Green Spot Irish Whiskey – My first whisky review blog

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The first thing I want to say about this post is that it’s a day late because I didn’t schedule it. So, sorry about that. Not that it matters an awful lot, nobody was expecting this one anyhow, except for me.

The other day, I was sipping on some whisky or other and thinking, in that “anything’s possible” sort of way you really only get from a a runner’s high or drinking. Presumably, other drugs get you there too, but as these are the only two I’ve got any experience with (less so on the running lately), I’m going to stick with it. Anyhow, I was thinking “you know, I have this blog with bourbon in the title and the closest thing I have to a post on actual whisky has to do with a pair of bourbon glaze recipes buried somewhere back in the history.” This let me to the natural conclusion that “Hey! I should blog about whisky too! That’d be awesome!” My lovely, supportive wife raised her glass and said “here here, now shut the hell up so I can watch Buffy. And put some of whatever you’re having in my glass.”

Anyhow, as I set out to write a brilliant, humorous and thoroughly engaging first post on whisky, I realized not only was that not going to happen, but you can’t actually write about whisky without being pretentious. You can’t really be both pretentious and funny because then it’s even MORE pretentious and makes you feel like it’s time to put on a polo shirt and head down to the county club. Pretension just sort of goes with the territory of talking about whisky, which is a bit odd considering that the vast majority of whisky is consumed is through two ounce shots intended to bypass the whole ‘flavor’ thing and get the drinker as pissed as possible in the shortest time possible. Alternatively, the whisky is consumed with a carrier, such as cola, to mask all but the most powerful of flavors.

What’s more, and this is a good one, we once had a “bottom shelf-bourbon” tasting at our place. It was great, everyone brought one or two bottles of something cheap, only most folks brought something more mid-shelf, which includes a lot of what I’d rate ‘drink neat.’ Someone, however, slipped in a bottle of Seagram’s-7. I decided to do the tastings blind and so when the Seagram’s came out, nobody knew it had come out and I heard all kinds of stuff about the mellow nose and hints of vanilla and caramel and how damn smooth it was. Sure it beat Ezra Brooks, and Elijah Craig, but it also beat out Old-Grandad, Four-Rose, Maker’s Mark, and even a bottle of Woodford Reserve.

Needless to say, talking about nose, flavor, and finish is about as helpful in picking a whisky as looking at the label. Unfortunately, if you don’t talk about those things, all you have left is: “It didn’t burn so much and it was pretty sweet.” That’s fine, but not helpful.

In any case, I did do all the hard work of tasting a whisky for this blog (there’s even a picture) and I do want to say something about it. I apologize if it’s pretentious.

To give some history here, I got this bottle at Christmas, a friend brought it over as a gift. I’d never heard of Green Spot before then. It’s a light gold in color with a subtle nose (that is, it doesn’t singe your nose-hairs if you get in there and give a good sniff.) My first reaction was -wow, this is smooth, a bit spicy, and only has a hint of the oily conigers in the finish that you so often get in Irish Whiskys.

In reading the back of the bottle, you’re promised a nose of orchard fruits and spice, with aromatic oils, barley, and toasted oaks. The taste is described as spicy with green apple cloves and toasted oak with a finish of lingering spices and barley.

In general, I concur with the assessment on the bottle. This is a damn fine whisky. I would say that green apple and spice are the dominant flavors here, but not in the apple & cinnamon oatmeal sort of way. If you’re looking for it, the toasted oak is proud and present, but is generally out-matched by the spice and apples. I tried this one neat and wouldn’t recommend ice rocks. I feel like the flavor profile would start to break down as it’s just this side of watered down. I bet a cask-strength would be much stronger with the flavors.

My final recommendation on this one?

On a scale of mixer to neat, I put this one at neat. I’d buy again.

