HOPARAZZI LAGER—Battling the apocalypse, nutjob neighbors, and restricted access to your balls

Balls facebook discussion

Thus was my mother shamed into making a batch of whisky balls. Creeping on my Facebook page, she saw my tattle to Christine and decided there were worse things she could do with half a cup of Wisers.

DSCN2683Scary and I were both involved, satisfying related motivations of gluttony and hedonism. He accidentally got himself punched in the nose by the pastry blender—luckily not the motorized kind or he’d have had no nose left.

“Is that Irish cream?” Miss V asked as Mum poured the whisky.

“Close,” said Mum.

By the time she’s six, V will be able to distinguish vodka from gin from 30 paces, unless Child Services gets her first. “Can I smell?” she asked.

“Of course,” said Mum.

“Mmmmmm,” said my little kindergartner friend. “But they’re just for grown-ups, right?”

“Right.”

“That means I can have two peanut butter cookies instead then.”

No such negotiation had taken place, but who could argue with such lawyerly logic?

This is how we ended up making our whisky balls:

  • Two-thirds of an overbaked marble cake we’d forgotten about in the freezer, bashed into crumbs with a pastry blender
  • Some pecans, also bashed
  • Some milk chocolate chips, melted with a tablespoon of whisky and two tablespoons of corn syrup (the recipe called for three, but we were affected by The Omnivore’s Dilemma, so we used only two)
  • ½ cup icing sugar, more or less
  • ¼ cup cocoa plus some that fell on the counter
  • ½ cup whisky minus the tbsp cooked with the chocolate

From somewhere Mum produced a melon baller, used it, cursed it, and abandoned it, then hand-rolled a bunch of cute little balls.

DSCN2695

It was immediately apparent we hadn’t used enough Wisers; fresh whisky balls should set your fur on fire their first day, and these were only slightly redolent. Then again, maybe the smell lacked intensity simply because we’d used a cleaner spirit than rum.

grinch

Nah…they needed more booze. But it would have been foolish to use more; we need that Wisers for drinking.

Meanwhile the neighborhood has gone apeshit with Christmas decorations. Light shows, sleighs, Santas, Grinches, Scrooges, Bumbles, Rudolphs—you name it and its inflatable likeness is swaying in one of our neighbors’ yards (and lying flaccid on the lawn in the morning, when the kids actually pass by).

Amid all this relatively secular mayhem is a house with a large manger scene out front—Mary and Joseph gazing downward at the infant Jesus, who looks freaking cold in his loincloth. Speaking of Child Services, such nudity may be comfortable in the Middle East, but Langley is at latitude 49.10348. Holy or not, that kid needs some swaddling clothes.

That aside, I felt bad when the family came home from school today and mentioned they’d seen a police officer visiting the owner of that house. We have no idea why, but my first guess would be that someone messed with the nativity display and the owner called the police. Which makes me sad, because obviously, if you’re going to put an overtly religious scene in your yard, it means something to you. And it’s really not cool for someone to vandalize it.

Crazy christmas lights

Not our neighbor’s house…but similar

Then again, my guess about the police visit could be totally off-base. Maybe the manger-scene dude called the police about the light show across the street from him, which features so much nutjob ornamentation that the owners must need to rent a storage locker during off-season. A giant Grinch, a family of snowpeople, a hundred candy canes, gingerbread men, all blazing with lights. We can only hope they turn it off before midnight so the neighbors can sleep without having flashbacks of sordid motel overnighters. I could picture a war breaking out between these two neighbors. Maybe Manger Dude asked North-Pole Dude to tone it down a little. Maybe North-Pole Dude ran across the road and put a flashing, sequined baby blanket on the Savior. Who knows? Maybe this has been going on for 20 years. One thing’s for sure—the new LBHQ is situated in interesting territory.

hoparazzi_bottlesScary and I can’t get at our balls right now, so we’re staring out the window psychoanalyzing the neighbors. Between us is a HOPARAZZI lager from Parallel 49, a curious choice on the part of my dad, especially with winter so close. (Scary says winter won’t come, ever.) My dad never buys IPA for its own sake. It might ride along in a sampler pack, but generally he doesn’t like a fierce hop shitkicking, and neither does my mum. Dad makes an exception when the hop factor is nuanced and citrusy, as it is in HOPARAZZI. Pale gold and sparkling with fizz, the Pacific West Coast hops’ berserker potential is mitigated by crystal malt, resulting in a well-behaved almost-IPA with an incredibly full mouthfeel and refreshing summery kick. Weighing in at 6% alcohol and 50 IBU, HOPARAZZI isn’t a misnomer; to enjoy it, you have to like hops, although you might not like all hops brewed by all breweries. HOPARAZZI doesn’t kick your ass with hops—it just taunts you a little. Sort of like hanging out with Scary all day when he’s too hungry to make a hostile move.

