Cherry Almond Kugel [12/25/2010]

Cherry Almond Kugel

12oz egg noodles
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp melted butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp almond paste
4 eggs
1.5 lb cottage cheese
1.5 cup fresh or dried/soaked cherries, chopped
1/2 cup evaporated milk

1. Cook and drain noodles

2. Beat sugar, mascarpone, almond paste/extract, salt, melted butter, vanilla, eggs. Incorporate other ingredients first, and then add eggs one at a time to mix well.

3. Mix with noodles, cottage cheese, and fruit

4. Put in a well-buttered casserole dish

5. Pour evaporated milk on top

6. Bake at 375 until golden brown and serve warm or cold

My Everyday Salad [10/19/2010]

My Everyday Salad

The measurements below are approximate.
2.5 oz or 5-6 handfuls baby salad greens
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 lg sliced radish
1 tin of skinless/boneless sardines 3.75 oz
2 tablespoons cheesy Caesar dressing

Mix greens, carrot, cabbage, radish and dressing in large bowl. Divide into bowls and top with sardines. Makes 2 servings.

These are the sardines I usually buy:

This is the dressing I like to use:

Easy Brussels Sprouts [10/14/2010]

Easy Brussels Sprouts

2 lbs brussels sprouts
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each brussels sprout in half. Rinse the sprouts. Dice shallot and garlic. Add sprouts, garlic, and shallot to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the sprouts and stir so they are coated. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes.

The Secret Powers of Time [10/13/2010]

I found this RSA Animate video interesting.

Broccoli & Collards Casserole [10/05/2010]

Broccoli & Collards Casserole

1 large onion chopped
3 broccoli crowns
1 can of Campbells condensed cream of broccoli soup
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
1 pkg Uncle Ben's ready made rice (I used the whole grain medley with chicken flavor)
2 bunches collard greens chopped finely
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil

Saute the collard greens and onion in the olive oil until soft. Steam the broccoli crowns. Break broccoli into smaller pieces. Combine the collards, onion, broccoli, rice, cheese, and soup in a 3 quart casserole dish. Top with the bread crumbs. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

Montana Brewers Association Brewfest [9/23/2010]

With 21 participating breweries, and 73 different selections, we had a terrific time at the 2010 Montana Brewers Festival. It was an outstanding way to end our time in Montana and end our pretty much un-planned but totally awesome Montana brewery tour.

Needless to say, we were unable to try everything (not even half of the options). Our ratings below are based on a 1-10 scale. Personally, I may have become more forgiving towards the later part of the evening, so, the marks are probably a bit biased.

BayernSt. WilburHefeweizen7
BayernDump Truck Summer BochSmooth Boch9
BayernBayern OctoberfestDark Marzen8
BayernBayern PilsnerPilsner6
Beaver CreekCherry WheatWheat5
Beaver CreekBeaver Creek Pale AlePale Ale5
Blackfoot RiverBlackfoot MaibockMaibock6
BlacksmithImperial Red AleImperial IPA5
BlacksmithCutthroat IPAIPA6
BozemanBozone SelectAmber Ale6
BozemanPlum Street PorterPorter6
Carter'sSaison de CarterBelgian-French Saison6
Flathead LakeRising Sun Espresso PorterCoffee Porter5
GlacierGolden Grizzly AleKolsch Golden Ale7
GlacierGlacier Select OktoberfestMarzen7
Great NorthernHighlander Premium BeerScottish Red Ale7
Great NorthernWild Huckleberry Wheat LagerFiltered Wheat w/Fruit6
Harvest MoonPigs Ass PorterPorter6
Harvest MoonBeltian WhiteBelgian style vitbier7
Harvest MoonNut BrownBrown6
KettlehouseEddy OutPale Ale5
KettlehouseCold Smoke Scotch AleScotch Ale5
Lewis and ClarkMiner's GoldHefeweisen6
Lewis and ClarkPortage PorterPorter8
Lone PeakHippy Highway Oatmeal StoutOatmeal Stout7
Lone PeakHellroaring ESBEnglish Style Extra Special Bitter5
MontanaWhitetail WheatAmerican Hefeweisen7.5
Neptune'sWheatAmerican Wheat6
QuarryOpen Pit PorterPorter8
TamarackRye Sally Rye PARye Pale Ale5
TamarackWakeboard WheatBelgium Style Wit7

We did not sample any of the Bitter Root beers because we had already had them all with a flight at their brewery. Unfortunately, we missed out on trying anything from Angry Hank's, Madison River, and Red Lodge Ales.

