Ornery Beer is Ornery and Beer

This post should have been written in January so blame the lack of funniness on my procrastination. Oh wait... that still puts the blame on me, damn. School, I can blame school!

Mostly interesting books, so many papers! Yay anticipating graduation!

Almost two months ago now, Geoff & I brewed our third beer. I wouldn't say we are cocky about it, but we seem to think our beers have been pretty tasty so far. We cleverly named our brewery Raise Your Glasses, some puns are way better than others like this one! We both wear glasses, we both drink beer out of glasses, come on, people, catch up! 

The first two beers were El Hefe, a pretty basic Hefeweizen and JedIPA, an Imperial IPA. (Oh! How funny we are...)

Our labels so far and me goofing off with glasses. 

For our third beer we wanted to try a darker beer, so we opted for a Mocha Coffee Porter. I decided I should write my take on the brewing process, because as with most things I make up my own language or just to be annoying I say ridiculous things and ignore science and math. I get the real brewing process by now, obviously, or I wouldn't be much help in the kitchen... brewery, but you can find articles on that anywhere. 

Now, I took notes on this beer making day, but um I honestly can't decipher half of my shorthand anymore so let's see how this goes! 

Step One was to CLR clean the immersion chiller (aka spirally doodad) and the gloves were tiny so guess who got to smell the wonderful smell of CLR?! Seems like a ploy to get me cleaning... grr. 

The real Step One was to sanitize everything, which I guess is still cleaning so let's call this Step One B. We switched the type of sanitizer we were using from powdered stuff to liquid concentrate stuff that looks like Cool Brew (except not in color, so don't worry I didn't mix it with milk and think that was a good idea or anything). 

Yummy! No. Wait.

This is where I shouted, "How can we brew beer if we're not drinking beeeeeeer, jeeez?!" So we opened an Optimator because that's what we had in the fridge and then for some reason I drew a snake in the notebook. Yeah, I'm a doodler on notes not related to school too, go figure. 

OH! I know why I drew the snake! The heating mat. Let's backtrack a little, like a week or so, still in January, don't get confused. The plan was to always brew after the New Year, but we were hoping to start a week or so earlier than we had when we realized because outside was pretty cold (I mean, not really in the grand scheme of things, but cold enough to give us this problem) the problem was the fridge is in a shed on the cement and other excuses and the fridge was too cold. We fixed this problem by buying an aquarium heating mat and that's why the snake. 

Anyway back to brew day (which I totally wrote 'bake' because I'm usually writing about that) I'm not really here to teach you how to brew as I was sort of saying above (that would be ridiculous), just here make you read my words because for some reason you cared enough to read. I, by the way, thank you for that. 

We get the water hot, add the grains, I wrote "nom nom nom" so they either smelled good or I ate a few, like a bird, I think both of those things are true. I know some of the grains had a coffee scent or flavor, perfect! 

We didn't have anymore beer, what?! We moved onto White Russians, still with theme because coffee. 

Always safely store your belongings. 

We get the pot to boiling or as I so eloquently put it "boilz 212°." Then we add the malt, which we also try, I don't believe in not trying your ingredients. Then my favorite part HOPNOMS. Then more hopnoms and malt. "After forever!" Yep, another random note, near a really simple doodle of a TARDIS.

Nom + hops = HOPNOMS (that math adds up I swear.) Also, shh my name being in this picture was totally on accident. 

My notes stop for a little while because this is where a big freak out happens. We run out of propane! It was cold outside, we couldn't tell how low we were, also we are really bad at having everything double checked and prepared. Geoff has to carry the billion gallon pot, 5 gallon, to the stove... inside the house! Then lift it and keep it at a boil on our stove, yep that was fun. YAY LEARNING EXPERIENCES! Check your propane, kids! 

This all seems really safe.

Yeah, you totally fit on the spoon rest. *giggles*

The curly doodad (oops... spirally) is ready to cool down our beer and water our backyard! We add the yeast and the stopper with the vodka... THAT KEPT POPPING OUT, what a bratty beer. *Whine* *Whine* "I don't like vodka!" "Deal with it, beer!"

Mr. Spirals doing his thing. 

Time passes, it's still January, time to bottle and add the priming sugar (simple syrup), cocoa powder, and coffee! 

It's right on the label!

We made the coffee in the French Press a day or so before bottling day and we didn't make it strong enough (getting to that in the review). For those curious and not here to judge because I don't care, we used Starbucks Komodo Dragon Blend, because DRAGON ON THE LABEL. ROAR.

The lime green cutie.

This beer must have known that if it wasn't a pain in the butt, this blog post would be super boring. (Hey! Be nice!) Geoff usually fills the bottles with the cool push button-y thing magic wand (y'know the bottling wand bottle filler, duh) because I like capping -- me and Cappy are good buds. I've forgiven him for now for this next part of the story. Cappy did not like the caps or the bottles or was drunk! I'm really not sure. Anyway, he gets stuck on the bottle and grumble grumble Geoff unhooks it from the bottle and it cracks the glass! Breaks the top clear off, that makes it sound like a cleaner break than it was, but whatever it broke and it was weird and annoying. Every four or so get stuck like this, but no more break, but it's certainly not as easy and painless as it usually is. I do eventually figure out that it's not meeting up evenly when being push together to cap it tight so I work slower, which I do not like. C'mon, Cappy, you sound old by name but you're not! Guess Geoff is really going to push to keg now. ;) 

:(

Because of all the craziness with the capping, Geoff and I switch for a little while and after a few fills or so the little button pin breaks off the magic beer wand and beer spills EVERYWHERE! What even is this beer? Haunted? Grr. 

