He’s everywhere

2 Apr

I was browsing through the introduction to Molly Stevens’ All About Roasting when a familiar name caught my eye:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall mentioned in Molly Stevens' cookbook "All About Roasting"

“Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the brilliant British chef and cookbook author, sums up the social significance of roasting like this in The River Cottage Meat Book: ‘Serving a roast has long been the most inclusive, magnanimous, and welcoming gesture a host can make to friends and family gathered round a table.'”

HFW is everywhere, there’s no escape!

If you’re interested in having more HFW in your life, someone (*cough cough*) made a YouTube playlist with the entire season of his most recent show, River Cottage Veg.  I’d love to know what you think; is it worthy of all my attention or am I fan girl-ing so hard for nothing?

Chicken dinner(s)

1 Apr

I am just loving having this blog as a creative outlet.  I can hardly stop thinking of things to do, make, and write about.  Unfortunately, that also makes it difficult to focus on my other projects, namely that Master’s degree I’m currently working.  I’m up to my eyeballs in schoolwork right now, which unfortunately means that all of the exciting things I want to read and write about have to be put on hold for those things that I need to read and write about.

Basically this is just a long-winded way of saying that content might be scarce around here for the next few weeks, although I’m hoping to find a balance between work (or school, in this case) and play.

In the meantime, here’s a cute ass picture of my favorite kitten.

And just because I can’t help myself, a quick mention of what we’ll be eating the next few days:

The other day, my Pinterest feed featured an article from theKitchn on making a five day menu plan based around a rotisserie chicken.  At our house, we’re all for making the most out of food, and out of meat in particular.  I usually save chicken bones for stock (collecting them in a bag in the freezer until there’s enough) but that’s usually where our meat thriftiness stops.  For the past week, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about roasting a chicken and making use of every last part.

Well, today was the big day and we just finished our chicken dinner.  I followed Thomas Keller’s simple roast chicken recipe, using a few modifications that I found in the comments.  In all honesty, I’ve made this recipe several times before and I always seem to have mixed results.  When it’s good, it is amazing, with everything a roast chicken should have: crispy skin and succulent flesh.  But there are times when it isn’t so good, usually because upon carving the bird, I realize that it hasn’t quite cooked all the way through.  Cooking this recipe definitely makes for a perfect time to whip out your (possibly neglected) thermometers, both oven and instant-read.  You may also want to add 10 minutes to the recommended cooking time.

I have to admit that I feel a little weird posting this photo for two reasons.  First, our camera battery was dead so I took this photo with my phone and I’m not sure it’s really “up to snuff,” as they say.  (Do other people say that too or is it just another one of those weird things my mom says?)

Second, during a culinary discussion at a recent excursion to local brewery Block 15, I lectured my dear friend Aileen about the importance of chicken trussing.  Trussing is the fancy way of saying tying it up with string so that it cooks evenly.  Everyone who is anyone recommends that you do it and I’m not usually one to go against the grain on these types of things.  That said, you may notice that this chicken is remarkably “un-trussed.”  That’s not because I’m making a statement.  It’s because the only string we have in the house right now is made of nylon.  Cooking tip #1: don’t tie your chicken up in plastic string and then put it in a 450F degree oven.

If you want more info on trussing a chicken, I suggest checking out ye olde YouTube.  One of the best how-to videos I’ve found so far stars Brian Polcyn using a slightly more advanced chicken trussing technique.  Polcyn is a Chicago chef and co-author of the cookbook Charcuterie that I currently have checked out from the library.  I love it when my culinary interests cross paths unexpectedly!

Despite our lack of appropriate restraints (by which I mean cotton butcher’s twine), I roasted the bird.  Tonight we had the legs with roast potatoes and carrots and a green salad.  After dinner, I finished carving it.  Carving is another technique that can be intimidating if you haven’t done it before.  It’s important to remove the legs first and then the breasts.  YouTube can come to the rescue on carving as well.  (It’s also great for a refresher on how to tie a bow tie, but that’s a whole different can of worms.)