The musical headliner was a group called Keegan Smih & The Fam and they were a lot of fun. : )

If you are traveling to Montana and like micro-brews, you should definitely check out:

Jesse Schell's Visions of the Gamepocalypse [8/30/2010]

My Masoor Dal [8/16/2010]

My Masoor Dal

1 1/2 cups masoor dal (red lentils)
6 cups water
1 tomato
3 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin ground
3 1/2 teaspoons ras el hanout
1/2 teaspoon coriander ground
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ginger paste
dash of cayenne

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Rinse the red lentils. In a blender puree the onion, tomato, garlic and 1 cup of water. Add the lentils, oil, puree, and 5 cups of water to a pot. Bring to a boil and then add the spices. Simmer on medium heat until the dal is soft and mushy with no dryness or crunch. On my stove this took approximately 2 hours. Soaking the lentils overnight would reduce the cooking time significantly.

Lager Sampling No. 1 [7/17/2010]

BreweryNameLocationShort DescriptionRating
Samuel AdamsBlack LagerBoston, MAok, decent91
Gorden Biersch Brewing CompanyMärzenSan Jose, CAtoo bitter88
Dundee Brewing CoPale Bock LagerRochester, NYmalty, sweet92
Samuel AdamsImperial Double BockBoston, MAmolasses, 9.5%94
Spoetzl BreweryShiner Bohemian Black LagerShiner, TXtoasty, almost charred90
Flying Dog BreweryCollaborator DoppelbockDenver, CO8.3%, full bodied, super yummy96
Spoetzl BreweryShiner BockShiner, TXclean, toasty92
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co30th Anniversary Imperial Helles BockChico, CAmalty, toasty94

See Also:
Porter Sampling No. 7, Porter Sampling No. 6, Porter Sampling No. 5, Porter Sampling No. 4, Porter Sampling No. 3, Porter Sampling No. 2, Porter Sampling No. 1
Ale Sampling No. 1
Wheat Sampling No. 2, Wheat Sampling No. 1

Homebrewing: Rye [6/27/2010]

It's proved really difficult for me to find ryes in the store. If you've found a rye you like please let me know. For this batch we used the Brewers Connection recipe for O'Ryely's Rye. I can't wait to see how this turns out and how it ages.

Chestnut Soup [6/20/2010]

Chestnut Soup

3 tbs butter
1 chopped celery rib
2 chopped carrots and/or parsnips
2 chopped shallots or 1 onion
5-6 cups of low sodium chicken broth (or half broth / half water)
15 oz jar peeled and cooked whole chestnuts
1/4 cup dry Sherry, Sercial Madeira, or dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 bouquet garni in cheesecloth: sprig of parsley, 1 bay leaf, (optional) sprig of thyme, (optional) whole cloves

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Sweat vegetables for 15 minutes to soften.

Add broth and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Add chestnuts and wine. Simmer, covered, 3 minutes.

Cool soup slightly. Puree soup in small batches in a blender, transferring to a heavy saucepan. Stir in cream, pepper, and salt to taste.

Reheat soup. Serve with crunchy garnish such as frizzled leeks or thin slices of raw green beans, celery, etc.

Porter Sampling No. 7 [5/26/2010]

BreweryNameLocationShort DescriptionRating
Samuel AdamsHoliday PorterBoston, MAok, decent89
Lagunitas Brewing CoCappucinno StoutPetaluma, CAok, but not exciting90
Moylan's Brewing CoDragoons Dry Irish StoutNovato, CAthin, dry, a bit hoppy88
Brew DogRip Tide twisted merciless stoutEnglandhoppy88
Green Flash Brewing CoDouble StoutSan Diego, CAunmemorable88
Anderson Valley Brewing CoBarney Flats Oatmeal StoutBoonville, CAdecent89
Bell's BreweryKalamazoo StoutComstock, MIbitter87
Boulder Beer CompanyObovoid Oak-Aged Oatmeal StoutBoulder, COI didn't like the aged in oak flavor87
Jedrzejow BreweryStrzelec PorterJedrzejow, Polandthick, molasses like94
Samuel AdamsCream StoutBoston, MAtoasty93
Deschutes BreweryObsidian StoutBend, ORnice body, toasty92
Odell Brewing CoCutthroat PorterFort Collins, COmalty, dry, clean94
Prescott Brewing CoAchocolypse PorterPrescott, AZrich, very chocolatey92

