Thursday, January 26, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 01/25/17: Lots of Steps, Superb Beer, Soup Doctor

1. It was time to take the Sube in for an oil change and then I learned the old sot needed some repair work thanks to the ravages of time. That was fine. I dropped the car off, walked back to our apartment home, walked back to garage, and by the end of the day I racked up about 9000 very enjoyable steps, just over four miles. This more than made up for not getting to the pool today.

2. I picked up the Deke from work. As I always do, I wondered if she wanted to go home and relax or would she like to wind down at Old Line. We sat in front of the school in the Sube for a few minutes while the Deke thought it over and we decided to go to Old Line.

I had no idea that Old Line had landed the once a year hop bomb from Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, the divine Hopslam. I audibly gasped when I saw it on the tap list. It's a dream Imperial IPA, aggressive, packed with all kinds of citrus and fruit tastes supported by a solid malt foundation and slightly sweetened with a taste of honey and a pretty high alcohol content. I savored the two snifters I ordered.  By coincidence, earlier today I had done a "Hopslam" search of my blog and it all came back to me, that Friday on February 12, 2016 when the Old Line store was selling Hopslam for $4.49 a can (!) with a three can limit. The Deke and I bought our allotted three cans that day and now I'll be on the lookout for cans of Hopslam around here. I already know of one liquor store in Baltimore that got a shipment.

But, that's not all.

Today, Founder's Brewery of Grand Rapids, MI took over four taps at Old Line and I could not stop myself from ordering a snifter of their Backwoods Bastard, a  bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Scotch Ale. I went from Cloud 9 to Cloud 10 drinking a wee bit of this sweet, scotchy ale, and lingered long over its carmel and cherry and fig flavors as well as its sugary bourbon bite. It was as perfect evening ending beer.

But, that's not all.

As the Deke drove us home, she said she thought there was a beer in our icebox that we'd had for a while and hadn't split yet.

I replied, "Ohhhhh, yes, Deke -- a few weeks back I bought that bottle of Heavy Seas (Baltimore) 21st Anniversary Imperial Rye ESB.  I think it's an Extra Special Bitter aged in rye barrels and I'm eager to find out what it tastes like."

"Sounds awesome."

It is awesome.  We split the bottle of this hoppy, malty, boozy, sugary wonder and enjoyed it so much that I went online to see if I could purchase more at Total Wine. I could.  I ordered four bottles to pick up on Friday in Laurel with the idea of opening one soon and keeping at least three of them around for a while to be consumed with longish intervals of time passing between each bottle.

The Deke and I had no idea when we decided to go to Old Line that this was going to be such an awesome party.

3.  So, that soup I made on Monday -- I decided to get it back out and experiment with it, see if I couldn't increase its flavor and possibly improve how it feels in the mouth. I toyed with the idea of turning it into a casserole -- and I still like that idea -- but, I was in the mood to play soup doctor, and that's what I did.

I mashed some baby Yukon potatoes with a little whole milk, some butter, some red pepper flakes, and a couple cloves of garlic and folded them into the soup.  Ah! For me, this created a much better texture -- and a better mouth feel. I also thought of this idea on my own.

Then I added more cumin, the small amount of diced tomatoes I still had in the fridge, and oregano. I sauteed chopped onions and red pepper I had stored in the freezer and added it to the soup.  The I ladeled out some soup in a cup, squeezed some lemon into it, and I liked the result and squeezed lemon juice into the pot of soup. Then I took out another little bit of soup, put it in my cup, and experimented with red wine vinegar. Yes. I'll try it. So I gave the pot about a tablespoon, but I was not totally happy with having lost some of the soup's sweetness. I thought to myself, "Hmm. Corn will sweeten it up." The soup already had corn in it, but I took out some frozen kernels, simmered them for a few minutes, and added them to the soup. Some of the sweetness was back to compliment and complement the vinegar's bite.

That's it. I improved the soup. I might be eating solo on Thursday.  I'll have a bowl of this improved soup and bake some cornbread and it should provide me with an excellent meal.

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