Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thirsty Thursday (Primo Edition): No Throw Solo

Happy Valentine's Day!  You might be expecting a holiday-themed cocktail...and you'd be right...just not THAT holiday.

My cousin Primo messaged me over the weekend with this new cocktail recipe, so I had to get it posted for this week!  Since Mardi Gras season is in full swing down in in New Orleans, he created this as his cocktail special to run through Fat Tuesday (March 5 this year).  If you're going to be in NOLA for Carnival season, head over to La Bayou, say hey to Primo, and order one up...or you can make it at home.

1.5 oz Scotch (Primo uses Grant's Family Reserve)
1 oz dry Riesling (Kung Fu Girl)
1 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz Thyme simple syrup (recipe below)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Serve over ice and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme (and charred pineapple, if you have the means).

P.S. Don't forget to follow Primo's newest culinary adventure, Snaxidermy, a pop-up restaurant serving up killer creations like Texas brisket tacos and smoked rib sliders.

Thyme Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
handful of fresh thyme

Combine sugar, water, and thyme sprigs in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature(~30 minutes). Strain to remove thyme sprigs. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Satsuma Pecan Muffins

So, if you're from outside of the Gulf Coast or California, you may be asking, "what's a satsuma?"  That's because up here, they go by other names: Halos, Cuties, Sweeties.... Yes! Those little mandarin oranges, that are so great to snack on (for kids and adults) because they peel easily and don't have big seeds.  
Satsumas are a popular backyard tree in Louisiana, where the temperate climate serves them well. They originated in Japan in the 1800's, but Louisianians have definitely adopted them into their culture.  Abita makes a Satsuma beer, you can get a satsuma snowball, find satsuma marmalade, and there's even a town named Satsuma.

We keep a stockpile of mandarins in our car because I can easily eat them while driving, as can Lil' Man (without making a big mess in his car seat).  I also like that they're a good food to share with panhandlers or the homeless (oranges and bananas are both great for this, but oranges stay better in your car longer.  A lot of folks who need some help don't have great teeth--I've tried to hand out apples before and had them politely turned down because they couldn't bite into them.)

And they're super-cheap this time of year (because they ripen from October - December), so we always have a 3 lb bag of them in our house.  But that also means that we need to go through them all, which can be a challenge.  So I started looking for recipes to use them in, and found this one!
Full disclosure, today's recipe is a spin from one over at CuliCurious. I've made enough changes to sort of "make it my own", but I have to give credit where it's due, because I don't think I would have thought to make muffins from them on my own.

2-3 satsuma mandarin oranges, plus 1 tsp orange zest
1.5 cups flour
0.5 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp Steen's cane syrup
2 large eggs
0.5 cup plain Greek yogurt
6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup pecan pieces

DIRECTIONS: (makes 6 jumbo muffins or 12 standard muffins)
Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a blender or food processor, add the peeled satsuma pieces and pulse until pulpy. Should make about 2/3 cup of liquid.  To this, add the other liquid ingredients (cane syrup, eggs, milk, yogurt, melted butter, ) and mix until combined.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, zest, cinnamon) and mix to combine, then add the liquid ingredients, but don't overbeat--it's okay if there's a few lumps.

Gently mix in the pecan pieces, and then let rest for 5 minutes before transferring into greased or lined muffin tins.  We made 6 large "Texas-size" muffins, but would also make about 10-12 standard muffins.

If making jumbo muffins, bake for about 20 minutes...if making standard muffins, about 15 minutes.  Check with a toothpick--the toothpick should come out clean and the edges of the muffins should be pulling away from the tin.
Transfer to a cooling rack once done--if you let the muffins cool in the tin, heat/steam can't escape fast enough and they can end up being mushy.
Note:  I originally made these with just 4 tablespoons of butter, and they ended up a touch dry, so we added butter.  The recipe above calls for 6 tablespoons of butter so they should be nice and moist.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Kid-Friendly Breweries: Springfield, Missouri!

If we're going to do a series on the kid-friendliness of  breweries, it only makes sense to include a post about right here in our own stomping grounds.  Because good-ol' Springpatch, when I was in college, only had one brewery-- Springfield Brew Co.  Now, in 2019, we're up to eight with more reportedly to come in the next few years.  Not bad for a college town!

