Ranger Pale Ale and Garden Vegetable Soup with Basil Pesto

Spring has come but things haven't quite warmed up yet.  We're still dealing with the 60'sand 70's here in LA and after a non-existent summer last year, I'm ready for some heat.  While we wait, this is a delightful spring soup that ties the seasons together.

This vegetarian soup can use either Great Northern or Cannellini beans to give it some girth and the blast of pesto adds a vibrant touch that ties it all together.  It may require some chopping and prep work but once that is done, assembly is easy and you can scale the recipe up to feed Napoleon's army of keep some for another rainy day in the freezer.

We were approached by Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program to come up with something that pairs well with the beers from New Belgium Brewing Company. We jumped on the idea - New Belgium is one of our favorites and on any given day, you'll have a good chance of finding one of their Folly Packs (a variety of different brews) in our fridge.


Garden Vegetable Soup with Basil Pesto

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 medium tomatoes (or 2 cans chopped tomatoes), peeled and chopped
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini beans (fresh or canned)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Basil Pesto Garnish:
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste


In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions, carrots and celery seasoned with a little salt and pepper for 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic, fennel, zucchini and red bell pepper and continue to sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Add in tomatoes and cook until tomatoes break down, about 3-5 minutes.
Pour in vegetable stock and bring up to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer until vegetables are almost cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Add in beans and continue to simmer until beans are warmed through. Taste soup for seasonings and add additional salt and pepper as necessary. Ladle warm soup into bowls and garnish with a tablespoon of basil pesto.

To make pesto: In a food processor or blender add basil, garlic, and pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running slowly pour in olive oil until everything is incorporated. Stir in parmesan cheese and taste for seasonings. Add in salt and pepper as necessary.
AuthorDave and Amy Koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes
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Black Witbier: A Homebrew Recipe

I've been homebrewing for about 16 years now and after tasting nearly everything on the shelf, I enjoy pushing the boundaries.  I don't see the joy in duplicating Guinness when you can buy it for a heck of a lot less work and likely cheaper than to make your own.  If the Reinheitsgebot was the Wicked Witch of the West, I'm a bucket of water.

A Witbier is a Belgian style that uses spices besides hops to flavor.  Coriander and bitter orange peel are standard but black pepper, grains of paradise, chamomile, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger are sometimes (albeit rarely) added by brewers to add a little more depth.

Today we take a more-or-less common Witbier and add chocolate malt to it.  This gives it a dark color but also a smokiness and a little toasted earthiness.  I added a little more spices than usual to compensate for the added flavor of the dark malt.

Besides the normal bitter orange and coriander, I also added ginger.  I first tasted a Wit with ginger from Shmaltz Brewing Company's "Coney Island Albino Python."  It has a distinctive ginger bite, and although I wasn't going for that so much, it is an excellent beer.

Disclaimer:  I've been brewing for so long, I haven't read a recipe in a while.  If I make some what you may consider "errors," please leave them in the comments.  I have made, quite possibly, a ton of beer and this technique works. 

Black Witbier

  • 3 gallons of water
  • 5 pounds dried pale malt extract
  • 1 pound crushed chocolate malt
  • 1 packet of dry Belgian yeast
  • 2 ounces of Cascade hop pellets
  • 3 tablespoons bitter orange
  • 3 tablespoons Grains of Paradise
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered ginger
  • 5 pound bag of ice


Put all the chocolate malt into a brew bag.  Add it to your largest brew pot and fill with water, leaving 6 inches from the rim, bring the water to 140 and keep it there for 40 minutes, stirring continuously.  

Once that step is done, hold the bag over the pot and rinse the grains with fresh water to extract the most from them.  This is called the wort (pronounced wert).  Take 2 tablespoons of the wort and pout them into a bowl, when it has cooled completely, sprinkle your yeast on top (called pitching the yeast).

Add the 5 pounds of malt extract and 1 ounce of the hops and bring to a boil.  Keep it there for 45minutes.  Add 1/2 ounce of the hops, boil for another 15 minutes.  Kill the heat and add the remaining 1/2 ounc of the hops along with the spices.

Add the bag of ice to your clean and sanitized primary fermenter and dump the wort into it.  Once it has cooled to 80 degrees add the yeast/wort slurry.  Cap and wait 10 days.

Once primary fermentation is done, rack into a second bottling bucket and bottle.  Give the bottles another 2 weeks to carbonate at room temperature.  Once they are ready, chill and drink!

