Saturday, May 11, 2013

Am I crazy?

The dawn light falls gently on my closed eyes. I stir. Part of me doesn’t want to get up. But the real me knows I have to. I role over and gently run my fingers through my wife’s hair. Her eyes open, blurry and frustrated. Erika is one of the nicest, sweet-hearted people in the world. Except for when she’s in-between sleep and awake. Her angry face is almost as cute as her happy face.
The frustration quickly transforms once she remembers where we are, and why we are waking up. The look in her eyes is the one I feel in love with—sparkling, full of life, with just a hint of mischievousness in the background.  Then it changes again to resolve.
We fall into the routine. Dirty jeans and tough boots. Tenacious D shirts and worn leather jackets. We emerge into the brisk, crisp morning air.  The mountains and valleys roll into the distance, muted tones of green and purple under fledgling light. The two windmills turn slowly with the morning air.

Am I crazy?

            The chickens are already clucking softly from the coup. Rustling comes from the barn. Erika goes to let the goats out, while I take care of the chickens. 
“Come on out ladies!” They emerge cackling and chattering; a much nicer morning conversation to listen to than The View. Cathy comes right up to the fence to say hi.
            “I know!” I say, “I know! I can’t believe she said that. And she told who? Oh, the nerve!”
            I retrieve a half-dozen eggs from the coup.  The blue stands out among the brown, proud and unique. On my way to dropping them off, I see two kid goats bucking heads in the field. The old-timers have wasted no time and gone straight to grass-chomping. They are much cuter and nicer to take care of then lawn mowers. Not to mention the better emission ratings.
            Erika is grooming and feeding the horses. I stop by for a hello and a kiss… the latter being from my wife, not from the horse. Though Epona does have beautiful eyes.
            I pass a pig, snout to the ground. He looks up momentarily as if to say “No time, old chum!” and is back to his foraging.
            I place the egg basket inside, and return outside, past the field to the garden. An iron fence covered in hops stands sentry against any unwelcome guests. I spend the morning weeding and spreading compost and weeding. Some cherry tomatoes have ripened. A bumble bee lazily bobs from one squash flower to the next. I stop and listen to his song. A buzzing that is somehow much more pleasant that that of a fly. Birds sing. Chickens cluck. A goat screams. I giggle.
Am I crazy?
I return with the harvest. Erika has been moving manure to the compost. She smells of hay and earth. I make a basil and tomato omelet with fresh eggs and our own goat cheese. We sit under the strengthening sun, musing on whether or not to get a yak. Discussing what to plant for the fall. How much power our solar panels have collected.
When we are done, I take the herbs that have been drying to the basement. I pass an alcove filled with cheeses.  Another area packed with jars of fermenting Kim chi, sauerkraut, and various concoctions. Stinky and sour and delicious elixirs. In another room, a few carboys of beer and mead sit, airlocks bubbling away. Above them, a barrel of homemade bourbon ages. Out here, no one bothers me when I distill. Sure, the bourbon is great, but the undrinkable parts of the process are used to clean and sterilize. The pure alcohol is mixed with herbs to great extracts and tinctures. The still can be used to gather essential oils as well. Finally, in the cool dark depths of the basement, I find the tins of dried herbs and store the stash away.
Returning outside, I stroll through the maple trees, reminiscing of this spring’s tapping. I reach the bees, planning on strolling through the hives and meditation to the sound of their buzzing. Instead, I am greeted with a swarm on the maple closest to the hives. I run back to the barn where Erika is milking a goat. “A swarm, a swarm!” We grab a spare hive, and run back. After some acrobatic maneuvering, a return trip to the barn for a saw, and some close calls, we successfully get the queen into the new hive, along with her brood. We fall onto the grass, sweating, exhausted, and laughing. The bees buzz in response.

Am I crazy?

