um. hi.

No promises, boys and girls. But I feel like trying again.

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sloth.

If I have to swallow some down time, I’m sure as hell going to enjoy it.*

OK, I’m not going overboard — much — but I am going to try to worry slightly less about stuff until I’m ready to test the groin again.

(I’m also apparently going to enjoy writing about my groin. Groin. Groin. Groin. Who thought up that one?)

It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I sort of started last week, when I did my best to keep up with the first-ever Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week. That deserves a post of its own (or maybe two posts, one here and one on the work beer blog), but suffice to say: That was fun.

I also had a pretty good start this week. I made my favorite Groundhog/tailgating breakfast casserole for a little thing at Kim’s house on Saturday. And last night, I made this:

There’s a little back story here. I found this recipe on Pinterest months ago, when I was in the mood for A) pasta and B) something a little spicy. Naturally, I modified the original a little bit (subtract cilantro, add a couple cloves of minced garlic) and was pleased enough with the results that I re-pinned the recipe.

And then? Nothing happened.

And then? Holy crap.

About two months ago, someone — someone who has many, many more Pinterest followers than I do — re-pinned the recipe from my post. My modified recipe started getting some attention, enough that I used that as an opportunity to finally write about Pinterest in my tech column at work.

After a brief lull, the re-pinning has continued. You can trust me when I say it’s good, or you can believe the 878 people who have re-pinned it or the 144 people who have liked it as of Tuesday night.

I can’t speak for the experiences of more than 1,000 people, but I can tell you the recipe is simple, quick and freaking delicious.

And, in fitting with the fat guy theme of the week, totally appropriate.

*I love the eating and drinking, but the not running thing is an irritation, to be honest.

home stretch.

I’m mostly recovered from Ohio State’s stunning second-half collapse against Kansas last night — as well as our trip to Florida via Chicago — that I think I can string together a reasonably coherent progress report on the Seventh Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).

Or maybe not. Hey, let’s find out!

When we last visited SVAUCNFFC (BTYBB), I mentioned that if Grandpa’s picks — Ohio State beating Kentucky in the title game — held up, he would be untouchable. As we know now, his picks didn’t hold up, and he had been, uh, touched. He finishes with a very respectable total of 10 points, but can go no further.

And that’s good news for Casey, Otimemore and Barb; they all have 12 points in the bag and the possibility of winning six more if Kentucky beats Kansas Monday night. And if that’s the case, we will resort to using the tiebreaker for the first time in AUCNFFC history.

If Kansas wins on Monday? Seriously, I have no idea. Plus, I’m on vacation and I’ve had about 37 dopplebocks since we arrived at my sister’s house, so the math I’ve done to this point is pretty goddamned impressive and I’m not doing any more.

I have tiebreakers (predicted score of the title game) from Otime and Barb. However: CASEY: I MUST HAVE A TIE-BREAKER FROM YOU BY THE TIME THE GAME STARTS MONDAY NIGHT, OR YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.

My plan is to not to get quite as hammered Monday night, so we can figure out a winner a short time after the championship game is done. But then, the beer down here is cheap and plentiful … and y’all may be waiting until Tuesday. Ahem.

crappy pineappy.

There were like three people taking my picture all at once and I wasn't sure which way to look. Which is how I ended up with the odd expression on my face.

I don’t think I could have come up with a dumber name for my entry at last weekend’s Sangria Fest in North Park. Fortunately, I also don’t think I could have come up with a better white sangria for the party — and I’m especially fortunate that the judges thought it was pretty good too.

Click on this pic of the lovely Mrs. Crappy trying to get every last bit of a sangria jello shot, and you'll be magically transported to the Flickr set of my Sangria Fest photos.

It was good enough to net me a plastic trophy; more importantly, it was good enough that a bunch of you asked me how I made it. Here you go:

The hard part.

This was the inspiration for my sangria, and while it’s not actually all that hard, it does take a little time.

Many years ago, a friend of mine in Columbus turned me on to a great summertime tradition — filling a jug with vodka and pineapple chunks, letting it stew in the fridge for a while and occasionally pouring some over ice to help with summertime relaxation efforts.

I’ve done it a few times, and I’ve found that I like rum in place of the vodka even better. And when we heard about Sangria Fest, I knew this would be the key to whatever it was I was going to make.

Again — a difficulty factor of about 2:  Core and cut up a pineapple, dump the chunks in a good-sized jug or a jar and pour on the rum — I used Bacardi white — until the pineapple is covered. Don’t touch it for a couple days; after that, if you take a sample or two, be sure to add just enough additional rum to make sure the pineapple stays covered.

