Archive | May, 2011

Mmmmmarshmallows!

20 May

I like marshmallows, but unless they are in a S’more, I don’t really crave them. Until now.

THESE babies? HOLY COW.

They are from the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory in the Pittsburgh Public Market. My daughter and I bought 8 varieties from the PMF over the weekend and we effed. those. up.  In a good way. As we we ate them all in one sitting. That’s a lot of sugar.

We started out civilly enough. splitting them so we could get a taste of each flavor.  Then quickly went to fighting over who got the bigger piece of each one, and finally it was all “WAIT! I want ALL of that one” and finally “NO FAIR MOM, PUT IT DOWN!!” (It’s not my fault she’s smaller and slower than me).

These Bananas Foster ones were my FAVORITE.  The sugar crystals on top, mmmmmm.

Of course there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. We also had Irish Coffee, Peppermint, Lemon, Coconut, Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice and my other favorite Ginger.

Ginger were also faaaaaabulous.  The slight burn that follows the sticky sweetness, ZOMGLook how gorgeous the coconut ones are!

Moist, fluffy and tender, the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory concoctions bear little resemblance to the dry chewy nuggets you find in a bag dahn at the iggle.  And if you’ve ever read my blog you know I’m wild about the idea that these also come in Hop flavor (made with East End brewing Co Beer), and have been made with tequila, scotch and at least one other boozy flavor I can’t remember. I’m personally advocating for a Sailor Jerry Marshmallow or a Bourbon Marshmallow.

I’ve been trying to come up with a creative use for them I can whip up in my kitchen and I’ve been slightly disappointed in myself, I’m drawing a goose-egg on ideas. However @pantster, one of the geniui behind these beauties once tweeted the idea to add their shockingly green, aggressively hot Ghost Pepper Marshmallows to these:


And so that is what I’m going to do!  I’m going to make some Ghost Pepper Rice Crispy Treats for On the Spot on Tuesday.

Also, and here is the really exciting news for yinz,  the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory has donated a gift certificate for a dozen marshmallows for our silent auction!  So come to Hough’s on Tuesday and you can taste the Ghost Pepper Treats and maybe win a dozen of the marshmallows of your choosing!

Help Local Girls in Need by Drinking Beer and Eating Cookies

19 May

On the Spot* is mine. I started it with my friend Desiree. It is ours.  We both feel passionately about the mission and jumped into this not knowing what we were doing.  I won’t lie, I’m fiercely proud of the project.  In no small part because people have responded so overwhelmingly positively to it.  Two years ago not to many people thought about this problem. Now, at least in Pittsburgh, people know about it. And that is a good thing because knowing is half the way to winning.

So I hope that you will join us on Tuesday for our next fundraiser.  We are out of funds (see the exciting reason why) and really need to resupply (we already have schools asking for resupply and new schools contacting us looking for their first box.)

So join us

May 24th 6:00-9:00p.m. at Hough’s in Greenfield (563 Greenfield Ave)

Aside from general do-gooding, here are compelling reasons to attend:

Hough’s Beer Selection is beyond good

COOKIES!  We always have a banging cookie table! Alix (THE ALIX LEVY) will be contributing baked goods, Desiree has promised gum drop cookies and plenty of other goodies and I’m making Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies, Baklava, BBQ Frito and Chocolate Chunk Cookies, and Ghost Pepper Marshmallow Rice Crispy treats (AND MORE!)

Paper Bag Auction:  For which we have a wine basket, tickets to the Carnegie museum, Tupelo Honey Teas Basket, Gift Certificate from Pittsburgh marshmallow Factory  and more!

So seriously folks, please join us and help out some middle school and high school girls in need. This really is the LAST thing that a kid should have to worry about.

*About On the Spot:

Remember how awkward middle school was?

Imagine you are a seventh grade girl in foster care. Life is all sorts of awkward. For many local girls like this, some days are worse than awkward. For many girls in foster care or unstable family situations suddenly finding yourself in school, with your period, and WITHOUT supplies is an unfortunately regular occasion.

Planned Parenthood workers operating in local schools noted that many girls were relying on office staff for monthly supplies having little to no regular access through home. Generous office workers have been buying supplies out of their own money.

We think we can do better.

That’s where On the Spot comes in.

On the Spot is a  campaign to raise funds to help purchase supplies for local schools to hand out to girls who find themselves unsupplied and ‘on the spot.’

Mole Beer FTMFW

18 May

For me food is sensual, emotional, and intellectual. I love clever food; food created by letting go of expectations and conventions.  Food with a sense of humor or playfulness, or that shows adventure, daring and rebellion.  That kind of eating (and drinking) satisfies more than just the palette. It makes me excited, even giddy. That is how I felt when I drank Rogue Chipotle for the first time. The heat that sneaks in on the tale end particularly delighted me. Then. Then I read THIS comment by reader @kevvyg.  He said “blend it with Rogue Chocolate Stout and create a Mole Black and Tan.”

