The Case for Christmas Beer: One Curmudgeon’s Begrudging

Great Lakes Christmas Beer Goggles

Great Lakes Christmas Beer Goggles

I have a well-documented disdain for Christmas beers, winter warmers, and other beers with cutsie holiday-inspired names like Silver Beers and Jingle Beers and Have Yourself a Beery Little Christmas. But around this time of year it is hard to avoid them. They take up half the craft beer cooler at my favorite corner store. The Bollywood music playing in the background adds a certain confusion to the scene, but the store owner certainly knows what brings in money.

Now well into my thirties, I understand that from Thanksgiving to December 25, and perhaps from well before, my life will be invaded by Christmas. The music I hear, the ads I see, the food and drink I buy, the clothes in stores, the shows at theatres, the urges to donate, the urges to buy, the insistence of want, the stupid shit people stick on their heads, cars, children, and pets, even the way people bid me farewell. After all these years, I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be okay with it.

I’ll especially not be okay with the replacement of my favorite IPAs and… IPAs with The Nutcracker Wheat and Rudolph the Red Nosed Rainbeer. Because, let’s be honest: this curmudgeonliness has little to do with my personal religious beliefs and everything to do with what I want to drink after a day of playing retail Christmas Elf to dozens of customers, all equally pissed off that they have to spend their hard earned money on siblings they never really liked anyway. And that beer I want to drink is one made of water, grain, yeast, and hops. Please hold the nutmeg. Continue reading

Kung Pao Squash and Greens

kung pao!At my first job after college, there was a woman named Cynthia (a.k.a. Cyn-Bad), who, upon being asked what Chinese food she wanted to order, would always say, “Kung PAO!” and do a series of high-energy karate kicks. I believe she went on to teach first graders.

But I was always a little jealous of Cyn-Bad’s order, because takeout Chinese places almost never have anything fixed in a kung pao style besides chicken or maaaybe shrimp, so it’s a no-go for vegetarians. That’s why I was so excited when our friend Jeff (who, now that I think about it, would probably admire Cyn-Bad’s wicked karate stylings) forwarded us a recipe for Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes. What?! A whole new world of Szechuan deliciousness opened up to me.

I changed the recipe up a bit to match what we had on hand, which included a whole load of squash. As frequent readers of this blog might already know, winter squashes are really not my favorite vegetables, so this was a serious test, but the spicy sauce and the crunch of the peanuts helped that squash pass with flying colors. No doubt about it: it’s a meal glorious enough for a palace guardian, not to mention Cyn-Bad.

Kung Pao Squash and Greens Continue reading