Brewing Thoughts

February 12, 2008

Coming Out of Hibernation – Brain Dump

Filed under: Family,Food,Homebrewing,Politics — jidd @ 12:03 pm

What? An actual post?  Well, if any of you out there are still reading this page… (other than the comment spammers that is) it’s time for an update.  I’m just going to dump all the things that have been lingering in the back of my brain that I’ve wanted to post about.

So, what’s new?  Hmm… Melanie will be 4 months old tomorrow.  I can’t believe how much she has changed already.  We haven’t weighed her recently, but she’s gotta be up around 13 or 14 lbs now.  She’s gotten out of the “lump o’ baby” phase and has gotten playful and is starting to have personality.  So far, her eyes are still a beautiful bright blue and her hair looks more auburn all the time.  I’m not sure where her blue eyes came from, but I hope they stay that way.

Melanie’s dedication is at church this weekend.  My folks are going to be down from Oregon, so we’re in full house-overhaul mode at home.  Between taking care of Melanie, taking care of her grandparents, and trying to get the house in order poor Courtney hasn’t hardly gotten any rest at all lately.

Speaking of getting the house in order…  1 year after moving in I finally got around to getting the front door fully operational.  Back when we moved in, our Realtor got the house re-keyed for us (thanks Margy!).  However, the locksmith said that our 85 year old front door lock which was without a key was irreparable, so we’ve just used the side doors that come off the driveway as the main entry.  As Courtney will attest, I don’t take “It Can’t Be Done” very well.  I set about researching this door lock and finding a way.  Last weekend, for the first time I was able to walk out the front door, lock it behind me, and use a key to get back in through the same door.  It’s the small things.

The landscaping is still, well, nearly non-existant. A while back I had some guys come in and drop a few trees and grind the stumps.  One tree was alread dead, one was a fruiting mulberry that made a huge mess, and the 3rd was a gnarly old fig tree stump that just kept sending up runners and refusing to die). The same guys graded the front yard and cut it down a few inches to accommodate new sod, and did most of the trenching I needed done in order to install sprinklers.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never done sprinklers before and made a few mistakes along the way.  Not the least of which was ripping out about 15′ of our main water line thinking it was an old sprinkler line.  Anyhow, between being sick, being busy, or having rain every weekend, they’ve been stuck at about 80% completion most of the winter.  But I did get a few tree roses planted along the walkway. =)

I am finding myself increasingly distracted by all things food.  Well, maybe not quite all things, but enough.  As most of you know, I’ve brewed beer for a few years know.  Well, I started a few years ago, took a hiatus, and am now getting back to it. I have a passable batch of Belgian White on tap at the moment, and plans for an Irish Stout and a Red Ale as soon as time permits.  Also, within the last year I’ve started roasting my own coffee.  There is really something wonderfully alive about fresh coffee that hasn’t sat on a shelf slowly dying for who know how long.  Also, I have a batch of homemade Lemon Cello underway.  Not strictly “lemon” cello, I made it from a combination of Meyer lemons, regular lemons, and a little bit of orange. It should be ready sometime after Valentines Day.

Besides that, lately I’ve been making homemade yogurt, granola, chicken stock, chili powder, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting.

Most recently, I’m fixated on meat.  Not just  your standard steak, chicken & pork chops. Au contraire.  I want to cure, smoke, brine, age, grind, and eat my way through a pile of carcasses big enough to fill a cellar.  But wouldn’t that would mean that I’ll need to build a smokehouse and root cellar?  Sure, but for some reason I don’t find this daunting.  Wouldn’t any sane person think of this and say, “but I can buy sausage, bacon and pastrami at the market/butcher.”  Why doesn’t my brain work that way?  I see a slab of bacon at the store and dream of how much better you could make it at home.  German sausage? Yeah, I love the stuff.  Why can’t I just be content to eat it at the Sale or buy it from some guy in Reedley? Sure, zwieback seems to be the holy grail of Mennonite food for some reason.  While I don’t have anything against the stuff, I’m just not that interested in making it.  Surely sausage making is a higher calling.  Surely, my desire to do this indicates some sort of mental illness.

Hmm… another area that I have some firm opinions about but haven’t had (taken) the time to fully indulge recently.  But here are a few briefs: 1) Ron Paul – I don’t know much about him other than that he is supposedly a libertarian in republican clothing.  Being libertarian myself, I really need to look into this more.  I think it’s safe to say that his changes at the oval office are laughable right now, but in general anyone that can bring libertarian principals into the discussion and public eye is a Good Thing©.

On a related note, this is an interesting article on how much our government’s war on marijuana costs us every year.  Very bad things happen when you artificially criminalize something which fundamentally should be a matter of personal choice.  Just like during Prohibition, our government has created a situation where obscene amounts of taxpayer money are spent to enforce a law that is simply unjust and completely contradicts basic American principles.  Black markets are created, taxpayer money is wasted, lives are ruined, and for what?  Our national panties are in such a knot over marijuana that we’ve utterly abandoned an amazingly beneficial crop that our government used to beg farmers to grow.   If you have time, give that first article a read.  It is brief, and it does a pretty good job of putting into perspective the scale of the resources that are spent on this menace.

