4th of July Blackberry Cobbler

I have a freezer still full of blackberries, a pantry full of blackberry preserves and wife that says, “No more Jam!” What’s a guy to do? Ok Hun, it is your birthday on the third of July, how about some blackberry cobbler and Blue Bell vanilla ice cream?

I will share a recipe that has had rave reviews every time I have made it and rave reviews from everyone that has made it themselves. The recipe is not original with me but I do give it proper credit…..it is just amazing and so simple to make!

MEME’S BLACKBERRY COBBLER

I added an extra cup of blackberries to this recipe from Virginia Willis’ Bon Appétit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories From Three Generations of Southern Cooking (Ten Speed Press, $32.50).

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 5 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen – Hand picked from a friends property just north of Kingwood.
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more if desired for berries
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in a large iron skillet (I used a 12 inch cast iron skillet), place skillet in oven to melt butter.

Put blackberries in a large bowl. If they are frozen, let them soften a few minutes. Crush lightly with a potato masher. Sweeten with extra sugar if you like. ( I did!!!)

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup sugar in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine milk and vanilla. Gradually pour wet ingredients into dry while whisking.

Remove skillet from oven. Add melted butter to batter. Stir to combine. Pour batter into hot skillet. With a spatula, scrape the berries into the center. Bake cobbler till it is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the cake (not the berries) emerges clean, about 1 hour.

Serve warm with ice cream — and prepare for a walk down memory lane.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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The start……this is what it should like on entry to the oven.

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This is what it should look like before scooping out into a bowl, just begging for a mound of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.

My presentation is pretty Patriotic, the skillet is a red enamel, the cooked berries are beyond blue and the Blue Bell vanilla ice cream is as close to white as it can be. Have a great Fourth of July.

TTFN

Bishop

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Flying “Under the Radar”

Saturday September 3rd found daughter Lisa and I at a new brewery in downtown Houston, “Under the Radar”. The day started with a play at the Alley Theater in Houston, “A Night With Janis Joplin”.  Great play and the lead in the play, Kacee Clanton, was channeling Janis Joplin’s spirit…….from nearby Port Arthur, TX. We attended the 2:30 afternoon performance so we were free to explore downtown. What better form of exploration than to find a new brewery and partake.

My good friend and fellow homebrewer, Mike and his lovely wife Annette had texted me last weekend from the Grand Opening of “Under the Radar Brewery”! Lisa and I were a week late for the Grand Opening but, as the old cliché goes, better late than never.  We arrived in time to witness the end of the Texas A&M Aggies take an OT win over my old school, UCLA. While catching the two point conversion by UCLA I struck up a conversation with a young lady, named Kelli, intently watching the game. She is an Aggie, “Poli Sci” major and yes of course, an attorney. Better yet, she is married to one of the owners. More about that connection later.

We found a close and convenient parking spot at 1506 Truxillo Street (home of the brewery and beer garden), adjacent to the Deutscher Fleschwagen food vendor! Oh my…..translation is the “German Meat wagon/truck.” The smells were heavenly and I will have to report out on another visit about the food. Lisa and I were focused on the beers for this visit.

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A look from the beer garden with the brewhouse in the background.

First round….for $ 15.00 I bought a logo glass and 3 tokens, we added a fourth token for an additional $5.00. Our choices were;

Dirty Blonde – I ordered the Blonde, I know, those of you that know me, are probably shaking your head because I tend to be an IPA fan, the hoppier the better. Lisa is a bit like me and she wanted the IPA….I  knew I would get a sip. I liked the Blonde and I know my wife will enjoy it.

Mid  Frequency IPA – Lisa…..yes she got the IPA. A good solid IPA, not over the top with bitterness. A good very drinkable IPA.

Midtown Bock – Because of commitments we decided to hold onto a token and sample the Bock and Porter on another visit.

Porter Authority

Radar Love – a light Hefeweizen. Now, I don’t normally drink Hefeweizens, but on this warm late afternoon I ordered  and glad I did. Very nice beer and very refreshing….coulda had another……. Just enough Magnum hops to keep it interesting but not enough to have my wife turn her nose up at it….So, Kathy my dear, there are two beers on this list that you will love.

