As the temperature increases, so, too, does the need for beer Friday seem to increase. John and I have each been trying to finish a couple of academic projects before Dave and Carla arrive this week, and so Beer Friday is a great incentive to keep writing all week long.

This week for Beer Friday, John tried a Great Lakes Brewing Co., Burning River IPA, while I stuck to one of my favorites, the Harpoon UFO. I tried some of the IPA, and it was really nice! Kind of fruity compared to others. I would definitely order that or buy it again, given the chance.

We drank those while making pizza dough and prepping for this recipe: Grilled Flatbread Pizzas from the PPK, with a creamy scallion and red pepper spread. Delicious! They were a complete success, although storing the leftovers was a bit of a challenge. We both just ended up eating the greens off the leftover pies and storing them with only the spread on top.

We had some extra spread, and it went well with sliced cucumber.

After dinner, John and I split a Southern Tier, Double Milk Stout. Normally I'm not a stouty person, but this was really tasty - especially with a little frozen chocolate-peanut-butter-banana bite that I made (a subject for another post). The chocolate and the stout were perfect together. This beer has actual milk sugar in it, so it's a bit sweeter than other dark beers I've had. I'm hoping that it could be a gateway to more stouts in my future.

The other highlight since our trip to Ann Arbor is that I finally got around to planting my herb garden! Left to right: dill, lemon basil, thyme, and rosemary. I'm still planning on adding regular basil and mint, and maybe sage, to a planter on the other side of the patio. That's part of a larger Clean-Up-The-Patio project that I'm about to undertake, pictures to follow.

Besides the herbs, I also bought this tomato plant. When I look at it, I don't see a plant - I see salsa. And caprese salads. And jarred sauce. This little guy will probably only produce a few tomatoes, so I'm trying not to let my expectations get out of control. But it's a fun new experiment, and if we get a few tomatoes out of it, I'll be happy.


Music Theory Midwest 2012 -- Ann Arbor, MI

 Last weekend John and I traveled to Ann Arbor for this year's Music Theory Midwest. Unlike the previous two years (2010 post here) that I've attended, I was actually giving a paper. Luckily my anxiety about presenting in front of people whose opinions really matter to me didn't take away from the fun of the conference.

John and I shared a room at the Holiday Inn with Djillian and Bryn, and their two delighful pugs. I didn't get any pictures of the pugs during the trip, but you can see them sitting on John during their visit to our house earlier this year. The brown one in front is Vernon, and the little lady sitting behind him is Prudence.

I always say that MTMW 2009 in Bowling Green was the conference where I learned to open a beer bottle in a door jam - I won't say who taught me, but his/her name rhymes with Jim Vest.  This year the hotel had an actual bottle opener installed just outside the shower (not exactly sure why). Someone must have tipped them off. 

Ann Arbor's restaurants and breweries really blew me away. I was expecting something similar to Bloomington, which is, of course, amazing. But Ann Arbor is bigger, and closer to a major metropolitan area. I would say it was slightly more upscale than Bloomington, and I mean that as a neutral statement, since upscale isn't always better.
I loved every thing I ate for the three days we were there. On Thursday, John, Djillian and I hit the town while Bryn went to a pre-conference workshop on schema theory.  First stop: The Jolly Pumpkin, a brew pub that specializes in sour beer. We ordered a flight, and I thought most of it was so-so (note: you can find out detailed info on all the beers I tried by clicking here). I took some notes on our coaster about each one.

Left to right: Noire ("ok, or meh"), Blanca ("ok"), Oro ("really interesting! tastes oddly like white wine, and is delicious and unusual"), Wheat Grass IPA ("John liked, Abby didn't, tasted like...grass"), Cider ("ok, refreshing").

Next we headed to the Arbor Brewing Co, where we ate dinner twice. The first night, we had a waiter named Don that all three of us instantly wanted to befriend. He accomodated all our weird behavior, even when I asked,
"Can I order the mac n' cheese without bacon?"
"Of course."
"Ok, great, but I was just curious. I don't really want to order it."

My dining companions looked at me like I was nuts. Don was completely nice about it. Over the course of the evening, we learned that the following day was his 28th birthday, and so we vowed to return and ask for his section. But when we arrived, it was already full. Apparently Don is nice to other people, too.

Djillian, photobombing the fight from Arbor Brewing Co. 

John and I both liked this flight a lot more than the one from Jolly Pumpkin. My favorite was the Heffeweizen, though they also had a great Double Bock and several others we liked.

My other comment about that place is that every thing on the menu made me drool. I had vegetarian jambalaya the first night, with faux-sausage, and the mac n' cheese the second night. Djillian had some great looking nachos, and John swore that the beer battered tempeh was outstanding - it came to him in his dreams the night he ate it, and not in a bad way. I would go back there now if John handed me the car keys.

We wandered around Ann Arbor pretty much every night we were there, mostly having dessert and drinks, though John did climb into a display window at one point. No one was irritated or harmed.

On Friday night I had a fantastic vegan chocolate-peanut butter cupcake from the Cupcake Station, while John bought a few pieces of candy at Kilwin's. Someone from my past can correct me on this, but I think Kilwin's is the same ice cream/sweet shop where we used to go in Traverse City, MI when I was at Interlochen.
Saturday night was Bryn and Djillian's fifth wedding anniversary, and after a great veg-friendly dinner at Seva, we walked to La Dolce Vita for dessert and after-dinner drinks. I combined the two and had a chocolate-butterscotch martini, but others had desserts that I coveted, including a couple bites of John's tiramisu. We noticed that a couple seated nearby was also celebrating a wedding anniversary, and that the waitress brought them a special treat. After we informed our extremely enthusiastic waitress about Bryn and Djill, she did the same thing: a chocolate raspberry plate scrawled, with two oreo-crumb truffles. La Dolce Vita was a bit fancier than the other places we went, and even had a cigar bar/lounge downstairs that reminded both me and Djillian of our grandfathers.

