I am a huge beer aficionado and I am also a huge culinary geek. This week my two passions have been colliding in horrible ways. Brewers posting pictures of them preparing the pumpkin for their beers. Every single picture has been of Jack O’lantern pumpkins which we see everywhere this time of year. I am sure they think they are making their pumpkin puree from scratch therefore it must be better than the stuff you buy in a can. Oh how wrong they are! All it takes it one taste of that water goop they are ending up with to know that it tastes nothing like pumpkin pie. Jack O’lantern pumpkins have a high water content and taste like a cucumber and a zucchini had a baby and it was orange. So you end up with water weird tasting goop.
The dirty little secret of pumpkin pie and canned pumpkin puree is that it isn’t made with the pumpkins we all know and love. The best flavored pumpkin is a beast you probably have never seen. The picture above is a Neck Pumpkin. Sure it looks like a Butternut Squash that fell in love with a giraffe but this big guy has the pumpkin flavor we all know and love. Sure one of these guys makes several large cans worth of pumpkin puree but it is well worth the time and the effort to have that wonderful flavor. What about Sugar Pumpkins or Pie Pumpkins? Well these little guys are similar to Neck Pumpkins but you need to clean and prep 5-6 of them to get the same amount of puree as you do out of one Neck Pumpkin. And in my experience they have a higher water content which isn’t as high as the Jack O’lanterns but it is enough to make me take extra time and cook the puree down to get it to the right consistency.
So next time you feel like making your pumpkin puree for beer or for baking and you can’t find a Pie or Neck Pumpkin, buy a can of pumpkin instead because you won’t be doing your taste buds a favor. I am hoping all my brewing friends at 5 Stones, Busted Sandal, Branchline, Ranger Creek and any others brewing pumpkin beer read this and fix their brews for next year. Cheers!
2013 was the year of change for me. I feel like a butterfly that just shed her crystalis. Some of you might know that I have spent the last 12 years running a little side business called Culinary Teas. Even though Tea is a small part of the culinary field I was yearning to spread my wings and full embrace my culinary skills. In 2012 my family moved to San Antonio and It quickly became apparent that a culinary (including beer) renaissance was beginning here. It helps that San Antonio hosts a Culinary Institute of America and that they have spawned a culinary wonderland on the old Pearl Brewery grounds.
After discovering The Point Park and Eats and Alamo St Eat Bar I learned about the burgeoning food truck scene. Food trucks are a low cost way for chefs to have an outlet for experimentation and just to be more hands on where the food meets the people. After making friends with many of the truck and park owners I realized that this could be the outlet I have always been looking for. At that time I was already looking for my next career after the sale of my tea company and this new path as a food truck owner offered me a job I could love for the rest of my life.
After some contemplation about what genre of food, I decided that at the time Asian food was very much underserved. There were tons of taco, burger, sandwich trucks and I wanted to make sure my offering stood out. I had developed a love of Korean food after my husband was sent there for 3 weeks on business. When he came back he sought out every Korean restaurant in the area and make sure that I tried them. I learned about the key ingredients and what makes them different from the other Asian genres. What I love about Korean dishes is that the flavors are so bold and that pairs so well with what Texans love to eat.
After a bit of menu development, research and a few beers the name CockAsian was suggested by Denise Aguirre of Taps Y Tapas and The Point Park and Eats. This bold names has a duel meaning, one that we are serving Korean (Asian) Fried Chicken and that me as the owner is caucasian. My Irish and German roots sadly don’t have food that I love. Though one day my goal is to open a Public House like my beloved Fiddler’s Hearth back in South Bend. I miss the atmosphere of old Ireland and the Celtic music that used to make my babies want to dance on the tables.
I am on track to open for business in early February. I have purchased my truck and after making sure that she is mechanically ready I am now having the external branding done. After a quick trip downtown I will be ready for the CockAsian Food Truck’s grand opening. If you are located in the San Antonio area and think you might be interested in attending our grand opening I suggest you like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Pretty wild flowers I always see on my walks.
I am happy to say that it is true that if you do something for 30 days it becomes a habit. I now can’t wait to walk every morning. Even after I over worked my knee and it became a bit sore and swollen I was fretting because I really wanted get out there and walk. Happily I learned I needed inserts for my walking shoes and maybe not double up on my work out so much if I want to keep walking everyday. It is kind of hard to restrain me these days because I just want to get out and walk all the time. Overall my eating habits have been pretty good. When I hurt my knee I may have gone to extremes a bit because first I was “Oh no I can’t walk so I better limit my eating as much as I can” and then by dinner I was starved and I ate a bit more than I should have but honestly I ate so little during the rest of the day I still probably didn’t go over my calorie limit. It isn’t a good trend for me so I really need to watch my eating for a day or two. I must say I am still enjoying my Noom App on my phone. It helps me track my eating and how many calories I burn during my walks. The one thing I am failing at is drinking my green tea. I saw massive weight loss the first couple weeks and I was drinking my tea but I slacked and I am not losing like I should. I am going to put in a pitcher overnight so it is already to go in the morning.