Anyhow, if you’ve made it this far, I apologize.  I’m sure there is more, but I’ve subjected you to enough abuse for now.



August 21, 2007

So Good, Even Jules Couldn’t Argue With The Idea

Filed under: Food — jidd @ 7:21 am

bacon.jpg Bacon Salt

I gotta git me some of this!  While it is no iPod, my birthday is coming up….  =P

August 13, 2007

Comfort Food – For Better or Worse (long)

Filed under: Food,General — jidd @ 12:21 pm

So, Courtney has been out of town since Thursday for a convention, and I’m home sick with the dogs (and the retarded cat). Other than some projects around the house, I didn’t have any real plans. On her way out, Courtney had offhandedly mentioned that I might try doing something with all the fruit in the house.

Lets see, pears, nectarines, and plums. I’m sick, so I’m not feeling like anything fussy that involves rolling out dough, as that seem entirely too strenuous. So clafouti it is. I found a recipe for an almond-pear clafouti that sounded pretty good. Peel, core and slice up the pears. Toss them in a bit of lemon juice. Whip up a batter of eggs, milk, butter, vanilla, etc… Throw the fruit in a pan, pour in the batter, throw some almonds on top and….


Almond Pear Clafouti

It’s tasty, but not my favorite. It turned out a bit too almondy for my liking. Oh well. That was Sunday.

Monday, home sick again. Courtney’s still gone. I’m lying in bed wondering what’s in the house for breakfast when it dawns of me: biscuits and gravy. What can possibly be more comforting for a sick boy with southern roots like me than homemade biscuits and gravy. I even have buttermilk in the house for once.

I know there isn’t any sausage for the gravy, but surely I can get by with bacon, no? And thus began the most non-comforting biscuits & gravy expedition ever. Okay, so get the bacon on the griddle while I start to work on the biscuits.

Flour, buttermilk, salt, shortening, baking soda, baking powder. Baking powder? Where is the flipping baking powder? Crap, still at my mother-in-laws house. Some quick thinking and I remember that baking powder is nothing more than baking soda, corn starch, and, and… and?! Google kindly informs me that it is Cream of Tartar, which I have. Whew, that was close.

I get the biscuits mixed and ready to roll out, when I reach for the flour to dust out my rolling area. Double crap, I’ve been using the self-rising flour all this time instead of the regular. Hmm.. I’m either going to have super-fluffy cake biscuits, or something will go terribly wrong. Oh well, no turning back now. Roll them, cut them out with my finest biscuit cutter, and throw them in the oven.

Time to get back to the gravy. The bacon is done, crumbled, and goes into a skillet, with the fat and some flour. Regular flour this time. I reach for the milk. Wha?? Buttermilk!! Where’s the… Crappity crap crap crapping crappyton. I realize at this point that I’m just not having biscuits & gravy this morning. I know it won’t work, but I go ahead and add the buttermilk to the bacon and flour simmering away in my skillet. It bubbles away for a few minutes and, as disgusting as it looks, I give it a taste. There is an underlying hint of gravy, but it is masked by greasy tartness. This is not at all like grandma used to make.

Meanwhile, the biscuits come out of the oven, and while not spectacular, they are passable. For breakfast, I have flat biscuits and honey, with a side of bacon. Oh, and one helluva mess to clean up. Why am I not feeling comforted by this?

July 23, 2007

Mmmmmm…. Coffee…..

Filed under: Food — jidd @ 8:28 pm

27675 I’ve officially acquired another vice. Thanks to Courtney’s cousin’s husband Chris who planted this bug in my ear around Christmas, I’ve been pondering roasting coffee for half a year now. Tonight I fired up yee ole air popper and roasted my first batch of green coffee beans; a high-grown bean from the Placeras Estate in Nicaragua. It is described by the vendor as, “Medium intensity / Malty, honeyed, low acid, balanced.”
As for my first roast, it went pretty well. It is roasted about to what is called “City+”, which is towards the lighter side and lets more of the character of the coffee’s origin show through than your darker roasts. I maybe should have gone a tad darker, but we’ll see in the morning how it tastes.

So far, this is much more approachable than brewing beer. It is a lot quicker, there is substantiall less equipment involved, it doesn’t require special temperature control for weeks of fermenting… But then, there isn’t any alcohol either. 😦

June 8, 2007

Ginger is HOT

Filed under: Food,General — jidd @ 12:00 pm


No, not that Ginger you morons. This ginger. Last weekend I made ginger syrup, for ginger ale of course. But it turns out that apparently I like the stuff more than Courtney.  It’s nice and refreshing with a little fresh mint and a squeeze of lime.

Anyhow, I also ended up with a gallon size ziploc full of candied ginger. So, if anyone digs the stuff, drop me a line and I’ll hook you up.  Or just stop by for a ginger ale.

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