See Also:
Porter Sampling No. 6
Porter Sampling No. 5
Porter Sampling No. 4
Porter Sampling No. 3
Porter Sampling No. 2
Porter Sampling No. 1
Ale Sampling No. 1
Wheat Sampling No. 2
Wheat Sampling No. 1

Finished Here Comes Everybody [5/18/2010]

The first part of the book is mostly anecdotes that are individually pretty interesting. But, I was left wondering about their relevance and whether or not anything could be extrapolated from them. In the last few chapters Shirky really puts it all together and makes several large scale conclusions about the role of the internet and social networking in our society and our future.

Finished Patternmaster [5/08/2010]

I have mixed feelings on this conclusion to Butler's Patternist series. I found it to be a fun read, but, it was also kind of difficult for me to care one way or another about Teray's fate. As a whole, the series is worthwhile. But, I don't think Patternmaster could stand up well on it's own. At least the characters weren't annoying like those in Mind of My Mind were.

Finished Clay's Ark [5/05/2010]

This is another book in Butler's four part Patternist series. I found this one much more to my liking than Mind of My Mind. It's got a lot of action and the characters are interesting. It's gritty but still accessible. I would have liked the story to be even longer and cover more of what happened after the clayark disease spread.

2nd Annual PBS Craft Brewing Festival [5/01/2010]

Unfortunately, Oran was sick for the 2nd PBS craft brew fest. So, we didn't get to stay very long or try everything. This time they had more food options and the venue was pretty nice. I was somewhat disappointed because most of the local AZ breweries brought only their usual stuff. I had already tried almost of all of the beers. I was hoping to see their seasonals and special small batch brews. Oh well. A shout out to Prescott Brewing Company for bringing a seasonal their Achocolypse Porter - it was thick, rich and delicious. Now I am wanting to visit Prescott again.

Finished Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medecine [4/30/2010]

This book is really interesting. Topics covered include infection, aging, allergies, and cancer. I found it an easy and enjoyable read compared to a lot of non-fiction out there. The only flaw is that it is a bit out-dated having been written in 1994. I'd love a follow up sequel.

Ale Sampling No. 1 [4/26/2010]

BreweryNameLocationShort DescriptionRating
Fischer Biere d' AlsaceFischer Tradition AmberSchiltigheim, Francefruity94
Anderson Valley Brewing CoBoont Amber AleBoonville, CAgood92
Samuel AdamsCranberry LambicBoston, MAdoesn't taste like a lambic89
Four PeaksKiltlifterTempe, AZlike spice cake94
St PetersOrganic English AleBungay, Englandlight, refreshing (seriously)94
Spoetzl BreweryShiner BockShiner, TXdry, good taste90
Oak Creek Brewing CoNut Brown AleSedona, AZmalty, creamy, sweet, nutty95
Big Sky Brewing CoMoose Drool Brown AleMissoula, Montanatoasty, nutty94
Full Sail Brewing CoKeelhauler Scottish AleHood River, ORhoppy89
Batemans BreweryCombined HarvestWainfleet, Englandtoasty, delicious96
Dundee Brewing CoHoney BrownRochester, NYsweet92

See Also:
Wheat Sampling No. 2
Wheat Sampling No. 1
Porter Sampling No. 7
Porter Sampling No. 6
Porter Sampling No. 5
Porter Sampling No. 4
Porter Sampling No. 3
Porter Sampling No. 2
Porter Sampling No. 1

Wheat Sampling No. 2 [4/26/2010]

BreweryNameLocationShort DescriptionRating
Moab BreweryRocket Bike Wit AleMoab, UTorange, coriander92
Papago Brewing CoOrange Blossom Mandarin Wheat AleScottsdale, AZlike an orange creamsicle89
Pyramid BreweriesHaywire HefeweizenSeattle, WAnice orange flavor94
Avery Brewing CoWhite Rascal Belgian-Style Wheat AleBoulder, COhoppy, bitter86
Ballast Point Brewing CoWahoo WheatSan Diego, CAinteresting92
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing CompanySunset WheatChippewa Falls, WII like the lemon a lot94
Paulaner BreweryHefe-WeizenMunich, Germanytoo much banana88
Left Hand Brewing Co.Haystack WheatLongmont, COtoo much banana89
Gordon Biersch Brewing CompanyHefeweizenSan Jose, CAbanana, bitter, but ok89
Widmer Brothers Brewing CoHefeweizenPortland, ORbitter, mild yeast flavor89
New Belgium Brewing CompanySunshine WheatFort Collins, COtoo much banana88
FranziskanerWeissbierMunich, Germanyok, not my favorite89
New Belgium Brewing CompanyMothership WitFort Collins, COtoo much banana88

