Sea legs of life…

This weekend, we had some company in from out of town. Someone that I know, love, and was fortunate enough to see grow up is going through an important transition in life. From that of a broke college student to that of a graduate who is simply out living. In celebration, I prepared her favorite, brisket. And she stopped in for the weekend to visit as she leaves the only home she’s ever known, and heads out for a new adventure with the gentleman that she loves.

She’s not my daughter, though I’d happily protect her as my own. But, I’m proud of her. Though she’s been dealt a blow or two, she refused to be knocked down. She set high expectations for herself, choosing to pursue her degree in psychology. Though she’s very happy with change being at a minimum, she identified that her home state may or may not have much to offer her, and decided to embark on, quite literally, the journey of a lifetime with someone she loves. Her Coastie. A life of love, adventure, and some uncertainty. She identified just how great things could be, and is putting herself out there a bit to take a risk. Staring life down, and refusing to be intimidated into inaction.

My daughter, you’re not. But, I hope that my girls can find some inspiration in your confidence. Sufficient confidence in their ability to take what life has to throw at it, and enjoy the journey itself. Life isn’t a game that should be lived on the sidelines, as it’s hard to actually play if you’re too risk averse to step onto the field. A life without risks, at the end of the day, will be a life filled with “what if’s”. And each of those “what if’s” contain some regret.

From Odes 1.11

Don’t ask (it’s forbidden to know) what end
the gods have granted to me or you, Leuconoe. Don’t play with Babylonian
fortune-telling either. How much better it is to endure whatever will be!
Whether Jupiter has allotted to sink you many more winters or this final one
which even now wears out the Tyrrhenian sea on the rocks placed opposite
— be wise, be truthful, strain the wine, and scale back your long hopes
to a short period. While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled:
seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day.

I’m proud of you, and hope that your journey will bring you near us again. The journey itself is to be relished. Even if it is to New Jersey.

Lowcountry Summer

As a lover of good BBQ, regardless of what kind it is, I’m particularly interested in working to experience some of the best of different types of sauces. The SC Barbeque Society has a good link on the different types of ‘que that you’ll find in the country. For the most part, they break down into one of four families, in order of age:

Vinegar and Pepper: Traditionally located in the Carolina plains, from Virginia to Georgia

Mustard Sauce: Rich in German heritage, it’s the type of BBQ sauce that South Carolina is most famous for.

Light tomato: Vinegar and pepper with a bit of ketchup, this is popular around the Carolina region known as the Piedmont

Heavy tomato: Popular in the rest of the country, it’s a heavier, sweeter sauce. Often found on your grocer’s shelf.But c’mon now. You can do better than that, right?

 

For the Mayhem crew, my love of the Lowcountry is no surprise. So, there’s even less surprise that the first style that I decided that I wanted to experiment with was the Mustard sauce. Little bit of a disclaimer. I like spicy food. So, I wanted to make a Lowcountry sauce that I thought would give me some Lowcountry character with just a bit of something else. Boy, did I find it!

For now, the only thing that I did differently than the recipe wasn’t even really different from the recipe. It just wasn’t defined what kind of hot sauce to use. So, I used Frank’s Red Hot. And it was delicious. But, I feel the need to warn you again. It had a bit of heat to it. I halved the recipe, so I only used 1 tbsp of cayenne.

Great flavor, lots of character, unmistakably Lowcountry, and HEAT.

Sure sounds like Lowcountry Summer to me.

Motherhood

Finding mothers are easy. They’re the people in the room who always seem more worried about everybody else than they are themselves. Easy to find, but difficult to define. I’ve had the good fortune of knowing some of the best. Being Mother’s Day and all, I want to try to paint a picture with words to try to put some context around a term that can be so easy and so complex to define, all at the same time.

Empathy. One of the most important words that I can use to define motherhood is empathy. My girls’ mommy always said that as soon as we had #1, that every child out there is hers, in some way. A child was hurt or did something great, she’d ponder it as though it was our child.

Selflessness. Something that has struck me of many of the mothers that I’ve known, is how selfless they are. If dinner was more popular than expected, or just came up short, they give to everybody else before taking for themselves. They seem to enjoy doing for others more than doing for themselves. Whether it’s buying clothes for little girls (ours or otherwise), or going to watch a live rendition of Blues Clues, something that seems to be common of mothers is the joy that they derive from the joy of others.

Determination. They will not be dissuaded. There is no task too large for them to handle, Managing a household of two, three, five ( <3 ), or NINE (God love you, my saint of a Grandma), with varying degrees of help is not easy. But, you’re adaptable, and will make it work with what you have.

I’m very grateful to have known and loved the mothers in my life. But, I’d be amiss if I didn’t differentiate the special kind of mom that my girls have. The kind of mom that makes jambalaya for a Princess and the Frog birthday party. Or, plans “Family Movie Night” which is more than simply watching a movie together. It’s watching a Halloween movie with pizza mummies for dinner and making crafty mummies out of jars and gauze. Or spends weeks planning Funner (what happens when school is out).

One day, girls, you will appreciate just how much your mom labors to bring you joy. Daily. Sadly, not everybody has a mom like you do. But, when it comes to moms, you have the best of the best.

Moms…what you do matters. You take young, impressionable little people, and help turn them into people who make the world a better place. Just like Moms themselves.

 

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See? My decision making isn’t ALWAYS suspect! Otherwise, how could I possibly have scored so well in the family department? Here are all of my girls, right after the arrival of my littlest princess, with my own Mom making a cameo in the corner.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Gift from a friend

Many moons ago, at an employer far, far away, I had the good fortunate of meeting a gentleman that became my friend. Though he was many years my senior, we always found things to talk about. Beer, technology, and family (I was a new and proud papa) were among the topics that I discussed with him as I worked on their Citrix Metaframe server. Millions of dollars were lost for every however many hours it may have been down, at any given time. At least that’s what the manager of the department liked to tell us.

