The Booze / Burn-off Effect

With the holidays just around the corner, many are vigilant to change behaviors in order to ward off weight gain. Some of the protocols we are told is not to “snack” at office parties of holiday get-togethers. Instead, eat a healthy meal beforehand so you won’t be tempted by the goodies later. But what about booze?

Even though many may not be heavy drinkers, drinking is a social thing. While you may be good about avoiding the calorie laden cheese dip or carb heavy chips, don’t make the mistake of giving yourself permission to indulge in an extra glass of wine. Did you know that could easily add 100 calories to your daily intake? Beer and sugary cocktails are even higher.

And, during the holidays it isn’t just one or two parties we find ourselves committed to, it is more like five or six. Don’t let the hard work you’ve done all year in maintaining your weight go out the window when the holidays arrive. As an incentive, check out this handy chart that explains how much of a workout is necessary to burn the calories from various alcoholic beverages. Happy Holidays!

booze burn off

source unknown

Beer BAC Calculator

Remember those blood alcohol testers they used to have in clubs and bars? Usually located near the exits, for a quarter, you could blow into a straw and find out if you are over the legal limit. Now there’s a new, more modern version of this made especially for craft beer lovers, the Craft Beer Calculator.

Going out for “a beer” is not the same now as it was before due to varying alcohol content levels. Some beers may have a 4.5% ABV and others may have an 11.75%. A few lower proofed beers may be no big deal, but some of the stronger ones, could have you seeing double after just two.

BAC Calculator

A clever site now let’s you enter information into a system to more accurately forecast what your current BAC level is, or what it would be if you were to spend some time out drinking beers.

Enter some simple information:
Name of beer / kind of beer (the database is rather large)
How much time you’ve spent drinking

….and voila

beer blood alcohol determiner

Breweries of Ann Arbor

Craft beer may be a newer concept to some cities, but not in Michigan. The state boasts more than twenty breweries cranking out some fine craft beer. Ann Arbor, itself is home to about a quarter of these breweries.


The interesting thing to note about many of these breweries is that they specialize in their own kinds of beer. At the Jolly Pumpkin (not it’s not all pumpkin beer, though that is quite tasty), it is sour beers. Receiving much popularity of late, these beers have somewhat of an acquired taste, but those that love them are huge fans.

At Wolverine’s, lager is the beer of choice, though the range is quite lovely no matter what your favorite type of beer is. One of the top picks is the Gulo Gulo their version of an India Pale Ale (IPA). Verano, the Mexican is quite pleasing (if only there was a taco truck in the parking lot).


Another Ann Arbor brewery, Original Gravity, opened in 2008, sells no bottles or cans. Instead, visitors can drink on site or take growlers or kegs to go.  Unlike some the previously mentioned breweries, this one has a variety of styles including IPAs, Ambers, Wheat and Porters. But our favorite was the unique ginger beer, with ginger being apparent but not overbearing in every sip.

If you are a lover of craft brews, you’ll want to put Michigan, but more specifically, Ann Arbor, on your list of spots to visit. There’s fine dining, live music venues and plenty of fun eclectic spots to satisfy someone who isn’t a craft beer groupie too!


St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef and Cabbage in the Slow Cooker

Gone are the days when St. Patrick’s Day festivities were synonymous with a glass of green beer. Sure, I’ll enjoy a Guinness with my corned beef and cabbage, but instead of partying the night away at a bar, I’ll host them at my home for a tasty meal.
This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Monday. No doubt there will be lots of celebrating over the weekend. Me? I’ll be celebrating on Sunday. with traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage but in a non-traditional way. I’ll be making my meal in the slow cooker. The fantastic thing about this meal is you can cook the vegetables in the slow cooker too. See recipe below:

Image source: All Recipes

Image source: All Recipes

3 carrots, peeled, cut into thirds
2 celery stalks, cut into thirds
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
1/2 pound small potatoes, red potatoes will do here as well
6 sprigs thyme
1 corned beef brisket (about 3 pounds), plus spice packet
1 head small Savoy cabbage, cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
Grainy mustard

