Author: Megan N Baker

Social Media Specialist at the Boston Beer Company. Interests include: beer, America, politics, and puppies.

#YesAllWomen: Unlocking Honest Conversations

Just this past weekend I was at a bar in Boston waiting for friends to meet up with me. I’m notoriously early for pretty much everything, so I knew I could expect to hang at the bar by myself for a good 15-20 minutes. I pulled up a stool, ordered a beer and some food, and did what anyone who is waiting for people naturally does: buried my nose in my iPhone.

After about 5 minutes or so, a large man in his mid to late 30’s stumbled over to me and tried to sit on me. I kid you not. I asked him, “excuse me, can I help you?” And he went on to try to buy me a beer. I had a full beer next to me so I declined (to be clear, I would have declined even if that hadn’t been the case). The bartender eyed me and could tell I was getting quite uncomfortable as this man was draping himself on me, nearly knocking my chair over. He asked me if I was good, so I turned to the man and said “I don’t know, am I good? Are things going to be okay here?”

He continued to try to put his hands on me, and at one point ended up putting his head in my lap. This is when I pushed him off and the bartenders had him back off. (Which even then, took a while to make really happen).

If you know me, you know I don’t typically take shit from anyone. Looking back, I’m almost a little surprised at how I handled the situation – but you never really know until you’re in it what you will do. For me, I made the choice to not be aggressive as this guy was a good 6-8 inches taller than me and had a good 100 pounds on me. I was alone, so if things escalated I don’t know what would have happened.

The thing that bothered me the most however is that the guy who was being this way towards me had an entire table of friends sitting directly behind us and they did nothing to stop his behavior. I was sitting right next to two men who also did nothing, even though I feel like it had to have been incredibly clear that I was extremely uncomfortable.

Did I mention it was only around 6PM when this happened?

Was there something I could have done to end the situation sooner? Maybe. But I refuse to let myself feel guilty over this.

I wasn’t going to write about this (mainly because I didn’t want to upset my mother), but after reading some pretty poignant #YesAllWomen Tweets, I’m opening up.

As a woman, there are certain things I just shouldn’t do or else it will put me at risk. From going inside a bar alone before my friends get there to having cab drivers straight up ask me about my love life (seriously, this happens to me all the time), I am put into some incredibly awkward and potentially dangerous situations just because of my gender.

I don’t think this conversation is supposed to make us scared or be hateful or suspicious of men. To me, it lets women know that you are not alone. It gave them a space to share something that they probably never shared before. It uncovered a problem that people have just accepted as a part of life; even though it doesn’t have to be this way.

Feminism isn’t a dirty word. It’s necessary for progress, and it certainly isn’t a label reserved for females. I hope this conversation continues and that both women and men look into what is being said – and I hope they listen.

 

 

2013 Year in Review: Winter

Well since my flight get delayed by an hour and a half, I’ve found myself with some spare time. Might as well wrap up this series! Here’s what went down this winter:

Thanksgiving trip to DC + Dogfish Head 

Every Thanksgiving for the past few years I have taken the opportunity to go on a trip. This year, my friends Katie, Tim, and Eryn took a trip to DC and Delaware for the long weekend.

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday in DC where we rented an apartment through Air bnb (which started out as a nightmare when the person fell asleep and couldn’t let us in so we had to get a hotel, but it all ended well in the end). It was really fun to prepare a Thanksgiving meal with friends and enjoy one another’s company.

On the second day in DC we headed out and did some sightseeing before making the drive to Delaware. As someone who has an over the top love for America, it is always great for me to walk around DC checking out the monuments.

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Then it was off to Delaware! We rented a really cute little house in Rehoboth that was right near the downtown area. We did a lot of eating at the Dogfish Head Brew Pub, which was a really amazing experience. We had totally awesome service, had access to a ton of different Dogfish beers, and the food was great! It was awesome to see the experience of their brand come to life in such a way – I was totally impressed.

Then it was off to tour the brewery! We did the public tour which was really interesting and fun, but the highlight of the day at the brewery was definitely getting to go behind the scenes and check out pretty much anything we wanted to! A huge thank you to Rebecca (who used to work in the R&D lab at Sam and is now working at Dogfish Head) for showing us such a good time. It was an experience I will never forget.

