Dubbel Troubel

The third beer in my Summer Belgian Series is a dubbel (pronounced double). I brewed this beer a few weeks ago and it has spawned no end of discussion among my friends, as to the nature of dubbel, trippel, and quadrupel (and singel?). In San Diego we have all become accustomed to the West Coast style of pale ales; Double and Triple IPAs. These are strong, highly hopped beers in the IPA tradition, having twice (or three times) the alcohol and hops of a normal IPA. From that we might be tempted draw a similar parallel in Belgian beers (or in point of fact, to assume the West Coast Pale Ales have copied the Belgian naming tradition); we’d be mostly right.

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Lisko Deli Brings Fresh Local Foods to East County

If you spend much time at San Diego Farmer’s Markets, chances are good you’ve run across Lisko Imports. They’re the ones in the big black tent with all the friendly Aussies. I started buying fresh pasta from these guys several years ago, when they had a teeny booth at the OB farmer’s market. Since then they have grown their market space to several booth sizes, and expanded their repertoire to include bread, cheese, fresh-made pickles, farm fresh eggs, homemade pesto and hummus, and yes, more pasta. Lisko’s latest expansion is a permanent store front in Rolando; where they hope to continue to providing market fresh, local foods. This is certainly a welcome addition to the East County food-scape!

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Experiment: Apple Cider Vinegar

After several months of home brewing, I became obsessed with the idea of making cider. By that I mean fermented apple juice, sometimes called hard cider. My fascination was borne of the romanticism of apples and cider in American History. As apple pie is a traditional and quintessential American dessert, so is cider an historical American beverage.

Cider was the beverage of choice during colonial times, due to unsafe drinking water. Later Johnny Appleseed collected seeds from cider mills and started tree nurseries across the American Frontier (at the time, Ohio). In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan points out that since these apples were started from seed (and thus not true to type) they would not be good for eating. The implication is that Johnny A. was running a cottage industry for cider production. Continue reading Experiment: Apple Cider Vinegar

Garden Files: Onions

This was my second year growing onions, and my first year actually producing something. Two winters ago, I planted Spanish Yellow Onions around December/January. By April I was ready to put in my summer tomatoes and eggplant, and having limited garden space at the time, had to tear the onions out. Those onions were like massive green onions; a 1 inch diameter stem, with little to no bulb to speak of. When I did pull them out, the smell of onions and the feeling of regret were overwhelming. Continue reading Garden Files: Onions

Seared Crappie with Caramelized Onions and Stewed Tomatoes over Herbed Wild Rice Pilaf

Despite being a desert (or, I suppose because of that fact) San Diego has a plethora of water reservoirs. Almost all of these lakes are fishable, and some even contain fish worth eating. This weekend I hit a few of the backcountry lakes and managed to scrounge up a bit of a bounty. Friday I made the trek up to Lake Henshaw with my fishing buddy Geno and we managed to catch every species in the lake: carp, crappie, bass, and catfish. Unfortunately I caught all the carp and bass and he caught all the crappie and catfish. Fortunately Geno is a generous dude and he hooked me up with some of his catch. Now I’m home and looking for variations on the old stand-by: fish rolled in panko and pan fried. Our other buddy, John C, seared his in a pan with onions and served it over Japanese black rice. Inspired by his creativity, I improvised this: Seared Crappie with Caramlized Onions and Stewed Tomatoes over Basil Wild Rice Pilaf. Continue reading Seared Crappie with Caramelized Onions and Stewed Tomatoes over Herbed Wild Rice Pilaf

The Perfect Fried Egg

I love eggs, and I eat more than any man should. In fact, the principal reason I wanted to keep chickens was to have a ready supply of good, fresh eggs. Eggs are one of the most versatile foods: high in protein they provide structure to baked goods, high in fat they provide richness to sauces and cremes. They can hold a whip for a meringue and they can be hard boiled and shoved (gently) in a pocket for later consumption. Eggs can be eaten in just about any course of any meal. Fresh eggs are especially good poached or in frittatas. But for the connoisseur, there is no substitute for a simple, perfect, fried egg.

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Homemade Baba Ghanoush

As the summer wears on, our bumper crop of eggplant continues. We started with the eggplant parmesan then moved on to an asian dish I’ve been trying to replicate for years; eggplant and tofu. Most recently, I have been experimenting with Baba Ghanoush; a traditional arabic dish made from roasted eggplant. When roasted, the eggplant emits a sweet earthy smell. The flavor becomes rich and complex, with a hint of smokiness. The roasted eggplant is mashed or chopped, and mixed with lemon, garlic, olive oil, and salt. The result is an incredibly rich and sometimes potent spread, perfect on toast.

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