We get the beer cleaned up -- there's only a little left -- we fill the rest of the bottles. Phew! Sigh. Of. Relief. 

THIS BEER BETTER TASTE EFFING AWESOME. Yeah, that was the consensus. Of all of us. All two of us. 

Don't worry we marked the ones we aren't sure if we lost glass or pieces of equipment in (and the first one bottled of course). 

Is this a secret code? Yes, yes it is. 

And that is how Frothy Coffee Soup was made! Frothy Coffee Dragon Soup. Frothy Coffee Chocolate Dragon Soup. Angsty Rebel Cruella de Ville beer. Okay I'll stop, except to give you the story on the name of the beer, which I promised last post anyway. Our friend gave us a coffee maker and an immersion blender for our wedding shower and I got excited because I always wanted to play with an immersion blender or what I call a "frothy soup maker." He doesn't really care for coffee so I said I'd make him frothy coffee soup one day and instead we made this beer, but with a French Press, the coffee not the beer, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Maybe we can blame him for the beer being an annoyance. Yeah, no blame on me, just the way it should be. 

Aaaand now some final notes and what I think of the beer itself. Frothy Coffee Soup was originally undercarbed, we let it condition longer and voila! CARBONATION! The beer has a great flavor, the chocolate stands out, we could've (should've would've) made the coffee stronger for that flavor to really come through, we know this now for whenever we may try a coffee beer again in the future. As a whole, with all the learning experiences and stresses and silliness, the beer is a success!

One of these things cut my finger once. 

Cheers! And more pictures of course. 

First pour.

Our most recent and prettiest pour. 

Bonus feature, because what you want is another picture!

Doodles for label ideas, see 2nd picture in post to see the final label. 

Blog Post Written by Rhea, Edited by Rhea, Produced by Rhea, Starring Not Rhea, etc. etc. etc.

If you have never seen The Room you should, well should may be too strong of a word. But if you have a weird sense of humor and love terrible movies, this movie is amazing. Some years back a friend of mine told me to watch it, but that it was better to watch in a crowd and to mock it. A lot. Watching it with about 4 people was fun, but if you have never gone to a showing in a theater with people treating it the way they would The Rocky Horror Picture Show (costumes, props, etc.) then you're missing out on the best level this movie could ever achieve. 

I had not yet seen it this way, with plans to do it one day, because the local movie theater, the Prytania, shows it at midnight on a regular enough basis that I should have already seen it this way. I'm glad I waited though, I was lazily clicking refresh on facebook or twitter (who cares which really when you're reloading the page for the 1000th time), and I see the Prytania say, "The Room "Love is Blind Tour 2013" is coming to the Prytania Jan 18 & 19. Come See Tommy and Greg in Person. Tickets on Sale soon!" I immediately turn to Geoff and say, "OMG Geoff, Tommy Wiseau, we need tickets, gah!" That may be paraphrased, but it was about that coherent. I text some friends, get back some expletive-filled responses I won't share here and we start constantly watching the internet for when tickets go on sale. 

On to the night of the showing! If you've done any research on Tommy Wiseau or watched any interviews or listened to anyone talk about The Room you know that he has said he lived here, is from here (New Orleans), was homeless here, if you know the truth leave it in the comments, but we still may not believe you. There's so much mystery, even wikipedia is not sure what year he was born. Why do we care? Why don't you? (I don't know...) His answers to most things have been less than helpful, we'll get to that more in the Q&A section. 

Order of the night: Show up to the movie an hour early, pick up tickets, stand in line making jokes about whether or not Tommy's in there watching whatever movie is playing in the theater before this showing, watch 2 guys cross the street separately but at the same time in tuxedos (one of them being my friend) they later toss a football around to the line of people's enjoyment (watch the movie), and then joke about whether that's Tommy getting out of a cab in front of the theater (it wasn't). But we do see him show up, with an employee of the theater (what was that car ride like?!) I keep leaving out that Greg Sestero was at the showing too (Oh hai, Mark.) and I shouldn't because he seemed like a normal dude along for the ride (again more of that in the Q&A section). 

Tommy (Mr. Wiseau) gets cheers from the line and then he walks the entire length of the line high-fiving all of us! We squee like little girls because it's fun(ny) and watch intently to see what he'll do next. He starts tossing the football around to people in line, continuously telling people to throw it lightly, I guess we're too strong for him? Shortly after they let us get to our seats. 

We pick out our seats, 5th row, so we can see the Q&A up close and personal without straining our necks once the movie starts though. 

There's a line forming and we realize there's merch sales and autographs and pictures happening! Geoff, Stephen (tuxedo friend), and I get in line. Stephen dressed as Tommy for Halloween and wanted the picture of this autographed. When we were almost to the front of the line we hear Tommy ask a guy what his name was so he could autograph his shirt, the guy says, "Josh." Tommy looks confused. We try to pay better attention to what is happening, we're pretty sure he spelled Josh with a G and then tried to correct it. Although, while it makes no sense, thought I heard "there's no R." We're giggling a lot by this point because it's exactly and nothing like we imagined already. Now it's our turn. Tommy signs my movie, he got my name right from me spelling it to him though I think I confused him at the end when I said "a" but still Rhelittleline is a pretty good name. He hands my movie to Greg and says (what I hear) "Here, write the date." And in my head I was like, "Um the date..." but I must've misheard because it was his signature. We take our picture with the 2 of them, which I was laughing hysterical because of the weirdness and because I see the pointing motion Geoff is doing. 

picture by: Stephen, waiting for the Prytania to post theirs. 