He is talking apocalypse, though, and with only 16 days remaining, his current theory is volcanism. Yes, my fellow inebriates, Scary figures we’re overdue for a cataclysmic eruption like the one that happened in India 65 million years ago, busting out a quarter-million cubic miles of lava and wiping us out the way he says it did the dinosaurs. The amount of chlorine-bearing compounds unleashed on the ozone layer will turn our little blue marble into a hothouse. We’ll need refreshments. Better stock up on HOPARAZZI.

Balls!

My Fellow Inebriates,

Our Canadian Cream is almost ready for consumption. Not that we haven’t had a small sip already, but at the end of this week it should be as good as it’s going to get—i.e., ready to chug. I have a few nagging worries, though.

Canadian Cream Label copyWhen we made the liqueur, we bought a one-litre carton of whipping cream. Two and a half cups went into the mix, my mum put half a cup or so in some solid-food risotto-like thing, and the rest sat in the fridge with nothing to do. Recycling day came along and, since the unused cream was two days away from expiry, we gave it a sniff. OMG! Holy shit, people! That cream smelled rank. Holy crap, two days early the stuff was horrid. Mum poured it down the drain and rinsed the carton…but it was hard not to look at our giant Canadian Cream jug and think…the same cream’s in there! OMG!

That’s really the reason we got into it early—to make sure it wasn’t off. You wouldn’t want to take a big slug of sour milk products and end up barfing. But it smelled fine. It tasted fine.

Alcohol keeps food from going off.

So what is this amazing preservative power of alcohol all about? How does it work?

Simply put, alcohol is poisonous. At concentrations above 15 percent, bacteria and fungi can’t survive. That having been said, cream-liqueur experts advise against keeping homemade concoctions more than a few weeks, and only then in the fridge. Roger that—we’d better finish this shit now. Review…on the way 😉

To this sage advice, my mum said, “Oh. I guess we’d better not make another batch then. It’ll be enough to get through this lot.”

This is exactly the opposite of what I meant. Of course we should make another batch. Right now.

But instead she said we were going to make whisky balls.

rum balls

I was immediately suspicious. Another recipe requiring us to cook with booze? OMG! The angels’ share is supposed to be miniscule—the tiny portion that evaporates naturally, not liberal gases spewing into the air from a hot saucepan. Damn it, why do the angels get any of our booze? Aren’t they supposed to be perfect creatures? Not addicts jonesing in distillery cask rooms.

“Relax,” said my mother. “Behave yourself.”

Apparently you don’t cook whisky balls.

They’re just like rum balls, which you don’t cook either—only they’re made by people who are too ungenerous to buy rum for loveable bears who have repeatedly requested it. Whisky balls are a not-horrible-sounding variation on rum balls. Let’s do this shit.

Here’s what we need:
  • 3 ¼ cups vanilla wafer crumbs
  • ¾ cup icing sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 ½ cup walnuts 
  • 3 tbsp light corn syrup
  • ½ cup whisky

Life is a compromise at LBHQ, so we’re using graham crumbs. We have to do this without Miss V seeing, or she will demand a bowlful of them (not that she would deign to eat a graham cracker).

Next two ingredients: check.

Walnuts…the kids will bitch a very great deal if walnuts go into this recipe. But perhaps they shouldn’t be the arbiters of our whisky-ball ingredients.

Corn syrup is one of those things that doesn’t age, and ours is probably older than I am. We’re going to use it anyway.

As for throwing half a cup of Canadian whisky into this recipe…what the hell. The plastic Wiser’s jug is enormous and its somewhat atonal siren song has been relentless lately—better do something with it other than just pound it. Sigh.

rum ball mixingOkay, so you really just mix all this stuff up and shape it into balls. (OMG, I’m not even allowed to help with that—what’s the big deal, a little fur?) Then you sequester your balls away for a few days in an airtight container so the flavor can mellow. Five days is about ideal. But it’s hard to be away from your balls for five days. You might find yourself opening the container and sniffing your balls every so often, wondering if they’re ripe.

Whisky or whiskey balls?

If your balls are Scottish, Canadian, or Japanese, they’re whisky balls.

If your balls are American or Irish, they’re whiskey balls. As a rule of thumb, if your country has an “e” in the spelling, so does your whisk(e)y and any balls made therefrom.