Pearl Beer.

Pearl beer always reminds me of my Granny. It was her drink of choice. Well, Pearl Light. Since tomorrow is her birthday—and if she were still with us, she’d be 100!—I thought I would share some news about her favorite beer.

Unless you’re a Texan, you probably have never even heard of Pearl or Pearl Light. It was founded in San Antonio in 1883. I remember well the iconic Pearl Brewery standing tall as a welcome to downtown San Antonio.

Sadly, Pearl Brewing closed the doors to its brewery in 2001–although thankfully the buildings still remain and were converted into (according to the Historic Pearl website):

…a unique experience as a top culinary and cultural destination. The mixed-use space features retail, dining, picturesque green spaces, a riverside amphitheater, and the third campus of The Culinary Institute of America. As a former brewery operating from 1883 to 2001, Pearl reflects a vivid past while embracing the future with environmentally sustainable buildings mixed with historic architecture.

https://atpearl.com/about

Additionally, that’s not the end of the story for the beer side of things either. In May 2020, Pabst announced that Pearl beer would be making a comeback when they released their new Pearl lager. You can read more about it here.

Granny always complained to me THE WORST thing about getting older was that her meds kept her from drinking her beloved Pearl Light except on very special occasions. What better way to celebrate her 100th birthday than with some Pearl? Sadly, you can’t find it in NYC—but you better believe that the next time I’m home, I will be trying the new Pearl…in honor, of course, of Granny.

33 Cookbooks

I love cookbooks. I never go into a bookstore without visiting the cooking section—and usually have to talk myself out of buying one or two or ten. As such, over the years I have collected quite a few. Thirty-three to be exact. And by 33, I mean that’s the bare-minimum-absolutely-must-have number.

The problem is that—in addition to the amount of precious space they take up—I rarely use the majority of them. And by majority, I mean all but 5 books—and for 4 of those, I only open to one recipe.

But, of course, I can’t bear to part with any of them. Thus I have decided to make it a point to dust these babies off and use them more often! What better way to help me stay on task than to rope you in as well by chronicling my navigation through all of them?

First up, I decided to start with quick breads…because, why not? Okay, so the idea wasn’t completely my own: awhile back Becca texted me that I should write about quick breads—and since I love them, it seemed like a logical place to start!

Quick breads are those which do not use yeast, but rather use other ingredients, like baking soda or baking powder, to leaven them. When I hear “quick breads,” the first thing that comes to mind is banana bread (or zucchini or pumpkin), but quick breads also include muffins, biscuits, scones, beer breads, and pancakes/waffles.

I mean, who doesn’t like at least something on that list? Or in my case, everything on that list! But I’m going to start with the one I make the most: banana bread. Actually, that’s a lie—I make pancakes and waffles the most, but I’m just rolling with it because my brain has already committed to banana bread.

For the record, I’m not being lazy when I say banana bread rather than Banana Nut Bread because I’m weird and I generally don’t like nuts in my baked goods. So if you’re not weird and do like nuts, then go ahead and add a cup of chopped nuts. Perhaps it’s the Texan in me, but I think if you are going to add nuts, pecans are the way to go.

This recipe comes from the Fredericksburg Home Kitchen Cook Book, 13th Edition. Or as it’s commonly called in my family “The Light Blue One”. My mother has the 12th Edition aka “The Yellow One.” Ironically you can find “The Yellow One” on Amazon, however, we (aka The Family) have always gotten our books—usually gifts for special life events, like moving into your own place—from Der Kutchen Laden (unless one of my aunts texts me after reading this to tell me otherwise!), which is a great little kitchen store on Main Street in Fredericksburg.

As you might have guessed from the picture, it is easily my most used cookbook (and yes, that’s coffee at the top and no amount of scrubbing will get it off). The original Banana Loaf Bread recipe was written by Mrs. Robert F. Heiden and debuted in the 9th Edition (I’m not sure what color that was)—so it should be in all subsequent editions.

A couple of things about the original recipe: it calls for shortening but since that isn’t always the easiest thing to find depending on your geography (like when I was living in Australia), I switched it for butter and never looked back. But if shortening is your jam, by all means, use that. Also, I upped the mashed bananas by ½ cup because I like that it keeps the bread it very moist (FYI dried-out banana bread is considered a tragedy in my house).

Banana Bread

  • ½ cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2.5 cups of mashed bananas (about 3-4 bananas)
  • 2.5 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan (or set of mini loaf pans). Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add bananas and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add flour and baking soda and mix they are fully incorporated. Pour into pan(s) and bake for 40-45 minutes (less for mini loaf pans) or until golden brown and inserted toothpick is clean. Flip onto a cooling rack and remove pan to allow to cool completely.

