Visit as many breweries as I can…

IMG_0157This year, as part of my 30 Things to Do Before 31, I am on a the journey of exploring as many breweries as I can and what better place to live in than Denver for this reason along! So here is my ongoing list:

  • Copper Kettle Brewing Co. (Denver)

  • Great Divide Brewery (Denver)

  • Declaration Brewing Co. (Denver)

  • Wynkoop Brewing (Denver)

  • Dry Dock Brewing Co. (Aurora, CO)

  • Riot Brewery (Denver)

  • Lost Highway Brewery (Denver)

  • Ratio Brewery (Denver)

  • Grandma’s House (Denver)

  • Second Street Brewery (Santa Fe, NM)

  • Renegade Brewing Co. (Denver)

  • Oskar Blues Brewery (Lyons, CO)

  • Upslope Brewing Co. (Boulder, CO)

  • Dillon Dam Brewery (Silverthorne, CO)

  • Stem Ciders (Denver)

  • Moab Brewery (Moab, UT)

  • Vernal Brewing Co. (Vernal, UT)

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#17: Carve a pumpkin…

IMG_2941This is far far overdue and not even close to Halloween time, but I wanted to share as it was part of my 28 Things to do Before 29 accomplishments.  I carved a pumpkin for the first time since a kid living with my folks. 

IMG_2936Halloween is by far my favorite holiday so I decided to really decorate and get into this year.  After I took the Mr. to his very first ever haunted house, I managed to get him into the spooky spirit, too.  After decorating the porch with a few skeletons, witches, and other deadly ghouls, we set up our carving station.  Our kitchen table transformed to a paper towel covered butchers table.  We were fully equipped with a carving tool set, pattern books, spoons to assist with the pumpkin seed scooping, a cookie at hand, and the oven pre-heated for the seed roasting!  Let the festivities begin!

 

IMG_2985Our first pumpkin turned out perfect!  It was both frightening and meticulous.  Unfortunately, one thing we did not know, was that squirrels love pumpkin.  Within a week our first carved pumpkin had a hole through the back with fermenting pumpkin and mold growing.  Squirrels gladly took their bites and felt their high, night after night.  We started over, choosing a more difficult pattern this time around and ended up with another pumpkin that was more fun than frightening with a witch flying on her broomstick!  This complemented our porch wonderfully.  

IMG_2960Hours before trick or treating was to begin, I painted my face for Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos, candy skull style.  I made us both dirt for desert and had bowls over flowing with sweets.  We waited for the trick or treaters.  And waited  And waited.  We had maybe 10 kids in total and it was a bust.  Majority of these children were more scared of my face than excited for the candy.  Maybe next year will be better.  We live facing a street that is extremely dark and not many front porches face it.  Next year I will add lights and possibly music to draw in the trick or treaters!  Either way, it was a fun day.  

 

And we were able to enjoy our pumpkin seeds…

IMG_2934

Roasted pumpkin seeds

#2: Plant a garden…

IMG_2356

My first garden!

Last June, the Mr. and myself decided to plant a garden.  At least that is how I like to believe it happened in my imagination, when in reality what happened was that my parents came out to visit one weekend and I had the idea that I wanted to create a pallet garden for our front porch.  I had only seen images of this done and naturally had not read any “how-to” or instructions on creating such project.  As when people do such things, it turned out to be a disaster.  

In short, the Mr. found me two pallets from craigslist for free, I went and picked up soil, small plants, and landscape cloth.  In the first trial, the entire thing fell apart on us and ripped through the landscape cloth.  Round 2:  my dad stepped in with his gardening expertise and helped to salvage things.  In the end, we did have a pallet garden!  It looked so adorable and I was so hopeful that it would prosper and provide for us.  That was my naiveté coming out.  

We did have a few things thrive!  We learned that we are really great at growing squash and mutant cucumbers that we are fairly certain bred with the squash.  We had a few different types of peppers that did grow, but our tomatoes couldn’t make it.  Then we had a few various vegetables including asparagus and eggplant, that seemed to just give up the minute they were surrounded by the new unknown soil.  

Playing in the dirt kind of therapy

Playing in the dirt kind of therapy

What did I learn?  I learned that I did have a blast getting all dirty and playing in the dirt.  I learned that we have a perfect spot in our front yard with just the right amount of sunlight for anything to make it.  I learned that I planted our garden way too late.  I learned the Mr. has more patience with me than I knew and he will support me in my wild haired adventures like randomly seeing a picture and wanting to recreate it on my own without guidance.  I didn’t think about the fact that I should have some sort of a plan for a garden when I added it to my 28 Things to do Before 29 list.  Most of all, I learned that I am now determined to try it again this year the minute it gets warm, and I am going to do my research this time.  

