Root Beer

I like root beer, or as Evan calls it, root beard.  I think part of why I enjoy it is that I feel root beer is a soda that has not lost its heritage.  I have always found the history of soda to be interesting, particularly that sodas began as medicine, and that the first soda fountains were in pharmacies. Root beer heralds from a time before sodas were fruit-flavored sugar delivery systems.

A couple years back, I began a quest to find an absolutely fantastic root beer   It would need to have the right combination of flavors and fizz to make it.  Starting a while back, I began to keep notes on the different root beers I tried.  Here are some of my findings so far.

Cool Mountain Root Beer

This soda had a strong, fruity flavor, reminiscent of the national brand Barq’s.  The fizz was very strong, to the point that it began to have a numbing effect and was hard to drink.  Overall, not a very memorable soda. 2/5

Dr. Brown’s Root Beer

This soda had the quintessential “root beer” taste, but was very strong.  The primary notes were anise and wintergreen, and it had a definite caramel aftertaste.  This soda was very fizzy, and between the wintergreen and strong fizz, I only got through half of the bottle before the tip of my tongue started to feel numb. 3.5/5

Frostie Vanilla Root Beer

This soda was an enjoyable blend of flavors!  It tasted like a root beer float, more than a straightforward root beer, so if you don’t like root beer floats, this is one to avoid.  This soda went easy on the carbonation  and so had a smooth finish.  Overall, an enjoyable experience.  4/5

I’ll keep you posted as I go through more!


Potatoes

At the end of 2004, I was getting ready to leave BYU and spend some time at home. I’d had some health problems and I’d gotten far behind in school – I was overwhelmed and needed a break, and thankfully my parents were understanding when I said I wanted to move back for a while. Before the semester ended, I wanted to go see The Nutcracker with friends, and I planned a nice steak dinner.

The dinner didn’t go as planned, but I made a side called “creamy potluck potatoes.” (Side note: I wrote down the recipe with the title “Egypt potatoes.” I’d made a cake for a ward auction shortly before this dinner, and the person who bought it asked if I was from Egypt. Aside from my name sounding not-white, I’m pretty much white as white gets. But I wanted to pay tribute to the ridiculousness of Mika-the-Egyptian somehow.) As Jarom was on his mission at the time, I invited another guy to be my date. He described the potatoes as “luscious” (and his comment was immortalized in my recipe book). I wanted them recently, but I also wanted funeral potatoes*. So yesterday I tried combining the recipes. They’re essentially similar – tons of cheese, a cream-of-something soup, potatoes in a casserole dish. The Egypt potatoes go so far as to have sour cream, cream cheese, AND butter (plus a few other things). I thought I could just toss some cornflakes on top and call it good.

Yesterday, I was almost ready to put the potatoes in the oven when the power went out. It had started snowing Monday night and didn’t let up until late last night, but thankfully the power was only out for 40 minutes or so, during which I fantasizes about the potatoes. Are you surprised that when I eventually made them, they weren’t that great? Apart from needing more salt, they just didn’t have much flavor. (There was seasoning in the recipe – but not nearly enough, I think.)

So now I’m on the hunt for the best cheesy, creamy potato recipe. Have one?

* Funeral potatoes are commonly brought to funeral luncheons, brunches, and family meals in Utah and Idaho. I’m sure they exist in other areas with a different name. Everyone seems to have their own version – some use shredded hash browns, others potato chunks; some have onions or green onions; most have cornflakes on top. Always baked in a casserole dish and almost always delicious.


Dinner

I’ve found that the Romgi and I are likely to eat fast food, expensive (but delicious) take-out, or cereal for dinner unless we plan a dinner menu at least a week in advance. But there’s always the question of what dishes to put on the menu. A while ago, I sat down and made a list of all the meals I could think of that we like, and I used that for a while. Then I sorted the meals by main component (like chicken, beef, pork, seafood) and tried to get a good variety every week.

Recently I took things a step further. You know how much I love spreadsheets, right? I created a spreadsheet with a tab for each component – now chicken, pork, vegetarian, beef, seafood, and miscellaneous – with the dishes and links to recipes. We have a rotation now where each of those 6 components shows up once per week on our menu, with Sunday being a chance to toss in an old favorite meal. Then I used my handy Google calendar to plan out weekly menus through November. Yes, I’m like that.

I had to do a lot of hunting to find more recipes to fill up the calendar. We’ve tried a few new tasty meals recently, and I thought I’d share.

Chorizo hash

Cuban pork tenderloin with soffrito rice

Lemon ricotta pancakes

Moroccan-style tilapia

Balsamic mushroom chicken

Pork chops with apples

What are some of your favorites? How do you plan your dinners? This week I’m looking forward to chicken-tomatillo chili, barbacoa pork burritos (a Cafe Rio knockoff), steakhouse shepherd’s pie, and blackened catfish. The Romgi caught a couple catfish not too long ago and we have a great seasoning for them. Incidentally, the seasoning is usually used for “blackened red snapper” or “blackened red fish,” which I always heard as “black and red fish.” So when we made a batch of the seasoning early in our marriage, I labeled the jar “Black & Red Spice.” Much hilarity ensued. I may have been embarrassed, but let’s just say that we all thought it was hilarious.

The end.