In My Life, I've Loved Them All

Playing in the Kitchen: Cake for Breakfast! Blueberry Buckle [Coffee Cake]

Hooray! It’s that time of year when berries are in season!

Right now, a pint of Blueberries is only $1 at Kroger (as opposed to $4-5 during the winter). Luckily, berries freeze well, so it’s a good time to stock up. By comparison, the same amount of “Kroger brand” blueberries bought in the freezer section cost $3.79.

Alton Brown recommends freezing your blueberry pie filling for extra juiciness upon baking.

You can also throw frozen berries in your breakfast smoothie, if that’s your thing.

MY personal favorite is a Blueberry Muffin!
Especially the ones at la madeleine... which I seriously want to replicate at home.

Blueberries are superfoods, so these are super muffins, no?

For a Blueberry Muffin in cake form, I’ve discovered the Blueberry Buckle (also recommended by Alton Brown). Buckle is an old-fashioned term for Coffee Cake. Which means this delicious dessert is perfectly suitable for breakfast or brunch. Or after dinner.
Whenever you want cake. #NoJudgement


Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake

I need to try this particular version a few more times before it becomes my go-to blueberry muffin-cake recipe. But at least I can guarantee you it will make your home smell heavenly when it’s baking. AND it only takes 1 egg (with stores rationing eggs, a low-egg recipe is seriously good news to any baker).

Blueberry Buckle

Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups blueberries

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed (1/2 a stick)

Glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp milk, more if needed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Prepare Topping:
In a bowl combine topping dry ingredients (sugar, cinnamon, flour).
Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until dry ingredients have combined well with the butter. If the butter is soft, you can use your fingers. There should be little clumps without a lot of extra loose flour mixture.
Refrigerate topping while you make the batter.

Prepare Batter:
Using a stand-mixer, combine sugar and shortening until well blended (3-5 minutes).
Add in egg and mix until combined.
Add milk and vanilla extract. Mix again.

Sift dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

Remove bowl from mixer. Gently fold in the blueberries with a spoon (try not to let the berries burst).
The batter will be very thick.

Put in a greased 8×8 or 9×9 inch baking pan and press batter out to the corners of the pan.

Remove topping from refrigerator and sprinkle evenly over top of the cake batter.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

While cake is cooling on a wire rack, mix up the ingredients for a glaze, adding milk 1Tbsp at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. If it gets too wet and runny, add more sugar. Cover glaze until cake cools.

After cake has cooled completely, use a spoon and drizzle the glaze over top of the cake.


Enjoy your delicious breakfast [coffee] cake!

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think! If you have a great blueberry muffin recipe, I’d love to know that too. Comment below are send me a message.

Be an Advocate for Craft Beer in Texas

It has come to my attention that many of the Craft Beer Bars in Houston, including The Petrol Station, Flying Saucer, Hay Merchant, and Mongoose versus Cobra are removing some wonderful craft beers from their menus… for the time being.

These local establishments are now boycotting the distributor Silver Eagle (“The Budweiser Distributor”). This means that Craft Beers like Saint Arnold, Karbach, Sierra, Firestone, and 8th wonder will not be available (see post by The Petrol Station).

Oktoberfest - Houston Craft BeerOriginally, my family was so happy when Saint Arnold started contracting with Silver Eagle for distribution. It meant we could purchase or favorite Houston Craft Beer at the local grocery store…they were going there to drop of Budweiser anyway, now Saint Arnold was on the truck too!   This eliminated our 30-60 min trip to a liquor store closer to Houston proper for our craft beer.

According to The Petrol Station, ABI (Budweiser) raised their keg deposits to Silver Eagle to $70 because kegs shells were going missing from large accounts (stadiums, kegs sold to individuals from retailers). So in the last 5 years, Silver Eagle has raised their keg deposits from $25 to $60 ($70 by September). Now small Craft Beer businesses are bearing the weight of mistakes made by the Macro Businesses. Hence the boycott.

It is about more than just beer drinkers wanting beer. Replace “beer” with any other commodity (like coffee?  Or widgets?).

It’s about Big Businesses dominating the marketplace and crippling small businesses.


The Beer industry in Texas is already a complex legislative issue.  Owning a Microbrewery, Craft Brewery, or BrewPub is a lot more of a challenge here than other states… possibly any other state!

Here is an incredibly interesting read from the State’s Comptroller’s Office.

Know the facts and become and Advocate for Craft Beer in Texas!

For decades in Texas, by law, a business could only be a brewer, distributor, or retailer of beer (1 of 3 tiers). What does this mean? If you are AT A CRAFT BREWERY, you cannot buy any beer to take home. The beer must go to a distributor, then a retailer, then your home.

Legislation to change this is constantly blocked in Texas courts by, guess who, lobbyists for beverage giants like Budweiser.