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes
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Greeni Bellini

So it is New Year's Day and you imbibed maybe just a little too much last night, or maybe just the right amount, but in any case someone mentions mimosa and omelettes and immediately after agreeing, you remember those pesky Resolutions you made.

New Year's Day comes on a Saturday this year so you tell yourself that you'll start on Monday, yea that's it, you'll start on Monday with the 'eating right' and the 'exercising everyday' and right now you could totally go for a carafe of mimosa and a Denver Omelette, extra Cheddar.

Enter the Greeni Belini, stage right.  Think: Starbucks Green Tea Latte meets mimosa.  Packed with iodine and manganese, antioxidants and bioflavonoids, spirulina and and Nova Scotia Dulse (whatever that is) - this isn't your grandmothers mimosa.

The Greeni Bellini, although not-surprisingly unphotogenic, is really quite the tasty treat to tantalize the buds and get you firing back on all eight-cylinders.  Powdered green tea, Macha, has a ton of antioxidants that your cells will thank you for.  

Besides adding a little sweet and a little sourness to some cheap inexpensive Champagne sparkling wine, the matcha and the more wholesome bits in the Superfood give it more depth than a straight Bellini would have.  The macha also lends a mild caffeine boost.

I made this with Korbel, a fantastic grab for $8 at CVS.  Sorry, but please don't mix anything in with the good stuff (Veuve, Dom, PJ, Moet).  I used Odwalla's Superfoods, but you could substitute other wholesome green juice blends like Naked's Green Machine.  

I floated the sparkling wine over the Superfoods using a spoon like one would make a Black & Tan; this gave it very much the Mad Scientist look I was going for.  I also used sencha instead of macha, but 9-out-of-10 Gaijin would never know the difference.

Here's how you do them:


  • 1 bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 1 bottle of green juice, Superfoods, Green Machine, etc.
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered macha, sencha, usucha, or kiocha - I'm a gaijin, I'll never know


Pour about 1 tablespoon of the Superfoods at the bottom of a Champagne flute or other long narrow glass.  Place a spoon into the glass over the Superfoods, but not touching it.  Pour the sparkling wine gently onto the spoon so that they don't mix.

Using the end of the handle of the spoon scoop a small, pea-sized scoop of macha and top each glass.  Be gentle or they will all erupt with bubbles.  Enjoy while thinking of all those sit-ups you'll be doing... on Monday

I got my Sencha from O-Cha.com, they have very high quality Japanese green teas.


Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes

Chelada Turkey Tacos

A Chelada is the name for the drink when you add lime and salt to a beer.  Sometimes people add hot sauce, herbs and spices, sometimes tomato juice, sometimes even Clamato.  They are also called Micheladas and what you may have gathered by now is that they're no real rules beyond salt and lime.

Well, ever since the weather started to warm up here in San Diego, we've been making more and more cheladas.  So when Honeysuckle White approached us to come up with a grilled turkey recipe, Chelada Turkey Tacos came immediately to mind.  They sent us the turkey and they even sent us a Flip HD camcorder to make videos.  Boo-yah!

The Chelada Turkey Tacos encompass four recipes:  the Chelada brine, a Roasted Corn Salsa, the Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce, and Alfredo's Tortillas.  Make each separately and assemble them to order, grill-side, for some delicious summertime BBQ-ing. 

The morning of, we butterflied the turkey, removed the backbone, and quartered it.  This would allow for the turkey to grill more evenly since the dark meat takes slightly longer to cook than the breast.  We then made a chelada brine to season the meat and to keep the meat moist on the grill. Here is a video on how to make the Chelada Brine:

Chelada Brine from Papawow on Vimeo.

Chelada Brine

  • 32 ounces V8 or tomato juice
  • 2 beers, Mexican beer works best
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice plus the zest from the limes
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of dried Mexican oregano
  • 5 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, smashed well

Once the meat has spent 2-3 hours in the brine it is ready for the grill.  Place the meat on a hot grill and cook, turning occasionally until the meat is done.  This can be anywhere between 25-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat and the temperature of your grill.  Turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F.

When the turkey goes on begin to roast your corn and red bell pepper for the Roasted Corn Salsa.  Go ahead and shred some cabbage and prepare the Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce also.  Make sure to keep the sour cream sauce in the fridge or cooler until it is ready to serve.

I'll be honest, the star of this recipe and the key to making them absolutely amazing is "Alfredo's" tortillas.  Alfredo was a guy in Mexico who taught my friend's father the technique of dipping the tortillas into a dressing before you grill them.  There is nothing quite like it.  

