Dave’s BrewFarm

Last Sunday, Matt and I met a couple of friends at Dave’s BrewFarm in Wilson , WI. It is only about an hour from the Twin Cities…and I have to say it is a rad lil brewery.

Dave's BrewFarm

Dave’s BrewFarm is a brewery on a farm. It was a pretty awesome experience, as I have never been to a brewery with such a set up. Dave’s BrewFarm is a small brewery that promotes sustainable business practices and is even wind-powered. On top of that, Dave had some  great beer. He had 8 beers on tap, including a session, an IPA, a stout, a sour and a few others. They all had clever names too, however I forgot to write them down or take a picture of them, so you’ll have to take my word for it. With a lot of Dave’s beers he takes a classic beer and puts his own personal spin on it. Matt and I did a flight of all the taps, and I have to say I liked all of the beers. While we are easy to please, we know good beer when we taste it.

Matt and I were able to talk to Dave and his wife, Pam. They are some pretty awesome people. I always love talking to the owners of breweries and restaurants. Not only do you get a more personal experience, but it is nice knowing the people behind the business. Pam also runs a CSA from their farm, so some of the herbs and other ingredients that is put in their beer are grown right there on their land. 

Any day at a brewery is a good day, however it was beautiful Sunday. One of the first warm days of spring. It’s nice to get away from the city and enjoy the sunshine and fresh country air. I look forward to heading back to Dave’s BrewFarm soon.

Dave's BrewFarm

Oh, and the friends we met. Well, one of them is the chef and owner of The Gray House in Minneapolis. Let me tell you, if your chef friend offers to bring “snacks.” Always say yes. 

foodbrewfarm

Gray Duck

The other day I came across this local chai called “Gray Duck Chai.” I will admit I bought this solely due to its name and the fact it was local. (Oh, and because I love chai tea.) 

Gray Duck Chai

So, unless you are from Minnesota or played “Duck, Duck, Goose” with someone from Minnesota, you probably won’t understand the name. Basically everywhere, but Minnesota, the childhood game is called “Duck, Duck, Goose.” However, in Minnesota it is called “Duck, Duck, Gray Duck.” Amy and I (and our brother) always were totally thrown off when we were playing with our Minnesotan cousins and they yelled “Gray Duck.”  This may or may not turned into long conversations about which version is “correct.” I continue to have this conversations with Minnesotans, as I’m a Sconnie living in Minnesota. Let me tell you, many Minnesotans are quite serious about this. If you don’t believe me, check this Buzzfeed article titled “You’ve Been Playing “Duck, Duck, Goose” Wrong your Whole Life.”

By the way, Gray Duck Chai is quite delicious! The company is awesome too. Gray Duck Chai is traditionally crafted and made with all organic and fair trade ingredients. It is really a quality chai that has a nice blend of spice that also comes in a rad bottle. Gray Duck Chai may just end up being one of my new addictions.

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

 I don’t know about you, but I love oatmeal! I rarely have time during the work week to make it, so I try to make it on the weekends. I started making this because Emily often makes this Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal for breakfast when we visit. 

Making oatmeal from scratch is easy! I have both the quick oats and regular ones, but this weekend I decided to make the quick oats kind. You can buy them in bulk from most grocery stores! 

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Ingredients

You’ll need quick oats, milk, agave nectar or honey, an apple, cinnamon and some shaved almonds.

Combine everything but the almonds in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the oatmeal thickens (just a couple minutes), serve with shaved almonds as a crunchy garnish.

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal

I love making different varieties of oatmeal. I’m really looking forward to the farmers markets this summer for some fresh berries! I packed up the leftovers (this is enough for two people) and reheated it for breakfast the next day.

If you’re looking to increase your fiber intake, you could add some flax seed to the oatmeal as it cooks.

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Burning Brothers Brewery

While National Beer Day was yesterday, we are going to booze it up today by highlighting a local brewery. I do have to say being gluten-free really poses some challenges for finding delicious craft beer. I personally feel much better when I stick to my GF lifestyle.  Beer is one thing that is hard for me to give up. I know, I know. There is GF beer out there, but much of it is just not the same as good, ol’ craft beer.

Living in Milwaukee, and now the Twin Cities, there are huge craft beer scenes. It is always a great afternoon when you spend it in the tap room of a local brewery. One problem, my favorite local breweries are not gluten-free. There are some that do have one GF beer, but overall it is pretty tricky. Or, I just love one of their non-GF beers, and I really would rather drink that. I do usually let myself have one glutenous beer a week. I am lucky in that I only have a gluten sensitivity, so I am able to make choices like this.  But a brand new brewery opened up in Saint Paul called Burning Brothers Brewery. And, guess what?! It is a completely gluten-free brewery. Yes, every single beer they make is gluten free.

