My dad makes the best fudge and he sent me some for Christmas. I have his recipe. I’ve made it, but it’s hard work stirring the fudge and trying to time it so you get it out of the pan before it hardens.
Most people’s fudge creamy and sweet. Too sweet. Like diabetes sweet. My dad’s fudge has a firm texture and body (when I make it I like to barely overcook it so that it’s even harder). The flavor is more chocolate than sugar – we always use Ghirardeli®.
That stuff is like crack for me.
I need a break. Only one day into the post-Thanksgiving three-day Christmas cookie marathon and already I’m beat. Maybe it’s because I was up until midnight on Turkey Day mixing up dough that had to be chilled overnight and still I woke up at 6am today.
Wagon wheels and the infamous Wild Turkey bourbon balls are done. I make nine batches of bourbon balls at one go. Usually I do it in sprints of three triple batches, but this time I mixed all the ingredients together at once. It worked out pretty good, thanks to a huge white plastic bucket that E tells me is actually a cake carrier. Whatever.
I’m working with a lot of powdered sugar and everything is rolled into balls. Result is my palms are incredibly dried out.
We just got back from the annual pre-Thanksgiving Fred Meyer shopping. Spend $100 get a free turkey. Oh you bet we can spend $100. I buy all my ingredients for the post-Thanksgiving cookie marathon. Even with using all the newspaper coupons, the bottle return tickets and my reward coupons, we spent over $100.
Mmm, free turkey.
I definitely overdid it last year, so this year I resolved to take it easy, not set any personal records for number of beers tasted. This year I only tasted 27 beers compared to last year’s 29 beers. Plus a couple repeats.
The novelty feature of the festival was not a beer, but the mugs. They featured color change mugs that changed to blue or pink when filled with cold beer. I got a blue one, but it made the beer look green, which creeped me out. I switched to a clear mug in short order.
This year paid more attention to the pilsners and was duly rewarded. I missed out on a few beers I wanted to taste. There’s always next year.
Beers I tasted, over the course of three days (I’m worn out):
El Torero Organic IPA
Beautiful amber color with a flowery hoppy aroma. Lightly carbonated with complex flavors. Hoppy but not bitter, lingers gently on the underside (surprising!) of the tongue.
Butte Creek Brewing
My first taster of the festival. Lightly fizzy, bright, more hoppy than I expected from a pilsner. Bitterness lingers on the top palate and side of tongue, gradually dropping off.
Klamath Basin Brewing
Klamath Falls OR
Crater Lake Golden Ale
Extra Golden Ale
Malty, dropping off quickly to leave a lingering hoppiness. Rounded mouth feel. Okay, but not my fave.
A dangerous beer at 8%. Initial fizz segues to a smooth creamy mouth feel. Hops dance in the middle. This pils is entertaining and goes down easy, but can mess you up in a hurry – like your ex-girlfriend.
Double Red Ale
Deep brown color, flavorful and malty, blended with a generous handful of hops. Has a barnyard aroma – in a good way.
Old Market Pub & Brewing
A Midsummers White
Less body and flavor than other wits I’ve had. Pleasant carbonation fills the mouth then fades quickly to a long lingering ghost of an aftertaste. Citrus and spice are very subtle.
Snipes Mountain Brewery
India Pale Ale
Good fizz and gentle hops at the front of the mouth slowly expand to fill the oral cavity. More hoppy bitterness than the IBUs would indicate.
Hoptastic aroma and a gorgeous reddish amber color. The first mouthful of hops goes straight to the back of the tongue where it remains for a good long time. Mildly carbonated and full of hoppy flavor without being overly bitter.
Organic Chocolate Stout
Dry Foreign Style Stout
Even carbonation takes hold of the tongue. Judicious blending of hops keeps this rich dark stout from being too heavy. Malty chocolate lingers in the back of the mouth.
C’est Bon Blonde
Sweet to my taste, a little cloying, in fact. Didn’t much care for it.
Initial mouthful is a good balance of hops and malt. Malty finish without being cloying. Beautiful reddish amber in color.
Diamond Knot Brewing Co
Tasty, hoppy with a touch of malt, not overly bitter. Strong but not too strong. Well balanced. Distinct from other IPAs at the festival. Drops off to a subtle finish.
Flying Fish Brewing
Cherry Hill NJ
Bourbon Barrel Abbey Dubbel
Belgian Style Dubbel
Extraordinarily sweet, this is a sipping beer, not a chugging beer. So infused with bourbon flavor, it needs its own chaser. A novelty beer I really couldn’t drink by itself, I think it could pair well with a rare steak. And a cigar.
