Click inside for the weekly food for thought with items on holiday craft beer, Walnut-Crusted Chicken recipe, "The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto" and more. Or check out these links:
“Craft beer" exploded onto the scene 25 years ago and literally redefined how people think about American brewers and their offerings.
Today's beer lovers are trading up to "better" beers for their own consumption and as gifts. A 12-pack of a world-class American craft beer is about the price of an undistinguished bottle of Champagne or wine.
Beer has also become the beverage of celebration. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Wakefield Research for Samuel Adams, 60 percent of men would rather toast with beer than Champagne.
Whether a beer connoisseur or not, there are a number of ways to incorporate beer into this year's seasonal celebrations. Here are four festive ways to celebrate with beer:
* Craft brewers are experimenting with styles that challenge people's perception of what beer can be. Step out of your comfort zone and experiment, too. For example, Samuel Adams’ Infinium is brewed with Champagne yeast and offers a unique drinking experience.
* Celebrate the season. A growing trend in the craft beer movement is the burgeoning availability of seasonal options. Whether at a fireside winter gathering or getting ready to welcome spring, beer lovers are now seeking brews designed to suit the season.
* Clever hosts can change it up with a new spin on the classic wine and cheese party –– host a craft beer and cheese party. Each guest brings a cheese to pair with a favorite beer. For example, aged cheddar can be paired with an American lager, blue cheese with spicy winter brews or aged goat cheese with fruit beers. Since beer is so versatile, guests won't feel pressure to come up with precise matches, and the flavor combinations will pleasantly surprise everyone.
* Build your own mix-pack. It's hard work, but the best way to learn about craft beer is through sampling. One popular idea is to ask each guest to bring a six- or 12-pack of their favorite brew. At the beginning of the party, set all of the beer out on a table and let the guests take turns picking different beers to sample, allowing everyone to try something new. For those who want a "guided tour" of craft beer, many brewers offer mixed 12-packs that feature six different holiday favorites.
Easy recipe: Walnut-Crusted Chicken Satay with Sage Cream
2 ½ pounds chicken thigh meat, trimmed of all fat and diced into ½-inch cubes
¼ cup rum
1 pound walnut pieces
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 bunch fresh sage, minced
Salt and pepper
In a bowl, toss chicken with rum; refrigerate 4 hours.
Drain well, then place four to six pieces of chicken on each wooden skewer. Season with salt and pepper, and spray with a little pan spray. Roll in walnuts. Lay skewers on a cookie pan and roast in a 350-degree oven 15 minutes or until walnuts are browned. Keep warm.
To make sage cream, reduce cream in saucepan by half. Add minced sage, salt and pepper to taste. Serve cream warm, either on the side of satays or poured on serving dish with satays placed on top.
-- The Repository/ Chef Chip Kennedy
Would you buy it? Pillsbury Sweet Moments Bite-Size Brownies
Details: Ready-to-eat, refrigerated brownie bites coated in chocolate and layered with either caramel or fudge. A serving size of four has 180 calories, and one bag comes with 12 brownies.
Claims: A news release says the snack is “just the right size to grab and go for a quick pick-me-up.”
More information: 800-775-4777 or www.Pillsbury.com
Availability: At supermarkets nationwide
Comments: When we opened the bag of the chocolate caramel bites, we noticed immediately that they were scratched and dented, a result of poor packaging and a deterrent to placing them out for guests. A bite revealed they were soft, moist, sweet and very rich. “They’re good, but almost cloyingly sweet.” “Very convenient. Just open the bag and eat.” “For the price, I’d rather make my own brownies.”
Would you buy it? A split verdict, but our answer is no.
-- The State Journal-Register
Did You Know?
Vegetables are divided into five subgroups based on their nutrient content: dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, dry beans and peas, starchy vegetables and other vegetables.
Which of these is meat from bulls killed in the ring?
A. Cecina de cabra
B. Carne de lidia
C. Cecina de caballo
D. Cecina de venado
Answer is at bottom of column
Wise to the Word: Jackfruit
This huge relative of the breadfruit and fig can weigh up to 100 pounds. Spiny and oval or oblong-shaped, the tropical jackfruit grows in parts of Africa, Brazil and Southeast Asia. When green, both its flesh and edible seeds are included in curried dishes. Ripe jackfruit has a bland, sweet flavor and is generally used for desserts. In the United States, jackfruit is only available canned.
Number to Know
133: One large raw pear is 133 calories.
The Dish On …
“As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship and the Making of a Masterpiece” by Joan Reardon
With her outsize personality, Julia Child is known around the world by her first name alone. Now more than 200 letters that were exchanged between Julia and Avis DeVoto, her friend and unofficial literary agent, open the window on Julia’s deepest thoughts and feelings. This riveting correspondence, in print for the first time, chronicles the blossoming of a unique and lifelong friendship between the two women and the turbulent process of Julia’s creation of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” one of the most influential cookbooks ever written.
-- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
From the Beer Nut’s Blog: New brew from Full Sail
Full Sail Brewing Company has announced the upcoming release of Bump in the Night, the first beer in the 2011 Brewmaster Reserve.
It’s described as a Cascadian Dark Ale, or black IPA if you’re in that camp. I’m a fan of the style and I can’t wait to try it. Here’s the release:
Full Sail Brewing Company will release Bump in the Night, the first and newest beer in their 2011 Brewmaster Reserve line-up.
It is brewed in the Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) style and is the perfect companion for long winter nights. The array of dark malts present a full-bodied beer with notes of cocoa and slight roast. It has a big floral citrus hop flavor and bitterness, reminiscent of an IPA.
Bump in the Night will be available in specialty beer stores and pubs on draught and in 22-ounce bottles from mid-December to March. Alcohol by volume is 6.5 percent.
To read more from the Beer Nut, visit http://blogs.townonline.com/beernut/
Food Quiz Answer
B. Carne de lidia
GateHouse News Service