Friday, February 21, 2014

Winter Beer Fest 2014, My List

My Top Tastes at Winter Beer Fest 2014

Christmas + Super Bowl = Winter Beer Fest
While many, many people were disappointed this year with the ticketing process for Winter Beer Fest (myself included), if you got a golden ticket, you are one excited person right now.  Beer Fest is TOMORROW...and I know that I feel like it's Christmas Eve.  If you aren't going, be sure to check out the many events that are happening around town (the brewer's breakfasts at Brewery Vivant and Logan's Alley would be my picks), or pick up some Michigan beer on sale this week at +D&W Fresh Market .

These are the beers that I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  I have never had a plan at Beer Fest, I always just kind of go with the flow, hit the shortest line, try something totally new, or visit my brewing friends and have them pick.  There's a little bit of all of this in my list.  Have fun tomorrow!  Say hi if you see me!  And get a ride home!

Mt. Pleasant Brewing Company-Peach Gruit
-Head brewer Kim loves to share the story of Gruit, and brews up a couple different styles to show his love.  Not only is Kim super fun to hang out with (you can see the evidence above of us laughing our heads off at Summer Beer Fest), but his Peach Gruit tastes just like summer.  Fruit beers aren't always my favorite, but this one is so fresh and downright peachy that it will be just the thing to shake off tomorrows chill.  The real treat, however, is to get to talk gruits with Kim!

Tapistry Brewery- ANYTHING because I haven't been there yet, and that is a shame!  But I might go for the Dubbel Standard with candy sugar.  Let me know what to try here!

Greenbush Brewing- Vanderbush with Vandermill's Cider
-Love love love +Greenbush Brewing Co  (here's Scott and me), anything they make is delish.  I like this collaborative beer/cider hybrid.  I think hybrid beers are a new trend, with cider and even wine in the mix.  Interesting and different, get in line for anything from these guys EARLY as they will have long ones, with good reason.

Falling Down Beer Co.- Ninja Chicken
-A beer I got to try with +John Gonzalez on our search for Michigan's Best Brewery, but haven't had since.  There are LOTS of smaller breweries that don't distribute, or don't distribute where you live.  Beer Fest is chance to revisit favorites, or try something not available here.  Check these guys out, and note that NO chickens were harmed in the making of this beer.

New Holland Brewing Company- Blackbeerd's Sweet Potato Stout
-This beer just sounds weird.  Reason alone to try it!

@Wolverine Brewing Company-Gulo Gulo IPL
-From my friend the Beer Wench (pictured above) comes a unique offering.  An India Pale LAGER.  If you know anything about beer, you know that running an all lager brewery is CRAZY, at least financially.  I love the clean crisp taste of their beers, and since they are not widely available yet on the west side of the state, I can't wait to have my favorite tomorrow.  And hang with the WENCH.

Witch's Hat-anything barrel aged
-When +John Gonzalez  and I were on the tour, we loved the different barrel aged beers that Witch's Hat offered.  Especially after we saw the size of their aging room/ brewing facitlity/ brew pub.  Who says you need a lot of space to make great beers?  Not this brewery!

+Kuhnhenn Brewing Co LLC - DRIPA
-Kuhnehenn is also not readily available (yet) on this side of the state.  And their beers are carefully crafted, amazingly awesome, delicious beers.  The DRIPA they served us on our search haunts me to this day, it was one of my all time favorites.  Can't wait to have it again!

So there it is!  It's a very personal list...hitting up my friends, old favorites, new tastes, and beers I can't get here in GR.  And if I actually make it to these beers, it will be a miracle.  You'll find me with these two chicka's, my sis and my BFF, and we tend to get distracted, get laughing, get talking....and the next thing you know, we don't know what's what.  But that's the fun of Beer Fest: great beers, great friends, great weather!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Year, a New YOU!