Kitchen herb garden with mason jars

Kitchen herb garden with mason jars

On a bright side, I was able to successfully grow an herb garden in my kitchen with mason jars!  The how-to for these, since these really do work, is to layer about an inch of rock at the bottom of the mason jars, then layer the soil and the seeds.  The rocks help with the irrigation so that the herbs don’t drown.  Water these once a week and they will thrive.  I placed mine in my kitchen window that faces North.  This window allowed perfect lighting and added a certain element of natural decor.  I chose parsley, thyme, basil, rosemary, and catnip for mine.  Yes the catnip was for the kitty and I will tell you that plant grows like a weed.  

Stay tuned for the next garden and I hope you all try the kitchen herb garden at home!

2013 in review…

I know that I have been incognito for the past year or so, but not due to lack of adventures.  On the contrary, my world has been hectic, exciting, and at times a struggle.  Here is 2013 in review to explain:


Here is the long and short of all that I have accomplished, completed, grown through, and enjoyed!

  • Went on my first Cruise to Belize and Cozumel where I met up with two of my favorite people and rode of a horse for the first time
  • Attended the Colorado Rockies’ Opening Day
  • Felt how small I really am while hiking at Garden of the Gods
  • Built and planted my first garden (I was successful with mostly squash)
  • Supported Wendy Davis with my pink running shoes while she filibustered for women’s rights
  • Witnessed two amazing people get hitched in San Diego
  • Hung out with the hippos at the San Diego Zoo with great peeps
  • Went camping at RMNP
  • Took my bachelorette party to the river – literally, while white water rafting
  • Frolicked about at my first Renaissance Fair
  • Prepared, created, canned, and then some for my best day ever
  • Go Married to the Mr. at the Arbor Day Farms
  • Hung out on the beaches of Dominican Republic
  • Grew a window herbs garden with mason jars in our kitchen
  • Carved our first pumpkins together
  • Took the Mr. to his first ever haunted house
  • Watched the Nuggets dominate
  • Visited NYC and enjoyed a ghost story tour
  • Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Hiked in the snow in RMNP with my family
  • Photographed the entire month of December
  • Learned the heartache of losing of a loved one
  • Was reminded of all of the love and compassion in the world thanks to Nelson Mandela
  • Loved.  Loved every single day.
  • Oh yea….and ignored my blog for too long!

Recipe 3.17; Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

3.17; Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

3.17; Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

I love nutella.  I love cinnamon rolls.  I love yummies that take under 20 minutes to bake.  Here is what I came up with.

Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

  • – 2 cans of crescent rolls
  • – 1 jar Nutella
  • – 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 275.  Roll out the first can of crescent rolls into a long rectangle.  Pinch edges together.  Generously slather Nutella over the rectangle of dough.  Sprinkle cinnamon over top of the Nutella.  Roll out the second can of crescent rolls over top making sure to pinch the edges together again.  Cut the rectangle in long vertical 1-inch strips.  Then cut these into half.  Now roll up the strips and place in a greased muffin tin.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Eat while warm and enjoy!

Recipe 3.10; Spicy Veggie Chili

3.10; Spicy Veggie Chili

3.10; Spicy Veggie Chili

Today was a snow day.  Today was a day of limited time due to household needs.  Today was a perfect day for chili.  Today I started off my goal; to cook or bake a new recipe every Sunday.  One thing that I like most about cooking is being able to tweak any recipe with my own tastes and preferences.  All of the recipes that I make are authentic to me and my kitchen.  Enjoy =)

Spicy Veggie Chili (subtract the veggie crumbles for gluten-free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12-oz) package of Morning Star veggie crumbles
  • 2 cans flavored diced tomatoes, (1 chili, and 1 Roasted Red Pepper)
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 can IPA beer (your choice)
  • 1 medium purple onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • dash of red pepper flakes

Brown the veggie crumbles until softened; pour into slow-cooker.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook on LOW for about 7-8 hours.  Enjoy with a helping of cheese on top or sour cream.  I like to pair this with cinnamon rolls for a very Nebraska tradition.

#21: Tour a Brewery

Cutest brewery...

There is the cutest local brewing company in Bar Harbor, Maine and we toured it!  Atlantic Brewing Co. began as Acadia Brewing Co. in 1990. The facility currently resides on a farmstead from the 19th century where it uses the native vegetation and highlights the local stonework.  It exudes everything that is Bar Harbor: quaint, earthly, inviting, and delicious.