See Also:
Wheat Sampling No. 1
Ale Sampling No. 1
Porter Sampling No. 7
Porter Sampling No. 6
Porter Sampling No. 5
Porter Sampling No. 4
Porter Sampling No. 3
Porter Sampling No. 2
Porter Sampling No. 1

Finished Iorich [4/24/2010]

The latest installment in Steven Brust's Vlad series was one of my favorites of all of them. I really liked the character of Perisil. I hope he returns again. I was also happy to have Kragar play a part in this one. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to wait a year or more for another Vlad story.

Finished The Crying of Lot 49 [4/21/2010]

This book is very strange in that I liked it as a whole even though I didn't like any of the characters in any way, or the action, or the descriptions. It was annoying that I still wanted to keep reading despite everything being so un-likeable. The best way I can explain it is that there is a sort of messiness to the mystery that is appealing. It's like a dream in that it doesn't make sense and there are no answers.

more on commercials: a freaky one angers me, and a cool one inspires me [4/21/2010]

I don't like it when commercials are scary or disturbing. It doesn't make me want to buy anything. Instead I get an aversion to the product that I may have been ambivalent towards prior to the ad. This is like anti-marketing, and it upsets me. Why would you pay money to make me scared, when your product isn't supposed to be scary?

I get that it's trendy to break rules and all, but, this MFS commercial goes too far for me: Who decided it was acceptable to mess with people's eyes and make them look like aliens? Am I the only one who thinks this is very creepy?

I've always liked the Absolut magazine ads. This new commercial of theirs continues the tradition of promoting art and creativity.

Check out this kinetic sculpture by Arthur Ganson [4/06/2010]

Finished Burning Chrome [4/06/2010]

Gibson's writing is no less impressive in short form. I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection. Here is a line I especially liked from Johnny Mnemonic: "The sound it made was like a world ending, like the wires that hold heaven snapping and coiling across the sky." Here is another from Fragments of a Hologram Rose: "The explosion had been visible two miles away, a white sheet of heat lightening that had turned the pale branches of a bare tree against the night sky into a photographic negative of themselves: carbon branches against magnesium sky."

Finished Mind of My Mind [3/17/2010]

This book is another one in Butler's Patternist series. I didn't like it nearly as much as Wild Seed. I found the characters all to be very frustrating. Doro and Emma didn't seem the same. I was curious what Butler knew about string theory when she was writing describing the pattern. I hated the ending. Now, I will take a break before I decide to read any more of this series.

Finished Wild Seed [3/17/2010]

I found it pretty impressive that an antagonist, such as the character of Doro, could be so interesting and compelling. This book was admittedly over-the-top and indulgent, but, I still enjoyed it.

Tables in the Cafe at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History [3/03/2010]

What's in your Salad Bowl?

What's in your Stir Fry?

Model of La Minerve [3/03/2010]

on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC

drawing of La Minerve:

more about La Minerve:

Finished What's Next: Dispatches on the Future of Science [3/03/2010]

These essays collected by Max Brockman primarily deal with neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and biology. My favorites were "The Aliens Among Us" by Nathan Wolfe and "What Makes Big Ideas Sticky" by Matthew D. Lieberman. Wolfe describes how little we know about viruses and how important and valuable they can be. Lieberman suggests connections between genes and philosophical ideas.

Finished Bloodchild [2/25/2010]

This book is comprised of Butler's collected short stories. I really liked Speech Sounds. The Evening and the Morning and the Night was interesting as well. Most of these stories are quite dark and dire. There is much less compromise, symbiosis, and hope here than in Xenogenesis/Lilith's Brood or Fledgling.

Finished Tea Time for the Traditionally Built [2/21/2010]

This is the 10th book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I like these books because they are easy and generally entertaining. However, this one was frustrating because I found it had too much of Grace Makutsi's drama and too little of Mma Ramotswe. I liked having Puso get more attention. I wish one of these would be longer with a bit more meat to it.

