Now that we’re a couple weeks into the new year, we’ve been able to put some of our Christmas gifts to good use.
The Bear has found a new BFF in a toy we refer to as “Hedgehog”. I found Hedgehog at a pet boutique in the Ladue neighborhood of St. Louis called “Treats Unleashed”. It caught my eye because it’s covered in a soft, plush outer shell, and beneath the outer shell is an egg-shaped rubber squeaky toy that when squeezed sounds like a cross between a duck and a pig. Here, let The Bear demonstrate.
I don’t know if this toy is new to the market, but it’s by far the best toy I’ve ever come across. Teddy, like most large dogs, is considered a super chewer. Therefore, stuffed plush toys have a lifespan of under 24 hours in this house (sometimes under one hour, depending on how much The Bear gets “into it”). But because Hedgehog has the durability of a rubber toy and the soft fabric of a plush toy, it’s really the best of both worlds. We just have to make sure Hedgehog goes into hibernation whenever we’re watching TV. To say that the half pig, half duck call is a little distracting would be an understatement.
Mikey, on the other hand, is a proud new owner of a bottle capper and 48 new bottles for homebrewing. A few days after Christmas, he began making a small batch of Smoked Wheat Ale. (Learn all about it in the video below.) Yesterday, he bottled 10 of those suckers and is now waiting another two weeks to enjoy them. Even though this isn’t his first home brewing experiment, it is his first time brewing with a more complex process of mashing, sparging, sanitizing, boiling, pitching, etc. (all stuff that I don’t really know how to describe but sounds cool). We’re excited to have our first taste in a couple weeks. Fingers crossed that it turns out great.
Lastly, I am finally the proud owner of a cast-iron dutch oven! (Mind out of the gutter to anyone who defines “dutch oven” as the inescapable flatulence that happens from beneath the sheets.) I’ve been wanting one for ages, but have never had the guts to drop $300 for a real deal Le Creuset (the creme de la creme of cast-iron cookware). Mikey gave me a shiny red one from Giada de Laurentis ($80 vs. $300 — that’s a steal). And it sure looks pretty when it’s steaming on the stove.
So far, we have only made a French Onion Soup in it. But one taste was all it took to realize the difference between cooking in a stainless steel pot and this dutch oven. The flavor was so much richer.
A hearty black bean soup is slated for the dutch oven this week. Can’t wait to see how that one turns out. But more than just eating good stews and soups, owning one of these babies means I have solidified my place among the Betty Crockers and Suzy Homemakers of the world… until Monday morning rolls around and “wifey” switches to “working woman” mode. Watch out, world.