Friday, May 11, 2012

Triple B.

Today has been fabulous.  I can't believe I was up before 7 on my day off.  But it was totally worth it.  I pulled Katarina out of the attic and prepped her last night for a ride.
She's in pretty good shape, but ready for a tune up.

Here's a shot from this morning's ride.

When I made it to Pottstown, Katarina was dropped off at the bike shop.  She'll get a tune up, new rear breaks and the handle bars will be re-taped.  The good news is that all in all the fellow at the shop said she was well built and he was surprised that I hadn't had her serviced before.  I can't wait until she's spruced up :)  I've had some knee pains lately when running, so I'm happy to integrate some long rides for cross-training.

The afternoon was filled with all things brew-tastic.  First we brewed a Brewers Best Summer Ale
It was much speedier being outside using the propane burner (used in the past for the turkey fryer) which meant we had a stellar rolling boil when necessary and no super humid kitchen.

I have two loves when it comes to home brewing.  My new found love is the spent grains.  If you've been reading my blog you can see the trial recipes I've been test tasting.  So, I'm excited to have another set of grains on my hands.  

My second favorite thing when it comes to brewing is the HOPS!  This kit included bittering hops, flavoring hops and aroma hops.  I pretty much sniffed each of them before they were added. 

And written over (and over) in The Complete Joy of Home Brewing "Relax! Have a home brew!"


And then we wait....

Time to chill....

We moved it inside to do it's thing....took a quick break and then preceded to bottle the Hefeweizen. 
It was in the second fermentation in a carboy from my dad.  (Thanks, Klaus.)

 And then we bottled....

A wonderful day.

Thanks, Billy for the pictures and the video and for the awesome day. (<3 you!)

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, May 10, 2012

breaking my own rules.

Let me start off by saying that when it comes to a new recipe, I'm a stickler.  I stick to the recipe....I figure there is time to play with it once I know how it works, especially when it comes to baking.  In cooking, there is much more room to play, but with baking it's more of a there is less wiggle room.  That being said, I tried a recipe for the first time and made a handful of's hoping it works out.

I started with the Moosewood Muffin recipe from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics.  It's a favorite cookbook of mine that falls open to the pizza section and the recipe for drunken beans. 

I have made these muffins before, but tonight I realized that my muffin tins are at my boyfriend's house, so now it will be a coffee cake.  And I replaced 1/2 a cup of the AP flour with whole wheat flour.  And, when it came to mixing the wet ingredients, I added 1/3 cup of spent grains.  (I had to connect it with brewing somehow, right?)  I added fresh strawberries and a handful of chocolate chips and dropped it into a greased 8X8 pan. 

Then I added the streusel topping, which is optional on the muffins....

I never think a topping with butter and sugar should be considered 'optional'.  In fact, they recommended that if you anticipate making muffins on a fairly regular basis, that you should just double the recipe, so it's easier in the future.  For the record, I can't remember the last time I made muffins, but just in case I doubled the streusel topping, you know, for those emergency muffins I have to crank out next week. 

And this is what it looked like after baking for almost 50 minutes...and sprinkled with confectioners sugar...

I was going to save this for breakfast....but I think a taste test tonight is an okay thing. 

Oh yes. recipe = success.

Until tomorrow . . .

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

brewing up trouble.

I swept the floors in the dining room, living room and foyer today. 

After sweeping, I used the pledge to shine it all up. 

shiny floors + laser pointer + cat = shenanigans.  (that is all)

And truthfully, that was most of my evening...watching the cat slide.

She'll sleep well tonight, when she finally stops looking for the moving red dot.

I suppose we also brewed up some trouble at choir tonight as we were talking about shot-skis...maybe trouble just follows me where ever I
 Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

pack it out. pack it in.

I have had the joy this evening of packing a 'brew' themed care package to send to my awesome sister and her hubby.  Well, if it's just a package from my home to her home is it a care package or just a package?  It is packed with technically it's a care package, I guess.