After carving, one breast was shredded and went straight into a pot with a sliced onion, some homemade turkey stock, and the last of the homegrown tomatillo salsa from last year.  Tomorrow, we’ll eat the stew (which was inspired by this recipe on Simply Recipes) for lunch with some rice and beans.  The other breast went into the fridge; I’m not sure what we’ll do with it yet.  In the meantime, the carcass and wings are simmering in the slow cooker for some homemade chicken stock.

I’m not sure we’ll quite get five-meals out of this bird, but I’m feeling like I’m doing my part to be a more ethical meat eater.  Using everything this way makes buying the more expensive, free-range chicken seem almost affordable despite being on a limited, grad school student budget.  The whole free range chicken was $2.49 per pound, which is cheaper per pound than some of the pricier pieces of conventionally raised chicken.

While cleaning up from dinner tonight, I glanced in the trash can; the only part of the chicken that was in there was the plastic it came wrapped in.  I think I could get used to that.

Being green

21 Mar

I can tell I’m starting to become an adult.  I know that in the U.S. they say you become an adult when you turn 18, but let’s be real.  The first few years of adulthood happen to line up with the “college years” for a whole slew of people.  Not that I’m speaking from experience here, but I would say that, in many cases, there isn’t much that’s grown-up about the college years.  Sure, you have to feed yourself and do your own laundry and pay rent, but besides that?  Irresponsible choices galore.  Not that I’m speaking from experience…

Anyway, I can tell that I’m growing up because my idea of a fun St. Paddy’s day this year was focused on food rather than booze.  I donned my best 1950’s Irish housewife outfit and hit the grocery stores for corned beef, cabbage, soda bread, and Guinness (hey, I said it wasn’t focused on booze, not that it was booze free)!

Fat woman with light skin and short brown hair, wearing a pink headscarf, green dress and green cardigan. She is wide eyed and covering her mouth with her hands. Her fingernails are painted green.

Despite being named Margaret and having a brother named Cullen (two pretty darn Irish names), I don’t feel very in touch with my Irish heritage.  Or any heritage, for that matter.  I guess that’s the price you pay for being a western European mutt.  Recently, I was wondering if previous generations of my family have distanced themselves from these identities due to the negative connotations that have historically been associated with them.  We’re mostly Irish and German, after all.  Have any insight, Mom?

Anyway, I’ve decided that there’s no time like the present to try to get in touch with those roots and there’s no better way to get in touch with a culture than through food.

Cabbage is a big deal to both the Irish and German, so my eyes lit up a little bit when I saw the recipe World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage in Molly Stevens’ book “All About Braising.”  I guess this dish is technically Italian (what with the balsamic vinegar) but it went perfectly with our corned beef.  Actually, it didn’t go perfectly with our corned beef; it blew our store bought beef out of the water!

On a side note, have you ever heard of Chef Molly Stevens?  I recently heard an interview with her on The Splendid Table and immediately put her cookbooks on hold at the library.  So far, Nate and I have made four of her recipes and they have all been stellar.  I’d never heard of her before so I figured I would spread the word in case you’re in the same boat.

The only negative of this recipe is that the cooking time is over two hours, so plan ahead.  It’s worth it!

Braised cabbage in a blue cast iron casserole

Best Braised Green Cabbage I’ve Ever Had

Vegetarianized straight from Molly Stevens’ All About Braising, check it oooout

Ingredients:

  • 2lb cabbage
  • 1 onion, sliced into large slices
  • 1 carrot, chopped into rounds
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. vegetable stock, divided
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • Hot pepper flakes (to taste)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly oil a large baking pan or casserole (I used our 3 quart cast iron casserole). Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and slice into eight wedges.  Add to the pan or casserole in a single layer.  Sprinkle the onion and carrot over the top, then drizzle with the olive oil and 1/4 c. vegetable oil.  Season with salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes.  Cover (with aluminum foil or lid) and put into the oven.

After two hours, remove the pan from the oven.  Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees.  Turn the pieces of cabbage over.  Add the balsamic vinegar and, if things are looking dry, the remaining vegetable stock.  Return the pan to the oven and let cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until the cabbage starts to brown.

