Friday, February 15, 2013

More hops!

As I mentioned previously, Peter and I have been brewing beer for just about a year now. We've had some failures, but made a lot more drinkable beer than we thought we would. It's a great hobby, especially because it brings with it a great community. Overall, homebrewers tend to be pretty cool people, and very supportive of each other, expert or beginner.

To that end, let's get some support out there for a new corner of the homebrewing universe (yeah, now I create universes). Peter's way more active on Twitter than I am (if you follow him, you know what I mean) and he's been following @fermentedtees for awhile. Recently, they announced that their new  website was just about ready to go live, and would anyone like to review one of their shirts. You know I was all over that!

Although they don't have a ton of designs to choose from, it still took me a while to decide. I do like the simple announcement of the homebrewer shirt.

An easy way to warn people that if they start talking to you about beer, they're going to be stuck for awhile, and probably going home with a six-pack (please tell me my husband isn't the only one that does that to unsuspecting water testers and HVAC guys)

In the end, I settled on Add More Hops. Good advice and a "cuter" shirt, IMO. Hey, I may make beer, but I'm still a girl, cute wins me over.
Ignore the red polka dot on my middle, my shirt was a victim of Valentine's Day red velvet cupcake making

Fermented tees shirts are screen printed on 100% cotton ultra Glidan t-shirts, and they are a really nice quality. The shirts are a nice thick fabric, which I've already washed a couple of times without any shrinking or pilling. I do wish they offered "women's" shirts, because the cut tends to be more flattering than men's, but I'm just going to hem some length off this shirt so I can stop folding the bottom off my hips.

Since I received my shirt, Fermented Tees has gone live, so head over there and check out the shirts they have for your favorite homebrewer. Don't see anything you like? They accept designs and ideas for designs, so put your creative mind to work!

What do you think? Are you dying for that retro "Yes, dear" shirt? Got a great new idea to send to Brian? Haven't gotten bitten by the homebrew bug yet?

Disclaimer: I received a t-shirt from FermentedTees free for review, the opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Year

I know it's cliched to start out the new year with lofty goals about being a better, thinner, healthier, richer, person, but, well I'm going to do it anyway. Except for the thinner thing.

I had a conversation with my cousins last year in which it came out that apparently everyone thinks I'm a put together, organized adult or something. Which is kind of hilarious to me, because most of the time, I feel like my life is a runaway train, and I'm barely keeping my fingertips on the caboose. Or, something that makes sense.

What it comes down to is I'm going to focus some of my energy into getting my life together so I can be at least a little like this persona I apparently present to the world.
Let's call it project get my sh*t together.  

The house
    Our house is over a hundred years old, and while that means its got some awesome features, it also has a ton of problems. For an old house, we have a good amount of storage, yet I always feel like I'm searching for places to put stuff. Part of that problem is the amount of stuff we have, and I plan on tackling that, but I like my stuff, I'm not going to part with all of it. 
     On the heels of the stuff issue, is the mess issue. I have a 3 year old, I know my house isn't going to be up to Martha standards, but I also don't think I need to have a deep down fear that someone may stop by before I've had a chance to take a couple of days to clean. Right now, my cleaning schedule is haphazard and consists of looking at something grody, realizing that I can't remember the last time I scrubbed said area, getting disgusted, then cleaning said area. For my own sanity, this must change. 

The garden
    My mother had not just a green thumb, but a couple of greens hands. The house I grew up in had amazing gardens, and I never realized just how much went into making them that way. Now, I have almost an acre of land, and every spring I am so excited to get my hands in the dirt. That excitement lasts until about June, when the reality of weeds and heat set in and I get over the whole thing. I'm going to try to improve on that this year. Peter's already thinking about what vegetables we're going to grow, and we're going to try to solve our groundhog problem (hopefully without ammunition), but since it's currently 22 degrees outside, this one is heading to the back burner for a while.

     Ugh. I don't think I can actually improve on the technical aspects of my job. I do the best I can every day I'm there, and I AM only one person. What I can try to improve on is my attitude about my job. I really do like pharmacy in general, and retail in particular. I do not love the company I work for and the non-pharmacy crap that they pile on us to no end. However, the burn out inducing stress is not the patient's fault. I need to remember that.

