Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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My New Bar Cart

Because of the state of the world, I decided I needed a bar cart. Ok, that’s not actually true. I actually decided I needed a bar cart because my friend Amy has an awesome bar cart and I was super jealous and also because I was sick of storing my booze in a broom closet. I’d been looking for one that would meet my needs1 for a while and finally found one that I liked, and then it went on sale for 50% off and so it was totally a sign that I needed to buy it.

Naturally, the kitties were very eager to help me build it:

Kitties helping me build my bar cart

Watson says, “My claws don’t count as a “sharp” instrument, do they?”

Here are the kitties doing a thorough inspection to make sure all the parts were shipped to us:

It was a little complicated to put together – this is clearly not an IKEA piece, but hopefully that means it will actually last a long time! Thankfully, Scott came over to put it together with me!

And here it is in all its splendour:

My new bar cart

The part at the bottom fits my wine collection as well as some short bottles of booze, like Cointreau and Chambord. The cart doesn’t actually even fit all my booze – well, it would if I put some bottles on the top, but I want to make sure that the cats don’t plan to go up there (so far, they haven’t). For the moment, my lesser used boozes are on the top shelf of my broom closest and the other shelves of the broom closest can now store other stuff. Hooray!

To celebrate, some wine may have been enjoyed:

Watson and a wine bottle

Crick is my dinner companion

  1. Translate: one where I am reasonably confident the cats will not knock over all the bottles. Not that my cats knock things over very often (certainly they break stuff much less often than I do), but I feel like if they were to knock anything over, I wouldn’t want it to be bottles of booze. []

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Beer & Bling Report

Thursday night a few friends and I went to Beer & Bling, an event held at Working Silver, a silversmithing shop, where local jewelry makers were selling their wares while sampling some fine Steel & Oak beer, with beer proceeds going to the Arts Council of New Westminster 1. And I have to say that the turnout was great, both the beer and the jewelry were excellent, and it appeared that lots of both were being sold!
My friend Heather stopped by on her way to dance class, my friends Kim and Cath came in from Vancouver (with poor Cath making an accidental side trip to Surrey because she was on an Expo Line instead of a Millennium Line train2.) and my friend Erin came over from Surrey. Cath did the lion’s share of her Christmas shopping, Kim did a mix of shopping for gifts for others and gifts for herself, and I bought one gift for someone else and a few things for me, and Erin got herself a ring plus a bunch of business cards so she can go check out the artists websites and spend some time deciding what to buy3

I can’t show you what I bought as a present lest the recipient be tipped off, but I can show you what I got for myself!

First I got myself a Christmas tree ornament:

Christmas tree ornament 2015
It a Christmas tree to hang on the Christmas tree. Meta-Christmas, if you will.

And I also treated myself to this necklace and these earrings:

Earrings and necklace

They kind of look like (a) you could do some serious damage with them in a street fight and (b) you could use them to ask Scotty to beam you up.

  1. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of the Arts Council. []
  2. For those of you not from the Vancouver area, the Expo Line and the Millennium Line run the exact same route from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver until they get to Columbia Station in New Westminster, at which point Millennium Line loops through New West and Burnaby, and back to Vancouver, whereas Expo Line crosses the river into Surrey. If you are Skytraining just within Vancouver and Burnaby, you don’t need to pay attention to which train you get on, so many a Vancouverite who ventures out into the ‘burbs has found themselves on the wrong Skytrain thinking “omg! Why are we going over a bridge???” []
  3. I don’t think Heather got anything, but I could be wrong. []

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Beer & Bling

I’m stealing this directly off the website of Working Silver, a silversmith who offer silversmithing supplies, classes, and silver jewelry for sale. They are having a Christmas shopping night that is paired with beer drinking, which is also a fundraiser for the Arts Council of New Westminster, a nonprofit organization of which I’m on the board of directors. You should check it out!

BEER & BLING Christmas Shopping Night!

