Breakfast confessions of a daytime drinker. Or. How I became the wonderful ball of love you know today

Growing up in Small Town USA there were only really two things to do on Sunday.  One was put on your finest Wal-Mart Sunday best and head on down to the center of town to sing praise unto the Lord Jesus Christ or stay home and relish in the fact that you don’t have to put on pants at all and you get to eat breakfast at a normal hour in front of your television while watching PBS or Hercules or Xena Warrior Princess.  When Rev. Danny Miller would come calling to fetch our souls to be saved my father would kindly smile, say fuck you and close the door in his face before looking at my sisters and I who would be rolling in fits of laughter on the floor  declaring that Sunday would be Pancake Day.  Cheers and accolades would ring across the valley as we eagerly sat at the table, knife and fork posed at the ready to devour homemade pancakes with butter and syrup. pancakes_800h_js If my father was feeling particularly generous, and growing up in the insipid Reagan era sometimes generosity was a luxury, we got fried potatoes and scrambled eggs.  Needless to say Sundays were always a fun day in our home and with our bellies filled with pancake goodness we would do our chores with moderate grumbling and a hell of a lot of complaining.  We were kids.  It’s like part of the code.  You do chores, you bitch about it and then you still do them.  No privilege here folks.

As my adolescence waned and I found myself locked in the doldrums of adulthood, the Sunday breakfasts shared with my family soon became nothing but a faint memory in my brain as I now woke up on Sundays to serve fried chicken to those lovely church folk who wandered into KFC in their Wal-Mart Sunday best at 11 am.  I hated it.  I wanted my weekends back but working in the fast food industry you don’t always get the luxury of having a set established schedule and you do what you gotta do to make the monies to pay the bills.  It wasn’t until I found myself in corporate America working a rather white-collar type job that I started to enjoy my weekends.  But being single, somewhat anti-social I still beer-give-your-brain-the-morning-offdidn’t bother making breakfast and resorted to bowls of cereal or whatever leftovers I had in my fridge at the time.  Queue the introduction of friends and Kyle into my life in my mid twenties and I now had places to be on Sunday, people to see and yes breakfast to make.  Pancakes, biscuits and gravy, SOS, french toast.  All the wonderful things that happen when you actually leave your apartment and go socialize with other human beings who aren’t just disembodied voices on the other side of your computer monitor :O HALLELUJAH THEY DO EXIST IN NATURE!  Breakfast will probably always be to me the most important meal of the day.  And I will have it any time of the day.

Another thing that I enjoy is a good beer.  Kyle and I on a random road trip through Minnesota and Wisconsin wandered across a small little town called Chippewa Falls which is home to Leinenkugel Brewery. After playing a rousing game of winner take all rock, paper, scissors I lost and instead of going to some random zoo we ended up going to the5756387 brewery to see what it was all about.  Probably the best loss ever because both Kyle and I fell in love with the brewery and their beer.  If you notice them in your grocery cooler please give them a try they are an amazing beer.  Plus they rip on Anheuser Busch which to me, living in St. Louis is pretty fucking awesome because that beer is piss.

This morning I woke up and the desire to go into the office for overtime was not there.  Plus I had to wait for the DirecTV guy to show up for our installation so I decided what better thing to do then make breakfast, drink some coffee, maybe play a rousing hour or two of For Honor or Assassins Creed.  I looked for the maple syrup and realized that I had used it a few weeks ago for a different project and that I didn’t have any artificial fake Aunt Jemima crap and the craving for pancakes deepened and became hard to ignore.  After looking around I decided to crack open up our Explorer Sample pack of Leinis and see what we had stowed away.  Heart of Oak, IPL, a Pale Ale and the Big Butt Dopplebock smiled back at me from the cardboard box.  It was the Doppelbock that made me smile because well, it’s called Big Butt and I have a big butt.

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I don’t have a drinking problem. I can drink fine!
It just seemed appropriate.  Into the kitchen I headed with my spoils of war to make syrup for my pancakes.  Making syrup is simple it just can take a while and has to be babied because it is a volatile little concoction of melted sugars.  If you turn your back at the wrong time you can return to a frothy mess all on your stove that will take an act of God to clean up.  One mistake I habitually make every time I make a syrup or a reduction is for some unknown reason I ALWAYS pick the tiniest pan possible and after about 30 minutes of going “OMG ITS NOT THICKENING UP” I always transfer it to a larger sauce pan and within 3 minutes it’s the consistency I want.  I don’t know why?  I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of insanity and I embody chaos.

