Weekend update! Beer, wine, maple syrup, and more!

by Christine on March 21st, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Exercise

Happy spring, Revolutionists! What are your goals for springtime? How will you begin to prepare for the summer that is looming?

I’ll tell you what. This 100 pound weight loss is messing with my head recently. I have been feeling so fat and so bloated lately. In fact, this morning I was laying in bed thinking that perhaps I need to get a tub of “too-big clothing” out from storage to wear, and I also pondered at what point I should go back to get another fill from the bariatric surgeon. Then, when I stepped on the scale, it said I was 127 pounds, which is pretty much within my maintenance range. Why am I feeling so fat when I am not really gaining any weight? I feel as fat and awful as I did when I was 225 pounds; I KNOW my body is different, but my brain is on a different path. Why the discrepancy?

So much of weight-loss is a big head game.

The last few days have been very very busy! Let me recap!

Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day

For St. Patty’s day we did our usual pub trivia at our local establishment. (No, we didn’t win this week!) We had a group of 12 friends join us, so it was a great celebration with friends! It was also a very long evening; I showed up at the bar at 5 p.m. to get the big table to accommodate our group, and we didn’t leave until 10 p.m. That’s a long time to be sitting down! Fortunately I only drank one beer that whole time, so I didn’t overindulge. Hubby and I split an order of chicken tenders. (not the healthiest option, I know, but hubby doesn’t eat healthy food like vegetables. The best I could do was to watch my quantity when eating crappy food.)

Friday March 18th

Friday was my Uncle’s memorial service. I was very sad that I could not make it to Chicago to honor him, but I kept him in my thoughts all day.  After work on Friday I went out with some friends drinking. This night, however, I did overindulge! I had a margarita with dinner (which was 1 small fish taco and some black beans with salsa. Delicious!), followed by three pumpkin spiced martinis. They were delicious, but really, three was a little excessive. One should have sufficed, then I should have switched to water. There is a lot of sugar in martinis.

Saturday March 19th

On Saturday a friend and I went for a beer tour in our local area!  Tomorrow I will post our itinerary (with notes) for anyone local that wants to re-create our route.  First we hit a maple syrup refinery. March is the month that maple syrup is produced, and upstate New York and Vermont is famous for its maple syrup! We ventured out into the middle of godforsakennowhere and talked with a maple syrup maker about how he makes the delicious goodness. Then, for $7, you could have all-you-can-eat pancakes. My friend and I split an order, and man, fresh, hot maple syrup was really delicious! We waited an eternity for our order, but the wait was well worth it.

Photo above: They tap the maple trees and run tubes from the trees to the collection tanks. This whole area has hundreds of tubes running from the trees; it’s a real labyrinth! Can you see them?

Photo above: The tubes run to collection tanks like this one. Pure maple syrup only had 2% sugar; the rest is water. Who knew?

Photo above: Inside the refinery, they boil the maple syrup over and over again. This is steam billowing from the boilers; you can see the steam coiling above the refinery for miles! Before packaging the maple syrup, they add some white powdery stuff to help purify the syrup. And that’s it! Collect it, boil it, package it. Pretty simple.

Photo above: You know you’re in the boondocks when llamas greet you outside.

Photo above: Standing in eastern New York State, looking at the Green Mountains in Vermont. I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful area of the country! Look, our snow is almost gone!

Then we hit two brew pubs (microbreweries) in Glens Falls, NY. We had so much fun at the Davidson Brothers Brewery! Although they had a lot of IPAs and bitter beers on draft, which are not my thing, I had so much fun bantering with the bartender and one of the owners of the place. What a FUN place to hang out!

From there we hit a winery in Lake George, then another winery in Saratoga. After that we discovered a microbrewery in Saratoga that, well, I won’t give away their secret, but it is truly a fantastic gem for us localites!!!

Although we hit a lot of breweries and wineries, and we did samplings and flights at each destination, I didn’t overdo the drinking. After all, I was driving! I sipped and sampled, then let my friend polish off the rest of the drinks at each place. I paced myself, don’t worry.  For lunch I had soup at the Davidson Brothers Brewery, and for dinner we nibbled on some homemade cranberry cheese spread at Olde Saratoga Brewery that was absolutely divine!

