Happiness. Short-term, stupid, self-interest.

An Evening Out

Catch up over at Hop-Talk.com…


January 17, 2008 Posted by | Family, Food & Drink, Music | Leave a comment

Cake and eat it too

Spring means cake time at our household due to the plethora of birthdays we celebrate this time of year. A year ago I told you about something you may not know about me. Now, check out these cakes:
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These cakes were extra special for me, because I didn’t make them. I have a new apprentice in the house, Katie, my 10 year old daughter, and this year she was teaching me.

As part of an “After School Fun” program, Katie took a cake decorating class and made the dragonfly cake above. Then, for her grandfather, she made a very special lady bug cake that she let me help her make. I was surprised at how many things she was able to teach me. (hey… I’m supposed to be the one who knows everything!) The little tricks she showed me were very helpful over the next few weeks where I was in charge of making the cakes, though I was happy to have the help of both my children in making them.

This cake was for my wife’s birthday; daisy’s are her favorite flower. It was a lemon cake with lemon icing.
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I didn’t have a lemon icing recipe so I improvised based on the standard butter cream icing recipe. I loved it; others thought it was a little too lemony. Here it is:
2 lbs confectionary sugar (sifted)
1 cup white Crisco shortening
1 cup butter
2 tsp lemon extract
zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp lemon juice

In a mixer, cream butter, shortening, extract and lemon zest. Slowly, mix in the sugar; it should chalky looking. On high, whip in the lemon juice until creamy and fluffy.

To tone it down a notch, I would probably not use the lemon juice at the end and use the standard milk to thin and fluff the icing. (The other option to tone it down would to go back to the vanilla extract instead of the lemon extract)

My son got a soccer ball made from a specialty baking pan. These cakes, frosted with just dotted stars are the easiest to make.

This cake was extra big for a party where we celebrated everyone’s birthday and it had vanilla pudding between layers. All of the flowers were leftovers from the previous cakes.

This last one I made on my own, inspired by a Wilton designed cake, and it was a huge hit at Katie’s sleepover birthday party where each girl had their own, custom made, matching face on a pillow they were able to eat. They were all very excited to “decapitate and eat their own head”. In honor of Mistoff, I put him sleeping on Katie where he spent the greater part of his day.
katies-10th-birthday-sleep-over-party-and-cake-015.jpg   katies-10th-birthday-sleep-over-party-and-cake-084.jpg

In April and May, I get to make cakes and eat them too. (and lots of it!)

June 7, 2007 Posted by | Family, Food & Drink, Life in general | 5 Comments

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories – Making the World a Better Place, One Evil Mad Scientist at a Time

Science is cool… I especially like the science with food. This is one of my favorite blogs that doesn’t just spit out references to other news stories; rather, they talk and show some cool stuff…  stuff you might even want to try at home with the kids.

14. Flying MallowPepperoni basil garlic pizza

January 10, 2007 Posted by | Family, Food & Drink | 1 Comment

Happy Thanksgiving, with a history lesson

thanksgiving-rockwell.jpgHappy Thanksgiving! I enjoy this holiday both for what it stands for and also for the festivities of the day. After all, the festivities pretty much consist of eating, drinking, and watching football – some of my most favorite things to do.

I was inspired to write this by one of my TV superstar heroes… Alton Brown. In case you’re not in the know, Alton is mind behind Good Eats, on the FoodTV Network. Yep, you read it right, FoodTV. (and I don’t even have cable!)

OK, truly, I don’t have any TV superstar heroes, but this guy puts together a great show. And, yes, it does happen to be about food; specifically, the science behind the cooking. He typically focuses on just one thing. For instance, an entire episode on brewing coffee, or making a baked potato. He also will come up with practical, though sometimes seemingly strange, ways to best accomplish a cooking technique, such as roasting beef in a clay pottery flower pot, or smoking salmon in a cardboard box. But, you can really learn from him, as now I can make that perfect baked spud and I’ve mastered gravy and other emulsions. – I even sound smart 😉

Recently, my lovely sister-in-law recorded for me the Good Eats: Romancing the Bird episode, which started off with a brief history lesson. You see, while almost all of us think of a great big turkey (like the one in the Norman Rockwell painting above), it didn’t start out that way.

The Pilgrims set apart a day to celebrate at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest, in 1621. At the time, this was not regarded as a Thanksgiving observance; harvest festivals were existing parts of English and Wampanoag tradition alike. It became an annual one-day observance later in the 1600’s, depending on the locale. The celebration was to give thanks to God at the close of the harvest season. *

But the food that was served at the time was food that was to be found in abundance. There were wild turkeys to be had, but more common was venison and fish, like cod or lobster. Also, do you think the pilgrims and indians had wine with Thanksgiving dinner…? No, beer was the beverage.