One thing I will never, ever tell you to do is DIET.  I hate diets.  So I hate all the new year's resolutions that involve a diet.  They don't work.  Like, not ever.  I don't care what kind you are on.  The key to being healthy and to being happy with your body is to just eat pretty good ALL OF THE TIME.  And to treat your self when you want to.  And eat when you want to, just don't eat too much.  In other words, to just live good.  And the rest will follow.  A true lifestyle is much easier to maintain than some crazy diet.  So just make good choices most of the time, and you won't ever need a new you, you'll just love the you you are!

So here is a go to salad that is full of lots of healthy kale.  But I really just like the way this tastes, which is why I eat it.  It just happens to also be good for me.  Pick up some kale at +Family Fare Supermarkets  and be sure to totally submerge it in water and swish it around a while.  Then just let it float, while all the dirt sinks.  Kale is usually pretty sandy, and you don't want a gritty salad.  Then put is in a salad spinner to get rid of all the water.  Once you make the salad, it actually gets better after sitting for a little bit, so feel free to make it ahead.  And make sure you use real parmesan cheese, NEVER EVER buy the green can!

A great, healthy, seasonal salad for the new year, this one is packed with vitamins and flavor!

Amy Sherman's Dark Green Salad

about 10--12 cups dark leafy greens, like kale, swiss chard, or spinach
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
pinch of sugar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon worcestshire sauce
salt and pepper
chopped toasted pistachios
shaved parmesan cheese

Rinse the greens well, then thinly slice into strips.  Mix the shallot, mustard, sugar, oil, lemon and worcestshire sauce together, season with salt and pepper.  Toss with the greens, then lay them out on a platter.   Top with nuts and cheese and serve.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


No place better to be than cuddled up on my couch with my precious puppy, contemplating what I'll be eating and DRINKING later on.  Here are some last minute Thanksgiving cooking tips.

1. If your bird is not defrosted yet, do NOT panic.  Open a beer. Stick that bird in a big tub and put it in the sink.  Run some water over until it's defrosted.  Make sure you get the inside, and remove all the gibberish.  Classic restaurant way to defrost fast!

2. Make sure all your beer is in the fridge NOW.  No one likes warm beer.  Except the English.

3. Sides are the best part of T-giving so make sure yours are AWESOME.  Make those mashed potatoes with whole cloves of garlic, and they will be tasty and help boost your immune system.  Which I need because I am fighting a beast of a cold.  Just add peeled garlic cloves to your potatoes when you are ready to boil them, then mash them right in.  Delish, and not at all overwhelming.

4. Pace yourself.  If you are opening up some big guys today (I have a Beerhive from +Brett VanderKamp at New Holland, a special little something from Southern Tier, several Backwoods...) remember they are MUCH higher in alcohol.  No one likes a drunk at the the table.  At least not DURING dinner.  So keep it classy.

5. Pre-whip your cream for your pie and store it in the fridge.  It will last at least 6-8 hours in there, and you won't have to do it later.

Hope you all have an amazing day with your family and friends!  Let the tryptophan induced coma commence!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Like I even need to say anything else...but I WILL give you some awesome recipes to help you actually incorporate MORE beer into your diet.  The key to cooking with beer, I feel, is to always pick a NON-hoppy beer, and to reduce it down.  This concentrates the sugars in the beer, and makes it easier to add lots of flavor, without really changing the composition of the recipe.

First up, a nice vegetable side dish.  Delicata are awesome, cause you don't have to peel them.  Just slice, scoop out the seeds and fry in some olive oil.  Top it with a fresh, crunchy apple fennel relish and all is right with the vegetarians.  

Squash with Fennel and Apple Relish
2 Delicata squash
olive oil

 Slice the ends off of the squash. Slice into 1/2" rings and remove the seeds with a spoon. 
Lightly salt the squash and let sit for 30 minutes. Completely dry off with paper towels, removing the salt. Heat enough oil to coat a saute pan over medium high heat.  Add them to the pan. They should sizzle the moment they hit the pan. Don't crowd them or they'll steam more than they'll brown. Saute until lightly browned (about 2 minutes per side).
Fennel and Apple Relish

 1 crisp apple, peeled, seeded, very small dice
 1fennel bulb, outer layer removed, very small dice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (if you want)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Bragg's apple cider vinegar
1 cup Beehive Ale from New Holland, reduced in a saucepan to 1 Tablespoon
salt and pepper

Mix all the relish ingredients together and season well with salt and pepper.  Serve the relish sprinkled over the squash.