So, we'll be grading each brewery based on 3 criteria:

1) Beers:  There's no point in worrying about whether you can take your kiddo to a brewery if the beers aren't worth trying.  We'll give a brief overview, and then tell you our favorites.

2) Entertainment:  Do they have some way to distract your kid for 30 minutes to an hour while you sip on a cold one?

3) Changing Station: This is more geared toward the parents of younger kids, but as we probably all know--it's a pain in the butt to have to try to change a diaper on a bathroom floor, or in the back of your car if the bathrooms are beyond gross.

NOTE: if you want to try out this area's breweries, I suggest picking up a free Tap & Pour Passport from any of the participating breweries, the Visitor's Center, or airport--after you get all your stamps, you can pick up a free pint glass!  Also: check this link to see if there are any half-price "Ozarks On Tap" discount cards left!

Springfield Brewing Company
This is the original craft brewery in the Springfield area.  The current incarnation began in 1997 (the original opened in the 1870's but went under during Prohibition): they have a 2 story building with a small outside patio dining area as well.  There's two bars--one on each floor.  The downstairs is mainly for dining, while there are private rooms available upstairs, along with several pool tables and darts.
Favorite Beers: They make a pretty solid gose and like to play around with small batches of their sours, but our favorite year-rounder is the Greene Ghost IPA.  And I don't usually like IPA's.  So that's saying something.
Food: Since they're a restaurant, they have a full menu. Personal favorite here is the fish & chips or fish tacos.  They are also open for breakfast on the weekends!
Entertainment for Kiddos:  Pretty limited, since this is mostly a restaurant.  But if your kids are old enough to fiddle around with a pool table, you can keep them occupied. They also offer crayons and a kid's menu for keeping little ones entertained at the table.
Changing Station: Yes!  Bonus points!

Mother's Brewing Company
Mother's is probably one of Springfield's best examples of redevelopment of an industrial space.  Historically, Mother's was a Butternut bread factory (I can remember delivering pizzas here in college).  The factory had been defunct and abandoned for about 10 years when the Mother's family moved in and transformed it into a brewery. The brewery owners have done a great job of repurposing items from the factory (like old conveyor belts and fan blades).  

They offer free tours at certain times so you can get a peek at the interior of the building as well.  They've been around since 2011, but have quickly grown and now distribute throughout most of the Midwest.  They love to experiment and have many brews that are exclusive to the Tap Room. And once a month, they have First Firkin Friday, where they tap a small batch experimental brew, like a Strawberry Vanilla German Lager, or Lil' Helper with blood orange, basil, and jalapeno.  Their beers trend toward the hoppier side, so if you're a hop-head, this is the place to be.

Favorite Beers:    Flagship-Towhead. Seasonals-Winter Grind, and the Backyard Strawberry Ginger Gose.
Food:  Not in-house, but they do host food trucks for some events. Watch for London Calling, we're big fans! 
Entertainment for Kiddos: They have an AMAZING giant backyard, with lots of space to run around and burn off energy.  There's always plenty of families and pets.  They also have some yard games like cornhole.  There's usually plenty of seating, but for big events you might think about bringing a lawn chair.
Changing Station:  Yes! They just recently added them.  Even in the men's room!

Lost Signal Brewing
These folks moved in a couple years ago and are probably one of our favorite places to go in town, because they're constantly releasing new beers.  It helps that they're only a few minutes from my office.
Favorite Beers: Smoked Pecan Porter, hands down.
Food:  They have BBQ onsite (delicious BBQ, at that), and on Sundays offer brunch.  I recommend the pulled pork nachos, or the jalapeno poutine.
Entertainment for Kiddos:  They have a nice fenced-in outside space behind the brewery, with yard games like cornhole and giant Jenga.
Changing Station: There's a small dresser in the bathroom that can be used to change diapers.  

White River Brewing
White River opened up on Commercial Street in 2012, an area of town that has seen a huge amount of revitalization in the last few years.  Since then, dozens of restaurants and shops have opened up, and the C-Street Farmer's Market is one of the most hopping places to be on Thursdays & Saturdays!
Beers: For year-rounders, the C-Street Pale Ale is pretty solid.  As far as seasonals go, I'm a fan of the Queen City Hibiscus and the Shadow Rock Vanilla Stout.
Entertainment for Kiddos:  If it's warm outside, their outdoor space is fenced with plenty of roaming space, but the indoor area is a little cramped.  There is a shelf with a variety of games for older kids.
Photo Credit: 417 Magazine

Changing Station: Nope, sorry.