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A listing of the usual offerings

There are plenty of tables to share with other likeminded beer drinkers with a nice mix of sun and shade in the beer garden. There is a Dynamo cornhole set on site to keep teams and groups talking smack and destroying their opponents. I noticed a few folks carrying in food and snacks as well as folks making use of the Deutscher Fleischwagen.

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Patrons enjoying a great day to drink beer……

Back to Kelli now. She introduced Lisa and I to her husband, Mike Norfleet, one of the three owners and still dabbling in his civil engineering work….He is a Purdue grad, but, he brews some very good beers so I will cut him some slack and …….  he did have the good sense to marry an Aggie! We chatted about beer, duh, as well as bees & honey. I think I put a bug in his ear to create a Honey Blonde or something similar somewhere down the road. I don’t have the inventory to supply enough for a 10 barrel batch…..It would be cool to find a local downtown source!  I told Kelli and Mike that I would see if I can find a contact for them.

We waited around long enough to catch a brewery tour conducted by Mike. He definitely has a passion for the craft and delivers with a strong authoritative voice. He also asked me to behave and not answer any of his questions…..I complied. The brewhouse is a 10 barrel system and they utilize 3 fermenters that also double up as brite tanks for force carbonating prior to kegging. They don’t have a bottling line so everything is kegged and distributed locally.

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Mike Norfleet, one of the owners up on his podium…..walkway between the mash tun and brew pot….delivering the beginning of an excellent tour of the brewery.

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Mike again…..drinking a cold one and leading the tour.

I am anxious for another excuse to wander downtown and sample the remaining two beers. It won’t be long. FYI, Mike and Kelli like Hay Merchant and I do believe you can find an Under the Radar offering there.

PS, Kelli, if we can keep it a secret, I will bring a 22 oz. bomber of my 3 year old Russian Imperial Stout, 11% ABV and aged on toasted, bourbon soaked oak.

Deutscher Fleischwagen

http://www.undertheradarbrewery.com/index.html

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

Bishop

#undertheradarbrewery

#anightwithjanisjoplin

Beer, Bluebonnets, Wine and Rings

Friday was a road trip with our best friends, Bev and John. We did have a purpose to the trip, but the route was allowed to be managed from the male perspective. The one given, and not subject to deviation, was a meeting with our youngest son receiving his class ring at Texas A&M in the 4:45 PM grouping. The tradition of the ring is pretty well understood within the state of Texas but it is a bit foreign to those on the outside. Rather than spending a chunk of time trying to explain it, the following link will put it into context for all y’all that may be interested. Just a side note, I have spent most of my life in the petroleum industry and that Aggie ring network is powerful and widespread.

http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/symbols/aggiering.html

John and I knew we had to arrive in Aggieland in time to buy Joe and the entourage lunch and still make the ring event. The rest of the planning was up to us. Beer was on our list and we chose the Brazos Valley Brewery as a stop on the return trip. On the trip to College Station, Aggieland, we selected a small winery in Chappel Hill, Texas Star Winery on the day before the Bluebonnet Festival…..for you non Texans, Bluebonnets are the state flower and kind of a big thing. No, they are a really big thing…..this is Texas after all.

The winery was almost a non-stop. We pulled into the parking lot at opening time and we were met by a distinguished looking gentleman several years my senior….He was an A&M grad and was proudly displaying his ring. He also told us that the winery was closed for a private event….Bummer………… Fortunately John needed to get rid of some coffee and ran into the winery owner….the esteemed Aggie had it a little wrong….the tasting room down the hill was open!

Off to the tasting room and we were the first four folks in the door. Fifteen minutes later a couple of younger women walked in and they were a hoot. Yes, they were Aggies, both proudly displaying their rings. The wines were interesting and we bought a couple of bottles to take with us….Conversation with the young women was also very interesting and very Texas infused. Seems that one of the businesses that one of the gals was involved with was the selling of bull semen. Apparently lucrative and again, very Texan. Sly smiles and subdued chuckles all around.

Winery 1

Outside the winery tasting room.

Winery 2

Inside the tasting room

Back on the road to stay on the timeline John and I had planned. We wandered the backroads through ranch land, rolling hills and occasional patches of Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes and Texas Longhorns. We found a nice little open field on a sharp corner turn for some quick photos on the way to meet the gang for lunch prior to the Aggie ring event. This year’s Bluebonnet display was nice but paled in comparison to last year’s trip to Muleshoe Bend near Johnson City.