Braised green cabbage in a blue cast iron casserole

Molly says that this could serve 6-8, but it was so good it only served four at our house.  It ain’t pretty, but appearances aren’t everything, right?  Especially when something is this delicious!

Probably not perfect pie crust

19 Mar

March 14th was Pi Day!  3.14, get it?  I love pie but don’t take the time to make it very often.  Nate and I had just picked up some frozen organic blackberries to stock the freezer with; what better way to use them than in a pie?

As I was looking online, I found a number of pie crust recipes that claimed to be the “perfect pie crust.”  I’m not sure how there can be so many different perfect pie crust recipes.  You would think that some of them would only be “amazing” or “wonderful,” but not quite perfect.

But I digress.

I had been eying the Pioneer Woman’s pie crust recipe for a while because it’s supposed to be super flaky, a trait that I most enjoy in my crust.  The key is a tablespoon of white vinegar, which you aren’t able to taste in the final product.  I had intended to follow the PW recipe to the letter but it’s a shortening crust.  We didn’t have any shortening in the house, but we did have a pound of organic unsalted butter in the freezer that I snapped up while it was on sale.

So, I searched out found a perfect all-butter crust recipe on Simply Recipes.  This recipe suggested smooshing the dough (this is a technical cooking term ala Meggie) on your counter to achieve maximum flakiness.  I was feeling lazy so I couldn’t help but think, what if I just replace a tablespoon of water with a tablespoon of vinegar instead?

Blackberry pie with lattice crust

Thus, the crust for this pie was adapted from these two “perfect” pie crust recipes.  Because of that, you could probably consider it to be double perfect, although realistically it’s probably not really perfect but merely wonderful and amazing.

For the filling, I mostly followed this recipe for blackberry pie.  I added extra lemon zest and juice because we like things tart around here and used vanilla extract instead of almond.

Slice of blackberry pie with lattice top

This was my first attempt at a lattice pie crust and I’m quite pleased with myself and the results.  We drizzled a little good half-and-half over the pie, but vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would be, well… perfect!

Banh mi, baguettes, and me

13 Mar

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Only people who know me incredibly well know that I can be a perfectionist.  I try my best to hide it with cloak of nonchalance but sometimes people still get a peek.

Probably the main way that my perfectionism comes out is that I have the hardest time challenging myself.  One time I won a Guitar Hero contest at a bar in the medium level bracket.  I got 100% on a song I’d never even heard before.  (I won a rubik’s cube and about 20 minutes worth of bragging rights.)  I’m so ready for a harder level that it’s borderline pathetic but I just can’t bring myself to make the leap!

Basically, I have the hardest time bringing myself to do something that I might be mediocre or even (*gasp*) fail at.  I’d rather not attempt something than risk the possibility of failing at it.

For a while, it’s been time for me to take the next step in my bread-making.  It’s been time for me to tackle the world-renowned baguette.

Two freshly baked baguettes in a metal baguette pan

The first time I tried my hand at making baguettes, I tried the technique in the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book that I won’t stop talking about. (It was even recommended to a caller by Lynn Rosetto Kasper on this week’s episode of The Splendid Table, so it must be good!)  They recommend rolling some refrigerator dough out into a 2-inch wide tube, letting it rise for 25 minutes, and then baking it on a preheated baking stone.

Well, I tried this technique but I don’t have any photos of the results.  I don’t have any photos because, quite frankly, the baguettes were awful!  They were horribly lumpy and misshapen and far too flat.  To top it all off, they had neither the crunchy crust nor the soft interior that baguettes are known for.

What was that I said again about how I feel about failing?

Thankfully, this is one kitchen mishap that can be avoided with the proper tool.  A baguette pan.

Freshly baked baguette in a metal baguette pan

We received this baguette pan from Nate’s uncle Mark as a wedding gift.  It’s non-stick, perforated and it will cook up the crustiest, tastiest baguettes you’ve ever made (although I confess that in my case that’s not saying much).  What I especially love about this pan is that you proof and bake in the same pan; there’s no need to make a complicated transfer and clean up is easy (just remember to hand-wash it)!