I think this is important: the rum I used for the sangria soaked with the pineapple for about a month. You could use pineapple-flavored rum, but you’re going to miss the sweet that you get with the little pieces of pineapple floating in the home-infused stuff.

The rest.

The basic proportions for my recipe came from here, but there’s a bunch of stuff I tweaked. Here’s how it went:

  • I used a bottle of Barefoot Pinot Grigio (cheap but flavorful).
  • I used the juice of two oranges (Valencias, specifically) and two lemons, instead of the singles called for in the recipe. Also, I used the juice only — the rinds never made it into the pitcher.
  • I cored and chopped another fresh pineapple and put all the chunks in the pitcher. I could have used the pineapple from the rum, but after a month, they were really boozy, and that would have taken away from the flavor I was looking for.
  • I made my test batch without the coconut rum, and it wasn’t as good; I think you really need that extra flavor in the background. Probably important: I used low-test (20 proof) coconut rum; I wanted flavor, not alcohol heat.
  • I used way more booze that the recipe calls for. The nice folks at about.com seem to think three shots of coconut rum is enough; I went with a little more than a cup of coconut rum and a little more than a cup of the pineapple infused rum.
  • I used absolutely no sugar. The pineapple rum and the orange juice is sweet enough. If you let the citrus rinds soak in the sangria, a little extra sweetener might be necessary, though.
  • To be honest, I’m not sure how much ginger ale I added. Pour until you can barely taste it.
  • Stir it up and keep it cold. I liked it served over ice and if I had remembered to bring some fresh mint, I think that would have been a tasty garnish.

There you go. If you told me you liked it — and I really appreciate everyone who said so — you have plenty of time to give it a try for yourself this summer.

And if you come up with a better name, go for it. Please.

tapped.

We arrived in Ohio around noon on Saturday, just about an hour before the start of the VIP session of the second-annual Big Tap In. This was my Christmas present from Mrs. Crappy, who had heard enough good things about last year’s festival that she thought we shouldn’t miss this one.

After a quick lunch and a few minutes to check into our hotel (which, thankfully, was right next the hall), we jumped in line for the first session, which featured special beers from nearly all of the 7,365,839 breweries set up for the show.

There were some spectacular beers throughout the day, but one of the best parts of the days was finding that about half of the city of Pittsburgh made the hour drive up for the show as well.

Friends? Check. Beer? Hooboy. Between the two sessions, we tried dozens, but there were a few that stood out: a cask of Great Lakes’ Nosfaratu; the bourbon-aged Ol’ Red Cease and Desist from Erie that the SIDT boys scored for their table during the VIP session; my first tastes of  two Ommegang beers, Gnomeagang and BPA; a luscious double ESB from Tall Grass Brewing in Kansas; and a firkin of The Poet from New Holland.

And there was this:

Yeah, I know. But it worked well: A swirl of coffee and chocolate up front and a subtle peanuty thread under the more prominent flavors. Wow.

When the second session ended, a pretty good number of the people walked the short distance from the hall to Vintage Estates, Boardman’s fabulous beer and wine shop which organizes the show. It didn’t take Mrs. Crappy and me long to score a table on the front patio, and from that point on we saw a steady stream of friends, flatbreads and yeah, more beer, including what probably turned out to be the best beer of the day.

Years ago, Sickpuppy picked up a gigantic bottle of Stone’s Double Bastard, and I’ve pestered him for as long as I’ve known him about finally cracking that sucker open. And with the fifth anniversary of the SIDT show coming up this month, the bottle made the trip to Boardman, where it chilled in VE’s cooler while the festival was going on .

It got passed around a bit.

Holy crap. My evening was turning a little fuzzy by the time I got a taste, but I’ll never forget it:  a syrup-like consistency and carbonation that had long ago been beaten into submission, flavors ranging from a woody backbone to rich fruits and although this bottle had several years to mellow, the alcohol’s heat still lingered in the background. A spectacular beer, and definitely worthy of the occasion.

We went back to VE late this morning, after Spoon Twitpic’ed one of the breakfast flatbreads, more than enough temptation for us to stop there one more time before making the longest hour-long drive ever back to Pittsburgh.

There will be video of some of this stuff over the next few days, but I’m still beat, so I’m going to sum it up: a day full of fabulous beer, friends old and new and enough food to keep us from dying. Congratulations to VE’s Phil and Sandy for pulling off a great festival and to Doug and Brad for the impending fifth anniversary of their show. And a special thanks to Mrs. Crappy, for having the forethought in December to get us to Boardman four months later.