Food, Beer & Buffoonery - Hops

Homemade Enchiladas

Just made some enchiladas. My first in quite some time. This time though I made my own enchilada sauce rather than using store bought. The results were better than expected. Here’s my recipe:

Homemade Enchiladas

For the Sauce
3 Tbsp Chili Powder
3 Tbsp Flour
1 tsp Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1/2 tsp Onion powder
2-3 Cups Chicken Broth (for thinner or thicker sauce)
1 – 14 oz can diced (or whole peeled) Tomatoes, pureed
1 – 4 oz can of green chilies (optional)
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix all dry ingredients. Add about 1/4 cup of cold water and blend to make a thin paste.  Add broth.  Stirring constantly, heat mixture until it begins to simmer and thicken. Add tomato puree. Simmer 5 minutes and remove from heat.

For the Filling
You can, of course, fill an enchilada with just about anything, but I decided to make veggie enchiladas today. I sautéed:

1 Zucchini, diced
1/2 large Onion, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 small bunch of Baby Chard
a few Mushrooms, diced
1 small bunch of Agretti, chopped
1 cob of Corn, cut the kernels off and toss in the mix

Sauté the above with a little sunflower oil for about 5 minutes, then add:

1 can Black Beans, drained

Putting it all together

Using small corn or flour tortillas, fill a bit of the mixture into each tortilla, add a little grated cheese, and roll it up, placing them side by side in a casserle dish. Once done, pour the enchilada sauce over the “rolls”. Top with grated jack cheese, cover the casserole with foil, and place in a preheated 350°F (175°C) over for 30-35 minutes.


It’s Spring, BBQ Time, California Style

bbq_porkSo, we’ve had a couple BBQs so far this year already.  I’ve tried some great new recipes.  A couple weeks back I hickory smoked a tri-tip that I had rubbed with a southwestern spice mixture.  It was wonderful. Today I used that same spice mix on some boneless top-loin pork chops. I topped them with fresh mango salsa.  Here is what was on tonight’s menu:

Southwestern BBQ Pork with Mango Salsa

I pounded two boneless top-loin pork chops down to 1/2″ thick with a meat hammer and rubbed them with a blend of chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, light brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. This spice blend was based on one found in The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells, who I had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks back.

I cheated on the mango salsa. I didn’t make it myself. But it was a freshly made salsa containing mangos, red bell peppers, red onion, vinegar, lime juice, serrano chillies, cilantro, salt, pepper and sugar.

I simple BBQ’ed the pork chops on the grill on each side and tossed on the salsa. Next time I might try putting a little salsa no the pork chops while still on the BBQ to heat the salsa up a little.

BBQ’ed Zucchini

Simple, yet never fails. Just drizzle a little olive oil over some zucchini sliced lengthwise, sprinkle with salt and coarsely ground fresh pepper, wrap in foil, and toss on the BBQ for a few minutes on each side.

Broiled Fennel, Carrots and Agretti tossed in Olive Oil and Garlic

I’ve done the fennel tossed in olive oil and garlic in the broiler before, but since I had them on hand, I added some carrots and agretti to the mix. Simply pour some olive oil into a large bowl, and add several cloves of crushed garlic. Add the sliced fennel bulb, carrots sliced lengthwise, and some chopped agretti. Tossed all ingredients, and then distribute the mix, evenly across a baking sheet. Broil on low for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the fennel and carrots are just turning brown.

T’was a fine meal indeed. (Unfortunately accompanied by a very so-so beer from the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. I hope their others are better.)


I also made a plain green leaf salad. I made an experimental dressing that turned out really well. I mixed some honey, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, water, coarsely ground fresh pepper, salt, a pinch of garlic powder, a tablespoon of mined red onion and some minced fresh mint.  The honey, vinegar/lemon, and mint combo was quite interesting and worked really well.

Some Buffoonery is a Good Thing: Morristown UFOs

Earlier this year, there were several UFO sightings in Morristown, NJ. Several red lights were seen in the sky. Then again, some days later, another set of red lights were seen. These sightings were reported by media outlets nationwide: Fox News, the History Channel (highlighted on their UFO Hunters show), Local News outlets and more.

From the get go hoax theories abounded. One astute police officer in the area even picked up some binoculars and reported that what he saw were flares tied some balloons. Was this account given much attention? Of course not. Eyewitnesses, UFO experts and Photo Analysis alike discounted the possibility of flares…

Fast forward to today. April 1st, 2009. A great day to announce a hoax!