Or don’t because warm banana bread with a little butter slathered on top is divine. 😋

Yo Ho Ho Ho…

Happy National Rum Day!

I think one of the best parts about rum is that either you’re enjoying it while someplace tropical or, when you can’t be some place tropical, one sip will transport you there.

Rum has a very dark and stormy past—and I’m not just talking about the drink! It is believed to have been created in Barbados in 1600s. As more slaves and sugarcane plantations popped up throughout the Caribbean, the rum distilleries followed. Apparently, it was initially referred to as “kill devil” (because that bodes well for something you’re about to consume!). Often times, alcohol was used to purchase slaves and rum allowed slave owners something potent and—with all the sugarcane in production—cheaper and easier to access than other forms of alcohol.

It was the American colonists drink of choice and was often supplied by politicians (ummm…hello…why did that stop?!?). In fact, in during one election for the Virginia House of Burgesses, George Washington handed out 28 gallons of rum and 50 gallons of rum punch! It wasn’t until after the American Revolution and access to rum was disrupted that we, as a country, slowly made the switch to whisky as our liquor of choice.

If you want to read more about it—and I highly recommend it, since it’s fascinating and I just glossed over 98% of it—you can find the articles I read here and here.

And now, back to the drinks! What better time than a pandemic to try out a few new drinks? Not sure what there is out there other than rum and coke? Esquire kindly created a list of 12 rum drinks to help you dive in and be transported to a tropical state of mind. Click here for the full article and recipes.

Piña Colada—rum, coconut cream, and pineapple. If I could be at a beach bar in Kailua-Kona—like in the picture below—then this would be my favorite way to enjoy rum.

Huggo’s on the Rocks in Kailua-Kona

Daiquiri—this is probably one of the most popular ways to enjoy rum. However, the blended fruit drink that just popped into your head is not the classic daiquiri. The classic daiquiri is just rum, sugar, and a baby bit of lime. To me, much more appealing!

Hot Buttered Rum—I mean, it’s hot rum with butter and sugar. What better way to keep you warm on a cold winter night? I haven’t yet researched the history of who decided this would be a great idea. But adding butter—why the hell not?

Dark and Stormy—rum, ginger beer, and lime. It’s delicious and less sweet that a lot of rum drinks. If you like Moscow Mules, definitely give this a try!

The Craft House in NYC

Air Mail—rum, honey, lime, and champagne. Yes, champagne. I feel like a complete FAILURE for not knowing that this existed. CHAMPAGNE!

Rum Runner—light and dark rums, banana liqueur, blackberry liqueur, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine. Pretty sure I had one of these in Key West. Maybe it was just a sip of Christi’s…either way, I don’t have a picture. But like most of the drinks on this list, it goes down really easily.

Mojito—rum, sugar, lime, and mint. It is my go-to summer drink, especially at our brunch spot around the corner.

The Craft House in NYC

Mai Tai—You can’t go to Hawaii and not have a Mai Tai, which is why I’ve written several posts about about and/or referencing Mai Tais. Like this one, that one, or this other one to share a few.

Duke’s in Honolulu

Painkiller—rum, pineapple, orange juice, and coconut cream. I can’t recall having one, but it sounds like they go down easily and the next morning isn’t going to be so fun.

Hurricane—rum, passion fruit syrup, lemon, orange slices, and maraschino cherries. Like Mai Tais in Hawaii, I don’t think you can go to New Orleans and not have a hurricane. For the record this was THE first drink I ever ordered…because well, we were in New Orleans (a destination picked because it wasn’t too far of a drive and had a lower drinking age!). Of course, way back then they didn’t even have cell phones—only car phones—and they certainly didn’t have cameras!

Bushwacker—rum, Kahlúa, crème de cacao, cream of coconut, and milk. I think Esquire sums it up nicely when they comment that it’s “basically a milkshake. An alcoholic milkshake.” And really, who doesn’t want to say “bushwacker” to the bartender or the dog (as in: “move out of the way, Luna, Momma’s gotta make a bushwacker!”

Zombie—ummm 4 types of rum, sugar, lime, pineapple, papaya, and the added flare of being on fire? This promises to be a drink you won’t forget. Although perhaps after having a few, you might want to hand the matches over to someone a bit more sober…

I don’t know about you, but I just learned that I drink a lot more rum than I realized. Did your favorite make the list? If not, please share! And regardless of how you drink it—enjoy!

