In Defense of PBR and Poor Man’s Pretzels

Beer and pretzels – a good companion to your favorite brew.  Recently disparaging comments were made to one of our faves – PBR, or Pabst Blue Ribbon.   The “God-awful” had me thinking back to my young’un days first tasting beer.  I felt the same way, and avoided PBR for some years.  As my exposure to various beers grew, I did some rethinking on what made a beer “good”.  Now I grew up around a lot of beer drinkin’ folks.  My father used to have a Sunday morning Rolling Rock with his brother.  Joey would come up the stairs with an open Rock in his hand and reach into his pants pocket to pull out one for my dad.  My father’s judgement ran to the location of the brewery – he wouldn’t drink anything from Newark because that meant the beer had “river water” in it.  Otherwise, it was OK.

In another life I helped make homebrew including growing hops in the backyard.  But the most fun has been trying beers we can’t buy at home while traveling on our motorcycles.  Back to PBR – Mr. Mike re-introduced me to it.  I liked its’ smoothness that held up whether ice cold or close to room temp.  The King of Beers needs to be drunk ice cold or the hoppy fizz is hard to swallow.  I have drunk it room temp but that’s another story.  And yeah, PBR is cheap.  If it’s cheap it’s no good, right?  Sounds like a lot of other stuff that passes for good these days but is really you-know-what.  Truth is, many good beers exist, both cheap and expensive.  PBR is cheap, which is excellent for those of us lacking gainfulness, and is good company with pretzels.  Give me a pool table with intact felt, straight sticks, a PBR and SEC football on the TV.  Don’t need much else.

The Poor Mans Pretzel recipe is based on a common bread to the South, but more on that in another post.  Mr. Mike and I spent last weekend with his relations cleaning up an ancestral gravesite way back in the piney woods near the state line.  Two of his direct descendants were Scots-Irish born in the late 1700s.  They were buried in the 1820s.  Like the other Scots-Irish in the southern part of the state they lived off the land out of necessity.  Bread was not made with yeast because it wouldn’t survive in the hot, humid climate.  So they ate biscuits and cornbread leavened with baking powder and soda.  I like to think about them drinking a libation and eating something like this, baked in a cast iron skillet.

Poor Mans Pretzels

1 cup flour

2 Tablespoons shortening or lard (don’t recommend butter because it is not completely fat)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 Tablespoons egg white or egg substitute

Flake salt of your choice

Heat the oven to 400⁰F.  Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cut the shortening into the flour mixture until it looks like coarse meal.  Add the buttermilk and mix well (high tech fork works).

Cut the fat into the dry ingredients

Cut the fat into the dry ingredients

A soft dough should form; if necessary add more milk (a tablespoon at a time).  The dough should feel slightly sticky but not “cling” to your hand.

Soft and slightly sticky

Turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead lightly about 5 times.  Pat into a circle.  Roll the dough to about a 9-10” circle.

Cut into strips with a knife (don’t use your good paring knife, a butter type knife is fine).  Brush the dough with egg (or use a spoon like I did) and sprinkle with flake salt.

Place on a baking sheet a couple of inches apart and bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.

If you have leftovers, refresh them in a 300⁰F oven for about 5 minutes.

There will be a test

There will be a test

Pop the top on a PBR and kick back.

Ancestors would drink PBR

Ancestors would drink PBR

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