4X4 Brewing - Our "Most Kid-Friendly Brewery" Winner
This spot recently opened up down in Galloway Village, near our old Inside Scoop stomping grounds.  They've had a lot of success, both with solid flagship beers and some great small batch experimentation. They also recently expanded (their new indoor space is huge and VERY family friendly) and are gearing up to start distributing!
"Well Behaved Children are Always Welcome! The rest will be turned into beer."

Favorite Beers: Java the Kolsch, both for name and wow-factor--you just don't expect that much coffee flavor from a light colored beer!  They do a lot of experimentation, and most are really solid--The Gatekeeper (pepper porter) that was recently released is great, and the County Fair (a cotton candy blonde, shown below) was amazing.
Entertainment for Kiddos:  They have tons of games, a free popcorn machine, and a nice outdoor space for those kiddos who need some space to run. Their new indoor expansion features a ping pong table, giant jenga, picnic tables, and lots of space for a tot to play. 
Changing Station: Yes!

Tie & Timber Brewing
One of the newer members of the Springfield craft brewing family, T&T moved into the Rountree neighborhood to provide a great venue in Central Springfield, but outside of the downtown area.  They have a large selection of beers and always seem to have something new rolling out. They're within walking distance of the Missouri State campus as well.
Favorite Beers: Kokomo Chocolate Porter (it's like Almond Joy in a glass), and Brick & Timber (it's a coffee amber made with locally roasted beans from Brick & Mortar).
Entertainment for Kiddos:  They have a few board/card games, and a nice large yard for kids to run around when it's warm.  Also a very dog-friendly spot!
Changing Station: There's a small dresser that can be used as a changing table.

Show-Me Brewing
This place is actually a home-brewing store, but they also have a few taps of their own stuff as well. 
You can organize brew days here with a group of friends and design your own batch of beer, let it ferment at their facility, then come back a few weeks later when it's ready and use their facility for bottling as well. It's a neat option for folks who don't have space at home to try out brewing.  Since it's a store, it's not super kid-friendly, unless your kiddos are older and don't feel compelled to touch EVERYTHING.  They do have a long table with some games for folks who are hanging out brewing or having a beer.

Bricktown Brewing
This Oklahoma-transport just opened a couple months ago and is gaining popularity. I've eat/drank at other Bricktown's while in OK for work and was excited to see them come to Springfield.

Favorite Beers: At the time of this writing, they had a limited selection of their own beers on tap because they're still gearing up to brew onsite, so Piney River is helping them out by brewing 2 of their flagship beers (Ol King Kolsch and Blueberry Wheat) at their facility in Bucyrus, MO.  Of these, Blueberry is my fave, though the OKK is pretty solid too.  And, they have tons of taps with other local beers, and a huge bottle selection as well.  
Food:  Honestly, I've had nothing bad here.  We love their Hatch Green Chile Burger (there's a chicken version too, but the burger is better), and the sweet potato fries with bacon and salted caramel--O.M.G.  SO GOOD.  They also have a happy hour when you can get $3 appetizers--which makes those salted caramel fries even more delicious.
Entertainment for Kids:  They have a few games in their waiting area, and then crayons/kid's menu for the table. Since this is mostly a restaurant, there's not a lot of play options.  However, their kids menu is stellar--great serving amount for the price.
Changing Tables:  Yup!

Great Escape Brewing
As of the writing of this post, this is the newest brewery to Springfield, having opened right before Christmas 2018.  They're located in Quarrytown (a development within the Galloway neighborhood, so just a few minutes from 4 By 4).  This is a new development with a very "Colorado ski village" vibe.   All the beers we tried there were solid, and there were several families with kids the last time we were there.

Beer: I don't normally like hefeweizens, and theirs is good.  Also their porter is nice and roasty, and the Scotch Ale and Altbier were excellent.
Entertainment:  They have long tables and a basket of games to play with.  The upstairs area has lots of space to spread out and keep kiddos entertained, and there are balconies when the weather is warm enough for them.
Changing Station: Yes, both the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms have them!