Golden Valley Brewing
Red Thistle Quercus
Grapey, winey flavor right off the bat. A little sweet, gentled by a hint of hops. Complex. Probably would go well with a pasta-marinara dish.
Green Flash Brewing Co
West Coast IPA
Happy hoppy beer to please any Oregon hophead. Strong, fragrant and flowery. Good carbonation. Well balanced with just a touch of malt to keep it from being too bitter. Perfectly balanced, say Gene and Gary. Right up there with the best of the IPAs.
Michigan Brewing Co
This is a wit I can get behind. Citrusy notes over spicy undertones. Best served chilled.
Oregon Trail Brewery
Oregon Trail Wit
Meatier than a witbier, fades off quickly to a long lingering hoppy finish. Not quite what I was looking for in my quest for Belgian witbiers.
Russian River Brewing
Santa Rosa CA
Pliny the Elder
A perennial favorite. This year’s offering has a lower IBUs than in previous years, but still comes through with a flowery aroma. A strong initial hit of carbonation. Dry but not arid, hoppy but not overly bitter.
07/07/07 Vertical Epic
This is a beer with a lot going on. Malt and coriander citrus intertwine. Good initial carbonation. A little too sweet for my taste. Lingering malty finish. A beer for the fireside. Or the cloisters.
Alaskan Brewing Co
Fragrant, flowery aroma. Mildly hopped, a pleasant alternative to the big-hopped IPAs. Good carbonation with an unexpected hint of fruitiness. Subtle, unobtrusive aftertaste on the underside of the tongue.
Four + Brewing Co
Salt Lake City UT
Organic Extra Pale Ale
Beautiful golden color. Dry, thin hops at the start, finishes almost like an IPA. Takes hold of the underside of the tongue and doesn’t let go.
Ever drink a spruce tree? Many parts are potable. A palate cleansing novelty beer with a mild curious bitterness overlaying malty sweetness . Not as “piney” as I remember from brewfests past.
Simultaneously bitter and malty. Complex flavors concentrate under the sides of the tongue, dropping off to maltiness.
Standing Stone Brewing
Standing Stone Double IPA
Surprisingly malty for an IPA. Persistent sweetness overlays the hops even through a lingering finish. Eventually leaves the expected hoppy aftertaste.
A solid IPA with its own distinct hoppy flavor. Dry lingering finish on the sides of the tongue.
Victory Brewing Co
Bright and fizzy. Fills the mouth with just enough hops to be interesting. Hops linger on the middle of the tongue for a long timc after swallowing. A great refreshing beer for a hot summer’s day.
Widmer Brothers Brewing
Darker, sweeter and bigger than the ordinary witbier. Sweetness is the overwhelming impression, in fact. Almost meaty in body. Better suited to winter drinking.
Every Monday at work my department has a staff meeting. We take turns bringing the treats. For the boys, that means a box of donuts, Nutrigrain bars (for me), some juice and maybe some bananas.
I bring home-baked treats. I have my pride in my mad baking skilz to uphold.
I promised the boys I would bring oatmeal raisin cookies this time. I found a recipe in my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook. I baked the cookies, but frankly they weren’t what I wanted. They are very cakey and fall apart easily. I wanted something more chewy and dense, oatmeal and raisins held together with a little cookie, not a cookie with a little oatmeal and raisins inside.
Do you have a good recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies that you can recommend? Please email it to me, if you do.
We went to the Spring Beer and Wine Fest at the Convention Center yesterday. I tasted 16 (!) beers. I’m paying for it with a throbbing head now, but boy it was sure fun. Good thing I stayed away from the wine and liquor. Oh, I lie, I did taste a spruce gin, hazelnut espresso-flavored 40 proof vodka, hot pepper vodka and a just plain regular vodka.
Celtic punk in the mode of the Pogues. High energy with an edge of bitterness, like the beer like. Is that a didgereedoo I hear? I look up. Yes! Leading into another high energy song. Makes me feel young and old at the same time. I like my beer like my women: frosty and bitter.
Roots Brewing Co
Great stuff. Rounded mouth feel. Not over hopped. Pleasant bitterness on the sides of the tongue, toward the back of the mouth.
Roots Brewing Co
Goes over the tongue well. Mildly sweet, chocolaty and smoky. Everything a stout should be, E says.
Bohemian-style. Refreshing, flavorful, a good balance of malt and hops.
Bavarian-style. Flowery, smooth, different from the American wheat beers. Well-rounded.
Mad River Brewing Co
Steelhead Extra Pale Ale
Refreshing, smooth, slightly malty, with an even, velvety mouth feel. Nice flavor.
Salmon Creek Brewery
Slightly malty at first, hops follow on the aftertaste.