            The horses are saddled, and we take a leisurely ride through the woods. The coolness is welcome in the warming afternoon.  I spot a spicebush and collect some leaves and seeds. The seeds will be frozen and go with some apples and walnuts in the fall. We stop by a stream and relax in the sprinkling sunlight as the horses drink. The sunlight is fading upon our return. Most the of the animals return happily to their homes, though Mr. Pig seems upset, as if he hasn’t found what he was looking for. He gives a dismissive “snuff” as we get him into the barn.
            Erika cooks some fish we’d caught the previous day with dill and butter from the dairy farm down the street. We drink beer and cocktails as the stars and moon fill the sky. It’s too early for a fire, but spicebush tea does nicely. For dessert, the last of the strawberries, fresh whipped cream, and drizzle of homemade berry liquor. We return inside and read using a gravity light. I take a stab at a few pages of my novel. Erika crochets. Sometimes we may splurge the energy, plug in the modem and router, and connect with friends and family. Plan the next visit. Enjoy a movie. We may have created our own little world, but that doesn’t mean we’d want to leave behind the old.
            After the lights go down a tickle-battle ensues. Shrieks of laughter and shock turn into something else. And maybe there will be an addition to our farm family… or maybe not.

            Am I crazy? 

            Have I idealized the American Farmer? Is it really a simple life of simple pleasures? Is it even realistic to dream of such things? Wouldn’t there still be problems, just like in life now? Maybe. But I think the problems would be more concrete. I do think things would be simpler. Not easier, not by a long shot. Hard work; but hard work with a reward. Not abstract work to try and do your part to save the world. Or teach the kids? Can we do that? Maybe we can help. Maybe. But most of me just wants to take my chances doing my own thing. Make my own way; but not have to be dependent on so many flawed, unhealthy systems. Do I want to forsake the world? No. Do I want to coexist with the world? Maybe. Do I want to re-connect with the earth, the soil, the sun? Yes. More than anything. There will be hardships: crop failures and diseases, rainy seasons, tight months with tax collectors at our door, broken solar panels. But I think the reward is too great to be afraid of those things; a meal made entirely of things we’ve grown, raised, hunted, or foraged, delivering a kid goat, working hard all day in the sun, saying “fuck you” to the electric company.
Am I crazy?

I will give myself 10 years to shed my fast-food, GMO’d, student-loan enslaved skin. Raw, pink, and stinging, I will venture forward into the unknown mist of my future.

Am I crazy? Probably. Definitely. Yes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fire in Blood

And so it begins again.

It happened the moment the plumber clicked on the stove-top burners to make sure they work.

The flame ignited into a brilliant blue.

And so did my blood.

The mostly dormant bear that is my passion for food roared awake. I could feel tingling in my fingers. Itching.

I'm back.

Most of my excuses for stopping this blog (and my cooking) are gone. No place of my own? BAM house. No kitchen? BAM got a new one (well, new appliances anyway). No job? BAM I got one. Sorta. Well, my wife has a good full-time one and I have a decent part-time one. Enough to have our own place and for me to start cooking again. And with cooking comes this blog. I'm going to start out slow though... The aforementioned jobs are currently not as stable as I would like... so nothing to fancy.

First thing I made on the first day of our oven being installed? Corned beef in a bourbon molasses glaze. Got the recipe from a slow cooker book. Basiclly, it's corned beef made in a slow cooker, as usual, with a few extra kicks. Like dried chilies and a cinnamon stick. Then, when it's done, you put it in a hot oven with a bourbon-molasses glaze on it.

Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it that much. My wife and mother seemed to like it, but for me it was confusing. I decided the glaze had better applications elsewhere (I still have to find out where!) Also, I cut the corned beef wrong. I cut it against the grain, as you would with most roasts. This normally makes it so you chew with the grain, making the meat seem more tender. The issue is, corned beef is falling-apart-beyond tender... so you actually want to chew against the grain to gain more texture.

However, not all was lost. As with most things I make, the leftovers are always better. So much so that if I were to open a restaurant I would call it "Leftover Cafe" and everything on the menu would be inspired by a real leftover dish made by me or someone I know. It's not like I already have the 80% of the menu made or anything...