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Holiday Party at 23 Union (2nd Annual Post ‘PIC Party’ Party)

Every year my roommates and I host a holiday party which had ended up serving as an after party that non-profit folks hit up. It was a really fun time this year (as always). Sadly this is the last holiday party we will have together as roommates, but I’m sure Katrina will continue to host this at her place in the future and you better believe I will be there (with beer in hand).

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SA – Rebel IPA Launch Party & Holiday Party with Joe 

In terms of work, December was a very busy (but very fun) month.

We recently launched a new West Coast style IPA called Rebel and had been hosting some pretty awesome launch parties around the country. In December we hosted our Boston kick-off at The Middle East in Cambridge. We had live artwork with some of the incredibly talented artists out of Project SF and live music from a great local band, Viva Viva. I was really psyched that my friend Damon was able to make it out to the event – it was such a blast.

If you want to check out the event, we did a time lapsed video of the artwork and the event:

We also had our annual holiday party which was really nice. Joe ended up making it out for the weekend and we had a really excellent time (despite his lack of a smile in this photo). Thanks to Joe for being such a great +1!

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Home for the Holidays

I kicked off the holidays with a mini high school reunion of sorts. A bunch of us took a party bus to a Buffalo Bills game and it was such a killer time. I hadn’t been to a Bills game since I was like 5 years old, so as you can imagine, it was a completely different experience more than 20 years later. And it’s always nice to be there when the Bills “Squish the Fish.”

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Other highlights included:

  • Seeing Elton John in concert in the Garden – that dude rocks.
  • Visiting with Lauren for a night in NYC (we had gone a year without seeing each other – not cool).
  • Spending the night in Manchester with Emerald, Damond and the CYNH crew for “dogs and logs” – complete with a bar playing Taking Back Sunday the whole night and me kicking ass in a dance off at said bar.
  • Meeting my cousin’s baby Natalie for the first time – such a cutie.
  • Meeting my paren’t new puppy Caroline for the first time – also cute.

I think it goes without saying that 2013 was a really fun year. I made a lot of amazing memories, made a few big changes in my life, and made a lot of new friends. I’m looking forward to what 2014 is going to bring.

2013 Year in Review: Fall

I gotta say – this fall felt pretty amazing. It was my first fall since I moved to Boston that I wasn’t a graduate student and I certainly took advantage of all of the extra free time that I had!

One of the things I did was join the board of AmeriCorps Alums Boston. I have been pretty heavily involved with them since I moved here thanks to my City Year connections, but now that I was not working at City Year and had some free time on my hands, I wanted to become involved on a deeper level. It was really great getting to know this group of people and I have really enjoyed being on the board thus far.

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Another thing I was able to do that I have wanted to do for the past four years? Watch a damn Bills game! I was fortunate enough to have Kelly Brandt (and her lovely roommate Kat) live in Boston for the fall and winter. Not only did I have two more people to hang out with, but I had a buddy who loves the Bills even more than I do to accompany me to watch the games at Bleacher Bar and/or The Harp! Shout-out to Bleacher Bar for always having buckets of Blue Light and garbage plates. Great way to spend a Sunday!

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As for work stuff, I got to experience my first OctoberFest at the Castle, which was a lot of fun. I also had the opportunity to work a beer fest at Mohegan Sun, also a first. It was an incredibly busy fall (but I’m noticing that it is pretty much always going to be incredibly busy). Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I had the opportunity to go home in October to celebrate Kelly Zepp (now Bonaldi)’s wedding! It was really great to spend time with her and be a part of her special day. I have known her since my first day at Fisher and was there throughout the beginning phases of her relationship with John. It made me so happy to know that she is spending her life with someone who is really great for her. The wedding was SO much fun and it was beautiful – definitely a day I won’t soon forget.

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The end of the fall brought a couple interesting happenings – some sad and one very happy. A couple days after I went home for Kelly’s wedding, my parents had to put our dog Maxie to sleep. She had been suffering from seizures for a while and it was just time. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to say goodbye to her – she had been a part of my life for just over ten years. She was a crazy dog, but she was mine. I miss her a lot but am thankful that I had her in my life for as long as I did.