Flowers

We made it on time to College Station and gathered the gang up for lunch at Madden’s in Bryan, the town is melded to College Station. This party of 8 included my son Joe, an Aggie friend and former swimmer at Kingwood HS and A&M University, Austin, another Kingwood HS swimming friend, Steve and Steve’s girlfriend Alisa. Oh yes, and the four that started out on the journey. Great meal and great conversation until I said something about the Aggie gals at the winery and the phrase bull semen. Apparently I said it loud enough that some of the 8 at our table dipped their heads and folks around us spun their heads around in apparent disbelief, amazement….Oh well, not the first time I have been a little too frank or as some may say clueless, about my choice of words. Those who know me well shrugged it off as one of those “Bishop” moments.

The ring event was an efficiently run affair, an Aggie engineered event run by four hundred volunteers. The smile on my son’s face was well worth the trip. He is a Petroleum Engineering student and has now joined an amazing fraternity of Aggies. It will provide a powerful network for the future.

Ring 1

My little son with his ring and with his proud parents!

OK, now for the beer. I violated the code. My wife Kathy knew where we were off to, but we kept the final surprise from Beverly. We did tell her we were heading toward Brenham, Texas. Lots of options there in her mind, antique shops, restaurants and the awesome Bluebell Ice Cream Factory. Word of warning….navigating the confusing streets in the downtown area is difficult and made more difficult with 3 navigators. We managed to find the Brewery and now the cat was out of the bag. Note to others heading that way, the sign on the outside of the patio area says Brenham Brewery but the real name is the Brazos Valley Brewery.

This is a very comfortable and unpretentious place. The friendliest people that you could ever imagine. I also learned that this 6 degrees of separation is much, much smaller. I have to tell the story. John had engaged a seasoned gentleman in conversation. In the conversation John shared that he and Bev were from Rhode Island and mentioned that Kathy and I were from California. Somehow during the conversation, Tom, the seasoned gentleman, asked where I lived in California. His response was, “I lived in Taft!” Small world! I told him that I was born in Taft….well we had a Taft conversation and world travels in the oil filed discourse…I hated to end the conversation, just for a short bit because the flight of beers I ordered were not getting any colder.

Here is my flight……Golden Ale, Silt Brown Ale, Black IPA and the Cream Ale. Very well brewed and more than drinkable. This is the first brewery where my wife uttered these words, “Every one of the beers I tried were very good. Not a bad beer in the bunch!” High praise from her as she can be a discerning beer drinker…OK – just a bit picky sometimes.

One of the Brewers and a man of great business sense, David Nowowiejski, took us on a personal tour of the brewery. Wow, clean and well organized. The man knows his stuff. He answered all my questions, and that is saying something because my wife always tells me I quiz the brewers too much in all of our visits! We bought two six-packs of the Golden Ale to bring home with us….my wife loves it and for a non IPA I enjoy it too!

I just have to mention….this place is one where you aren’t a stranger from the moment you step onto the patio. I will sing the praises and pass along great reviews to any and all beer drinkers I meet.

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L-R Old Man Bishop, Lovely wife Kathy, “Goo” friend John and his Lovely wife Bev. Selfie at the Brewery! Note the black eye my wife gave me has almost faded away! She didn’t really  mean to hit me.

 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,

Bishop

 

Volunteerism and Tomatoes

I was in the garden this morning, April 6th my electric toothbrush Buzzing the tomato blossoms. Why…..? Read and find out why from an old post .

From My Backyard

Not sure about where to go with this concept but I will dive in. My compost piles gets pretty hot but not hot enough, apparently, to damage or disrupt the viability of tomatoes seeds. How do I know this? Well, almost every time I spread compost from my pile I see tomato sprouts in a week or so. They get weeded out and life goes on. This season one of these “volunteer” tomato sprouts managed to escape my evil weed pulling eye and was discovered at about 12 inches tall and very robust. Since I tend to be curious I let it go. It is now 6 + feet tall and loaded with small cherry style tomatoes with GREAT flavor. It is absolutely prolific, even as the day time temperatures are up near 90 F! I have never saved tomato seeds but I will be tempted this year.

I have…

View original post 207 more words

Inspiration before Perspiration

Sitting on the patio enjoying an almost perfect Houston evening. It is about 74 degrees F or 23 degrees C for the rest of the world, a cold home brew in my hand and chicken on the grill.

