California redemption value

A destitute man in San Francisco’s Japantown. He was digging through public garbage cans, apparently for containers having California redemption value…

(Picture taken in San Francisco, California on September 7th, 2014)

For those of you who enjoy my work on these pages, I was absent for nearly four weeks due to a death in my family. My apologies. I won’t let it happen again. Death, I mean. I have recently begun diverting all my beer money towards developing an immortality serum in my basement lab. I also have a new photography project in development. Click here to have a preliminary look.

Fermented soybeans are your friend

An ode to nattō, an horribly lovely Japanese import…

Do you like soy sauce, tofu, miso soup? The humble soybean gives us so many edible wonders that you probably didn’t know it is also used to make what Westerners consider to be one of the foulest foods ever to come from Japan.

(Nattō from my grocer’s freezer about to get mixed with raw egg. This is one of my favorite toppings for rice.)

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10-second beer review: New Belgium Trippel

While New Belgium‘s transformation through the years from kick-ass Colorado craft brewer to pretty big time national brewer resulted in a predictable decline in quality of the product, it must be acknowledged that the Trippel remains a not-half-bad Belgian for your basic no-special-occasion drinking pleasure. 1554 isn’t bad, either.

I wish Fat Tire was what it was back in 1993, though. Also, bring back Old Cherry.

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Hornstra Farms: local hero, redux

Local, natural, community focused: Massachusetts’ Outstanding Dairy Farm is thriving.

IMG_0412When we last visited John Hornstra five years ago, he had just bought a local farm here in the pretty affluent suburbs south of Boston, and had grand plans. Hornstra had delivered our milk (in glass bottles!) for years when we lived in Massachusetts, and he still delivers the same milk (and chocolate milk, and egg nog at Christmas) to my daughter’s family. But he had plans—to build his recently purchased farm into a local community place, a place for kids (and not just kids) to see how farms work, and to get real food. Most important was his plan to bring dairy farming back to the area that his family had lived in, and been dairy framers in, for several generations. So how’s that working out? Continue reading

Beer

How to drink without getting drunk: does the yeast method work? (Food & Drink Week)

Esquire blog discusses a famous brewer’s secret for staying (relatively) sober. We test it out.

You may have seen Aaron Goldfarb’s recent Esquire blog entitled “How to Drink All Night Without Getting Drunk.” Great headline, and how cool would that be, right? I was skeptical, for obvious reasons, but it turns out that what is proposed is an idea developed by Joseph Owades, who Samuel Adams co-founder Jim Koch calls “the best brewer who ever lived.”

I figured I’d test the method myself, and not just because it would give me an excuse to drink too much.

First, how does it work? Continue reading

Food & Drink Week

Seven rules for healthier eating

The food we eat is killing us, but there are simple steps we can take to improve our health.

“Eating is an agricultural act.”—Wendell Berry

I have been depressed by, and disturbed by, the increasingly obvious American reluctance to accept science. That’s a pretty broad generalization, of course, but we all know where it comes from—we see manifestations of this every day, from vaccines, to global warming, to, well, whatever. If there’s a plausible scientific explanation for something, and a completely loony one, you just know that a certain percentage of the population is going to be chomping at the bit to accept the loony one.

How did a nation that constantly refers to itself as The Greatest Nation on Earth™ get populated by a surprisingly large number of dopes? Continue reading

Food & Drink Week

Zombie Apocalypse: Food & Drink Week shambles on with another Doc Sammy rum punch

Looking for something appropriate for your next Walking Dead watch party? Here’s a cocktail that will turn you into a zombie, too.

Hopefully you’re already planning on a pitcher of my South Shore Kauai Tais for the weekend. If you like tropical drinks, here’s another one for your recipe book: Doc Sammy’s Zombie Apocalypse.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 2 oz passion fruit nectar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ oz grenadine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 oz gold rum (again, I love Montego Bay, but won’t talk you out of whatever your favorite is)
  • 1 oz 151 proof Demerara (El Dorado) rum
  • 1 oz light rum (everybody loves Bacardi, I know, but I’d recommend something a little tastier, like Cruzan Light Aged, Mount Gay Eclipse or Flor de Caña 4 Year Extra Dry)
  • ½ oz Creme de Cassis (yes, I do use this as an accent flavor quite a bit – why do you ask?)

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Food & Drink Week

John’s Green Chili Stew Recipe: Food & Drink Week

Posole is a microcosm of New Mexico cuisine in one delicious pot.

My husband’s specialty is Green Chili Stew (aka Posole), a dish he learned to make when he lived in Albuquerque for six years. This is a staple food in our house from fall through spring. It is a microcosm of New Mexican cooking in one pot. Serve it with a hearty ale or porter and tortillas with honey.