Dec 10th 5-10pm

Sample Craft Beer made by our friends at Steel & Oak and do your Christmas Shopping at the Arts council LOGO same time!  Hand made sterling silver jewellery by local artisans, Jewellery making Classes, and Gift Certificates make wonderful Christmas gifts!!

At the Workingsilver store and teaching studio, we are all about hand made sterling silver jewellery and supporting local artisans.  Partial proceeds from the Beer Tasting will go to the New Westminster Arts Council.

Workingsilver: 131 E Columbia Street, New Westminster

  • Driving: 5 minutes from Hwy 1.  FREE off street parking available behind the building for this event
  • Walking:  5 minute walk from the Sapperton SkyTrain Station
  • Free Parking available behind building after 6pm

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15 New Food Items That I Made This Year

As previously mentioned, I’ve already completed my goal to Make 15 new food or drink items that I’ve never made before  in 2015 – in fact, I’ve actually surpassed my goal by making *16* new items. I got myself a nice head start by having a birthday party where I made 6 new items that I’d never tried before. Then I racked up a few more items by having made a batch of home-brewed beer that ended up suboptimally carbonated, but since I didn’t want it to go to waste, I looked up recipes that involved beer – those, plus making dog biscuits from the spent grains of another batch of beer totalled another 5 items, which meant I only needed to make 4 other things to hit my goal of 15!

So, for the record, the new things I made so far this year that I’d never made before were:

15 Food Items Made Date Comments
1 Chocolate buttercream frosting (for Daniel’s birthday cake) 1-Jan-2015 I got a lot of compliments on this!
2 sweet and spicy pecans and cashews 12-Jan-2015 Very tasty!
3 caramelized onion, mushroom, apple and Gruyère puff pastry bites 12-Jan-2015 These were a HUGE hit!
4 cucumbers with salmon whip and dill whip 12-Jan-2015 No one seemed all that into these
5 slow cooker gingered chickpea and tomato stew 12-Jan-2015 Pretty good!
6 cheese puffs 12-Jan-2015 Got this recipe from my niece. They were amazing!
7 homemade sour mix 12-Jan-2015 Needed this for a drink I wanted to make, but couldn’t find it in any store
8 Swiss cheese beer bread 4-Feb-2015 Really easy and super tasty!
9 potato, cheddar & beer soup 4-Feb-2015 This was OK (though I’m not a huge soup fan, so YMMV)
10 beer marinated pork chops 4-Feb-2015 Pretty good!
11 brown ale potato galette 12-Mar-2015 Pretty good!
12 black bean & mushroom tortilla casserole 12-Mar-2015 I quite liked this
13 spent grain dog biscuits 28-Mar-2015 made these from spent grains from home brewing. My brewing buddy’s dog loved them!
14 rice pilaf 29-Mar-2015 I didn’t really like this.
15 BBQ short ribs 14-Jun-2015 These were amazing!
16 grilled potato skins 4-Jul-2015 I’d make these again!

I’ll continue to keep track of any other new things I make for the second half of 2015 and see how high a number I can hit!

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Beer – Now In Soap Form!

Hey, remember that time that I made a bunch of suboptimally carbonated beer? Well, I happened to tell my friend Susan about that. And the thing is, Susan owns a soap making company. And one of the types of soaps that she makes is beer soap. And to make beer soap you need, apparently, uncarbonated beer!

I’m sure you can see where this is going!

Beer soapSo I gave Susan some uncarbonated beer and she scienced it into soap!

It smells heavenly – sort of like a sweet bread, with a hint of orange (as she included orange essential oils in it). I have a bar of it in my shower and it’s quite lovely!

Check out Susan’s company, A Little Soapy Business. She sells all kinds of soaps and skin care products1.