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A small glass of my Honey Blonde Ale. My wife confronted me and asked if I was drinking “her beer”. I  had to admit, “Yes dear, I am”. Chill out Hun – it was only 8 ounces! Insert smiley happy face here! I was using a brewery sample glass from Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, Texas. Sure was good!

The chicken is smelling very good. @ $ 1.27 per pound!!!!   whole roasting chicken cut in half. Season with Lowry’s and garlic. Yum!

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That describes the inspiration for my next brew, a Session IPA! Target ABV will be 4.6% or so. Hops, this is where I will get my thrills, 7 ounces of Mosaic Hops. Three of the seven will be used to dry hop the beer as it sits in the secondary fermenter. Six and half pounds of domestic two row malt, one pound of Munich malt, one pound of domestic wheat malt and a half pound of 40L crystal malt.

Mashing and hopping schedule will be run through Beersmith and reported out on brew day, possibly tomorrow or the next day. (Wednesday doesn’t look good so it will be Thursday February 18th.)

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly
Bishop

Beer, What Doesn’t Go Well With a Homebrew?

NFL Football is on and our Houston Texans are rolling! Grab a frying pan, add a healthy portion of coconut oil, about a third of a large onion chopped, a bell pepper chopped up and 4 tamales chopped into bite sized pieces. Oh yeah, some chopped garlic and various seasonings. Most importantly was the Honey Blonde Ale brewed right here.

In keeping with the local theme – the tamales come from a little yellow shack called Granny’s Tamales in Humble Texas, adjacent to the Backyard Homebrewers store. A coincidence? I don’t think so.

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Off to a good start!

 

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Starting to simmer, tamales chopped up and my Honey Blonde in the background.

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4 eggs for a little protein! Washed down with a good homebrew.

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Add cheese, hot sauce of your choice, salt & pepper and whatever your little heart desires.

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Add  salsa and a dollop of sour crème.  Small Christmas plate for portion control…..it is OK…..I can still go back for seconds.

Recipe measurements…..come on man……give me a break!

4 eggs….more if you  want

4 tamales …. Ditto

Healthy portion of coconut oil…..bacon grease  would be a  good sub.

Enough Onion

1 or more bell peppers

A mittful of cheese….my mitts are pretty big.

Some chopped garlic and whatever else your palate would like. Tabasco, Cholula, Srirachi sauces…..12, 24 or 36 ounces of your favorite beer.

Resource guide.

http://www.grannystamalesthree.com/

http://backyardhomebrewers.com/

Looking good….Texans are up 34-0 8:45 left…..Just for Miami to step up and whack the Colts!

Drink Local and Drink Resopnsibly

Bishop

Christmas Advent Calendar-Craft Beer Style

I am blessed with an amazing woman that consented to become my wife over 33 years ago. Among the many things we have in common is a fondness for beer, good beer! My fondness may cross over to an obsession for very good beers. As any good Catholic girl knows, Christmas is a time for Advent Calendars. FYI, Advent Calendars originate with the German Lutherans and has become common among most Christian faiths.

How does an Advent Calendar fit in a beer blog you might ask? It was discovered in my wife’s Pintrest account. I have one but I am not quite that Pintrest savvy – yet! Ok, how is it done? She built a massive book case thing out of oak with little doors for each of the 24 Advent days. Each little door was large enough and deep enough for a 12 ounce bottle of beer lying on it’s side. All hardware was polished brass and finished natural with high gloss Tung Oil. Each little door was built like paneled doors and the edges rounded with a router. SMACK!  Sorry I was dreaming!

Maybe next year! This year she used a shoe holder, 24 pockets that hangs on a door. Each pocket was numbered in Christmas colors. Each mystery bottle was wrapped in tissue and festooned with a ribbon. Isn’t she clever? See below;

Isn't that the coolest idea?

Isn’t that the coolest idea?

Today’s offering was from Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, CA. Hmmmm 1967 also comes to mind. Why? It is a story for another time, involves lifeguarding, beer, swimming, old friends and rock concerts!

Great beer! Great aroma, near perfect bitterness. Love it!

Great beer! Great aroma, near perfect bitterness. Love it!

What a gal and what a gift!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly!

Bishop