There have been recent changes to let “BrewPubs” (hybrid retail drinking/dining business like FreeTail Brewing) self-distribute. This means they can sell 10,000 barrels per year directly to a retailer without using a distributor (like Silver Eagle).

However, they must sell their beer to distributors and buy it back to sell it at remote, unlicensed locations, such as fairs and other public events.

Craft Breweries without “pubs” (aka Production or packaging breweries) can now sell up to 5,000 barrels a year directly to consumers, but for on-premises consumption. Sorry folks, no growlers to take home.

There are businesses, like Whole Foods or The Petrol Station, that will fill a growler of Craft Beer for you. As long as a distributor brings it to them.

Did you know neither brewpubs nor production breweries in Texas can sell their distribution rights. Texas is the ONLY state with this restriction in law.

And a Bill has been introduced to DECREASE the amount of Beer a microbrewery (defined as a brewery that does not exceed 125,000 barrels) could self-distribute from 40,000 barrels to 5,000 barrels.

For the Brewery that sells 18,000 barrels a year, this will hurt.  For reference, Budweiser sells about 16 million a year. Side Note: Anheuser-Busch used to sell 50 million a year (back in 1998).

There is this convoluted, archaic, 3 tier system in Texas that needs to adjust to the current market landscape. A place where mainstream beers and craft beers can be served side by side in peace.  *Sigh* Don’t they realize there are enough beer drinkers to go around?


Before Prohibition, every small town had their own local brewery, usually next door to the town bakery (since they used virtually the same ingredients). Beers had regional differences in taste.  The Craft Beer Industry is trying to keep the uniqueness and diversity alive.

I don’t just “like beer” or “drink beer.”
I’m an enthusiast.
I’m an advocate.
I’m concerned for the wellbeing of the microbrewery, craft breweries, and independent retailers that keep the Industry unique. Small businesses provide differentiation and competition in the marketplace. Competition is good. And there is more to [beer] life than Bud Lite.

CHEERS!



BONUS 


The historical significance of beer is quite fascinating. If you are looking for an interesting documentary, I highly recommend How Beer Saved The World. It’s on Netflix, it’s not too long, and it’s educational… so add it to your queue today!  The oldest written recipe: Beer.  Louis Pasteur developed the pasteurization process for…. Beer! (you thought it was milk didn’t you?). Why did the Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock?   They ran out of beer (100% true).  So, essentially the World as we know it would be completely different if it weren’t for Beer!


Do you have a Craft Beer you think I should try?  I particularly like Reds and Browns (more malty, less hoppy)...

 

For the Love of Penguins, a $1 Birthday Wish

Hello!

This may come as a shock… but I LOVE penguins!

For my Birthday, I am fundraising for World Wildlife Fund.  I have been a supporter of WWF for over a decade.  It’s such a worthwhile organization deeply committed to protecting the future of our natural world.

Birthday Wish Penguin Collage- small 

Donate Button

 

I am asking for a $1 donation Birthday wish!

With every dollar donated, we are helping the Penguins!  And Polar Bears. And Tigers.  And Elephants. And countless other species we are sharing the world with.

Your support will benefit WWF’s mission to conserve the great outdoors and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on this Big Blue Marble we call home.

Thanks you in advance for donating to a cause near and dear to my heart!

wwf_penguins

PayPal or CC accepted
World Wildlife Fund is a 501©(3) charitable organization

Please Visit http://wwf.worldwildlife.org/goto/InMyLife

Going on a Houston BBQ Adventure- Killen’s

Update 5.26.15 When I wrote this blog post, Houston had been getting a week of scattered Thunder Storm combined with clear sky days. I did not anticipate the severity of the storm on Memorial Day and resulting #HoustonFlood. My heart goes out to Houstonians as we try to recover and rebuild. I look forward to supporting the local business like Killen’s as soon as possible.

As long as the weather in Houston cooperates, the plan is to try out Killen’s in Pearland for my Birthday this week!

Texas BBQ
image from Reddit
Their menu looks delicious, and they have Daily Specials. AND I hear they have excellent banana pudding.

Yes, they opened over a year ago. But when a friend said she wanted to visit me this Fall, I started on a search to find the Best of Houston (so she can have the greatest trip!). Texas BBQ is obviously something she needs to experience. And since my search started, the name Killen’s pops up All. The. Time. (Like them on Facebook to get lovely pictures of BBQ in your newsfeed)

Food Network: Top 5 BBQ in America
Houston Eater: The Essential 38 Houston Restaurants, April 2015
Houston Chronicle Food Critic gives it 4 Stars
ZAGAT Houston’s Best Cheap Eats (Top-rated Houston restaurants under $25.)
30 Things You Need to Eat and Drink This Summer in Houston
4.5 Stars on Yelp
Forbes Travel Guide says he is the KING of Houston BBQ
Mentioned in Travel + Leisure
Representing at the Houston BBQ Festival The Chronicle says it’s a Superstar!
AND Thanks to Sports Illustrated, I know you can show up before 11am and take-a-ticket (Deli Style)

Tickets are so you don’t have to stand in line while you wait for us to open. Grab a ticket and feel free to wait in your car or in the shade or at a picnic table. It’s up to y’all to get lined up in order before we open. Please grab one ticket per person.