I have successfully implemented a daily schedule for myself. As long as it isn’t hail and lightning then I am out every morning walking. Even on the weekend I look forward to getting up and walking some place I don’t get to walk on the week days. Last Saturday my husband and I did a 7.5 mile walk down almost the full length of the North/South Riverwalk here in San Antonio. We walked from the Pearl Brewery to the Blue Star Brewery and stopped for lunch and then back to the Pearl. I think this might become a regular occurrence because it is an absolutely beautiful walk. I haven’t lost much more weight but my clothes are loosening up quite nicely and I notice my tummy has firmed up. So I am happy even if my scale isn’t. I have been watching what I eat very carefully so I have a feeling the scale will start cooperating again after I get past this time of the month (if you know what I mean). I am surprised my skin as clear as it is right now so things are
This Saturday is going to a splurge day but I will do my best to keep the calories in check and I am going to force myself to get up extra early that day because we have a local brewery tour starting at 8:30.am. Yes we will be getting on a bus to go tour 6 different brewery at 8:30 in the morning. We are already calling it the drunk bus and I anticipate it is going to be a ball. The 5 Pint Brew Crawl will be visiting these breweries in order:
1. Dodging Duck Brewhaus – I have never been here or tried any of their beers
2. Free Tail Brewery – Tried a few of their beer and hoping they can change my opinion
3. Faust Brewing Company – Suppose to have a period pub.. lets see how it cares to my beloved Fiddler’s Hearth in South Bend, IN.
4. Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling – I have tried a few of their beers but never visited their facilities
5. Blue Star Brewing Company – Had lunch here last Saturday but didn’t feel much up to drinking after that walk.
We have got to know a lot of folks from the local brew community so I am really looking forward to a day of fun.
My goal that morning will be to get up and do my walking before the crawl and to eat as carefully as I can but I am sure I will hit my calorie budget with just beer. Wish my waistline luck!
Gluten Free Veggie Crepes
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup milk or unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil, slightly cooled
- Butter or Coconut oil for coating the pan
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cups spinach leaves
- 3 cups swiss chard, chopped
- 1 medium tomato, rough chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- Boursin Cheese
- Blend crepe ingredients in a blender until combined and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and as much as overnight. You just want to make sure that all the bubbles in the batter have disappeared before using.
Veggie Filling Prep
- Saute veggies starting with mushrooms and once they show a bit of brown you can add onions. Once the onions are translucent add spinach, chard and tomato and lightly saute until spinach and swiss charge softens. Remove from heat and set aside until you are ready to fill crepes.
To make crepes
- Coat a non-stick, 9-inch skillet with butter or coconut oil over medium heat.
- Pour 1/4 cup of batter in the center of the pan: immediately remove from heat and swirl the batter around to touch all sides of the pan. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until you can see tiny bubbles under the crepe and you can flip it without tearing.
- Shake the pan in order to push the crepe towards one side of the pan: using a wide spatula, flip over.
- Brown for 30 seconds then reduce heat. Crumble cheese over the entire crepe and then cover one half of the crepe with the sauted vegetables. Fold in quarters or thirds and serve.
Well I survived last week without falling off the wagon. I walked every day I possibly could and did a awesome job of watching what I ate. It helped that I had very little appetite. I was afraid when I got back and finally had this big ball of stress off my shoulders that things would go badly but I have done very well. As of Friday May 3rd I have lost 8 pounds. That is the best reinforcement I can get! My husband and I have started a new habit to go to The Pearl Farmers Market every Saturday. We go for a number of reasons. The first is that it makes us get up early, we enjoy the fresh vegetables we find and the riverwalk between there and downtown is beautiful and wonderful for Saturday morning walk. One thing we can’t miss is the Gluten Free Crepes which we get full of fresh veggies and some Boursin cheese which serves as our breakfast and then we walk 3-4 miles on the river. It really feels more like sightseeing than exercising.
This blog was suppose to be about food and food is definitely an important part in of a healthy lifestyle. I am choosing to avoid gluten in my diet because I have an obvious intolerance to it so you are going to see a lot of gluten free recipes in the future. Check out my Gluten Free Veggie Crepes, this recipe is a reproduction of those wonderful crepes we get at The Pearl Farmers Market.
I got word on Tuesday that my grandmother had died. I am in charge of taking care of her funeral plans back in Indiana so not only am I deeply saddened but also had my stress level jacked through the ceiling. When I am experiencing extreme stress and emotional turmoil I totally lose my appetite and have tons of nervous energy. So even though I am an emotional mess it has been really good for my weight. I have been walking between 1.5 -2 miles a day and barely eating. I know this isn’t the healthiest thing for me but it helps me get into the small portion eating that I need to get back into the habit of. You won’t be hearing from me again until next Wednesday at the earliest but don’t be surprised if I report a 5+ lbs lost because I have already dropped 4.
