Monday, November 21, 2011

Beer for dinner

Being the loyal Bigger, Better, Best reader that I know you are, you've born witness to the culinary creations made my Hubs, me and our friend Guy. We're the proud creators of Oktoberfest pizza, Thanksgiving pizza and  the home version of Chopped. We're bloomin' food geniuses up in here, friends.

This past weekend, we got a hankerin' for kitchen tinkerin'. The theme for this one was a three-course beer dinner. Here's what we came up with:

Round One:
The booze? Crispin cider
The dish? Ok, so, you know chicken fries at BK? Well, these are pork fries in a tempura/Crispin batter, covered in: cumin gouda, green onions, dried cranberries and a sauce containing the following effed up shizzle: horseradish, cinnamon applesauce, more Crispin, dijon mustard and curry powder.

Did you just gag a little? Well, seriously guys, gag not. This was amazing. It all worked somehow and we were quite taken with this dish. It was like nachos, but classed up and on meat overdrive. Which sounds really appetizing, right?

Round Two:
The beers? Widmer IPA and Murphy's Stout
The dish? We poached orange roughy in the IPA and made a risotto with the stout and some mushrooms. The sauce is a lemon and caper mayonnaise. It was good, but not very photogenic.

Round Three:
The beer? Bell's Porter
The dish? A hodge podge. Now, it is important to remember that we were obviously having healthy samples of all these beers as we dined and so by the time we were ready to make dessert, I was feeling a tad impish. I took a chocolate cake mix, subbed in porter for water and dumped in a boat load of hot cinnamon and cayenne. Hubs tried to scoop some of the cayenne out, but I just put it back in. I'm a sneaky chef.

We topped it with a porter and chocolate ganache and served it up with some Ben and Jerry's Cinnamon Buns. The cake was more warm and roasty tasting than spicy and I can attest to it's deliciousness as I took the leftovers to work today and received hundreds of glowing compliments.

Plus, this might be the single most enticing food picture I have ever taken.

We did decide in the course of this dinner that we desperately need a fourth food-minded person to attend these loopy dinner parties because no one, even you dear reader, ever believes us when we recant the wonders of the tastiness of our meals.

We're taking applications. 

Monday, November 14, 2011


A few weeks ago, I snagged this darling little stool from my aunt's basement. It used to my part of my Grandma's vanity, but it has clearly seen better days.

I had big plans to slap a fresh coat of crisp white paint on the wood and do the top in a bold, modern green, but the prospect of painting and sanding all those curves frankly exhausted me. Finding a snazzy burlap print on sale for $6/yard didn't help.

And so, Hubs and I headed outside on our anniversary weekend to take up a past time long forgotten around these parts: I stand around in inappropriate footwear, hold the giant T-square and lean on things so the circular saw doesn't slip and Hubs does the measuring.


 We used a nice cushy memory foam from Hancock ($7 for a giant rectangle - thank you, friends and family sale!) and spent about 20 minutes stapling fabric to the plywood.

So, for about an hour's worth of shopping, cutting and waxing + $15 = we had a bench. Perfect for thuggish cats to perch on and affect the facial position of those weird little kids dressed like adults in portraits from the 1700s.

Seriously. Don't you see the resemblance between crazy Niles and that little creepster on her lap?  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bad at math, good at champagne drinking

This about sums up our three-day anniversary weekend, I'd say. This particular pour was from a bottle we bought on our first anniversary trip to Napa last fall. Ain't we a classy pair? (as demonstrated by my artful use of black and white on my camera phone)

So, I have this handy countdown/countup app on my phone that tells me how many days it's been since our lovely wedding (also! It tells me exactly how many days I must wait before I'm strolling French side streets, eating macaroons and coveting French girls' boots) and I'm constantly wishing Hubs a happy 481st or 667 or 715 day-a-versary.

You might see my strategy in this. If every day is a something-versary, there is always a reason to celebrate, no? What can be said? I like to keep a good party going.

So, imagine my surprise when our two-year anniversary also landed on our 730 day-a-versary! How fun is that, I thought. How magical.

Until I came to my senses and realized that - like duh-oy - 365+365=730. Goodbye, magic.

Here's what is magical:

A random turret plopped in Winterset, Iowa in 1926 to commemorate the Clark family, who were among the first crazies to live way out here.

Having the turret to ourselves and ending up with a photo that somehow looks like we were in Scotland in 1974.

Things worth celebrating are everywhere these days!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Living out of town from all my family is good for one thing: stealthy holiday knitting projects. I imagine that if my mom lived 20 minutes away, she'd be apt to stop by and more likely than not, she would catch a glimpse of my top-secret holiday knitting. With her safely a 16-hour drive away, I'm free to leave my yarn and needles scattered throughout the house with not a care in the world.

(Note to family: am I knitting you something? Or is this a giant ploy to steer you in the wrong direction? Only time will tell.)

I'm super jazzed about my next stealthy, yarn-fueled endeavor. I found an awesome (and free! and easy!) pattern on Ravelry and can't wait to get my knit on, yo. I'm hoping these are easy to crank out because I really, very much would like one for myself.

I'm considering your interest to be piqued, readers. As such, I will share details and the pattern post-holidays. Unless you are a knitter and looking for a simple but face-meltingly awesome gift to give, in which case, leave your email in the comments and I will pass this pattern your way, too.

Also, can we just take a moment and admire the post title here? I'm bizarrely proud of it. (What do you call a sneaky knitter? A knitja. A knitting ninja. Hiiiiii-yaaaa!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Family holiday

Next Monday, Hubs and I will celebrate two whole years of marriage. We decided way back when we were new at this married gig that we'd treat November 7 like a family holiday, which basically means we take the day off work and do whatever we want. This year, it's shaping up to look a lot like this:

Best day of the ye-ar!

Over our long weekend, we're hitting up a preview of a local cheese shop (also, I believe Des Moines' first cheese shop and a place I plan on frequenting like all the damn time), having a game night at a friend's place, getting massages (treat yo self!), having fires, possibly reupholstering a tiny bench (because nothing says romance in this house quite like some primer and a staple gun) and capping the whole extravaganza off with dinner at the best (also, only!) French restaurant in Windsor Heights.

This family holiday is all about celebrating the ups and being grateful we were there for each other in the downs of the past two years and looking forward to a very upp-y third year of rocking at life as husband and wife.

So, Hubs: here's to us! And to many, many more happy years. May they be filled with love, joy, gratitude, and like everything else good in this world, cheese.

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