Sunday, August 31, 2008

Making Beer Batch #2

My first batch of home brew turned out really good. Very pleased with the results. I have a few photo's from my first attempt, but my camera stopped working so I decided to document my next try.

I'm not ready to do beer from scratch, so I bought an ingredients kit from a local home brew place.

I filled my 8 gallon pot with hot water and started heating it on high. We have to bring it to a boil. Notice that I have a large lip to allow the liquid to rise. This is important - you'll see.

Here's what's taped inside the kit.I have a floating thermometer. This is important for the first step of this process. . .

A close up of all the stuff in the kit. This kit's nice because it says when you add each packet to the wort (that's what we're making)
First step is put the specialty grains/grain bag in the hot water.
This kit includes a "tea bag" for the special grains. I put the grains in and knotted the bag.
Then I put the bag in to let it steep until the liquid is 170 degrees.
Then I take out the bag.
The next step is to let the mixture come to a rolling boil, then put in the stuff in the container (which is the malt). Here's what the malt looks like when you lift the lid.
Now you pour the whole contents into the liquid. This is where you are glad you have a lot of room to let the mixture rise. See this photo. This is when your one hour starts.
Boil for 45 minutes. After a while, the mixture will settle down. At 45 minutes, you add the Irish Moss (a clarifying agent). At 50 minutes, I added the Favormatic Hops. At 55 minutes, the Brewery Honey, and at 58 minutes, the Aromatic Hops. At one hour, you're done with cooking the wort. Next step, cooling process. The instructions say that it's important to cool the wort down to 75 degrees as quickly as you can. The pot I use is too large for my sink and the last time I schlepped the hot pot all the way to the garage to use my utility sink. Since the pot is SO hot and full of about 5 gallons of water, it was really tough the last time I did it. So, I bought a galvanized tub that's 24" in diameter. It worked like a charm as all I had to do was to bring the pot off the burner. . .
and into a waiting 10 pounds of ice. . .
I ended up adding over 40 pounds of ice to cool the wort down to 75 degrees. This was done really quickly as I added some salt to the ice 'ala ice cream making. (I also saw on Myth Busters that salt and ice was the quickest way to cool a can of beer - hense, I thought it would translate to cooling wort quickly. I'd say it took about 20 minutes to cool the boiling mixture to 75 degrees. I'm happy with that.
Once cooled, I siphoned the wort off into my primary fermentor. The last time I did this, I had a simple siphon. For some reason, the suction would break and I'd have to try to fill the hose with fluid and get the suction going again. I was really worried that I had introduced "bad" bacteria to the beer batch. So I bought a new type of suction apparatus - and it's worth the $12 I paid for it - it starts the suction with one pump. If making beer is something you're planning on doing, I suggest you spring for this. It's great. Here's a photo of the bottom of the pot after I suctioned the wort into the primary fermentor - there's a lot of junk on the bottom. Suctioning kept me from putting this in the primary fermentor.
The next step is to "pitch" the yeast (sprinkle it on top).
Finally, I capped the primary fermentor and put the airlock on it. Now all I have to do is wait. . .

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge

Always trying new things, I stumbled upon Daring Bakers last month and decided to join in the fun. Basically, someone picks a challenging recipe, it's secretly distributed to participants at the beginning of the month. We're allowed to reveal our results on a predetermined date (usually the last day of the month).

This month's challenge is Chocolate Eclair's.