Then it's Stephen's turn. Stephen shows the picture to Tommy & Greg and they're both like, "Wow, yeah good job on the costume." Tommy, however, adds a nice statement after about how it's a good costume, "but he's not as chubby" as Stephen was in the picture! And then rambles on about how many sit-ups a day he does to not be chubby, he said a number but I'm crying laughing I forgot. Stephen gets a lot of writing on his autographs, the best being "You're tearing me apart, stranger." (Making me realize, just not, I should've asked him to write, "you are my rose" on my dvd, please tell me one of you got that written by him. Autograph picture: http://instagram.com/p/Upt9ActxYs/) They take their picture and we are on our way.

The guy announcing Tommy & Greg for the Q&A walks up front and immediately is shouted at by a fan, "Y U No Tommy?!" Oh internet culture... Blah blah blah Tommy & Greg get on stage where Tommy asks for the tuxedoed people to join them. 

Tuxedo football!

My memory is pretty good, but it is impossible to remember everything so correct me, add more things I forgot in the comments, just be nice.

Things I remember from the Q&A in no particular order: 

Tommy asks everyone to ask Greg a question first and then him, in that order, for everyone. (Hope you thought of 2 questions!)

After a question about the inspiration for The Room, which by the way had to be repeated a trillion times because he couldn't hear or understand the question. He says something along the lines of, "Let me school you on the English language..." The audience goes silent with giggles, because um, WHAT?! You're going to tell us about the English language. "When you used the word inspirational. In. Spir. Ation." um something something "people." People were his inspiration. 

"Why did you name the movie, The Room" While he probably meant it was because we all have that place we think of as our room where we're safe and all that kind of stuff, he went on to say, "We all have that room it could be a bedroom, a forest...." Bedroom could be quoted wrong, but forest is absolutely not quoted wrong. I love my room the forest. 

If you ask him about the "sex scene" he will correct you, "we do not call it a sex scene, it is a love scene" If you've seen the movie you'll love the next thing he told us, "The second love scene is not the same as the first, they were filmed separately." Hahaha, right. 

Someone asked if he was going to recite his Shakespearean sonnet for us. He said yes and continued on with sonnet 116. 

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love... etc etc etc, let's move on next question." Am I giving him too much credit putting this much of it? I really don't remember how far he made it before the et cetera. 

Greg was asked what else he was working on and I've got to say I'm pretty excited about his answer. He said he was writing a book based on his time working on The Room. Tommy cut him off and basically laughed at him (BTW his laugh in real life is really as awkward as it is in the movie) and said he wasn't going to read it anyway. Greg's face looked pretty happy and like he knew that, which leads me to believe this book will have plenty of stories that we want to know and Tommy wouldn't want shared or even realized existed. I will read this book.  

Side note: Apparently during this Q&A Greg leaned to Stephen and said, "Tommy has no clue people are laughing at him." And when Stephen asked if Tommy was always like this, Greg said, "Yes." It makes you almost feel bad for laughing, but it's too much fun, plus he's making so much money off of our terrible senses of humor. 

Tommy was also asked if he was a transvestite vampire, to which he got annoyed that the first question wasn't posed to Greg! The guy changed his question, "Greg, do you think Tommy is a transvestite vampire." Greg said something like maybe or possibly. When it was Tommy's turn to answer he rambled about believing in all kinds of vampires and lore and whatnot, "move on, next question." 

When asked if there was ever a threesome between Tommy, Greg, and whomever (would we really want to know this...) Greg immediately says no and Tommy says, "Maybe in my dreams." Greg's face was pretty funny at this. (Sorry for all the "you had to be there moments.)

Apparently Greg's favorite scene was shoving a guy into trash cans. And his favorite tradition is the throwing of spoons (we'll get to that) and Tommy's favorite tradition was all of them. Because, honestly, we don't really think he knows what's going on when he watches his movie with an audience. I really do wonder what he thinks. 

Tommy had mentioned all the belts he was wearing and was wondering why no one wanted to talk about his accessory line. Geoff decided to ask something, "Greg, how many belts are you wearing?" "Uh, one." "Tommy, same question." "Five." And then something again about making them. I wanted to know more about this, will there be a clothing line in stores? Some of the belts seemed to be on sale at the merch table, so there was that. Red studded The Room belts. 

Before the movie started he let us know how excited he was about the Blu-ray because of CL. Combo languages. If I understand correctly you can watch the movie with, for instance, English and French subtitles. At the same time. Of course the crowd chants for subtitles at this point and we watch the movie with English subtitles, yep just the one. Which worked out nicely because the crowd and music were definitely louder than the dialog. Not that it matters, I think the movie would make just as much sense as a silent film, but who wants to miss out on all the one-liner gems (not to mention the lovely soundtrack). 

You are my rose. You are my rose. You are my rose.

There are lots of things you should expect when you watch The Room in a crowd. Plastic spoons being thrown every time the framed spoon picture is shown, The Full House theme being sung when shown stock footage of the row of houses, everyone quoting the flower shop scene (best 17 seconds of film in history according to statement in the Q&A section when asking Tommy why the scene wasn't longer. "Was the car being towed?" I think he said, "there just wasn't time.") There's other things to expect, but I don't want to ruin them all, plus I'm sure you can pull up youtube videos on it. Also, there's always random stuff being shouted and that can vary based on the cleverness of your audience. 

picture from: http://www.screened.com/the-room/16-50694/all-images/132-627173/room13/131-419126/ 

Speaking of youtube videos, hopefully I'll be back to edit this post soon when my friends post the few videos they got during the Q&A, so I can share more of the fun with you and figure out some of the answers I forgot. 

5-star evening.

EDIT: I'm really sad, I remembered 2 more Q&As when relaying the story to some friends yesterday and didn't write them down immediately and have now forgotten them again. Oh well, you get the gist of the evening!