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Making syrup normally only really requires 2 ingredients.  Your liquid of choice and sugar and normally its a 1:1 ratio so if making a simple syrup for tea you would use 1 cup of water to 1 cup of sugar.  With simple syrup you want to combine the water and sugar until dissolved and then transfer to a container for later use.  These can be used to flavor cocktails, iced teas (because normal white sugar doesn’t dissolve in cold water) or even

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Tiny pan insanity.  Every damn time!

your coffee.  For the purpose of turning this into a sort of pancake syrup we want to take it a step further.  We want to reduce the volume of the liquid ala evaporation to thicken it without needing to add a crap ton of syrup and intensify the flavor of the beer.  For this recipe you will need beer (preferably a stout or a lager), sugar & vanilla

 

Pour your beer into a medium-sized sauce pan and then add your sugar and vanilla.  I didn’t know this when I started but adding sugar to a freshly foamed beer causes some massive foam head to happen.  It’s kind of like vinegar meets baking soda only not as violent and a little cooler.  Take your pan to the stove and put over a medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar to discourage burning.  NO BURNING NO BAD..NO.  Like I said earlier you’ll want to make sure you watch this to make sure it doesn’t bubble up and get everywhere.  I got distracted by my cats in the window but was quickly reminded that I had something cooking, turned around and it was quickly creeping up the side of the pan.  None of that nonsense dammit!  While stirring isn’t really required for non alcohol simple syrups it is for when using beer as your liquid because of all the CO2 that is in it.  It creates a lot of foam that needs to be tamed.  After about 45 minutes (keep in mind I was using a tiny pan at first) I was rewarded in my quest for beer syrup with a caramel vanilla Bavarian syrup to go on my oatmeal pancakes.  It set up pretty quickly once removed from the pan so I can see me needing to gently warm this to make it fluid for any additional

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I don’t know if its my lust or blood alcohol levels rising

applications.  But I think it’s pretty bad ass and will definitely be a motivator for me to be more of a social breakfast day drinker.  I mean what can go wrong with drinking alcohol at like 10 am.  They do it all the time for brunch in the version of bloody marys and mimosa and I’m a huge advocate of drinking bloody marys before noon any day of the week.  Especially on Mondays.

 

So since this adventure was all about breakfast and originally I was wanting to make a coffee stout pancake type syrup I was wanting to pair it up with oatmeal to keep that whole “no occifer I’ve only had breakfast today..I don’t drink and drive” mentality going.  Because I’m a law-abiding citizen who would never drive will under the influence of any sort of substance…..*nudges the reader…did you buy that?*.  So oatmeal pancakes.  Pretty simple and straight forward and doesn’t require a whole hell of a lot of time or planning.  Basic homemade pancake ingredients with oatmeal tossed in for shits and giggles.

In a large bowl you’ll want to place your rolled oats (don’t use quick cooked they will get 20170219_090329soggy) and pour your milk over them and allow to soak for 5 minutes.  This will give you plenty of time to yell at your cat no he can’t go outside or to remember that you were brewing coffee, or to finish off a bottle of beer because you may have “accidentally” not poured all of it into the saucepan for the syrup.  “accidentally” no I’ve got a drinking problem and I’m not ashamed of it. Because you know acceptance is the first step to self-awareness or is it self awareness is the first step to acceptance…I dunno I started drinking at 9 am.  I’m a winner!  To your soaked oats you’ll want to add all your other ingredients and mix.  It will be a thin batter because of the fact we only are using 3/4 of a cup of flour.  And then you follow pancake protocol.  Spray your griddle with cooking spray or lightly coat with oil.  Pour, cook on one side till brown and flip over repeating process until ALL your little pancakes are finished.

Toss on a plate with some homemade honey butter (check out my post about kinky baking weekends 2 weeks ago) and drizzle on your beer syrup and enjoy.  You can share if you want to but I’m a sad non social drunk so I prefer to eat these alone at home with nothing but guilt to keep me company and regret that I’m hurting my family hanging over my head.  Pretty sure this is also okay for the kids considering you will cook out any alcohol in the beer and leave only the taste of it and even then the sugars have caramelized that you don’t even realize that it’s beer.  But if that isn’t your thing because well you’re one of 20170219_100503these old-fashioned individuals who frowns on contributing to the delinquency of a minor just serve up the pancakes with normal syrup or honey.  Still great no matter how you spin it. Serve with honey butter, beer syrup (honey, maple syrup, etc) maybe a link or two of sausage if you have it, some scrambled eggs or simply a cup of coffee or a bourbon..whichever you have lying around 🙂

Now since I’m all carbed up with my morning fill of alcohol I’m going to go wait for the DirecTV guy to show up and give me full access to the wonders that is satellite television.  MA IVE MADE IT!!!!

