Farmhouse Ale Cheese Fondue

Spring has been less then stellar here in the Midwest. I am ready for 80 degree days and the shining sun. All we have been getting is clouds and cold wind and me pouting in a fleece jacket while I attempt to put in our garden. I am ready for cold beers and hot grill action! Not chili and soup. But you have to make the best of what you got right?

Fortunately for us making the best also came with a new grocery store here in Fort Wayne (FTW), and their sweet cheese section, but I will get back to that in a moment. I had grown used to having many natural food options when I lived in Chicago. I was in walking distance from about 5 different stores, and a very nice farmer’s market. When I moved to Indiana and in with Jeff, the options were not very impressive. But it is improving.

Our Barr Street farmer’s market, which only had about 10 vendors when I started visiting FTW, now boasts an impressive 40+. And now we have like 10 market’s to choose from, almost daily!

But still, off-season natural and organic shopping was rather limited. Till now.

Earth Fare, who’s mission states “to connect communities and improve lives through food” is one we share. We plant a HUGE garden every spring and share what we reap with all our friends, family and neighbors. And being obsessive lovers of food and beer, we also entertain friends on a regular basis, filling their bellies with only the best. So we were intrigued when Earth Fare decided to open their doors in FTW.

The first thing we noticed at Earth Fare – that they made making healthy food choices easy. No foods with trans fats. No high fructose corn syrup. No artificial colors or sweeteners. No synthetic hormones in fresh meats or dairy. Want to eat healthier? No problem.

Earth Fare Fort Wayne, IN

They also make it super easy to eat every color of the healthy rainbow. Which is a fantastic rule to get your daily veggies and fruits in. (Sorry, colored sprinkles on cupcakes do not count as part of the healthy rainbow. It disappoints me too.)

Earth Fare Fort Wayne, IN

The girly girl in me (she’s THERE I swear) went ape for these all natural soaps by the ounce and scoop yourself body scrubs.

Earth Fare Fort Wayne, IN

The carnivore in me fainted on site of the charcuterie. Jeff asked me twice to stop licking the glass.

Earth Fare Fort Wayne, IN

Throw in an expansive Indiana and Midwest craft beer selection, a large gluten free selection (ahem, mom), a juice bar, a pizza station, salad bar, tons of ready-to-eat options for healthy eats on the fly and an amazing group of friendly, courteous, helpful employees and I think we have a winner Fort Wayne.

BTW they have locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee. And where this might upset some of the 100% local natural food establishments in town, it shouldn’t stop you from visiting them and giving them a try. They aren’t here to steal business from any farmer’s markets or natural food stores, they are here to give us more, easily obtainable healthy food choices. And that is NEVER a bad thing. Ever. Never ever ever.

And to get you to eat better we are going to tempt you with a $50 gift card to earth fare. All you have to do is share this post (helpful links at the end of my rambling) and in the comments section, tell us what your favorite healthy go-to snack is. Extra credit if you also tell us your favorite beer. (Giveaway open to only residents of Indiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee, but we still want to hear about your favorite beers if you are NOT from one of these states.) Winner will be picked Friday May 16th at 3pm et.

Almost forgot. Their cheese selection. To die for. (I was jumping for joy which explains why the pic below is slighty blurry.)

Earth Fare Fort Wayne, IN

Which made us think of this amazing beer cheese Fondue. And we just had to share it with you.

Farmhouse Ale Cheese Fondue

Farmhouse Ale Cheese Fondue

2 T Butter
16 ounces shredded high quality sharp cheddar cheese, dusted with flour (do not use pre-shredded cheese)
1 onion finely diced
4 cloves of garlic finely diced
2 Jalapeno finely diced
2 Serrano finely diced
12 oz Bottle Farmhouse/Saison beer (we used Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoon Whole Grain Mustard
1/4 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste.

Melt butter over low heat. Saute onions, Serranos and Jalapenos till soft.

Add in garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium, and pour in the bottle of Saison, Worcestershire sauce & whole grain mustard. When it begins to boil, add the cheese in hand-fulls and stir till completely melted.

Add cream and stir until creamy.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Dust paprika over the top.

Serve with apple slices, grapes, pears, crusty bread and/or hot pretzels.

Cooked up by Heather ~ 10 Comments

Mardi Gras Seafood Gumbo

Heather and I always joke that we manage to compliment each other perfectly. She has her baking and desert making and I am comfortable in front of the grill/smoker and even spending way to much time stirring a roux. Which is good because there is nothing worse than two people fighting over a spatula to flip the burger. Plus her stuff requires concentration and my stuff just requires being in close proximity of the kegerator or beer fridge. I win.

Which brings me to this seafood gumbo, and my 13 hour roux (kidding, maybe 1 hour). For those of you who already skipped my rambling and just went ahead to the recipe and are now back here wondering… what gives only 12 ounces of beer? I know that seems like nothing, but we chose to use an amber ale and we definitely could pick up on it. Sometimes less is more.

Oh one more thing. We save the salt until the very end because depending on the seafood boil mixture and the producer of the andouille sausage, you could very easily over salt the dish. Just a heads up.

