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Libations, Liam, and Lakesha

I got almost zero sleep last night due to several events, some more fortunate than others.

The first reason could be attributed to this…

That is a flight of delicious whiskey samplings.  Oh yes.

Jeff and I walked into Decatur to grab some sushi after work.  We ordered way to much (I didn’t remember to get a picture) and wanted just one drink before heading back home.

We stopped in at Mac McGee, an Irish pub on Decatur Square and ordered a beer each. At that point a man in a kilt started speaking over everyone in the bar.  Apparently, they were having a whiskey tasting and lesson from a master whiskey expert that night, and we had stumbled in at the exact moment it began.

The bartender asked if we’d like to join in and whaddaya know, we caved.  We shared one since we already had beers on the counter, and because both of us would get trashed if we had 6 shots each, with beer.

First we tried a Dalwhinnie, sweet and honeyed but still with a pretty agressive burn in the throat.

Next came Clynelish and then Cardhu, both sweet and pleasant as well. Then my favorite of the night Oban, which is much smoother, less burning.

And here I’m tasting tasting some of the peaty, smokey, island-origin varieties: Caol Ila and Lagavulin.

Lagavulin was a little too smokey for both of us.

We also got to smell some of the ingredients used in crafting these fine whiskeys and some of the high-alcohol wort before it gets distilled further.

And we learned how to properly “nose” the whiskey, place the glass under your nose and breathe in through your mouth.

We were pretty giddy by the time we left and still had about a mile or so to walk home.

We fell pretty promptly into bed after that and were out instantly.  Then, hell opened up. Hell in the form of a tiny, brown, fuzzy, devil named Liam.

Just look at that dead stare.

Liam has always barked at our bedroom door from time to time when he gets bored or lonely or energetic at night.  I say “barked” because that is more descriptive of the loud and insistent sound that comes bellowing out of him than “meow” can express.  This cat only has one working lung (I’ll delve into that story another time) and yet he can scream at a shrill and maddening pitch for hours without stopping.  Which is exactly what he preceded to do, starting around 1am this morning.

For your reference, this picture pretty much sums up how he views himself…

I am SuperCat and I am super.

Don’t call me cruel, but I keep a squirt bottle of water on my bedside table just for these occasions when Liam absolutely loses it and decides to practice his operatic masterpieces in the middle of the night.  I never actually get to squirt him anymore though.  He’s learned to run away and hide as soon as he hears me get up, and usually just the gesture of me intending to squirt him will shut him up til morning.  Not last night.

Liam bawled and complained for hours on end and I got up at least 4 times, Jeff several as well.  It was around 4am when Jeff noticed that he hadn’t seen Lucas anywhere the last time he got up.

We found Lucas asleep in our second bedroom with the door closed, he must have shut it himself so he could have a night alone. That was what Liam was complaining about.  As soon as I shooed Lucas out of the bedroom Liam started purring and rubbing against my leg. Either he couldn’t sleep without Lucas next to him or, more likely, he just wanted to tattle on Lucas for being alone in the bedroom. They are seriously just like little kids, one can’t stand it when the other is getting to do something that they’re not getting to do.

They really are inseparable, though.

You’d think that with that little brat assuaged, I could get some sleep, right? Nope.  A whole symphony came to life outside our bedroom window.  A train blared not so far away to announce it’s arrival, then spent a good 20 minutes screeching to halt with a sound akin to nails on a chalkboard.  Sirens waled as they sped towards whatever danger needed intercepting.  Early morning commuters started their hustle and bustle out of the city. And then… there was an intense and furious poetry slam between an owl and a rooster…a rooster named Lakesha.

Rooster by firecracker plant

Some neighbors of ours a few houses down have a rooster in their backyard.  I don’t know if they have any chickens, but I know they have a rooster.

Jeff and I have heard this little fellows’ crow change as he’s grown in to an adult rooster. He used to just scream one loud note, “AHHHHHHHHH!” out into the morning, but over time he’s added other notes and come up with quite an individual little call for himself. He doesn’t, however, seem to have a working internal clock. Homeboy will fire up that voice box at any hour he feels compelled, and last night he was compelled by an owl, hooting away in the tree tops. They went back and forth for over an hour.

Now what you’re really wondering is, “Why is the rooster named Lakesha???” Here is the approximate conversation between Jeff and I that resulted in his rather feminine moniker.

Setting: In our bedroom in the middle of the afternoon one weekend. I was folding clothes, Jeff was on the bed checking emails from his phone, rooster was outside and would not shut up.

Me: “That rooster sure is loquacious.”

Jeff (not paying attention): “Lakesha?”

Me: “What?”

Jeff: “Did you just say the rooster is Lakesha?”

Me: “No!  I said the rooster is loquacious.  Besides, roosters are boys, he can’t be named Lakesha.”

Jeff: “Whatever, hon. I think you just named that rooster Lakesha”

Me: “Fine, Lakesha it is.”

And that is the story of a rooster named Lakesha.