In a large slow cooker, place your corned beef (fat side up). Arrange the remaining ingredients, except the cabbage and mustard, around the corned beef. Sprinkle the beef with the pickling spice. Then add enough water to almost cover meat (somewhere between 4 and 6 cups depending on the size of the beef).
Cover the dish and cook for 4 and a half hours on high or for 8 and a half hours on low. Arrange sliced cabbage over corned beef, cover, and continue cooking for 45 minutes (if set on high), 1 1/2 hours (if set on on low).
Once cooking is complete, remove corned beef pot and slice against the grain and arrange on serving plate with vegetables. Spoon a small amount liquid over the corned beef to keep it from drying out.

I love that this dish cooks the entire meal in one pot. Not to mention the fact that it appears like I was slaving away for hours when all I had to was cut up some vegetables and thrown them in a pot. I can’t wait for St. Patrick’s Day, how about you? I’ll be chilling some Guinness in my fridge in anticipation of the day. Got the proper beer glass for your beer?

CO cinco de mayo

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo: we love to celebrate it but do we truly know what it is and why we celebrate it? Truth is, it is not Mexican Independence day as many often incorrectly believe it to be. Cindo de Mayo celebrates El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (The Day of the Battle of Puebla). It commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces on May 5, 1862.

Cinco de Mayo is much more celebrated in the US than in Mexico. What’s the best way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Embrace Mexican cuisine. And we don’t mean tacos and nachos. Did you know that Mexicans rarely eat nachos?

So what should you eat? A first choice should be chile rellenos. Chiles are stuffed with cheese, vegetables and meat. Another traditional Mexican item is mole sauce. Pronounced (mole-ey), the sauce made with over a dozen ingredients, is rather spicy and is usually served over enchiladas.

Another traditional dish is Molcajates, a mixture of meats, cheese and peppers served in a stone bowl. The stone bowl is actually called a molcajete, just like the meal itself. Molcajetes are usually supported by three short legs. There is usually a carved head of an animal on the edge of the bowl, which gives it the appearance of a short animal. Much like a cast iron skillet the molcajete “seasons” items cooked in it. Molcajetes also serve as a cooking dish, where items can be heated or cooked over an open flame and then served in the same dish.

What would Cinco de Mayo be without Mexican beer and Margaritas? If you are throwing a party make sure to stock up on these items. Make it even more fun with a piñata that everyone can take a swing at when they’ve had a couple libations.

Beer Growlers: Available at a Liquor Store Near You

If you are a beer aficionado, then you’ve no doubt heard of beer Growlers. Beer Growlers are ideal for those who want to get the best deal on purchasing their favorit craft beer. These large glass jugs that can be purchased at some liquor stores and filled with a variety of brews.Why buy a growler instead of your favorite six-pack of craft beer? The cost can be significantly lower. Instead of paying around $10  for a six-pack, a growler holds more pours for the same price. The growler itself can be purchased for a one-time nominal fee, usually around three or four dollars.

Growler vs. six or twelve packs:

  • Use the growler over and over again – no need to deal with any recycling
  • Growlers hold more than a six-pack, so it saves money
  • Easy storage – buy

Caring for your Beer Growler
Make sure to wash your Beer Growler out thoroughly before getting it refilled. Don’t use soap as it can be hard to get out of the growler and sometimes leaves a residue that will affect the taste of your next brew. Instead of soap, use hot water.

Many beer advocates recommend consuming the entire contents of your Growler in one sitting to get the best taste from the beer. However, if consumed within two to three days of opening, the taste should be unaffected. Growlers can be stored for up to two weeks if they remain unopened. Be sure it is in a cool, dark place as well. In addition, for optimal taste, serve your brews to your guests in the best glasses for optimal taste – Spiegelau beer glasses. Here’s a link to the Spiegelau connoisseur set. Cheers!

cheap date ideas

8 Great First Date Ideas that Are Easy on the Wallet

It’s no secret that times are tough. But of course, singles still want to date. So, what is one to do when faced with wanting to impress someone, but not having a fortune to spend? Here are eight date ideas that are easy on the wallet.