Bavarian Beer Syrup

  • 2 cups beer (any kind probably will work)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium size saucepan pour in beer, sugar and vanilla and stir till combined.  Bring to a simmer and allow to  reduce till a thick syrup forms. Stir often to discourage burning and to stop it from foaming over.  Transfer to your serving dish and enjoy (wow so complicated!)

Oatmeal Pancakes

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2-2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

In a large bowl allow oats to soak in milk for 5 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients and allow to sit while griddle heats up on a medium heat.  The batter will be thin.  Pour 1/3 cup of batter and allow to cook till top set and then flip over cooking till done.  Transfer to a warm oven until complete. Serve with honey butter, beer syrup (honey, maple syrup, etc) maybe a link or two of sausage if you have it, some scrambled eggs or simply a cup of coffee or a bourbon..whichever you have lying around 🙂

 

I’ve made your favorite. Spaghetti. With lots of oregano….VERONICA DINNER!!!!!

One of the movies that seemed to be a staple of my angsty adolescent years was the cult classic “Heathers”.  Veronica Sawyer played by the somewhat neurotic Winona Rider was desperately trying to escape her fate of becoming a plastic Heather by succumbing to her bad boy lust and dating a rather ummm misguided youth named J.D. played by the always luscious Christian Slater *sighs*.  In this movie a love struck Veronica goes on a tumultuous world wind love affair which results in mayhem, bombs, a murder or two and a mantra that still holds true to today.  Teenage suicide. Don’t do it.  It’s fucking brilliant and apparently a new musical hitting the stage in 2017.  There is a rather amazing dream sequence that happens in the first hour of the movie where the heroine of the movie is faced with the harsh reality of innocence lost due to suicide..or in this instance a cup full of Draino where she is faced with the Heather she unknowingly killed7-heathers-quotes. The deceased debutante pulls back the cover of the holy water to reveal a bowl full of spaghetti, extra oregano and says “I’ve made your favorite.  Spaghetti.  With lots of oregano.  VERONICA DINNER!!!” and slams Winona’s face into the bowl of complex carbohydrates covered with the simmered saucy goodness.   This phrase had become a permanent part of my culinary lexicon and every time I make spaghetti now I can’t help but reminisce back to the good old days of 1992 when I first saw the movie and how I truly related to J.D and his angsty desire to blow up the school during a pep assembly by strapping a bomb to the boiler room….>.>…..<.<….um..anyways….

I’ve recently become the proud owner of the Kitchenaid pasta attachment set.20170216_181413_11  It’s been one I’ve been holding on out getting until it either went on sale or went on sale and I had a surplus of Kohl’s cash and gift cards to warrant me spending absolutely nothing on it.  It finally happened.  Last week I busted out the remnants of the wedding gift cards with expressed consent from my loving husband *who lets face it, he would pretty much let me buy anything kitchen wise as long as it didn’t cost me a grand* and set forth to purchase my long-awaited Kitchenaid accessory.  It’s pretty much the only one I wanted with the exception of maybe a second Kitchenaid which I will some day own.  I want two..for multitasking.  STOP JUDGING ME!!!! So I decided today would be the day I would crack open that box and bust a pasta cherry.  I’ve made homemade pasta before.  My mom has a hand cranked pasta maker which I enjoy using but sometimes you just want something that isn’t going to require you vicegripping something to your countertop that you can use with one hand while you drink a glass of wine with the other.  Don’t think that you need to drop a few hundred $$ to make pasta.  People have been making it for centuries without the aid of an electronic gadget and when I’m in the mood and need to vent some frustrations because my job is driving me absolutely bonkers I relish the idea of knowing that I am going to beat the ever-loving shit out of some dough and roll away the tension.  But I normally end up pretty bruised on my forearms from pressing hard on my rolling-pin aka wizard staff and I’d rather not be bombarded with questions about whether or not I feel safe in my own home…It’s happened…I bruise like a Georgia peach.

I’ve tried many different recipes for pasta dough.  Some which use only AP flour some which use a mixture of AP and semolina.  Some which call for eggs and others which call for vegetable oil.  While I’m sure they are okay I found them somewhat lacking, so I found this awesome recipe that has since become my standard go to pasta recipe. It calls for no egg which means its vegan and also means that you don’t run the risk of salmonella setting in from letting it dry for later use.  It also only has 4 ingredients to it and most of them everyone already has in their house.  AP flour (all img_20170218_132111purpose), semolina flour, water & olive oil.  That’s it.  Plus  I have a quick go to pasta sauce that I’m going to share that helps out in a pinch when you don’t have access to nice vine ripened tomatoes because it’s still technically winter and you live in the midwest.