But more so it's a brew package. 

Most of it's contents are related to things you can brew, things that are used to brew, or ways to drink things that have been brewed.  And only some of the gifties are from thrift shops.

I'll list the contents at a later date, but don't wish to completely spoil the surprise. 
Needless to say, it will be enjoyed on many levels for a good chunk of time. 

Until tomorrow . . .

Monday, May 7, 2012

best. crust. ever. I took what was left of the dough (with the spent grains) I made on Friday and transformed it into pizza crust. 

It is by far my favorite crust. 

I still am not the best at the round pizza. 

But when it came looked like this:

It's topped with turkey sausage, red & green peppers, mozzarella and freshly grated parm. 

But this is THE best part:

Just look at the holes....the crust had the crunch and the chew!  So amazing! 

Here's hoping I don't eat it all tonight....all though it would be a killer carbo-loading for tomorrow's run. 

I may make another batch of those spent grain cookies after tonight's meeting, because I have been craving some more of them ever since I finished the last one.

Until tomorrow . . .

Sunday, May 6, 2012

what i learned today.

First of the middle of a zany morning....which was just the beginning of a super long day, I was invited to dinner with a family in my congregation.  At that point...I was enticed by a home cooked meal at the end of the day.  As I left contemporary service around dinner time...all I could think was, woah, it would be great to just be home. 

But dinner was homemade beef stew with a side of freshly steamed locally picked asparagus and a family with laughter, honesty and great hospitality.

Lesson number one:  It's well worth it, especially when you're let God's grace embrace you.

I did have an hour of down time between confirmation and returning back to church for contemporary I sat on the porch and enjoyed some iced tea and enjoyed the beginnings of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing....Beer, History, America and Homebrew.

Lesson number two:  Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew!

And now....after some Food Network and a cat napping on my lap, and a quick blog's time to turn off the tv, crawl into bed and snooze away. 

Lesson number three:  A good night's sleep is just what I need, rather than an episode of Iron Chef America. 

Until tomorrow . . .

Saturday, May 5, 2012

the last of the first.

Happy National Homebrew Day! 

Today I enjoyed the last bottle of Imperial Nut Brown Ale. 
It was the first beer I had a hand in was delish!  It will be missed, but will make a comeback as Helen quite enjoyed it as well. 

Thanks Jon & seemed only appropriate to drink a home crafted beer in a hand crafted glass. 

If you didn't have a chance to drink a home brew today, hopefully you had some time for a craft beer.

Drink local.

Until tomorrow . . . 

Friday, May 4, 2012

spent grain adventures

The oven has been set to 425° for most of the day.

The day began with a fun new recipe from Erik at As I wrote about the other day, it takes the style from my most used bread book (Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day) and adds the fun of using spent grains.

Phase one: Dry ingredients with the spent grain. (The grains in both of today's recipes are from Northern Brewer Dead Ringer IPA.)

After you add the water it looks a little something like this:

Then you go for a 7.5 mile run....well, it's not required, but it was a good day for a distance run and it did help pass the time that was necessary for the dough to rise and it was much better than cleaning the house.

2 hours (not just spent running) later:

At this point I took half of it for a loaf and then it chilled on the pizza peel for a while while the oven preheated.

Into the oven for about 35 minutes and this is the beauty that came out:

It was hard to wait until it really, really cooled, because I was uber hungry....but I did manage to wait a little while.  It was a great post run treat with peanut butter and honey.  Then later it was good with sharp cheddar cheese and honey.  (My long distance run days mean lots of snacking with interesting flavor combinations.)

Then came the cookies!

Thank you Omnomicon for this tasty recipe.  Apparently I was much more into mixing than picture taking for this project.

But after it was all mixed this is what it looked like.

Talk about a hearty cookie.

