How to Master the 4 Most Common Wine Varieties in the US

How to Master the 4 Most Common Wine Varieties in the US

Learning how to drink wine is like the first day of a new job. At first, you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing – and that can be scary and overwhelming.  You don’t know how to use the computer programs.  You don’t know 

Huckleberry Vodka Cocktail

Huckleberry Vodka Cocktail

It was a warm sunny day as our car drove up the winding dirt road, dust trailing behind us.  The windows were cracked just enough for the clean mountain air to drift into the back seat of the car. You could just barely see through the 

7 Ways Navigating Your Fridge is Like Navigating Middle Earth

7 Ways Navigating Your Fridge is Like Navigating Middle Earth

 “Where there’s life there’s hope, and need of vittles.”  

J.R.R. Tolkien

Middle earth is a complex place, filled with light and dark, good and bad.  

And so is your fridge. 

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A Well Stocked Fridge is Bountiful and Rich

“My dear Frodo!’ exclaimed Gandalf. ‘Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

A well stocked fridge is like the Shire, rich and plentiful with resources.  It’s green, colorful, and bountiful.  

If your fridge is lacking, here’s a quick fix: 

Stock your fridge with dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt.  

Deli meats are great because they last for a couple weeks or more.  Unopened meats last longer than opened meats. Hard salami can last 3-4 weeks in the fridge.  Try to find meats that aren’t cured with nitrates because nitrates may be carcinogenic.  

Keep eggs on hand, because you never know when you’ll want to whip together a cake, use an egg wash, or dredge in egg for a crunchy coating. 

Fruits and vegetables are always welcome in the fridge as part of a healthy diet.  

Hummus is a great snack in a pinch, and it also lasts for a while in the fridge. 

Bagged lettuce and salad mixes are extremely convenient.  Just be sure to dig for a bag that has a “best by” date as far away as The Shire is from Mordor.  

Dessert is A Welcome Treat

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Dessert in your fridge is a magical treat, much like the magic of Rivendell. 

If your fridge is lacking, here’s a quick fix: 

Whipping cream is a great to keep for an impromptu dessert. Homemade whipped cream is magical.  (Add some cocoa for stability, and you’ve got a poor man’s chocolate mousse.)

Macerate some strawberries with a little sugar, and add some whipped cream.  Who needs the shortcake?

Keep milk around to make a boxed pudding in a pinch.  

Cream cheese is great to keep around for an instant cream cheese frosting or a quick lazy man’s cheese cake. 

Maple syrup is a versatile ingredient.  It can be used for sweet and savory applications.  Use it as a sweetener in place of sugar. You can use it for candy pecans to eat as a snack or add to vanilla ice cream. 

You can make a custard with eggs, sugar, and milk. Creme Brulee is basically a custard.  Give Alton Brown’s Creme Brulee a try. 

Beverages to Calm the Nerves and Relax the Mind

“Ho! Ho! Ho! To the bottle I go

To heal my heart and drown my woe

Rain may fall, and wind may blow

And many miles be still to go

But under a tall tree will I lie

And let the clouds go sailing by”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Relax your mind and rest your spirit in the safety of Lothlorian.  And have a drink.

If your fridge is lacking, here’s a quick fix: 

The next time you see your favorite beverage on sale, stock up.  That way, you’ll have extra around, and you know it won’t go to waste. 

A good session beer is a great thing to have in the fridge when you need a cold drink.  Lemonade and clamato (or tomato juice) are great mixers for a Coors or Miller light. 

Sodas make great mixers for hard alcohol. For example, whiskey mixes well with cola, ginger ale, and 7-up.  

Here are a few other things to have around for great drinks:

  • Half and half for a great White Russian
  • Lemons, limes, and oranges
  • Rosemary and lavender for fancy drinks
  • Maraschino cherries  (Bada Bing Cherries from Stonewall Kitchen are amazing because they don’t have a fake flavor)
  • Olives for martinis and bloody marys (check out our homemade caesar mix)
  • Pickles and celery
  • Cranberry juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Sour mix  (We also have a homemade sour mix)
  • Grenadine

Deceiving Ingredients Trick and Tarnish Pure Foods

“But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.” 

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Isengard is an illusion, a plot to gain power over all else.

Processed foods are also deceiving.  They are full of chemicals and artificial ingredients.  Food companies get away with using cheap ingredients for quantity and not quality.  

Just a few reasons to avoid processed foods:

  • They are high in sodium – some contain your entire daily percentage of sodium in one meal.  Canned soups and ramen noodles are some of the worst offenders
  • They have added sugars- many add sugar to make them taste better.  Dried fruits, low fat yogurt, sauces, fruit juice, spaghetti sauce, sweet beverages, and cereal bars are some of the worst offenders
  • They are full of Saturated Fats and Trans Fats – these bad fats clog your arteries, raise your “bad” cholesterol, raise your risk for type 2 diabetes, and are very difficult for your body to break down (which means they are stored in your body longer)

As long as you know what you’re getting into, you can eat processed foods in moderation. Just don’t let them trick you into thinking you are eating healthy. 