Atlantic Brewing Co.

Atlantic Brewing Co.

I will state here, at the beginning, that neither myself nor the Future Mr. had ever had Atlantic Brewing Co. beer before, so we were in for an adventure.  I have always wanted to tour a brewery, but the idea of touring a massive corporate complex was anything but appealing.  When we drove out of Acadia National Park, we ended up winding through amazing countryside before finding ourselves on Knox Rd.  Atlantic Brewing Co. consists of maybe three or four buildings altogether.  And when I say buildings, what I really mean is a small BBQ joint, an even smaller 19th century farm house turned into a storefront, one building where the brewing occurs, and lastly a building that I am assuming where packaging and all things marketing transpire.  The complex is extremely welcoming and surrounded by lush Maine vegetation.

Mainely Meat BBQ

Mainely Meat BBQ

While waiting for the next tour to began, we found ourselves enjoying some grub at the BBQ joint in front of the storefront. Mainely Meat BBQ was yummy, simple, and straight forward.  The menu is maybe 5 items large where they highlight specific beers to sample with the foods for the ultimate burst of flavors. The food was great and the beer sampling we tried was a tease for what was to come…

During the tour, we had a great guide who passed out the various additives they use in the beer. I learned quite a bit and who doesn’t love show and tell items that are passed around.  I was able to smell, hold, and even taste (if desired) the hops, barely, wheat, and malt pellets.

IMG_1954IMG_1953IMG_1955

 

 

We had the chance to see how they release the nitrogen from fermentation in a safe and eco-conscious manner. They attach rubber tubes to the barrels that are placed into a bucket of water at the end.  The nitrogen, when released, causes either roaring bubbles or slight depending upon the pressure build up from the various stages and different additives.

This machine fills the bottles and stamps the labels.  A team both loads the bottles and then puts already full bottles into a case for delivery.  What a mess is someone sneezes and misses the moment when they are supposed to take the bottles off...

This machine fills the bottles and stamps the labels. A team both loads the bottles and then puts already full bottles into a case for delivery. What a mess is someone sneezes and misses the moment when they are supposed to take the bottles off…

Next we saw the small, but powerful machine that fills all of the bottles with beer and stamps their labels. One thing that sets this brewery apart from many others, is that is takes pride in being environmentally friendly.

Barrels where the fermenting happens...

Barrels where the fermenting happens

The waste from the fermentation is broken down and then used on local farms to feed cows and other farm critters.  They also have a compost out back that is then used as a fertilizer for the farm where all of the hops, barley, etc. plants are grown.  Pretty neat stuff. Our guide was great and allowed us to hang back to check out the barrels and machines.  It takes anywhere from 72 hours to a week for the beers to ready for drinking.

Finally, we had a chance to do a beer tasting.  There was yummy ones and then there were a few that I could barely drink down.  The gift shop is equipped with locally canned goods including an amazing mustard and preserved blue berry jam.  I loved my first brewery tour experience!  Just another thing for me to cross off my list of 27 Things to Do Before I’m 28.

Now for a review of what I thought of the actual beer brewed at the Atlantic Brewing Co., here are my top three (keeping in mind that I like darker beers with loads of flavor):

BLUEBERRY

BLUEBERRY

Nearly twenty years ago, a local farmer stopped by our brew pub looking to sell his truck full of wild Maine blueberries, providing the inspiration for our Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale. That year our beer debuted at the first-ever Maine Brewer’s Festival where it was enthusiastically received. This brew stands alone as a beer first, ending with a subtle berry finish. Unlike many fruit beers on the market, which are imbalanced with sweetness our amber ale isn’t overly fruity—just enough berry flavor to complement the hops.

  • Brewed Since: 1993
  • Yeast: Nottingham
  • Hops: Pilgrim, Wye Goldings
  • Malts: Pale, Wheat, Munich
  • ABV: 5.1%
ISLAND GINGER

ISLAND GINGER

Our original brewery was located next to a Thai restaurant. We absorbed the ginger aroma constantly wafting through the walls and finally gave in and decided to try brewing with it. We knew that a good brew needs a crisp finish to balance the sweetness of the malts. Usually hops serve this purpose, but in this beer ginger root does most of the “hopping.” The result is a delicately spiced brew with an exotic flavor profile.