My baguettes still aren’t the prettiest things ever.  They’re still a little knobby and misshapen, or as Nate said “funky and chunky.” I prefer to think of them as “rustic.”  Whatever their looks may be, they definitely taste like winners.

So then what do you do once you have fresh, homemade baguettes?  You partake in the current culinary craze and make banh mi.

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Everyone is always ragging on colonialism (myself included) but banh mi and other fusion foods are, I believe, concrete examples that there are some benefits to imperialism and globalization.  The combination of French baguette and Vietnamese fillings is awesome; if you haven’t had banh mi before, there is no time like the present to remedy that.

The banh mi you see here is a homemade baguette topped with mayo, sauteed mushrooms and onions, grilled marinated tofu, pickled carrot and daikon radish, plus chopped fresh cucumber, cilantro, and jalapenos.  Don’t worry, it sounds like way more work than it actually is!  That said, there is a lot of chopping so this recipe may be one to make with a cooking buddy if you aren’t super speedy with a knife.

Stack of grilled, marinated tofu and piles of chopped cilantro, cucumber and jalapenos.

Both the pickled carrots and daikon and the sauteed mushrooms and onions were made using a banh mi recipe from my lovely and hilarious friend Caroline.  We added grilled tofu to her recipe because we were hungry.  For the tofu, we grilled it in a grill pan on high heat after marinating a few large slices in a mixture of rice vinegar, Sriracha hot sauce, brown sugar, and light and dark soy sauce.  If, like us, you have left-over fillings, you can cook up a little jasmine rice and, wham-bam, you have a perfect lunch (or two) for the next day.

The coolest thing about this recipe is that you don’t even realize that it’s vegetarian.  If you leave off the mayo (or use a vegan product instead), this would be a very satisfying vegan meal.

Banh mi sandwich (baguette with tofu, mushrooms, pickled carrots and diakon radish, cucumber, and cilantro)

Actually, I take that back.  The coolest thing about this recipe is how freaking good it is.  Feel free to add extra Sriracha to taste (Nate certainly did)!

Spice is nice – kimchi stew

28 Feb

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

In January, Nate and I made about four pounds of homemade kimchi and we’re just using up the last of it.  We tried eating it a number of different ways but my favorite was definitely as kimchi stew served with some jasmine rice.  It was really tasty and could easily be made with store bought kimchi.

bowl of kimchi stew with kimchi, chicken and tofu with jasmine rice.

Maangchi’s recipe for kimchi stew recommends using pork belly or canned tuna.  I was feeling lazy, so I figured I would pick up a few cans of tuna from Trader Joe’s.  When I got there, the tuna was around $3.00 a can.  I don’t buy tuna very often so I don’t know if this is a reasonable price or not but it seemed expensive for fish in a can.  I’m not up-to-date on different tuna species and ethical fishing practices so I’m not sure if this contributed to the price.  In all honesty, I’ve never been much of a fan of canned tuna anyway.

So, after walking through the store and eying the meat case, I noticed that TJ’s has organic free-range chicken drumsticks for $1.99/lb.  Sold!

Obviously, this recipe isn’t vegetarian, but I think you could easily adapt it to be.  You could leave out the chicken, use veggie broth and maybe add some extra tofu.  I imagine that sauteing some mushrooms along with the onions would be damn tasty, too!  Keep in mind, though, that kimchi is often made with fish sauce and if you use store bought kimchi it may not be vegetarian.