Wine Tasting
Wine tastings seem to be springing up all over. Check online for restaurants that offer wine tastings or “flight nights” as they are sometimes called. Most are free or a very nominal amount and offer some complimentary appetizers with the wine as well.

Brewery Tour
If wine isn’t your thing, perhaps brews are. Craft beer has come a long way in recent years and most major cities have at least one local brewery.  To help spread the word about these beers, many breweries offer free tours at least once a week. The short tours are only about 15 to 20 minutes but many offer the opportunity to sample multiple varieties of beer. Some even offer live music when they are open for touring.

Cook Dinner Together
It is always a treat when one person cooks for another. However, cooking together as a couple can be rewarding too. Start by visiting a Farmer’s Market and picking up items you both are interested in cooking. Make a cocktail or open up a bottle of wine while you work together.

Food Festival
Food festivals are becoming very popular as of late. They allow guests to sample a wide variety of foods at low cost.  It’s always interesting to push your taste buds to the limit and explore different cuisines!

Coffee Date
Besides Starbucks, there are plenty of other coffee hangouts to sip on a nice cup of joe. Cozy up with your special someone and enjoy a lively conversation or simply have fun people watching.

Hike and Picnic
If you both are active, why not get some exercise together? Most major cities have hiking trails all over. Plan ahead and scope out a romantic spot for your picnic. Save money by preparing the food ahead of time instead of picking up the pre-made kind at the deli.

Take in a Play at a local University
There are usually exhibitions or plays put on regularly at local colleges. These tend to be rather inexpensive and easy to score good seats to as well.

Play Darts
You don’t really have to have any physical skills to be able to play darts. Just aim and shoot for the bullseye. Play a few rounds and bring out your competitive spirit. It only costs one or two bucks to rent the darts and of course a couple brews for good measure.

There are lots of date ideas out there that won’t bleed you dry. Just think about common interests and you’ll find a date idea that both of you can enjoy.

Father’s Day Barware Gifts

Father’s Day is fast approaching and will be here before you know it. We all seem to remember to do something nice for mom, but just seem to forget that Dad needs to be remembered as well. Besides a nice tie or coffee mug here are some gifts that most dads will appreciate this Father’s Day.

Perhaps your Dad appreciates a good Beer or Spirits of some sort. Riedel has got you covered whether that is Tequila, Sherry a Martini or something in between. These selections of crystal glasses come in sets of two and are available starting at under $20.

Is your pop strictly a beer lover? Then you’ll want to get him the beer connossiueur set from Spiegelau. The beer glasses come in a set of four: Wheat, Pilsner, Lager and Tulip. Believe it or not, the shape of a glass really does play an important role in the optimum taste of each type of beer according to Spiegelau. And apparently thin glass is important as well for promoting malty sweetness and hop bitterness to it’s fullest potential.

Of course, every good bartenders needs a good barware set, right? WMF has got you all set with what may just be the cutest set of bar tools you will ever see.  Every piece has a face on it – from the bear face on the strainer to the shark (with teeth) ice tongs. All the pieces have rounded handles, and a stainless steel finish. See the full barware set here.

With pool season in full swing, Dad will no doubt want a case to carry his brews up the pool or to the beach with him. Check out this tote available from Built. It’s perfect to take to the beach, park, or party, and keeps beverages cool up to four hours. This beer tote is as slim as a thin mint when not in use, but don’t be deceived by its size—it expands to fit the canned or bottled beverage of your choice.

Show dad how thoughtful you can be and get him something he can use for years to come. Remember Father’s Day is Sunday, June 17, so don’t wait another minute putting off buying dad a terrific gift.