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Bourbon glazed salmon

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Living in Alaska, one thing you tend to get your fill of is salmon. I love salmon strips, baked salmon, salmon patties, salmon burgers, (you get the picture.) However, because I’m lazy and a creature of habit and also because I think the flavor of salmon stands on its own perhaps only needing the very moderate intervention of a dash of garlic, lemon, and dill. I virtually always cook my salmon that way. Today (two weeks ago, actually. I scheduled this post – sorry it’s a thing bloggers do, I’ve got time today), I found myself obligated to cook salmon for dinner as my wife had pulled it out to use on Friday, but gave up when the kids said, we just want to potato cakes. She also handed me a recipe involving panko crumbs and stuff. I was like, ‘No, my way is better and you all like it.’ She sighed and shook her head. Okay, fine. Maybe only I like it that way, still the panko crumb thing still didn’t sit with me. Instead, I went looking for something sort of different. What I ran across was a recipe for bourbon glazed salmon. The idea was awesome, however, me being the rebel that I am, I concluded that I couldn’t possibly lift the recipe in it’s entirety. Rather, I examined it, picked it apart and constructed my own version. here it is:

What you need:

  • One Alaska salmon fillet, I used Coho, cut into single portions (like 4-6oz)
  • 1/3 Cup of bourbon
  • 4 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • Alder smoked salt
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • 1/8 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Molasses
  • Avocado oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced

Directions:

Place the salmon into a baking dish and set aside. Combine the bourbon, teriyaki, brown sugar, molasses, soy, and about 2 Tbsp avocado oil in a small pot, heat until the sugar dissolves and the bourbon just starts to burn your eyes. Pour most of this over the salmon, then sprinkle with a healthy covering of alder smoked salt, garlic powder, and parsley. Allow to marinade for 1-2 hours, hold a few tablespoons of the marinade back to pour on top of the salmon during cooking.

Heat another 1-2 Tbsp. avocado oil in a large iron skillet, toss in the onions and cook until they start to become soft and translucent. Spread the onions out evenly over the skillet and place the salmon on top of the bed of onions. Pour the marinade into the skillet & over the salmon. Pour the marinade mix you held back over the salmon now as well. Cover this and let cook over med-low heat for 15 minutes (less if your fillets aren’t particularly thick. You want to turn the heat off as soon as the salmon has cooked through (it flakes easily with a fork).

Serve with wild rice, top with the onion / marinade from the bottom of the skillet.

Ginger Sesame Salad

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There are times where I find cooking an incredibly creative endeavor. Less because I’m a brilliant and bubbling with culinary innovation or anything, and more because I’m a terrible grocery shopper. I ALWAYS forget something. To be more specific, I usually forget enough to cook dinners for a full week. What’s more, I frequently find that I’ve picked up stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with the usual weekly routine of making a fast, filling, and approximately nutritious dinners. To that end, when the only salad-like vegetables you have to hand are a head of cabbage, a few orange peppers that will not last until stir-fry on Thursday, and a pack of mushrooms, salad is a pretty remote option. In any case this is pretty much the state of things in this household and creativity – or just trying random shit – becomes a full on necessity. Last week was one of those times. I had pretty much nothing to work with and a strong urge to make a dinner that wasn’t 50% Rice-o-Roni. Most of the ingredients here are things I just happen to have lying around at any give time because they’re on my mental long-term grocery list, which means I usually buy a LOT MORE than I actually need. Ever. Another bonus on this one is that it takes like 5 minutes to prepare and tastes as good as anything you’ll get in a restaurant. I also expect you can make it with half a bag of coleslaw mix a few not-so prime sugar snap peas and that zucchini you’ve been struggling to work out how to use before it goes bad.

What you need for the dressing:

  • 6 Tbsp Red wine vinegar,
  • 1/2 Tbsp GOOD balsamic vinegar – don’t skimp on this,
  • 3 Tbsp red wine,
  • 1 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce – In my opinion, this is one of the key ingredients, even though there’s not much,
  • A few drops of soy sauce (to taste, really),
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame oil,
  • 1/2 Tbsp Chili pepper sesame oil (or just regular sesame oil and mix in a few pepper flakes),
  • 1 Tsp toasted sesame seeds,
  • 1/2 Tsp ground ginger,
  • a few dashes of garlic powder (about 1/8th of a tsp), and
  • 1 Shallot, finely diced,

The salad itself:

  • 16oz small fresh button mushrooms,
  • 1-2 Cups chopped cabbage, and
  • 2 sliced large orange peppers.