Chicken Kimchi Stew – makes six to eight servings

Adapted from Maangchi’s Kimchi stew (kimchi chigae)

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 1 Tbsp high temperature oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 c. kimchi, cut into bite size chunks if needed
  • 3+ c. chicken broth or water
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 package tofu
  • Salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce (optional)
  • Steamed jasmine rice (for serving)

Heat about half the oil in dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot with a lid.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the chicken on all sides.  The goal here is not to cook the chicken through, but to create some flavor (“Brown food tastes good,” as Chef Anne Burrell says).  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan.  Once hot, add in the onion and saute for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two.  Add some of the broth/water and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the kimchi, red pepper flakes, the remaining broth, and the drumsticks.  The drumsticks won’t be covered by the liquid, that’s fine.  I like my stews to be more chunky than soupy.  If you’d like more broth, feel free to add some more liquid.  Bring everything to simmer, then reduce the heat.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool briefly.  Shred/slice the chicken from the bones (which you should save to make chicken broth).  You can either remove the skin and toss it or you can slice it up as well.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Cut up the tofu (I like to leave it in fairly large pieces but it’s up to you) and add that to the pot as well.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls over the jasmine rice.  Season with pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot sauce to taste.

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

One final note: I think this would be a great recipe to pull out when someone you care about is feeling under the weather.  Spicy chicken soup should really help clear out those sinuses!

Breaking bread

27 Feb

Two loaves of homemade white bread on a cooling rack with a container of strawberry freezer jam in the background.

If you’ve been following along, you might recall that last month Nate and I threw a party that left me feeling like we probably needed to ask our neighbors for forgiveness.  At my house growing up, apologies and forgiveness could go a long way towards ending an argument and fixing a damaged relationship.  I’m not sure if keeping the neighbors up until two in the morning really counts as an argument but I was feeling guilty.  Apologies work wonders on that, too.  Never underestimate the power of a heartfelt apology, people!

And what could make a better apology than some homemade bread?

Two loaves of homemade white bread on a cooling rack with a container of strawberry freezer jam in the background.

The really awesome thing about this apology bread is that, while impressive, it’s really easy to make.  A few years ago for Christmas I picked up a book at a local used bookstore for Nate that has really changed the way that we bake bread at our house.  While Nate sometimes does things the old fashioned way, with all the kneading and multiple rises, I almost always use the method featured in “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

In all honesty, it takes me longer than five minutes to make this bread.  Still, I’ve found that it takes a fraction of the time of traditional bread-making. Also, just as a heads up, five minutes refers to the recipe’s prep time.

The general technique consists of mixing up a large batch of dough in a container (no kneading necessary) and letting it rise for 2-5 hours.  You can bake right away or keep it in the refrigerator up to two weeks.  Each batch of dough makes four 1-pound (medium sized) loaves.  You cut off a piece of dough, quickly shape it, and let rise for 40 minutes.  Baking in a hot oven takes about half an hour.  Let it cool.

Did you know that if you want to slice your bread, you should let it cool almost completely?  Warm bread will get squished and compressed if you try to slice it.  If you can’t wait to dig in, you should tear the bread.  Besides, tearing bread is way more “artisan” anyway!

Loaf of bread being torn in half

In respect for the authors of the book, I’m not including the detailed recipe here.  Lucky for you, a quick Google search returned a companion blog to “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” that features the master bread-making recipe.  I would definitely recommend that you check this out ASAP, even if you don’t need it for an apology.  If you have any homemade preserves, this bread is the perfect vessel for them.  It’s great for breakfast, served with something like an omelet.

As an aside, I have to confess that I haven’t had much luck with omelets in the past.  A while back I posted something on Facebook like “I’m pretty much the worst at making omelets.”  One of my school buddies (Hi, Patrick!) shared this Julia Child video and it changed my life.  Here’s the proof:

Salmon omelet with torn bread with homemade strawberry preserves

This photo is of an omelet made by yours truly, stuffed with cheese and some leftover salmon.  I’m still excited about this breakfast; the bread and strawberry preserves were homemade, the eggs were local, and the salmon was line-caught in Alaska by someone I’ve met before.  We aren’t able to eat like this every day, but it’s so awesome when we’re able to!

How does your garden grow?

21 Feb

Screen capture of pinterest board with vegetables

I cannot eff-ing wait until the weather is a just a little bit warmer so that I can get out into the garden!  Since Nate and I got married last August, the veggie garden didn’t get the love and attention that it deserved.  This year, I’m going to make it a personal mission to make up for that.  I’ve been pouring over seed catalogs and websites at every spare moment, trying to find the perfect variations to grow.  There are so many beautiful and delicious sounding options, it’s hard to choose what we should plant in our limited gardening space!