Here's the recipe as posted on Omnomicon's page:

"Adapted from a recipe featured by Seven Bridges Cooperative.
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups spent grains (or alternatively, 1.5 cups of your favourite grain meal, prepared and still wet)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Mix in the peanut butter, regular butter, sugar, milk and vanilla. Then add the flour, baking soda and salt. Once that’s all mixed, stir in the nuts and chips.
Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 425F for 8-10 minutes until the tops are just getting golden, but before the bottoms burn. Let sit on the pan for about five minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool. Serve with love.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies after batter sampling."

They are super delicious and I didn't even add the chopped nuts....I just added extra chocolate chips :)  But I have deemed them a great post run snack....they would've been excellent with a glass of chocolate milk!

My sous chef kept a close eye on the cookie production. 

And this is the post cookie aftermath...

And here they are baked :)

So delicious!!!

And that is the end of today's spent grain adventures....tomorrow's will probably consist of drying out the rest of the grains from the Dead seems like it has expanded since it thawed and came out of the mesh bag.

All in all both of today's recipes were winners.  I think I'll play with the additions to the cookies...and after some of the grain is dried out, I'll grind it and add it to other bread recipes that I've been tweaking.

So, the sous chef put in a tough day....

I could totally follow suit.

Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, May 3, 2012

a tall cold one

Today's adventures in the world of brews...was drinking one :)

That's pretty much it...oh and I thawed the spent grains from the Dead Ringer IPA that Billy and I brewed in March.  It's called dead ringer because of it's crazy resemblance to Bells 2 Hearted IPA (my favorite brew!) 

Here's a shot from the day I had a Bells alongside the dead ringer


....aroma and taste were spot on....color, on the other hand, is our growing edge...

It's super has a great hops aroma and a tasty hoppy flavor. 

It was the perfect way to ring in the weekend.  For those of us who work on Sunday...and have Fridays off...Thursday is the new Friday. 

I'm looking forward to a day off tomorrow with a long run, some house cleaning, some time with the BF and a Cinco de Mayo dinner...even though it's Quatro de Mayo.  The sangria is in the fridge to allow the fruit, juice & brandy, and red wine combine overnight.  Good times. 

Until tomorrow . . . when the baking will commence with the spent grains :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Using the whole hog.

With a cat purring near my head, I have a few minutes to sip some tea, read a bit and blog before tackling some cleaning project, having dinner and heading back to church for an evening meeting.

So today's brew-related reading was all about different spent grain bread recipes.  I'm pretty excited to use the grains in some breads, pizza doughs and perhaps even take a shot at making pretzels.

After multiple searches and sites...I found the one that will be my starting ground.  Thank you Erik from Top Fermented for this spent grain recipe.  What I really like about this recipe is that it's the style of bread making I've been using since I finally cracked open Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  A book my sister gave to me a few Christmases ago, but didn't seriously start using until I moved from Indiana to Pennsylvania.  I love the book.  It gives you a simple start, just mix everything and let it sit at room temp for a few hours...then you can bake a loaf from there, so pop it in the fridge and pull chunk out to bake on any day you'd like freshly baked bread.  So, this recipe is definitely doable...and will be my jumping off spot.

Jasmine posts a tasty recipe for spent grain bread What I like about her recipe is that she uses 3 cups of the spent grains in the dough.  She looked and looked (probably more than I did) for spent grain recipes that did more than just tip their hat to the grains.  She took the time to find and adapt recipes that incorporate the grains (ground) as some of the flour in the bread.  The bread on her site is a deep, looks very inviting and delicious!  I should say, though that I maybe have one bread pan....perhaps two?  I'm a big fan of the free form I may have to get some loaf pans at good will this weekend if this I'm going to try this recipe.