We didn't make Alfredo's exact recipe, we modified it to pair more closely with the Chelada turkey but the technique remains.  Below is our recipe and at the end of the post I will give the original Alfredo dip.

Alfredo's Dip (our version)

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Simply dip the tortillas into Alfredo's for 2 seconds on each side before throwing them on the grill.  Cook them, turning once, for about 60 seconds a side.  Plate and fill with toppings for tacos or burritos. 

Roasted Corn Salsa

  • 2 cobs of corn, shucked and grilled until they become spotty with grill marks, the cut from the cob
  • 1 red bell pepper, grilled and diced fine
  • The juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Mix all of these together and set aside in a bowl.  This is a wonderful universal salsa that goes great on almost everything.


Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce (printable recipe)

  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, smashed up fine plus 1 Tablespoon of adobo sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Incorporate all of the ingredients and fill a squirt bottle with them.  You may need a funnel to fill the bottle.  Keep the sauce refrigerated or in the cooler until you are ready to eat.   

How to assemble a Chelada Turkey Taco:

How to assemble a Chelada Turkey Taco from Papawow on Vimeo.

Once the turkey is done, shred it into bite-sized pieces.  Shred some cabbage.  Dip a tortilla, grill for a minute or two, add some turkey, the cabbage, the Roasted Corn Salsa, and squirt some of the Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce on top and you have yourself a Chelada Turkey Taco!


Alfredo's Original Tortilla Dipping Sauce (which is also a marinade)

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon season salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • up to 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoons Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce
Authordavid koch
9 CommentsPost a comment

The New Pepsi Challenge

In the late 1970's Pepsi began doing public blind taste tests where subjects would take sips of both Coca-Cola and Pepsi - and choose which one they liked better.  They found they had a slight edge in these tastings over Coke and ran the claim, "Nationwide, more people prefer the taste of Pepsi over Coca-Cola."

I remember these ads clearly.  I also remember being a big proponent of Coke at a young age, but I couldn't tell you why.  Even though Pepsi was, "The Choice of a New Generation," I felt angry that so many foolish people would incorrectly pick Pepsi when Coke was so clearly better.

In his amazing book Blink, author Malcom Gladwell actually describes some of the nuances of taste tests that the Pepsi Executives may-or-may-not-have knowingly taken advantage of.  When testers are asked to take only a sip, Pepsi, being slightly sweeter than Coke may be chosen more often even though many might think its flavor cloying over the course of a whole drink.

Anymore, the two are equal in my book; and although I don't drink sodas often, they go great with Mexican food.  When I figure out why, I'll let you know.

So, what's the New Pepsi Challenge?  Last year, Pepsi and Mountain Dew released "Throwback" versions of their sodas made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup.  Just like the good old days, you know, 1980.  They were released only for a limited time and came in old-fashion cans, which I think look pretty cool myself.

I bought a 12-pack of each the Throwback Pepsi and the regular one and conducted my own New Pepsi Challenge asking testers to see if they could choose the one made with real sugar over the one made with corn syrup.

While some people just made their guess, some added that they preferred one over the other.  Some people even said, "I think this one is corn syrup AND I think I like it better."  Although I could discern a very slight difference in flavor, I couldn't tell you beyond a guess which one was which.  I also didnt prefer one over the other.

They both tasted like sour carbonated sugar water.

And your results:  8 vs 8.  A tie. 

Authordavid koch
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Soda.  Pop.  Coke.  Cola.  Soda-pop.  Coca-Cola.  Whatever you call it colloquially, carbonated sugar water has been part of the American diet since the mid 1800's.  Originally sold as health-foods, veritable tonics, a panacea; their benefits have been revealed to be nothing more than snake oil.  

I recently perused the soda aisle at a supermarket and was amazed at the variety of soda they stock.  Some of the more unusual ones boasted a new type of Diet soda, made with Splenda, so it's better now.  Some even touted vitamins and minerals!  Rejoice!  Finally they put vitamins in my soda!

There may have been 30 different SKU's of Coke products when you count 2-Liters, 12-packs, and mini-cans and multiply by Coke Classic, Diet Coke, Caffeine-Free Coke, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, Coke with Splenda, Vanilla Coke , Coke with Lime, and Banana Bread Flavored Diet Coke Plus Ginsing, Vitamin D and Coemzyme Q10.