Screen capture of pinterest board with vegetables

This year, I’m hoping to try out a few new things.  I want to focus more on autumn and winter vegetables, specifically types that will store well.  If you know anything about the best storing potatoes, squash, etc., let me know!

The only problem with buying seeds is that every seed package comes with 30+ seeds, which is way more than I, as an average amateur gardener, can make use of in one growing season.  Usually we save our leftover seeds for the next year, but by the time it’s time to plant again they have a much lower propagation rate.  So I was thinking, why not swap leftover seeds and extra seedlings?  I would love to be able to get a greater variety of seeds without having to pay for them and I doubt I’m the only one.  I’m proposing starting a seed share, where we swap seeds, seedlings and gardening tall tales.  We could even share some homegrown grub and a few adult beverages, if we feel so inclined!

Be mine, valentine

17 Feb

round vintage pyrex container with gold hearts

Nate sent me a link to this XKCD comic and it really sums up what Valentine’s Day is like at our house year after year.

Some years we flat out forget about Valentine’s day.  One year we tried to go out to dinner and stopped by three packed restaurants before remembering what day it was.  We usually forget about our anniversary too.

This year we did considerably more than normal.  Nate was had the day off on the 13th, so we decided to stop by some of my favorite thrift stores.  Waiting for us, was this:

Round vintage pyrex container with gold hearts

Vintage Pyrex? Check.

Hearts? Check.

Starbursts? Check.

Shiny gold? Check.

This baby is a dream come true!

It needed to be cleaned up but it came with the lid in tow and cost half as much as one that I had lusted after in the same store a few weeks before.  I’m secretly hoping that this is a start to an awesome vintage Pyrex collection. We’ll see!

That night, Nate made awesome carrot sandwiches, the recipe for which came from my most recent Food & Wine magazine.  It was easy but so good and I think we will be eating it again (and probably posting about it) soon.

For dinner the day of the Valentine, I made steak with a bleu cheese compound butter, roasted root veggies (Brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots, baby purple potatoes), and some awesome red quinoa.  I used homemade chicken stock for the cooking liquid and it made quite a difference.  We washed everything down with some red wine.

Oh, and this:

Chocolate cherry coke float with two white and red striped paper straws

Oregon black cherry ice cream + dark chocolate syrup + Coca cola with real sugar.  Do yourself a favor and make one of these soon.

Ice, ice, baby

17 Feb

Kitchen with pink walls, white cabinets, and black and white checkered flooring

Things have been busy around here the past few weeks, which means that that things not been very busy around ye olde blog.  Instead of apologizing for having a life (*gasp*), I figured I would tell you about some of the more exciting things I’ve been up to.

We painted our kitchen. Pink.

Kitchen with pink walls, white cabinets, and black and white checkered flooring

When I told my mom on Skype that we had painted our kitchen pink, she said, “Oh, uh. Okay.”  Then a few minutes later she asked, “So, um. What made you want to paint your kitchen pink?”

Such a I’m-trying-to-be-a-supportive-mom-to-my-weird-daughter reaction. Whatever, mom, I do what I want.  Besides, if she followed me on Pinterest she would know that retro pink kitchens are the next big thing!

The next day, Nate hosted a beer tasting party.  He broke out all of the bottles he had been saving over the years for a special occasion.  He made pretzel rolls and I made a rosemary cheese fondue dip.  We also served olives and cured meats and veggies.  Things started out nice and civilized but they ended around 2am with an endurance competition based on keeping at least one hand in the ice cooler.

Three people with their hands in an ice cooler.

I would say that I used this photo because it protects the identity of the innocent (L. was the number one instigator and thus was not at all innocent), but really all three of them ignored my pleas to have some sense.  Nate’s not pictured because he was the first to throw in the towel.  That’s my boy.

If you can tell whether a party is a success by the mood of your neighbors + the mess you have to clean up, I think the beer tasting was a success.  Thankfully the neighbors have since forgiven us.  More on that soon.