The first leftover made was put together by my wife. Basically, she put the corned beef, some garlic/herb cheese, fresh chive, and fresh basil into a food processor, spun it up, and stuffed the mixture into Pillsbury crescent roles. It was freakin' delicious.

The next dish I made, and it's good taste came as sort of a surpise. I was just trying to figure out a way to use these leftovers and I ended up with possibly one of the best sandwiches I've had. So, here goes:
2-3 slices leftover bourbon-molasses corned beef
1 tablespoon or so olive oil
1 pinch chili powder
1 pinch smoked paprika
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 flatbread sandwich halves
1 Handful shredded cheddar cheese
1 squiggly-squirt Sriracha (Asian chili sauce. Found in Asian isles of many chain grocery stores)
2 squiggly-squirts Kewpie Mayo (Japanese mayo. You'll have to go to a Asian food store to get this)
1 squiggly-squirt Deli-style mustard
1 big heap of Boston Lettuce
2-4 slices Tomatoes
A few thin slices of onion

Okay, so it seems like I'm going overboard here. But I'm not 100% sure what one specific aspect made this dish... I have to assume it was the confluence of ingredients that made it so good, so I need to be as detailed as possible. As much for you as for me.

I heated up some olive oil in a pan and slapped the leftover corned beef in there. I then proceeded to break it up into itsy bitsy pieces (do this before hand if you use a non-stick pan... Teflon is not one of the ingredients). I added the salt, smoked paprika, and chili powder (home made). I then cooked it for a while. Too long in fact. I kept leaving it alone while I washed dishes. Also, our cooktop is very hot, as it's propane (yes, I live in the sticks). So a lot of the pieces were basically burnt. But this ended up being a good thing.

I tossed the cheddar on top of the corned beef and pulled it all together into a little pile. While the cheese melted, I toasted the flatbread, smeared the mayo on one side, and mustard on the other. I then piled the corned beef onto the mustard side and squirted the Sriracha on it. Then came the onions, tomatoes, and big 'ol heap of Boston lettuce. Go crazy. Lettuce is healthy for you.

This ends up being a pretty messy sandwich. But man oh man is it good. The cooked corned beef on its on seems too sweet and dry. But with the spicy sauce and all the other stuff added to it, everything comes together in this really surprising melody of flavors.

So what did we learn today?
1. Leftovers are awesome. (I'll have to talk about the French/Mexican/American-South tacos I made)
2. Josh is back
3. Josh is crazy
4. Stout Infused Butter (My next project. Will it work? Probably not. Will I still try it? Duh.)

Thanks for reading, and remember: Don't be afraid to drink it, eat it, or cook with it. But always drink it in moderation while you cook it.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Hello there!

As you can see, I have not posted anything on this blog in a while. That is because I am currently living at my in-laws and do somewhere between 0 and 3% of the cooking here. Don't think me lazy, it's just they tend to eat dinner at 4 or 5pm, where as I would normally eat around 7, maybe even 8pm. Our tastes in foods are different as well.

Either way, all of my kitchen stuff is packed away in this place or the other, and I don't have a lot in the way of money. This means my food/beer budget is... well... non-existent.

So, until I have my own place and a steady job, I'm afraid I am going to have to put this blog on pause. I will, however, be starting a movie review blog, as I still watch plenty of movies.

Thank You!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Amazing Transforming Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Image from
I'm pretty sure it was these on the Tree of Knowledge

This is a tale of an incredible sauce that over the course of a week formed the basis for not one, not two, but three distinct dishes. With a few bits of that, tads of this, and a wave of the hand, the sauce took on three entirely different shapes.

It all started with delicious food bits on the bottom of my pan. You see, my wife and I often make a very cheap, very simple baked cheesy pasta dish. It isn't really mac and cheese... it's even easier than that. Basically, you cook up whatever random pasta (not spaghetti) you have in the house, then layer it with cheese (preferably multiple kinds) in a baking dish, put breadcrumbs and butter on top, and cook it.