Thank you.

No fighting, it’s just bbq.


Here is a good How-To read for 1st timers to Killen’s... it’s great to know what to expect once you finally make a trip out there. Thanks Texas BBQ Treasure Hunt!

BONUS POINTS


Alton Brown stopped there during his most recent trip to Houston.



JJ Watt has said on multiple occasions that it’s his favorite place to eat in Houston.

 





A photo posted by JJ Watt (@justinjames99) on


Someone’s not going to paint their wall anytime soon..

JJWatt at Killens

If you have any great Houston “Must See” “Must Do” “Must Eat” ideas… please let me know (comment or email)!

Playing in the Kitchen: Chili Colorado #CincoDeMayo

When I saw an article on Bon Appetit called Chili Colorado is the Greatest Recipe Of All Time last month, I pinned it for later. Usually skeptical of anything touted “of all time,” I’ve had success with Bon Appetit recipes in the past. And this particular magazine seems to have the right balance of taking your cooking up a few notches while remaining pretty feasible for a non-professional cook.

Chili Colorado

The article is less instructional and more a story of a beloved childhood favorite: Chili Colorado (Colorado as in “red,’ not the State). So I consolidated it into a more readable recipe (below) and started on a kitchen adventure! Here are some good tips I learned along the way.

  • Be persnickety when buying chilies. I dug through the bulk bin until I found ones that were not crispy/too dry. They should be pliable like a raisin. If you buy them in bags, squish the bag to test the chilies. Crispy chilies = no flavor.

  • bags of chili peppers
  • I used “pork steaks.” These are pork chops that are not cut from the loin, but rather from the Boston Butt/Shoulder. Since the steaks were cut 1/2” thick, I only had to cut them in 1/2” strips, then cubes. Now if I could buy already cubed, it’d save even more time!

  • The pork steaks were $1.77 a pound and buy the chilies from the bulk bin costs less than $2 total. So this was a pretty cost effective meal (especially since I got to use up my homemade chicken stock sitting in the freezer). But saving money means spending more time… from the time I “started” in the kitchen until the time we sat down to eat: 4 hours. A lot of that time was just a simmering pot on the stove, and looking back I could had prepped/done the recipe in a different order to be more efficient. At any rate, this isn’t a “last minute-throw together” meal. Which is fine by me :)

  • Brown the pork in batches, not all at once. It took me 3 batched. But this way they have room to sear instead of steam. And DON’T stir the pieces around when you put them in the post. Let them sit and sear, and then flip after a few minutes. Remove to a plate and start the next batch.

  • brown the pork
  • Truth: I used all dried herbs spices. Because that is what I had. AND unless you are growing your own herbs, buying fresh can be expensive. Especially for a recipe that is simmering for hours. Save fresh herbs for a finish touch, if you want.

  • I started with the chili puree because that is how it was described in the article. next time, I’ll start with the pork, get that simmering away, and then move on t the Chilies (which have to steep for 30 min anyway).

  • chili puree
  • The article said simmer for 45 min after adding the chili puree. I extended this to an hour. You can tell when it is done because the pot will look saucy, not soupy.

  • Chili Colorado- Reducing
  • The pork will be so tender you can barely stab it with a for without it falling apart. Yum!

  • This is a heavy dish! There was a comment on the article describing it as such, and I should have taken heed. One scoop of brown rice topped with a scoop of chili colorado, a couple tortillas and some corn on the cob and I was FULL. As in 5 hrs later I still felt that heavy kind of full. Next time, less meat and more light sides… like a salad. Or just use the meat for tacos.

  • Nevertheless, I didn’t mind the fell feeling, since I literally knew (and could pronounce) all the foods and ingredients I just ate. Yay home-cooking!

Here is the recipe I de-coded from the article

Chili Colorado Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Chilies: 5 anchos, 2 pasillas, and 2 guajillos –seed and stem
Cover chilies with 3 cups of boiling chicken stock and steam, 30 minutes
Purée chilies and liquid until smooth

2 pounds of boneless pork shoulder, cut into ½” pieces; season w/ salt and pepper
brown over med-high heat (heavy bottom pot coated in oil)

Add
6 garlic cloves chopped garlic
two bay leaves
tablespoon of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of chopped fresh sage and chopped fresh Mexican oregano
stir for 1 min

Add
5 cups of chicken stock; simmer uncovered for 1 hour

Add
Chile purée and simmer for another 45-60 minutes
The meat should be very tender and the sauce a thick, mahogany-red color.
Season with additional salt and pepper

Serve with with Mexican rice, beans a la charra, and flour tortillas

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