Directions:

Put the cabbage and mushrooms into a container with a lid. Mix up the dressing and pour over the mushrooms and cabbage. Put the lid on the container and shake well. Put this in the fridge for a few hours, if you can spare the time, skip it otherwise. Just about the time you start cooking dinner, slice up the orange peppers and toss with the salad mix in a bowl.

That’s it. It’s easy, and absolutely delicious.

Turkey meat-loaf bites & Cranberry dipping sauce

I’m going to be perfectly honest. This is NOT what I was aiming for. A few weeks ago, I was goofing with the kids telling them what I was going to cook for dinner. The random words that fell from my lips involved turkey nuggets and cranberry dipping sauce. Naturally, I thought this was going to be a brilliant idea. So. I was wrong, but it’s okay, because the dipping sauce was pretty good and I think it’d make a damn fine spread for a turkey sandwich. I’m giving the full recipe for both here because you could probably cook the meatloaf bites as meatloaf and top it with the spread. It’s in the realm of comfort food. Someday, hopefully, I’ll give the turkey bites another go and actually get them right. In the mean-time, here is what I came up with.

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Turkey meat-loaf bites:

What you need:

  • 2 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Rosemary (crush if you can)
  • 1 tsp Sage
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 3 cups Panko crumbs
  • ½ C. flour
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

Mix 1 ½ C. Panko crumbs with ½ C. flour with salt, pepper, a dash of garlic, and a dash of sage. This is going to be your breading. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, it should be a bit dry as if you’re going to make meatballs. Make little chicken-nugget shapes and roll in the breading, place on a well-oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 20min at 375, flip and bake for another 10 minutes.

Dipping sauce/turkey spread:

What you need:

  • 1 16 can jellied cranberry juice
  • 3 oz orange juice
  • ½ tsp Ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • pinch sage
  • Pinch orange zest

Directions:

Whisk all of the ingredients together until you have a smooth sauce, serve at room temperature.

Basil chicken stir-fry

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First appeared in the Seward Journal Newspaper 02/22/2017

If I had my way, I would literally eat every meal directly from a can.
As much as I love good food, I hate dishes. This is even more true
when I’ve spent 8 hours working, 4 hours caught in traffic, an hour
cajoling the children into finishing homework and entirely too much
time shoveling the driveway, which still has me concerned
archeologists might very well find my desiccated remains at the bottom
of a glacier in a thousand years. Rather than giving in and having
‘everything from a can’ tacos, I rely heavily on stir-fry to keep
dishes to a minimum while still providing something vaguely like a
nourishing meal. That said, I can only get away with tossing the very
nearly expired vegetables with tofu and chicken with some some
‘stir-fry sauce’ from the bottle about once every other week. In order
to combat this prohibition, which my wife assures me is, in fact,
enshrined in our wedding vows, I have to get creative with the stir
fry. It turns out that if the flavor profile is different enough, even
if the ingredients really aren’t, it doesn’t count against the
stir-fry limit. So, here was this week’s version of stir-fry.

What you need:
Main dish:

  • 2Tbsp oil
  • 2Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1Tsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 Tsp Sage
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped – separate green tops from the white bottoms.
  • 1/4 Cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 Chicken breasts chopped into 1/2” – 3/4” cubes.
  • 2-3 Cups thawed or fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 small yellow squash

Rice:

  • 2 Cups jasmine rice
  • 1 Can of chicken broth
  • 1 C Water
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:
Cook the rice as you normally would in a pot by bringing the rice,
chicken broth, water, and parsley to a boil. Once the rice is cooked,
add the oil, mixing it in well. You can use 1-2 Tbsp or so of butter
instead of olive oil, but we’ve got food allergies to contend with so
this is what I use, it still gave a buttery taste.

Pour a couple of tablespoons into a 14” wok and brown the chicken,
garlic and the white parts of the onion. Once the chicken is browned,
add everything else, holding back only the green parts of the onion –
add those right near the end. Cook over high heat stirring frequently.
The goal is to cook down the water. There will be a lot of water
because a lot of water will come out of the veggies. Once the
vegetables are cooked through serve over the rice.