Wine, OH!

winecup

It has snowed people! While the rest of the country has been getting the white stuff for weeks, Anchorage has been oddly barren. Thank goodness our prayers have been answered because winter is just a brown slab of depression without its accomplice.

wineme

The idea of hats, gloves, and winter sports were in my head as I headed out with my husband to run the usual errands last weekend.

  • gas up the vehicle: check
  • donate clothes: I’m going straight to heaven.
  • stop by the ATM for girls’ allowances: do they really need to learn the value of money?
  • grocery store: oh my gosh, kill me… now
  • stop by La Bodega beer boutique: WooHoo. Grown-up reward!

At La Bodega I stumbled onto the adventure in a bottle I’m writing about today. Augsburger Christkindlmarkt is a spiced wine from Germany. Although after doing a bit of “research” (googling), I discovered it’s only available in the USA currently. I was a bit disturbed by this. Why, if it’s made in Germany, is it only available here?

I came up with three possible reasons:

  1. Germans are just sick of drinking the same thing every holiday season.
  2. Many Germans died slow, horrible deaths after drinking this wine.
  3. Only Americans would be cheesy enough on the holidays to buy a bottle of crazy looking spiced wine from Europe just because it snowed once.

It was the third reason that concerned me most.

Undeterred, I invited my husband, Derek, to join me in a taste-test toast. (Truth be told he had to try the warm, weird wine with me. It’s in the marital contract. Must partake in all crazy antics wife requests. Fine print is a bitch.) We diligently heated the wine up in mugs using the microwave. Very posh, I know.

A careful sip...
A careful sip…

We raised our cups to each other and my husband said, “go ahead blogger.” (I feel it’s important to note the way “blogger” was said. It sounded like something a bar of soap would be sucked on after uttering.) While I took offense to my hobby being used like a bad word, I did realize I’d have to step up to the challenge I had purchased and brought home. I took a quick sniff, nothing worrisome, and continued to the inevitable sip.

I didn’t really taste much more than warm grape juice. The spice was possibly cinnamon, and not abundant. With its high alcohol content, 9%, I likened it to moonshine- flavorless but impactful.

I was a bit disappointed, but happy I hadn’t tasted something so vile it would ruin all hot, scary, red wines for all winters to come.

Happy winter adventures!

-Traci

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The Sunken Cake: An Introduction

I love to bake. I started out liking to bake, but once I found myself crazy busy trying to work full-time, raise a tween, and finish my Master’s degree I stumbled into loving the practice of heating various combinations of flour, sugar, and butter into deliciousness. Baking was something I could do that placed the constant buzzing in my head on pause. All that I had to concentrate on was following directions and adding a bit of flare. (Following directions precisely isn’t really “me”.)

Those who know me are sometimes confused by my affection for baking. The act is extremely measured- almost mathematical. I gravitate toward more fluid things such as making up stories, going on walks, and being entirely too easily entertained. While the measured part of baking is sometimes a challenge (I am occasionally guilty of not pressing the brown sugar enough, or adding cinnamon when it hasn’t been called for…flare, remember?) I think my general amiability helps me deal with baking’s darker, less talked about side: the botched bake.

I have discovered two primary ways that a botched bake occurs:

1. The baker follows the directions to a T as it is the first time the recipe has been attempted, and through mystical oven, stove, or mixer happenings it just doesn’t come out right. (Ok, to be truthful cinnamon or nutmeg is usually added, but that would be the only meddling. I swear.)

2. The baker does what they have done a billion trillion times before with the same damn recipe they’ve always used and it just doesn’t come out right.
Generally speaking, I deal with the first type without incident. I may utter an “oh poop”, but no fits are thrown. The second type is a bit more frustrating. Please see exhibit A.

Exhibit A
Exhibit A

What you see here is a simple yellow cake. What you also see is a stunningly well-presented sink hole in the middle. I have made this elementary yellow cake for years. It’s a “go-to” that I find familiar and comforting. Yet with my all of my yellow cake expertise, “YC genius” if you will, I still ended up with a gasp producing eyesore.

This is where it’s all about attitude.

After a quick recovery, I did what I usually do in these situations- admit math isn’t perfect (the problem clearly doesn’t lie in my execution), and make it work. In this case, after filling the hole with a bit more frosting to level everything out, voila, a beautiful cake is visible. As for the frosting, who wouldn’t like an extra dose of sweetness? That middle piece person is going to be one lucky poochie.

My mission, or middle-of-the-new-year resolution, is to apply this same attitude to my life in general. I need to get the fun back and truly enjoy the changes that are coming. I need to take risks that aren’t life threatening. I intend to try new things, add flare, and succeed or fail. I’m going to try old things and roll with them when they are utterly and completely botched through no fault of my own (as previously established). My mission is to enjoy the adventure and develop the cutest laugh lines my fiancé has ever seen.

Here’s to life’s wrinkles!

 

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