Tomorrow I will post our itinerary (with lots of links, information, etc).  Because I seem to be really good at putting together these beer/pub crawls in the New York and New England areas, I will start compiling these tours into a resource on the website, so be looking for it!

Sunday, March 20th

Sunday I went snowshowing with a friend in the morning. Well, he snowshoed and I hiked with small crampons attached to my boots. It was a beautiful day! We hiked for about an hour and a half, which was about 5 miles or thereabouts. A great way to get a workout in!

Afterwards, hubby and I did some much needed errands, such as a trip to the hardware store and a trip to the grocery store. We also stopped at our local gaming/comic book store (Zombie Planet, which is a great store!) to pick up some new board games. We really enjoy a game called Dominion, which is a deck-building game. This concept of “deck building” is a new genre of board games that is really taking off in popularity! We bought “Thunderstone” and “Ascension” and pulled out Thunderstone to play yesterday evening. It had more rules and is marginally more complicated than Dominion, but it seems fun. Hubby tells me that Ascension is easier than Dominion and simpler in terms of game play, but we’ll see. I suspect we’ll try playing that tonight.

Then it was bill paying, dinner (leftover grilled chicken and leftover mushrooms), read a little bit of my book, and before I knew it, the day was over. Man, Sundays just go by too dang fast!


Disappointing day

by Christine on December 12th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Today was my big weigh-in, and the title of this blog post may have tipped you off: I didn’t make my goal weight. My goal is 125, but this morning I weighed in at 126.4. I was very close, but didn’t make it. I am very disappointed because I really hoped that today would be the day, but it wasn’t meant to be. I will continue to work towards my goal, though, eating well and exercising, trying to make healthy choices for myself. Eventually I’ll get there…right?

This weekend we went down south of Albany, to New Paltz, New York. New Paltz is a quaint, small town that has fun boutique stores, several bars, and a decent college population to give the town a little atmosphere. On Friday night we found our way to a little restaurant where we had dinner (fish) and a bottle of beer.

Holy crow’s feet, batman! When did I start looking so old?

The next day we woke up and decided to hit a few wineries. We saw a link to the Shawangunk Wine Trail and noticed that there were a few wineries on the list that I had never been to before. Well, before we knew it, we were doing the entire wine trail! We didn’t even intend to. Plus, apparently there was “An Event” going  on along the wine trail…people pay one flat fee for tastings, then get food, wreathes, ornaments, and goodies at the wineries. We didn’t sign up for “The Event” (and they wouldn’t sell us the tickets the day of) but we did the wine trail with a group of total strangers.  The vineyards we ended up at included:

  • Robiero Family Vineyards (A beautiful venue & overlook, but very “young” wines.)
  • Adair Vineyard (their peach wine was yummy if not sugary)
  • Applewood Vineyard (this vineyard was my favorite of all of them. They had a delicious selection of wines, some great reds, some not-too-sweet desert wines. My favorite was the International Red.)
  • Baldwin Vineyard (The merlot was fantastic)
  • Benmarl Winery (I want to say the Traminette was my favorite here.)
  • Brimstone Hill Vineyard (The Cabernet Franc was the best.)
  • Brotherhood Winery (America’s oldest winery! It’s a fantastic venue to visit, well worth the trip. Their mulled wine blew me away!)
  • Glorie Farm Winery (Funny names of their wines. The Leon Millet was my favorite here.)
  • Palaia Vineyard (This place was in a fun location, on the top floor of an old barn. They have live music here often, worth checking out!)
  • Stoutridge Winery (Great new building. The elderly gentleman that gave us a tour of the cask room had me laughing so hard I almost peed myself. He was freaking adorable.)
  • Warwick Valley Winery (The guy at the front desk was kind of a jerk, but the girl pouring the wine was nice. The wines were only so-so. I’m sad that we didn’t have time to sample the beer.)
  • Whitecliff Winery (Another great merlot!)

That’s 12 wineries in one day! That’s quite a feat. I don’t recommend doing a big, grand tour like that if you’ve never gone wine tasting before. At each place you get to sample five or more wines. By the end of the day…that’s a lot.