There are a lot of variations... you can spice it up, add meat, or add more cheeses. I like to add bacon, not only because it's delicious, but also because it's normally the only meat in the house. Well, on this fine day, we had some chicken breasts. So, I decided to cook them up and put them in the dish. The quickest way seemed to be Sautéing, and since I can't leave well enough alone, a put a ton of other spice on them... garlic, salt, pepper, a dash of chili-powder... and primarily smoked paprika.

Now, you normally see sweet paprika in the store, and sometimes spicy paprika... those are good, but smoked paprika is AWESOME. I got my first bottle online, and thought that was the only way to get it (talk about inconvenient!) But, recently I discovered the AMAZING grocery store: Fairway. They have it there, and cheap! They also have tons of other amazing things, including a coffee section that will knock you out, and a fish market that DOESN'T SMELL LIKE FISH. Amazing. I don't live near by, but some of my in-laws do, so now when I go there, I can grab non-perishable things like the delicious smoked paprika.

Pardon my digression. Although, it could probably be said that my entire blog is a digression. A digestion digression! Oh snap. So, when I was done cooking these yummy chicken breast for our basic cheese/pasta bake, I realized that there was a ton of yummy bits on the bottom of my pan. Now, the way to make use of these flavorful, meaty tidbits is to deglaze the pan. A lot of times you do this with water, broth, vinegar, or wine. I, of course, wanted to deglaze it with beer... the problem? The dish I was making really couldn't use that much wet ingredients. But, I deglazed the pan anyway and poured the liquid over the chicken. The chicken sat in the liquid until I put it in the pasta bake, but I couldn't add the liquid to the bake, which is a waste.

My brain started to ponder over what I could use this recipe for. Suddenly, another dark hidden cooking idea I had in my head popped up and merged with the beer-deglaze idea. The idea: roasted red bell peppers. I had wanted to use roasted red peppers in a dish for weeks, but couldn't quite figure out what to do... So my brain slowly formulated the following recipe, that ended being a lot more than I thought it would be.

The chicken:
4 boneless chicken breasts
lil bit olive oil
1 tablespoon(ish) smoked paprika
1 teaspoon(ish) black pepper
1 teaspoon(ish) chili powder
dash o' salt

The sauce:
2 or 3 Red peppers
1-3 onions (depends on how many you have lying around, and how much you like onions)
couple cloves of garlic (depends how much you like garlic)
1 cup or so chicken stock
Any other spices you deem fit

The first thing to do is roast the red peppers. There are a LOT of ways to do this. Probably the best way is on the grill... but I don't have a grill, so there are a few other things. You could use tongs and cook them directly on your gas stove, which I did, and it works... but its smokey and stinky. What really works is laying down some aluminum foil on your broiling pan, and broiling these bad boys. The broiler is basically like an upside-down grill, so just keep checking these to make sure they're not... well, on fire. That's actually all you need to worry about, because you want them to burn. You basically cook/turn, cook/turn them until they are entirely black. Then, you place them in some airtight container... what I do is put them in a metal bowl, and place plastic wrap over them. Just make sure the peppers don't touch the wrap, because it will melt in get in your food. EW. We'll come back to the red peppers soon.

Sauté the chicken in a stick pan... okay, let me explain. You can't use a non-stick pan for this recipe. I KNOW, I KNOW. We love them, nothing sticks, easy to clean... blah, blah. But trust me, it's worth it! I use stainless steel, but as long as there's no Teflon involved, go for it (copper, aluminum, cast iron, re-enforced titanium.) I actually tend to not use Teflon pans unless I'm cooking something really sticky; i.e. eggs. You also want the pan to be pretty big and have a lid. This way, you can keep using the pan and not have to get too many pans dirty.

So, anyway, Sauté the chicken over medium-high heat in a lil' bit of olive oil. Standard olive oil is fine, I always use cheap stuff for cooking, and the good stuff (ultra-extra-virgin, first cold press) for dips and salads. If you apply heat, its not worth the good stuff.

While one side is cooking, smack all the above spice on there (paprika, salt, black pepper, chili powder, whatever you want). Cook it all up till they're juuuust done. You'll be cooking (poaching, actually) them more later, so don't get obsessed about getting them ultra-done. Once done, place the chicken to rest somewhere while you cook the sauce.