The brewery founders used to be fire eaters, hence the name “Burning Brothers.” They were talking about starting their own brewery when one of them found out he had Celiac’s Disease. He took his home brewing background and decided to channel his new found GF lifestyle into this brewery. Together the brothers formed Burning Brothers Brewing, which also happens to be the only dedicated gluten-free brewery in the Midwest. Lucky for me, the brewery is only a mile from where I live in Saint Paul.

burning brothers

Burning Brothers Brewing has been distributing beer around the Twin Cities. I have been following them closely for when their tap room opened. And…this past weekend the time finally came! Matt and I headed over there this past Saturday afternoon. They had their Pyro beer on tap, and it was delicious.

Their Pyro is an American Pale Ale. The Burning Brothers describe the Pyro as :

An American twist on an English bitter, this light fruity beer is a drink that can be enjoyed at any time! We substitute the traditional English flavor with our own unique blend of American hops. Note the initial taste of orange followed by just a hint of grapefruit. Three years in the making, our APA stands strong against any other APA on the market. It’s a beer that looks good and delivers a crisp beer taste, enough said!” 

It was a tasty session beer that I can see myself enjoying all year long. I can’t tell it is GF, which is a good thing. I look forward to trying their other beers in the future. But in the mean time, I have my growler of Pyro, which will be refilled often.

growler burning brothers

Right now they are only distributing to the Twin Cities area. So if you are in the Twin Cities, make sure to check them out! 

TBT: Mars Cheese Castle

This week’s TBT is not being “thrown back” very far. Last June, I moved to the east coast for about 8 months. Well, I needed my car out there. So you know what that means ROAD TRIP! But wait, it gets better ROAD TRIP WITH AMY!!

We started the day in Milwaukee, which is only about an hour from the Illinois border. However, there was one place we had to go before crossing the border into Illinois. MARS CHEESE CASTLE!! We were about 40 minutes into our road trip, but seriously it is a Castle of Cheese. (Well, actually, It is not a castle physically made of cheese, but it is a castle that houses A LOT of cheese and cheese novelty gifts.) So, with moving the farthest I ever had from the Midwest (and of course, Wisconsin), we knew this would be the perfect place to stop before leaving the Sconnie nation.

Mars Cheese Castle

If you live in Wisconsin, there is a good chance you have been to Mars Cheese Castle at some point in your life (or many times in your life). If you have visited Wisconsin by way of Interstate 94 from Illinois, there is also a good chance you have also been to the Mars Cheese Castle. 

Mars Cheese Castle is great. You can buy nearly every cheese imaginable, particularly awesome Wisconsin cheese. They have cheese novelty gifts, shirts, and lots of other good Sconnie souvenirs. But they also have a deli and a bar. How can you not love this place? I mean it has cheese and beer. What more do you need? Amy and I decided to have lunch at the bar, as we got a late start. I don’t remember what Amy had, but I had a cheddar filled bratwurst with German potato salad.

What makes this place even better is what happens when you sit at the bar…other than just getting a beer. So, you know how some bars have complimentary popcorn or nuts…well, Mars Cheese Castle brings over a gigantic tub of cheese spread and crackers to enjoy on the house.* They hand you a plate, and you just spoon as much cheese spread as you want. Heaven, pure heaven.

Mars Cheese Castle Bar

So, we enjoyed our cheese spread, cheese filled brats, German potato salad, and a refreshing beer before hitting the road.** We also had a nice chat with the owner of the cheese castle…so I guess we had a nice chat with the “Cheese King.” The Mars Cheese Castle has been family owned for quite some time.

All in all, it was the perfect “last” stop in Wisconsin.

 

*I can’t guarantee they do this every day. Previous times I have been there, I was either not 21 or not able to stop long enough for a beer.

**We never advocate drinking and driving. The driver only had one beer, plus we hung out for quite awhile to make sure we were all good to keep driving on. Needless to say, between the late start and the trip to the Cheese Castle, we did not throw down a lot of miles on that first day.

 

Slow Cooker Roast Beef with Gravy

I love roast beef. It is super tasty and fairly easy to make in the crock pot. Not to mention, it makes your house smell Ah-mazing! 

beef and gravy

Before we get to the recipe, I want to talk about the ingredients. All you need are carrots, potatoes (I like to use red), beef chuck roast, condensed cream of mushroom soup, an onion soup/dip dry mix packet, and water.