Our strangest experience with it was taking it to a potluck soup party with our group of friends that includes several vegans (this was before they were vegan). The pot was on the stove bubbling away, smelling heavenly. People were stirring, sniffing, and considering their possibilities when someone asked, “Is it vegetarian?” Continue reading

Food & Drink Week

Dr. Sammy’s Slammin’ South Shore Kauai Tai: Food & Drink Week

Those who know me will attest to my taste for fine single malt and American microbrews. But my little secret is now out. I’m also a rum-whore. Always have been. And I’m a stone cold sucker for a good rum punch, little umbrella and all. Especially in the summer. Or Hawaii.

So with summer nearly upon us, I thought a fitting subject for Food & Drink Week would be my favorite rum punch recipe.

When I was in Kauai a few years ago I fell in love with their take on the classic Mai Tai – they call their top shelf version the Tai Chi. Continue reading

Southwes Quinoa Salad

Cat’s Southwest Quinoa Salad: Food & Drink Week

Vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free dieters – this savory dish works for everyone.

We have a group of friends that includes several vegans, along with some who are gluten-free and one who has an aversion to orange vegetables. Needless to say, cooking for this crowd sometimes poses a challenge. I’ve had some tasty quinoa salads and some tasty black bean-corn salads, so I decided to try my had at my own version. This can be freely embroidered upon.

Cat’s Southwest Quinoa Salad

Salad

1 cup quinoa (I use half red and half white)

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Food-&-Drink-Week

Food and Drink Week: Dan’s Tokyo curry

This type of curry is comfort food to the Japanese the way macaroni and cheese is to Americans…

I love to cook, and I am told I’m pretty good at it. The one thing I cook for people most often is this Japanese curry. I’ve been making it for nearly a decade, but I really got serious about it after my wife and I went to Tokyo in March, 2008. I make it four or five times a year. Amongst my neighbors and friends it has become my signature dish. If you are familiar with Japanese curry at all, you know the basic dish is wonderful during colder weather, the spicier the better.

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WordsDay: Literature

The oyster climbs the Great Chain of Being: Eleanor Clark’s Locmariaquer

“…But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oyster….” – Geoffrey Chaucer

The Oysters of Locmariaquer by Eleanor Clark (image courtesy Goodreads)

Anyone who reads Eleanor Clark’s classic The Oysters of Locmariaquer will come away from the book convinced of two things: 1) cultivating oysters is a complex and difficult task that might well suck the life out of one foolish enough to try to do so; 2) if the people from any place are up to the task of cultivating oysters, it is the Bretons. Clark’s book falls into that interesting category of nonfiction made famous by the great John McPhee. That is, Eleanor Clark, like McPhee, combines meticulous research (there is more in this book than anyone this side of an ichthyologist would want to know about the biology of oysters and the history of human/oyster relations) with personal narrative (there are stories of the lives of Breton villagers who are tied to the oyster industry – or to Brittany – that can move even the most jaded soul).

Of course, Clark antedates McPhee, and perhaps he owes her a debt for combining the scientific and historical with the personal in ways that can engross the reader and make one learn in spite of oneself. After all, Clark won the National Book Award for Nonfiction with this tale of Belon oysters and the Breton people who raise them in 1965, the same year McPhee published his first significant workContinue reading

He scared me: a ‘Tokyo Panic Story’

An excerpt from a photographic diary in which I encounter an angry Tokyo drunk…

Down in Sanya, he was calm at first. But he shot me this look that put me on edge. There were empty Ozeki One Cup jars near him, and I’m pretty sure he was drunk as a bastard.

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Disgruntled song

This is the seriously-no-bullshit soup plate,

Where it all falls asunder into metal,

and I don’t mean angry white men playing guitars.

It’s peaceful, the undying here,

and I’m trying to figure out how to make some art out of this monstrous tranquility.

I throw compassionate grenades,

and perform brutally humane triage.

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10-second beer review: let’s hear it for Ballast Point Brewing

Ballast Point’s visit to Beer Junction in West Seattle was a hit, and the Rum-Aged Victory at Sea Nitro stole the show.

Periodically Okay, this is going to be more like a 30-second review.

Beer Junction in West Seattle will have one of the region’s craft brewers in to showcase their products. Last night the special guest was San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits, and for a mere $4 you could sample five of their varieties. You can’t beat that with a stick, as we used to say back home.

Up first was the Grunion Pale Ale. Now, understand, I don’t like hops. Or, at least, I don’t like hops out of balance, and that’s what America’s brewmasters are all about these days. Continue reading

10-second beer review: Elliott Bay Brewing Batch 1000 Flanders Style Ale

Oh. Muhgod. If I blindfolded you and held this to your nose you’d think you were smelling a tart red wine vinegar. But give it a taste. Pure magic.

Brewed back in early 2010 to commemorate Elliott Bay Brewing’s 1000th batch (hence the name), this anniversary brew was divided into four separate barrels. This year’s release has been aging since then in Merlot casks after having brettanomyces yeast and a souring bacterium added. Notes of vanilla and grape.

Please, please, please, save enough to take to the Great American Brew Festival. They have a gold medal waiting for you. Continue reading