POPCORN. DINNER.

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POPCORN. DINNER.

If you are like David and I, and love a good Popcorn Dinner every once in a while (or more often), this is a must-try. Since I've made it this way, I'm simply not interested in popcorn any other way. And...if you're wondering if using the Snow Pea Farms Heirloom Popcorn Kernels makes a difference, I challenge you to do a taste test (plus this is a very fun activity to do with kids). Buy Orville Redenbacher's, and a couple of other kinds of corn if you feel like complicating it up, and buy the Snow Pea Farms, pop them all up and do a blind popcorn tasting. It's amazing the difference a kernel can make. Each popcorn will be visibly different, and each will taste completely different, with a completely different texture. Did I just say different like four times? Yes, it's that amazing...and different. The Snow Pea Farms Heirloom Popcorn pops smaller kernels that are more substantial in flavor, and they read to me almost nutty. Anyway, here's the recipe:

IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT! POPCORN

  

WHAT YOU NEED: 

Your favorite heavy popcorn-popping pan with lid 

2-5 Tbs. Butter or Bacon Flavored Olive Mill Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

½ Cup Snow Pea Farms Heirloom Popcorn plus 3 test kernels 

2-3 tsp. Everything Nice West Indies Rub 

 

WHAT YOU DO: 

-Pour 2 Tbs. Butter or Bacon-flavored Olive Oil into Heavy Popcorn Pan.  

-Put three test kernels into the pan, and heat on high until you hear three POPS! Now, quickly: 

-Pour ½ cup Snow Pea Farms Heirloom Popcorn Kernels into the pan, and sprinkle about 2 tsp of the Everything Nice West Indies Rub onto the kernels. Cover pan and wait until you hear popping. 

-Shake pan regularly to keep the kernels moving, so they don't burn. I have no idea if this is really necessary, but it's how I learned to make popcorn, and I make good popcorn so why mess with a good thing? Plus it gives your arms a little exercise before you veg out in front of the TV, eating popcorn, for the next few hours. 

--When the POPS are less frequent, remove from heat. Tell the the dog to go away (ho won't listen to you), since he's at your feet now because he knows when you take off the lid, a few kernels are going to pop out and onto the floor where he can eat them.  

--Remove the lid, pour into your favorite popcorn bowl or bowls, and taste. Does it need more oil? Does it need more West Indies Rub? Add to taste and enjoy. Warning: go slow with adding the West Indies Rub. This popcorn goes from delightfully and mildly spiced to wildfire in your mouth pretty easily. 

 

  

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LASAGNA!

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LASAGNA!

Lasagna! It's quick, it's easy, and you can walk the dog (or do the laundry or drop the kids off at soccer or...enjoy a beer with someone you love...or if you are really good, you can do all of these things) while it is baking. And, I'm excited to say, we now sell EVERY ONE of these ingredients at Beer and Skittles. So here's my recipe for: 

20-MINUTE PREP AND CLEAN TIME WEEKNIGHT LASAGNA, A LA BEER AND SKITTLES 

What you need: 

Bag of frozen spinach (YES, of course you could use fresh spinach—if I use fresh, though, I saute it first just barely, so you can drain off a little of the liquid and so it takes up less room in the pan) 

6-8 Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles (if you don't do gluten, you can use spaghetti squash instead and it is terrific!) 

1 can of Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes 

15oz Ricotta Cheese 

2 eggs 

1 Tbs. Everything Nice Mediterranean Herbs 

1 TBS Olive Mill Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Optional 1# Cooked Ground Beef, Venison, Sausage, whatever you like or have (I actually made this earlier this week with leftover turkey and it was amazing!) 

4-8oz Morel & Leek Jack Cheese, grated 

1 big casserole dish 

Optional: Bottle of Chianti, I suggest the one we have in stock now, La Maia Lina, with a cute little picture of a pig on the bottle.  

What you do: 

--Set your timer for twenty minutes. If it takes you longer than that to get this into the oven and the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, you're going too slow! Speed it up next time!  

--Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

--If using frozen spinach, put spinach in colander and run cold water over it to thaw it a little. Set aside and let it drain. If using fresh, saute very lightly, then put in colander. 

--Boil a large pot of salted water, and cook lasagna noodles al dente. 