This is one of the earlier ones I found, but truth be told, it took the baker 30 hours....start to finish....and I guess I could try it, but that would take some time management on my part.  This spent grain bread also calls for bread flour.  Now, I'm still new to this whole bread baking thing....but I've stayed close to recipes that call for all purpose flour....or all purpose flour with a mix of whole wheat, rye and barley flours....Luckily I have this cheap-o grocery store where you can find some random funky ingredients at a fraction of the retail price. So, my flour collection is eclectic, but I have yet to try bread flour.  But, I should also draw attention to another link through's their Founders Pale Ale Batter Fried Macaroni and Cheese  Yes, you read that correctly....pale ale battered mac and cheese.  yum times a million!  And seeing as how I've taken a few cracks at homemade mac & may be time to take it one step further.  The good news is that this recipe starts with a Founders Porter Mac and can you possibly go wrong?  Now for those of us closer to the east keep it local, you'd have to pick your favorite porter and pale ale to incorporate into the recipe.  I'm becoming a bit of a beer snob, so I'd use the Dead Ringer IPA that we brewed last month....but that's just what makes me hoppy ;)  

I give a shout out to  Otownmommy's Blog.  She includes recipes for bread, pizza dough and pretzels.  Again, there seems to just be a tip of the hat to the grains, but what a fun way to jazz up pretzels!  And recently my bread dough has doubled as pizza dough, so I'd have no trouble bringing spent grains to my pizza nights.

Okay, so now I'm really hungry....and have zero dough in the fridge :(  But, I will be taking a bag of grains out of the freezer to thaw for Friday's bread adventure!

Until tomorrow . . .

PS....I did make it through the introduction of The Joy of Home Brewing...but the print was soooo tiny on the iPhone, that I'll wait for the hard copies to come on Friday before I hit that publication again. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mayday! Mayday!

Well, May is here. 

I've spent lots of time thinking about the next 30 days.  I had multiple ideas for this month.

One was more practical than fun.  You see, some times my work days are super jam packed and I just get home and am in the mood to do nothing....and when I have several of those in a row by the time some time off arrives, I need to fill a chunk of it with house cleaning/laundry/errands.  Which do not make for a very fun day off.  Luckily this month comes with some real time off....therefore doing things around the house each day won't really work.  But I should at least give it a go.

Okay, a load of laundry is now in the washer.

Another thing I've been thinking about is the way I've been eating.  Now that veggie stands are starting to open back up for the spring/summer, there are many more opportunities to shop and eat well as eat a bit healthier....that being said, I enjoyed asparagus this evening that was picked this morning by parishioners of mine.

This is what they looked like before they went on the grill.

What can I say?  I love bacon!  And it was super delicious around that asparagus.
But again, with the opportunity to get away for work and for fun this month some of the meals will be out of my hands....and while I can eat locally on vacay, while on a retreat...I'll eat what is on the menu...and it'll be the first time having Walking Tacos!  (I'm pretty excited about that!)

But I can say that right now that house smells awesome due to the fact that I've taken the remnants of the chicken I roasted last week and with some carrots, celery, garlic, and spices I'm making my own chicken stock.  (Ina Garten would say that's the only stock you should use...)

After it cools, I'll have the chance to freeze it and save it for soups.  I also have a bag of veggie remnants in the freezer that I've been meaning to turn into veggie stock.  That might happen this weekend.  As part of that healthier eating, I've been trying to make more of the food I eat.  I know, that sounds funny, but to get away from too many pre-processed foods, especially when I can make stuff on my own.

So that leaves me still with trying to figure out what to focus on for the next 30 days....and I've decided on brews.   My boyfriend and I have begun home brewing.  I guess we're brewers.  (It sounds so formal.)  He's been doing all sorts of reading and I have several books, but have not opened one.  So, this is the month for it....whether I'm trying home or craft brews....(nothing like drinking local!) reading about growing hops or brewing procedures or having fun with brewing supplies, like figuring out how to make bread with the grains from previously brewed beers....who knows what the next month will bring.

It should be pretty fun and educational.

Until next time . . .

PS....and now for some time with The Complete Joy of Home Brewing. :)