Should I Eat That? – Dogfish Head Craft Beer Brats

September 3rd, 2014 1 comment

An educated person in my family once said to me at a cookout “I don’t want you serving your brats (in a beer bath) to my kids because I don’t want them to get drunk and like the taste of beer!” Can’t make that one up.

I’ve always loved cooking with beer but it’s not everyday I discover food with good beer in it. Granted there are sauces and condiments with alcohol ingredients but I’m talking something already infused even though that word gets trampled to death. So hey, it’s infused meat!

DogfishHeadBrats

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery posted a video on YouTube last week showcasing bratwurst made with their various beers and they were available at Whole Foods. I tweeted Whole Foods and they in turn messaged the store to find out they did indeed have some in stock AND they were on sale for $6.99/4pk (Excellent use of social networking by them!). After spending the afternoon at the pool with Teaspoon, I strapped him into the car and we road tripped to East Liberty.

I picked up 2 of the 3 available at the store. The Greek Feta Brat and Heirloom Italian Brat had me most curious while passing on the standard bratwurst. There is also a Spicy Espresso Brat that sounds amazing but I didn’t see it in stock. Check out the DFH brat family on their website.

Fired up the grill on Labor Day and treated the family to a special dinner. Here’s what we thought.

The Greek Feta Brat
made with feta cheese, mint, spinach, cumin, lemon and a dose of Midas Touch.

Me: LOVE LOVE LOVE this one. Ate it with no toppings, just a bun and it’s a winner served naked. Could you add on to it? Sure, why not but as a standalone chicken brat it was fantastic. Great snap when I bit into it and the flavors exploded. I would be anxious to try it without the Midas Touch just to see what flavors it brings that aren’t masked by the ingredients.

The wife: I like it and will cut you if you touch my plate

The kids: Can’t we just have a hot dog with ranch?

The Heirloom Italian Brat
based on a recipe from Dogfish founder Sam Calagione’s family. Sam’s great-grandmother used pork, fennel and red pepper in her classic Italian brat. If it was good enough for her, it’s good enough for Dogfish. (Well, the Italian gets a helping of beer/wine/mead hybrid Midas Touch for good measure!)

Me: It was a little on the bland side for overall flavor but it packed a nice heat punch that would make it perfect on a bun dressed with green peppers and onions. Watch out though because with the slightest pop while on the grill, I had a serious case of flare up.

The wife: I don’t like it.

The kids: Why can’t we have a hot dog already? COME ON!

Here’s where Dogfish Head also nailed it, the packaging. The back tells you which beers are suggested to drink with it. I’m sketchy on drinking the beer the food is made with so it’s not overkill and they seem to agree. One beer in common, which I haven’t had in awhile but agree that it would be an excellent choice, is their Burton Baton (10% ABV | 70 IBU). I think the raisiney and vanilla notes would complement both well.

There you go, the official Derda Family thoughts on the brats. The kids are still coming around to eating non-hot dog tubes of meat no matter how I try to sell it to them.

Dogfish Head Brats Collage
(Gallery on Flickr)

That’s a big twinkie

September 2nd, 2014 No comments

It brings me great joy seeing my kids appreciating some of the things I did as a youth.  Not just sports but certain cartoons, TV sitcoms and of course movies. Yesterday was the 30th anniversary showing of Ghostbusters and, just like with Back to the Future, it was a father and son moment I’m glad we shared.

Teaspoon_Ghostbusters Teaspoon and Little Thor have seen the movie multiple times off Netflix. In fact the first time I showed it to them I was curious how they would see the movie. They didn’t retain any of the swearing or (many) of the key lines but they loved the special effects with Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Watching it on the big screen was a new experience for me and one where I noticed a few things.

1) Smoking is big – Back then no one thought twice about lighting up but today if this movie would come out I’m sure there would be people flipping out. Teaspoon’s thoughts “Daddy, they smoke a lot. That’s stupid!”. Now if he says that at 15 we’re golden.

2) Janine is nebby – I need to watch this a few more times but in the background it seemed like she was always poking her head up or looking around a corner.

3) Dana is loaded – How on earth does someone have that beautiful of an apartment on the top floor by Central Park and makes a living as a musician?

4) What’s their insurance like – Unless they have a way to fine tune the streams to cause less destruction, they will trash your building like the hotel. Shelling out 5k to have a ghost captured and contained  and then you have damage to the walls and replacing a ballroom. I mean you could sign a contract but that Sedgewick Hotel is pretty much screwed.

I can’t wait until his brother is a little older so we can go as a family to enjoy the theater but until then, it’s special time like this with my Teaspoon that I’m cherishing.