--While water is boiling and noodles are cooking, make the filling: squeeze excess water out of spinach and mix it in a large bowl along with the ricotta cheese, the eggs, the herbs and part of the olive oil. If you like your lasagna with meat, you can add cooked ground beef, venison or sausage at this point, too. You can also add whatever other vegetables you might have on hand and want to get rid of. I've used sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, any other green, carrots, onions, peas, extra tomatoes, pretty much anything is good in lasagna. That way, every lasagna you make is unique, and you can clean out the fridge at the same time. 

--Drizzle the rest of the olive oil in the bottom of the casserole dish. Pour ¼ can of San Marzano Tomatoes into the bottom of the pan. Place half the lasagna noodles on top of the tomatoes for a bottom layer. Spread filling evenly over noodles. Place the rest of the noodles on top of filling, pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the top layer of noodles and spread evenly to cover. Cover casserole dish with a lid, tin foil, or I use my giant Charles Viancin Dahlia casserole cover, which is adorable. 

--If you are like me and rinse the dishes before you put them into the dishwasher, rinse the dirty dishes now and put them into the dishwasher. If you don't rinse, then just put them in the dishwasher. If you don't have a dishwasher, this recipe may take you 25 minutes instead of twenty, as you will need a few extra minutes to wash the dishes by hand. By now it should be about twenty minutes, the timer you set at the beginning of this recipe will go off, meaning you're done: it's time to relax or be productive, as the evening requires, while your dinner bakes. 

--Put the lasagna in the oven and go about your business for the next 50 minutes or so, while the lasagna turns into dinner and makes your house smell fantastic! If you need a few minutes longer to finish your walk or your talk, or your beer, don't worry—this lasagna is very forgiving and won't suffer for an extra few minutes in the oven.  

--Remove the lasagna after about fiftyish minutes or a few more, and immediately sprinkle with the shredded morel and leek cheese. Let it sit for a few minutes, and the cheese on top will become melty and wonderful and the insides will cool down to eating temperature. Pour an optional glass of Chianti (or another beer), and enjoy. 

 

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and may every new year find you a better man." (Or woman.) There: who knew I could improve upon Benjamin Franklin?

I remember when I was in high school, how every year New Year's Eve, we never had a plan, but were always out looking for some action, some great party that just never quite materialized. And New Years' Eve was always this big disappointment, nothing ever "happened," until finally one year, we did something different. My friend Amy and I were out doing the same again, wondering what awesome thing we'd be doing at Midnight, and nothing seemed to be working out, so we decided to say screw it, and we went to the store, bought a box of Zingers, Twinkies, Creme Horns, Ice Cream, Hot Fudge and Whipped Cream (I'm not even kidding--there might have been more.), like just a ridiculous amount of sugary treats for no reason at all, and we went back to her house where her parents were hanging out, and at midnight,  we four just rang in the New Year with a bunch of junk food--but more importantly, we were together with kindred spirits (and a bunch of "good" food), and it was super fun.

Ever since that New Years Eve, I don't look for that New Years Eve Party, but rather, take the night to count and celebrate my blessings. I'll remember loved ones who have passed, particularly this year our store manager Kali McCaleb, and I will be thankful for the light she brought to Beer and Skittles and to my life. And with that keen awareness of the passing of time, I'll raise a glass tonight to lifelong friends, to family, especially David the world's best husband of nineteen years (today is our anniversary!), to Beer and Skittles, to our staff, to the McCarty family, and to the crazy tapestry of people I've had the pleasure of getting to know as a result of opening the store. Cheers to what matters! Wishing you and yours a 2017 filled with love, peace, light, and some really good food.

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TWO ACTS OF KINDNESS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

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TWO ACTS OF KINDNESS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

Ok, it appears yesterday got away from me, so I have some making up to do on my Advent Calendar (funny, I never forgot about the chocolate calendar...). So for yesterday: Fill a bag of books to donate to the library. And today: introduce yourself to someone new. To be honest, I kind of glanced at the calendar as a whole but I didn't read through each entry ahead of time. And I'm not looking ahead. So each day is a surprise, and each day I find myself thinking, "Is that an act of kindness? Yeah, I guess that is an act of kindness." So many things we do in life that we don't think of as being kind, but I guess they are.

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WHY CAN'T YOU TRUST AN ATOM?

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WHY CAN'T YOU TRUST AN ATOM?

Why can't you trust an atom? Because they literally make up everything. Why don't Teddy bears ever order dessert? Because they are stuffed. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages? How do you find Will Smith in the snow? Look for the fresh prints (yeah, that one's a little bit dated...). What's brown and sticky? A stick. OK, today's assignment: make someone laugh. Feel free to borrow any of the jokes listed above. OK. Go.

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