The Beer Chronicles: Hyve Honey Ale

A sweet success or a stinging mistake?

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned how much I love beer. I love beer so so very much.

Sometimes I think I missed my calling. Maybe I should have been a brew master instead of working in the food industry. Luckily, I have plenty of open evenings in my life to freelance as an unprofessional, unpaid beer taster — which is probably way more fun anyhow.

And happily, I live in a town known for its numerous micro-breweries and year-round beer festivals, both of which help me indulge my fondness on a regular basis. There are also quite a few upscale beer markets to frequent when I’m looking for something a little more unusual, like a fancy Belgium style beer or maybe a sour ale. I tend to shop mainly at the Belmont Station, because it’s the most accessible to my house, but there are plenty of other fun beer shops in Portland to explore as well.

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Everyone needs a party hive

Forget beer pong, king’s cup and playing rounds of quarters, I bring to you the greatest party game of all time…

Behold the Hive!

My hive, which was a key element in my birthday party this year, was a pretty intense project. It took two months of planning and two weeks of building to get roughly two hours of the most hilarious enjoyment from it. Thankfully since it’s only partially deconstructed, the hive is easily accessible for future hours of entertainment. In fact, even though my liver is shaking in fear, I may already be planning its next party appearance.

After the unspeakably ridiculous adventures my friends and I had with this hive, I have come to the conclusion that everyone should have one. Or at least know someone who has one. But since I’m a big believer in independence, here’s how to make your own:

First, decide on a shape. If you are fine with a straight-up square, just get a piece of poster board in the size you want. Since I was after a honeycomb shape, I bought two pieces of white poster board and cut one into two pieces to fashion the edges. I used a hole puncher and some metal brads to hold all the pieces together. Yes, it was a bit delicate, but it worked just fine. Just be gentle when moving it around.

Next up is to buy a ton of cheap plastic party cups. This is where I could have made my life slightly easier and gone with a solid color of cup. But since all I saw at the store was red, I went with clear instead. I’m sure I wouldn’t have had any trouble finding solid yellow if I had checked other stores, but I was anxious to get started. While my cups would eventually just contain slips of folded paper, if you decide to fill some of the cups with candy or prizes, you’ll have to then conceal the contents to keep your sneaky friends from cheating. And they will try. I promise.

The next step is attaching the cups to the board. I used a box cutter to cut a slit in the poster board and to stab a hole in the bottom of the cups. Then I got busy attaching each one by its base to the board with a metal brad. Helpful hint: this is a prime time to catch up on whatever trashy TV programs you have been waiting to watch. I highly recommend Gossip Girl.

This is what you should end up with…

Next is to start decorating. Even if you use solid cups, the crepe paper adds an extra bit of festivity. This is not very exciting to look at…

But this is!

Now that it’s looking colorful and you have your paper, prizes, whatever in each cup you get to move on to the final stage. Get out your bottle of Mod Podge, a foam brush, tissue paper and scissors. I went a little overboard and cut out the tissue paper in octagon/honeycomb shapes, but I would recommend just plain circles, ovals, whatever shape floats your boat. They don’t even need to be consistent sizes because eventually the paper will all blend together.

After everything has had a chance to dry, you’re ready to party! Get your friends together and take turns punching through the paper to see what’s in store for you. Here’s mine at the beginning on the madness…

As a warning, this is exhilarating and addicting. I expected us to leisurely take turns throughout the night, casually discovering we won a prize or needed to perform a dare. Instead the hive immediately turned us all into punch-happy maniacs who were quick to regulate the order of things so no one got an extra turn. Once it was over, we were all a bit exhausted and the hive itself looked like it had been through a war. Though that could be because a slightly tipsy Oliver Lucky sat on it halfway through the night. It’s hard to say.

Any any rate, you should make one! Your friends will thank you. And you will feel awesome because you will have the greatest party prop in all the land…

This year’s bee-day party was a seriously sweet success!

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I never really thought I’d throw a whole party centered around bees and honey, but now that my birthday party is over, I think it was one of my favorite party themes to date. And that’s saying a lot given … Continue reading

Oh honey, honey!

Bit O Honey Bars

There’s something you should know about me. I take my birthdays very seriously. I start planning in the fall, and then comes January, my crack-down period, so that when the big day finally arrives in February, I’m ready for it. I like themes, I like games, I like prizes and I go all out. I figure that it’s one time when I get to make all of my different friends come together in one place — it only happens once a year and damn it, I want it to be memorable. And, after the fog of the excessive drinking has lifted, everyone usually agrees that it is.

This year’s theme is honey. It started, thanks to Pinterest, when I saw an invitation involving a “queen bee” and it seemed perfect. I actually used to refer to myself as a queen way back in middle school, so much so that my favorite crossing guard Francis (who was just an awesome lady) even gave me a Queen of Everything shirt once. So I mentally crowned myself Queen B (bee, birthday girl, bitch, it’s really all encompassing) and got to thinking about how I would incorporate the idea into my party.

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Reason #215 to love onions

Onion Tart

I have always been a huge fan of the onion family — raw, sautéed, grilled, whatever, however — you name it and I love it.

As a kid, my family used to be alternately amused and disgusted when I would stuff my face with fresh chives from my grandma’s garden. I would eat so many, my eyes would practically water but yet I couldn’t stop. Then I would run around and breath on people. Yeah, I was a charmer.

So when I saw this recipe for an onion honey tart made with puff pastry, I was sold. I have been meaning to make this forever, well since February 2011, but I never have créme fraiche around. The fact that I just wrote that sentence is one of the many things I miss about being a professional cook. In a restaurant, everything is accessible, especially in a fine-dining kitchen where Marcona almonds, Epoisse cheese and foie gras are always around. Not that I encourage stealing from work, but I doubt if anyone would have missed a scant half cup of créme fraiche. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find it in a more honest fashion — I bought a little container at an upscale grocery store and it certainly wasn’t expensive, about $6 for 7 oz. And now that I have some left in my fridge, I’m sure I can find a few more recipes I need to make soon.

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