John made the rounds to a couple of stores with great beer selection, so we had a few drinks in the room, too. I took home a Harpoon UFO (their orange-infused Heffe), which I've had before and loved. We're planning a little beer tasting for next week.*

I don't usually discuss the actual theory of any theory conference when I post here. But I'll close this with a couple fun anecdotes from the weekend that I wrote on my program.

"And here we get a wonderfully continental whiff of Karl Marx." -- Bill Guerin, winner of the 2012 Komar Student Paper Award!! I was so happy to see him win. His paper was excellent.

Abby: Everyone's laughing is irritating me.
John: Your anger brings me great joy.

Bryn: [University of Miami, FL, my new employer] is building a new music building.
Our new friend, Greg: Will they have a pool in the center courtyard, with manatees swimming around?
Side note: getting to meet and hang out with Greg was a highlight of the trip, for sure. He's funny and awesome. 

Also, I included a joke in my short bio that Andrew Mead, the session chair, read to introduce me. It said:

Abigail ________ received a bachelor's degree in composition and a master's degree in music theory from Indiana University. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Western Ontario. Her dissertation applies Foucault's theories of power to the writings of Rameau. In her spare time, she enjoys writing about lighter topics, like George Crumb and death.

Andrew Mead said it was the best bio he'd ever heard, and it got a lot of laughs from the larger-than-I-expected group in the room.  Afterward, John said, "Wow, if that bio got such a big laugh, then you guys need more jokes."

*Because that's when OMG Dave and Carla are coming OMG!


Early May Foods, Running, and Beer Friday

Last week, John and I finished watching the last season of Buffy. I had to start reading the Hunger Games to fill the strong-heroine-shaped void it left in my heart. I have to say, I made a lot of fun of Buffy at first, and the sixth season really was a downer, but it's a great show and I'm glad we came back to it. Watching Buffy and reading the Hunger Games makes me want to exercise.

Running has just included a lot of maintenance runs. I'm not going to start training for the half quite yet, so I'm just focusing on building some good mileage, and doing more strength training. We have a fairly busy June and July planned, so it'll be tough to get in a fun summer run in the mean time. Between the theory conferences, friends potentially visiting (please visit! yay!), the engagement party (more on that to come), and helping my parents move, we kind of have a lot planned.

So instead of running, let's talk about the best foods best foods we've had recently.

 First up, the tahini-miso pasta sauce from Daily Garnish.

I loved this. Just looking at the picture is making me drool. It's so much creamier and more flavorful than any vegan mac n' cheeze I've had, though it's not really trying to be mac n' cheese. Given the opportunity, I would eat three or four shovel-fulls of it right now.

Next up, Jerk (Vegan) Sloppy Joes from PPK

With some roasted taters and a Duvel on the side, and with coconut-creamed spinach on top. The anise in the spinach and the thyme and other spices in the "meat" made these taste so beefy! We couldn't find the fake meat it called for, so we used Gardein Beefless Ground (oddly missing from their website), and it worked perfectly. The only thing about Gardein and similar wheat-based meat products is that you have to be careful not to over cook them, or they turn into something like a rubber eraser. So I lessened the cooking time all around, and they turned out fantastic. We will definitely have these again.

 Also, Eggplant and Provolone Pizza with Green Olives from Smitten Kitchen.

John picked this recipe as a surprise when he was making our meal plan/grocery list, and I was thrilled that he did. I would say that I think our eggplant slices were larger than the ones on Smitten Kitchen, and I would have preferred smaller pieces of eggplant in general. Also, the provolone was a bit like a salt bomb to my stomach. But it's a tasty, indulgent recipe. It would be great cut into small portions for a finger-food appetizer.

 Then we made this Roasted Beet and Farro Salad from Daily Garnish.

The dressing has OJ in it, so we had some on the side each time we ate it. The recipe calls for golden beets, which we couldn't find. The red beets turned the whole thing a florescent shade of pink. We used couscous instead of farro, which our grocery store didn't seem to have. I really liked this recipe hot, instead of cold, and with the root vegetables and soft couscous, it was kind of like comfort food.

And finally, we had Beer Friday yesterday with these Veggie Masala Burgers in the style of the same ones from Trader Joe's, via Daily Garnish.

We've made this recipe a couple of other times, and every time, I like it more. Delicious with a little mayo, some salsa, and especially good with an avocado. They also went really well with Harpoon Leviathan we drank.

Beer Friday has been John's...thing for the past few months. He's in a Beer Renaissance (there have been other Renaissance periods for both of us. For me: running, then cooking. For John: running, peanut butter, coffee, and now beer). Sometimes Beery Friday is just one beer with dinner, but yesterday the weather was nice, so we had a couple on the porch, too. For John it's just a nice way to end the work week. The new official slogan is "Beer Friday: Come as you are."

On the left is the Harpoon Leviathan that I mentioned. Next, the Harpoon UFO, which is basically like a wheat beer brewed with some orange rind - perfect for warm weather. Third you can see the Arrogant Bastard Ale, which completely lived up to it's name. Neither of us liked it enough to ever buy it again, but I'm glad we tried it. The taste is just way too bitter for my liking. And last, the Yazoo Heffeweizen, from a fun brewery in Nashville that we visited with Kira two summers ago. Also perfect for summer.