Another (more significant) heartbreak was that my Uncle Brian passed away. He had been fighting ALS for some time, which if you don’t know anything about, is a horrific disease. It was really hard to know all this was happening and to not be able to be there for my aunt and cousins. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them and what they’ve been through. Their strength has been truly inspiring to me.

As for the happy stuff I promised, my brother and his girlfriend announced that they were having a baby. It was really insane at first to think about my brother being a father, but as the time gets closer I get more and more excited. They are having a girl and her name is going to be Bailee Ann Baker. I can’t wait to have her be here and to quite frankly, spoil the shit outta her. I know my family is all so thrilled to have her in our lives and we all can’t wait to meet her.

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2013 Year in Review: Summer

Alright. I’m sick of feeling guilty every time I log into my blog for not finishing my year in review. This is something I have done for the past several years and for some reason I’m really struggling with doing it this year. I think that it’s because it really was a momentous year for me – I finished graduate school, got a new job, (spoiler alert) I found out I have a niece on the way. So for the remainder of the series, I’m going to do it by season. Trust me, it will be fine.

Summer Academy 

What can I possibly say about Summer Academy? It is intense, inspiring, a shit ton of work, hilarious, a bonding experience like no other, deeply gratifying…. I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

I thoroughly enjoyed Summer Academy this year. It was of course bittersweet because I was leaving City Year the week after it was over, but I honestly wouldn’t have wanted to end my City Year(s) any other way. I have been involved with Summer Academy for the past couple years and there was something really special about it this year (and I’m not just saying that).

I can’t thank the tremendous team and leadership enough for working so hard to create such an incredible experience and for helping me transition to the next phase of my professional life. You all mean so much to me and I will never forget the time we had together. Truly.

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Ginmann’s Wedding

Man – Ginmann and Grace really know how to throw a party! I had such an awesome time at their wedding – was so grateful to be a part of their special day.

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New Job

After the craziness of Summer Academy, I had one last week of work then a three day weekend before I started my new gig. I was SO nervous. On my one day off I took before I started, my new boss called me and let me know that we would be meeting with the CEO and founder of the company on my first day. Of course I freaked out over what the heck I was going to wear – the dress code at BBC is much more lax than City Year was, and has a pretty wide range. I could wear a dress one day and jeans the next and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. So I spent that whole day anxiously shopping around Cambridge Galleria to figure out what in the hell to wear (not quite the relaxing day I was hoping for).

Looking back, that was incredibly silly. Everyone was so welcoming and dare I say excited to have me there. I’m so grateful for Jess Infante for immediately introducing me into her social circle and making me feel like I wasn’t an outsider from day one, and for my team who put me to work right away and for being patient with me as I asked tons and tons of questions.

One of the (many) cool things about BBC is that when you start, you get to go through an Orientation. It is really great because you get a whirlwind look at a lot of aspects of the company – its history, the beer making process, sales, brewery tours, you name it. You also get to have a ton of fun and start your career with a great new group of friends all over the country (much like City Year).

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The week before Orientation I went home for the weekend for Kelly Zep-er Bonaldi’s bridal shower. It was really great to be home to spend time with my family and see friends. I went and checked out Roc Brewing Co. (which you should definitely check out if you live in the Rochester area!) with my family and had dinner at Aladdin’s (another one of my favorite things in Rochester). Was really nice to spend time with just the four of us – that is definitely a rarity.

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So there you have it – that was my summer. Up next? Fall…

Dinner & A Beer: Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa, Corn, and Green Chiles

In my last post I told you about the wonder that is spaghetti squash. Tonight, I’m going to tell you about an amazing little grain called quinoa.

I first discovered quinoa when I was living in San Jose. One of my roommates Greg used to cook with it all the time. I don’t think I had ever seen it before that point. Quinoa is the perfect substitute for rice. It is high in protein, is a good source of dietary fiber, serves as a source of calcium for vegans, and is gluten free (if you’re into that sort of thing whether by choice or circumstance).