 

 

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

Redefining Family Movie Night

September 1st, 2014 4 comments

We cut the cord on cable about 2 months ago and have been tethered to Hulu, Netflix and over the air programming (more on that later). Since we were in the middle of a holiday weekend and our plan for camping in our back yard was rained out, we decided to have a family movie night. The way it ended up was not what we had planned.

KidsTablet

I started by looking for something family friendly we haven’t watched. When you cut the cord you’d be amazed at how fast you can burn through these movies. After 10-15 minutes I came out of my trance with a few suggestions and noticed something.

The boys were huddled under a blanket on the floor watching Air Bud on their tablet.

My wife was watching Orange is the New Black on her phone.

Well there shoots that plan. I fired up the Hulu Plus and celebrated the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day’s Night via Chromecast. I’m not a big Beatles fan but I’ve always loved that movie.

Amazingly enough all of our programming ended around the same time and we finally got to watch the Disney movie. Well, 10 minutes of it at least before every one but me was snoring.

Is this the future of movie night?

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

Surviving the First Day of Kindergarten

August 26th, 2014 No comments

Yesterday I sent my first born off to kindergarten and even though I’ve been joking all summer that I couldn’t wait for this day to get here, when it finally did I had mixed emotions.

 Teaspoon was excited. Strike that, he was a raging ball of pumped up excitement. He was telling me all morning about how cool it was going to be, the friends he would make, and more importantly, he was riding a bus like a big kid.

We sat on the porch for what felt like an eternity. Teaspoon kept looking around the corner in anticipation for his ride when he noticed my wife was in full blown tears. He kept saying “Mommy, don’t cry. I’ll be OK.” She said “It’s not that buddy, we’re just so proud of you!”

He smiled and gave her a huge hug. Then with a smirk said “Mommy, do me a favor. Don’t follow the bus.”

I choked on my water and we all laughed because honestly, we were thinking about it.

The bus arrived and as he got on I couldn’t help but think about everything we’ve been through with him. From his early birth and time in the NICU, time at home hooked up to monitors to the moment he was accepted to the school and tested in the top 10% of kids his age.

He has always been a curious kid and anxious to experience something new as seen when we became parents to a soccer / hockey / basketball / baseball player in leagues where he didn’t know many kids. If he wants to try something, he does it and we do our best to make it happen.

I could see the awe in his eyes. The excitement of the unknown.

Teaspoon on the bus

When he came home he shot out of my wife’s car like a bat out of hell. “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! KWJHJKHDHHVDHBS!!!!!!” and for the next hour I sat back and listened to his stories from the day.

It has been a long and educational journey since I became a stay-at-home dad and this is why it happened, so I could experience these moments with him that wouldn’t have been possible if I was still working. This was the event where it became clear to me and now I’m ready to move on and get back to work.

For this guy, his brother and his mom.

Teaspoon 1st Day

Categories: Family, Fatherhood

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

August 18th, 2014 No comments

I’ve been helping out with charities since I was a little kid. In my twenties I spent a lot of time with Cystic Fibrosis and the Muscular Dystrophy Association and when I became a parent it was always March of Dimes. I did all of those because I knew someone directly involved and wanted to help out. Honestly, with so many charities out there you can only spread your money so far especially when on a fixed income.

When I first heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge I thought it was just a bunch of celebs being recruited to feel good that they had money to share. “Hey look at me, I’m donating!” but this kind of thing is in the media so much that I barely pay attention to it.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Then the Pens did it. Uh oh it’s getting local.

Soon people I knew were doing it.

I started thinking to myself that if Kevin Bacon did it the whole world would be connected and this thing would blow up, and it has. (Has Kevin done it yet anyways? It seems like he would be the go-to person for anything viral.)

My good friend Phil from My Life as a Foodie nominated myself and 2 others from our beer circles to take the challenge. The deal is you either donate money to ALSA or you have to dump a bucket of ice water over your head. Well we did both.

It seems like this challenge is drawing a lot of anger out of people also. Frankly the complainers are generally the ones griping about most things. Will dumping a bucket of ice over my head cure anything? No but it was REALLY refreshing. Is it raising awareness? I think it is and most people I know have donated money along with doing the challenge. Personally I used this opportunity to teach my kids about charities, get them involved in something fun to do and use their creativity to plan out the video. Not everything has to be entertaining but when you’re 3 and 5 it sure and heck helps get them interested.

Here is the video we came up with.

YouTube Preview Image
(Watch on YouTube)

I have nominated my beloved older brother Bob Derda Jr., former altar boy partner and Tiger Beat cover boy Mario Scutella II and founder of the Pavel Bure bro-mance, Mr. Chris “Stoosh” Jiuliante.

Find out more about ALS, the challenge and to donate, go to alsa.org

Categories: charity, Family, Fatherhood