During the cooking of the chicken, you can start up the sauce. Lay down a bit of olive oil in a medium sauce pan, and start sauteing the onions. I like to slice the onions reeeal thin before hand. I do this with a mandolin, but you can get it pretty thin with a knife. Cook them pretty slow, and reduce them down a lot. Once they're mostly cooked, add some garlic into the mix. I actually also sliced the garlic real thin, but if you're lazy you can use pre-minced stuff from a jar. Once the garlic and onions are cooked, pour in the chicken stock. Take the red peppers, peel of the blackened skin and de-seed/de-stem them. Then just plop them in the pot with the onions, garlic, and stuff, and turn the heat to low, letting it simmer.

Now, if you've left the chicken pan off heat for a while, time to turn the heat back up. Yup, there's nothing in there but the flavor bits, but to get 'um, ya gotta turn up the heat. Once it gets hot, pour some beer in there. What beer? How much? This really depends. I think you could use anything from a decent lager to a dark ale. I don't think you should use too light a lager--a middle of the road ale should be fine. No stouts or porters. Stouts and porters don't do good in high-heat environment because they tend to get bitter. Cold applications tend to be much better for dark beers (do I see stout ice cream in the future?) If I remember correctly, I used cherry wheat, but that's just because it was in the fridge. You pour the beer, probably about half of it, into the pan and use a metal utensil to get all the bits up. It should be sizzling and the pan should become clean pretty fast. Once you get all the bits up, pour it all into the mixture simmering in the other pot.

Turn the heat back up on the pot for a little bit, stirring the mixture. Then, take an immersion blender to it. Get it nice and smooth. Now, pour it back into the chicken pan. Put the chicken back in with the liquid, slap the lid on, and put it over medium-low heat. Let it cook for a while, what you're basically doing is poaching the chicken and letting the stuff get in there reeeaaalll good.

Serve the chicken over rice or pasta and pour the sauce over the whole thing. And it is D-LISH. And that's the end, right?


There was a ton of sauce left over. What to do with it? The next day, my wife added a little bit of tomato paste to it (I'm sure any tomato product would work, its just what we had), and some oregano and other spices. She slapped it on some homemade Naan, put some cheese on that with garlic, and BAM we had naan pizza with roasted-red-pepper sauce. It was delicious, and that was it. Right?


A few days later, we STILL have some of this sauce left over. I decided to put it on pasta... but why not doctor it one more time? Shoved it in a pot (small, at this point... not much left) heated it up, then added about a half a cup to a cup of heavy cream. Some Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano if you have the money) wouldn't hurt either. Then BAM. Some REAAALLLY good roasted-red-pepper-cream-sauce-over-penne.

So, I ended up inadvertently creating an extremely versatile and yummy sauce. This is also one of the few recipes that I really created start-to-finish. Most of my other ones are doctored recipes, recipe combos, and doctored combos. Give it a shot; there are few things more delicious then roasted red bell peppers.

Thanks for reading, and remember: Don't be afraid to drink it, eat it, or cook with it. But always drink it in moderation while you cook it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sudstastic Adventures 1: Dogfish Head’s 120min IPA

The average beer is about 3-5% abv. Many craft beers are around 8%, and a decent amount can get up to 10 or 11%. A number of red wines are around this same area. Dogfish Head’s 120min IPA is about 18% abv. This is about as high as you can get without dishing out $150 for Sam Adams Utopias.

I have the unique honor of living within 20 minutes of Oak Tree Buy Rite. Oak Tree is one of the best beer stores in the country, and I’ve heard stories of people coming from as far as North Carolina to visit this Mecca of beer. Luckily, I live just far enough away that I don’t go there on a daily basis, wasting all the money I don’t have. Unlike other stores, Oak Tree stocks an ample supple of 120min IPAs, which I have admired for the past year or so. The reason I didn’t buy a bottle until now is that it’s about $9 for a bottle. A 12oz bottle. This may seem steep, but if you consider that a 750ml bottle of decent schnapps costs about $20 and clocks in at a similar abv, it’s not too bad.