I typically cook with quinoa at least once a week. One of my favorite recipes that I found on Pinterest that I highly recommend is Quinoa Fried Rice. In my version, I add Sriracha chicken, but you can also make the vegetarian version and it is still quite filling.

When I was looking around Pinterest for a recipe to make for this week, the one I went with for tonight really caught my eye. I have done stuffed peppers before but have never tried doing the same with tomatoes. I’m a big tomato fan, and when I saw that this dish incorporated spicy peppers and cheese, I was sold. And of course, I’m always happy to find another use for quinoa.

Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa, Corn, and Green Chiles (original recipe found here)

Ingredients (makes two servings):

  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 chopped white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Italian spices
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 oz canned green chiles
  • shredded cheese (if desired – but I mean, come on)

Quinoa is something that I was intimidated to make at first, but it’s actually quite easy. Typically, I cook it 1 dry cup at a time so I can use the batch for two different meals (I’m going to make the Quinoa Fried Rice for lunch later in the week). There are a couple different ways that you can do it, but I will go with explaining what this particular brand suggested. Boil 1 1/4 cups of water (I add 1 tsp of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper to taste). When it comes to a boil, add 1 cup uncooked, rinsed quinoa. Cover pot and simmer for 12 minutes. Fluff with a fork when completed. (Yup – that’s it!)

While the quinoa was simmering, I chopped my onions and garlic and then put them in a frying pan on medium heat with olive oil. Once translucent, I added the corn, green chiles, salt, pepper, cumin, and lime juice. I then let stand for 10 minutes on medium heat. I also pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees.

The next step was to hollow out the tomatoes. I simply cut a circle around the top of the tomato then scooped the flesh out with a spoon. I squeezed the flesh over the corn and green chile mixture to add some tomato juice into it. (Also saved the flesh to cut up for a salad for tomorrow). Then I added some seasoned salt into the inside of the tomatoes and filled them with the corn and green chile mixture and of course, topped with cheese.

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I then placed the tomatoes in the oven for 15 minutes. Once the cheese looked properly melted, I took it out of the oven and poured myself a Black Lager, which was tonight’s beer pairing (and one of my personal favorite beers in general).

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I was really, really happy with how this dish turned out. The one thing I would note is that it definitely needed some hot sauce. But that just might be me – I would put hot sauce on hot sauce if I could. I even keep a bottle of hot sauce at my desk at work just in case I ever need it!

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If you live in the Boston area, you should definitely pick up a bottle of Alex’s Ugly Sauce. It is made locally in Roslindale and it is one of my favorite hot sauces. You can usually pick it up at farmer’s markets around Boston and it is also available at the Whole Foods in Jamaica Plain.

I hope you guys are enjoying this new addition to the blog! I promise I will still do life updates and such, but wanted to give myself another outlet for my new found love of cooking. If you have any recipe, ingredient, or beer suggestions that you would like to see in the future, let me know in the comments!

Dinner & A Beer: Spaghetti Squash Tacos

Yeah – you read that right. Spaghetti squash tacos.

I’ll admit it, I was pretty skeptical of this recipe, but I had some leftover spaghetti squash from a meal I had made earlier in the week, so I figured I would put it to use. Man, am I glad that I did!

If you haven’t cooked with spaghetti squash before, you’re totally missing out. It is called spaghetti squash because when you cook it (it can be steamed, baked, or microwaved – I’ll let you guess which route I take) the flesh becomes very stringy, just like spaghetti. It is a great substitute for spaghetti – per 100g, it has 31 calories and 7g of carbohydrates compared to 371 calories and 75g of carbohydrates of your run of the mill white pasta. I’m a big pasta easter, and I think that the texture and taste is very passable. And when you add in the health benefits, it is definitely worth making the switch.

For those of you who are hip to spaghetti squash, I’m sure you’re like me and want to figure out different ways to incorporate it into meals. If you’re already a believer, I highly recommend trying out this recipe.