I was tempted to purchase a box of TaB, I was like an archeologist sumbling into an artifact that I thought was destroyed in a great fire.  I didn't know Coca-Cola still made the stuff.  TaB has an interesting story:  It was introduced to the US market in 1963 and was originally sweetened with cyclamate.  Congress banned cyclamate in 1969 and instead, saccharin was used.  

In 1977, Congress moved to ban sacchrin also, they didn't but all products that contained any had to carry the warning, "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals." Remember this?  It was also present on every diner table in a little plastic boat, on the little pink packet of Sweet-N-Low.

In a twist of sweetener fate, saccharin was banned in Canada in 1977 - so now Sweet-N-Low in Canada is made from cyclamate (banned in the US) and Sweet-N-Low in the US is made from saccharin (which is banned in Canada).

I always thought TaB was the first ever diet soda, but it was not.  According to the Wiki, the Kirsch Bottling Company launched a sugar-free Ginger Ale called No-Cal in 1952.  The Royal Crown Cola Company "RC Cola" released Diet Rite in 1958.  No-Cal fizzled out and died but was resurrected in 2005 by the INOV8 Beverage Company in 2005 with the flavors Cherry Lime, Chocolate, Clementine, and Vanilla Cream.

I enjoy a cold soda now and then over ice.  Everything in moderation, I say, even moderation.

Authordavid koch
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I recently went to a cool Persian joint for some kabob and came across a bottle of Abali Yogurt Soda.  I thought to myself, "I like yogurt, and I like soda.  How bad could it be?"  The bottle showed some separation with a thick white layer towards the bottom.  I asked if it is supposed to be shaken first.  The purveyor said yes, shake it first then give it a few minutes so that it doesn't explode on you.

Stoked, I bought one.  I shook it up, and while I waited, I read the ingredients.  Soda water, yogurt, mint, salt.  I can pronounce all of those!  When it settled I took a sip and was a little surprised at how salty it was.  It wasn't incredibly salty, I've just never had a savory soda before.  I found it quite pleasant after a few more sips, and completely delicious over ice.

I had never heard of yogurt soda before and was kind of shocked to find how ubiquitous the drink is in the Middle East.  It can be called doogh, dugh, do, abdugh, shlombay, sheneena, or tahn depending where you might be.  Yogurt + soda = most Americans getting grossed out, but it really isn't much different from India's Lassi, as in Mango Lassi served everywhere.

While I was looking on the web for more information about it, I found this cool food blog, Yogurt Soda.

I went to the store to make my own.  I picked up:

  • One 18oz. bottle of Crystal Geyser unflavored sparkling mineral water
  • One pint of lowfat yogurt
  • One bunch of mint
  • I had salt at home

I boiled about three cups of water and dumped the bunch of mint in to steep until the water cooled to room temperature, about an hour.  To each glass I added a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of the cooled mint water, 3 tablespoons of yogurt and stirred.  I topped off each glass with some ice and the soda water.  Mmm, just like Abali.

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes
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Following Papawow Dave’s Kombucha Rave described here, I started tasting GT Dave’s Kombucha from local stores. I soon became addicted, and started drinking the stuff on a regular basis. GT Dave’s is not cheap, however, and having just read about Dave Koch’s Kombucha-making adventures, I decided to give it a try myself. Being experienced in beer making and other various culinary compilations, I was well prepared for the Kombucha challenge.


Three batches later, I realized that with a little experimentation and adjustment, homemade Kombucha could resolve my craving and save me some money at the same time. I was really starting to enjoy my homemade Kombucha when disaster struck…well, sort of.


Back when I was waiting for my first batch of sweet tea to convert to Kombucha, I contemplated the packaging of my expected quaff. I was planning to use traditional beer bottles and crown caps, which I already had on hand. Dave recommended swing-top beer bottles, used commercially as the vessel of choice for Grolsch and some craft brews. His sagacious advice was that the pressure can build substantially in Kombucha, bursting traditional crown cap beer bottles. “No-no,” said I, “that will never happen to me.”


Then one day I was sitting in my home office on a quiet afternoon. A loud explosion followed by the sound of falling glass startled me out of my chair. What I thought was an RPG entering my living room, or at least a baseball to be followed by a “who broke my window?” chorus line, turned out to be a “chemical” explosion of sorts.


When I walked into the kitchen I was shocked to find a large, dripping gash in the ceiling, just above a six-pack of homemade Kombucha that just moments earlier was peacefully sitting on top of the fridge. Kombucha was dripping from every surface within a five food radius, and the six-pack was now one bottle short. One-inch shards of glass blasted as far as 20 feet from the epicenter, and cabinets five feet away sustained shrapnel injuries. It’s amazing how much surface area 12 ounces of carbonated liquid can cover.