Why is this beer so alcoholic? Well, the answer is in the name. An IPA (Indian Pale Ale) is a popular style in America known for it’s massive hoppiness. During the making of a normal IPA, the wort is boiled for about an hour, with hops added during this time. Some get a little crazy and boil it for an hour and a half. Dogfish Head goes nuts and does it for two hours. The longer you boil it, the more sugar you get. The more sugar you get, the more alcohol the yeast produces when you ferment it. However, at the same time, Dogfish Head continually hops the beer as it boils. This means the beer will end up incredibly hoppy, incredibly alcoholic, but surprisingly pretty sweet due to all the sugars produced during the long-term boil.

With big beers like this, it tends to be a one-time adventure for me. I want to try it for the experience, and then not drop so much money for it again. For instance, a few weeks ago I bought Southern Tier’s Crème Brule stout. I tried it, and it was an interesting experience, but something I wouldn’t need to have again. I mean, if someone offered it to me, I’d say sure, but beyond that, I’m good. I assumed the 120min IPA would be like this. At $9 a bottle I needed it to be like this. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

The extremely helpful fellow at Oak Tree suggested I try the vintage 2006, as the harshness of the hops have mellowed, and the flavors have complexified. So, I got home and reluctantly stowed the beer in the Fridge. Despite wanting desperately to pop it open right away, it was a work night, and this is not a beer to have on a work night. I knew I had off on Wednesday for Thanksgiving break, so I scheduled my beer-quality-time for Tuesday night. Yes, I literally put it in my daily planner.

As I am an info-junkie, I looked on the Dogfish Head website and found a video from the brewmaster Sam Calagione about the 120min IPA. This is an interesting guy who I saw talk at Beer Advocates Extreme Beer Fest last year, and who was a primary person followed in the amazing documentary Beer Wars. He has the whole beer in a goblet, but explains this is only to showcase the beer, and he highly suggests splitting a bottle with a friend. The nice fellow at Oak Tree suggested sharing it with a friend… or two. They both also suggested that it should be served at room temperature. I ignored both of these suggestions. I’m not sure why. Okay, yes I am. I didn’t share it because I wouldn’t mind any effects that may occur by drinking it on my own (hey, I had no work the next day!). And I didn’t drink it at room temperature because I knew it would take me a few hours to drink, and I like experiencing the full spectrum of taste; from cold, to cool, to almost-warm. Each of these stages offers a unique tasting experience for a beer.

So, Tuesday rolls around and I excitingly run home and grab the beer. I pour it into my trusty Chimay goblet. The first thing I notice is the color. Most IPA’s are transparent. They range in color from dark amber, to copper, to a light, almost lager yellow. This beer was the color of apple cider, but what was striking about it was that it wasn’t transparent. It was foggy. I’m assuming that since it was continually hopped for 2 hours, the hops imparted almost all of their resin to the beer. I can’t say for sure, but it was definitely an interesting color.

The smell was intense; a lot of hops with some interesting underlying fruit scents and sugars. The taste was massive and complex. The hops were there big time, but as appose to a big spicy hop flavor, it was a more complex fruity, grassy hop flavor. I got a lot of grapefruit, as well as almost a buttery flavor. And, to be honest, this is one of a few beers that I’ve had where the fact that hops and cannabis are related really comes through. Alright, alright people, don’t get any funny ideas. I’m sure anyone who’s been to college at least knows what the stuff smells like. Either way, this beer was surprisingly drinkable, and the 18% abv was incredibly well hidden. I expected to only sip it, but ended up taking some sizeable swigs. It did last the entire night: through the afternoon snack, through dinner and through the making of apple dumplings (you’ll see a post on that soon!).

The worst part of the whole thing is how incredibly delicious this beer was. I mean, I could probably drink this beer once a week… if I were Bill Gates. In fact, just thinking about it now makes me salivate. I also have acquired an intense curiosity to see how a fresh batch tastes. However, I doubt I will be having another bottle—fresh or vintage—anytime soon. There’s a pivotal part of the puzzle missing before such an event can occur: a job.