Duke’s in Honolulu

Originally Alfredo

When one thinks of Italian food, several staples come to mind: spaghetti, lasagne, fettuccine alfredo, and, of course, tiramisu and espresso. This is a tale about all of these except spaghetti and lasagne.

In the lead up to our Italy trip, my boss’s father, Philip, casually mentioned that we had to go to Alfredo alla Scrofa. I knew we didn’t have a lot of time in Rome, so I told him we would try. Not satisfied with this answer, he explained “but you must. It’s where fettuccine alfredo originated.”

Mi scusi?

He smiled, knowing he had hooked me. “Yes,” he continued, “it’s where fettuccine alfredo originated and simply must go there. It’s what you do when you go to Rome—you go to Alfredo’s, you eat alfredo, and then maybe see a few historical things. Please promise me you’ll go.”

I triple promised and then checked with Ann & Cait to see if they were on board—and of course they were because hello! fettuccine alfredo!

On our first full day in Rome, we spent the morning exploring the Vatican and St. Paul’s cathedral. Realizing we were only about 20 minute walk from pasta bliss and looking for a late lunch, it seemed like the perfect solution. We wound our way down the cobbled streets along the Tiber, amongst the street vendors, and surrounded by the ancient grandeur that is the very essence of Rome. The good news: we found it! The bad news: they were finishing lunch and were in the process of closing until dinner. We felt disheartened, but conveyed to the gentleman at the door we came all the way there to try to alfredo and would definitely be back when they opened for dinner.

In true Italian hospitality or perhaps sensing we might burst into tears right then and there, the gentlemen ushered us inside. Since we were there for the alfredo, he was insistent that we stay for lunch. We thanked him profusely and asked if we might get some vino as well. He laughed, assured us vino was always available, and showed us to our table. He explained alfredo was served family size, which we told him was perfect and deferred to him about our wine selection.

He returned a few minutes later with chianti and promised us that food would be out shortly. True to his word, soon a huge platter of pasta came out. We watched the server expertly mix the sauce into the pasta, and then served us from the platter.

It was, quite simply, one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. The fresh noodles were cooked to al dente perfection. The sauce was creamy, buttery, and silky, but had a lightness about it that I had never tasted in an alfredo.

Somehow—probably on a pasta high—as we were finishing the last of the pasta and trying not to lick the plate, we took the waiter up on his offer of tiramisu and espresso.

While the alfredo was definitely the star of the show, the tiramisu was heavenly as well. It was the right balance of layered coffee, chocolate, and cream. It paired oh-so-well with the espresso.

Alfredo. Plus wine. Plus tiramisu. Plus espresso. Plus amazing friends. Plus history of the restaurant. Plus ambiance of being in Rome. Easily, one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.

Our only regret was that we didn’t make it back before departing Italy.

Therefore—if I can piggyback and expand onto Philip’s advice—when you go to Rome: go to Alfredo’s, eat the fettuccine alfredo and the tiramisu, maybe see some historical sites, and enjoy la dolce vita.

And in case you want to bring that delicious goodiness back home with you to eat any time, the restaurant offers cooking classes to make pizza, alfredo, and pastries. https://www.alfredoallascrofa.com/cooking-class

buon appetito!

50(ish) Questions.

I’ve spent the week waffling about what topic I should write about, but nothing has really been jumping out at me. In a last ditch effort (my favorite kind!) to get something posted this week, I realized it might be fun to share a few things about me. This is undoubtedly due in large part because April, in an attempt to keep me entertained during this pandemic, has been mailing me—yes, as in the old-fashioned-snail-mail-it-is-so-exciting-to-see-something-in-the-mailbox-other-than-bills-mail—her answers to various quizzes she found.

I did a bit of googling and found one written a few years ago called 101 Fun and Interesting Questions To Perk Up Boring Gatherings and thought it was a good starting point. Don’t worry, I won’t be answering all 101 questions, but if you’re interested in seeing the full list click here.

50-ish Fun and Interesting Questions To Perk Up Boring Gatherings Blog Posts

Tell me the 3 best things about you.

I’m funny. I’m loyal. I’ll try anything once.

What’s your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. Food, family, friends, and football. What could be better than that?

On a scale of 1-10, how strict are/were your parents?

Sometimes 10, sometimes 1, but most of the time in the 7-8-ish range.

Who was your worst teacher? Why?

My 10th grade English teacher (whose name is escaping me). She told me that she never understood how I got into her Honors English class because it was clear I wasn’t good at writing and I should focus my efforts elsewhere.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Less procrastination

If you could be an Olympic athlete, in what sport would you compete?