  • I also highly recommend purchasing grass-fed beef. It is better for your health and the environment. There are many reasons grass-fed beef is better, which could be a blog post all on its own. In the meantime, check out this NY Times article for a short overview.
  • For the cream of mushroom soup, I recommend Pacifica’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup. It is good quality, and I think it adds great flavor to the roast. If you don’t choose this soup, I would recommend an organic or all natural variety. (When in doubt, if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you shouldn’t buy it.)
  • Finally, the packet of onion/soup mix I often use is Simply Organic’s French Dip Mix. It adds the right flavor to the roast. My co-op had an onion soup dry packet mix by a local producer, so I used that this time around. It also add great flavor and had high-quality ingredients.
  • I purchased organic produce. For carrots and potatoes, it is always best to buy organic to avoid pesticides on your produce.
  • Obviously, you should buy what works for your budget. However, buying quality organic/local/sustainable ingredients are not only better for the environment, but also for your health (which can lower your health care costs in the long run).

Ok, now on to the recipe! I forgot to take photos of the prep for the crockpot. Sorry, I was prepping it before work. However, everything is pretty easy and straight forward.

  1. First, wash and peel your carrots. Cut into large chunks. 1″-2″ chunks are best. Then, wash your potatoes and cut into similarly sized large chunks. Set aside.
  2. Put the cream of mushroom soup, 2 cups of water and 2/3 of the onion soup/dip mix packet in the crock pot. Stir until it is combined.
  3. Place your potatoes and carrots in the crock pot.
  4. Sprinkle the rest of the onion soup/dip dry mix on your roast. Place on top of the potatoes and carrots in the crock pot. It is best to have your roast partially submerged. You may need to move the potatoes and carrots a bit to accommodate your roast, but try not to have the roast sit on the very bottom of the crock pot.
  5. Finally, scoop a spoonful of the liquid in the crock pot on top of your roast. Cover and set your crock pot on low. Cook for 6-8 hours, until the roast falls apart and is tender. (Flip your roast at least once while its cooking if you are able.)
Fully Cooked Roast in Crock Pot
Fully Cooked Roast in Crock Pot

Once your roast is cooked, remove the roast and veggies. Cover with foil and set aside. I like to pull apart the roast, but you can also just cut it up and serve it in larger chunks. Now it’s time to use all that delicious liquid. You can strain the liquid and skim the fat. However, I usually don’t. It is partially because I don’t have one of those fancy fat skimmer/separators, so I don’t often feel like going to all the work. 

So, that delicious liquid full of soup mix, beef juices, and more. We are going to use that for our gravy. I used to always buy gravy, until I realized just how easy and quick it is to make. You can use this recipe to make any gravy. If you have pan drippings (or juice from cooking a roast in the crock pot), use that before you would use pre-made stock.

  1. First, you start with 3 tablespoons of fat. I usually do half unsalted butter and half pan drippings. If you don’t have pan drippings, use all butter (your welcome).Melt the butter with pan drippings in a sauce pan on low.
  2. Once melted, add 3 tablespoons of flour*, and whisk immediately. This will form a “rue,” which is a paste to help your gravy thicken. Heat this rue on low for a minute.
  3. Slowly add you liquid (3 cups), keep continually whisking to have your rue combine with your liquid. Turn up your burned to about medium, heat to a low boil. Then, turn your gravy back down to low immediately. Your gravy will thicken up during this whole process.
  4. If it doesn’t thicken enough for your tastes, you could add a little bit of all-natural potato flakes (Bob’s Red Mill has good quality potato flakes). The potato flakes will help your gravy thicken, while not taking away from the taste.

gravy

Once your gravy is done, top your roast and veggies with some gravy and enjoy!

potatoes

Matt and I paired our roast with Fox Barrel Pear Naked Cider. The acidity in the cider paired nicely with the savory roast beef. I don’t often like ciders, but I thought this one was pretty tasty. We served the cider in a Boom Island Brewery glass, which is an awesome local brewery in the Twin Cities.

foxbarrel

*I used Gluten-free All-Purpose flour (and onion soup/dip mix in the roast) to keep this whole recipe GF!

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True Sconnie Happiness

Amy came this weekend to visit me in Minnesota. Well, she mainly came to go to our cousin’s bridal shower, as we helped in planning a little bit of it. However, we were able to have some nice family time together too with each other and our other family that visited from Wisconsin. While the visit was quick, it was a lot of fun. 