Today, Chris Russo & Joe Rud, two New Jersey locals and avid readers of Skeptic magazine published a written and video account, via the eSkeptic Newsletter, of what shall now be known as the Morristown UFO Hoax. In the eSkeptic article they state,

“We brainstormed the idea of producing a spaceship hoax to fool people, bring the charlatans out of the woodwork to drum up controversy, and then expose it as nothing more than a prank to show everyone how unreliable eyewitness accounts are, along with investigators of UFOs.”

I’d say they suceeded.

Read their full account in eSkeptic.

And watch Chris and Joe’s videos documenting their entire hoax:
Part 1 – The Setup
Part 2 – The Launches
Part 3 – The Reactions

Of course, being April fools, there’s always the possibility that these hoaxters are hoaxing about their hoax…..  😉

The Missing BJCP Styles, part 4: (almost) Lost American Ales

At long last, another issue of the Missing BJCP Styles series. Last time we looked at some Australian Lagers.  This time we look at two of the several “almost” lost styles of American Ale.  The American Stock Ale and the Kentucky Common Beer. As always, these descriptions are a work in progress. If you have any additional information on these styles, please post a comment (with references) and I’ll incorporate it into the style description.

As information on these two styles is so difficult to come by, and commercial examples are extremely rare to non-existent, this post is a bit more of a work in progress than some of the previous “Missing Styles” posts. However, the information below should be enough to formulate your own recipe. So, with that in mind…


Aroma: Distinctive hop aroma, slight malt fruitiness. May smell a hint of sourness due to lactic acid.

Appearance: Pale to amber in color. Can be slightly cloudy.

Flavor: Quite bitter, and can be somewhat tart from lactic acid. Strong hop flavor. Finishes fairly dry.

Mouthfeel: (more info needed)

Overall Impression: (more info needed)

Comments: Traditional mash schedule: start at 149-151°F for 15 to 30 minutes, then raise the temperature to 154°F for 1 hour. A long secondary fermentation is traditional; 3-6 months. Traditional boil time is often 2 hours with a hop schedule of: 1/3 of hops added at start of boil, another 1/3 added an hour into the boil and the last 1/3 10 minutes before flame out. If sugar is used, it is added towards the end of the boil. American Stock Ales are either similar to or synonymous with Imperial Pale Ales.

Ingredients: Six-row malted barley with up to 25% sugar. American hop varieties Cluster, Northern Brewer and US grown Goldings. American ale yeast, at 68-70°F (20-21.1°C); WYeast 1056 or 1272 would both be good choices. Dry hop with up to 2.5 ounces (71 g) of hops per 5 gallons. Adding a small amount of lactic acid may be appropriate.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.066 – 1.079 (even up to 1.100? Though in 1896, average was 1.067)
IBUs:  70 – 100
FG: 1.013 – 1.016
SRM: 3 – 15
ABV: 5.5 – 7.9+%

Commercial Examples (tentative): Rogue Imperial IPA, Three Floyds Dreadnuaght IPA (9.5% abv).

References: “Radical Brewing” by Mosher, “American Handy-book of the Brewing, Malting and Auxiliary Trades” by Wahl and Henius


Aroma: (more info needed)

Appearance: Dark amber to almost black in color, comparable to a Bavarian dunkel.

Flavor: Pronounced malt flavor, slightly sweet, mild.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, high carbonation.

Overall Impression: (more info needed)

Comments: Ferment at 68-70°F. Consumed Young. Highly Carbonated.

Ingredients: Pale malt, 25-30% corn or flaked maize, and 1-2% caramel or black malts for color (or some caramel coloring). American hop varieties, such as Cluster or Northern Brewer. American Ale, California Common or a London Ale yeast. Should be pitched with a very small amount (2% of yeast) lactobacillus – or add a very small amount of lactic acid.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.044 – 1.048
IBUs:  20 – 30
FG: 1.009 – 1.013
SRM: 18 – 27
ABV: 4.0 – 5.0%

Commercial Examples: Mosher (see references) reports that the Bluegrass Brewing Co. in Louisville, KT has brewed a Kentucky Common in recent years.

References:, “Radical Brewing” by Mosher, “American Handy-book of the Brewing, Malting and Auxiliary Trades” by Wahl and Henius

Other Missing Styles to be covered in coming articles:
Kellerbier, Gose, Wiess, Broyhan, Graetzebier, Honey Beers (not Braggots), Classic American Cream Ale, American Stock Ale, Czech Dark Lager, English Pale Mild, Scottish 90/-, English Strong Ale, Non-alcoholic “Beer”, Malt Liquor, Imperial/Double Red Ale, Imperial/Double Brown Ale, Imperial Lager, Imperial Pilsner, Imperial Porter, Rye IPA, Dark American Wheat/Rye, Dry Beer, Pennsylvania Swankey.