I felt like crap today from all of these things.  I think I’m swearing off alcohol for a while, at least until this weekend for the Decatur Beer Festival. Yay!


Epic pumpkin oats and veggie sandwich

This morning I really wanted to use my pumpkin puree that I made yesterday, so I made a batch of pumpkin oatmeal for Jeff and I with a few extra additions.

Yes, that’s a caramelized banana and apple butter!  Wow, this was so good.  Here’s how it came to be:

I started by slitting a banana in half and heating it in a non-stick pan…

And in a pot I added the following:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. flax meal
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • one huge scoop of pumpkin puree

I basically just let the liquid come to a boil then add all the stuff, stir, turn it to low and let it sit covered for about 5 minutes.  Then I just stir vigorously until it thickens up nicely and serve.

Add the toppings…

And serve! Just look at the “veins” on that caramelized banana, creepy but epically good!

Moving on to my equally epic lunch…

Jeff and I went for a walk to enjoy the glorious day going on outside and to try to grab some lunch.  We ended up at Sawicki’s, a sort of general store/ delicatessen/ sandwich shop in downtown Decatur.  While we waited for our sandwiches to be made, Jeff sipped on a cream soda and I tried a chilled rooibos tea.

And we shared some sweet potato chips…

Jeff got the cuban, which he said was excellent…

And I had the single best veggie sandwich I have ever had…

It was spring mix lettuces, avocado, cucumber, artichoke, tomato, hummus, and basil caper vinaigrette on the most delicious crusty roll ever.  EPIC.

We will definitely be hitting up Sawicki’s again, can’t believe it took us this long to try it.

I have an interesting dinner planned for tonight, maybe I’ll hit the trifecta?

P.S.: Yes, I still plan to put up a video of my wedding cake practice, “life stuff” has gotten in the way, but it does exist and I do intend to get it on here soon.


Let us eat cake!…and beer…and french fries…

Ugh.  I feel rather yucky.  It has been a day of over-indulging.  Let me start at the beginning…

Last post I mentioned that I’m practicing my wedding cake making skills.  I mainly used today to test out a recipe for a standard vanilla cake.  I wanted to make sure that it was both delicious and that it would be a strong enough cake to create a structure out of.

If you’re interested, the recipe I used is this one.  I just doubled it to make enough for two pans.

I started by buttering and flouring 2 9-inch cake pans…

and creating my dry mix…

I creamed together my butter and sugar…

This is what it looks like about half way to cream stage, still a little grainy…

Once you get a fluffy and light cream, add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, then the dry mix in several stages.  At this point you essentially have sugar cookie dough.  I slowly poured in the milk while the mixer was on its’ lowest setting and let it get to a uniformly wet consistency.

It was still pretty thick and needed to be spread evenly into my cake pans…

It came out of the oven looking like a giant golden cookie…

I turned those two out onto a cooling rack while Jeff and I went out for the afternoon. I had completely intended to bake all the cakes necessary for the entire bottom tier today but I ran out of sugar and just couldn’t ignore the gorgeous weather outside that had been calling me all day through opened blinds.

We decided to walk into town.  I think we both knew we were gonna stop somewhere for beer, we were just trying to pretend like neither of us were thinking that.  We ended up at Leon’s, an excellent beer bar with a great food menu.

I went all autumn and got a pumpkin beer, Southern Tier Pumking.

You know, I wanna say that I didn’t like this because it was candy-sweet and overly spiced, but I drank it all and contemplated having another one, so I guess I didn’t hate it.

Jeff had one of his old standbys, the Chimay Blue.

It’s a Belgian strong dark variety, like a lot of the beers we enjoy.  Strong darks tend to be thick and sticky, sweet with almost a granular sugar quality, and have dark fruit flavors like candied fig or dates and multigrain bread.  Perfect for a burgeoning fall!

We were dumb and got the bucket of frites, which is enough for like 4 people.

It comes with two dipping sauces of choice–we chose bacon herb mayo and garlic aioli, and we got a complimentary smoked tomato mayo as well.  Did we really need three mayonnaise varieties for our bucket of fried potatoes? No, and I felt totally gross before we even got to the fries that are actually inside the bucket, and not just piled on top.

Let me just say, as far as french fries go, the fries at Leon’s are pretty light and non-greasy. After that many fries of any kind though, anyone would feel gross.

Afterward we wanted to chill for a while before walking home so we both tried a pint of a local Decatur brew, Wild Heaven.

I am very excited about this beer.  Decatur is such a beer-lovers’ paradise, it is only right that we should have a local brew, and having one as good as Wild Heaven is even better.  I gotta say, the aroma is rather…uh…armpit-ish to me.  It’s a little oppressive.  But the flavor is layered like an everlasting gobstopper.  Starts out sweet, blooms into full blown hops, then mellows into bready flavors with a balmy feel leftover in your mouth. Very interesting indeed!

So yeah, didn’t get much done today.  Didn’t work on my cake practice enough.  Fall was calling though and I’m so glad that Jeff and I got out to enjoy it in all its’ glory!