Baking May Not Be as Precise as They Want You to Believe or How I Got Really Lucky or Yay Beerish Cookies!
1cupbutter
1 3/4cupsall-purpose flour
1/2cupspent grain - wet
1tspsalt
1tspbaking soda
1/4cupsugar
1 1/4cupbrown sugar (dark, because I had it on hand)
1egg
1egg yolk
2Tbspmilk
1 1/2tspvanilla
2cupssemi-sweet chocolate chips

Geoff & I brewed our 3rd beer this past Monday, our first 2 came out pretty tasty and we were really impressed with ourselves. Raise Your Glasses Brewing's (our brewery cuz we both wear glasses and because beer glasses etc. pun junk) first brew was El Hefe, a basic hefeweizen that we had ready in time for our crawfish boil last year, which worked out pretty perfectly. Then we went a little crazier and made a double IPA, greatly named JedIPA. This 3rd one we're anxiously waiting on, for many reasons, is our coffee porter which we're calling Frothy Coffee Soup. (This post is not about the beer so I will explain the name in the post about our brewing process, or the process the way I see it through my crazy eyes, coming soon to an internet machine screen near you.)

This post is about the spent grain from our brew and what edible options I found and made with it. 

Spent grain, y'all. 

I did a lot of googling to find out what people did with their spent grain, lots of people seem to make dog treats with it. We don't have a dog, so I made human treats! Cookies & pancakes. Some people dry the grains and some people turn them into flour, I did neither, but something for me to consider in the future. Other important things I learned that you should remember. The spent grain should be refrigerated or even frozen if you're not going to use it right away. I refrigerated it and used it about 12 hours after we brewed. We still had tons, I should really look into using it as compost and things of that nature, there is just so much waste otherwise. Some of the tips I got about drying and grinding I read here: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/spent-grain-preservation-grain-drying-154122/ Anyway, the decision to make cookies was easy, because cookies. I found a lot of similar recipes when searching, all involving peanut butter, I have no problem with peanut butter except that when I was at the store I forgot to buy some. Being too lazy to go back to the store, I searched for a recipe that did not involve peanut butter. I did this on my phone, this is only important because the mistake I made I would like to blame on the fact that I was reading on a tiny screen, but it's probably more that I wasn't paying close enough attention. 

I found this recipe: http://mylifeoncraft.com/?p=892 (Feel free to open this recipe and ignore the rest of my post and pretend you never had to read me ramble in the first place.)

If you're still here, yay! Let's get on with my accidental version of the above recipe, which will be very similar to the link above until my flub. (Making sure credit is given where credit is due.)

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

I melted the butter over a low heat. While that was happening I sifted the flour, salt, & baking soda, ignoring the sentence where it said "set aside."

I now creamed together the butter and the flour. Now if you know me at all, I bake a lot. Like once a week a lot. And never in my life have I ever creamed anything together but butter/shortening/etc. and sugar, I should've realized this was wrong, but kept going. 

I then added the egg & the yolk, the milk, and the vanilla. Mixing it nicely until it was combined. THEN I read the step "add the flour in small batches." UM! Panic mode! 

Panic mode is brought to you by the letter B. As in breathe. 

I proceed to dump the sugars in instead because at this point I don't want to waste the ingredients I've already used. Again, since I bake quite a bit, I knew the batter (click link for pictures of the way cookie consistency should look) looked off. 

After I dump the sugars in and mix them some I realize when the recipe said "flour" it also meant the spent grain (the recipe teaches you how to make a spent grain flour)... the peanut butter recipes I had found used wet grain so I was ridiculously assuming that this recipe would also call for the wet grain. Determined to make these work I put the spent grain in while the batter still looked off. Then I added more all-purpose flour to the mix until the consistency looked right. Then mixed in the chocolate chips. 

I took a deep breath and used my cookie scoop to put them on an ungreased cookie sheet (no clue why I made the decision for ungreased, but it worked out pretty well, taking them off when they were still slightly warm and moving them to a cooling rack). Then baked for 10 minutes. (You may need more or less time depending on your oven and preferences of cookie consistency.) 

When the cookies were done they looked wonderful, they were some of the most evenly cooked and shaped cookies I had ever made. Was it a miracle? I waited til the cooled a little and ate one and they tasted great too! The grain makes it feel healthy, the chocolate gives it some sweetness, and the cookies themselves have a brownie-esque consistency. I'd love to say this recipe would work for everyone all the time, but I have no clue because I think I may have cheated the system. 

I think they're pretty. 

As usual this post is extremely wordy and for making it this far with me, I thank you. 

For a simpler recipe I also made spent grain pancakes, so we could have breakfast for dinner! I used this recipe: http://519kitchen.blogspot.com/2012/02/spent-grain-pancakes.html but used 3/4 cups of spent grain instead of a full cup. They look dense, but were actually pretty fluffy to the touch and taste (especially with some butter and syrup!). 

Look at that grain!

What the spent grain consisted of:

Briess Cara-Pils Malt 

Briess Victory (Biscuit) Malt

Muntons Chocolate Malt (one of the reasons for the darker color of cookie compared to the ones from the linked recipe.)

Muntons Roasted Barley (the other reason for the darker color.)

Weyerman CaraAmber Biscuit Malt

One more picture for good measure. Where's a milk stout when you need it?

❄ Eggnog Mac & Cheesalicious ❄
8ozpackage of macaroni
1cupseggnog
2Tbspbutter
3Tbspflour
1/2tspsalt (I eyeballed the seasonings, these measurements are a guess.)
1/4tspblack pepper
1/2tspnutmeg
1/4tspcayenne
1 1/2cupsshredded Cheddar
1 1/2cupsshredded Colby Jack
1/2cupgrated Parmesan (I had it in the fridge so I just dumped some of it in the mixture.)