On the food side I must report my latest creation. We had eaten at La Gloria Ice House at the Pearl Brewery here in San Antonio last Saturday. The dish that impressed me the most was Camerones Agua Chile or shrimp in fire water. I love the gulf shrimp we get here they are so much more flavorful than what we got back in Indiana. I think this preparation of shrimp is now my favorite way to eat them and I think it may be the healthiest way to fix them. I have been working on a ceviche recipe ever since last summer but I think I have now worked out all the kinks and have the best ceviche recipe yet. I promise to get that posted as soon as I get back next week and have time to do it.
Well I did it! Not only did I get out and walk 1.5 miles this morning but I walked almost 2 miles last night with my husband. My legs were sore from last nights walk so I didn’t get quite as much walking done as I would have liked but my calves and shins were ready for a revolt. I also busted out my Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker and made up a batch of Bohemian Raspberry Green Tea which is really helping with my energy levels. I made sure to weigh myself with our WII Fit and made myself start using MyNetDiary.com again. I even got the MyNetDiary App for my phone so I could easily scan things into my food log and I can use it on the go. I have found that tracking everything I eat and drink is important. It not only makes me think about everything I eat but I can also look at trends to see what foods may not work well in my diet. I know that my diet is actually very healthy because I have been avoiding carbs and processed flour for years now. I am going to try to steer our meals even more toward the Primal/Paleo direction because that is where I want to end up as a regular diet for us as a family.Recently become very lactose intolerant and and for a couple years now my body has reacted badly to more than just a small amount of breads and pastas. I had pre-ordered Practical Paleo last July and I have to admit that I haven’t cracked the cover on it yet so that is my reading homework for the week. This week is going to take focus to keep up the new schedule and continue to log what I eat. Here we go!
Molly not happy about me taking her picture in her pink diaper! Pouty Puppy!
The title of this post made me giggle because I find I have to tell myself that quite often these days. I am really bad about internalizing things that are bothering me and there has been so much going on lately that I think I am going to burst soon. Today I realized it is even affecting my health because I am starting to get depressed and I just want to go take a nap in the middle of the day. When I really need to be getting out and moving my ever growing backside. I thought once I we got moved I would find endless time and energy to get the exercise I needed and it would be easy to lose some weight. I thought wrong. I hate doing things by myself and my husband’s work schedule doesn’t allow us much time together during the week and it certainly is not workout friendly. My oldest has been busier than all of us put together between band, choir, ROTC and now driving school so we seem to only see each other during meals. The younger two aren’t that into Mom time so most of the time its just me and the dogs.
Today I once again trying to put a foot in the right direction and not only start posting here again but also drag myself out for a nice long walk. I actually have a number of posts already in drafted out but unfinished so you might see a burst of posts that I have been sitting on for a while. One I need to write before I let it get away is telling you all about our day at the Real Ale Anniversary Party in Blanco, Tx. That brewery is really growing and developing and I can’t help but compare it to 3Floyds Brewery back in Indiana. Any craft beer lovers should find that post pretty interesting because thanks to my husband I know my beers (as well as my teas) and know a good amount about the craft beer industry.
I am hoping for a little encouragement from all of you to get this ball rolling because I am looking forward to eventually being swept away by it once the momentum gets going. Don’t worry recipes are also coming and gardening tips because I am very much still a foodie but there is so much more than just recipes in life that I want to share!
Spicy Korean Fried Chicken
- 3 lbs chicken pieces
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 2 tbsp powered sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper, ground
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup tomato ketchup
- 1/3 cup rice syrup, honey, or corn syrup
- 1/3 cup hot pepper paste, less if you lack heat tolerance
- 1 tbsp apple vinegar
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- Rinse chicken in cold water. Drain and shake off excess water.
- In a large bowl combine all purpose and rice flour with salt, pepper, baking soda and powdered sugar. Mix well.
- Lightly beat your egg and add it to dry mixture. Add chicken pieces and mix well with your hands until all the chicken is coated.
- Heat 6-7 cups of oil in a wok or frying pan and heat until oil bubbles when chicken is added (about 350-375 F).
- Fry for about 10 minutes until chicken is lightly browned Remove from oil on to a grate where oil can drain from chicken. Let them rest for a few minutes.
- Fry them again for another 10 minutes until all pieces are golden brown and crunchy.
Sauce Time - Make while chicken is frying
- Add 1 Tbsp Canola oil and minced garlic into a pan over medium heat
- Add ketchup, rice syrup, hot pepper past and vinegar to pan and simmer for 7 minutes stirring frequently.
- Keep warm until chicken is ready
- Add twice fried chicken to sauce or together in a large bowl and stir gently with a wooden spoon.
- Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and server with warm rice.