First off, this pasta dries up amazingly and will keep in a ziplock bag for a few months.  I normally don’t keep dried pasta for longer than a month because I normally only make enough for a meal. Unless I’m making ravioli then I make tons and freeze them for quick meals during the week for myself or Kyle.  So don’t feel like you MUST use this the day you make it.  You’ll want to get your materials together so you aren’t running all over creation and back. Taking equal weights of AP flour and semolina you will want to pour them into a large mound on your countertop. I recommend doing this by hand instead of by using a machine because you can get some pretty gnarly pasta if you over mix it.  Plus it’s always more fun to be interactive with your food.  Taking the bottom of a bowl you will want to make a deep well in the center of your flour.  I’ve made some pretty shallow ones only to have water and oil spill over and go everywhere.  Take your warm water and your olive oil and using a fork you want to slowly start to mix in the flour into the water.  Go slow,  you don’t want to build up a lot of gluten in your pasta dough because that can make for tough chewy pasta which aint good eats.  Once you’ve got the inside of your flour volcano pretty much mixed in you’ll want to exchange your fork for img_20170218_132326a dough scraper to start folding in the outside walls of Mt Semolina in on itself.  If you don’t have a dough scraper simply collapse the mound in with your fingers and continue folding and kneading until it forms a rough ball of dough which kinda looks like the moon.  Okay it doesn’t but it’s not smooth.  Transfer the ball of dough to a ziplock bag and walk away.  Yes that’s right.  Walk away from it for about an hour.  Go take a shower, run to the store, have a quick make out session with your significant other or perfect stranger.  We want to give the dough time to relax due to the fact that during the kneading process, gluten was created and we need for it to take a break and relax to create a soft supple dough that will be easy to either roll out for hand cutting or be fed through a machine without causing too much strain on the machine, your nerves and the dough itself.  Plus the additional time allows the flour to thoroughly hydrate.

When you’re ready to start rolling out pasta make sure your sauce or whatever you are dressing it with is almost finished.  Fresh pasta only takes about 5 minutes or so to roll out and only needs 2 minutes to cook so you don’t want your pasta sitting in water getting soggy while you toss in a jar of Prego to warm up.  I’ll share my quick and easy pasta sauceimg_20170218_140923 at the end.  Taking your dough you are going to want to cut it in half and place the unused portion back in the bag to keep it from drying out.  Knead a few times back into a ball and taking your rolling-pin you’re going to want to gently roll it out so that it can feed through the pasta attachment easier.  For the Kitchenaid the largest setting is 1.  Turn your mixer to speed 2 and slowly start to feed your dough in.  It will struggle at first but after the second or third time you’ve passed it through it won’t sound like it’s a 1982 bright orange Volvo going up a steep hill and about to die.  This is just my own personal preference but after I feed the dough through for the first few times I fold it in half and give it a second pass.  I crank the dial up to 2 and give it two-three passes. Set it to 3 and then 4.  You may need to cut your dough into sheets if it gets to long to manage on your own.  I ended up doing that for mine and did it in two sheets before swapping out to the spaghetti attachment.  I wish I had gotten pics of what it looked like coming out but I had originally meant for this post to be about sweet potato ravioli with brown butter sauce but decided to forgo that idea for now and save it for later. I.e I ate the raviolis before I got pictures of them..DAMN MY TUMMY!!!!  Anyways you only really get one shot once you put it through the spaghetti attachment.  After that it’s decision time.  Do you use it now or save it for later?  If saving for later you can lie it flat on a flour dusted cookie sheet or if you’re creative and kookie like me you can drape it over a new coat hanger you bought specifically for this and put it in your pantry to dry out

 

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Ancient Italian drying technique

 

