Friday, February 26, 2010

Cooking with Beer: Dark Mild Beef Stew

Maybe the title of the dish needs some work. Most commonly you will see a stew like this referred to as a Guinness or Stout Beef Stew. But since I just brewed a Dark Mild and had it on draft I thought it would work well. Being Newlyweds, Ash and I have been trying to find more recipes that we can add to our "Regulars" list. So we have been searching for recipes that we both like and don't require too many complex ingredients. Mostly we'll find a recipe by the name that sounds good and then adapt to use what we have on hand. So this led me to my good college friend's cooking blog, Cate's World Kitchen. You will see more recipes in the future adapted from her recipes.
Recipe fits perfectly in a 4 Quart Slowcooker:
2-2.5lbs Stewing Beef (roast) cut into bite sized pieces
Oil from browning meat
Flour to coat meat for browning(for you beer peeps (maillard reactions))
1 Onion to saute in pot after browning meat
1 Tomato sauted w onion or use 3Tb paste
1 Dark Beer (Dark Mild, need some roast in it to replace the BBQ taste) add to deglaze pan after onions
2-3 Carrots chunked up into Slow Cooker
2-3 Potatoes chunked up into Slow Cooker

Keep it Simple. Brown the meat until brown throw into slow cooker. Add onions/tomatoes till they sweat add your beer. Add the cut up carrots and potatoes to the slow cooker. 
Cook on HIGH for 3 hours then LOW for another 3 or until you are ready to eat.

Ash's Azuki Bike Build / Restore

So I have been anxious to find a bike that Ash will like to ride. After asking her about 100 questions, I narrowed it down to:
1. Make it pretty
2. Don't make it complicated to ride
3. Paint it white

So from those 3 points I decided to restore an older bike that has a fun shape to the frame. Basically the older bikes are a lighter weight version of current beach cruiser look. Also she doesn't want it complicated to ride which to me means the less components and cables the better. So the best option seems to be an internal hub with a coaster brake. I'm not sure why these hubs lost popularity but I think they are amazing.(Sturmey Archer started it all). Then figure out how to repaint a bike.

So look at what I found (actually my mom at a garage sale), just beautiful:
 And I also found a 3 speed Sturmey Archer internal hub that I am going to restore and use it on the Azuki Tourist frame.

4/22/10 Change in Plans: I was given a 1970's Huffy that is complete. So it will be much easier to restore for my first big project. But I will come back to this bike and restore it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Undercover San Luis Obispo: Cuesta Pass / Ridge

Here is another adventure that is only a few miles out of Downtown San Luis Obispo. My roommates and I really enjoyed going up to Cuesta Pass when we needed to get out for a good half day adventure. It also makes a great place to get take-out and/or hot coco and dessert and watch the sunset over the Pacific. On a clear day you would be shocked by how far you can see from the road.
To get to Cuesta Pass, simply drive to the top of the grade just north of SLO on the 101. When you reach the top (driving north) you will notice a turn out on your left and a small turn out. Take the left and immediately right. You will then follow this rather bumpy road across the entire ridge (about 10 miles). The road is not in great condition but really any car can do the drive. Near the end of the road you do start driving on dirt so your car will be very dusty and dirty.

 Pretty shortly you will be on top of the ridge and will see that the view is worth the bumpy ride.

From the top on a clear day you can see the dunes at Pismo and to the north you can see Morro Rock. I reason I like this adventure is because the view changes depending on the season and time of year.
So back to the ride, around mile 3 you will see the TV towers (namesake of the road). Be careful while driving on this road because it is patrolled by the Utility and there can be some crazy drivers.
So back to the ride, around mile 3 you will see the TV towers (namesake of the road). Be careful while driving on this road because it is patrolled by the Utility and there can be some crazy drivers.
Shortly you will reach the Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area. This area is famous for the Sargent Cypress Trees. When I took the pictures in 2005 it was still recovering from a big fire.
 Now keep going on this road in a couple miles it will turn to dirt. You are going to go a total of 10 miles and you will get to what looks like a dead end. And for us it has been.(more on that later). You will see a large camping area where people have had very large bonfires (illegal without a permit(free from the ranger station)).
 This is where you want to park. Start walking west (the direction you have been driving) you will see a large trail through a Eucalyptus grove. As you walk through the grove you will see a steep Rock Formation to your right. You can climb/scramble up the rock and go into 2 small caves.The caves are not that impressive but make the trip a little more unique. You might as well bring a head lamp or lantern. But if you don't the caves have enough light if you let your eyes adjust.
There are a few more trails that go off into the hills. We have hiked around there which is nice especially in spring or late winter when the hills are green and the flowers are out. The best way to get out is to go the way you came.
We have tried another way in the past, as soon as you get to the dead end there is a left hand turn down the hill. It is steep and rocky and we made it down in a 4Runner (2WD) but after a mile we were stopped by a large washout in the road. And well we tried making it back up the steep hill and failed, we had to get towed. But this could have changed and it also looks on the map that there is a road to right after the dead end....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Undercover San Luis Obispo: Reservior Canyon

Over my 5 years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo I went on quite a few outdoor adventures. Keep checking back because I will keep posting more as I have time. If you have questions please feel free to ask. We were never bored living in SLO.

So the first place in this series is called "Reservoir Canyon Water Fall and Tunnel". It is one of the easiest places to get to, probably 5 minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo and less than a 2 minute hike. Here is an abbreviated map from the 101.

You will exit off the 101 before you turn the corner to go up the grade. The road will go about .5 mi till the gate and you cannot go any further. Just before that there is some parking to your left. On the weekends there might be a couple cars.

From where you park your car you should hear the waterfall, just walk about 100 ft to the west.

Depending on the time of year the water will be flowing different amounts. But it is always accessible, just scramble across the front of the falls and you will be treated to the entrance of a long tunnel. This is where you hope you brought a head lamp and a few lanterns. It is a bit wet inside so also have shoes on you don't care about. I have heard a few stories about this tunnel. (A boy scout leader we met there said it used to be over a mile long and used like a bomb shelter during WWII)

Not sure what is true but if you make it to the "end", you can tell that it has been poured with cement to close it off. It is still probably a .25 mi (deep). And it is obviously man-made. If you find the real reason for the tunnel please share.

There is also some great hiking past the waterfall. I will post more about this in the future. It was one of our favorite places to go and hunt for Chanterelle mushrooms.

The Purpose of the Blog

Basically this is a place for my mental download. As my wife Ashley can confirm I have no sort of memory so I need a place to write everything down. And I can't do this on paper since it will eventually be lost or thrown away by the aforementioned wife.I have a habit of having too many things going on a once and this will let me track where I left off. I also like to research all my activities to the fullest so this is a place where I can summarize my findings.
 I love to ride bikes and work on them. Unfortunately, I'm not the best at either but have fun trying . I am also a big beer fan, that enjoys to homebrew and taste everything I can. Luckily I'm in the right place since San Diego is an epicenter for the Beer Renaissance. Next, the outdoors and new places, so I'll document what I find so I can remember how to get back there some day and maybe someone else can enjoy what I have. I train once in a while for Triathlons/Adventure Racing.

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