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.