Now I’m pretty sure all of you have made some sort of pasta before so it should go without saying that you need to have a large pot of water that it salted like the sea at a boil before you toss it in.  If not um, fill a large pot up with water, add salt and bring to a boil.  It’s not rocket science people,  its complex carbohydrates.  Once at a boil add your pasta and put on a timer for 2 minutes.  Fresh pasta cooks insanely quick and you don’t want it to become soggy and mushy because well then you’ve wasted time and energy and you might as well have used store-bought and I will shame you endlessly.  ENDLESSLY.  Once cooked strain and toss with your pasta sauce.  If using a thick ragu type sauce don’t mix because I’m pretty sure that’s a cardinal rule and will result in you getting capped by an angry Sicilian woman.  You never mix your pasta and sauce because you want to be able to add meatballs..I personally don’t like mine mixed all together because it makes reheating difficult and I sometimes like to only eat the pasta sauce and not the actual pasta.  Bariatric patient..It happens.  Serve up with some fresh herbs and a little grated parmesan cheese and you’ve got a nice bowl of love ready for devouring.  Now don’t limit yourself to just spaghetti with this pasta dough recipe.  Make lasagna, tortellini, ravioli, parpadelli pasta.  It’s just a pretty basic pasta dough which you can modify and tweak to your liking.  Not a fan of sauce but just a little olive oil with some minced garlic and grated egg yolk? Knock yourself out.  You do with this what you want and share with me what worked for you and what didn’t.  I like feedback 🙂 So go out, find Heathers on Netflix or Hulu, Kodi or where it’s hiding these days.  Make up a huge bowl of spaghetti and embrace your inner angry teen.  You won’t regret it.  I promise 🙂

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Pasta Dough Recipe

  • 500 g AP flour (all-purpose)
  • 500 g Semolina Flour
  • 75 g olive oil
  • 450 g warm water

Pour both flours onto a clean countertop into a large mound.  Take a bowl and create a deep well.  Add water and oil and slowly start to incorporate the flour into the liquid using a fork, slowly adding the sides of the well until no runny liquid is left.  Scrap dough together and gently knead for up to 8 minutes until a rough ball forms.  Wrap in plastic and let rest for a minimum of 30 minutes but up to an hour to allow the gluten to relax and the dough to fully hydrate.  Either roll out and cut by hand or feed through your pasta attachment until you get to your desired thickness.  Cut using either a knife or spaghetti attachment and add to salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain and dress in sauce preference.  If eating later, lay in single layer on a floured baking sheet and allow to dry fully for up to 12 hours.  Store in a zip lock bag until ready to eat.  Bring water to boil and cook till al dente and dress in sauce preference.

Quick and easy 15 minute Tomato Sauce

  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes diced
  • salt/pepper to taste (omit if using canned tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed oregano

Heat a saute pan on medium heat and add olive oil.  Sweat out onions and garlic for 3 minutes and then add tomatoes with juices to pan along with the oregano.  Salt/pepper to taste and let cook for 10 minutes, breaking up large pieces of tomato with your wooden spoon.  Toss to cooked spaghetti and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

ba ba ba ba ba Ramen

Like most college kids…hey..I work at a University…it still applies, we find ourselves living off of what seems to be an endless supply of ramen noodles; however have you ever looked at the back of that little celophane package of instant noodle soup?  If you haven’t then don’t because you will be mortified at what it shows you.  But when it comes to convenience it’s a staple to many of us both here in the states as well as across the globe be it college student, single parent, lazy gamer who doesn’t know how to cook.  Plus at times it can be pretty tasty.  But why not try it a little healthier.  Cut out all the sodium and save your heart and kidneys from having to do some unnecessary work.  How?  By doing it this way.

You can opt to use a pack of instant ramen noodles and just throw away the flavorings or you can go purchase some ramen noodles at a local distributor or asian market.  This recipe calls for the package we all have in our pantries, cupboards or possibly in the trunk of our cars.  It also features one of my most favorite fermented things to eat.  Can you guess what it is?  😀

You will need the following ingredients/tools

  • 3 cups of H2O
  • 1/2 cups of funky kimchi (you can use whatever brand you like at whatever level of heat)
  • 1/4 cup of bean sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon white rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (i like to toast mine before adding it. personal preference and will not take away from your experience)
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (if you don’t have smoked paprika try toasting it in a dry pan to bring out the flavor but be careful as it can burn quickly)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 crushed black peppercorns (if you have Szechuan use those)
  • 2 packages of organic ramen noodles.   Or if using instant 1 package sans seasoning packages

Garnish:

  • 1 green onion chopped on the bias (green portion only)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped kimchi

Now comes the easy part.  Like no joke its seriously simple.  Add all the ingredients to a medium sized sauce pan.  No seriously this is one of those kinds of dishes.  Toss the lot in.  Bring to a boil and cover and continue to boil for 8-10 minutes for organic noodles and about 4-5 for the instant noodles (this allows the kimchi to soften a bit).  Divide into bowls and top with the chopped green onions and kimchi and eat.

 

easy peasy lemon squeezy 🙂