A Foodie Home Experiment

For those of you who know me, I am a self-proclaimed “foodie”. I try not to be the annoying foodie who openly criticizes food at the restaurant table and makes scenes in restaurants. I prefer to enjoy my experience, reflect on the whole dining experience, and then if I choose to Yelp the establishment, provide a complimentary and critical evaluation with a shred of hope that my opinion may in some way make a difference. You may be asking “what makes you qualified to be a food critic”and the answer is absolutely nothing. I’m not a trained chef, but I have eaten my way around the world, I’m not picky, and I’d like to think I have a pretty decent palate for anything. So here is a little insight into my most recent adventure….
My wonderful husband for Christmakah took me on a 4 day foodie excursion to Portland, OR recently. If you followed my posts of Facebook you probably saw everything I ate over the course of the 4 days we were there. One of our favorite stops was the Rogue Ale House to sample all of the amazing beers that they make. A few hours and many tasters later, we left with a box of beer and the task of getting it home safely in my checked luggage. Once home, safe and sound, we invited some fellow foodies over and had an evening of Rogue beers paired with an equally amazing meal.
Here is the evening’s lineup
When trying to create a menu to pair with these beers, I discovered that there wasn’t a lot of information online with suggestions. The best piece of advice I found was “the stronger the flavor, the stronger the beer”. Keeping this in mind, I built a menu that started with the lighter beers and flavors and worked our way to the other end of the spectrum.
John John Ale paired with hot Parmesan Artichoke Dip
First up, the Rogue John John Ale. The John John series is special because it was created as a collaboration of John Maier, the head Brewmaster, and John Cuochot, the Distiller for Rogue. This particular beer is the Dead Guy Ale that has been aged in the Whiskey barrels. What a genius idea! This beer is so delicious and has a distinguishable sweet whiskey finish. We paired this with a hot artichoke parmesan dip and it was perfect!
Next up was the Chipotle Ale. This was my favorite beer to pair a dish with. This beer has a natural smoky flavor to it so to help bring that out, I paired it with a Stone Smoked Porter Sausage (courtesy of our local butcher counter – Valley Farm Market ) and a Tillamook Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar Cheese. The results…….AMAZING!!!
Now we were ready for the main event, featuring the Brutal IPA. The piece de resistance, pot roast with garlic, carrots and onion slow cooked for 6.5 hours and mashed red potatoes with crispy shallots and fried sage. Are you salivating yet?? I’m not usually a fan of IPA’s, but I must say this one was very palatable and had a surprisingly smooth finish. Now I get why it’s won so many awards, most recently the 2011 World Beer Championships Silver Medal. Well done and the perfect partner for my pot roast!
An hour after the pot roast, we finally had enough room left for the last course. Sunny Donuts, featuring none other than the VooDoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale, a wacky collaboration between the famed doughnut shop and Rogue. It looks crazy, sounds crazy and smells like maple syrup, but when you come across a bottle like this you have to buy it and Rogue knows it. This is a hard beer to come by and not something that they keep on tap, so the only way to try it is to get your own souvenir bottle. Well, I gladly fell into that trap and the next time you visit my home you will see my $13 hot pink bottle on display. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you this beer was amazing, because it wasn’t, but it really wasn’t as bad as I anticipated it tasting and surprisingly the doughnuts made it taste better. The taste of bacon isn’t very strong, it’s mainly a strong smoked flavor with a sweet maple finish. It was fun to try but a 6 ounce glass of this was more than enough. It paired well with the maple bar, chocolate glazed cake, and regular glazed doughnuts that we split up between the four of us.
All in all it was a wonderful evening with friends and I think it’s safe to say that we all experienced an impressive food coma and had an impressive night’s sleep. Can’t wait for the next adventure!

Octoberstash

For the month of October, I have been very fortunate to participate in a wonderful cause through the El Cajon Fire & Police Departments and wanted to share the excitement with you all…

Each year during the month of October, both departments have a mustache growing contest and a charity is selected to be the focus of their fundraising efforts.

This year, we are helping Caleb, a local 5th grader living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is one of nine types of muscular dystrophy and is a degenerative disease that primarily affects voluntary muscles. Caleb comes from an adopted family with 13 siblings, all living with various disabilities. Needless to say, Caleb’s parents are saints for what they do, and it’s inspiring to see the difference that they are making in these kid’s lives. For that reason, we want to make a difference in Caleb’s life.