A Steady and Secure Wall of Condiments

“May your beer be laid under an enchantment of surpassing excellence for seven years!” 

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, and salad dressings are basic condiments.  

Like the Rohirim, you can summon condiments at any time to make your food taste better, whether during the cooking process or if you’re sitting down at the table to eat a finished meal. 

You’ll be equipped to tackle any recipes. 

But don’t let them expire, or your wall will fail. 

If your fridge is lacking, here’s a quick fix

Add BBQ Sauce, sandwich spreads, dijon mustards, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, different hot sauces, curry paste, tartar sauce and you’ve got a solid condiment collection. 

Collect a new condiment every so often to try something new. 

The Finer Fancy things…

“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Proud and regal, the people of Gondor take great pride in their shining city.  

Take pride in your fridge and keep a few fancy foods like brie, pine nuts, and shrimp.  Fancy foods don’t have to be expensive to feel fancy.

If your fridge is lacking, here’s a quick fix: 

Certain ingredients can quickly elevate a dish.  Capers, blue cheese, cooking wine, a block of fresh Parmesan for grating, and fresh herbs are all simple ingredients that add class and freshness to your cooking.

Dark Corners Hold Ancient and Sinister things

“And some things that were not meant to be forgotten were lost.” 

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Old fruits and vegetables, dairy, and leftovers can rot and fester, and take on a new form, like the rise of Sauron stirring and growing powerful in the cover of Mount Doom.  

If your fridge is lacking, here’s a quick fix: 

Clean out your fridge every week.  Throw out leftovers that are over a week old.  Check your produce drawer at least every week to see if fruits and vegetables are starting to turn.  

A whiteboard is a great way to keep track of everything in your fridge.  Take an inventory and write all of the foods in your fridge on the white board.  When you’ve used something, you can just erase it. And when you buy something new, you can just add it to the white board. 

To avoid cross-contamination, keep raw meat in its own drawer, away from prepared foods.  Don’t consolidate old foods with new ones to save space. 

Make sure that you store leftovers properly.  Wrap your leftovers tightly in aluminum foil, beeswax wrap, or tupperware.  This will keep the air out and prevent your leftovers from getting stale.  

Be aware of sell by and “use by dates,” and smell your dairy products before you use them. Mold can be cut off some harder cheeses, but should not be cut off softer cheeses.    

When in doubt, throw it out.  

It’s not worth it to get sick. 

Epilogue:  Leftovers 

Goblets they carved there for themselves

And harps of gold; where no man delves

There lay they long, and many a song

Was sung unheard by men or elves.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Leftovers are the lonely mountain of the fridge. 

If your fridge is lacking, here’s a quick fix: 

Find ways to revisit your leftovers by repurposing them into a tasty new dish.  

Have some leftover roasted potatoes?  Crisp them up with some onions, garlic, eggs, and ham, and you’ve got a tasty, quick, and cheap breakfast hash.  And who wouldn’t love to eat that for second breakfast?

Here are some other ideas:

  • Turn leftover rice into fried rice by adding an egg, frozen peas and carrots, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and some green onions. 
  • Use leftover ham in a ham and bean soup. 
  • Make homemade croutons with leftover bread. 
  • Create a breakfast taco or an egg scramble with leftover chicken or ham.
  • Portion up your leftovers and freeze them.  You’ll have a meal ready for dinner or lunches during the week that you don’t have to cook. Just be sure to write it on your whiteboard so you don’t forget them in your freezer. 
  • Add anything to a quiche (peppers, onions, cheese, leftover meat) and you’ve got a kitchen sink dish.

The Terrain can be Treacherous 

Middle earth is a terrain with peaks and valleys.  It has kingdoms and communities that greatly differ from one another.  But it also has dangerous areas with evil forces at work. 

Your fridge has its own unique terrain.  There’s a place for everything. When your fridge is organized, it’s a lot like the Shire. 

But beware – if an item is lost, something sinister may grow.  Until you find it and destroy it that is. 

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The Snow Queen’s Ice Crystal Cookies

The Snow Queen’s Ice Crystal Cookies

The Story Behind Disney’s Frozen The original Snow Queen was written by Hans Christian Anderson, and had a very different ending compared to Disney’s Frozen. Anderson writes a seven part story about two children who are friends and playmates.  Kay, the boy, is basically kidnapped 

Rosemary Moscow Mules

Rosemary Moscow Mules

If you’re a fan of SPF, you know we love cocktails.  We’re relaxing with a twist on the classic Moscow Mule recipe this Labor Day. We’ve upgraded our copper mugs to the beautiful cups you see in the picture.  They are from a company called Moscow