For the turkey, make it however you normally do.  I rub mine with herb butter, under the skin.  This year I took the infamous +Founders Brewing Co. Backwoods Bastard, reduced it down, and then basted the turkey with it the last 15 minutes.  It picked up the bourbon notes, and made an awesome gravy.  Plus, then you'll have three more to drink.

The pie really turned out amazing, thanks to the winter pack from +ShortsBrewingCompany .  Reduce the Gingersnap and add it to your pie like you would vanilla extract. KICK ASS.  I've now had a 3/4 of the pie for breakfast.  No, you can't have any. Make your own.

Pumpkin Pie

For the crust:
2 1/3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
2 egg yolks
2 tBLS cream

In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour and sugar and pulse to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.  Mix the yolks and cream together in a small cup and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse until a dough forms.  Remove the dough from the machine and form into a disk.  Wrap well in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle your work area with some more flour.  Place a disk on the work surface, sprinkle with more flour and gently roll out the dough to fit the pie or tart pan.  Press into place.  Prick the tart with a fork and place back in the freezer for half an hour, or up to 24 hours.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375,  Par bake the pie crust for abut 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Time the baking of the crust with the making of the filling because you want to add hot filling to a hot crust.

For the filling:
1 bottle Short's Gingersnap Ale
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can evaporated milk
4 eggs

Place the beer in a saucepan and reduce down until very thick and syrupy.  Meanwhile, mix all the rest of the ingredients together in a saucepan over low heat.  Add about 2 Tablespoons of the reduced beer to the pumpkin and whisk well.   Heat the filling up until just hot.  Pour the hot filling into the hot crust and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the center if jiggly like jello and the edges are firm.  Cool for at least an hour.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Recipes for Parsnip Soup and Beet Salad

I forgot to take pictures when I was on the air the other morning.  Morning television goes QUICK, and before you know it, your three minutes (and six hours of work) are up.  Both of these recipes are kick ass for T-Giving.  Soup is a great way to fill up in a low fat style.  Add an onion confit topping made with +Greenbush Brewing Co  Unicorn Killer and it is above and beyond.  Salads are just great.  Add some roasted beets and some local goat cheese from Dancing Goat Farm, and you are set. You can thank me later.

Amy Sherman's Parsnip Soup 

For the soup:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cups slivered onions
2 pounds parsnips, peeled and chopped (or a mix of root veggies)
8 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1/2 cup cream
squeeze of lemon

In a soup pot, heat up the olive oil and add the onions.  Cook, stirring, until brown.  Add the parsnips and continue to cook, for another 5-8 minutes.  Add the stock, salt and pepper to taste.  Add more stock or water, just enough to make sure the veggies are covered. Simmer the soup until t he parsnips are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the cream.  Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth, season with more salt and pepper if needed.  Add a little lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

For the topping:
1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon  honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup malty beer, or a pumpkin ale

Heat a skillet over medium heat. and cook the bacon until crisp.  Drain off most of the fat.  Add the onion and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat, and season with salt and pepper, and add the spices and honey.   Cook for a few minutes, then deglaze with the beer.  Cook until the onions are soft and sweet, about 15 minutes.  Serve the soup topped with the confit.

Amy Sherman's Roasted Beet Salad

To roast beets:
about 2# red beets (3-4 large)
about 2# yellow beets (3-4 large)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Wrap the red beets in foil, and the yellow beets in foil and place both packages on a sheet tray in the oven.  Roast until tender.  This can take between one hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the beets.  Let the beets cool.  When cool enough to handle, slip of the skins and discard. Separately cut the beets into a large dice and put in separate bowls.  This can be done the day before, just store the beets in the fridge until ready to use.