    Until recently, I was a prolific knitter. Hats, gloves, sweaters, I made them all. My guest room is filled with bins of yarn. I have a spinning wheel and literal sheep worth of fleece. And short of the sweaters I've made for 2 babies, I've done nothing with it for 2 years. This needs to change. 
     I've been doing better with sewing than knitting, at least as far as actually doing it. I would like to improve on my actual skills though. I've been sewing for a really long time, but I was only "taught" the basics of how to run a machine, read a pattern, etc. I can make stuff that looks good, and fits ok, but I'd really like to know how to do those things well and correctly. 

So, there you go. Some areas of focus for getting my sh*t together.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Yeah, I have time for another hobby

So for his birthday last year, my lovely in-laws got Peter a complete set of homebrewing equipment. We were quite excited to try making both beer and wine at home, and demonstrated our excitement but putting the kit in our closet and letting it rest for a year. Seriously, why does time move so quickly when I'm not at work? A couple of weeks ago, we finally got it together to visit a brew store and get a couple of ingredient kits. Since my first choice (Pumpkin Spice Porter) is a seasonal beer, not available until the summer, we decided to start with Imperial Nut Brown Ale and Red Ale. Less than a month later, and we've got the nut brown ale conditioning in a secondary fermenter, red ale beginning to ferment in a primary bucket, and a growing list of recipes we can't wait to try. As Peter says, "we're beer people now"
According to the owners of more than 1 brew store, the most important part of the process is sanitation. Accordingly, my kitchen got a good scrub down with bleach before we started. I will let Peter brew anything legal if it means I get to live in this environment. Look, you can see counter space!

Ah, that's more what I'm used to
Preparing the grains to go into the water to steep for 20 minutes. See my monster new brewing pot? 24 quarts, that thing is HEAVY when full.
Making sure the temperature doesn't get too high. Over 170 and tannins can start to come out.
Even though it looks like she's giving her daddy a rather rude gesture, Gabriella was actually being such a good girl, keeping herself occupied while we worked. Side note, know which game she's playing? OREGON TRAIL!!! Love the Nook!
Also, she's a good helper.
MMmm hop pellets!
After boiling for an hour, you've got to get the wort cooled down quickly so that bacteria don't have a chance to establish. Filling our sink with ice water did it in about 20 minutes.
The only time in the process that you want to aerate the mixture. Gotta get some oxygen in there for the yeasties!
Yeast ready for pitching. Ladies, I married the man who takes these pictures of me. I know you're jealous
Time to leave the yeast alone to enjoy their feast!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's dinner

So I kind of dropped off the face of the earth there. Sorry about that. I'm back now.

So, it's February, which may seem like the absolute worst time for a blog that is supposed to be about our adventures in local farm wares, but our CSA is actually STILL going on. Technically, it's not the same share that we paid for last winter, but the farm that we use decided to attempt a winter share this year, and we were lucky enough to catch the email in time to sign up. The terms changed slightly, we know have pick up only twice a month instead of every week, but the cost was adjusted accordingly, and the veggies are just as yummy. We've been getting a great variety of winter hardy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, winter squash, turnips and carrots. I'm still supplementing somewhat with things from the grocery store, but that's just because we eat so healthily, right? Well, a girl can try to fool herself at least.

Tonight, I wanted to make something somewhat special for my valentines. I mean, how else would they know how much I love them, if i didn't show it on this particular day??

Hallmark guilt aside, we did have a pretty yummy meal, while managing to be at least marginally good for us. My parents had given us some ham (no, they're not now raising swine, they had just found a good sale) and my go to for leftover ham is good old-fashioned homemade macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, my mommy guilt kicks in when I start to plan meals without vegetation, no matter how delicious, so I decided to add in some greens (and oranges and whites)

Mac and cheese with ham,broccoli, cauliflower, kale and butternut squash
And you know what? It was DELICIOUS! It's not that you can't taste the veggies in there. I'm not really into the idea of hiding veggies so that kids don't know that they're eating them. Of course, I'm lucky enough to have a kid who will eat just about anything, my stance on hiding them may change.
The first of two servings

Of course, it IS a holiday, and I'm not a health tyrant. Gabriella has been wanting to make cupcakes for WEEKS, and we finally got it together today.

I've had some heart shaped cupcake cups for ages, and never broke them out of the packaging until today. This is one of those simple little things that I just love doing with the little Miss. She can definitely be a nudge, and scares the beejezus out of me with sticking her fingers near the mixer while it's running, but it's worth it.