At the end of the day, we were joking around with that group of strangers that we kept following all day long. We decided we would all grab dinner together, which was fantastic!  We ended up at the Crystal Inn in Warwick, NY. I had some baked fish dish that was yummy, but I tasted someone’s crab cakes and they were really delicious.  I would definitely go back there again if I end up in the area. The unexpected company was a bright spot in the day, and I’m very grateful for the fun new friends we made that day!

Today we raced home so I could do my weigh-in, which was disappointing. I’m sure the vast sums of alcohol yesterday did not help my weigh-in at all.  Then two girlfriends came over and we scrapbooked for a few hours. Now, I feel so tired, drained, bug-eyed, and exhausted that I can barely keep my eyes open. I can’t believe it’s only 5:30 pm!!!


Beer, Wine, and Culinary Institute

by Christine on October 18th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

This weekend a friend and I decided to go downstate New York to check out the Cullinary Institute of America (CIA) and to check out a few breweries. We set off on the road after a cup of coffee and a mini-luna bar (100 calories) and headed downstate.  I have heard from numerous sources that you need to make reservations at the CIA literally months ahead of time in order to get into the restaurants, but there are two or three cafes on campus as well, and I was hoping to grab lunch there.  I knew that this was a potentially risky undertaking: a compulsive overeater at a culinary institute campus? Yikes! But I thought I could handle the challenge. Two years ago, I definitely couldn’t have handled it. Unfortunately everything was totally closed when we arrived, so we weren’t able to sample any CIA food at all! Too bad, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the quality of food there! The campus was really beautiful, and we enjoyed walking around and taking pictures.

Cullinary Institute of America

Seeing as how the restaurants on campus were closed and we were starving, we made our way up the street to our first brewery, Hyde Park Brewery. We had a flight of beer to sample all the styles on tap. They were all surprisingly light and smooth, and the Oktoberfest beer was the best! I also had a bowl of beer and cheese soup that was phenomenal!  Cheese soup had to be filled with calories and isn’t the healthiest choice, but I had the calories to spend and it was well worth the calorie price tag.

beer tasting beer flight

After that we went to two wineries, Clinton Vineyards and another one that I can’t remember offhand. (Millbrook winery, I think)  The first winery (Clinton) had very sweet desert wines that would have been very tasty as a drizzle over ice cream or cheesecake. The second winery had very classy wines, three that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately I don’t have extra cash to spend, so I did not buy any wines, but there were worthy ones there!

After that we headed to New Paltz to another brewery, the Gilded Otter brewery. That place was a freaking zoo! I think everyone in New Paltz was trying to eat there that night. The beer was tasty and the building was pretty cool, but there were about ten zillion people there and the bartenders were far too busy with other orders to pay attention to their patrons sitting at the bar.  It would be a nice place to visit on a day that wasn’t so crowded!  We ordered a vegetable quesadilla and I had one slice (out of five slices) with a half-pint of beer.

When we got to my friend’s house, we decided to make our own beer! We had already purchased a pre-assembled kit that gave all the wheat & oats, spices, hops, yeast, etc.  I had never made homebrew before, although Pete had. It was a very long process (about four hours) and very smelly too. You have to be really attentive to the temperature of your brew at all times and follow the instructions perfectly.  It was super fun to make, although I don’t completely understand the chemical process that was going on at every step. I think I have some added research to do!

Step 1: You put all the wheat and oats into a cheesecloth sack and steep it for about an hour.

Step1: Steeping the beer

Step 2: You then add some hops and spices and boil the mixture for another hour.

Step 3: Following the instructions you add more hops, more spices. Then you drop the temperature of the mixture, then add the yeast. Then you pour into a glass jug while straining off all the icky stuff off the top.


Step 4: Then you make the glass container air-tight, with a siphon to collect more ickies as the mixture begins to bubble over.

Apparently we now need to wait a week or two for the mixture to work its magic, with the yeast magically creating alcohol and natural carbonation. When it stops bubbling over, we will cap it off and make it air-tight, let it sit for another week or two, and then bottle it all up.  We made a Belgium wheat beer (“whitbier”) like Blue Moon. I can’t wait to try my very first homebrew!

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