During one of these discussions, my friend Curt and I were discussing either beer or bratwurst. I forget which. But we ended up discussing how they come together most beautifully.

And a fire was started.

You see, my friend turned me on to cooking with Guinness. Lots of people boiled their brats in beer, he shared. But, what kind of flavor does that really provide? By boiling in Guinness, he explained, you add a very definitive, unmistakable character to the sausage. A character which was further enhanced by adding a few cloves of garlic to the beer as you were boiling them.

My friend retired from our mutual employer shortly after 9/11/2001. To my recollection, I have not made bratwurst any other way since. A couple times, I may have experimented with another good beer, but I no longer was satisfied with some American macrobrew. He’d opened my eyes to the world of cooking with Guinness, which is now a staple in our kitchen. Just like salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

A couple of years ago, I started looking for him, so that I could share this information with him. Let him know that he’d started me down a path to foodie-dom. But sadly, I learned that he’d passed away in 2008. Not until after he’d gotten to spend a few years in retirement with the his wife, daughters, and his grandchildren.

And thanks to Curt “Please don’t call me John”, I will never hear the word “HORRIBLE!” again without smiling.

 

Guinness Brats
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Delicious, flavorful sausages. Intended to be eaten with mustard and onion.
Ingredients
  • Bratwurst- Raw. Do not buy the variations. What they do to them is not as good as what you will do to them.
  • Guinness
  • Few cloves of garlic
  • Onions
  • Buns
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan that's JUST large enough to hold all of the sausages that you're looking to cook, pour some Guinness into the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the few cloves of garlic to the beer. Personally, I'll slice it thin, but pressing it is fine.
  3. Add sausages.
  4. Cover the sausages with more Guinness
  5. Personally, it's important to me to keep the pan as small as possible. I want to make sure that I don't cook with more Guinness than necessary, as I can drink what I don't cook with!
  6. After you get the beer boiling, it probably cooks for ten minutes or so. As long as the brats are fully submerged, the sausages should be cooked for the most part. Pull them out of the beer, and put them on the grill.
  7. Warning-Keep the flame low, and watch them. They're' going to swell up after they were boiled, and will likely split. When they split, they WILL flare. And they're just not as good overdone. You're only adding them to the grill to brown them up a bit.
  8. Take 'em off, throw 'em on a bun with some chopped onion and good mustard, and enjoy. And maybe give a thumbs up to my man Curt for showing us the way.

 

Beer me.

Early on when I was thinking of this blog, I had a lot of ideas about the stuff that I wanted to discuss.

Meat. [little] Girls. Beer. Politics.

I’m a rather opinionated sort that loves to, as my big ol’ red-headed hillbilly buddy puts it, “cuss & discuss”. Beer, however, has been notably absent thusfar. It’s time to fix that. I’ve been known to jokingly refer to myself as a beer snob, but that’s not true. I’m not a beer snob.I’m a beer geek. In no way do I feel like I know more about beer about others. Except, perhaps, in that I like it more. 😉

So, here, I want to discuss some of my tried and true favorite styles, and I’m hopeful that you’ll share some of the same with me. Deal? Excellent. Then, let’s move on.

As you will notice by this list, I’m a hophead, in the beer vernacular. I prefer pale ales. There was a great article in Brew Your Own magazine a few years ago that really sold the idea of a pale ale. That it’s a really great beer to brew over and over and over again, because it can really stand out as to demonstrating the brewer’s skill.  I also really like India Pale Ales. You may notice a trend on my list, that I like high alcohol brews. All of mine, save for the Palmetto, I’ve had on draft.

Some favorite pale ales:

Palmetto Pale Ale- Palmetto Brewing Company. This brew leaves my heart as happy as my mouth. Though, it probably has something to do with me being in my favorite place when I’m drinking it.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. This is one of my favorite basic beers. When I can’t decide what I’m in the mood for, or if I want something that I can get almost anywhere, that anybody will drink, this is it. Good taste. Not too strong for the masses, but enough taste to satisfy me as well. Just an all around good brew. in my opinion.

Burning River Pale Ale-Great Lakes Brewing Company. Another favorite. A bit stronger in alcohol and in taste than either Palmetto or Sierra Nevada, but still not over the top. However, if you find yourself too deep in a friend’s keg after a long hiatus, you just may experience a bit of a surprise.

Favorite India Pale Ale’s:

As of today, I suspect that my favorite IPA is probably Smuttynose Brewing Company’s Finestkind IPA. For me, this is the one of my favorite non-session session brews. When a couple of buddies and I get together with some Smutty, it’s gonna be a good night, Tater! Though, I suspect that my drinking buddies aren’t accustomed to their session beers being almost 7% ABV. So, be careful!

I also really enjoy Victory Brewing’s Hopdevil. This one is starting to become for more serious hopheads. Though I haven’t had it recently, I remember this one having a strong taste, while drinking it and afterward. Great stuff!

Great Divide’s Titan IPA. Another favorite. High alcohol. High hop. Nice citrus tones. This one can also catch you by surprise, though, at 7.3% ABV.

And finally…

Last,but certainly not least, is the beer that is currently inhabiting my kegerator. Stone Brewing Company’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. Take the time to visit the site. It’s worth it. It’s certainly not a pale ale, nor is it for the faint at heart. It’s the one beer on this list that I don’t drink as a session beer. “This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. But, if you find that you do, you’ll have found yourself in some rather Arrogant company.

Comment with some suggestions that I need to try. Please?