I mean, how can you resist that "cheese" face?

And you may think that the cupcake that is super duper covered in sprinkles was Bella's doing, but you'd be wrong. The massive sugar overload was Peter's doing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

In which I reveal just how impressionable I can be

I work in a retail setting, and although my current store is far to busy to allow me to keep up with celebrity gossip the way some of my former stores did, I do have a clear view of the magazine display at our checkout counter. For the last month, the cover of Martha Stewart Living has been teasing me, especially on the days that I don't get a chance to eat.

That deliciousness is marinated heirloom tomatoes with pasta, and it is damn near perfection for a summer dinner.

We threw this dinner together Tuesday night after I got home from work, so it's a good thing it's a quick and easy meal. It wasn't as garlicky as I thought it would be after reading the recipe, but it had a really great flavor, and it's just so pretty!

We used a mix of heirloom tomatoes from the CSA and our garden. Definitely going into the arsenal of recipes to use up tomatoes without making the typical pasta sauce.

Friday, August 12, 2011

CSA Week 11

So apparently I've skipped a couple of weeks of the CSA. There hasn't been much variety in the pick ups, so while delicious, things have not been overly interesting. Gabriella is fingerpainting at the moment though, so we can chat a bit about yesterday's pick-up.

Lettuce, two huge sweet onions, green beans, potatoes from North Star's potato breeding project, tomatillos, and a couple zucchini and eggplant.
Think it looks a little light for a farm share in the height of the growing season? You're right, it is.

Well, it's August, which means ...

Seven pounds of tomatoes in fact. Did I mention that we have 7 purposely planted and a few volunteer plants of our own and we're swimming in tomatoes. Yeah, there will be some sauce making in the near future.

Here's the actual bounty picture from yesterday

Since last night was the official return of football, even if it was just preseason, we needed an easy to eat in front of the TV meal. Add in 7 pounds of tomatoes, and we opted for pizza again.

One of my favorite things about pizza is just how versatile it is. Start with the same simple dough and you can end up with a ton of different meals. Of course, Peter is a traditionalist, so we made another margherita for him. 
Basil pesto, fresh tomato slices and mozzarella

We piled quite a few things on "my" pizza. Yes, it was a more labor intensive preparation, but I think it was worth it
Whoa, scary hand there.
Roasted eggplant and cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, green peppers with ricotta and mozzarella

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It can't be good to crave time off so much

I actually have a pretty decent schedule as far as retail pharmacy is concerned. Because I work the one 14 hour day, I'm off two full days during the week. I look forward to Monday and Thursday like nobody's business. Since this past weekend was my turn to work, I didn't get a ton of fun time with the munchkin, so yesterday, we decided to ignore the chores that should get done and have a fun family day.
We started the morning

at a local supermarket/restaurant, Dutchway. They have an awesome breakfast buffet which is normally a good deal (I think it's $6.99 for adults & $0.50/year of age for children), but had a special through July that it was only $4.99 on Mondays. I'm not sure the three of us could go to even McDonald's for breakfast for less than 15 dollars, and we definitely wouldn't have eaten nearly as much or as well.
I'm really bad at showing restraint at buffets, so since we all consumed approximately 80 million calories at breakfast, we then headed to Wolf's Hollow county park for some exercise. We did a combination of the blue and yellow trails, so we're approximating that we did about 2 miles of hiking.
Overall, the terrain isn't too difficult (says the one who didn't carry the toddler), but there are some steep hills
This picture really does not give that hill justice
We saw some wildlife
Big ass spider


Crazy grasshopper hanging out on my leg
and some beautiful sights
Taken at Lover's Leap, although there isn't much of a leap this far into the summer. Maybe in the winter when all the plants are dead. Yesterday, it was so dense that we could hear the creek, but couldn't see even a glimpse of it

The bullfrog was in those reeds next to the little semi island

Peter was worried about my getting over the fords with dry feet since I only had sneakers and no boots. I reminded him that it's been in the high nineties for a week. The creek was quite low

I love standing on fallen trees over water
The best thing about the hiking trails in this park is that they are all in fairly heavily wooded areas. I didn't even bother with sunscreen, and it was relatively cool. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours together.
She's not in pain, she's saying cheese

Plus, even though Peter carried her for a lot of the hike, Gabriella did walk and run a lot. There is nothing like a tuckered out child for having an easy bedtime.