Mardi Gras Seafood Gumbo

Mardi Gras Seafood Gumbo

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1.25 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1# of whitefish (we used cod)
  • 1# of andouille sausage cut into bite size pieces
  • 1# of crawfish tails
  • 1# of shrimp
  • 2 cups of onions finely diced
  • 1 cup of bell pepper finely diced
  • 1 cup of celery finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 TB fresh thyme
  • 1-2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoon of crab boil spice mixture
  • 54 ounces of seafood or chicken stock warmed or at least at room temperature
  • 12 ounces of amber beer at room temperature
  • parsley and white onion for garnish
  • White rice
  • File powder and hot sauce on the side

Now the instructions:

  • Toss the shrimp in the crab boil spice mixture and put back in the fridge to relax.
  • The hardest part about this is making the roux. It is not difficult but it requires a lot of stirring so open a couple beers, put on some good music, and stir stir stir. You want to use a large cast iron dutch oven over medium heat.  Bring the oil up to a temperature where a pinch of flour starts to sizzle and once you have that dump the rest of the flour in. You want to stir until the roux is milk chocolate color. This will take about 35-45 minutes. The biggest problem is roux is easy to burn so stir like a mad man and be patient.
  • Once you are at that milk chocolate colored roux, dump in the onions, bell pepper, and celery.
  • Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes and then dump in the garlic and stir for another minute
  • Add in the beer and stock along with the crawfish tails, thyme, cayenne (we start with with one teaspoon and add more as it cooks if it needs to be spicier), bay leaves, and black pepper.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for an hour.
  • Add in the andouille and whitefish. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  • If you still need to make the rice, before dumping in the andouille and whitefish is the perfect time.
  • Kill the heat and add in the shrimp and let it sit until the shrimp is cooked through.
  • Taste and adjust
  • Put a scoop of rice in a bowl, pour the gumbo over top, and serve the file powder and hot sauce on the side for your guests to decide what they want to do.
Cooked up by Jeff ~ Got a comment?

Banana Bread Beer Donut Muffins -
Lessons Learned in a Life Lost

Wow. The title of this post is a mouth full huh? Well the last week, month, year of months has been even more than a mouth of full.

And AGAIN where I want to tell you the WHY’S and the HOW COME’S of our so called BLATANT LAZINESS OF 2013 it still is not the time. But let’s face it if you KNOW us you know part of the whys. But I will talk all about that (ad nauseaum of course) this coming week. Today I am taking EVEN MORE TIME OUT from our regularly scheduled (not really) posts for my (pardon my gag-me description here) BESTIE from a New England NESTIE, Elle Ritchotte.

Yes you heard me Elle – more time for you because you decided you were too awesome for this world and your feats of AMAZING were needed elsewhere. I still have not quite forgiven you for that yet but we will take this up another time, likely when I have had one too many beers but I digress.

I am not going to rehash how the news of Elle’s passing (too soon and without my permission) made me feel (it destroyed me.) Instead I am going to share with you a few things about Elle that I will carry with me forever.

She was mouthier then you ever knew. The first time she dropped the word “fuck” on me I almost spit up my coffee beer. Jeff and I had just met “face to face” (it said in real life, but I have learned that nothing is realer then the interweb friendships I have formed) a few days prior and we decided to send a pic out into the online cosmos for all the world to see. And Elle. Well she summed up what everyone else probably thought…

Me & Jeff July 2009

“Behave, for fuck sake…” Followed up by a “hehe”. Proving that you can sound fucking adorable talking like a truck driver.

That and take the world by the horns, shock everyone you can, and live the life you you were meant to, with the person you love.

And fuck everyone else who says you shouldn’t do all that.

Second. If you have an idea to try something new or maybe different not what you do every day – JUST FREAKING DO IT. (I added “freaking in there so Nike doesn’t sue me.) When Elle started making jewelry I was all over her to open an ETSY store. “Are you sure?” YES ELLE! “I would need a name.” LET’s BRAIN STORM THIS BITCH! And we did. I bounced ideas off her like ping pong balls and sat there while she finally signed up waiting for the I DID IT! And she did. And she kicked ass at it. And I envied her because I didn’t have the TIME to do the stuff I wanted to. Bullshit. If you want to do it bad enough you make the time.

So I did. (details soon.)

And lastly, everything tastes better with bacon or booze.

Actually. I taught HER that.

And this brings me to my recipe ala Elle- a-Palooza. I picked this recipe because it was around the time of this recipe that we met. I do not remember how we met, maybe the Twitter? Or why, maybe the food related twits (yes yes I know they are “tweets” but have you been on there lately?) Possibly even because she was friends with Jeff first and decided to give me a twit because me and Jeff were twitting and back then you didn’t have orange cajillion social media friends you had like 13 so maybe she wanted one more witty twitty friend.

Whatever the reason. I thank my lucky stars I had you in my life, if even for such a short fucking time. I love you girl.

So much for keeping this short. On to the recipe. So I took her Chocolate Glazed Donut Muffins and figured out how to add beer and POOF beer donut muffins. She would have called me brilliant and I would have agreed. We would have laughed over a hard cider and I would have reminded her she called me brilliant. And she would have likely said ok ok shut the fuck up but we both knew it was true. My brilliance.

Banana Beer Donut Muffins

2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 mushy banana
3/4 cup Wells banana bread beer
1 tablespoon powdered milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted and browned butter
1/2 cup chocolate glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer.

Add in the eggs, banana, beer, and vanilla.

Mix well. Add in the browned butter.

Grease your muffin pan. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Turn out onto rack and cool for about 10 minutes.

Make glaze.

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter

Place chocolate chips in a bowl.

Heat cream to boiling. Pour over chocolate chips. Add in 1 tablespoon of butter and stir till chocolate is melted and everything is well incorporated and shiny.

Dip muffins in the chocolate and turn to coat.

Enjoy while you reflect on a life you were meant to live. Now go out and live it.

By the way so many other blogs are dedicating posts this weekend to that which is ELLE. I think you should check them out. Because we all loved her. And we all think you should know why.

This part stolen blantantly from Jen over at Leftover Queen – If you would like to join the food blogging community in supporting Elle’s family, please join Friends of Elle on facebook to learn more about the auction be held to benefit her family. It is also a place where you can share your thoughts about Elle and gather with friends old and new who all loved this beautiful woman.


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Cooked up by Heather ~ 20 Comments