The pasty dough is done on the stove top. Here's milk, butter, sugar, salt being heated to boil.
Add some flour
And the dough turns into instant mush.
Dump in mixer with the paddle and add eggs one at a time.
Then it turns into a really nice paste.
I'm not terribly coordinated, so I put my pastry bag in a large cup.
Then piped out each on parchment lined cookie sheets.
I didn't use the defined chocolate because it would have cost $22. This hunk was about $8
To melt the chocolate, I cut it up and then hit it in the microwave for about a minute. Stir till it is all melted (I know that some of you would NEVER melt chocolate this way, but my bowl heats up and retains the heat fairly well, so it doesn't get scorched).
Here's what the pastries looked like coming straight out of the oven. Puffy!
The filling is next. I have the egg yolks, sugar, and corn starch in the sauce pan. The instructions say to sift the corn starch - I just used my colander.
Wisked up with a couple of table spoons of hot milk (tempering the yolks).
The milk and melted chocolate added. I did a quick ice bath by plugging my sink, running cold water & dumping ice in it. This is to stop the cooking phase.
Making chocolate sauce for the glaze.
Heated and thickened.
Here's the beginning of the glaze (chocolate sauce not added yet). It was a little bumpy.
The tops are glazed.
I piped the filling on the bottoms.
Sprinkled some hazelnuts on the tops and put them together.

The puffs really collapsed after they cooled down. These are truly delicious and gooey.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I won!

I won four ribbons at the State Fair of Texas!!!!


First place: Captain Underpants (Stuffed Toy, Original)
Second Place: Flamingo (Stuffed Toy, From Pattern)
Second Place: Bar Harbor purse (Felt Craft, Any)
Fourth: Girl's Babydoll Halter Top (Knit Original Design, Any)

I think all items are now going to be on display at the fair!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We got a package in the mail and it had the 2009 Knitting Calendar in it. My husband was about to ask me WHY in the world would I buy the calendar now? We traditionally wait till mid January to buy our calendars because they're 50% off.

I told him that I remember sending in a submittal a while ago, but never heard from them. I guessed that I must have a pattern in the calendar.

I do.

I'm September 11th & 12th, 2009

I couldn't even make that up. September 11th!!!! (It's the striped baby halter pattern)

FO: Captain Underpants #2

Note added: I won a blue ribbon at the 2008 State Fair of Texas with this entry!!

I forgot to show my second CU. I actually entered this one into the Texas State Fair.
I'm starting to think about making a super sized CU for a school auction in November.

Sad News

I'm sure everyone has those moments where they wonder if they're adopted and I've had those moments, too.

But then you meet the one relative that makes you feel sane.

My Aunt Myrtle was one of those relatives to me. She's my Grandmother's older sister and was a wonderful woman. She married when she was 36 (deemed an old maid) and married a man whom she dearly, dearly loved. She lived and worked on a REAL farm in Ohio. Uncle Willard was so great with us as he'd take us around and we were able to ride on tractors, combines. . . you name it, he would allow us to check it out.

When Myrtle was 90, she broke her hip. Six months later, she was walking around with no problems. She didn't go to an "old folks home" until she was 95 years old.

Well, Aunt Myrtle died last night in her sleep. She was 101 years old with her 102nd birthday looming in September.

When my Grandfather was sick in the hospital, Myrtle came down from Ohio to help Grandma through all the hospital hell. I was able to spend some really great adult time with Myrtle and came to find out that we were a lot alike. It was just one of those moments where you're super happy to realize that there was sanity bred somewhere in your family.

This in no way is meant to be a knock against my family. I love my family.

I'll miss my Aunt Myrtle.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I'm back

Whew it's tough to go on vacation. Between the stress of working up to the time to make sure everything is taken care of while you're gone and the subsequent frenzy when you come back, I just haven't had time to blog!

Oh the horrors!

Seattle was really very nice - it was wonderful getting out of the heat of the D/FW area. We certainly were not prepared for the weather, though, and I usually dwell on what type of weather to expect when going on vacation. M & I ended up buying some Seattle sweaters to keep the chill off of us. On Tuesday it was 100 degrees when we left town and 57 degrees when we flew into Seattle. We were cold. It's also amazing to note that the hotel room kept the internal temperature at a freezing 60 degrees. Seattle-ites turn on the air conditioning when the temps climb up into the 70's!!!

I'll post photo's later as I do have some more work to get to before the end of the week. I just saw that it'd been quite some time since I blogged and wanted to say hi!