Barware Makes Great Gifts for Dad’s and College Grads

It’s that time of year when we start to think about Dads and Grads. Father’s Day and Graduations are upon us. One of the best gifts we can give Graduates and Fathers is a nice set of barware.

One of the things that make barware such great gifts is that you can start small and add to it as time goes on. It isn’t like fine china where it is necessary to have the entire set or it is incomplete. A couple nice wine or beer glasses, a cool decanter or liquor holder is all you need to start the collection. Here are some picks for barware and accessories that is sure to please Dads and Grads.

Wine Decanters
Wine decanters are certainly prettier than serving wine out of the bottle. >Wine decanters also serve a purpose. The transfer of the wine to the carafe and the amount of time the wine is exposed to oxygen will further develop the wines bouquet. Another reason for decanting is to separate the clear wine from the deposits at the bottom of the bottle also influencing the quality of the wine. Serving a good wine is a ritual for connoisseurs as well as new wine enthusiasts.

Basic Wine Set
Even if one only drinks wine on occasion, a good wine set is a necessity. With the WMF Basic 3 Piece Wine Set, WMF put together 3 of their best and basic wine tools that is a must for every wine bar! The Vino Foil Cutter. Vino Winged Corkscrew and the Vino “Corky” Bottle Stopper. Not just a pretty set, it is useful too!

Old Fashioned Cocktail Glasses
The Nachtmann Dancing Stars Bossa Nova Double Old Fashioned Pair is exquisitely crafted out of Lead-free Crystal. What’s so fabulous about these glasses is that they combined the classic look of cocktail glasses but incorporate the new checkered pattern in to the design. These crystal glass products do not fail to charm each time they are used, separately or paired with other items from the Bossa Nova line.

Drink / Beer Glasses
This is a terrific set to have. The glasses work well for beer but can also be used for cocktails too. So, they are dual purpose. The set is the perfect gift for a college student to start their barware collection or for a dad who enjoys a cocktail or beer on occasion.

Add a touch of class to your own collection or give a classy gift by choosing any of these barware options from Culinary Outfitters. We guarantee your Dad or Grad will be pleased that you thoughtfully purchased functional and decorative barware that can be enjoyed for years to come!

The Beer Connoisseur’s Beer Glasses

Spiegelau is a maker of high end wine and beer glasses. The German-manufactured glasses are high quality, but durable, even dishwasher safe. Never heard of the Spiegelau brand before? They are THE glasses in which to enjoy your beer as any beer connoisseur will tell you.

The beer glasses come in a set of four: Wheat, Pilsner, Lager and Tulip. Believe it or not, the shape of a glass really does play an important role in the optimum taste of each type of beer according to Spiegelau. And apparently thin glass is important as well for promoting malty sweetness and hop bitterness to it’s fullest potential.

The beer glasses while quality, are very lightweight. It helps promote the attributes of the beer, for the best taste. It’s also great for us gals who don’t want to pick up heavy glasses but do appreciate a good beer. Wouldn’t it be great if more restaurants and bars would adopt this barware?

Both the wheat and pilsner beer glasses have a slimish shape with wider rims that bottom, which help to promote the aromas in both beers. However, the wheat glass is much larger than the pilsner, holding nearly 25 ounces. Besides the obvious lager beer, the lager beer glass is well-suited for IPAs too. The glass is similar to a pint glass except wider at the mouth than the base, to promote the hoppiness of the beer.

Belgian beers should be consumed at a higher temperature than other beers, so let it sit for a while before sipping on it. And that tulip shape – not quite beer glass, not quite wine glass, seems just perfect for a sipping beer, which Belgian beers tend to be.

These beer glasses are so lightweight and elegant compared to the heavy, clunky beer glasses found elsewhere. But don’t get us wrong, these glasses are quite masculine too. Order them in sets of two by the type of glass or order the Beer Connoisseur Set. Tip: Father’s Day is just around the corner. The set makes a terrific gift for Dads or any beer lover!