I LOVE mac and cheese, I could seriously eat it everyday. Melted cheese on everything sounds like the best day ever. I like putting new (even if it's just new to me) ingredients into food. In between Halloween and Thanksgiving I made a pumpkin mac and cheese, which was amazingly delicious! It was cheesy and thick and pumpkin-y and comfort food-y and etc. Then for a friend's Thanksgiving I made a beer and bacon mac and cheese, you could really taste the beer, it was pretty cool, though if I made it again I may try other cheeses or just more cheese in general. 

Beer and Bacon Mac and Cheese

Anyway, I was making eggnog cookies (I added a glaze to this recipe made of powdered sugar, rum, and eggnog, no real measurements just looking for consistency) for a party and I had just looked through recipes for all kinds of other eggnog dessert recipes (cake, cheesecake, etc.) and I guess my lack of a sugar-toothed brain got over sugared so it started thinking of savory foods. Surprise, surprise my brain went straight to mac and cheese. "Has eggnog mac and cheese been done?" "Will it taste okay?" "People put nutmeg in their mac and cheese so why not?!" 

I decided to look on google, I didn't really like the results I was getting it didn't really seem to understand my query. I took that to mean it hadn't been done or at least not often. I did find this video, but I'll be honest I fast-forwarded to the end to see if he mentions how it tastes. As far as I could tell he didn't, but one day I should be fair and watch the whole 5 minute thing, I mean am I that lazy? (Yes.) 

My brain said, "Screw it. Let's just do it and base it off of recipes we know." Move over, milk, eggnog is in the game! 

All I did was substitute eggnog for milk, it really wasn't a huge deal. I did however love the consistency and the flavor and it went over really well! If I wasn't being cheap I may have used different cheeses, but the  Cheddar, Colby Jack, Parmesan mix seemed to go over really well. 

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350°  

Cook pasta. (Follow package about 8 minutes or til al dente.) I used some fun curly stuff which I just learned is this: https://www.google.com/search?q=Cellentani (Look out! My Italian is showing...)

Make a roux: Melt butter on a large hot sauce pan, whisk in flour until it's smooth and let it cook (while whisking) for a couple of minutes. 

Slowly whisk in eggnog, whisking constantly for ~5 minutes (until it's thickened.)

Whisk in salt, black pepper, cayenne, & nutmeg (these are the seasonings I chose, you may go a different route.) Whisk 1½ cups of cheese until smooth. (Bah! I meant to take a picture of the sauce and then forgot!)

Stir sauce in with your pasta, put in your baking dish, top with remaining cheese and bake for about 30 minutes or cheese is bubbly and golden to dark golden on the edges. 

Now: EAT! (But watch out if you just took it out of the oven!)

Happy whatever holiday you celebrate or don't and a happy, happy New Year! 

P.S. There weren't enough pictures in this post, so here's a picture of the kite lights with faces at Celebration in the Oaks!

Crafting Rhea Style

I love crafting and I'll make time for it even when I have other things to do, because procrastination is the spice of life! But the problem with procrastination is you can't do it forever, so at some point you have to do the real work. So I accidentally invented crafting hour for myself. I've never timed it it could be 10 minutes for all I know or 2 hours, who knows? Only the clock... that I apparently never look at. 

I'm very picky and my logic doesn't always make sense, so I have started making my own wreaths. Let me explain that sentence. I say I don't like big, gaudy wreaths, but I made one for Easter that I love that might be called gaudy or at least colorful and messy. I don't like bows on my wreaths, maybe it's because I can't tie them evenly so I'm mad at them, maybe it's because I don't like bows in my hair, who knows? Only the clock... wait...

Anyway, this is not to say I don't like your wreath, I love your wreath. I like your door to represent you. If you like bows put 100 of them on there and if you like covering your whole door that's awesome! Go for it! 

Easter wreath. Bunnies!

This story is about my winter/Christmas/whatever we're calling it wreath. I was trying to lead more towards winter so it could stay up til Mardi Gras but it's got a bit of red and green in it so we shall see how I feel in a month. 

I had no idea what I wanted to make, so I wandered through the dollar store. Side note: Be careful when hanging out in the dollar store, you never know when an old person is going to run into the building (not through it and from what I heard they were okay, didn't hear about the car) and knock 2-liters off the shelves (luckily no one was by those shelves). 

Walking down the little craft aisle I saw 3 wreath forms/circles/doodads tied together. Sweet! 3 different sized circles for $1 (not really but we'll get to that in a second) to make a snowman, perfect. I know I'm not the first person to think of this idea, but it still came to me because of this find. All in that moment I thought, "Yes! I'll give it a hat and some snow and some glitter! It'll be perfect." I don't think in commas, forgive me. I go to check out and the cashier says, "Oh someone needs to cut the ribbon on these wreath things, they're $1 a piece. Is that ok?" And of course it was because you can't even get one wreath thingy anywhere for $3 much less 3 of them! 

I tie the small and medium one together with some yarn (white cause it's like snow, even though no one will see the yarn... and cause it's what I own). And he just sits there for days looking sad cause I won't finish him. (Sorry, dude, life happens.) 

I get my big bag of Buffalo Snow, comes from the same animals that Buffalo Wings come from... I swear look it up... no, don't. Just believe me. Anyway, I get my big bag of Buffalo Snow and start pulling at it and then I realize I don't have my hot glue gun ready and that Geoff stole it! Just kidding, but it was in the shed because he was using it. I fire it up and then start trying to figure out how I want to put the snow on the frame. OH! At this point I've already decided I didn't like it with the 3 circles so I'm only using the 2, probably cause I got used to him sitting there as 2 circles for a week. 