  1. As per usual, I have not received anything to promote Susan’s business. We did an old school bartering deal – I gave her beer in exchange for a few bars of soap! []

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Making Dinner With A Little Vitamin Beer

A friend of mine and I have taken up home brewing, because science. It’s a long story that I’ll blog about later, but suffice it to say that we recently finished our first batch and it was, shall we say, suboptimally carbonated. Tasted quite good for a first batch, if I do say so myself, but one can only drink so much undercarbonated beer, so I came up with the idea that I should look up some recipes for things you can make with beer, because beer. And I came up with the following, all of which tasted pretty darned good, if I do say so myself!

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread:

Swiss Cheese Beer Bread

This was really quick to make and really tasty, if you are in the mood for a dense bread. I had read the comments on the recipe before I made this and noted that someone had commented that it didn’t take nearly as long as to bake as the 50-60 minutes stated in the recipe, so I made sure to check on it early and it ended up only taking about 35 minutes to bake!

Savory Beer Pork Chops:

Savory Beer Pork Chops

These pork chops were also pretty delicious. As well, when I put the brown sugar into the beer to make the marinade, the beer foamed up and looked like real beer!

Homebrewed Beer

Potato Beer Cheese Soup:

Potato Beer Cheese Soup

This was a pretty good soup – and I generally don’t even like soup!

And so I was 3 for 3 on delicious tasting recipes. Can’t say that this was the healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten – pro tip: when you meal is all beige, something is drastically wrong in the nutrition department.

In addition to finding a way to not waste beer1 and making a delcious dinner, I also managed to bring the number of new food items I’ve made this year to 10 and so I’ve officially completed 67% of my goal to make 15 new food items in 2015 and it’s only February!

  1. Which I’m relatively certain is at least a misdemeanour, if not a full out crime. []

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New Foods I Made in 2014

Another item from my goals for 2014 list that I figured deserved its own posting was make 14 new food items that I’ve never made before1. And this goal I not only achieved, but I actually surpassed!

This year, I made:

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Salad rolls that I made with my friend Kim

Homemade Spinach Pasta

Homemade pasta that I made with my friend Linda. Topped with pesto and feta!

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BBQ chicken, corn-on-the-cob, roasted potatoes, and grilled zucchini

I also made guacamole devilled eggs a couple of times this year and I think the first time I made them was in 2014, but I’m not 100% sure I didn’t make them the previous year, so I’m not going to count them just in case. As well, I made *5* new drinks that I’d never made before – The Suffering Bastard, The Leveraged Synergy, and the Value Added Leveraged Synergy (all at my “I’m finished my MBA” party!) and the Mortgage Margarita and strawberry lemonade (for my housewarming party) – but I’m not counting those since the goal stated “food items”, but not beverages. But I don’t need to since, as you can see from the list, I actually made *19* food items this year! Hopefully I won’t regret using up extra new ideas this year when it comes time to try to come up with 15 new food and/or drink items to make in 2015!

  1. I see now that I look at the goals that I said that all the items “must be blogged about”. And while I didn’t blog about them all at the time I did them, I did keep track and now I’m blogging about them, so that totally counts! []
  2. This one has a back story. I was having a bunch of friends over for dinner and decided that I would try my hand at Baked Alaska. When I told Kalev, he got upset, saying “What are the vegetarians supposed to eat??” And I was confused and said, “What’s not vegetarian about ice cream and meringue?” It turned out, he was thinking of Beef Wellington, not Baked Alaska! So another time when he was coming over for dinner, I decided to make a vegetarian version of Beef Wellington, which turned out to be quite delicious! []
  3. I’ve made lasagna before, but not with tofu in place of ricotta cheese. It actually was quite tasty! []
  4. I wasn’t too big a fan of these myself. []
  5. I had a bunch of limes leftover from margarita making, so I tried this recipe, but it turned out that I much prefer the honey mustard dressing that I first tried making earlier and which is now my staple. []

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A Three Brewery Tour. A Three Brewery Tour.

