3.14159265 Day Is Coming!

Fellow food blogger and all-around cool cat Krysta over at Evil Chef Mom has come up with what is guaranteed to become a food blogging tradition in years to come: 3.14 Day, also known as Pie Day, which will take place on — of course — March 14th (3.14, if you still aren’t getting it…).

Participants in Pie Day will bake their favorite pie, post the recipe and post pictures of their pie creations.  I’m no baker, but I do make a mean Chess Pie, which will be my contribution to Pie Day.  Also, I’m of the mind that more people need to be introduced to the wonder and glory that is Chess Pie (a.k.a. Vinegar Pie, but only if you’re about 85 years old).

I have no idea why it’s called Chess Pie; I don’t care to speculate on the etymology of its name, as there are probably hundreds of possible origins for its strange moniker.  All I know is that it’s delicious and comforting and unlike any other pie out there.

I’m not going to elaborate too much on the Chess Pie right now; that will be saved for 3.14 Day.  But if you’d like to participate in 3.14 Day yourself, head on over to Krysta’s page and let her know.  Sadly, there will be no mass sharing of the pies, which somewhat deflates the fun, so you’ll just have to imagine how that Buttermilk Pie or Rhubarb Pie actually tastes.

Or…you could make it yourself, which is kind of the point.

Until then…happy pie-ing!

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A Valentine’s Day Feast Fit For A King

Over at her eponymous blog, Moonbeam McQueen, my good friend Moonbeam — the brilliant author who you should all be reading (truly, all sarcasm aside) — has gifted her faithful readers with her tried and true recipe for a Valentine’s Day dinner that will undoubtedly sweep your honey off their feet:

A Heart-y Meal for Your Valentine

If this meal doesn’t make your sweetheart fall head-over-heels in love with you — or simply fall even further in love with you — then you should seriously question the validity and potential longevity of your relationship.

The Brutal Licorice Fist of the Witch King of Angmar

If you’re anything like me, the Battle of Helm’s Deep was far and away your favorite part of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Also, if you’re anything like me, any chapter in which that blowhard Tom Bombadil appears is your most hated part (even more hated than the laborious and extended Entmoot).

Anyway, like I was saying…  If you’re like me, then you’ve also probably wistfully wondered what the Battle of Helm’s Deep would look like if painstakingly recreated with Gummy Bears, Sour Patch Kids and licorice ropes.  Well, wonder no more.

Behold!

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This glorious masterpiece of sugar and orcs was created by the boys over at Miss(ed) Manners. You must go and read their write-up of the process and ingredients behind their recreation, complete with detailed pictures and hilarious captions.

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It’s a trebuchet made out of a Tootsie Pop, people. Pure brilliance.

And — if after you’ve taken in the grand sight of Gummy Bear Uruk-Hai being pwnt by a Sour Patch Kid Gandalf and an army of Sour Patch Kids Rohirrim on gummy horse steeds obliterating Gummy Bear orcs*** — you’re still craving more sugary Tolkien goodness, then look no further than this:

The Battle of Pelennor Fields and the Siege of Minas Tirith!

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Holy mother of God. This has got to be the coolest thing I have ever seen. Also: I am such a dork.

This elaborate setup appears to have taken much longer to create and uses many more ingredients. Take, for example, the Lord of the Nazgul and his Fell-Beast made from black licorice ropes and a fully-functioning Grond (the battering ram) reimagined with red licorice ropes and peppermint candies:

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I mean, this is art, people.  If you look closely, you can even see tiny drops of blood where the Lord of the Nazgul has just killed Theoden and, per the boys at Miss(ed) Manners, “…beaten the sweet out of Merry and Eowyn.”

One can only imagine what depths they will plumb for next year’s Christmas project.  Minas Tirith, being the hardest battle to effectively recreate, leads me to ponder whether or not they peaked too early.  Perhaps next year will be a series of vignettes — the Council of Elrond, the ridiculous and hated Entmoot, the aftermath of the destruction of Isengard — or maybe a faithful recreation of The Shire and all their lovely little gardens and pubs.  Your guess is as good as mine…

***If you understood at least 75% of this without having to reference Wikipedia or any other source, then there’s a strong chance that we could be in love, or at least lifelong friends.

And massive props are due to Food Goat for pointing out the link in the first place.

Beer 101

College courses are predominantly boring, right?  Don’t pretend like you disagree with me.  I was in college not too long ago; about 90% of my classes made me want to bash my head repeatedly against the desk just to stay awake:

– Macroeconomics 1310.

– 19th Century English Literature 2300.

– General Physics 1450.

– German 4300.