Valentine's Day Brownies [2/14/2010]

Valentine's Day Brownies

1 cup butter
5 eggs
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose white flour
2 Tablespoons and 2 Teaspoons of brown rice flour
2 Tablespoons and 2 Teaspoons of almond flour
2 Tablespoons and 2 Teaspoons of potato starch
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Melt the butter. Beat the eggs, mix in the vanilla and sugar. Next stir in the melted butter, cocoa powder, and salt. Slowly add in the flours and starch. Continue stirring until batter is thoroughly mixed. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips. Pour into pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Homebrewing: Hayfever Hefeweizen [2/14/2010]

We made an American style wheat. We added a jar of local honey purchased at the farmer's market from Kenny the Fishhugger. We also added lemon peel at the end of the brew, and lemon extract into the secondary and at racking. A few pictures from the brewing are in the slide show below.

Finished The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature [2/11/2010]

Steven Pinker is entertaining and easy to read. The section on Radical Pragmatics seemed a bit sloppy, and I wasn't too happy with the Linguistic Determinism part either. However, most of the rest was compelling and powerful. I really like the way Pinker isn't afraid to take a multi-disciplinary approach to examining human nature. And he isn't afraid to say things that might offend others. I hope he will continue to use bits of anthropology in the future.

Homebrewing: Chocolate Orange Porter [1/31/2010]

We used the Brewers Connection recipe for The Butlers Porter. We added about a cup of cocoa powder to the wort. We also added homemade orange extract into the carboy.

Here is a photo of the grains steeping:

Here is a photo of the chocolately wort at the end of the boil:

Wheat Sampling No. 1 [1/26/2010]

Lately, I've branched out from my Porters/Stouts and have been exploring Hefeweizens/Wheats. Here is the first set:

BreweryNameLocationShort DescriptionRating
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing CompanyHoney WeissChippewa Falls, WI
sweet, enjoyable92
Sea Dog Brewing CoWild Blueberry Wheat AleBangor, MEblueberry is a bit overpowering90
Moab BreweryElephant Hill HefeweizenMoab, UTnice citrus taste and smell92
Flying DogIn Heat WheatFrederick, MDok, not my favorite88
Samuel AdamsCherry WheatBoston, MAyummy92
Eddie McStiff'sBlueberry WheatMoab, UTdecent89
Eddie McStiff'sRaspberry WheatMoab, UTlight90
BreckenridgeAgave WheatDenver, COaverage89
Samuel AdamsCoastal WheatBoston, MAI love the lemon and coriander94
Brewery OmmegangWitteCooperstown, NYgreat citrus/coriander flavor94

See Also:
Wheat Sampling No. 2
Ale Sampling No. 1
Porter Sampling No. 7
Porter Sampling No. 6
Porter Sampling No. 5
Porter Sampling No. 4
Porter Sampling No. 3
Porter Sampling No. 2
Porter Sampling No. 1

Homebrewing: English Brown Ale [1/16/2010]

While brewing our brown ale we "shocked" our first packet of yeast. The wort was cooled down too much and the yeast couldn't adjust quickly enough. Luckily, we were able to re-pitch with a new packet, and the second batch worked fine. Pictures from the brewing are in the slide show below.

Porter Sampling No. 6 [1/14/2010]

BreweryNameLocationShort DescriptionRating
St. Peter's Brewery CoCream StoutBungay, Englandsmooth and yummy94
St. Peter's Brewery CoOld-Style PorterBungay, Englandinteresting92
Goose Island Beer CoBourbon County Brand StoutChicago, ILstrongly bourbon tasting88
Left Hand Brewing CoBlack Jack PorterLongmont, COaverage89
Dogfish Head Craft BreweryWorld Wide PorterMilton, DEbitter, hoppy88
Dogfish Head Craft BreweryChicory StoutMilton, DEnot complex enough89
Great Divide Brewing CoSaint Bridget's PorterDenver, COvery nice94
Zywiec BreweriesPorterZywiec, Polandthick, rich, delicious96
Papago Brewing CoElsie's Irish Coffee Milk StoutScottsdale, AZjust like irish cream liqueur89
Samuel AdamsImperial StoutBoston, MAenjoyable94

See Also:
Porter Sampling No. 7
Porter Sampling No. 5
Porter Sampling No. 4
Porter Sampling No. 3
Porter Sampling No. 2
Porter Sampling No. 1