Dudes.

Seriously, how could I NOT try that?  That is the kind of idea that makes me giddy.  I literally planned my Saturday night around this idea!  So I give you Mole Beer, for the MFing win! I took @Kevvyg’s recommendation and went with the Rogue Chocolate Stout as opposed to any other kind.

Of course I tasted them separately to begin. You’ve read my thoughts on Rogue Chipotle Ale. The Chocolate Stout lives up to the Rogue reputation for being a mighty beer with plenty of chocolate notes.

But that isn’t what I was there for, so I mixed together roughly equal parts of each…

The results were, taste-wise, not a whole lot more interesting than the Rogue Chipotle ale was itself.  That isn’t to say it wasn’t spectacular, it was. But I feel like I’d already been blown away by the Chipotle Ale and frankly the Chocolate Stout really muscled out the surprisingly more delicate taste of the Chipotle ale. This may be in part because you get a nose full of chocolate before you even take a sip.  That being said, the smoke is still discernible and you have the same surprise heat at the end that makes the Chipotle my new favorite beer.   I think I would have liked to have tried the Mole beer FIRST, and then its component parts.  Regardless, I would say this brilliant idea held up in its actualization and I am thinking of serving this at my as yet unscheduled taco party.

*Also, never having had a proper Mole, I cannot comment on how the tastes compare, but I think that conceptually this is still so unique, so fun, so exciting, the comparison may be pointless.

*A strong recommendation to Brgr and anyone else with Rogue Chipotle on tap that they think about offering this.  I think it would be a real draw.

Things that make you go hmmmm…

12 May

This mural graces the wall of our pediatrician’s office. Its pretty cool.  One of the doctors painted the mural on the walls originally, so I wonder if she did this.  Whoever did it, I love it…but it is, well, weird.  Look at some of the details from the mural:

Is that GOLLUM lurking behind the children frolicking in the pool in Dormont??  I believe it is.
See him drop the ring?

Remind me not to take my kids swimming there. I am NOT up to any more epic quests right now.

Gerkin Gothic.  Ummm….

I mean maybe the pickles have something to do with Heinz.   But it’s geographic location on the map doesn’t suggest that connection. Come to think of it, they are located rather near to Gollum and the kids in Dormont.

I’ve always said things got weird once you emerged from the Liberty Tubes.

And then there is this:

See what I mean?  Odd.  The rest of it is lovely though. Look at the butterflies coming out of Phipps for example.  Any way, this is for you unknown and slightly strange artist. I kind of dig your quirky additions to our region:

Blog for Equality Day

9 May

I’ve been working on this post for days, and it keeps going in different directions. There is too much to say.  Maybe I need to blog for equality more often.  But here goes…

Let me start with an observance;  we have come so far.  When I started college, there was not one student who was out. (Let’s not even talk about High School). My second year(ish) a group of courageous students rocked the campus by publishing a special issue of the upstart campus paper declaring the(ir) presence on campus of Gay and Lesbian students.  On the campus of this small, conservative, Liberal Arts school (Union College) in upstate New York it was a shock, though it shouldn’t have been.  But many of us were seriously naive, denial will do that for you.  It’s not like there were no gay and lesbian kids in my HS and College (though until my sophomore year there were no OUT kids).  Its just that there were no gay and lesbian characters on TV, Film, Books, or pretty much anywhere in mainstream pop culture. I know there were role models there if you dug, but the point is only the kids who were desperate for acceptance, desperate for answers, desperate for role models dug.  It made it so easy for strait kids to ignore…or worse.  So for kids struggling with identity issues, or even sure of their identity and struggling for acceptance, they were quite literally pioneers every single time. It must have felt like it had never been done before.

I’m so grateful that this has changed, that there are role models on TV and in movies and generally in pop-culture as well as in “real life.” I’m thrilled that the first wedding my daughter attended was to celebrate two women marrying each other (we just met their new daughter for the first time several weeks ago!!! Joy!).  Her experience and understanding of the world will be MUCH different than mine and my contemporaries.  This is important because ALL children need these role models so that LGBT kids will know they are not alone and strait kids will be allies not bullies.

So, YAY. On Equality day I celebrate my LGBT friends. I celebrate characters like Ricky from My So Called Life (trailblazer!) and Kirk from Glee. I support, celebrate and honor public role models like Bruce Kraus and Sue Kerr.

And then I say Daryl Metcalf and his ilk must be stopped.

The man is a menace to us all.

He has proposed anti immigration law similar to that of AZ.  He has proposed union busting legislation similar to WI. And now there is this latest folly, an amendment to the PA Constitution defining marriage as that between one man and one woman and banning all others:

“Marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

Yes, this is a good idea because loving, stable couples should be discouraged.