So I bet you are wondering what we are raising money for? We are raising $5,000 to acquire Curly, a highly trained Golden Retriever to be Caleb’s service dog. With the progression of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a service dog will be instrumental in giving Caleb the independence and freedom he needs as he grows older.

As much fun as this month has been, it is all coming to an end on October 25th and we are still a little ways off from our $6,000 goal. We have raised $3,000 so far and we don’t have much time left.

Please visit our website by going to www.elcajonfirefighters.net and clicking on the link for the official Octoberstash website. There you will find more information about Caleb, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and most importantly how you can contribute. All proceeds from the entry fees, merchandise sales, and donations will go directly to our fundraising goal to help Caleb.

Be sure to visit our online store where we have mustache themed t-shirts and hats available for purchase. The t-shirts read “With great mustache comes great responsibility”.

If you are a San Diego resident, join us at the Outback Steakhouse in Granite Hills, El Cajon on Tuesday, October 25th at 7 pm for dinner and to celebrate this wonderful cause with us. There will be a grand finale mustache contest, prizes to raffle off, and most importantly, Outback is donating 10% of all sales that evening to our cause. Check out the flyer below for more details.

For even more fun with mustaches, tune into San Diego’s KUSI news Monday morning where we will be talking about our cause and having a mini-mustache contest….trust me when I say you don’t want to miss that!

Before I wrap this up I would like to pay special thanks to the everyone in our community who has helped us in these efforts, whether you donated items, money, or time. You know who you are and none of this would have been possible without your support!

Menacing Media

When I was thinking the past two weeks about what I would write about next, several things came to mind. For any of you who know me, I am a self proclaimed foodie, and recently there have been several meals worth writing about. I thought about writing a little blurb on real estate, but I figured there’s enough about that out there so I’m holding off for now. Then last Sunday, the careless and tragic events in El Cajon got my blood boiling and I felt moved to write about what happened. After a full week of letting my emotions subside over what happened, I think I’m in a place where I can write about it critically and objectively.

Last Sunday (8/21) my husband was working overtime at the FD in El Cajon. In the afternoon I got a call from a friend checking to see if he was working and she proceeded to tell me the chaos that was breaking out just over the hill from our home. An El Cajon man, Kevin Collier, had shot and killed his infant daughter and mother-in-law, then called a neighbor to tell them what he had done. When officers arrived on scene, they found themselves under fire. ECPD Officer Jared Slocum was shot and heroically, his partner was able to drag him to safety. Immediately officers, SWAT, and firefighters rushed on scene with the gunman still unaccounted for the house on fire. It was the first time since my husband returned to the fire department that I felt anxious about his job. I closely followed the events for the rest of the day and well into the evening. My husband was fine and the day ended as best as it could under the circumstances. The following day the media blitz took off and that is what moved me to write this.

Local freelance photojournalist, Greg Torkelson, had been in the area when the “1199″ went out over the police scanner. He was able to get close enough to the scene and captured the very graphic video of Officer Slocum’s shooting. This video has been spreading like wildfire on the internet and I cannot think of anything more repulsive. BASED ON PRINCIPLE ALONE, I HAVE NOT NOR WILL I EVER WATCH THIS VIDEO. To all of the media outlets out there who have made the decision to share this gruesome video with viewers, SHAME ON YOU! It is completely in poor taste to subject Officer Slocum’s family to this kind of attention! His wife and children should be shielded and protected by their community, not shocked or exposed to the brutal details in the wake of tragedy. You could have reported the story and conveyed all pertinent information of what happened without that video. The fact that you shared that video at all basically is sensationalizing what happened and for what?!? Ratings?!?! When you report on the “War on Terror”, are you showing videos of our troops being shot overseas? I’m sure they exist but we don’t see those because THAT WOULD BE WRONG. Why should the treatment of those who serve on our soil be any different? I’ve never been more disgusted by the media.

Thankfully Officer Slocum survived the incident and continues to recover in intensive care. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the entire ECPD & ECFD family as well as Alyssa, the victim who lost a mother and a daughter that day. As part of that family, I know that there is a wonderful group of people there to support you and help the family heal. If you or anyone you know would like to make a donation to help support Officer Slocum & his family, please reference the benefit account below that has been set up in his honor:

El Cajon Federal Credit Union
266 S . Magnolia Ave., STE. 101
(619) 579-0941
Benefit Account for Jarred Slocum
Account No. 39450

Jarred is a loving husband and dedicated father of two young children with a third on the way. Jarred and his family will need our support.