One full year of living in Long Beach.
Fifty (?!) blog entries.
Returning to Arlington for Christmas.
Some highlights from this past year…
- The New Year continued where the previous year left off: on a bender. Since announcing that I would move to California, it was common practice to “Meet me for a drink!” That trend got off to a roaring start on New Years Day watching football and consuming bar food and drinking local beer. Let’s not talk about the struggle that was January 2 after day drinking and cuddling on a brown leather couch. At least I recovered in time for another rendezvous in Las Vegas later in January for the Super Bowl.
- I was fortunate to latch on with a local youth basketball association and coach a short season of fifth/sixth grade hoops last winter. It was slightly unorganized and unlike the structured environment I was used to coaching in back home. But it was a great method of meeting a handful of new folks and introducing me to the area surrounding Long Beach. The next season begins in January and I hope to have another squad to fill my weekends with worthwhile volunteer activity.
- Dude. There is a lot of beer in Southern California. And despite my best effort, I haven’t yet consumed all of it. Beachwood and BBC are both near me in Long Beach and are both worth frequenting. In fact, Beachwood will soon open a new endeavor around the corner featuring sour beers called The Blendery. Angel City is an awesome spot downtown Los Angeles and there are other various tap rooms within a stones throw. (Back when I was actually athletic and could throw stuff.) Speaking of being
athletic, active, social, it became routine practice to enjoy a pint following golf. The Bruery and Barley Forge were both well worth the detour.
- It turns out that it is beautiful everyday in California, just like the postcard I picked up at the gas station on my first visit. And you know what pairs nicely with sunshine? Beer. Friends. Football. Omelettes. Yoga. Or, some combination of those components. Bars are filled at 10am Sunday morning for football, despite Los Angeles not having a local team. Long Beach seemingly favors the Raiders, which can make for a fearful morning stroll looking over my shoulder for the Black Hole. Throughout the rest of the year outside of football season, bars remain occupied as we lubricate ourselves with courage before an outdoor activity, or to replenish the fluids exerted hiking or yoga’ing or SUP’ing. Gotta keep that summer body tight year round after all.
- This year included two trips to Las Vegas, Memorial Day weekend in Colorado, Fourth of July in Chicago, August in St Louis, and another trip back home next week. I did road trips to San Diego and Palm Springs. I hope to explore more of the West Coast in 2016 and will hopefully see San Francisco or Portland or Vancouver or Tijuana for the first time. I’ve got this passport thing and jumped through those hoops at the post office, I might as well use my certified documentation.
- Walking. Strolling. Wandering. Hiking. Striding. Strutting. All are part of the routine. Most nights after work Ill walk the streets or along the boardwalk, doing anything to occupy my mind and avoid tedious chores. Many weekends in-season are on the golf course, walking and carrying whenever possible. Now that my clubs are set aside for a few weeks, I’ve been back out on the local trails to soak in the California wonder. I’ll even quickly devour a poorly-made ham sammich at my desk, allowing enough time to do some stepping during lunch. With a little more motivation or incentive I might squeeze into skinny jeans or join that gym down the street or stick to a fitness regimen for more than four days. Until then, it’ll be happy holidays and home cooking and late nights. Meet me for a drink?
Attending a Long Beach State basketball game at the Walter Pyramid was something I wanted to cross off my bucket list before another season passed by. I considered seeing games against BYU or San Diego State, but instead settled on this sleepy contest against the vaunted Tampa Spartans. It was closer than it should have been for most of the game, and Coach Dan Monson stomped up and down the sidelines and pleaded with his players for improved effort upon each substitution. I couldn’t decipher the 49ers offense, nor could I figure why coach was repeatedly rotating four different players every 3-4 minutes of first half “action.”
This Saturday matinee was a walkover for the 49ers before difficult upcoming games against Oregon, Arizona, and Duke, then entering the Big West Conference slate. Long Beach has a nationwide reputation for a willingness to battle the strongest competition. The Pyramid is a fantastic venue and one begging for high level Division I basketball.
My red eye flight home will be book-ended by a full Friday in the office and a Saturday morning of high school basketball. I’ll be the guy wearing sunglasses sleeping in the top row of the bleachers.
• Eggnog is technically stirred custard—a mixture of dairy and eggs. It’s almost identical to ice cream, except that in most cases it contains too much alcohol to freeze.
• Although it can be cooked to kill off any possible salmonella and to thicken the mix, such thermal activity also deactivates the egg enzymes that give “real” eggnog its je ne sais quoi.
• As far back as the late 17th century, the term “nog” referred to a style of strong beer brewed in East Anglia, while a “noggin” was a small cup or mug that could be used for imbibing nog.
• Most culinary anthropologists believe modern eggnog descended from a thick, boozy, late-medieval concoction called posset that was composed of hot milk and hooch enhanced with whatever spice the lord of the castle had on hand.
• Egg-based drinks found new popularity in the American colonies, where nearly everyone had access to cows, chickens, and rum.
Nutritious and relatively stable, eggnog was our first health drink. If you ask me, sipping it is our patriotic duty.
• Although bourbon is the modern nog spirit, rum was the liquor of choice in colonial days.
• Today’s serious nogsters are into aging. After nog spends six months to a year in the fridge, a curious chemical collusion takes place as egg proteins, alcohol, and milk sugars slowly join forces. The resulting elixir tastes not of eggs, milk, sugar, or booze but simply of eggnog.
• Don’t worry too much about safety. As long as your brew contains at least 20 percent alcohol and is stored below 40°F for at least a month, any microbial nasties that might haunt your innards should be nice and dead.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, Charlie Brown!
ALTON BROWN’S NOG OF AGES
12 large chicken eggs (see note)
1 pound sugar
1 pint half n half (see the other note)
1 pint whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup jamaican rum
1 cup cognac
1 cup bourbon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (plus more for serving)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
• Separate the eggs and store the whites for another purpose
• Beat the yolks with the sugar and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl until the mixture lightens in color and falls off the whisk in a solid “ribbon.”
• Combine dairy, booze, and salt in a second bowl or pitcher and then slowly beat into the egg mixture.
• Move to a large glass jar (or a couple of smaller ones) and store in the fridge for a minimum of 2 weeks. A month would be better, and two better still. In fact, there’s nothing that says you couldn’t age it a year but I’ve just never been able to wait that long.
• Serve in mugs or cups topped with a little extra nutmeg grated right on top.
Note on eggs: Although my research tells me it’s very likely the alcohol will kill off any microbial baddies present from the eggs, if you have any doubts at all or if you’re going to be serving the elderly or someone with an immune disorder, buy yourself some peace of mind and simply use pasteurized shell eggs. They’re available these days at most mega-marts.
Note on dairy: I’m super picky about the texture of my eggnog and find that the combination listed gets me what I’m looking for. That said, if you don’t want to bother (or if you’re not as picky) just go with a quart of half and half and call it a day.
And one more note: Yeah, it’s a lot of booze but the longer the nog ages, the more mellow it will get.