Yaaaawwwwwn

The remaining 10% of my classes that were actually interesting were — in retrospect — probably not the most educational courses that I could have taken:  Human Sexuality, Backpacking & Camping, Racquetball and Ballistics & Firearms.  Yes, I took a college course on guns.  Only in Texas…

But the genius college administrators at University of King’s College in Halifax have finally created a course that appeals to the masses, is endlessly fascinating AND will provide students with knowledge to serve them well for the rest of their lives:  Brewing Science: The History, Culture and Science of Beer, aka Beer 101.

According to the university’s website, the enormously popular course studies the beer’s connection to and influence on “the development of the modern world, with its emphasis on measurement and calculation, sanitation movements, tax reforms, bacteriology, and experiments on life, culminating in 19th century thermodynamic theory…”

In addition to the lecture portion of the course, students also take field trips to breweries and reconstruct experiments.  I’m hoping that “reconstructing experiments” actually means “homebrewing,” since that would up the coolness factor of this course exponentially.

The guys at Saint Arnold are right, though: beer is one of the foundations of the modern world, whether people want to acknowledge that fact or not.  Anyone can make wine.  Hell, if you leave grapes on the ground to rot, they’ll ferment and create wine — disgusting wine, yes, but wine nevertheless — on their own.  But brewing beer is a craft — art and science married together — and has had a tremendous effect on the development of trade, agriculture and science throughout the Western world.

Part of me feels like people would be more apt to appreciate beer — instead of either (a) drinking swill like Natural Light or (b) abusing it — if they took courses like this.  Beer gets a bad rap; too many people associate it with frat parties, keggers and beer bongs.  People look at me like I’ve grown a third eye when I tell them that I’m a beer snob: Beer?  What’s there to be snobbish about when it comes to beer?  And you don’t look like a beer-drinker anyway…

To which I reply:  Perhaps, but I also don’t look like the kind of girl who would take a firearms course, either…

There’s so much more to beer than meets the eye.  Cooking with beer, cleverly pairing beer with food, brewing your own beer at home, enjoying one of the Flying Saucer’s famous beer flights and discovering a new favorite stout or pale ale, picking out subtle differences between lagers or just enjoying a round with your friends after a long day at work.  Beer deserves more credit than it currently gets.

But I have a feeling that we’re on the threshhold of a new era, one in which beer will finally find the same kind of credibility as wine has gotten for so many years, one in which “beer connoisseur” is no longer a joke or an oxymoron.  Just give it a bit more time…and a few more colleges giving courses like Beer 101.

A Link A Day

I usually refrain from just madly linking to other sites en masse, but there were a few links that have come up in the past few days that are too good not to share.  Enjoy!

  • AIEEEEE!!!  Through January 31st, Amazon is having a ginormous sale on Le Creuset right now!  And if you buy at least $159 worth of merchandise, they’ll throw in this handy spatula set in its own, adorable Le Creuset utensil crock — for free!  It’s normally $69, but for you?  Free!  Cute, thrifty and useful: three of my favorite words.  Le Creuset makes some of the best cookware in the world, so if you’ve been saving your pennies and waiting for a good time to buy, that time is now.

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    This darling, nearly-seven quart French oven is marked down from $295 to $219.  And it comes in a range of other colors.  Madness!

  • The Onion‘s A.V. Club has a new interview with everyone’s favorite bad-boy chef: Anthony Bourdain.  It’s long and winding and terrific fun to read.  Some nuggets of wisdom:

    Anything that improves people’s expectations of a meal is good for the world. Anything that weans even one kid or one adult away from Chili’s or T.G.I. Friday’s is definitely a win for the good guys.

    Thanks to Alison Cook for the original link on her blog.

  • An article on The Dogs of Pohnpei, in which a volunteer English teacher on a tiny, Pacific island is offered a true delicacy by one of his students: roast dog.  Does he accept this offering and eat the dog meat?  Read the fascinating article to find out.
  • And, finally, a hilarious recounting of one man’s mission to visit and drink a beverage from all 171 Starbucks stores in Manhattan in one 24 hour period.  Did he succeed?  More importantly, should a brave soul attempt this feat in Houston?  According to Starbucks’ website, there are at least 170 stores with a Houston address.  This doesn’t, however, include stores in Sugar Land, Missouri City, Kingwood, Cypress, Katy, Clear Lake, Pearland, Pasadena, etc.  And, frankly, 170 still seems like a pretty low number considering that the shopping center across the street from our neighborhood has three separate Starbucks in it…

Both of the last two links were provided by commenter Callie, but were tucked away in the comments sections of two different blog entries.  So here they are, reunited and available for all to enjoy!