Boundary Bay Brewing Co
Light-bodied, with a pleasant flavor that falls off quickly. A little flat at the end, but the low-key aftertaste lingers.
Astoria Brewing Co
A surprising initial taste of bitterness keeps this porter from being too cloying.
New Belgium Brewing Co
Fort Collins Wit
Certified Organic. Flowery and fragrant, spicy with hints of orange. Light and refreshing. This is my favorite style of beer.
Beertown Brown Ale
Malty at first, sliding off to a secondary flavor I can’t quite identify.
Silver Moon Brewing
Panty Dropper IPA
How can you resist a name like Panty Dropper? Darker in color than I expected from an IPA. Hops give it flavor as much as bitterness.
Long Board Lager
Bright, crisp, as good as or even better than any lager I’ve tasted. This has flavor. Lightly hopped, it finishes with malty sweetness.
Big Sky Brewing Co
Big Sky IPA
Sharp hop flavor that finishes quickly. Good flavor.
Big Sky Brewing Co
Mild, mellow, malty. Very low key, hardly any carbonation. Much better on draft than in the bottle.
San Diego CA
Arrogant Bastard Ale
Hoppy and malty and refreshing all at once. A kick in the pants.
Plenty hoppy, well balanced, more of an imperial IPA.
My doctor says I am in excellent health, except for my weight. He wants me to consume no more than 1600-1700 calories per day. He gave me a photocopied set of pages with protein, carbohydrate and fat exchanges and discussed all of them with me.
Butter, cream cheese, half-and-half, sour cream, it’s all out. Vegetables are free, I can have as much of that as I like. Interestingly, he didn’t rule out bacon, because everybody deserves a little treat now and again.
He wants me to lose a couple pounds a month. I can do it, he says, I’m still young.
That’s what I like about my doctor, he looks at me and says, you’re young.
Of course, my doctor is 80 years old.
Cookies are baked, presents are wrapped, the tree is decorated, packages and cards are sent, bourbon balls and bonuses are distributed.
All that remains is to spend hours in front of the stove, painstakingly pressing dollop after dollop of sweet almond-flavored batter between hot heavy aluminum plates, cooking it to a precise light golden-brown, then quickly rolling the flat round of cooky on a cone before it hardens. The result looks like a little ice cream cone, but it is much more fragile.
This is my favorite, a delicate cooky made by my grandmother. I use her recipe, received from one of my dad’s cousins. The older generation of women in my father’s family are now all passed away. I think I am the only one left to make the krumkake.
It’s time-consuming but a labor of love. I have people in Astoria to whom I bring a can of krumkake every year.
Not as big as the Brewer’s Festival in July, but still fun, the Winter Brewer’s Festival was held this last weekend in Pioneer Courtouse Square.
I was busy with my Christmas shopping, so I didn’t make it down until Sunday. Even then we didn’t stay long because E had a headache.
I only got to try a few beers. The selection runs to sweeter, heavier malty beers. Just the thing to curl up with in front of a fire.
Alaskan Brewing Co
Alaskan Spruce Tip Winter Ale
Round caramel notes, with a gentle fizz, it holds on to the side of the tongue. It didn’t taste like spruce to me, but E got a strong flavor of spruce.
Brasserie St Feuillen
Le Roeulx Belgium
St Feuillen Cuvee de Noël
Generally I like Belgian beers and I like this one too. It is very sweet, with strong flavors of orange and spice, making a heady, strong brew.
Fearless Brewing Co
Fearless Strong Scotch Ale
Drink enough and you’ll be fearless, too. Malty and strong, with nutty overtones, very warming.
Hazel Dell Brewpub
Weinachten Fest Bier
Like bittersweet chocolate, this ale goes straight to the back of the mouth. Unlike a lot of the malty beers available, it is not sweet at all. It’s an adult taste, bitter without being overhopped.
As a reward for 30 years
hard time service, E got his choice of generic corporate gifts. Because he wouldn’t decide, I got to pick. We settled on a mixer, a red Hamilton Beach.
It turned out to be quite useful for the annual post-Thanksgiving cookie marathon, once I got the hang of it.
At first I didn’t like the mixer. It wasn’t like the old Mixmaster we had at home. The bowl locks into place and it’s impossible to get a spatula between the bowl and the beater to scrape the sides of the bowl. The spinning of the beater threw out flour everywhere if I didn’t use the splash guard.
The biggest problem I had was it didn’t seem to blend all the ingredients. Then E showed me the trick: high speed. The darned thing is designed to work at high speeds. Once I cranked up the speed, it did a great job of mixing all the ingredients.
I spent the weekend kvetching about the new mixer until I got the hang of it. I’m still not sure that I like it, but I have to admit that it did a better job of blending than just using the hand mixer would have.