Friday, October 19, 2012

Sea Dogs

After submitting his med school applications and getting through a rather rough school and work day, I decided my poor fiancé desperately needed a beer. We patronized Sea Dog Brewing Company on Front Street in Bangor.

Beer sampler
Isn't he handsome?

 Don’t let the nondescript exterior fool you- this place was good. I had a “Lomlito” or pork sandwich with avocado, provolone and garlic aioli, Christopher had a BBQ burger and we ordered a beer sampler. The beer sampler was accompanied by a chart which described the beer and the foods it best complimented. 

Yay chart!

Our waiter was chill (yes, yes, I just said chill), our food was good and the beer was excellent.   The staff even insisted on remaking my meal when it seemed my leftovers had mysteriously disappeared. If you are ever in Bangor and are need of a beer and some decent food, I would definitely recommend heading over to Sea Dogs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Brownies? Cookies? Who cares!

Do you like chocolate? What a silly question, of course you do. Now go make these cookies. Recipe originally from here.

Yield: About 42 cookies
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ cup (1½ ounces) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder (I used a Starbucks medium roast) 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1½ cups packed (10½ ounces) light brown sugar
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
12 ounces (about 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)

1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Melt the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from the heat. (or heat in a microwave. Oh modern technology) In a small bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla lightly with a fork, sprinkle the coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.
3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in the sugars until combined, about 45 seconds; the mixture will look granular. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the chocolate in a steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat. Fold in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is and fudge-like, about 30 minutes (mine accidentally sat all day and turned out just fine)
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dollop the dough onto baking sheets, about 1-2 inches in size.
5. Bake until the edges of the cookies have just begun to set but the centers are still very soft, about 10-15 minutes. (Attempt not to eat all at once. You need to finish your dinner young man/lady!)

The Day I Slew a Basilisk and Met a Wild Turkey

Today was the first sunny day in a week. As usual Christopher and I enjoyed what little sunshine peaks through this part of the world and took a brisk walk through Essex Woods.

Although our walk was short, it was certainly eventful. We were strolling through woods, admiring the trees when suddenly a GIANT basilisk slid straight from the Chamber of Secrets and began to attack!!! I unsheathed the sword of Gryffindor, shielded Christopher from its poisonous fangs and slayed the foul, despicable beast. The tears of Fawkes the Phoenix were required to heal my wounds, but Slytherin’s slimy pet was no more…Ok, ok, it was a six inch gardener snake and I ran away screaming. But still­- it was horrifying. 

Shortly afterwards we saw a pack of wild turkeys! Wild turkeys are significantly more intelligent than your regular Thanksgiving dinner-variety so we were only able to catch a glimpse of them. It was still quite a treat. I have never seen wild turkeys before and have only occasionally seen them alive. Man oh man, do I like a turkey sandwich though (no offense turkeys).

Snakes and turkeys aside, it has been an eventful week. Work has been as busy as ever and school is also picking up the pace. Christopher officially applied to medical schools and Dartmouth and Boston University have already requested additional information!

I have a field trip coming up soon as well as several talks and conferences. Be prepared for far more frequent posts and pictures about this crazy state.

Mischief managed (for now). 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Drunken Potatoes

My own picture this time!

 Top of the mornin’ to ye. Some people like bars. Some people like wine and cheese clubs. Christopher and I like a good ol’ Irish pub. Here is a recipe that Christopher says rivals even the best pub stew. So without further ado here is Irish Beef Stew (with Brittany parenthetical changes of course).Original recipe from here.

Yields: 2
  • ¼  cup olive oil
  • ¾  pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • ½  cup of Guinness beer
  • ½ cup of fine red wine
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½  tablespoon sugar
  • ½  tablespoon dried thyme
  • ½  tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½  pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ½  large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. (although the recipe says ¼ cups I would put in enough to cover the base of the pot) Lightly salt the beef pieces. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef and cook, without stirring, until nicely browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over. Continue to cook in this manner until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. (Put slightly more of the liquid than the recipe requires. When I say slightly I mean less than a ¼ cup. It will evaporate. Consume remainder of Guinness) Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
2 While the meat and stock is simmering, melt butter (once again put in a little more butter, enough to cover the bottom of your pan) in a large pan over medium heat. Add potatoes and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until the beef stew in step one has simmered for one hour.
3 Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes ( I would recommend an hour to an hour and a half in order to thicken the stew). Discard bay leaves. Tilt pan and spoon off fat. Transfer stew to serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve (and drink more Guinness)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My DIY Autumn

Decorating for autumn and Halloween is a tradition in my family. We naturally always decorate for Christmas and every other holiday, but there is something special about autumn decorating. Perhaps my mom’s scarecrows, pumpkins and candles are one of the reasons I have always believed this time of year to be truly magical.

Because I am unable to be with my family this season, I have needed to rely upon myself for autumn cheer.  Being on a grad student budget, any decorations I use would need to be cheap. This of course means most of my decorations would probably have to be homemade. Having a grad student schedule, any homemade decorations I make would need to be done so quickly and easily.

One of the projects I undertook last weekend were the following tea light holders. I collected several jars (this one used to contain salsa) and soaked them for several hours. Once dried I hot-glued ribbon I bought on sale at Joanne’s for a dollar, twine I had on hand, cheap buttons, and leaves leftover from a wreath I pictured in a previous post. Four jars took about half an hour.

I also made a centerpiece for our table. I used the same ribbon I featured on the jars and a basket I already had on hand. If you do not have any ready baskets, I would highly recommend picking one up at a local thrift store. Baskets are abundant there and usually cost no more than a few cents.

The flowers and Spanish moss were a steal at Joanne’s.  Autumn flowers and decorations are currently 50% off, so grab them while you can! I bought a slab of foam for $2 and haphazardly arranged the flowers and leaves. The arrangement of the flowers took about half an hour ( I was simultaneously baking cookies). I am rather pleased with the results.

I have also been scouring thrift stores and dollar stores for other cheap but nifty little pieces. Have you had any luck finding autumn decorations or making your own?