Based on this experience, I advise strict adherence to safe Kombucha-making practices, or accept the “blind” fate of Champagne monks. Listen to your friends who know better. And for crying out loud, pay the extra $1.50 for the swing-top bottles; my exploding bottle could have seriously injured anyone standing close by.

AuthorLoren Tama
CategoriesDrinks, Humor

After about a month of drinking Cardamom Coffee and REALLY REALLY digging it at home I wanted to get my hands on some when I was in the wild.  I can't believe I've been drinking coffee regularly for nearly two decades and never knew about this stuff.  There's even an eHow about it!

What bland puritan Joe we have here in the US.  According to these guys: "Arab coffee is heavily flavored with cardamom—sometimes to the point of having more cardamom than coffee. Some preparations use two teaspoons of cardamom seeds for each small cup of the sweet, fragrant coffee."

Two teaspoons may be excessive.  My new jar of ground cardamom from McCormick's is far more potent than

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes

I was reading Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking the other night about spices.  While many people know that Saffron's sweet earthy stigmas are the most expensive spice, commanding up to $5,000 USD/pound - I didn't know that Vanilla was the second at $200/pound and Cardamom was the third at $22/pound.

McGee mentions how Nordic countries often use Cardamom in baked goods.  Supposedly the Vikings fell in love with the stuff a very very long time ago.  I thought briefly.  I know it goes in Chai Tea, and Garam Masala... but what else has Cardamom in it? 

Apparently, 80% of the annual Cardamom crop (which is picked by hand - ergo the price) goes to Arab countries mostly for use in Gahwa, Cardamom Coffee.  This is a big part of the culture, which was hitherto unbeknownst to me.  From MapsofWorld.com:

The ritual of presenting gahwa begins when the host places a set of four coffee pots, called della. Next to an open fire he pours the coffee beans onto a mahmasa,

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes
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Starbucks is making a big hoopla about their new instant coffee called VIA which they rolled out nationwide recently.  They claim it is an instant coffee that tastes like freshly brewed.  They use a proprietary process they are calling a microgrind, and by looking at, making the stuff, and tasting it I'm thinking there's some dehydrated and/or freeze-dried coffee in there too.

Nevertheless, it's VIA VIA VIA everywhere you look inside your local Starbucks right now

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Humor
4 CommentsPost a comment

Splat by ant.photos

We've all likely been there.  At the BBQ, camping, or maybe on a boat.  There sits the bottle of wine... and no one brought a corkscrew.  The thoughts that go through people's heads.  The tools they use.  We humans are very creative creatures, especially when there is booze involved (think Legend of Zelda-themed party ice luge). 

There's the Wikihow on how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew.  They illustrate a technique using a screw, a screwdriver, and a pair of pliers (pulling it out, caveman-style) or a hammer (using a first-class lever which is much more civilized).  

They outline the old pocket knife method, the wire coat hanger, the

Authordavid koch
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Diner enters restaurant, is seated, and peruses the menu.  

He places the menu on the table, indicating that a decision has been made.  The server greets the diner and takes the Diner's order, but what's this?  Red wine with fish?  The Cardinal Sin!  Not on my watch!  

The Server, aghast:  "One moment sir, I'll fetch the sommelier."

Diner:  "That won't be nec..."

Server:  "One moment sir, just one moment."

Sommelier enters scene, corkscrew a blazin':  "May I make some recommendations, sir?"

Diner:  "I'll have the Argentinian Malbec with my Mackerel please."

Sommelier:  "Instead Sir, may I recommend a New Zealand Savignon Blanc?"

Diner:  "The terrior at this particular Château, mon frier, has a very low iron content.  I will have the Malbec and I will wallow in my own decanal and heptanal if the case may be, thank you."

Sommelier:  "Um, but, um.  But the tannins, sir, the tannins.  Um.  Very well."


What did the diner know that the sommelier didn't?  What's this about iron?  In a recent article published this past August in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a team of crack-shot food scientists broke open the door to pairing red wine with fish... and it's not the tannins.

According to The Economist

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Science
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We recently took a river rafting trip down the Truckee River in Northern California near Lake Tahoe.  Calling this particular section a Class 1 Rapid would be a bit of an exaggeration, and "hair-raising" is not a description that comes up often.  Typical gear includes sun screen, a well stocked cooler, a hat, squirt guns, sunglasses, and a dog. 

Packing a cooler, by the way, is a finely tuned art...