Coffee drinking or perhaps marathon taco eating

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

I think if you’re paying attention, every place is beautiful

Which historical figure would you like to be?

Queen Elizabeth I

What’s the right age to get married?

Whenever you meet the person in your life that you can’t live without (presuming, of course, you are of an age to legally get married).

If you could time travel, where would you go?

As long as I was guaranteed to come back: the 18th Century

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Vanilla

Would you rather live for a week in the past or the future?

I think the past

If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be?

Texas Governor Ann Richards

Do you feel like a leader or a follower?

Leader

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Picked up and moved across the world without knowing anyone. Three times.

Tell me 3 things you remember about kindergarten.

Coloring, recess, and naps

What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory?

I’m such a klutz, I don’t think I could pick just one…

What’s your favorite thing about one of your grandparents?

My grandpa had a way of making every single one of his grandchildren feel like she/he was the favorite.

If you could eat only 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Tacos, bacon, cheese. Don’t tell my cardiologist.

Do you ever talk to yourself? When and what do you say?

All the time. I usually talk through all the shit I need to do and berate myself for the dumb shift I do or things I didn’t do.

When you’re having a bad day, what do you do to make yourself feel better?

Unplug, take a bath, drink some wine, and listen to music.

What’s your favorite smell in the whole world?

Coffee, the ocean, freshly cut grass

What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?

A coffee maker. Or any of the wonderful contraptions that help coffee reach me.

Would you rather win an Olympic medal, an Academy Award or the Nobel Peace prize?

Nobel Peace Prize

What’s your favorite time of day?

Early mornings, when everything is quiet and I can just sit with my coffee and not think about anything

What’s your favorite season?

Autumn

What’s the one food you could never bring yourself to eat?

Portobello mushrooms

What is the sound you love the most?

Children laughing, coffee percolating, rain

If you could pick a new first name, what would it be?

I rather like my name. Of course, my mother hates that I say “Sherry like the alcohol.” My dad wanted to name Truffeldina (my maternal great-grandmother’s name), so I learned from an early age to just appreciate the name you were given..

What is your favorite movie quote?

“Check out the big brains on Brad!” Oh…what? You thought it might be something profound? Definitely not.

What’s your pet peeve(s)?

People who don’t pick up their dog’s poop, people who are hypocrites, and people who are entitled assholes—especially to customer service workers

What’s your favorite kind of sandwich?

Ham & cheese on rustic white bread with pickles, mayo, and mustard.

Cake or pie?

Pie, but I definitely wouldn’t turn down cake…

Who is the kindest person you know?

My cousin, Teresa

What’s the best part about having siblings?

Having someone to perform my experiments on…

What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?

The Shining

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I want to travel to every single part of the world.

What is your favorite family tradition?

Driving around looking at Christmas lights and decorations

What are you good at?

Making coffee and being bossy

What trait do you like the most about yourself?

I always try to see the best in people

What fictional character do you wish you could meet?

Albus Dumbledore

What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a trip?

Walk in the door, drop my bags, and pick up my dog

If you could shop for free at one store, which one would you choose?

Amazon

What personal trait has gotten you in the most trouble?

Naturally, my smartass mouth

Which celebrity chef would you most like to fix you a meal?

Let’s just be real here, if any of them wanted to fix me a meal I am definitely available!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“Men are like cars, you have to test drive them before you buy one” Thank you, Granny!

What do you like to do on a rainy day?

Watch it rain, read, and watch movies

What is your favorite thing about the beach?

The sound of the waves crashing

Which of the Seven Dwarfs is most like you?

Probably Doc

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

Definitely a comedy

Name a product or service you love so much that you’d happily be that company’s spokesperson.

A handful of coffee companies and anyone with cool luggage and travel gadgets.

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A doctor

What’s the worst thing you did as a kid?

If you ask my brother, it’s that I put him in the dryer and turned it on…but in fact, I talked him into getting into the dryer and I never turned it on—I just turned on the timer.

What is the best part of being a part of your family?

Everyone is loud and opinionated, but everyone would drop everything to help one another. They might bitch about it the entire time, but they would be there no questions asked.

What is your favorite day of the week?

Any day I can have tacos, coffee, and sunshine.

That’s probably more than you ever wanted or needed to know about me, which is basically I can be bribed/kidnapped with tacos and coffee. Before I go: since there’s a lot of stress and uncertainty in the world today, I thought I’d share a little cuteness of a rather spoiled puppy. 🙂