Hearty German Rolls

We had some day-old left over pizza dough (uncooked, still sitting in a bowl on the kitchen counter) and my wife decided to improvise some rolls.  These turned out sooooooo good, that I thought I’d post the recipe here. I don’t have a good name for these, so I’ll just call them Hearty German Rolls, because they’re based on a German style of roll.

These are hearty rolls. They are equally good to eat at dinner along with some soup, or have with breakfast with your favorite omelet or other egg dish.  Eat warm though!  And cut in half and spread some butter on.


2 Cups Flour
2/3 Cups hand-warm Water
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. dried Yeast

1 small onion, diced (or half of a medium-large onion)
3 strips of Bacon
small handful of shelled Sunflower Seeds
2-3 Tbsp. diced Chives
1/4 tsp. each, salt and pepper
some 10 Grain Cereal, ala Bob’s Red Mill
some coarse salt (rock salt)


Mix flour, oil, water and yeast. Knead for 5 minutes. Let dough rise 30 minutes in a warm place.

While the dough is rising, dice the raw bacon and mince the onion. Heat up a skillet, no oil, and put the onion and bacon in together and saute until the bacon is cooked and the onions are starting to brown. Transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to soak up the excess oil.

After dough has risen 30 minutes, punch down and add the cooked onion and bacon, along with the diced chives, sunflower seeds and salt and pepper. Knead in thoroughly.  Divide the dough in 8 equal portions and make slightly flatten balls. Press some 10 grain cereal into the bottom of each dough ball.  Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt on the top of each roll. (A good method is to have the seeds and salt on two small plates and just press each side of the dough ball into each plate).

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Place dough balls on a pizza stone and let rise for another 30 minutes in a warm place. Dough balls will be about 50% larger when ready.

Using a sharp knife, cut a single slit in the top of each dough ball. Place dough balls (rolls!) in oven.

Bake for about 40 minutes. After 15 minutes, and every 10-15 minutes thereafter, open the oven and brush the tops of the rolls with water.  When ready, tops should be just starting to turn light golden brown.

Makes 8 rolls.

Fred Phelps’ Incredible Buffoonery

We already know Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred Phelps is a buffoon, but can things get any more absurd? He now wants to put an anti-Santa Claus sign up at our nation’s capitol…  Actually if you check the blog link below, the sign is kinda funny.  😉

“Santa Claus will take you to hell”

That has got a ring to it, doesn’t it? And his suit is red.

In the Blogs.

In the News.

Voting Buffoonery

So, I just got back from doing my civic duty … I voted. After signing in (I still don’t understand why you don’t need to show an ID), I went over to the table to grab my ballot.

“Do you want to vote on paper or electronically?”, I was asked. Not liking to waste paper, I opted to vote electronically. Though there was one, if only slight, problem. They only had one electronic voting machine.  So I could wait in line to use that or vote now on paper. I was in a little bit of a hurry, so I opted to go paper. (I know, what a hypocrite).

Diebold AccuVote

Now what’s the point of paper voting?  A better paper trail?  Easing fears of mistakes when voting electronically? Ok, I suppose.  So, I vote on my paper ballot, and what do I do after that?  I feed it into an electronic scanner (something similar to the one pictured here) to record my votes. Low and behold, I just voted electronically anyway!

Seriously, what is the difference?  If you have an electronic voting machine that retains a paper receipt of every voters choices, printed in view of the voter, how is this any different from making your marks on a paper then feeding it into a ballot scanner? Well, one uses more paper.

It has me wondering. Was there only one electronic voting machine there because the city/county could not afford more, or are people in my area afraid of electronic voting? If the later is true, someone really needs to inform these people that they are voting electronically anyway…

So, in fact, there were two electronic voting machines in the room.  One that lets you enter your votes straight into the computer via a screen and one that scans votes marked on paper. One of these options uses less paper – and in the long run would probably save money, and a few trees.

Three cheers fr REAL electronic voting!!!

Reason, Law, and Beer

I just read this article on and thought I’d just plug it, since it made some really great points about reason, law and beer:

How Your Beer Bought John McCain’s $500 Loafers
Uncovering the government subsidies behind Cindy McCain’s family fortune

The article discusses the history of alcohol distribution and the “poor” economics of the forced three-tiered system in place in most states.

A German Stout?

I was perusing German maltster Weyermann’s website and found a recipe for a stout that they had posted.  It used Pilsner malt and Hallertauer hops.  Not very stout-like, in the traditional sense, but interesting. It’s almost like they took a Dunkel or maybe a Schwarzbier recipe and threw in an ale yeast. So, here’s my slightly modified version of their recipe, translated into English and scaled to a 5 gallon batch. I call it Ein Seltsames Gebräu Stout (German for “A Strange Brew Stout”).