For the salad:
4 cups lettuce
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped

1 large shallot, minced
3 TBLS rice wine vinegar 
1 TBLS dijon mustard
1 tsp coriander, toasted and ground
1/4 cup extra virgin oil (or pistachio oil if you’ve got it)
salt and pepper

To make the salad dressing, combine the shallot with the vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add the mustard, coriander,and then whisk in the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour a few tablespoons over each bowl of beets and stir well.  Toss the greens with some of the dressing.  Top with the beets, crumble the goat cheese, and sprinkle the nuts over the top.  Drizzle more viniagrette over the salad, if you would like.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dark Horse Brewery

Trying to kick out my individual reviews of all the breweries who made the best of the best for the  Best Brewery search with +John Gonzalez .  Obviously, this is Dark Horse!

You can check them out here:

You can check out +Bryan Wiggs here:

I might be playing favorites, but I love Dark Horse Brewing in Marshall.  +Aaron Morse ,  his intrepid wife Kristine, and Wiggs are incredible people.  Aaron seriously never turns his brain off, it is constantly clicking through new ideas, new ventures, new beers.  Kristine keeps him on track, and makes these ideas a reality.  Wiggs, one of my favorite brewers, keeps the whole brewing operation on track, keeping one of the biggest breweries in Michigan humming along.

Our server, Hannah, was awesome, ready to explain anything that Wiggs, Aaron and Kristine forgot.  We got to tour the brewery, and this place is awesome.  You know you are in the presence of greatness when the tool shop is almost as big as the brewery itself...almost.  But these guys are welding, tightening, all the time.  They have hand built this brewery, custom making many of the systems they have there.  And it is quite a production facility.  18,000 barrels this year, they can bottle 140 bottles a minute.  Big time.

None of this would matter if the beer wasn’t good.  It’s better than good, it’s great.  The flagship Crooked Tree IPA is one of the most drinkable, smooth IPA’s I’ve had.  At the pub, it’s pulled off fresh from the tap, and it is creamy, fresh, cloudy and awesome.  A total revelation, and reason alone to visit the pub.   Reserve Special Black Ale, kicking in at 8%, it’s the first beer DH put into production.  It still drinks like a champ.  Scary Rock Star Jesus, one of the best names ever for a beer (and look up the story when you have time) was absolutely  awesome.  A shit ton of fresh apricots and then a chamomile tea infusion make one hell of a summer beer.

Working with a pizza oven, the DH kitchen works with what it has.  The point of the food is to keep It simple and fresh.  They do, with homemade pizza and calzones, all topped with fresh ingredients.  The butter glaze on top really helps.  When doesn't butter help?

Kristine said that if they make a “delicious awesome good product, people will come back for it”  I don’t think you have to worry about that.  After years of hard work, it’s exciting to see the success that Dark Horse is enjoying.  A visit to the eclectic pub is a must.  But if you can't make it to Marshall, go grab their number one seller, Crooked Tree, and toast their success.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Homemade Cracker Jack in honor of our boys!

Had my Metro Health Fresh Start cooking class the other night, and we made this winner.  Then my boys won last night, so it's probably very appropriate to share this recipe.  A low fat, maple sugar smacked snack loaded with peanuts and cashews.   Mix this up for the next game, and the next,and the next...all the way to the World Series.  Oh, and don't forget....GO TIGERS!

Spicy Sweet Popcorn Mix

1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 paper lunch bag

Place the kernels in the bag and fold over about 3 times.  Cook in the microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes on high power.  Don't walk away, the minute the kernels stop popping, remove the bag!

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 TBLS butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
1 cup toasted cashews
1 cup roasted peanuts

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the sugar, syrup, butter, salt, and pepper in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Let boil for one minute, then remove from heat.  Let cool one minute.  Place popcorn, cashews and peanuts in a large bowl, sprayed with pan spray.  Pour the hot syrup evenly over the corn and toss well to coat. Immediately spread the corn on the parchment lined sheet and cool.  Store in an airtight container.