat.Donuts" - if it fits! The Gourdough's trailer is actually on an empty lot occupied by two other food trailers - one is a smoothie place and I think the other one is Odd Duck.

We showed up around 12 p.m. and there were a couple of other tables, but it wasn't too busy.

We ordered the following:
(2) Mother Clucker: fried chicken strip with honey butter
(1) Flying Pig: bacon with maple syrup icing
(1) The Puddin': basically banana pudding on a donut
(1) Funky Monkey: grilled bananas and cream cheese icing with brown sugar

There were 5 donuts and 6 bellys - would we be able to finish off these donuts?!?!

The Mother Clucker was like eating chicken 'n' waffles, but without the delicious waffle. The mix of savory and sweet worked harmoniously. The donut batter actually tastes like tube biscuit dough that they threw into the deep fryer. Do you know what I'm talking about? That's how my mom used to make donuts at home!

{Mother Clucker and Funky Monkey}

Huong wanted something oinky so she opted for the Flying Pig to satiate her bacon craving. This dish was good but almost overly sweet for me. Maybe they should put bacon bits in the actual donut batter?

{Flying Pig at the top of the pic}

My sister loves banana pudding so it was a no-brainer to order The Puddin'. This one was actually delicious. The mix of pudding, bananas, and dough was perfect. Not too sweet and the fruit cuts through the fat.

{Linda stuffing her face with puddin'}

The Funky Monkey was my favorite of the day. I liked how the caramelized bananas gave a depth of flavor to the cloying sweetness of the icing and sugar.

The original six girls couldn't finish the five donuts, but when two other friends showed up, the donuts were gone!

To make the sugar coma go down a little easier, we got some cold drinks from the Smoothie place on the other corner of the lot. The girl inside the trailer had just started a few days before, so there was a slight delay in our drinks. My iced coffee was fine but some of the other ladies said their fruit smoothies were too sweet.

{waiting for our cool drinks on a hot day}

All of that sugar got us through a day of swimming and kayaking!

That night, we went trolling 6th street for some cheap drinks and a shakin' dance floor. There weren't that many cheap drinks, but we did get to shake our booties at a few places!

After a night of dancing and walking, on our way back to our cars, we came across Chi'Lantro. I actually had Chi'Lantro on my list but I honestly forgot that it was at a corner that we were going to walk pass.

{I see the light across the street! photog: Frida}

Chi'Lantro is basically a fusion of Korean BBQ and Tacos! Yummy Korean beef in a corn taco? Give me two please!

All of us ordered at least one type of taco and we also got one order of the kim chi fries! Yes, you read that right.

{that guy in the background is eyeing that taco!}

The beef in my taco was good but I actually thought the corn tortilla overpowered the beef. The taco was not lacking in juices though. P.S. get extra napkins!

{doing what I do best - photog: frida}

The kim chi fries were cheese fries adorned with bits of kim chi. I could've used more kim chi on those fries, but I am also a kim chi fiend, so I might not be the right person to judge this.

{how many girls does it take to eat a plate of kim chi fries? - photog: elena}

{digging into some kim chi fries!}

We arrived at the food truck just at the right time: 1:45 a.m. By the time we were noshing on our goods, the 2 a.m. crowd was starting to extend the line to the street.

Even though I only put a small dent in the Austin food trucks, I'm glad I was able to share these places with some great friends!

Thanks for a Fabulous Weekend!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sustainability = Treats for our Dogs!

Our pantry is loaded with:
a) dog food
b) 10# bag of jasmine rice
c) recycling bin
d) 10 large bags chock full with grain
e) all of the above

If you picked "E," you my friend, have seen our pantry!

Ever since Micah switched to "all grain" brewing a few years ago, we have grain in the kitchen and even in the office! We even have a grain mill in the garage (part of the brew rig).

After extracting all the goodness from the grains, "spent grain" is what is left behind. According to Wikipedia, spent grain is a byproduct of beer brewing consisting of the residue of malt and grain which remains in the mash-kettle after the mashing and lautering process.

{this is what spent grain looks like}

Some large breweries actually send their spent grain to farmers for livestock feed.

While we do dump most of the spent grain onto the flower bed, I use a small amount to make yummy (so says the dogs) doggie treats - sustainability! I have also made delicious breads with this stuff too... but that's another post.

I found this generic recipe on a Reelbeer forum but most recipes follow the same outline.

Spent Grain Dog Treats
from Reelbeer

4 C Spent Grain
4 C AP Flour
1 C Peanut Butter
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.

You literally throw everything into a big bowl and mix until everything is thoroughly mixed.

{I like to use Jif chunky peanut butter because, well, that's what I like to eat}

Press the mixture into an even layer in a cookie sheet. Lightly score the mixture into the size you want.

Bake for 30 minutes @ 350; take it out and score it completely through.

Lower the temperature to 250 and bake for 4 hours or until the treats are completely dry. If the treats are still moist, they will get moldy in a few days - so make sure they're dry and hard!

{the doggies love the nuts!}

{nestled inside my nice Lock&Lock}

Put the treats in a large container and have them handy for your four-legged babies! Just a heads up though, these treats will make them go poo... a lot! So.much.fiber.

{Porter & Spark}