Thanks for reading, and remember: Don't be afraid to drink it, eat it, or cook with it. But always drink it in moderation while you cook it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Unwanted Beer Recipe 1: Drunken Noodles

Ever get a six pack only to find that the beer's taste sadly disappoints? This is a dangerous side effect of being a beer connoisseur such as myself. But after you've dumped so much money on a craft beer, you can't just throw it away, right?

Well now you won't have to. This is the first segment of a multi-part series chronically my adventures of cooking with beer. Surprisingly, some of the worst tasting beers to drink, actually end up being pretty good when put into cooking. Although, sometimes it isn't the beer that fails; it's the recipe. But, if it works 80% of the time, cooking with your unwanted beer is well worth it--much better then throwing it away.

Oddly enough, my first recipe differs from the norm a bit. As appose to a sub-par craft beer, this recipe calls for an American/Euro macro lager. "What?" you say, "How can Josh have macro lagers in his fridge!!??" Well, despite my extreme love of delicately made craft beer, and my problems with big-beer companies caring only about money and not about taste or their employees, I also have an extreme fear of something else: losing all my money. So, when a father-in-law offers a plethora of left-over macro lagers to take home after a vacation, a thrifty man such as myself takes it.

I also care for my visiting friends, who often aren't nearly as picky as me when it comes to beer. So, through the later summer months and early fall months, we slowly picked at the many cans of Red Dog and Heineken until we were sick of them and only a few were left. So I asked myself: "What can I do with these beers?" The answer came indirectly from a fellow-foodie full-time co-worker. "Now, when any recipe calls for water, I use beer. Chili, stew, you name it!" he says. "I'll keep that in mind," I say. And I did.

What popular, cheap college dish calls for two cups of water? You guessed it: Ramen Noodles. So, I decided to cook Ramen Noodles with beer. It's a pretty simple, manipulatable, and interesting recipe. Here we go:

Primary Ingredients:
1 can cheap lager
Some water
1 Pack Ramen Noodles

Secondary Ingredients:
Ginger-scallion sauce
Bouillon packet
Soft boiled eggs
Hoisin Sauce
and so on...

Pour the beer into a small pot (carefully! it's carbonated). Add a little water (to round the liquid off to two cups). Boil, add Ramen Noodles, and cook for 3 minutes.
NOTE OF CAUTION: Be careful boiling the beer and when you add the ramen. This stuff tends to bubble up, and sometimes out. You may have to take it on and off the heat, take the lid on and off, etc.
And that's it. That's the base of the recipe. Basically, it's just a different way of cooking Ramen. From their, you can go in about 20 different directions depending on your tastes, time frame, and stuff in your fridge.

One of my new favorite things to do is to use the ginger-scallion sauce of a popular New York chef. You can use it in a Ramen soup, or you can strain the noodles out of the beer and saute/stir-fry it with the ginger-scallion sauce. The possibilities are endless.

If you're going to do soup, I suggest tossing that high-blood-pressure-in-a-foil-packet that comes with the ramen noodles. You can make your own flavors, and if you need an instant soup base, just add a packet of sodium-free bullion packets. Cheap and healthy... okay, healthier. Also, try out some soft-boiled eggs in the soup. They taste great with the noodles, and the runny yolk adds an extra something to the soup.

I plop the eggs in an electric kettle that shuts off automatically when it boils. As soon as it shuts off, I start a two-minute timer and put the eggs in an ice bath right afterward. Electric kettles are AWESOME. I've been trying to rig it so the button that switches off on the electric kettle hits the start button on the timer, but haven't had success so far. I'll let you know if it works out.

Well, that concludes Unwanted Beer Recipe 1: Drunken Noodles. Expect a lot more from this series, including Aprihop bread, Cappuccino stout mustard, and maybe even some beer desert recipes. Thanks for reading, and remember: Don't be afraid to drink it, eat it, or cook with it. But always drink it in moderation while you cook it.