I start rolling a bit of the snow in my hand like it's a snowball and TA-DA! He's going to be a snowman made of snowballs, cause why not, it's not like I get to roll real snowballs here. (I can barely wear a long sleeve shirt these days!) I like this better than the first attempt to snake it across the frame, it looked too spider webby. Speaking of spider webs: 

Dear Hot Glue,

I love you and you're really helpful but must you spiderweb across my fingers while I'm trying to work? Also, must you burn me ever 14 seconds to prove you are hot, it's in your name, I get it. 

With love and hate, 

Rhea

Hot glue art. 

Back to reality: I then grab the hat for his head (which already had a red squiggly stripe across it for when I used it for the Red Dress Run. I add to the squiggly stripe (made of puff paint) with more puff paint so I can dump glitter on it. I swear Geoff wants more glitter all over this house, the internet told me so. 

Now it's time for the snowflakes!

You know how you can tell I got these snowflakes at the dollar store?

"All snowflakes are different." -Geoff and science 

Also they like to bend and look melted before I even touch them with the hot glue gun, that's a special talent. 

Another fun trick is trying to make holes in the hat because you're going to string something through it (yarn? ribbon?) to get the hat to stay on his head but you keep touching the puff paint and remembering it's not dry yet. Yes, it takes 4 times to remember this and now you don't have to paint your fingernails because you have red on them. I ended up cutting the hat in half, putting little holes in the back of the cut hat and stringing yarn through those holes and and around the wreath (but where you can't see it cause the snow blocks it). Does that make sense? 

Now to really craft like me, start talking to yourself to the beat of the music and realize how crazy you sound. Only to remember you're home alone... except that you and Geoff have named the Christmas tree and he's a shrink. Maybe I should lay off the eggnog already. 

Dr. Crane, I presume. 

(Geoff made this awesome triforce tree topper! Yay! His crafty post coming soon.)

The finishing touch is his scarf, I didn't know what to use and once again the dollar store rescued me! They had adorable plaid ribbon that reminded me of a scarf, then I got jealous cause he could wear a scarf and I'm pushing my long sleeves up because I'm warm and there's an adorable hat in my purse wanting me to wear it but I can't so I carry it around with me hoping it cools off enough in the evening to put it on. 

Long story short: To craft like me wander around a store like a crazy person til you get an idea, glue that thing together like a crazy person, dance around and talk to yourself like a crazy person (did I not mention the dancing? I had Christmas music on and I was done with classes minus finals, I danced), and then have a cute craft. 

Even shorter version: Be a crazy person. 

Shortest version: 

EDIT: Geoff's post on making the triforce tree topper!
http://frobba.com/post/37200176832/triforce_treetopper  

Let Them Eat Year Old Cake!

Wedding cake is a strange thing, not strange in that we serve it, as far as most people are concerned it seems it's not a party without cake... or some sort of dessert. Heck! Most of you probably think it's not the end of a meal without some sort of sweet. It's strange that the couple getting married, the ones being celebrated hardly eat any of the cake. They get the piece they ever so lovingly shove in each others' faces and if there's any leftovers they may eat some in the next week or so (at least in my experience this is what happens) and lastly there's the most important leftover: The top of the cake. Technically the top of me and Geoff's was a cupcake because of the adorable cake toppers we had were so tiny and that's actually the piece we would've shoved in each others' faces but we promised we wouldn't. We ended up just taking a bite at the same time. Which, by the way, was just as messy as the shoving because it was ALL over my face and dress. #exaggeration

From that messy bite I remember the cake being delicious! Our friend made it for us and she did a terrific job. And now we have officially made it a year! 

Let me go off on a tangent for a moment, at least I'm giving you a warning, the one year anniversary is the paper anniversary and I like to celebrate appropriately. I couldn't find anything paper related that I liked, there was a paper wrapped salmon dish but I had my heart set on making this fancy pizza recipe I had found. Then it hit me, out of nowhere, the best idea ever! UNO cards! Why you ask? (Well if you really did ask that I don't know if you'll ever understand.) BUT it's paper! AND it means ONE! Plus, you get a fun game out of the whole deal. So there you go, my suggestion for an first anniversary present if you're ever stuck. 

The adorable cake toppers playing UNO.

I forgot why that had to be a tangent and not just added in later, but back to the cake! My mom awesomely kept it in her freezer all year and for that I thank her. When she brought it to me it was a few days before the anniversary, so I left it frozen until the night before. Then I let it defrost in the fridge. It wasn't wrapped any special way just in an aluminum pan with aluminum foil on it (which I will now continue to call tin foil cause I am lazy). I guess it was special in that it had our names written on it and the words "top of cake."

Next tangent, I prepare and we eat the fancy pizza that I know you've been thinking about since I said typed the words "fancy pizza." So, here's a picture (yeah mine's not as pretty, but it was tasty!) and the link to the recipe:

http://www.closetcooking.com/2012/07/balsamic-strawberry-and-chicken-pizza.html 

We save the cake for dessert like boring adults, I took it out of the fridge so it would get room temperature, before eating it I poke it with a fork to see if it's alive. It's not. It is however surprisingly bouncy, not dry feeling or looking. I rip into it with the fork and the icing is icing-y and the cake is cake-y (minus part of the very bottom which was a little hard). 

We both take a bite, and we don't say anything for a few seconds and then I say, "It tastes like freezer." 

Those swirls on top were blue & yellow polka dots a year ago.

