Sunday, May 8, 2011


The boat is in the water, the mast up and I went for the first sail of the season today.  It was perfect!  The breeze was fresh, the sun was shining and the water smooth and flat.  The conversation with my friend Corine was lively and there were about a dozen other boats out on the water enjoying the day.  My little slice of heaven, my little bit of peace, my space where I am in control of my destiny.  We even shared the lake with the Loons as they called to each other back and forth.  I think we are all so driven to make money that we forget about the natural world around us and how amazing it really is, everything from the water to the sky.

Now, beer and sailing go hand in hand, and I LOVE beer.  However I seem to have developed an allergy to "cheap beer" the Labatts, the Molsons, the Lakeports of the world all give me a rash and a terrible headache.  As the 'recipes' for beer seem to be closely guarded secrets, I can only speculate on why the so-called bargain basement beers give me a rash.  Thank goodness for microbreweries and imported gems like Guinness.  I think beer is as interesting as wine and chocolate.  I have had beers made with cherries, I have had beers that cost $40 a bottle and beers made by monks.  Some beers are even good for you (in moderation) and the carb content isn't as bad as one would think, especially if you are an active person.

Beer and food are also a ton of fun to pair up, beer also pairs wonderfully with chocolate unlike most wine.  So raising my stein and chug chug chugging, here are two of my favourite recipes with beer as the main ingredient:

Beer Batter Bread
3 cups     Whole Wheat Flour
3 tbsp.    Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 tbsp.    Baking Powder
1 tsp.      Salt
375 ml    Your Fav Beer, room temp
4 tbsp.    Unsalted Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease 9" x 5" loaf pan.

Stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Open beer and add it all at once; it will foam up.  Stir briskly just until combined.  The batter should be slightly lumpy, do not worry if it is not mixed to a smooth paste.  Pour into greased loaf pan and drizzle with melted butter.

Bake until top is crispy and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, abut 35-40 minutes.  Serve immediately but will keep a day or two wrapped in a tea towel.

Guinness and Steak Pie
1 lb         Chopped Sirloin
100 g      Butter
2            Large Onions, finely diced      
3            Cloves of Garlic, finely diced
200 g      Chopped Fresh Mushrooms
200 ml    Beef Stock (low or no sodium)
1 can      Guinness (room temperature)
to taste   Worcestershire Sauce
100 g      Flour

1 pkg      thawed puff pastry

Combine flour, thyme, salt and pepper.  Dredge meat in the flour and brown in the butter.  Set aside and reserve.  Deglaze pan with some beef stock.   Saute the onions in butter and add garlic, cook slightly.  Add browned beef, onions, garlic, beef stock, Guinness and Worcestershire Sauce and bring to a simmer.  Cover and place in a 300 F oven for 2-3 hours.  In the last 45 minutes of cooking, add the mushrooms.

Take stew from oven.  Turn oven to 400 F.  Spoon stew into individual bowls, top with puff pastry, brush with some raw egg, sprinkle with some dried thyme and sea salt.   Bake in 400 F oven for 20 minutes and serve immediately.