Spaghetti Squash Tacos (original recipe found here)

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 can corn (I used frozen)
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chili peppers
  • Wheat tortillas (or shell of choice)
  • Salsa, Cheese, Sour Cream (or toppings of choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

The easiest way (in my opinion) to prepare spaghetti squash is in the microwave. The way I do it is make slits in the spaghetti squash (just poke it with a sharp knife around the circumference) and put it in the microwave for 15 minutes. Once it is heated up, remove it and let sit for two minutes. Then cut off the edge of the top and bottom and then cut lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and toss out. Take your fork and scoop out the strands, set aside.

Since my spaghetti squash was already cooked, I heated it up in a frying pan with a tsp of olive oil and added the spices.

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After about two minutes, I added the vegetables (which were leftovers from my butternut squash and black bean enchiladas). And sautéed them on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

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As the mixture heated, I put my wheat tortillas in the microwave for 45 seconds. Finally, I constructed the tacos with the filling and toppings and made my beer selection. Tonight, I went with a Cold Snap (I promise I won’t always go with a Sam, but as you probably know I am incredibly biased).

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This meal was incredibly quick and easy to make and was really filling. Definitely think I’ll be adding this recipe into my regular rotation! I only used a quarter of a spaghetti squash to make two tacos, so it is great to know that I will have a new use for this great ingredient.

Dinner & a Beer: Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas

A lot of people have been approaching me lately about the meals I’ve been making and posting on Instagram. Since they have been getting a lot of positive feedback, I thought I would add a new segment to the blog: Dinner & A Beer.

I really only started cooking for myself regularly this past fall. Before I never really had the time or interest to do it. To me, making a fancy dinner was throwing some spinach in with my spaghetti. I promised myself that once I finished graduate school I would start eating better (which was jump started by an awesome co-worker who would make me some pretty awesome dinners on class night – thanks Brie!)

Once I finished school, I did the most sensible thing for a social media nut – I started using Pinterest. I created a Food board where I would pin all of the recipes that I wanted to try to make – and then I took the next step and actually started making them. The goal was pretty simple: try two new recipes a week, usually incorporating an ingredient I wasn’t familiar with. Before I knew it, I was buying spaghetti squash on a weekly basis (despite accidentally buying an acorn squash the first time I went to buy it), started incorporating kale into salads, and actually using the plethora of spices my roommate has in the cabinet.

While I’m not one of those people who can eat the same meal for days on end (which was another reason I hadn’t been cooking – cooking for one can be expensive and time consuming, especially if you don’t want to eat the same thing for a few meals), I started prepping ahead of time and actually planning out meals for the week.

While it’s not a perfect system – I still allow myself to go out for lunch once a week – it has been a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying trying new foods at home. If you’re interested in checking out the recipes I have tried out so far, you can check out my Recipes I’ve Made board on Pinterest.

The recipe I’m featuring tonight is one of the ones from that board that has become part of my regular rotation of meals. It is quick, easy, healthy, and really filling. It’s also something I don’t mind eating a couple days in a week, which is great.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas (original recipe found here)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red enchilada sauce
  • 1 can black beans
  • 10 oz can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled butternut squash, cut 1/2-inch-dice (I used frozen butternut squash)
  • 1 cup corn (I used frozen corn – frozen vegetables have become my best friend)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese
  • reduced-fat sour cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, pour 1/4 cup enchilada sauce along bottom of baking pan.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add frozen butternut squash and corn – sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. When tender, add remainder of vegetables (onion, garlic, rotel tomatoes, black beans) and spices (cumin, chili powder).  Simmer, stir occasionally until tender.

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Take out wheat tortillas and add filling – about 1/3 to 1/2 cup.

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Fold tortilla and place face down in the pan. Repeat to fill all tortillas (this would probably make up to 8 enchiladas, but my pan was small so I only made 5 – am saving the filling for something I’m making later in the week).

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Pour remaining enchilada sauce over enchiladas, add shredded cheese (my favorite part, clearly). Put in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
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Serve on a plate – with a beer of course! I ended up going with a Double Agent IPL.

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Hope you enjoyed this first post! I’m excited to diversify my content a bit and share something else I’ve become passionate about. Next up: spaghetti squash tacos (yes – I am a bit skeptical of this one, we shall see how it goes)!