Yep, the cake is actually a decent consistency but it tastes the way a freezer smells. Like old ice. Is that a thing? I know what I mean so I'm going to assume you do too. 

Then we ate a cake I made, which because of time constraints was just a strawberry cake mix that I put a dry packet of cherry Jell-O into (for color and taste) and then I slathered a bunch of chocolate icing on top, seemed to be a hit and didn't taste like freezer. 

I TOUCHED KETCHUP AND I DIDN'T CRY!
Cake Ingredients:
2cupsflour
2tspbaking powder
1 1/2tspcinnamon
1tspbaking soda
1/2tspground nutmeg
1/2tspground ginger
1/2cupketchup (I didn't use Heinz, sorry recipe makers!)
1/2cupwater
1Tbspred food coloring (I used less, but I also used the thicker kind)
3/4cupssoftened butter
1 1/2cuppacked dark brown sugar
2eggs
Frosting Ingredients:
6ozsoftened brick of cream cheese (I used 8 oz. cause that's how it's sold and yum!)
3/4cupsoftened butter
1tspvanilla extract
4cupsconfectioner's sugar (I eyeball it til I get the texture I want and I call it powdered sugar)

As many of my friends and family know (apparently I should keep my mouth shut) I hate ketchup, it's my least favorite edible thing. As a joke Geoff bought me a shirt that says, "I put ketchup on my ketchup" and I'm still looking for one that says, "I put ketchup on my catsup" because that is funnier to me, if you find it the reversed way still let me know (it's still funny). 

Back in August I had a birthday, as I have every August since I can remember, there was a party because that is what people do. Some people brought presents, most of the present were great and I do not expect presents so I appreciate anyone gave me one and appreciate people just for showing up to the party. Two, NOT ONE, but two of my friends thought it would be funny to give me ketchup. One friend's present was a tub of Dubble Bubble, half gum/half ketchup packets from Arby's, those cool ones where you can squeeze or open and use from the packet, cool if I used ketchup that is. Fine. That's funny. Ha. Ha. The other ketchup present was a 7 lb. 3 oz. can of ketchup! A baby of ketchup, if you will. I didn't even want to open this can, ever, can you imagine the smell? The look? Ugh! 

Instead of throwing it out, cuz that would be wasteful and rude, I regifted (sort of) which is also rude sometimes, but this was funny and funny makes up for rude (most of the time). This same friend's birthday was in October, so I swore I was making ketchup cake. His wife informed me that he did not believe I would make the ketchup cake. 

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. 

My preliminary supplies list (in my head) read:

1. Gloves

2. Mask

3. WHY DO I STILL NOT OWN AN APRON?!

I usually bake on Thursdays, it just has always worked out that way. The Thursday before the party, I am convinced I will make this cake. I clear the kitchen of anything that I might not want ketchup on (everything) like somehow opening an aluminum can will just explode everywhere (knowing me it would fall off the counter onto my feet, not really caring about the physical pain the can would cause, but more of the feel of ketchup between my toes, ick). The point of this paragraph is to tell you, I did not bake on Thursday. I'm terrified of ketchup. 

On Friday I did bake, I had to, I was running out of days! I paced around the kitchen staring at the can of ketchup, I finally grab the can opener, I decide I should have a movie on it will distract me more. I decide on Shaun of the Dead, because duh it makes sense (not just because this birthday present was going to a birthday/Halloween party but because this much ketchup is bound to look like movie blood). I OPEN THE CAN! Seriously, it feels like forever, have you ever used a can opener on a 7lb. 3oz. can of anything? It feels forever... it was probably the contents making me feel this way. 

Now that the ketchup is opened we can make the cake! Yay cake! 

(Look at the size of this thing!)

I did nothing to invent this cake, I googled ketchup cake and there it was, telling me it would taste like a spice cake and that it wasn't scary at all (I was still scared).

If you want to ignore my nonsense (too late now!) go here:

http://www.heinzketchup.com/RecipeDetail.aspx?id=1438 If not I will now proceed to copy and paste the recipe, Heinz can keep the credit I am not trying to steal it! 

Oh! I did change one thing, I put cupcake papers in the cupcake tins and made cupcakes. #cupcakes

Cake Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Stir the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and ginger into a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine Ketchup, water, and red coloring. Set aside. (I had a picture of the Ketchup, red dye, water concoction, it was gross looking and the picture has disappeared.)
  2. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and then blend in the sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour and Ketchup mixtures and beat on low, scraping down the bowl as needed, until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the center springs back when touched lightly. Cool the cakes for 15 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely. (I think baking took a little less time then this, just remember to check.) 

Frosting Instructions: 

  1. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla for 2 minutes or until smooth. On low, gradually beat in the sugar, scraping the bowl as needed. Beat on high until fluffy.
  2. Frost between the cake layers and over the sides and top of the cake. 

I do love cream cheese and I had no idea what frosting would go with this cake otherwise, so I just followed the recipe. 

(Look for the eyes!)

Extra bonus level: Decorations for the cupcakes to make them more festive, if you care about that here are the instructions (or ignore and decorate however you want... or don't and just eat):

Candy Instructions:

Grease a cookie sheet.

Stir the 1 1/2 cups of corn syrup, 3 3/4 cups of sugar, & 1 cup of water together. Cook over medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar is all dissolved. Then bring it to a boil, where you DO NOT stir it but let it get to 300-310 degrees (this part makes me so nervous, I hate not stirring). Now I didn't add any flavor or color this time (I've made red Sriracha flavored and attempted green pickle but you couldn't taste it! The pickle did make pretty green glass which is where I decided this was a good idea, plus I've seen other cupcakes do it) anyway if you were to add flavor you stir it in now after taking it off the heat. Now pour onto greased cookie sheet (you can dust it with powdered sugar if you'd like, I've done it both ways). 