Brewery Tour gift certMy going away present from my coworkers at my old job was two tickets for a tour of three breweries – obviously, my former coworkers know me very well! The tour company, Vancouver Brewery Tours1 picks you up at Waterfront Station, takes you around to tour three different breweries – going behind the scenes to see all the cool equipment and learning about all the cool techniques of how they brew their beer – and then drops you back at Waterfront, so you can enjoy all the beery goodness – a flight at each brewery – in a responsible fashion. Due to my and Daniel’s crazy schedules, we hadn’t actually found a time to go on said brewery tour until two weekends ago – and then due to my crazy schedule, I haven’t found a time to blog about it until now!

Vancouver Brewery Tour Van

The first brewery we went to was Brassneck on Main St. We got to go backstage to see their cool stuff, tasted some grains that are used in the brewing process, and learned how they do their brewing. Breakneck doesn’t sell their beers at any restaurant, bars, or liquor stores, so the only way to try their wares is to either go to the tasting room at the brewery or to get a growler. After all the learning, we got a flight with the following four beers:

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Now, the tour started at noon and these beers are on the rather high side as far as alcohol concentration goes and given that I am the world’s cheapest drunk, I was already pretty tipsy after this first brewery! My favourite of these beers was the Cherubeque, a Belgian Amber Ale. The Changeling was interesting – Changeling is a kettle soured beer that Brassneck makes that differs by time of year – in the summer they use whatever fruit is in season and right now they are using gerwurztraminer grape must. So it looks like a beer, but it tasted more like wine. I think it would be perfect for anyone who doesn’t like beer, but wants to look like they are drinking beer. I enjoyed the little glass of it, but I think it would be too sour for a full pint, at least for me.

IMG_0314After Brassneck, we went to Bomber. Bomber is actually named after the hockey team that the founders play on – the earliest Bomber beers were actually home brews that the main brewer made and brought to the rink for after game beers – so I really wanted to like it, but their thing is really hoppy beers and I’m not big on super hoppiness. I mean, the beers were objectively very good beers, but just not my preferred style. When we got the behind the scenes tour, they showed us Bomber’s new canning machine – a lot of craft breweries just do bottles or growlers, but not cans and apparently it’s not just because cams are thought of as lower quality than bottles. The canning machine was described as costing “the same as a small condo in Vancouver”. Also, though they told us what the beers were when they brought us out flights, by the time I went to log them on my Untappd app  (about 5 mins later), I couldn’t even remember what 2 of the 4 beers were2. The ones I did remember were the IPA and the Belgian Blond.

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Our finals stop on the tour was at Steamworks‘ new production facility in Burnaby. I was familiar with the Steamworks Brew Pub in Gastown, but I didn’t know that they’d opened this new factory in Burnaby. Unlike the other breweries we went to, which were small breweries with tasting rooms, this was a really big facility to make lots and lots of beer (plus a tasting room). Steamworks is evidently ready for the big time. They also told us that the owner of Steamworks also owns the Rogue restaurants3.

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Despite their expansion, Steamworks still manages to make great beer. I much enjoyed the four beers that I tried at their brewery: Pilsner, Kolsch, Black Angel IPA4, and something else that I appear to not have included on my Untappd app and thus do not remember!

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All in all, it was an excellent brewery tour and I highly recommend it if you like beer. Thanks, former coworkers, for such a thoughtful going away present!

  1. As per usual, I have no ties to this company (or any of the breweries I’m blogging about) other than having enjoyed my tour! []
  2. Did I mention that I’m the world’s cheapest drunk? []
  3. Fun fact: I once times the trip from my desk to the front door of Rogue on Broadway and it took 3 mins and 33 seconds. And that included waiting for the light to cross the street. I’ve also since moved to the first floor of my building at work, meaning one fewer flights of stairs to walk down. Clearly, I need to time that again []
  4. IPAs are not my favourite, but I could still tell it was a good beer. []