It is my friends in same sex relationships that are destroying marriage.

I’m divorced because I saw two lesbians living together and thought “hey, it must be ‘anything goes.’ I think I’ll give up my home, disrupt my children’s lives, and impoverish myself and my children. After all two women(or men) living together as a family brings about the result that marriage no longer holding any meaning according to some bigoted assholes some of my fellow citizens, so fuck it.”

Forgive me, I’m tired. I’ve been working my ass off every day (EVERY DAY) for weeks because corporate American has bought enough elections to cause all hell to break lose at the local, state, and federal level.  We’ve got no jobs. Children go to bed hungry in what brags to be the richest country on earth. Our environment balances on the brink of disaster. The rich are getting (obscenely) richer, everyone else is getting poorer.  And THIS is what one of our State Reps chooses to waste his taxpayer funded time on?

For heavens sake.  Polls show there is not broad support for this.  Its a waste of time and money.

And it is wrong. Just plain wrong.  Of all the threats to families, our “way of life” our country and our economy, two people falling in love, committing to each other and settling down to lead the mundane day in day out life that is, well, LIFE, is, well, NOT a threat.

Sign Equality PA’s Petition

The actual bill can be found here.

And this is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT.  Because it is these remnants of a darker era that illustrate how far we haven’t come. It is these awful, awful people who create an atmosphere where kids committed suicide (KIDS) because they despaired of ever having a “normal” life.  It is better than it was. There is do doubt. But it isn’t good enough. It wont be good enough until it is rare and aberrant for a child to commit suicide because of who they are and who they love.  So on equality day stand with me and let’s do our part to stamp out the hate and intolerance. Not in my state and certainly not in my name.

Joy in a Glass; Rogue Chipotle Ale

6 May

Working hard and Hardly working…

Yesterday I had a lunch meeting that ended up being pushed to 2:30 and moved to Brgr in East Liberty*. Since I was going home after the meeting I decided to have a beer(!).  In the spirit of trying something new, I chose the Rogue Chipotle Ale.

If you follow me on twitter, you know it was SPECTACULAR. I am certain I gushed.

Really this is going down as one of my all time favorite new beer experiences.  I felt like I did the first time I had a SeaDog Blue Paw Wheat.  Surprised not once but several times, intrigued, delighted, and more.  That is to say drinking this beer is a layered experience.

The smell, always the first hint, is subtle, not giving up what is in store for the palate. The first taste is slightly sweet, slightly hoppy, solid but not beefy ale taste. Very quickly that is followed by the smoke. The smoke hits on the back of the tongue so it was a surprise, of sorts. I knew it was coming, it had been described to me, but I admit to wondering if the smoke was more hype than anything because it isn’t in your face immediately.

When it does come I’d describe the flavor as both soft and big. That is to say, I’ve had smoked foods that are downright bitter. I’ve had food/drink where the smoke flavor greets you from across the room.  Rogue Chipotle does neither. It is soft in that for me it came in on the back of my tongue so it lacked brashness, but it wasn’t a small smokey flavor once you got there. The sweetness of the ale carried the big smokey flavor well but because of it’s late start the ale taste wasn’t overwhelmed by the smoke either. This is definitely Ale, and it is definitely smoked.

Yum.

Then.

Then the final layer appears. Much like the smoke, the heat sneaks up on you. I was expecting it to be hot (Chipotle!) and only ordered it when I was assured it wasn’t going to scorch my mouth.

I hate to admit it, but I’m a Scoville wimp. I dislike spicy food. I cannot taste anything past the first bite, and that is just no fun for me.

But occasionally you will come across a food where the heat is more of a follow up to the flavor, where it plays a supporting role rather than pushing every other flavor off stage.  This Chipotle Ale was such an experience. And I loved it.

Literally at least a minute after I set down my glass, I felt it. My mouth was tingling. Not in a sharp, hurty way either.  It was an experience resting between a taste and a feeling and I loved it. The entire beer drank like that too. It never got too hot. It never lost its complexity. This is a beer that delivers multiple moments of unique taste and feel.

After buying a disappointing microbrew case two weeks ago, Rogue Chipotle Alre reminds me of just how satisfying beer can be.

From the website:

Tasting Notes:

Roasted chipotle peppers produce an eye opening chile flavor in this deep golden ale with a malty, smoky aroma and smooth, crisp flavor.

8 Ingredients: 

Malts: Harrington, Klages & Maier Munich.

Hops: Cascade and Willamette.

Specialty: Chipotle Peppers.

Yeast & Water: Rogue’s Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

*Yet again I forgot to take pictures. Still wonderful. Still the best french fries I think I’ve ever had.