The closest official BJCP style for this beer would be a Foreign Extra Stout, though it’s not quite dark enough – but close. The color range is in Oatmeal Stout territory however – though it’s too bitter for an Oatmeal Stout, and well there’s no oatmeal. Ok, on with the recipe!

Ein Seltsames Gebräu Stout

5 gallons
OG 1.058
IBU 42

9.8 lbs. Pilsner Malt
18 oz. Carafa II (use Carafa III for a darker color)
5.4 oz. Acidulated Malt

2.4 oz. Hallertau Hersbrucker for 60 minutes

Fermentis Safale S-04 English Ale Yeast
(or White Labs WLP002 English Ale or WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast should give similar results)

Make sure to get the rests in for the mash, as this calls for pilsener malt.

The Missing BJCP Styles, part 3: the Australian Lagers

We recently looked at some unique Australian Ales not found in the BJCP Style Guidelines. In this third installment of The Missing BJCP Styles series we’ll be focusing on a couple Australian Lagers: Australian Lager and Premium Australian Lager.

These two styles are very similar to their American counterparts: Standard and Premium American Lagers, though the Standard Australian Lager’s IBU range is slightly greater than that or Standard American Lager. Other contrasts would probably show up in choices for yeast and especially hops. Seeking out good Australian malt is desirable, of if you’re doing extract brewing, use Coopers’ extracts.

If you’re setting out to brew an Australian lager, you’ll probably want to use Pride of Ringwood hops for bittering and flavor/aroma; though if you can’t find them, Galena or Cluster are said to make acceptable substitutes. There are no readily available Australian Lager yeasts (in the USA) that I know of, but due to their strong similarity to American Lagers either White Labs’ WLP840 American Lager or Wyeast 2035 – American Lager yeasts would be appropriate.


Appearance: Very pale straw to pale gold colour. White head. Carbonation medium to high. Clarity good to

Aroma: Little to no malt aroma. Hop aroma may range from low to none and may be flowery. Slight fruity
aromas from yeast and hop varieties used may exist. No diacetyl.

Flavour: Crisp and dry flavour with some low levels of sweetness. Hop flavour may range from low to medium. Hop bitterness low to medium. Balance can vary from slightly malty to slightly bitter, but is usually close to even. No diacetyl. No fruitiness. Finish tending dry.

Mouthfeel: Low to low medium. Well carbonated. Slight carbonic bite on tongue is acceptable.
Overall Impression: Light, refreshing and thirst quenching.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1040-1050
FG: 1004-1010
IBU: 10-20
ABV: 4.2-5.1%

Commercial Examples: Fosters Lager, Carlton Draught, XXXX, and Tooheys New.


Appearance: Straw to pale gold. Bright, with a reasonable head. Darker than common Australian lagers, due to the use of less adjuncts.

Aroma: A mild, malt aroma, which may be supported by low to moderate, and even possibly noble, hop notes. Estery fruitiness, diacetyl, and phenolic or yeasty notes should be absent.

Flavour: Low to moderate mild malt flavour may be supported by low to moderate hop flavours. Bitterness can range from low-medium (lagers) to high-medium (pilsners), resulting in a neutral to slightly bitter malt/bitterness balance. Medium to medium-high carbonation. Crisp and dry. Any fruity flavours, phenolics, yeasty flavours, diacetyl, astringency or harshness, should be penalized.

Mouthfeel: Light to light-medium.

Overall Impression: A clean, crisp lager, designed basically for quaffing, but containing more interest and more malt and hop character than the typical Australian session lagers.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1045-1055
FG: 1008-1012
IBU: 15-25
ABV: 4.7-6.0%

Commercial Examples: Malt Shovel Pilsner, Boags Premium Lager.

Special thanks to Tony Wheeler and all those at the AABC for assisting me, directly and indirectly, with putting the Australian styles together.

Note: I was going to include Australian Bitter Lager here, but the Australian version of the BJCP, the AABC, recently removed it from their style guide.

Other Missing Styles to Be Covered Soon:
Kellerbier, Gose, Wiess, Honey Beers (not Braggots), Classic American Cream Ale, Czech Dark Lager, English Pale Mild, Scottish 90/- (?), American Stock Ale, English Strong Ale, Non-alcoholic “Beer”, Malt Liquor, Imperial/Double Red Ale, Imperial/Double Brown Ale, Imperial Lager, Imperial Pilsner, Imperial Porter, Rye IPA, Dark American Wheat/Rye.

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