After they left Sunday, I was treated to a nice surprise. I was making lunch, so I opened the refrigerator. (You know, the normal action you do when making food.) Anyways, I came across something I did not put in my fridge. Cheese Curds. Good ‘ol Wisconsin Cheese Curds. Honestly, Cheese Curds are really the best thing ever to a Sconnie gal like me. I mean look at those delicious and glorious cheese curds. Someone left their cheese curds behind. While I don’t know how that could happen…maybe it was on purpose…either way, I did not care. I had Wisconsin Cheese Curds, which are really the best thing ever!

curds

And you know the best part?! They were still squeaky. If you didn’t know, the fresher the cheese curd, the squeakier it will be. There is nothing better than a squeaky cheese curd. 

Squeaky Cheese Curds=True Sconnie Happiness

cheese curds

Graze

I recently came across an ad for graze, a subscription-based healthy snack delivery service. It was very unlike me to actually click an ad, but I was very intrigued. Besides, they were offering a free box of snacks. Free food? Yes please.

I explored the site (and the snack offerings) and realized that graze could be a great snack option for me! Each box is just $6 (including shipping) and is “nutritionally balanced with a great mix of sweet and savory, healthy and tasty food.”

After signing up for the service, I went through some of the snack options to rank things I knew I wouldn’t like. For example, I don’t like pistachios, so I “trashed” any snack that included them.

My first graze box arrived last week.

Graze box delivery

I love all the details on the packaging! I especially love that the box is made using wood from a sustainable forest and that it’s 100% recyclable! Even the plastics used for the snack packs is recyclable!

Graze Box

All the little details and personalizations were a nice touch.

graze box details

I was excited to see what surprises awaited me in my box!

graze box contents

I received the cheese board, sour cream & onion cashews, fruity mango chutney and toffee apple.

cheeseboard1

My only complaint with the cheese board (above) was that I wanted seconds immediately.

fruitymangochutney

I also tried the fruity mango chutney (above), which I didn’t really care for. It’s spicy in a black pepper – savory kind of way and just didn’t appeal to me.

Oh, and did I mention you get a card detailing all of the nutritional information for your box? It even includes “best by” dates for each of the snacks.

nutrition

I brought the cashews in the car for last weekend’s road trip. They were AMAZING. I’m going to take the toffee apple to work this week for a snack!

Overall, I am very pleased with graze – for its variety of healthy-yet-tasty options, its sustainable practices and its value. There’s no way I could get a comparable variety of healthy snacks at the store for this cost!

Wanna try graze?

If you click the link below (or visit graze.com and use my friend code: AMYK1774P*), you’ll not only get your first box free – but your fifth box will also be free

https://www.graze.com/us/p/AMYK1774U

 * When you sign up using my friend code, I’ll get $1 off my next box, or the option to donate $1 to the graze school of farming. I’ve been doing a one-for-one with the referrals. So, if two people click the link and sign up, I’ll save $1 off my next box and I’ll donate the other $1 to the graze school of farming!

Emily and the rotisserie chicken

Editor’s note: Once upon a time, we had a different blog. The year was 2009. The blog was called “Kant Touch Us.”  It shut down in 2010. We saved some of the posts however. Here’s one of those gems, originally posted in August 2009.

Emily tried to carve a chicken tonight. She was mildly successful.

Guacamole Hummus

Whenever I hear the word “hummus,” I think of this.

What Gets Out Hummus Friends

“What gets out hummus? What gets out hummus?!”

I am a huge fan of hummus. I love all the varieties and I especially love to make it from scratch. I think a lot of people get intimidated by making hummus, but I’m telling you it’s not that difficult. As long as you have a blender, Magic Bullet or food processor, you’ll be fine!

guacamole hummus

First, you’ll gather up all your ingredients: garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas), tahini, olive oil, avocados, lime, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, onion powder and cayenne pepper.

ingredients spices

Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.

garbanzo beans

Pour the garbanzo beans into your blender and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add all the remaining ingredients except for the avocado.

adding spices

Pulse some more until the mixture is well mixed.

mixture

Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl.

beanmix

Next, cut up the avocados.

avocados

Add to the mixture and mash lightly with a fork.

avocados2

Serve with your favorite chips, crackers or veggies.

guacamole hummus

Adjust the cayenne pepper to taste. If you don’t like spicy things, use less. (Me? I like spice!) I think next time I might try adding a little more lime and try a diced garlic clove instead of the garlic powder.

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