Kitchin’ Witchin’: Why Does Yeast Make Things Rise?

“Why” is a common question in our home as I’m sure it is in yours. Right now, the kidlets still think I’m a genius because I can read more easily and faster than they can, though I know those days are rapidly coming to a close. And thank goodness for the internet and the quick Google… I think their tiny little heads would explode if they had to wait for me to look something up in a book.

One of the activities we enjoy most is baking and both kids, but Stinky 2 especially, is starting to express an interest in why things happen the way they do in the baking process. So, this is really me crib sheeting various answers before the fact. Hopefully, they’ll come in handy for you too.

Why Does Yeast Make Things Rise?

Yeast is a single celled fungus. That’s right, a fungus. For those of you who hate mushrooms but love bread, I have news for you.

Fungus. Continue reading Kitchin’ Witchin’: Why Does Yeast Make Things Rise?

Xo, G: Wine Coupled With Convenience

Photo: Xo, G Wine
Photo: Xo, G Wine

When I heard about a wine that was packaged for convenience, with the idea of a busy, working mom in mind, I knew I had to check it out. Not because I thought, “Gosh, every mom needs her wine!” but because we’ve all had family outings, picnics with extended family, romantic hikes with our husbands, and beverages are always such a pain. At best they are inconvenient, and at worst, carrying a glass bottle around can be dangerous.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

I received two samples from Xo, G Wine: the Moscato and the Pinot Noir/Pinot Grigio combination. There is also a Rosé and a pack that is just Pinot Noir. The boxes were packed responsibly, and I had to sign for the packages when they arrived and was carded by the FedEx guy. I know this wine is available at Walmarts across the country, but rest assured that if you do mail order it, there is little chance your young ones can receive the package and go off for a good time.

First, I have to say, the packaging is adorable. I appreciated the effort that went into creating something that was cute and had a touch of elegance. Each “tower” is the equivalent of a 750mL bottle of wine. But the tower divides up into four individual servings of wine. The cups pop apart, kind of like Lego, and have a foil seal on the top. The cups themselves are shatter resistant “Vinoware,” but they look a lot like glass. Much classier than the red Solo cups we’ve often had to resort to on the go. With Xo, G, you don’t have to worry about that agonizing choice of throwing away the leftover wine, because each one is sealed individually. You can just pop it back in the picnic basket and you are good to go. Another thing I appreciated (and yes, please do enjoy your alcoholic beverages responsibly, especially around children!) was that the cups had no stems, and were safe for places like big family get togethers where folks are bumping into things, and dogs are jostling tables, and… well, you get the idea.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

So, what is this wine like after you peel the seal off? Well, you’re not going to get the equivalent of a $50 bottle of wine. Xo, G retails for under $10. But I was pleasantly surprised. The Pinot Noir really was quite smooth, and the Moscato was a bit drier than I like, but with that in mind, it was still good (it almost had more of a Riesling flavor than a Moscato, which would work fine for a picnic anyway). I think the quality is consistent for other wines within the price point.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors
Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

All in all, I can say this wine is good for situations where you need something that is portable, or when you just want a glass of wine but don’t want to waste a whole bottle. It’s a clever idea that is executed very well. And the little cups are reusable for projects afterward—little terrariums, for example. All in all, my experience with this product was good, and I would recommend giving Xo, G a try.

Note: Remember, please ALWAYS enjoy alcoholic beverages responsibly, and never, ever, ever drive after you’ve been drinking. Also, a sample was provided to GeekMom for review.

5 Geeky Beverages Inspired by Your Favorite Shows

Sherlock Holmes © BBC

When a show or movie reaches out and grabs its fans, they can be inspired to create amazing things. Geek fandom is known for crafting exquisite costumes, food, jewelry, and more, all for the love of a show. I recently discovered some geek-inspired beverages—officially licensed and not—that are perfect for grabbing a cup and settling in to re-watch your favorite episodes.

Sherlock Tea from Adagio Teas

Adagio Teas makes a wide variety of blends based on many different tastes and fandoms. At Adagio you’ll find tea blends inspired by movies like Harry Potter and the rebooted Star Trek, and shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and True Blood, all packaged in tins with striking fan art.

Moriartea by Adagio Teas © Adagio Teas

The Sherlock-inspired teas caught my eye immediately. Some of the most memorable scenes in BBC’s Sherlock happen when a character has a cuppa in his hand. There are 31 blends created by Cara McGee, so fans of both the show and the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will find something to suit their tastes. Fans who dream about a particular relationship on the BBC show will even find something that’s just their cup of tea.

I’m dying to try the MORIARTEA, described as a “spicy chai backed by more ginger. Guaranteed to burn the heart out of you. Because that’s what people BREW.”

TARDIS Mug © ThinkGeek / BBC

Doctor Who Tea from Adagio Teas

Cara McGee of Adagio also created twelve tea blends inspired by Doctor Who. One of Adagio’s highest ranked fandom blends is the TARDIS tea, which sounds absolutely lovely: “Ethereal earl grey and enchanting black berry with notes of vanilla.”

You’ll also find blends created with the ninth, tenth, and eleventh Doctors in mind, and brews imbued with the essences of Captain Jack Harkness and companions Amy Pond, Rose Tyler, and Martha Jones. Cara McGee seems to be a true Whovian. Her ode to River Song in the form of a tea blend says simply for its delightful description, “I could describe this tea, but that would be spoilers.”

And if you find yourself in need of a good cup of a tea—I hear it’s just the thing for heating the synapses—you can pick up a TARDIS mug from ThinkGeek to complete the experience.

Take the Black Stout © Ommegang / HBO

Game of Thrones Beer from Brewery Ommegang

If you’re looking for something a little stronger than tea, look no further than the officially licensed Game of Thrones beer crafted by Brewery Ommegang.

The brewmasters kicked off their beer series with a blonde ale that embodies the Lannisters. “Iron Throne is certainly fair in color and soft in appearance, yet it still possesses a complexity and bite to be on guard for,” said brewmaster Phil Leinhart on the ale’s official web site.

The Iron Throne Ale sold out quickly, but luckily the brewery promises that their next beer in the series will be available in larger quantities to satisfy the throngs of Game of Thrones fans. The Black Stout, inspired by the Night’s Watch, is a brew described by Ommegang’s Mike McManus as “a hearty and robust beer to fortify those heroically standing watch at the Wall. Like their lives, the beer is dark, complex and bold.”

Star Trek Wines from Vinport

Vinport is offering several wines based on fan-favorite episodes of the original Star Trek series. Produced by the Viansa Winery in Sonoma, California, these red wines are a limited edition that are currently on pre-sale.

Star Trek Wines © Vinport / CBS

The labels, created by artist Juan Ortiz, use a minimalist look to capture “The Trouble With Tribbles,” “Mirror Mirror,” and “The City on the Edge of Forever.”

Downton Abbey Wine from Wines That Rock

If you prefer a wine inspired by the past rather than the future, you’ll be happy to hear that a licensed Downton Abbey wine is coming soon from Wines That Rock. Although little is known about the wine, Wines That Rock assures fans that the Bordeaux clarets and whites will be authentic, thanks to a team-up with a vineyard with “over 130 years of experience in creating the world’s best wines so these are wines the Crawley family would have been proud to serve at Downton.”

The wine should be released in time for the premiere of the fourth season of the show on PBS.