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Humor
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Caffeine has become so commonplace in our society that I'm starting to think it has become unavoidable.  I'm a big-time coffee aficionado (RYO Coffee, Latte Art, (STARBUCKS)RED Whole Bean Coffee) but methinks sometimes marketing "gurus" take it a little too far. 

Recently, I counted 14 different flavors of Monster Energy Drink at a Fry's electronic store in a cooler by the registers.  Do any of them taste good?  Unlikely.  Maybe that's why they have to keep cranking out new ones, to keep the public guessing.

Here are some of the latest snacks that have been, shall I say tainted with caffeine:

Butterfinger Buzz...

Roast Your Own!  I've been reading much of the database of coffee knowledge accumulated at Sweet Maria's Roasting Supplies and came to the conclusion, "I can do that!"  Sometimes these are famous last words, sometimes these are life-changing epiphanies.  I hope that in this case they are the latter.

I picked up two pounds of "green" (unroasted) beans; one pound of the Guatemala Finca La Bella JBM (Jamaican Blue Mountain) Cultivar, and one pound of the India Robusta Jeelan Estate Nirali

The first type was upon their recommendation for a novice roaster, the second...

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes
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I met fellow hop-head Brian Yaeger at a local beer tasting about a year ago at San Francisco's world-famous Jug Shop because I overheard someone in his group say something about Isla Vista. "Did you say Isla Vista?"

You know how it goes, you're not paying any attention but all of a sudden you pick up a poignant word out of the background noise and your attention follows.  There is a real psychological term that describes the phenomenon, the Cocktail Party Effect; it was first coined in 1953 by Colin Cherry.  Anyways...

So, Isla Vista is this very-little town, for which I have very-fond memories of, and we both used to live there.  We got to talking, mostly about beer, but also his book, Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey.  He tells me that he traveled cross-country going to all these great micro-breweries and wrote a book about it.

If I remember correctly, I muttered something like, "You bastard!  That's so cool." - We have since sipped a slurry of suds together and I more recently asked him for an interview.  Here's what transpired:


Me: Let's get this straight, you wrote a book about beer?

Brian: Yes, I wrote a book and that book is about beer. Mostly.

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Humor

The German soft drink Bionade is taking the world by storm.  I'm not joking.  Sales started in 1995 and by 2003 they had sold 2 million bottles.  They sold 7 million bottles in 2004, 22 million bottles in 2005, and 70 million bottles in 2006.  2007 sales were well over 200 million bottles. 

They are posting 300%+ growth year over year and are the #3 soft drink in Germany after the "Big C" and the "Big P" - the Bionade team is showing up at all the industry trade shows now, and there is even a Bionade Flickr pool; but the question remains, what is Bionade?

There is a somewhat fluffy description about how it is actually made from their website:

"In order to produce a non-alcoholic refreshment drink in a purely organic way, “Mother Nature” has to be out-smarted through her own mechanisms. Under purely natural conditions, alcohol is usually generated during the process of fermentation when sugar is present.

It was only after a long period of research and development that BIONADE’s inventor, the master brewer Dieter Leipold, was successful in converting sugar into gluconic acid during fermentation according to brewing principles. An analogous process can be found in the production of honey by bees.

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, History
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How about a fancy-pants twist on a summer favorite?  OK, it's not THAT fancy, but it isn't much more difficult than making a normal mojito and it adds a nice little kick.  Yes, you could just add more rum if you want a kick... so why not add more rum and the ginger too?

Obviously only fresh mint and ginger will do.  Unfortunately, ginger comes in pesky little shapes and can be difficult to remove the skin.  If you peel it with a spoon you can eliminate the risk of slicing your finger. 

Garnish these little firecrackers with a lime wedge or a slice of ginger.  Make a slit with a sharp knife and hang it from the rim.

Make a mojito as you normally would:

  •  a small bunch of fresh mint leaves, about 6-7
  • half a lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 3-4 sugar cube-sized chunks of fresh ginger
  • 1.5-2 ounces white or light rum
  • ice
  • top everything off with soda/seltzer water



Put the mint, lime, sugar, and ginger into a tumbler.  Muddle everything together with a... muddler! (seriously, you can't make a proper mojito without one). 

Add the rum, ice, and top the glass with seltzer water.  I like to munch the mint as I go, it freshens your breath; and besides, spitting the little bits back into your glass every time you take a sip is uncouth.






Here is a great video from Epicurious on how to make a "proper" Mojito; a la one that you would find in a nice bar.


Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Recipes