Once it cools get a clean object and beat up the candy to crack it like a windshield (I used the bottom of a butter knife, just be careful whatever you use, I am not responsible for any injuries except my own... which happen... usually burns though). 

Chocolate Blood Instructions:

I didn't really measure anything I just poured some corn syrup into a bowl and a little red food coloring, didn't like the texture or the color so I added some chocolate powder and it worked, plus now you have one more flavor going onto this insane concoction. 

Now that I have once again talked typed your ear off... I can tell you, the consensus seems that it has a spice/carrot cake taste and they're not terrible. I will never make them again, but it was an interesting experience. 

P.S. I had no idea what to do with the rest of the ketchup, so I made a BBQ sauce (googled for a recipe) and then I had to throw the rest out (sorry ketchup lovers and people who look down on me now cause I wasted so much). I wasn't sure if I could put 5-6 lbs. of ketchup down the drain so I put it in a trash bag and that's all I have to say about that. 

Welcome Back, Billy Corgan!
1ozBrown Sugar Simple Syrup
2ozSpiced Rum (We used Sailor Jerry's yum! yum!)
1splashOrange Liqueur (We used something called O3, cuz it was cheap... I mean inexpensive.)
1 1/2TbspPumpkin Puree (Libby's cause we're lazy.)
1dashAllspice (homemade cause I had all the stuff.)
1wedgeTangerine/Clementine (or just eat them all as you try out your recipe.)

BOO! I'm back! Did I scare you? Good because after this almost year hiatus I am back with this fancy new site (thanks to my in-house web designer, the husbandbot Geoff!) Also good because it's HALLOWEEN! I love Halloween, I always say it's my favorite holiday because it feels like holidays for the rest of the year after it's over. (Yeah, yeah responsibilities, shh.) We finally got some pretty October weather (I don't ask for much just to be able to wear a sweater!) of course, the craziness in the Northeast is making me sad and I am wishing them all the luck, safety, and best recovery in the world! 

Now, as you can see (and as I stated above) this site is all new and fancy-like, I'm hoping to do more than just some silly MS Paint doodle pun things (don't worry, I'm sure there's plenty of bad art from me in the future). I will chronicle all my crafting, baking, and whatever else I'm in the mood to share that day with you here (sounds fun, don't it? mmm donut.) If you want to see what I've been up to for the past year or just in general I take pictures of everything (and talk a lot, did you notice?) and you can click all those little social media icons to the side there and see more or read more on what's been up (if you care or don't already know) but honestly I will cover some of those projects in these first few posts or when I'm not up to much new stuff. 

ANYWAY enough with the rambling, you came here for a recipe or at least that's what this will be tagged as, so let's begin.

Geoff & I were invited to a pumpkin decorating party earlier this month (yay!) and he wanted to make up and bring a pumpkin cocktail (yum!) Now in this household we like to throw any food together that we think will work and eat it and usually it does, but a lot of times (like most people, I am totally assuming) we go searching online for ideas and recipes. I tend to take a few recipes and Frankenstein monster them together (you'll probably see this in future posts a lot) it's also a great way to brainstorm. Geoff found quite a few pumpkin cocktail recipes out there and picked one called The Smashing Pumpkin (welcome to understanding the title of the post) that was most similar to what we wanted to make. I think we doctored it enough to give it its own name, but I want to give credit where credit is due! 

On to the recipe (now that we are forever away from the ingredients list)! 

First: Make brown sugar simple syrup (mix 2 parts brown sugar with 1 part water, boil and let cool before mixing into drink) I've never made simple syrup with brown sugar before (never even crossed my mind, it's always the simple things OH MAN NO PUN INTENDED...) It's tasty stuff and pretty (cause I find strange things to be pretty, deal with it.) Now put an ounce of it in the bottom of your glass of choice, cause let's be real here I could tell you a proper glass and then we'll all just use whatever glass we want anyway. 

Next: Pour rum, liqueur, pumpkin, and allspice into cocktail shaker with ice. (Get a really awesome, cheap shaker like we did, this one is from Target and use it all year round even if it is spooky.) Shake it well, make up a song and do a little dance (don't spill!) 

Oh P.S. I made my own allspice (or pumpkin pie spice since I used ginger) with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger; I did about equal parts of a Tbsp or more cause you can always save the extra for later. Really this is up to your discretion, I really liked the spice from it all especially the ginger. 

Shh! Ignore that you're seeing the finished product that has been partially drunk (and so are we, just kidding... maybe.)

Now: Strain into glass on top of brown sugar simple syrup. (We think you're supposed to use clean ice, but this is where again we're saying let's be honest and not waste the ice in the shaker and go ahead and add it to the drink!)

Lastly: If you haven't listened to me and have citrus wedges uneaten, twist it over drink and garnish your glass. (Really I just like snacks in my drinks.)

Also if you're curious, there were no tangerines at the store which is why we changed it to clementines, I googled that info and turns out they can be substituted for each other, according to whatever site I read. 

Next is a pretty picture of some snacks (um garnish) all cut into wedges.

And voilà The Billy Corgan! 

I hope you enjoyed this recipe, reading and drinking it, if you think of your own variation stick it in the comments! We definitely changed it up a few times while "inventing." (Not to mention when we showed up to the pumpkin decorating party we forgot the pumpkin puree! But they all got to try it at the Halloween party, so all is well.) 

The end. (I hope you didn't tl;dr me, if you didn't: Happy Halloween!!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

It worked out well that we're different handed. 

aka The Legend of Zelda: Quidditch Hero of Time-Turning

The mash-up of my dreams. 


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