The Good Eats epsiode goes on anout brining a turkey before cooking. Basting is bad. It offers nothing to the flavor, and the constantly opening oven door slows cooking. No, the right answer is brine, and with the help of food scientist Shirley Corriher and her “Mystery Food Science Theatre 3000” slideshow, Alton explains how brine works. It’s all about osmosis.

Inside-the-bird stuffing is the next to fall to Alton’s debunking skills. It can dry the bird and provide a place for bacteria to grow. The right things for that cavity are aromatics like rosemary, apples, and onions. ** I’m convinced it is worth a try, so that’s what I’m doing right now… putting my turkey into brine. Read the whole recipe for yourself.

So, I will wake up early, start a fire in the fireplace, put on the parade for the kids, keep cooking, enjoy a wonderful meal, share my beer, watch some football, and just hang out with the family. Once, again, Happy Thanksgiving.

*via Wiki, ** via tv.com

November 23, 2006 Posted by | Family, Food & Drink, Life in general, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Have you checked out Hop-Talk.com yet? Well, if not, there is no better time than now to do so.Hop-Talk.com is the idea and creatation from a good, long time, friend of mine. There, we blog about beer… anything relating to beer. I haven’t written about beer on this blog because all of my hoppy talk goes there.

So, if you haven’t done so, please check it out.


November 13, 2006 Posted by | Food & Drink | Leave a comment

Beef on a Weck

Blogger Wrathchild recently writes about how he yearns for his lost breakfast meal of pork roll, egg and cheese. While moving away from the creature comforts you grew up with is tough, there is an upside.

Moving to upstate New York has introduced me to some new foods like Buffalo Wings (now made popular everywhere by Hooters), Speedies, and my favorite, Beef on a Weck.

mini_6892.jpgBeef on a Weck is basically a roast beef sandwich served on a Kummelweck roll, hence the name. A Kummelweck roll is a Kaiser roll with course salt and caraway seeds. The sandwich is best served with horseradish and an aju for dipping. 

Now, not all wecks are created equally. I’ve had some pretty poor rolls, either lacking a good amount of salt or seeds; or, the roll sort of fell flat. Good thing I found a local pub that makes a great Beef on a Weck and has all you can eat on Monday’s and Wednesday’s! (Ravenswood, Clifton Park, NY) Wikipedia gives some more details on Beef on a Weck. I have a love for fine food and while a roast beef sandwich may not sound “fine”, it certainly is.

Note that the history section of the Wiki article mentions how the Germans also made the Buffalo/Rochester area a center for brewing… Coincidence? I think not! Beef on a Weck goes great with a porter; possibly appropriately, Saranac’s Black Forest porter.

July 21, 2006 Posted by | Food & Drink | Leave a comment


PilsIt’s not often I find a beer that is worth shouting about. I mean, I find a lot of good beers, all worthy of conversation; but, rarely do I find a beer that worth giving a perfect 4.0 rating.

Victory Prima Pils! Go out and get some now. This beer is excellent. Light & dry, but not tart. Wonderful hop bite (German and Czech) mixes perfectly with the malt.

Victory makes several other great beers, of which, I haven’t had in quite a while. I thought I’d try the Prima Pils (in my classic etched pilsner glass) and I am very glad I did.

Few beers nail it for their style, but this one does. I’d take a guess that you would have to travel to Europe to get a pilsner this good. Cheers!

July 5, 2006 Posted by | Food & Drink | 2 Comments

Go-to Beer

My favorite, modestly priced beer, has gone up in price. Not by much, and altogether worth it, but now it is closer to the same playing field as many others.

That beer is Saranac Pale Ale. I love this beer. It is well hopped, malty, a beautiful color, and always clear and crisp. I applaud all beers brewed at the Utica Brewery (many are contract) for their quality control, an important aspect when judging a beer that is often overlooked. The combination of quality and price has made this my “Go-to beer”.

Pale AleI don’t love all the beers by Saranac… as a matter of fact, the Pale Ale is the only one I love. The others are good, but each is lacking in something for its style. But, I LOVE the Pale Ale.

I have heard it is has always been a lot pricier in other regions. I have suspected that since I’m in the same region in which it is brewed that that has helped keep the price down.

How much? Oh, it’s not bad… $6.50 a six pack, which I used to be able to get for $4.99. (by the case, the prices were relative) The price increase is my own assumption, too. I’ve only checked a handful of stores, but they seem consistent. Maybe it’s only for the summer. A great beer at a good price doesn’t come along often.

It’s not all bad. This just gives me an excuse to try more varieties again. I’ve recently tasted some Southhampton ales and I just picked up some Red Hook’s I’ve never had. Cheers!

July 2, 2006 Posted by | Food & Drink | Leave a comment

Personalized Beer

Welcome to MyBeer.Saranac.com – Personalized Beer


I see an Octoberfest 2006 beer in my future! (though $20 for labels is a bit steep)

May 27, 2006 Posted by | Food & Drink | 1 Comment