  • Brewed Since: 1993
  • Yeast: Nottingham
  • Hops: Pilgrim, Wye Goldings
  • Malts: Pale, Wheat
  • ABV: 5.7%
COAL PORTER

COAL PORTER

There is a much debate in the brewing world about the difference between porters and stouts. At one time the two were even considered synonyms. Nowadays porters are often more malted, while stouts tend to be more roasted in flavor. When we decided to add a dark beer to our repertoire we chose to pursue the rich, chocolate tones of a porter. This ale continues to gather accolades in the beer world for its strong malt backbone and well-balanced, bitter hops.

  • Brewed Since: 1993
  • Yeast: Nottingham
  • Hops: Wye Goldings, Pilgrim
  • Malts: Pale, Crystal, Black, Wheat, Chocolate, Munich
  • ABV: 5.6%
Atlantic Brewing Co. in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Atlantic Brewing Co. in Bar Harbor, Maine.

All in all, it is a fairly small operation, but one that makes pretty awesome beers.  This is a Must. Do. for anyone that is visiting Bar Harbor, Maine!

I thought I moved away from Husker football…

When I moved away from Nebraska, one thing that I thought I was moving away from, was the infamous Cornhuskers and football.  I thought I would no longer hear the gossip about the latest of Bo Pelini and players.  I figured that the “Sea of Red” would vanish from all sight on Saturday’s.  I assumed that I wouldn’t have to worry about competing for a television set, do I dare say attention, on game days.  Heck, I did not even expect to distinguish any Saturday as a home game day or not.  Oh boy, could I have been more wrong..

Preparing the goop

After these couple of months in coming the realization that football will not only be in the t.v. quite frequently in my house, but that on Saturdays you had better bet that the Huskers will be not only by on the t.v., but that the house will be filled with Husker Pride. So when my mom visited in late September, we made our efforts to forget about the fact that we were transplanted in Central PA, but instead filled the house with all things Husker.  

Placing the rolls in the pan with enough room to rise.

 

We not only had our red and white on, and the television blasting the pre and post game gossip, but Mom and I were in the kitchen whipping up a Nebraska classic.  Chili and cinnamon rolls! We are are making the cinnamon rolls…the chili was must less exciting to prepare.

This is my grandmother’s recipe for sticky buns and it is obviously a family favorite.  The group is simple and the batch produces a whopping 4 dozen rolls!  Once we begun, we quickly realized that my grandma must be rolling out her dough extra extra thin, because there was no way we were going to make 48 small rolls out of what we had.  That being said, we made larger rolls and still made around 3 dozen.  

The cinnamon rolls have risen and are ready to bake!

Plenty to last for Mom’s visit and then some. We even stashed some in the freezer for upcoming trip we had planned…we plan on stretching out this yumminess for quick some time.

Needless to say, we had a great day of pretending to be home in Nebraska and my homesickness subsided for that day.  Dare I say that I, myself, am also turning into a Huskerfan.  I realized that this is something very simple and gratifying that I can do to help get through any feelings of homesickness.  It is fairly easy to transplant yourself in another place by recreating your environment with foods, smells, and sounds.  Success!

The final product! Flipped out of the ban once done to reveal the goop sinking into the rolls.

Coffeecake for breakfast…lunch…and dinner

Breakfast of champions!

 Coffee cake is one of those dishes that I have never known if it was meant for dessert, breakfast, or a light brunch with coffee.  I have decided after making this batch that it is meant for all occasions.  This recipe made a coffee cake that is all things perfect: moist, lightweight, and full of flavors.  I have coupled mine with some fresh blueberries and banana along with my daily mug(s) of coffee.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan, or a 10 inch Bundt cake pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, and butterscotch pudding mix. Add the eggs, oil and water, mix until well blended. In another bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Pour half of the batter into the pan, spread evenly. Sprinkle with half of the nut mixture. Cover with the rest of the batter, and sprinkle with the rest of the nut mixture.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn the oven down to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) and bake for an additional 35 to 40 minutes.

 

Baking is Bliss…

I spent an afternoon in bliss…in my kitchen…kneading dough!  For the first time, I tried my hands at homemade french bread.  To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing.  All I had was a book that my mother bought me this past April.  I read and studied the pictures in this bread bible, in the hopes that something would wear off onto me, suddenly transforming me into a topnotch baker.  Of course that did not happen.  But I will tell you what did…

I made delicious baguettes! They might have been a little bit mis-shaped, but they were yummy to devour.  I spread some locally made soft blue cheese across them and poured myself a glass of nice red wine.  It was a perfect night.  

All in all, bread was extremely therapeutic and enjoyable to make.  This will surely not be my last.